THE STRANGENESS: A Review For A Movie That Tries To Sell You A Book.
By Hubbs Kowalski

Petey Waco was a little jacked that I used our conversation in my review for HATCHET.

“Dude, you totally ragged on me.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You said I say goofy things.”

“Well, you do.”

“And you don’t?”

“Whose column is it, Waco? Maybe you should start writing your own columns.”

“Don’t use my name in your stupid fucking reviews again.”

“What the hell is your problem?”

“Nobody calls me goofy.”

“I didn’t call you goofy.”


“Fine.” That Petey Waco is crazy. And cruel. A real cruel dude.

So from here on out, I will never mention Petey Waco again. I may say Petey this or Waco that, but never will Petey and Waco be side by side in my reviews again. All I have to say to him is freedom of speech, Petey. Freedom of fuckin’ speech.


Anyway, I took some time out and got around to watching the old Trans World Entertainment VHS release THE STRANGENESS, a film I’ve had in my collection for years but never have gotten around to watching. My interest was piqued by the generous chapter afforded it in Stephen Thrower’s mammoth and utterly indispensable book NIGHTMARE USA. If you don’t own NIGHTMARE USA yet, you’re a fuckin’ fascist.

Just like Waco.

Anyway, there’s a closed mine that is waiting to be re-opened that has a history of miners dying in it. An incredibly motley crew consisting of two hard partying mine specialists, a geologist (I think she’s a lesbo, which is always a good thing), a company foreman-type who is a total ass and a writer and his hot blonde wife are going into the abandoned mine to see if its suitable to resume work. Inside they meet a monster and bam, there’s THE STRANGENESS.

Suffice to say, this low-budget monster movie is kind of a good time. Sure, the acting blows and its never very gory, but it’s quite a fun trip, although without having read the interviews and making of in NIGHTMARE USA, I wonder if I would have liked it less. Thrower’s book is one of the most informative books ever written, if not the most informative, on American exploitation films and their creators. The amazing thing about THE STRANGENESS is that all the inside the mine shots were sets and they are quite incredible. The monster is glorious stop motion by Mark Sawicki and Craig Huntley (both who are in featured roles). A labor of love, made for commercial purposes that really shows off the technical genius of this skeleton crew.

Bad part besides the acting is the horrible writing. Come to think of it, the movie does kind of suck but would probably scare the shit out of a 10 year old at two in the morning. So yeah, Thrower’s enthusiasm and journalistic digging into the making of the film is what made it for me, because without that general knowledge of the talent behind it and his pointing out interesting aspects of the production which you can look for throughout, it’s pretty much slow-moving and uneventful until the final act.

Sometimes you need that prodding and different outlook when approaching an incredibly obscure 27-year-old horror film.

I guess in the end, I’m suggesting you go out and get Thrower’s NIGHTMARE USA, because then, you’ll be tracking down the films he mentions in it. I’ve seen a lot of the films in the book, and a lot of them suck, but I’ll be damned if Thrower doesn’t make me want to take a second look at them.

Get it today before he unleashes Volume 2 of NIGHTMARE USA. Thrower is a godsend for exploitation lovers and seems all around like a pretty cool dude.

Unlike Petey. Who’s a goofy thing saying, threatening fascist who’ll probably sue me after this one.


Your Drive-In Report by Hubbs Kowalski

(Editor’s Note: The following was sent in an email by Kowalski, somewhere in Georgia)


I found this drive-in in Clarkston, GA called the Rita. Shows triple features every night! It’s like heaven…but with BBQ! And PBR! Anyway, my laptop is acting the fool but I’m going to try to hammer this out. If the keyboard fucks up again, I’ll have to wait till I get to a library or some shit.

The tour is going good. We had four people show up last night. If you or Harvey could Western Union some dough to get us to Kentucky, that’d be pretty fuckin’ rockin’.



Directed by Harry Winer

Written by Harry Winer and Paula Labrot

Rated G

Sometimes catching the first flick of the night at the drive-in is a bummer. Tonight was a triple feature at the Rita, a drive-in I found in Clarkston, GA, that started with THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT, which I was pretty excited about. I love that Bigfoot. The way he just walks around, leaving footprints, taking a shitty picture and stinking up the place. It turns out though that THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT, while having a bit of Bigfoot in it, was really just one of those nature films from the 1970’s padded with stock footage.

You know the kind I’m talking about. The ones that put animals together that would normally not ever interact. Like cats and coyote puppies. Coyote puppies and skunks. Coyote puppies and chickens. Cougars playing with rabbits. There’s a lot of that here in BIGFOOT. It’s pretty cool, but you either need to be shit-faced drunk or terribly hung-over to appreciate it. Why? I don’t know why. It’s just one of those strange genres that can’t be enjoyed unless your inebriated or suffering.

The pic focuses on Ivan Marx, a tracker who hunts renegade animals for various people when the animals come around and start fucking up the natural order of things. Then somehow he gets hooked on Bigfoot to the point that his “head is reeling with Bigfoot”. That’s a pretty fair description of my mindset going in. Except I got no Bigfoot. I got coyote puppies and skunks, but no Sasquatch.

Marx is a pretty dramatic motherfucker, too. Throughout the narration, he’s “mystified”, “uncomfortable” and “prejudiced”. For a backwoods tracker, he’s a complex man.

Once he gets the Bigfoot bug, he gets all self-righteous in his demand for people to believe in Bigfoot and the use of Bigfoot’s name to sell things, like Bigfoot was God or something. All I know is that this shit is boring. This ain’t no NIGHT OF THE DEMON, I’ll tell you that. Ain’t nobody getting their junk ripped off by an evil Bigfoot.

So around the time of the eviscerated dead bear frozen in death with a seig heil pose, I wandered over to the other lot to see if Freddy was in row 8 to get some weed. Freddy, I was told by the management of the Rita, always has the best weed if not the best taste in movies. I scored a dime bag, smoked that shit and LEGEND OF BIGFOOT didn’t get any better. It was too late.

I expected better from director Harry Winer, the gaffer on Ken Osborne’s WOMEN UNCHAINED. Lately he’s been doing a lot of TV, directing VERONICA MARS and stuff.

Well, at least I was ready for Treat Williams in NIGHT OF THE SHARKS. NiGGhht……fuuuuckkkk KKkeboOArDDDDD



Stomp them yuppies while I puke!

By Hubbs Kowalski

My cousin calls me and says, “Hey cousin, let’s go see that CLOVERFIELD movie.”

I was half-drunk so I said, sure, why not? Plus it’s only $4 bucks at the drive-in. However bad it is won’t matter, because I’ve got enough beer to get full on drunk. And I’m a positive guy. I look at things as at least half-full whilst full on drunk.

CLOVERFIELD starts out with a bumper saying that the following footage is government property or some shit. I only kind of remember that part because now, I was about ¾ drunk. Anyway, there’s these yuppies in New York and they’re all rich and white and are filming the going away party of one of their rich yuppie friends whose job is sending them to Japan.

So basically, in no way, can I relate with any of these people. Something needs to stomp these people now.

About 15 minutes in, the shaky cam is getting to me. And I’m waiting on some stomping. I ask my cousin if its me or is the movie really that shaky. He tells me the whole movie is going to be that shaky.

It’s about now that I realize being full on drunk at CLOVERFIELD is not a good thing.

So this BLAIR WITCH/CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST with a Harryhausen tinge sci-fi’er takes a bit of time to get going. I guess to set up the characters enough that you want them to get stomped by something. Although that Malena or Marena girl is hot. I don’t know her name in the movie; it was something to that effect…Marena, Malena. I don’t know.

Look, I was drunk…

Anyway, then the thing shows up. It’s some kind of monster. Matter of fact, my cousin says it looks like that thing from THE MIST. And what little you see of it is kind of cool because the movie really is about the rich white yuppies’ trying to find this girl the Japan-bound guy loves and kind of fucked up his chance at smoochies with. Actually he did more than smoochies. Then he didn’t call her. Then she shows up at his going to Japan party with another dude. I also think one of the rich white yuppies was actually black or not all white. But she acted pretty white. I don’t know.

Look, I was drunk…

What’s most important to know is that CLOVERFIELD isn’t a monster movie as much as it’s a road-trip love story, kind of like Charlie Sheen’s immortal THREE FOR THE ROAD from 1987 with Kerri Green from THE GOONIES but filmed by an epileptic who obviously has no respect for Charlie Sheen movies from the 80’s. Because if he did, he would put the fucking camera on a tripod.

Look, I may be a tad drunk right now…

Towards the end of CLOVERFIELD, the camera finally comes to a stop. No shaky. By about halfway in, the thought of puking my guts out occurred to me about 300 times. This shit is really, really shaky and made me physically ill. But when that camera stopped, and my eyes tried to focus after 70 + minutes of Chinese-Olympic-caliber eyeball ping-pong, I puked.

All over the side of my cousin’s car. All the way to the shit-stank restroom. Right onto a piss-splattered toilet with a roll of toilet paper shoved in it for good measure. After puking, I looked over to the right of the stall to see these words etched into a 50th coat of red paint: WILL WORK FOR HOME DEPOT.

Jesus, I wish I was going to Japan. Chicks apparently like the vomit over there anyways.

I’ve seen the videos. I know these things. And in no way are they shaky like CLOVERFIELD. But the funny thing is, those videos didn’t make me puke.

Moral of the story: Don’t go see CLOVERFIELD drunk. Maybe don’t go see it all at the theater. For you general well being, it may be safer to watch it at home.

And stay away from those Japanese shit-puke videos.

They’ll scar you for life.

For more information on Charlie Sheen’s immortal THREE FOR THE ROAD, please go to its IMDB entry at THREE FOR THE ROAD


by Hubbs Kowalski

MASTERS OF HORROR, MY ASS is a new attempt by Hubbs Kowalski to do some kind of “recurring shit” . When asked what that meant, Kowalski replied, “The fuck do you think that means? I’ll write about one every week.”

The releases are kind of old news, most of them have been reviewed, we explained.

“How about being a little more supportive? Fuck, we‘re gonna be flying high when that goddamn third season revs up!”

We have yet to inform Mr. Kowalski that there will not be a third season of MASTERS OF HORROR.

When pressed about the Jamaa Fanaka Summer “recurring shit”, Kowalski replied, “First, don’t be an asshole. Second, it’s coming. And third, you let that Diana Thoren chick just waltz up onto your site whenever she feels like it. I’m giving you quality stuff on a semi-regular basis. The fuck you bustin’ my sack for? I’m sure those homos at Huffington Post would love to have me. And those eggheads at Slate, too. Consider yourself lucky.”

Without further ado, the first installment of MASTERS OF HORROR, MY ASS


Some of these MASTERS OF HORROR shows ain’t bad, as a matter of fact, CIGARETTE BURNS, the John Carpenter entry from the first season was pretty good. Carpenter’s second season entry , PRO-LIFE, is even better, give or take some lousy writing.

Anqelique runs through the woods and out into the road where she’s almost hit by doctor Alex (Mark Feuerstein, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT) and nurse Kim (Emmanuelle Vaugier, SAW II). They work in a abortion clinic somewhere in the middle of the Oregon woods and take Angelique there to make sure she’s alright. At the abortion clinic, they find out she’s pregnant and wants an abortion. Turns out, her father is Dwayne Burcell (Ron Perlman, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN), an abortion protester with a restraining order. Dwayne tracks down his daughter there and all hell breaks loose, literally, as we find out that the abortion foe’s daughter was impregnated by something evil from the bowels of inner earth.

The bad part about MASTERS OF HORROR are that the shows are cheap, which is fine, but some of these directors, like Carpenter, have a style that doesn’t seem to transcend to this under-funded television format. The two I’ve seen so far that break this mold are Joe Dante’s HOMECOMING and John Landis’s DEER WOMAN. However, that doesn’t make things all bad, as Carpenter ups the ante on implied torture and gushing gore, which oddly enough, has never been part of how he did business before.

The writing here is sloppy at points, especially when the story slows down to extend its running time. For example, Dwayne and his sons unload their weapons on a closed gate trying to get into the abortion clinic, but when faced with the wooden doors at the entrance, he sends the sons to try and find another way in, allowing to cut to more drama inside. A few more pads like this happen, which means you could probably do this tale in about 30 minutes and some change.

The monster is pretty impressive given the low budget, but the gore is a bit too digital for my taste. Acting is sub-par all around except for Perlman, who does a great job as the God-fearing father who learns too late the error of his ways.

While modestly entertaining if you catch it on TV, I can’t see anyone paying money to own this, especially when the true Carpenter feel is completely absent.

Ol’ John needs to quit cashing his remake checks and turn out a new feature worthy of his talents.


Happy Birthday Hellraiser!
by Eric M. Harvey

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the original HELLRAISER. I remember that fall of 1987 very well, having just started the ninth grade. I remember also catching the bus with my best friend, MC Randelhi Fresh, and being dropped off at 6th Avenue and 167th Street, then making the 3 or 4 block trek down to the 167th St. Twin on an overcast Saturday afternoon. HELLRAISER had opened the day before and we’d been waiting for it, especially after the spreads in Fangoria.

Here in 2007, I stumbled across a used copy of HELLRAISER (the collector’s tin Anchor Bay put out with HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II-$5.99!) and figured why not? It had been a long time and it wasn’t in my collection. I spent the next two nights watching both movies and have to ask this question about the original HELLRAISER: How in the hell did this talky gore fest that reeks of a foreign film become such a watershed moment in the horror genre, and most importantly, with mainstream American audiences?

One of its strangest (and endearing) qualities is its look. Anyone familiar with British cinema of the 80’s knows that most of the films of that time have a look that’s very similar, nowhere even remotely what an mainstream American audience would be used to. I’m sure there are some film scholars who could define this look and the reason, but to me, HELLRAISER comes off almost as a TV movie. The American equivalent would be the Universal product of the 70’s such as TWO MINUTE WARNING and THE CAR. I’m very proud that I grew up in a generation that could sit through HELLRAISER and appreciate for what it was, rather than dismissing it due to its lack of flash.

Its lack of flash is also noticeable in its story structure. There’s a lot going on and much of it has nothing to do with Cenobites. In fact, it’s almost a whole hour into the movie before all the Cenobites show up. It takes its time setting up the characters and plot, although there’s many a moment where the damn thing just doesn’t make sense. I still can’t figure out if it’s supposed to be set in England or America (although it goes to great pains to fool you into thinking it’s America, it can’t lose the overly British look and vibe).

What I think sold HELLRAISER was its originality. Clive Barker obviously wasn’t going to settle for the same old horror clichÈs, and created an S&M netherworld that resonated with many a viewer. Most of the film’s sexual overtones (and dysfunction) were way over my head at 13 years of age, but the gore definitely delivered, which is what I was going for at that time anyway.

And in that department, HELLRAISER shows it’s age. Some of the effects (mostly the hooks in skin) are quite crappy, but some are still incredible works of art and quite sickening. The rebirth of Frank Cotton and his sinewy regeneration cycle provide proof of the superiority of prosthetic effects to CGI. Most important, many of these scenes elicit disgust and not for the sake of it alone like some lesser horror films of today (see Eli Roth). Every repulsive scene is integral to moving the story along and conveying the horror experienced by the characters.

After HELLRAISER ended, I had some minor quibbles. Ashley Laurence as Kirsty is quite the terrible actress. There are a lot of moments where it doesn’t make sense, especially in a film that explains a lot at the beginning, then kind of sidesteps other possible questions the audience might have for certain character motivations. And it is quite forgettable. It’s been two days since I’ve watched HELLRAISER and while I remember a lot of it, all of what I remember is rather hazy. Upon thinking about it, I had the same reaction when I was a kid. It was a weird film for me at the time, not similar to the horror films I was used to and while enjoyable, made no real mark on me as it has for others.

What is it now? Seven or eight HELLRAISER sequels, each one getting progressively worse, and ending up a straight to video franchise? They’re quite shit, but very much in demand due to their dumbing down to the lowest common denominator of horror fans. This unfortunate change seemed to happen with the Wilmington, NC lensed HELLRAISER III, which was an American scrubbing away of the foreign-feel associated with the first one and it’s sequel (which is quite good, if not better than the original).

It’s hard to envision the original HELLRAISER being released today theatrically, much less a modest hit that begs for an immediate sequel. What’s even funnier is reading Roger Ebert’s original review, calling it “… a movie without wit, style or reason, and the true horror is that actors were made to portray, and technicians to realize, its bankruptcy of imagination.”

There’s so much imagination going on here that, obviously, Ebert couldn’t process it. Maybe Clive Barker should’ve ripped off some Bergman and tickled Ebert’s snobby bone, guaranteeing a three and a half star review.



PRIMEVAL opened in theaters earlier this year. January, to be exact. For those not in the know, that’s when studios dump their shit product into moviehouses.

I couldn’t figure what the hell PRIMEVAL was about. They advertised it as a supernatural serial killer movie set in Africa.

Then I found out, right at the end of it’s two week theatrical run, it’s about a giant killer crocodile.

Note to PRIMEVAL’s marketing geniuses: I would have gone and seen it if I knew it was about a giant killer crocodile, you fucking idiots.

The studio seemed to realize that the “mysterious” marketing campaign was a failure (one of the worst I’ve ever seen) because now the DVD packaging is all about the crocodile.

There’s even a “Croc-umentary”.

A hunky cable news reporter without any personality (Dominic Purcell, PRISON BREAK) fucks up a story and is sent to Africa with his Rochester-esque cameraman (Orlando Jones) and a hot bimbo cat magazine reporter (Brooke Langton) who likes to save dogs.

The reason they go? To catch a giant crocodile named Gustave and inadvertently, fight the local African warlords.

Seriously, that’s the plot. But guess what?

This film is a fine example of cut-to-the-chase genre writing.

We got a disgraced reporter. We got a cameraman who lets you know he's a cameraman because he complains about an out of focus shot of a news anchor when we first meet him. We got a cat magazine reporter who wants to make the big jump to cable news reporting. We got a reason to go to Africa. We got a Steve Irwin clone that doesn’t even get a proper introduction to the rest of the cast; he’s introduced to the audience by a clip of his TV show, and then 5 minutes later he’s just tooling around Africa with the rest of them. This is screenwriting.

That’s a lot of ground to cover. So what do you do? You get a TV director (Michael Katelman, GILMORE GIRLS, NORTHEREN EXPOSURE) to craft this sucker into a streamlined, no bullshit action/horror pic.

Within the first 19 minutes, we get a mass grave with maggots, the crocodile has killed a stuffy British professor of some kind, we’re properly introduced to the main cast (see above), we go to Africa, we get ambushed by warlords in a pretty well-shot action scene (it’s not major in anyway, but old school in it’s execution, i.e. you can see everything).

We're not done though: a little girl gets eaten and Jurgen Prochnow (DAS BOOT, BEERFEST, BEVERLY HILLS COP II) as Quint from JAWS shows up and embarrasses the rest of the cast because he can actually act. All this in 19 minutes.

Most directors with lofty intentions would have dragged this son-of-a-bitch to the 40-minute mark by now. Not Katelman. He was the first unit director on Van Damme’s CYBORG (directed by Albert Pyun) and second unit assistant director on PREDATOR.

Hell, he was first assistant director on Pyun’s CAPTAIN AMERICA fiasco. He’s Cannon Pictures approved and Pyun-tastic!

You know, I really can’t believe how much I liked PRIMEVAL.

Maybe it's because you get to watch people say lines like:

STEVE IRWIN CLONE: Did you know Crocodiles haven’t changed much since the Triassic? Why should they? They’re the most efficient killing machines on the planet.

ORLANDO JONES: This crocodile’s like OJ Simpson. He messed up when he killed that white woman.

JURGEN PROCHNOW (a long way from DAS BOOT): You don’t seem stupid so you must be insane.

ORLANDO JONES: I would never say this in front of a bunch of white people, but slavery was a good thing. Anything to get the fuck out of Africa sounds good to me.

Maybe I liked when Jones says he’s going out to film establishing shots for the report they’re doing, doesn’t walk that far away from the camp, and encounters a rhino, zebras and a giraffe, which seem to be all hanging out together, as if he’s at Lion Country Safari.

All they needed was a bear and a cougar fighting and it would've been the best movie since WONDER OF IT ALL.

Maybe I liked it for the scene where Jones calls the crocodile a punk bitch, because his character’s from Brooklyn.

I really liked Prochnow’s Quint turn. We need more Quints in movies. A Quint would’ve made KNOCKED UP better; Quint could have been a Planned Parenthood doctor, “I’ll catch it…and kill it…for 10!”

The weird thing about the movie is the abundance of political commentary on the anarchic state of certain parts of Africa right now. It takes up a lot of time in this movie. Some good action scenes come out of it, but it veers the movie off course, especially in a giant killer crocodile flick.

Roger Corman always liked to have a little social commentary in his movies, but I’m sure he would have pulled Katelman aside and said, “Look, Mike, enough with the Africans. And where's the boobage?”

Now, I tell you, they don’t make this kind of movie anymore. So much so I kept thinking that it was made in 1993 and someone at Disney finally got around to releasing it.

Especially so since it went out under the Hollywood Pictures arm of the aforementioned conglomerate (“If it’s the Sphinx, it stinks!”).

But there’s some good gore, the croc isn’t bad for CGI and the supporting cast is up for the task. Langton as the cat reporter, I don’t mind so much; she’s hot and acts enough to look like she might’ve done some summer stock, but casting Purcell and Jones as your leads is about the stupidest thing one could do.

This is the second film this year I’ve seen Purcell in (the other was THE GRAVEDANCERS) and he just cannot act. There’s not one shred of personality in him. It’s incredible to me that he’s an actor. Apparently, his next starring role is in a supernatural Nazi film. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Which I guess is fitting.

Orlando Jones…well, he’s the most unfunny motherfucker ever to walk the planet. The best thing he did was play a retarded magazine seller in OFFICE SPACE and became immediately unfunny in the movie when he quit affecting retardation.

You get past these two shmoes, PRIMEVAL is good Saturday night, drive-in fun, provided you drink a six-pack. Or two.

And by the way, am I supposed to believe that since this was inspired by true events, two white reporters and their jovial Negro sidekick went over to Africa to catch a giant crocodile and fight warlords for CNN? For what? Sweeps week?


HALLOWEEN: It ain’t as bad as it could’ve been
By Eric Matthew Harvey

I grew up on HALLOWEEN (1978). That film and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) were two of the films that made me into a horror fan. I was never a monster kind of horror fan, although I liked those movies. No, I grew up on slashers and Italian zombie pictures, as well as the Romero kind. The funny thing is, those movies are technically adept and scary. Well, maybe not the Italian zombie ones.

When the HALLOWEEN “re-imagining” by Rob Zombie was announced, I, like many others, cringed and hemmed and hawed about what a disaster it was going to be. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not a disaster, but it’s pretty fucking pointless and put together terribly.

In Zombie’s version, it’s all about Michael Myers and how he became Michael Myers. Yet you really don’t understand why he became Michael Myers because it’s never properly addressed. Other than some exterior influences, nothing much is revealed, kind of like the first one. But the first one understood that you didn’t need to know this back-story, so why take up the first half of a movie focusing on something you can’t (or won’t) explain?

Oddly enough, the first half is the best part of the movie. Here is where Zombie isn’t remaking HALLOWEEN, but adding to it. All of this begs the question; why not just create something new instead of attaching the stigma associated with HALLOWEEN to it? Zombie, while no means a seasoned filmmaker, does have an eye; it just gets lost somewhere amongst his horrid scriptwriting and wink-wink cameos and the use of white-trash stereotypes he’s so fond of (not to mention his annoying use of earthquake-cam and sloppy close-ups throughout this film).

The opportunity was there to create a new boogeyman for a new generation, but once he begins to really remake HALLOWEEN, with the same characters and dialogue and running through it like a Reader’s Digest abridged version, everything he somewhat accomplished in the beginning becomes null and void.

Zombie’s HALLOWEEN is not scary or suspenseful. It’s garden-variety slice and dice and brings nothing new to the table. I guess I didn’t expect it to, but after the leaps and bounds in direction he made with THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, I expected something a lot more.

But the end result isn’t abysmal. Compared to the last four true sequels, Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN ranks under HALLOWEEN 4 in quality within the Michael Myers saga. I expected to destroy it, but I can’t. It’s just not that bad.

It’s just there, unfocused and non-threatening, which may be worse than the all out hate I have for parts 5,6,7, and 8.

At least I remember those turds in some capacity, even if negative. Zombie’s film has created complete and total apathy within me and in a couple of weeks, I’ll probably not think about it all.