Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Directed by Tobe Hooper
Color.  an un-defendable 106 mins.
Special Collectors Edition VHS from Turner Home Entertainment

There is a fate worse than death, and it is letting your promising career falter so badly that you make a movie about a killer laundry-folding machine.  Yes, the mangler is a giant turn-of-the-century laundry-folding machine (technically called a speed iron) that does the titular mangling.

Tobe Hooper has directed some great films in his career.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre is touted so often that you might be tempted to play down it's greatness, but you would be mistaken.  It is a gritty, mean, and extremely important piece of independent film-making.  It absolutely changed the horror industry.    Likewise, Poltergeist and Salem's Lot hold up pretty well.  And then, in 1995, Hooper made The Mangler.  Well, most of it, anyway. He was replaced by Avant Singh near the end of production.

With that kind of pedigree, you can expect this movie to be a mess.  And, it is.

The Rundown:

Giant gears, oil, steam, black smoke... these are the things that make up the terrible industrial laundry known as Blue Ribbon Laundry. Sherry is trying to tighten a belt on the machine and then some dudes get an ice box close, causing lighting to shoot out of said machine.  (what time period is this supposed to be?  Crazy old folding machines and ice boxes (that are inexplicably electrified)?

Old lady Mrs. Ellenshaw loses her pills in the machine and tries to reach in to get them.  The Mangler pulls her in and, well, mangles her.  Meanwhile, Robert Englund as the crazy old factory owner with metal legs, yells and curses.    Pill addict Officer John Hunton (the always awesome Ted Levine, aka Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, / talks like he has a wad of paper towels in his mouth) is called out to investigate.

Hunton tells his friend / neighbor / brother-in-law, Mark, that it's the worst he's ever seen.  They are having a pretty non-insightful conversation about how truth is never inscrutable when there is another accident at the laundry.  After visiting  one of the victims, they are convinced that the machine has a "taste for blood."  Mark introduces the idea that the machine may be haunted.


Mark and Hunton have a lot of conversations about philosophy and magic while eating.  Always eating.  The ice box kills a little kid and Mark believes it is a "transferance of evil."  It then tries to take off Mark's arm, and Hunton responds by beating it with a hammer until a giant blue ghost comes out of the top of it.

Then they start a crusade to end the terrible mangler's existence that would pit Hunton vs. Demon Machines, the elites of society, Grot from Metropolis and so on.

This movie was actually made, funded and released.  Makes you wonder what doesn't make it, doesn't it?

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The Evaluation:

As stupid as all of this sounds (and it is even dumber than that) this actually is pretty watchable.  If this were made today, it would be deeply ironic.  It would all be played for jokes that aren't even remotely funny, and would be unrelentingly dull.  However, Hooper plays it straight.  Only Englund plays it over the top, but I'm pretty sure that's the only way he can play anything.  Because it's not riddled with bad jokes and puns, the absurdity of the film can be taken on it's own merits.  We, as the audience, get to decide if there are actually worthwhile ideas in a film about a killer laundry folder.  (there are not)   There is no tension or actually scary moments in the film, but they shoot it like there is.  The art direction is kind of fun, and scenes like Hunton shooting holes in his coat to escape the machine are pretty funny.  I think a little more insanity would've made this more enjoyable.  There is too much "research" and "character development."  Until the end.  The last 15 minutes gets pretty damn awesome.  However, there is absolutely no reason a movie like this should be over 80 mins.

Set Yourself Up:

  • Steak.  Cooked rare.
  • Beer and lots of random white pills of any kind.  
  • Wear a ridiculous mix of 1920s / modern garb.

The Goods:
This tape started out very rough.  There were trailers for Mortal Kombat, National Lampoon's Senior Trip, some weirdly serious film called Once Were Warriors, and then...  the awesome looking Excessive Force II: Force on Force (which I definitely want to see and may be the best thing to come out of watching this)

- J. Moret

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Director: James Glickenhaus
104 Minutes

THE EXTERMINATOR isn’t one of a kind. It is one of hundreds of revenge movies out there. So why should you watch THE EXTERMINATOR? Because it rests in that sacred territory of pushing the boundary just far enough to gross you out without making you barf.

THE EXTERMINATOR will remind you of DEATH WISH. It’s dark. It’s gritty. But there isn't an architect seeking revenge. . . No. Writer/Director James Glickenhaus went for a special forces operative. An obvious choice. This isn't intended to be a complicated movie. It’s about a dude who’s best friend get’s roughed up to the max by a  berserk street gang. So vigilante, ex green beret, and extremely loyal friend, John Eastman takes it to them the only way a special forces dude knows how. With mega huge guns.

Jefferson: Hooked
I must admit, with a genius plot like that, and with such amazing cover art I was pumped.The cover art is a dude with a motorcycle helmet and leather vest on, brandishing a flamethrower. He’s also standing in front of a WALL of flames.

To be completely frank, I did not enjoy this movie very much.

A word of advice if you are going to watch this movie: Don’t believe the hype (or the cover art). Online blurbs about the plot make it sound bigger than it really is. Take the one on for instance:

“A man's best friend is killed on the streets of New York. The man (Robert Ginty) then transforms into a violent killer, turning New York into a great war zone and Christopher George is the only one to stop him.”

Does John Eastman (“The Man”) kill people violently? Yes. Is his best friend murdered? Actually, No. Not on the streets. Does he turn New York City into a great warzone? Not even close. All of the deaths that occur in New York are fairly small scale instances involving a few people at a time. Not to say there isn't considerable carnage, but it’s hardly a warzone.

Here’s my edit on the Amazon blurb:

“A man’s best friend is assaulted and put in a coma on the streets of New York. The man becomes a vigilante. Leaving criminals in fear and the police wondering who is THE EXTERMINATOR? Then the man pulls the plug on his friend’s life support.”

The opening scene IS a GREAT warzone. The movie actually starts with Eastman being cannoned through the air in front of what appears to be a wicked bomb blast from hell. THIS IS THE FIRST IMAGE YOU SEE IN THE WHOLE MOVIE. He and his platoon are then captured by what appear to be Vietcong soldiers. They are tortured and killed until Eastman’s friend Michael Jefferson saves his life by breaking free and annihilating a whole bunch of nameless goons with what appears to be an M-60 (!) machine gun. Words cannot accurately describe the brutality that takes place in this scene. This is one of the most utterly shocking opening sequences to a movie I have ever seen. The violence is in your face and the pace at which it occurs gets you pumped up for the rest of the movie. But as the movie goes on, you realize that sadly, the opening will not be topped.

Starting strong
Eastman clearly owes Jefferson his life. Fast forward to New York City, where they both live and work as. . . dudes that carry soda and/or meat from trucks. . . Eastman witnesses some gang members stealing beer from the warehouse and putting it in their killer muscle car. So they kick his ass. Jefferson saves him yet again. This dude is a saint. The patron Saint of Karate.

The gang members hunt Jefferson down and sink a hook into his back and put him in a coma. This sets Eastman off. The rest of the movie essentially plays out like a Batman movie. If Batman had feathered hair and shot bad guys in their dicks with an M-16.

Right is the privates.
From scene to scene there is no exposition of facts. There is no build up. Right after Jefferson is attacked, Eastman shows up to tell his wife about it. Right after that, Eastman is shooting gang members. For the most part, the entire film plays out that way. For some viewers, it could be very disorienting.

For the love of Jefferson. . .
There’s a detective. Christopher George. He’s pretty dumb. He’s in a sex first, everything else second relationship with a doctor. She has nothing to do with anything. I think she’s in the movie to simply connect a character to the hospital Jefferson is in.

I could go into the characterizations, special effects, and overall quality of this movie, but that’s not really what this is about. It’s a Rambo revenge movie (At this time, FIRST BLOOD was just a gory novel). It’s an interesting artifact of what 1980’s action movies actually became.

Looking at this movie from the perspective of an action fan, it works. Not terribly well, but it works. It almost has more of a horror movie feel to it. The violence is torturous. Some scenes even remind me of Lucio Fulci’s THE NEW YORK RIPPER in terms of pure, shocking, violence. The main point I would like to make about this movie is that you can’t go into this movie with the mindset of an action flick. Hulk Hogan is a greasy bastard. NO HOLDS BARRED is not as good as THE EXTERMINATOR

This movie is sort of greasy
I purchased the film on Blu Ray which is a Synapse Films release. The transfer looks fantastic. I know Synapse usually does a great job cleaning up movies, but I was not expecting it to look and feel quite this good. The disc does have an audio and trailers. Other than that, there are no additional features. I really don’t think there needs to be.

THE EXTERMINATOR isn't a bad film. We don't typically give movies a rating at All-Star Video but I would give THE EXTERMINATOR a 5 out of 10 if we did. I have a strange feeling I would have held the film in much higher regard had I not read into the hype.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Directed by David Lean
Black and White.  109 mins.
Bootleg VHS

David Lean's 1952 film, Breaking the Sound Barrier, is an extremely fictional account of, well, breaking the sound barrier.

I am a late-comer to David Lean, and that is a shame.  Lean is the brilliant auteur behind Brief Encounter, Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia.  His films are either epic or deeply personal, but successful no matter which.  Technically amazing and politically complicated, each film is an experience.


Phillip is a great pilot, who won medals and such in WWII.  His buddy Tony is also a great and fearless pilot.  Tony is in love with Susan, who is the rich daughter of a rich aerospace mogul John Ridgefield (Ralph Richardson).

Tony and Susan get married and head to Susan's home so Tony can meet Dad Ridgefield and her brother Christopher.  Christopher is a terrible pilot-to-be, but is doing his darndest to please Dad.  But, his darndest gets him killed.

Ridgefield offers Tony a job as a test pilot for his company after the war and Tony takes him up on it.

Now, if all this sounds dull, it really wasn't.  Lean is able to pace it wonderfully.  Sure, the acting is melodramatic and it feels a bit "dated."  However, what makes this film work is the outstanding script and well shot photography.

What could be a bland and shallow film in the hands of someone else, Lean turns into a debate on the merits of such acts.

According to the film, the sound barrier is 750 mph (Mach 1).  Much is made of the question, "What exactly happens to an airplane at the speed of sound?"
As an answer, Ridgedale only says, "We will name the plane Prometheus.  He stole fire from the gods."
Tony asks, "He had a pretty sticky end, didn't he?"
"Yes, but gave the world fire."
That is basically what the film is all about.  It's a question of sacrifice and the weight of guilt in the face of obsession and exploration.

Lean doesn't couch the film in technical jargon or lose the audience in long and boring sequences of flying planes.  Instead, he spends equal time at home with Tony's wife, and the torment she goes through each time he flies.  Her questions also became mine.
She simply asks, "What purpose is there in risking lives to break the sound barrier?"
Ridgedale replies, "What purpose did Shackleton have to go to the South Pole?  It must be done."

The wonderful thing that Lean does here, is leave you with that very unsatisfying answer.  Sure, it was exciting.  But, was it worth it?

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Seeking Mach 1
The Evaluation

Breaking the Sound Barrier is definitely a minor film in Lean's ouvre.  Made for TV in 1952 it is, unfortunately, unavailable on DVD in The States.  Because of that, I bought this bootleg VHS.  Though the quality was what you might expect, I still was impressed with all the aerial photography.  Ralph Richardson's performance as the obsessed mogul is extremely impressive.

*Spoilers Below.  Please don't read if you haven't seen the film*
Likewise, Lean makes some very gutsy and unexpected choices in the latter part of the film that really made me love it.  For instance, Susan's constant anxiety becomes the leading emotional force behind the first half of the film.  Then, in what seems to be the climax of the film, Tony loses control in his attempt to break the sound barrier, and he crashes into the ground in a blaze of fire.  Susan is left a pregnant widow, and Lean lingers over the smoking hole in the ground for what seems an eternity.
Then, Philip takes over the lead test pilot job, and as he finally appears to be breaking the barrier, Lean leaves the camera in Ridgedale's office with he and Susan, while they listen to Philip over the radio.  Simply inspired film-making.
*Spoilers End*

Set Yourself Up:

  • This is a film that deserves your full attention.  Watch it alone or with like-minded film-lovers.
  • Grilled Salmon.  Go fancy.
  • I love me some Spotted Cow.  Drink that.

From what I've read in other reviews and in Errol Morris' wonderful book, A Wilderness of Error, there are apparently tons of things in this movie that are not factual, especially details relating to flying, so if you care about that stuff, I guess, well, it might make sense to just read manuals or something.

The Goods:

Bootleg VHS.  Looks and sounds like a bootleg, but I'm happy with it until there is a better option.

-J. Moret

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The landmark birthdays are probably the weirdest.  When I turned ten, I was probably pretty pumped.  At twenty, I felt like there was so much ahead.  I was in school, things were on track.
Today l reach the dirty thirty.  That feels pretty messed up.  I mean, I'm almost dead.

Things have gestated for the last ten years or so, with me having no sense of what I'm "supposed" to do.  But, now I'm programming at the Trylon Microcinema with a wonderful group of people and I'm running a movie blog with one of my best friends.  That seems to me like exactly what I want to do.

I feel that I've been very shaped by movies.  Anyway, after watching about a movie a day for the last decade, here are the films that count as major landmarks on my way.

THE CHINESE CONNECTION (1972), Directed by Wei Lo
The-Chinese-Connection-a-k-a-Fist-of-Fury-bruce-lee-28390972-800-647.jpg (800×647)
When I moved from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to a smaller town, Owatonna, Minnesota, movies became my solace.  I watched tons of them on my own.  Nothing that really stands out as true love anymore, just a steady diet of decent films: Jurassic Park, Patton, Terminator 2: Judgement Day etc...  (Typical juvenile male fare)
In 10th grade political science, I started to talk about kung-fu movies with Matt (M. McSlam).  I invited him over to watch movies and he brought over the Bruce Lee film, THE CHINESE CONNECTION.  I was in awe.  Not just of Lee's charisma and skill, but by the experience of enjoying a film so fully while connecting with friends.  We spent a lot of time together after that, enjoying all kinds of things, but finally coming back to film.  And, here we are.

RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985) Directed by George P. Cosmatos
Rambo_First_Blood_Part_2_Pics_28.jpg (495×528)
Victory Culture = racism + exploding arrows
I first saw Rambo on TNT in high school.  After that, I watched it numerous times with friends, just to enjoy the pure ludicrous nature of it.  I mean, he shoots an exploding arrow at this dude, and the dude explodes...
In college, I was studying American history with an emphasis on the Vietnam War.  This transformed to Vietnam War films made in the 1980s, with particular attention on Rambo.  Put in context, not only was this an extremely entertaining, and bumbling, film, it was also a signpost of 1980s politics.  I ended up writing my senior paper on the prominent role of Rambo and other right-wing Vietnam War films in illustrating the return of victory culture to the US.  The straight-forward nature of the politics in the film allowed room for me to be new at film critique and still offer some new ideas.  It also gave me an opportunity to realize that film criticism, no matter how serious or "good" the film, is a worthwhile endeavor that I truly love doing.

BREATHLESS (A Bout de Souffle), 1960, Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
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New to the game
Though Godard no longer has the same appeal to me that he once had, I still owe Breathless a great deal of gratitude.  It led me down a rabbit hole, causing me to seek out Truffaut, Antonioni, Resnais and finally Kurosawa.  I saw this movie first in my Freshmen French Class in College.  It was my first "art" film experience.  I was so impressed with the editing and dreamy plotting that I did my best to hunt down as many films like it as I could.  It was pastiche while being current.  It was a blend of homage to American pulp films and a satire of neo-realist European cinema.  It also was a huge mystery to me.  I felt I needed to understand it.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) Directed by George A. Romero
roger.jpg (720×480)
Social Commentary?
I had a constant curiosity about horror films growing up, but I didn't see all that many.  I first saw The Exorcist at a friends party in 9th grade and was absolutely terrified.  I had vague recollections of Dracula and Poltergeist, but I don't truly remember seeing them until later.  Most likely I just saw trailers.  Then came Night of the Living Dead in 11th grade, maybe?  The idea that a horror film could be about the civil rights movement changed the way that I viewed horror and exploitation cinema.  It had never dawned on me that something like Nightmare on Elm Street could really be about white flight to the suburbs, or that I could even make my own decisions on what a film is about. 
Matt introduced me to Dawn of the Dead the year after high school.  We were playing in a band and watching movies pretty much all the time we weren't practicing.  It was a revelation.  It was a commentary on consumerism.  It was about the possibility of a future without rules.  And, it changed the way I looked for political subtext.

STILL WALKING (2008) Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
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Quiet Moments
Few filmmakers can keep things so simple and yet so engaging.  Koreeda changed the way that I view simple character dramas.  When done poorly, I still find them dull.  However, his characters in this film are so realistic and beautiful.  There is a tender gentleness to them that felt like he understood my own family.  I came out of the theater wishing I could be a better person.  The quiet scenes of making dumplings and the awkward love between family led me to see my own family and my place in it with a little more understanding.
This film also led me to seek out Yasujiro Ozu, as Koreeda is his successor.  Ozu is a true master, and his films have enriched my life in such a way as only a few films can.  Again, each time I see one of his films I hope to look at people with more compassion and complexity.  Likewise, this led me to some of my other favorite filmmakers: John Cassavetes, Wong Kar-Wai, Takeshi Kitano and Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

SLEDGEHAMMER (1983) Directed by David A. Prior
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And, finally, I come to Sledgehammer.  I was unaware of the Shot-On-Video movement of the 1980s until Matt introduced me to David A. Prior's ridiculous 1983 film.  This is the film that finally gave us the inspiration to do All-Star Video.  It felt wrong that we found this wonderful little film and had no great forum with which to share it.  All-Star Video has allowed me room to rant my opinions and give me an outlet for my ideas.  But, it's also given me a deeper focus on the films that I'm watching.
And, it's also causing me to evaluate what it is that we're doing with this little site.  The "it's so bad it's good" love of movies is a complicated relationship.  Sure, there is the irony of loving something you know is a disaster. And, yes Sledgehammer is "bad."  However, "bad" isn't multi-dimensional enough to describe why one would love a movie like this.  There isn't any reason to like something because it sucks.  If it just sucked, it wouldn't give you any joy.  (ie: Transformers 2 sucks and gives me no joy, whatsoever)

My brother Ross and I had a conversation this weekend about the ability to enjoy something "bad" and also brilliant art films.  I was informed that some random French sociologist believes it's about a demarcation between classes.  It's a middle ground that sub-consciously places me above the unwashed masses of bros (as I see them as unable to self-analyze) and below the arty snobs that refuse to have fun.  I agree with this in a way (as my place in my class does define much of how I see the world), but I believe it's also about the leveling of film.  One of the things I've always loved about cinema is that it's a people's art.  It is cheap to see, and everyone gets to see the original.

For the most part, film is a very approachable art.  Something like Au Hasard Balthazar may be about the world's sins and the sense of cruelty that pervades all existence.  But, it's also a movie about a donkey, and even without any desire for deeper meanings it can be enjoyed at that level as well.

So, back to Sledgehammer.  There is something about Prior's work that is refreshing in it's absolute abandon of self-reflection.  Without any studio involvement or control, Prior made a very strange film that sits somewhere between David Lynchian stream of consciousness and Michael Bay-like mindless self indulgence.  And, beyond that, it's incredibly enjoyable and a little scary, in that you have no idea where it's going to go.

At the same time, if something makes you think about yourself or your culture, does it matter the artist's intention or competency?  If it gives you some enjoyment, can it be considered trash?  In that, there isn't a whole lot of distance between It's Alive and Late Spring.

And, just because, here are my current 10 favorite films in no particular order: (until tomorrow or the next day when I see something new, when this list probably changes)
1. In the Mood for Love (2000)
2. There will be Blood (2007)
3. Phantasm (1979)
4. Faces (1968)
5. The Thin Red Line (1998)
6. The Beyond (1981)
7. Barton Fink (1991)
8. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
9. Tokyo Story (1953)
10. The Thing (1982)

And, that's where I head off for the next thirty years.  

-J. Moret

Monday, May 20, 2013


Director: Terry Lofton

I'm going to start this review at the end. Although the title is incredible, you shouldn't watch this movie. Quite honestly, I have not seen a horror film as bland and terrible as THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE.


With that being said, it is obvious this was a cheap production. My assumption is that the biggest budgetary expense was the videotape the thing was shot on. This had to have been conceived by a bunch of drunk dudes that watched THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, didn't realize TCM was actually a movie and thought it was just a series of death scenes, wrote crappy one liners on a bar napkin and filmed the following 3 days with what appears to be a consumer camcorder (It may not be, but the quality is that of consumer video equipment from 1985. Pure Shite).


Pretty much take the plot from I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (a movie I hate by the way, blasphemous to horror junkies, I know) and put a nailgun in it. Now, I know what you're thinking, that sounds pretty awesome. Somehow, this didn't translate into an enjoyable film.

For the uninitiated, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE begins with a woman being raped. bloody revenge ensues. Where I can applaud the attempted shock factor of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and I can understand where it comes from in terms of the  "message" it tries to present to viewers, THE NAILGUN MASSACRE lacks subtext completely.

The only real difference is that in NAILGUN MASSACRE the rapists all work for the same construction company. They aren't just backwoods dummies. My guess is that director Terry Lofton either worked for or had a connection to a construction company and could easily use the tools and facilities for filming for little to no money.

To summarize: Both movies are exploitative and filthy. One actually tries to do something within the context of garbage where the other is simply garbage.

THE NAILGUN MASSACRE starts with the rape of a woman on a construction site. The rest of the movie  is a seemingly random mish-mash of these meatheads getting nailed. There's a Sherrif trying to uncover this killer and a doctor to help him along. These guys really don't matter. With about 15 minutes left in the movie they actually try to zero in on the killer.

They prevail. . . and nothing exciting happens.


For being violent rapists, these dudes certainly have the magic touch when it comes to the ladies.

The killer almost ALWAYS kills these rapists during the course of consensual sex. Not to mention, the killer avenging the aforementioned rape, usually murders the woman the rapist is with. . . I realize movies like this rarely make sense. But this really makes no sense at all. Why do these women deserve to die? Because there is a possibility they're carrying the seed of a rapist?

The sex scenes are more gruesome than the kills. There is a 3 minute long shot of this dude's hairy, sweaty ass thrusting into a chick pinned against a tree. . . this is the worst scene of padding in the history of recorded media.


Remember the nailgun in the game Quake? remember how sweet that was? It never got boring dominating  goons with nails. This concept didn't translate to movies. At least not in this one. The nailgun, which is an inventive "massacre" weapon, falls flat in nearly every respect. It not impactful, it's not fun, it's actually not even remotely gruesome (due to absolutely garbage special effects work). Nearly every victim of the killer is merely pinned in some way and then they keel over and die.


There is one slightly entertaining kill where the killer shoots a drunken parrot head from a swimming pool and he falls on a hot barbecue grill. That's as good as it gets.

I would imagine this murder weapon could have been interesting in the hands of a capable director or even one that had a bigger budget at his or her disposal. Sadly, we are left wondering what the hell they were thinking while making this laughable attempt to entertain. A bad slasher is tolerable if the kills are inventive or gory. This movie is a bad slasher with bad kills.

If you are curious how a nail fun could be used to great effect in a terrible movie, FINAL DESTINATION 3.

FD3 Nailgun Massacre - Pretty gruesome

"WHO'S NEXT" - Bill Goldberg

Once the plot starts, (when about 15 minutes remain in the film's running time) things pick up, it almost becomes entertaining, there's a twist, and most importantly the movies ends. It also ineptly sets up a sequel. I never thought screwing up a sequel setup was possible. It is. The setup is so disorienting mentally, that I almost threw up.


Gotta love a taped up visor.
Every great slasher flick has a recognizable antagonist. Freddy Krueger. Leather Face. The Driller Killer. The trenchcoated killer from PIECES. The gloves of a giallo villain. There needs to be defining physical traits.

The Nailgun Killer looks like a paintball enthusiast. He wears a camouflage jumpsuit with a blacked out motorcycle helmet.

Camo+Bright Yellow = Invisible

The killer also spouts off some of the worst one liners of all time. So terrible that I refuse to transcribe them here. We're talking the least clever, groan inducing one-liners of all time.

To top off repulsive one-liners, the killer's voice is channeled through some ridiculous effects. There's some chorus. A pitch shifter and. . . who gives a crap. It sounds so bad you can't understand half of what he says.


I understand a movie titled THE NAILGUN MASSACRE is going to be smut. I expected as much. But I also expected at least a little bit of a good time while watching. I didn't get that. As you can tell, that pissed me off.

If you are looking for a seriously bad movie, as in, not remotely entertaining in any way, be sure to check out THE NAILGUN MASSACRE


FRIGHTMARE VIDEO released this movie on a red VHS tape in 2012. This tape was made for the 2012 Texas Frightmare Convention. Apparently they had some leftovers.

I saw it on ebay for a few bucks, so I grabbed it. I actually applaud the release itself. Comes in a hard clamshell case. Though I'm generally not a fan of fake wear to make something look vintage, the rest of the art presentation is good. The tape is blood red and is adorned by a full color tape label. Pretty cool overall.

My only gripe with the release is the music video for a band called Nail Gun Massacre prior to the movie beginning. I'm not criticizing their music or the video itself. A video for a modern metal band doesn't belong on a "retro" VHS release. Especially at the beginning of the tape. That's all.

This movie was also released on DVD by SYNAPSE FILMS. I'd assume it looks better and has some special features.


For as much criticism as I shower on this film, it's better than anything I've ever made. . . Except for that short film I starred in in High School when I ran across town and warned a church about a bomb threat. That was pretty sweet. Or that one time John and I filmed ourselves pro wrestling in his parent's basement. That's quite a bit better than NAILGUN MASSACRE and had a far superior plot.


Just don't watch this movie. Go ride a bike or go for a walk. It's beautiful outside.


Friday, May 17, 2013


Directed by Hua-Shan
Color. 90 mins.
VHS big box from PRISM Entertainment

"More than Man or Machine!"  "The Bionic Sci-Fi Adventure!"

The Shaw Brothers are best known for their outstanding kung-fu films of the '60s and '70s (Eight Diagram Pole Fighter is the freakin' sweetest.)  They also had a few forays into science fiction / fantasy.  What we get with Infra-Man is an awesome superhero Kung-Fu Kaiju amalgam.

Infra-Man suffers no fools. He does mega giant flips a lot.  He pushes monsters down.  He spin-kicks and power-slams.  He is the most ultimate Ultraman rip-off ever.

History lesson:

The awesomeness of Godzilla caused Kaiju-mania.  Japan made literally hundreds of Kaiju movies.  And, they made money.  Lots of money.  In the next few decades almost every country that makes films was trying to cash in on sweet monster movies (much to the delight of me).  England put out Gorgo (super sweet), Italy had Caltiki - The Immortal Monster, etc...  China responded with Super InfraMan.

The Rundown:

Being as how the edition I picked up is the Americanized Joseph Brenner edition, that's the one I will be reviewing.  I am not sure how much the original version varies, as I haven't seen it.  Sounds like the main villain's name is Demon Princess Elzebub, but in this version it's Princess Dragon Mom, which is better.

Princess Dragon Mom is pretty weird and wants to enslave the earth.  (seems fair)  She attempts to accomplish this by waking up crazy giant monsters that have been sleeping since the ice age.

Awesome goatee scientist (character name: Professor) responds by saying, "I need a computer printout of the princess.  It's important we learn all that we can about her."

After much scientific debate (a 5 min conversation between goatee scientist and astronaut Raymar), goatee decides its time to invent Infra-Man, who is considered invincible.  Raymar quickly volunteers to be the test subject.  "To you nothing will be an impossibility!"

Princess Dragon Mom summons She-Demon, in weird pointy metal bra, to send some cool muppet demons to destroy all of the earthling's satellite equipment, which they do in magnificent style.  However, Infra-Man flips a bunch and then flies to the satellite array, where they battle in traditional kung-fu.  It's the sweetest ever.  Infra-man throws exploding throwing stars and stuff.

She-demon uses her pale-man(esque) eye-hands to brainwash a sleep-deprived scientist.

Infra-Man gets thunderball-fists.  "Can I get such a thing?"  "Yes, Thunderball-Fists!"

That's well, pretty much it.

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The Evaluation:
Incredible.  Seriously, I love this movie.  I watch a lot of crap in order to find stuff I really want to share, and it was such a treat to find this little treasure at a tiny place in Pepin, Wisconsin called Waste Not Resale.

I am a giant sucker for kung-fu, dudes in big rubber suits, Shaw Brothers, miniatures, incomprehensible film-making, crazy dubbed voice-overs, and monsters.  This movie has it all.  The monster effects are either impressive or the worst ever, depending on the monster, but always awesome.

The plot is recycled from Ultraman and would later be used again and again in the likes of The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.  However, that doesn't diminish how genuinely fun this movie is.  The fighting is really fun, and they use the typical Shaw Brothers sound effects.  Princess Dragon Mom does a great job screaming a lot, and the costumes are nothing but elaborate.

Watch this.  You won't regret it.

Set Yourself Up:

  • It shouldn't take much.  I'm always ready to watch a kung-fu monster movie.  
  • Chinese take-out sounds perfect.  That weirdo mix of Americanized Chinese food would fit perfectly.  
  • Do some flips and somersaults.


  • Roger Ebert's review: "One of the most audacious, cheerful and berserk Sci-Fi movies ever made... fun for the family."
  • The first superhero movie in China
  • Inspired by Ultraman
  • The Chinese title, Super Inframan roughly translates to Chinese Superman.
The Goods:
Well, the VHS is pretty stellar.  Looks like there's also a pretty cheap DVD floating around as well. 

-J. Moret

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Directed by Bruno Mattei (credited as Vincent Dawn)
101 mins.  Color.
Blue Underground DVD release

Bruno Mattei is probably a genius.  Being the director of such a gem as Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws, he is a ripoff artist like I've never seen.  He made over fifty films, including a Night of the Living Dead ripoff called RATS with killer rats, which is most definitely awesome.

George A. Romero's brilliant 1978 film, Dawn of the Dead was a huge film in Italy.  It caused a huge shift in Italian horror film-making for a decade.  Titles like Lucio Fulci's Zombie is intended to be a pseudo spin-off sequel.  Likewise, Hell of the Living Dead continues that tradition, intending this film to be a continuation of Romero's series.  Mattei, directing under the pseudonym Vincent Dawn in this film, goes so far as to actually use the Goblin soundtrack from Dawn of the Dead.  He also uses the exact same blue uniforms that Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger wear from the same film.

The Rundown:
A nuclear power plant has some kind of leak and all kinds of brilliant scientistos get messed up and start killing each other.

Meanwhile, the before mentioned Dawn ripoff commandos take out a group of terrorists and perform special forces actions in some undisclosed third world country where Carlos Santana-looking aid workers get dominated by adorable undead children and zombified priests.

Close-up naked boob shots, automatic weapons, zombie tribe riot massacres, a dude throwing up like milk or something and the destruction of the UN seem to mess things up.

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"We'll all meet again... IN HELL!"

The Evaluation:
Well, there isn't really anything new here, it basically re-treads the same ideas as other zombie films of the time.  Not anywhere near the awesomeness of Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws, it still makes for a great time.  It's nice to see Mattei try to keep some continuity with Dawn as far as zombie design goes (blue face paint and orange blood).  However, that same continuity was pretty distracting.  The gore is pretty fun (and funny) and all the rip-off stuff from Dawn is hilarious.  If you're a fan of the genre, I can't see how you wouldn't enjoy it.  And, a woman gets a hand shoved in her mouth and her brains pushed out.

Set Yourself Up:

  • Watch Romero's Dawn of the Dead and Fulci's Zombie.
  • Buy a blue jumpsuit
  • Say stuff like Operation Blue Death
The Goods:
Blue Underground is always to be trusted.  You get a fun trailer, a great 9 minute short called Hell Rats of the Living Dead about Mattei, and a biography.

- J. Moret

Friday, May 10, 2013


Directed by Bruno Mattei (credited as William Snyder)
93 mins. Color.
Bootleg DVD

Jaws hates divers.  They mess with his stuff.  He also hates boats.  So, he does away with them.

"This time it's even more personal than the last time."

I was pretty sure that Jaws: The Revenge was about as personal as it could get between Jaws and the various humans who want to kill Jaws, but apparently not. - The plot of that movie has something to do with Jaws seeking revenge on whoever tried to kill his shark friend in Jaws 3D. (Full disclosure: I have not seen Jaws 2, Jaws 3D or Jaws: The Revenge, so it's possible that this is in fact less personal, but I am going to take their word for it.)  I probably wouldn't have seen the made-for-TV movie Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws if it didn't have the sweetest title and tagline ever.  It also had Italian schlock-meister Bruno Mattei at the helm and was on a ridiculous-looking Japanese bootleg.  so I thought I'd take a chance, and I am so glad I did.

The Rundown:

The goofy-looking couple of marine biologist Billy and his girlfriend Vanessa, who drive an RV, go to see Hulk Hogan, and are shocked when his daughter, Susy, is pulled out of the water and put into a wheelchair.  In fact, they look disgusted.  Hulk Hogan apparently hasn't been the same since some type of accident happened and his wife died.

Officer Patrick Duffy comes to visit Hulk Hogan and let him know he needs to pay the rent on his Sea World ripoff company.

Jaws attacks and eats some co-eds.  The authorities want to close the beach, but the money-grubbing capitalists are fighting it.  (Yep, the exact same plot as Jaws).

Anyway, Gloria has a crush on Bob, which pisses off her dad Ronnie.  Bob kisses Gloria, so Bill and his buddies pound Bob and then attempt poison Hulk Hogan's dolphins.  (yep)

Blonde Ronnie James Dio and a girl in a very uncomfortable looking bikini are fooling around in the water after dark and become shark snacks.  Dio survives and tells Officer Patrick Duffy, who has a killer theme song.  Duffy then goes to see Billy who is sitting alone looking at slides of sharks.

Duffy proceeds to ask Billy, "What do we know about sharks?"
Billy replies, "They have a mouth full of butcher knives and all they do is swim, eat and make baby sharks."  Now, I'm not a marine biologist, but I think there might be a bit more to the biology of sharks.

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Proper reaction to owning this film
The mayor sides with the capitalist pig and Duffy proceeds to try to set up a net system so that no one else dies.  Shockingly, the weird rubber shark manages to eat through the netting and put everyone in peril.

Hulk Hogan wears some sweat shorts that he tucks into a creamsicle-colored t-shirt into.

More plot developments that exactly follow the original Jaws happen.

It takes a bit to finally get the shark being awesome, but it gets there, and when it does it is totally worth the wait.  It dominates a dock, blows up a boat, and ravages some carnival decorations.

And, then...  Bruno Mattei's absolute madness comes forward:
Apparently the capitalist guy is actually a member of the mafia or something, and he hires a bunch of dudes to kill the shark.  In the discussion about how to kill it, Hulk Hogan posts a very accurate drawing of a shark that was most likely drawn by a 12 year old.  A group of un-trained bullies head out to avenge the damage that Cruel Jaws inflicted on them to a Star Wars rip-off theme song, and then... blow up.

Did I mention that Hulk Hogan trained his dolphins to fight sharks?  Or, that the Navy bred this particular shark to be the perfect killing machine?
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Cruel Jaws hates merriment.

The Evaluation:

This movie is great.  It's ridiculous and extremely entertaining.  The acting is over the top and the shark effects are hilarious.


  • This movie has no connection to the Jaws franchise

Set Yourself Up:

  • Gather together a group of trusted friends
  • Break out tank-tops that are a bit too saggy and swim-trunks that are a bit too tight
  • Hunt down some Swamp Ape IPA or other Florida beer
The Goods:
Nothing here.  Badly transferred bootleg.  Perfect.

-J. Moret

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trailer Triumph: THE ISLAND

I had a review all set and ready to go, and then realized today is National Pirate Day.  And, because we here at All-Star Video are honor-bound to follow all important holidays and traditions to their full extent, here is a trailer for the awesome looking 1980 Michael Kaine pirate movie, THE ISLAND.
Directed by Michael Ritchie (Bad News Bears) and written by Peter Benchley (Jaws), this can be nothing but awesome.  And, even if its not, that trailer is killer.

Props to Cody Misura for the heads up on this gem.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Directed by Larry Cohen
91 mins.  Color.
Charter Entertainment hi-fi VHS

Larry Cohen is one of those rare genre directors that manages to make his films brilliantly political and keep them extremely entertaining.

Raised in suburban New York and later the Bronx, Cohen was at City College in the 1960s.  Naturally, as a young man in New York, he became radicalized by the events happening and would use his education to bring deeper insight than is usually seen in films of this ilk.  He helped make some of the best Blaxploitation films of the early '70s, and continues to write interesting original films.

His older films seem to be increasingly relevant, but I guess that's the thing with satire.  However, if you go into this film thinking it will be similar to The Stuff in style, I think you'll feel it's a bit too serious and a bit too long.  This film is a much more serious foray into religion and the supernatural.

The Rundown:

God Told Me To starts with a sniper on a busy New York street.  The shooter takes out multiple victims with almost superhuman accuracy.  When veteran cop Peter (Tony Lo Bianco, French Connection) finally gets up to talk to the shooter, the only reason he gives is, "God told me to," before he jumps to his death.

A few days later, Peter gets a tip that there will be a similar massacre at the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  He tries to get the attention of the police, but it's one of the officers that takes out a gun and starts randomly shooting.

The film quickly turns into an X-Files-esque mystery story, with Peter seemingly always a step behind, and pretty much fighting every witness he comes across.

As he seeks out the truth, Peter finds that he is intimately involved himself.

The Evaluation:

It's always tough writing a review of a film that is essentially a mystery story.  The story takes a few different twists, and the end can be taken a few different ways.  But, the main feeling here that Cohen leaves us with is an uneasy acceptance that we've been lied to all our whole lives.  I don't think he's only pointing out religion, but instead that there is simply something more complicated and grim than it all appears.  At one point, Peter turns to his wife and says, "I always felt like God was with me.  But, it was never him at all."

I obviously really liked this film.  Creatively shot and carefully plotted out, it slowly opens up and makes itself more and more complicated.  The senseless violence of the first few attacks felt eerily current and horrifying.  It left me wanting answers and knowing that none of them are satisfying at all.

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Set Yourself Up:
  • If you have any religious icons around the house, it might make sense to place them strategically around the television
  • Make a strong Bloody Mary for all viewing
  • Andy Kaufman's first film role is the policeman who goes on the rampage, and according to legend, Kaufman antagonized the surrounding crowd so much that one of the spectators wanted to jump the barricade and fight him
  • Larry Cohen asked Miklos Rozsa to score it, but he replied, "God told me not to"
  • Tony Lo Bianco accidentally broke a dude's ribs doing fake CPR (method acting)
The Goods:
I found the VHS pretty cheap at Cinema Wasteland, and I'm happy with it.  However, Blue Underground did put out a pretty good looking DVD in 2003 that's still not out of print.  

- J. Moret

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Directed by Jeff Lieberman
94 mins. Color.
Limited Special Edition 2003 DVD release by Synapse

This film is a masterpiece of the genre, and I feel as though I just saw something that was greatly missing in my life.

Jeff Lieberman had started his career at the best distribution company in the world, Janus Films.  He then made Sqwirm and would later go on to direct the awesome-looking Remote Control.  I had the opportunity to meet him at Cinema Wasteland, and instead just kind of looked at him awkwardly.  Had I seen this film before I had the chance to meet him, I might have said something.  But, probably not.  Either way, I'm just happy to now have seen it.

Made for $550,000, Lieberman created a fantastic hippy nightmare.  In the United States, the 1960s started with fantastic enthusiasm and optimism.  However, by the end of the decade, the country's hopes were in ruins.  The assassinations of MLK, Malcom X and RFK, along with the Manson Family massacres and the deaths at Altamont had dashed any sense of optimism for the left.  Likewise, Watergate threw a wrench into the right's belief that you can always trust authority.  By the late 1970s, there were no institutions that could be relied on.

Blue Sunshine comes directly out of that aimless malaise of the late '70s.   There is a hopeless absurdity to the madness, but the film seems to seek for meaning in all of it.  Right on the cusp of the 1980s, and the coming slasher craze not yet in swing, some of the most exciting and creative films came out in those years.  Blue Sunshine stands up next to George A. Romero's brilliant anti-capitalist Dawn of the Dead, Larry Cohen's religious commentary God Told Me To and Philip Kaufman's incredibly paranoid Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The Rundown:
It's been a year since Wendy Fleming and her up-and-coming politician ex-husband Ed split up.  Now, she is having terrible headaches and losing her hair.  In clumps.

Doctor David Blume is also having headaches, and he's finding piles of his hair all over the place.

Jerry attends a swinging party with his GF Alicia.  One of the party-goers, Frannie Scott, thinks he's Bing Crosby and starts singing for the group.  He then kisses one of the ladies, whose boyfriend doesn't appreciate it.  The boyfriend tries to pull him away by his hair, but pulls off a wig, exposing Frannie as a crazy bald man, who proceeds to run away. Jerry goes after him, with hopes of helping.  When he returns to the party-house, he finds the crazy bald man has forced one of the women into the fireplace, burning her alive.  Jerry goes after baldy, and is then blamed for the murder.

To clear his name, Jerry starts making connections.  In one of the more amazing sequences in the film, he heads to the site of a murder, where the killer apparently went bald and then murdered his entire family.  The event is re-imagined completely in sound, while Jerry looks at chalk outlines.

He then finds a picture of Ed Fleming with Blue Sunshine written under it.  Could the politician be wrapped up in all this?  What is Blue Sunshine?  What does all this have to do with Stanford in the 1960s?

Oh, and a huge bald dude goes "batshit" in a disco-tech, tossing suckers around and grimacing.  It's sweet.

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"Remember Rodan?"  "The artist?"  "No, the monster."

The Evaluation:
For the paranoia of the consequences of the stupid choices we make as young people, it gets no better than Blue Sunshine.  The performances are great, the effects are outstanding and plotting is fantastic.  The pacing is perfect, it just keeps building and building until it comes to a great conclusion.  It also continues my theory that I have still not seen an American film from the 1970s that wasn't at least worthwhile for it's genre.  Plus, you get to see a bunch of people wearing bald heads.  This is definitely worth checking out.

Other facts:

  • The O'Malley's street (where the cop who killed his family lived) was later used in A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • The parents of the two young kids pulled them out of the production after they saw the attack scene.  Lieberman used his own daughter's voice for the voice-over loop for the kids.
  • The New York Post stupidly published a story that said this film was based on true events.  

Set Yourself Up:

  • Shave your head and leave some nasty long clumps
  • Wear a sweet tailored suit with a stripey tie
  • 1970s beers... Maybe Shlitz, Carlsberg, Harp, Grain Belt

The Goods:
The 2-Disc Special Limited Availabilty Synapse DVD is great.  The artwork is wonderful and the transfer is perfect.  It keeps the grain, but doesn't let it overpower the image.  The second disc is the soundtrack, which is awesome.  You also get a sharp-looking booklet with a very interesting essay (my favorite type of extra on any release) by Michael Felshier and Edwin Samuelson.  The special features are dope as well.  You get The Ringer, a short film by Lieberman, as well as an interview called Lieberman on Lieberman, and a cool comparison of the original and the restoration.

-J. Moret