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Carver (2008)

Director: Franklin Guerrero Jr.
Starring: Kristyn Green, Matt Carmody, Luke Vitale, Natasha Malinsky
Unrated  Running time: 100 minutes
Released by Allumination

Shot-on-video gore fest in which a group of twentysomething's go on a camping trip and end up becoming the unwilling stars of a hillbilly snuff film operation. The leading man is an obese, goggle-wearing maniac who butchers his victims with a toolshed full of agony causing instruments. Unlikeable characters, unlikely situations, and lots of stereotypical southerner bashing. The main point of the movie seems to be to gross out the audience, and on that level Carver certainly succeeds.

CARVER seems to be primarily influenced by THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but dispenses with the tension and unrelenting terror that made that film great. Instead, we're left with little more than a showcase for gore effects of varying degrees of quality. If you like gore for the sake of gore, this might be right up your alley. If you're looking for story or character development, well, then you can probably skip this one, unless you want "Turkey in the Straw" stuck in your head for hours afterwards.

2 out of 5.
Bobby Shaw Carver, maniac-at large (Erik Fones)


The Redeemer: Son of Satan! (1978)

Aka The Redeemer, Class Reunion Massacre

Director: Constantine S. Gochis
Starring: Damien Knight, Jeanetta Arnette, Nick Carter, Nikki Barthen, T.G. Finkbinder, Michael Hollingsworth, Gyr Patterson
Rated R  Running time: 84 minutes

Once again, the fine folks at Code Red have rescued another horror oddity from the pits of obscurity. This one was originally released on VHS as Class Reunion Massacre, in one of those giant boxes that almost always seemed to house sleazy horror. Continental had some of the greatest video box covers in history. (Fred Adelman has lovingly scanned and cataloged a whole bunch of them, and hosts an impressive gallery on the web. You can check it out HERE.) For some reason or another, I never rented it back then. I'm kind of glad I didn't, because the new Code Red DVD looks about as good as this near-forgotten sorta gem will ever look, and features some cool trailers from other off-the-wall new releases.

The plot of the film falls directly in between the two titles. A handful of graduates from the class of 1967 convene on their (now long closed) high school for a reunion. These characters are all introduced during a fiery sermon given by one of the angriest preachers (T.K. Finkbinder) ever captured on film. There's a nice almost giallo touch to the introductions. While each yearbook photo is shown, the preacher reads out the character's crimes against god and nature, while a gloved killer slices their photos from the yearbook. While some characters are major league buttholes (a boorish jock turned womanizing jerk, a sleazy money-grubbing lawyer, a rich lady who shoots live pigeons just for the hell of it), a couple of them don't seem so deserving of death, particularly the floozy, the lesbian, and the gay actor. Anyhow, it's not me who is doing the judging here, and evidently our way hostile preacher thinks they are the scum of the earth. And, conveniently enough, so does our mystery killer.

Oh, did I mention the weird kid who emerges from a lake in a rock quarry in the beginning of the film? He's pretty important to the story, but I won't reveal that little secret here.

The Redeemer has some of the more inventive murder set pieces of its era. Grim reapers terrorizing lesbians, flame thrower-wielding puppets, bathroom clown attacks, and a really cool theatrical bit (featuring another puppet) that signals the end of one of the characters. In some ways, the film is typical of the low-rent slasher fare of the day, but it's these touches of weirdness that make the film work much better than it probably should.

IMDB lists this film as the only credit for director Constantine S. Gochis. I couldn't find very much about him on the web, regrettably. However, The Redeemer is listed as one of the flicks writer/musician/artist/and all-around cool guy Stephen Thrower is featuring in his sequel to NIGHTMARE USA. If Thrower keeps turning out the good work, we'll soon know more about Mr. Gochis than you probably wanted to know. I mean that in a good way. If you don't have that book yet, you should buy it immediately. And while you're at it, pick up a copy of The Redeemer: Son of Satan!


Burlesque (2010)

Director: Dominic Deacon
Starring: Haydn Evans, Christina Hallett, Poppy Cherry, Virginia Bowers, Dennis Kreusler
Unrated  Running time:  approx. 75 minutes
DANK Films 

Frank Bannister (Haydn Evans), a writer of Richard Laymon-style horror sleaze, is spending the night in his apartment, stone drunk, piss soaked, and alone. His night of pathos is interrupted by a knock at the door. It's every man's fantasy come true: two complete strangers, one cool and intelligent (Christina Hallett), the other a bundle of giggling sexual energy (Poppy Cherry), both beautiful, have arrived and want the opportunity to spend the night with their favorite horror writer. After a bit of hemming and hawing, Frank invites them in.

Before this can turn into a film version of a Penthouse Forum article, the women begin to play games with the miserable writer. Dangerous games, both to Frank's body and his mind. The gorgeous, icy Veronica wants to know what motivates Frank to write such nasty books that frequently feature female characters being sexually degraded and murdered. Meanwhile, playful Tammy runs about Frank's apartment like a drunken schoolgirl, and a possibly dangerous one at that.

I won't say much more about the plot, because part of the fun of Burlesque is trying to anticipate what happens next. I will say, though, that before this night is over, Frank Bannister will wish he had never opened the door.

Burlesque is a great example of what can be done with a minimum of resources, a lot of talent (on both sides of the camera), and a bucketful of creativity. It's also a lean, mean little movie running just barely over an hour, which actually adds to the frantic buzz of the film's final act.

I liked this movie, and am looking forward to checking out his previous film, an interesting looking bit of nunsploitation called Bad Habits.

Check out the film's official website at