Horror is everywhere. It’s ingrained into every aspect of our waking lives. Whether your just taking a quick glance at the news, watching a group of old ladies gossip at a post-church brunch, or going out on a blind date, horror is there. And then, as if that wasn’t enough horror in your daily life for you, we have horror at the video store. Usually, it can be found in a section marked “Horror.” But, more times than naught, the scares are to be had elsewhere in the video store, such as the “Comedy” section. And thus, I begin this chapter of "Catching Up At The Video Store" with one of the bleakest, scariest, and most powerful aspects of horror that mankind has ever known: Pauly Shore.
Adopted (2009) (Phase 4 Films) – Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the video store, the former MTV host and star of such neo-classics as In The Army Now and Jury Duty returns to haunt us once again. In his latest tale of terror, actor/writer/director Pauly Shore attempts to invoke the zany, politically incorrect comical appeal of comedians like Sasha Baron Cohen while keeping up with fairly recent celebrity events, such as adopting African orphans. The result is a staggeringly unfunny mockumentary wherein Pauly journeys to Africa so that he can attempt to revive his career by adopting a child. It’s about as dumb as you’d expect it to be.
Battle Girl: The Living Dead In Tokyo Bay (1991) (Synapse Films) – Once again, the boys at Synapse Films have given me the chance to revisit my youth by releasing another item I saw back in high school. Made for the Japanese V-Cinema market (direct-to-video), Battle Girl: The Living Dead In Tokyo Bay is one of Kazuo “Gaira” Komizu’s later directorial works: a fun, low-budget flick in which K-ko (famed lady wrestler Cutie Suzuki) dons her battle gear and declares war on the residents of Tokyo Bay — all of whom have turned into zombies following the impact of a meteor there. Naturally, the military find their way to the top of K-ko’s shit list when an evil general decides to use the zombies to take over the world! How can you go wrong with a film like this? Also known as Batoru Gâru: Tokyo Crisis Wars.
Cornered! (2008) (Phase 4 Films) – Are you still braving that waters after learning there’s a Pauly Shore lurking out there? Well, then, how’d’ya feel about Steve Guttenberg? Hey, personally, I always liked the guy — I grew up with the Police Academy films, after all — but the fact remains that Steve’s livelihood has been in question ever since then. In Cornered!, though, Mr. Guttenberg gets a chance to show he’s still capable of delivering a line convincingly, in this story of a serial killer who traps the staff of a small market inside their own business place. Oddly enough, Steve isn’t the only one who delivers a believable performance here, and his fellow actors (including James Duval) also do a decent job in this above-average chiller.
Meadowoods (2010) (Monterey Video) – Feeling as if their small town roots are beginning to suffocate them, three bored college students decide to leave a mark on the world. To do so, they plan to randomly pick a fellow student to murder, keeping a video journal of their entire scheme: from the planning of the heinous crime, to the construction of their homemade death chamber, all the way up to their victim’s untimely demise. While this low-budget chiller has a few flaws going for it here and there, it is nevertheless an effective entry by amateur filmmakers (complete with unknown actors) who are undoubtedly destined to leave a mark on the world of their own.
Fan Of The Dead (2008) (Cheezy Flicks) – This homespun documentary chronicles the journey of Nicolas Garreau, a French Romero fan who ventured to Pennsylvania (something not very many people do willingly) to interview members of the cast and crew of Romero’s classic zombie trilogy (which consists of the original Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, and Day Of The Dead in case you were born after 1990). While it’s an interesting look-at for non-fans, it should go without saying that this one is intended for diehard George A. Romero enthusiasts only.
Ex Drummer (2007) (Palisades Tartan) – Based on writer Herman Brusselmans novel, this dark and disturbing 2007 Belgian import tells of a trio of moronic misfits who decide to form a rock group and follow in the footsteps of their drug-addicted rocker icons. In need of a drummer, they ask a renowned writer to be their stick man. Sure, he’s a worse drummer than Ringo, but that doesn’t prevent these losers from worshipping him. Soon, the writer begins to manipulate his new followers into doing whatever sick and bizarre things he might come up with (kind of like our own US-based media managers). Pretty rough stuff. Who says the only good thing to come out of Belgium is chocolate and beer (although I’m quite fond of those little movie posters, personally)?
The Adventures Of Electra Elf: The Complete Series (2004-2008) (MVD Visual) – Whether you go to the video store in search of comedy, horror, or good ol’ porn, sometimes, you just want to watch something. And with The Adventures Of Electra Elf, that’s exactly what you get: something. Originating as a Brooklyn public access series in 2004, The Adventures Of Electra Elf tells of mild-mannered ASS (Art Star Scene) Magazine reporter Jennifer Swallows, who by night battles the terrors of the city as Electra Elf with her sidekick, Fluffer. MVD presents the oddball Nick Zedd-directed series in its entirety, with a generous helping of special features to boot. Sure, it sounds downright stupid, but if it came down between this and Pauly Shore’s Adopted, which would you choose?
I thought so.
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