It’s Bloggin’ Evil Sits Down With Fright-Rags Founder Ben Scrivens!

It’s Bloggin’ Evil had the opportunity to force Ben Scrivens away from designing awesome horror-inspired T-shirts and sit down with us for an interview! Scrivens is the founder of Fright-Rags, the leading producer of high-quality, limited-quantity, horror film inspired T-shirts. With original and detailed artwork, Fright-Rags stands out among other online retailers!

Below, Ben describe his new “31” inspired T-shirts of the latest Rob Zombie film and discusses the new enamel pin line of select Friday the 13th victims!

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I feel like the Ben Scrivens story has yet to be told to horror fans. How did you develop Fright Rags into being the epitome of horror inspired T-shirts and other memorabilia?

You could say it started on Halloween night, 1981. I was four years old and ended up watching John Carpenter’s Halloween on TV. I was hooked. From that moment on, I loved horror and wanted to see more. Fast forward to 2003, and I was looking for ways to let off some creative steam. I am a graphic designer by trade, so I started messing around with some ideas in Photoshop. I played with ways to work with images of Michael Myers, Jason, etc., and I thought they would look really cool on shirts. I didn’t have any horror shirts because I didn’t really like anything that was currently available on the market. So I decided to create my own.
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What were the iconic movies or talents that inspired you to turn from a marketing communications manager into the Fright Rags owner?

The main movie of course was John Carpenter’s Halloween, but also any slasher flick or flicks I grew up watching in the ’80s. As for talents, I would say it helps having a background in design as I was able to create my own designs as well as build my first website. Over the years, I think that has evolved into just the ability and readiness to learn more about business and how to keep it all organized and running smoothly.

Your October lineup is a great way to start off 2016’s Halloween! Kicking it off with Rob Zombie’s vicious “31,” what made you choose Doom-Head to be the leading face of this movie’s T-shirt brethren?

Well, it was hard because we had to design the shirts without seeing the film. Rob sent us a ton of images but without really knowing the story, we were grasping a bit. But Doom-Head seemed to be a pretty integral part so once we had some designs to choose from, that seemed a likely choice. And Rob liked it too.
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Rob Zombie receives a lot of love from Fright Rags. Is Zombie a big inspiration, from his music to his films or his life style, for putting his Rockabilly face and his homaging work on front of a majority of your product?

Yes, I would say he is. Also, he’s one of those guys that, visually, you can do a lot with. He has both his music and his movies to play off of so there just happens to be a lot of fodder for us. Plus, I am a fan of his – both the music and his movies – so it makes it easy.

The enamel pins are a huge and interesting new product for you and your team and to go in the opposite direction with the select Friday the 13th victims is a bold move. What made you decide to go victim over villain? Also, was it hard to pick only a few select poor souls from the vast for your collection?

Well, we had been thinking about entering the pin game, but it seems like everyone is doing everything. So as soon as you get an idea, it’s been done already – sometimes twice. I’ve already seen a bunch of Jason pins, but since some of his kills are so iconic, I thought it would be a fun way to put a spin on things. It wasn’t too hard to come up with our choices, but to be sure, they have to be recognizable – otherwise it’s just some random head.
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I’m excited to see that TNT’s MonsterVision’s very own Joe Bob Briggs is getting the love he deserves. I feel like the TV personality and lover of schlock has been forgotten by many longtime horror fans and is not recognized by many new fans from a younger generation. Is it your hope to expose Briggs to a whole new group of fans and also rekindle the love from those who once knew him from MonsterVision? Does Briggs know his face is once again in the limelight?

Joe Bob was definitely a highlight of my weekends as a young adult. To do a shirt of him and MonsterVision has been on our ever-growing list of ideas for years. Then our artist reached out to us last year because he wanted to do one and I thought, yes, let’s do it. So I contacted Joe Bob and he was all for it. From that point, it kind of evolved to us then doing pins of MonsterVision, having him sign posters for us, and also having him come up to our town [Rochester, NY] to host a screening of The Warriors on Saturday, October 1. I certainly hope this brings him back into the limelight a bit more as we have been thrilled to work with him on this project.
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Have Fright Rags been struck hard by the declining economy?

Luckily, we have not seen a decline in sales due to the economy. We have grown every year we have been in business, and i think that is partly because people want to escape the stress of their life. We provide them with that escape; they buy our shirts because of the memories attached to the images emblazoned on them. Also, even though our shirt cost more than others, they are high-ticket items like other luxury goods that may have seen a setback due to the economy. At $27, it’s still an affordable luxury.

How much has the company grown over the years?

More than I could have ever imagined. Every time we hit a new high, I am humbled by how far we’ve come sine it was a one-man operation out of my apartment.

Are you seeing a major influence in your sales from pop-up competitors that have 24-hour deals like RiptApparel or TeeFury for example? How does Fright Rags differ from numerous T-Shirt sites in the “one-of-a-kind” deal?

While I don’t think those sites have directly affected us, I have noticed how decent ideas can become oversaturated because of them. For instance, we released a parody shirt called “Incredible Jason” that riffed off the comic book cover of Incredible Hulk #1. We were not the first ones to use that idea, but we were the first (that I know if) to put a horror spin on it. Then I saw one of those tee-a-day sites post 14 different designs based on that theme. None of them were rip offs of ours, but it just killed that idea. It’s too much of a good thing and then any design based on it seems like overkill. In terms of how we differ, well, we aren’t doing shirts for only one day. We do that once per month with our Midnight Madness series, but that is just one of many releases we put out regularly.

For the young entrepreneur, what kind of advice would you provide in starting your own business and how to sustain profitability?

The one thing I tell everyone who emails me for advice is to START. Just start. So many people are worried about how they should set up their company, and spend time on little micro things that – while important – prevent them from actually getting out there and selling something. My first site sucked. My first logo sucked. Hell, the name “Fright-Rags” is pretty plain when you think about it! But the only thing that separates me from another person with an idea is that I went out and started something. From that moment, everything has been on the job training. Even though we’ve grown every year, there have been so many times where I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out, and times where we’ve had to pivot and rethink how we do business. Buy you cannot do any of that until you start something.

Thank you for your time again and is there is anything you would like to add in conclusion?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me, and thank you to all of the people who support us. We truly could not do what we do without you!

Stop by Fright-Rags this October for all your horror T-shirt and memorabilia goodies. Lots a good stuff coming from the company this fall!

Get Caught In Evil’s “Flytrap” review!

vlcsnap-00001Newly hired UCLA astronomy professor James Pond becomes mixed up with peculiar behaving individuals when his car breaks down in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Held hostage in a small house, James reluctantly follows orders from an automaton man named Gilligan involved with a unusual plan for James to reproduce with the lovely Mary Ann. James’ ensnarement feel like a gag at first until he awakes bound to a bed and strapped with a shock collar; the once thought innocent fling with Mary Ann has taken a turn for the worse when he the realization that the whole human race could be in jeopardy. James becomes captivated by Mary Ann’s innocence, naivety, and beauty making his attempts to escape more difficult without her, but if he decides to stay, a ominous question mark will determine his fate.
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“Flytrap” is a micro sci-fi thriller production written-directed by 1995’s “The Mangler” screenwriter Stephen David Brooks and stars television series “Salem” Jeremy Crutchley as Jimmy Pond, Austrian born Ina-Alice Kopp as Mary Ann in ambivalence, and Jonah Blechman as the emotionless Gilligan. From the get-go, “Flytrap” slowly builds a momentum, but never really gains the full steam while revolving around Jimmy Pond’s detainee state. Ambiguity plagues the story with many unanswered questions, leaving more for the audiences’ imagination rather than to the exposition and that begs the question whether everything that did happen to the astronomer happened in reality or in just in his mind? For example, the voice in the air condition duct stays anonymous until, maybe or maybe not, the end and, perhaps instead, that was all just Jimmy’s subconscious informing him of his rational side opposed to what his heart desires such as, for instance, Mary Ann is not who she seems. Is Jimmy that much wrapped up in his paranoia?
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If you didn’t notice from the film’s synopsis, references from “Gilligan’s Island” are abundantly staged throughout, especially with the character names. Jason Duplissea has a minor role as the Skipper for only a brief moment and we never see Duplissea grace the screen with his presence again. Besides, Duplissea didn’t resemble his television show namesake as the others. Other pop culture references, such as Alfred Hitchcock, MTV’s Punk’d, and various others, are mentioned but the conveying of these felt as if the film didn’t have a single original thought starting with their characters, especially with the hip English astronomer and his vast knowledge of American and British pop culture. Yes, Jimmy Pond was struggling to humanize his captors, who supposedly hail from the planet Venus, with bad dancing, some romance, and an unquenchable yearning to be free, but the intention comes across technically clunky, delivered with no substantial soul. Other technicalities fair far better with great lighting to create an inauspicious atmosphere. Combine that with some solid performances from Jeremy Crutchley, Ina-Alice Kopp, and a frightening mechanical Jonah Blechman and the situation turns hopelessly weird.
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Aside from Jason Duplissea making little less than a cameo, other characters quickly pop in and pop out of the story. Billy “Sly” Williams involvement lacked girth when his character Rondell sits rather very patiently through the weekend, waiting for Jimmy to call or pickup his cell. There’s no motivation other than sit and wait and call the police where the inept police department uses a machine instructs to leave a message of a crime being committed. When Rondell finally has the opportunity to do big things in order to assist Jimmy, another moment is zapped away without a trace. Like Williams, Jonathan Erickson Eisley’s Azarias had a brief scene shunted even more quickly away once introduced chained tightly bound in the house’s basement and at that precise moment, a window of opportunity cracks open to help clear up the baffling enigmas giving much puzzlement to Venus’s plan to take over or destroy mankind. Given his incarceration, we can assume Azarias is Jimmy’s equal, a previous captive with a failed outcome. Omit Williams and Eisley roles and the Brooks’s film prospers into comprehension that much more.
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“Flytrap” is a festival winner – “Best Non-European Indie Feature at the European Independent Film Festival in France, Best Low Budget Feature at Worldfest Houston, Special Jury Prize at the Chelsea Film Festival as well as Best Feature, Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Blechman) and Best Ensemble at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival” – but falls to captivate and entertain even if chocked full of shadowy undertones of paranoia and loneliness. Pond, Jimmy Pond – a Bond reference “Flytrap” also made – needed more development to sauté an emotionally motley character until he’s well burnt to an cracked crisp. There will be no critiques on the audio and video as the disc provided was a screener. Check this psychological sci-fi thriller on digital HD through Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, and iTunes.

Buy “Flytrap” on DVD!

Watch “Flytrap” on Amazon Instant Video!


If You’re Going to Kill Evil, Make Sure You…”Crush the Skull” review!

vlcsnap-00011Master thieves Blair and Ollie have known heists for most of their young lives but promise themselves one more job before a long overdue retirement with their stashed earnings. When the job goes South and Ollie gets pinched by the police, Blair has to use all of their savings and borrow on top from a ruthless crime boss to utilize his connections for Ollie be released from jail. With the first payment due in a week, Ollie and Blair have no choice but to put their lives in the hands of Blair’s brother Connor, a two-bit thief with a seemingly full-proof plan of scoring big at a vacant vacation home. The only problem is is that the home is a murder den for a deranged serial killer and with being trapped from the inside, Blair, Ollie, Connor, and their crew are being separated in a maze of murder with no way out.
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“Crush the Skull” is a cleverly scribed 2015 horror-comedy from writer-director Viet Nguyen and co-star, co-writer Chris Dinh that was molded from the brimstone and fire of two successful short films, “Crush the Skull 1” and “Crush the Skull 2,” and a modest crowd funded financial backing that brought this witty and terrorizing film to fruition. Seriously, it’s been a long time since I’ve been entertained and jumpy with a film, especially one that’s working with a little more than a $75,000 budget. The superb character development and dialogue produces lively characters built upon an established dynamic group of tight knit actors whose on screen chemistry is beyond just a spark. Much of the character interactions are comical with a wrap around horror story and the mixture is purely potent and damn good that’s trying to pinpoint whether “Crush the Skull” is a dark-comedy or a flat out thriller.
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The unconventional lead man Chris Dinh is Ollie, the quintessential good guy despite his lawbreaking thievery profession and Dinh provides a semi-serious, semi-standup comedian performance that makes Ollie likable. What also makes Ollie likable is the character’s main concern ultimately lies with concerning for the love of his life Blair, casted by the gorgeously talented Katie Savoy. Savoy’s Blair has fathomless compassion for Ollie and the Boston-bred, actress can imitate that affection, stating she would do anything for her lover. Both characters connect well within the context of the roles played by Dinh and Savoy, but connect them with actors Chris Riedell and Tim Chiou and you have a fearsome foursome of hilarity. The merciless jabs, the daunting quips, the pleasantly bad jokes, and the utter goofiness somehow manages to be experienced very naturally from the hapless heist team of Connor (Riedell) and his simple-minded, light-hearted crew Riley (Chiou). Though Connor is far more bright than Riley, their additions add colorful farce to production, causing more mayhem than mending to Ollie and Blair’s predicament.
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“Crush the Skull” doesn’t strike as a very effective horror title at first glance with a slight vapidness about it. Yet, the title works as an appreciation to the series of events leading up the final moments when reformed do-gooders combat a demented and unspeakable evil and only then does the title reach out, grip tightly your neck, and slap you right in fat part of your cheek. Now, that’s a horror title! The horror portion inside this genre blend is an effective outer hull providing a superstructure of motivation and to stimulation. “Crush the Skull” doesn’t splinter at the first sight of blood, keeping the bones intact to scare the pants off edgy audiences when the diabolical game begins between naive robbers and a calculated killer until the instant of truth serves a fracturing blow that’s hard to reset. Nguyen and Dinh’s script isn’t overly gory; in fact, with a few blood splatters and a brief moment of a decapitated body, gore shouldn’t even be in the film’s glossary, but their script works diligently and brilliant along side amazingly gritty production design of the maze-like torture dungeon from Eloise Ayala to produce traumatic moments of gut-wrenching terror that’s hard to forget.
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Breaking Glass Pictures absolutely crushes it distributing “Crush the Skull” on a not rated DVD. The 80 minute film is presented on a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio DVD9 MPEG-2 disc with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. No issues with video and audio qualities with balanced color hues and audible tracks though the David Frank Long score was generically clunky at times as I swear I’ve heard that particular score before in other microbudget films. A small band of powerfully punching bonus features include both shorts that I’ve mentioned prior to and an informative behind-the-scnes with the cast and crew speaking about their experiences of the 18 day shoot. “Crush the Skull” is one part “The Bone Collector” and two parts “Silver Streak” with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor – an entertaining cult inspiring horror-comedy that’s shamefully too far under the radar.

Buy “Crush the Skull” on DVD!

Watch “Crush the Skull” on Amazon Video!

Dutch Avant-garde is the Next Evil on the Butcher’s Slab! “Meat” review!

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-8-50-29-amA young and beautiful butcher shop assistant succumbs to the middle-aged butcher’s sexual advancements and fantasies at the workplace after she catches glimpses his sorrow, but when the butcher ends up naked on the shop’s floor with his throat cut, the assistant becomes the number one murder suspect for an inspector who coincidently looks almost identical to the deceased butcher. As the investigation deepens into the assistant, the inspector’s solemn, solitary life blurs to an assimilation into the butcher’s and his suspect turns from being a prime target to being a crucial part of the his physical and mental altering integration into the dead butcher.
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“Meat” is a powerful transcending film seismically barreling through a Lynchian structure consigned to provoke the consequences of unhappiness and the consequences of poor choices during unhappiness. Directors Victor Nieuwenhuijs and Maartje Seyferth have orchestrated a moderately expressionistic arthouse Dutch drama told in a spiraling sexual context. The meat in “Meat” and the sex in “Meat” clearly share a correlation, peppered as motifs from start to end, and the positive and negative dimensions of the two are so obscured that pinpointing the differences between them are impossible, but both are for sure the last hope for the butcher and his assistant Roxy to embody the essence of sex and meat for opposite reasons. Whereas Inspector Mann simply drags wholeheartedly through his existence, expressing his numbness toward his mundane job and harshly breaking up with his lover without an ounce of compassion. Its until the butcher’s case lands in his lap does the Inspector shows signs of life again.
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If you notice that lead actor Titus Muizelaar’s dual roles have purposefully generic labels. The butcher is credited as just the butcher while the Inspector has a proper name, but the name Mann is just as indistinguishable as if the character was christened Guy. The synonym character was intended for blending, to blur their personas, and to transform one into another. To explore the transformation, “Meat” begins a parallel between the butcher who, in a metaphorical sense, has his cake and eats it too and the inspector painstakingly limps from one spot to another. A contrasting experience between the two firmly establish their individualities. Then, the film shifts gears midst a catalyst with the butcher’s mysterious death, forcing the female assistant, an uninhibited role performed uninhibitedly by Nellie Benner, to be the resilient gateway for the inspector. Third gear shifts into the inspector being more and more intrigued, if not extremely envious shown very subtly, by the butcher’s seemingly unchained facade. Each character emits an expressionless stature with a deep-rooted ugliness burrowed inside and each desire a change in their turmoiled lives, whether it’s sustaining love, seeking love, or able to love in order to battle every aspect of oppressive depression.
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The uncomfortable open and intimate relationship between the butcher, Wilma Bakker’s Tiny, and the shop owner and the psychosexual workplace harassment involving the enthusiastic, video-documenting assistant filets the juicy bits from the bone with numerous innuendoes and explicit carnal exhibitions taking brazen residence within the animal blood stained walls of the butcher’s small meat market. You’ll never look at steak, pork chops, and leg of lamb the same way again! Only when “Meat” transitions into that second gear does the erotica becomes less erotic and more forced and horrifically exploitive. Scenes of undisclosed rape and of blatant genitalia speak upon that aforementioned correlation of raw meat and sex; no choice is given to the cow when the cow is killed and slaughtered for the cow’s delicious beef and the same can be said in sex as it’s taken without much consent and it’s being reaped for the benefit of others.
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Graphically infrasexual and skewed beyond simplicity, “Meat’s” refreshingly loaded with unpleasantries and basted moistly with an outer layer of perversion that drips into an oven of thriller surreality. The Artsploitation team lives up to the moniker by, after being long overdue, crafting a home video release of 2013’s “Meat” aka “Vlees” onto DVD and on digital home video. The digital screener provided for review doesn’t give much insight into the audio and video qualities or speak to the testament of the special features. However, “Meat” is a phenomenal film that’s well-aged and ready to be rubbed, tenderized, devoured in all senses of the meaning.

Buy “Meat” on DVD!

Evil Rollerblades Over Your Neck! “Murderdrome” review!


Cherry Skye and her all girl roller derby team, The Alamos, find themselves gravely threatened by a summoned vengeful demon named Mamma Skate, the best and brutalist skater from the MurderDrome rink 20 years ago who was viciously murdered ritualistically by a Satanic-obsessed rival. Called back from Hell by a mystical charm necklace once in her possession, Mamma Skate rollerblades through the night, cleaving her way through the roughest of roller derby girls, and seeking to possess the soul of charm’s current owner, Cherry Skye, so she may live once again!
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In 2013, Australian director Daniel Armstrong had a vision. A vision that includes skimpy-cladded, brazenly jagged roller derby girls, a resurrected she-demon wielding a butcher’s cleaver, and a helluva lot of rock-n-roll! A joint effort between Strongman Pictures and a slow drip of miscellaneous funding constructs that very exact vision, originally not conceived to have been a feature length film. Writing along side Trent Schwarz and Louise Monnington, who also had a co-starring role, Armstrong’s rockabilly ozploitation is a blood diamond in the Australian under bush with kangaroo pouches full of ocker comedy and skater mayhem. However, Armstrong’s terrorizing roller-demon imagery sat on the edge of being nonexistent and his film suffers the associated consequences of financial hardships and production problems. “MurderDrome” has a vibe more akin to a music video with interjections of storyline in between various psychobilly laid tracks that’s perhaps a pure result of the film’s financial inability to fill the void, but the style’s unique outline contends strongly in independent or abstract cinema outlets. Aside from the atypical structure, “MurderDrome,” granted, has some sloppy and choppy editing that disrupt not only the opening credits, but also waters down a death scene or two and affects character motivations.
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Australian accents are thick coming from an indigenous talent of actors led by Amber Sajben, a downright heaven-sent leading lady starring as Cherry Skye. With her cutesy pig tails, high-knee fish stockings, and an acute fascination with always popping bits of food in her mouth, her contrast with the dialogue-stricken antagonist and steel, chain, and blade attired roller-demon badass Momma Skate, portrayed by Be-On The-Rocks (Yes, you read that right), redefines the old phrase a game of cat-and-mouse that doesn’t quite fit the overall artistic style. When a group of rough and tough roller derby girls who elbow check others for the fun of the sport, some fight should commence without being said; instead, the characters who proudly carry the names Cherry Skye, Psych, Thrusty, Trans Em, Princess Bitchface, and Hell Grazer option to scurry without giving a second thought to bucking up to a sole skating murderess. Armstrong subsides more toward a comedy route peppered with a resilience attitude toward the situation with co-writer Louise Monnington leading the charge in her character’s crude humor, especially having Pysch, her character, note descriptively what exactly is ‘duck butter.’ Urban Dictionary has you covered if you care to look up the term. The cast rounds out with Kat Anderson, Rachael Blackwood, Jake Brown, Anthony Cincotta, Gerry Mahoney, Max Marchione, Daisy Mastermann, Dayna Seville, and Laura Soall.
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Plot integrity is flimsy at best striking influentially at the development of certain characters, most importantly with villain Momma Skate. Her conjuring doesn’t go through the comprehensive ringer as the demoness just appears without establishing a connection with the charm necklace bringing her demonic lankiness above ground. Max Marchione’s The Janitor bares some importance that whizzes like air out of a rapidly deflating balloon as we learn less-by-less about this character throughout the duration of the film. The Janitor’s key mentoring role wavers, resulting in just one more confusion aspect into the blend. Remaining character developments are fairly cut and dry sans forgetting their eclectic attire, electrifying neon makeup, radical hairstyles, and overall lifestyles, but expansions upon the roles could have been more favorable for the Aussie production.
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Camp Motion Pictures and Alternative Cinema skate the “MurderDrome” DVD right onto the North American market rink, providing the film’s first region one release. Extras are abundant with music videos from The Dark Shadows and other bands, a gag-reel, and a behind-the-scenes special effects featurette. The 72-minute feature is presented in a widescreen 16×9 aspect ratio that’s a bit hazy at times on the grayscale, but adds charm to the bargain bin brimstone fire and smoke computerized effects that truly defines Armstrong’s slasher as a campy ozploitation with Italian Giallo undertones and a supernatural core. “MurderDrome” rocks, literally, with great pyschobilly tracks from The Jacks, The Sin & Tonics, and The Dark Shadows to name a few of the head banging headliners on the soundtrack in the confines of a cavity heavy plot for a film more suitable as a music video than a feature flick. In the end, “MurderDrome” provides an endearing look upon horror even with all the obvious flaws, but renders some nice moments of searing barbarity overshadowing, just slightly, some of the misfires. Lastly, if you like girls in skates, who never take them off at any point, then “MurderDrome” is right for you!
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Buy “MurderDrome” on DVD at Amazon!