Kent Chubbs manages a popular fetish nightclub called Den O’Iniquity in a small conservative town and the demanding, ever-present pressure to close his proclaimed “smut” club from the angry puritanical protestors and unethical politicians have Kent on the hair pulling fences about what to exactly do with his beloved club and loyal employees. To make the matters worse, Kent’s father and club owner, Shank Chubbs, is knocking on death’s door with a bad ticker. To make the matters even more worse, the club’s been a remarkable safe haven for those who choose to express their closeted intimate desires in spanking, furry sex, or lube wrestling, but, during the holiday season, the club has had a low hanging dark cloud in a form of a deranged killer whose been destructively rampaging through the club’s most precious employees and enthusiastic patrons. In order to save everything he holds dear, Kent must find a way to keep everything afloat despite the challenges and his ill-advised legal advice from his acid tripping hippie attorney while also tracking down a psychopath.
In 2007, Richard Griffin directed a hybrid film that structured an abled bodied comedy and interjected moments of gruesome horror and fashioned it with elaborate musical numbers and the result was a niche slasher-musical simply known as “Splatter Disco.” We like this film. Actually, we love this film. Not because we enjoy watching and reviewing Richard Griffin films (see “Flesh for the Inferno,” “The Sins of Dracula,” “The Disco Exorcist,” “Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead,” “Future Justice”) and enjoy seeing where his toddler career began, but because “Splatter Disco” embodies the unlikely mixture of oil and water genres, doesn’t take itself seriously, and was whole-heartedly invested in by some of the biggest names in cult cinema as well as some talented actors and actresses you’ve may have never heard of before, but should certainly know.
Ken Foree, Lynn Lowry, and Debbie Rochon. Three big, well-known names that add their own delectable charm into the mix and, also, three big names who have developed a dynamic, who know each other’s styles, and who can still churn new material on the fly like it’s no big deal. Tack on Trent Haaga (“The Ghouls”) and the then new and Richard Griffin regular from that point on, Sarah Nicklin, who both have the favorably b-movie glow and “Splatter Disco” goes to a whole new level. One of the best performances goes to Jason McCormick as Echo, a DJ Qualls lookalike, with a timely comedic toss that provides a unique schtick to keep the character rememberable and McCormick nails the character right on the flat head. Overall, there were no slacking performances; every actor was chin deep getting into their respective roles with the various fetishes, cloak and dagger shades, and violent intentions. Rounding out the cast is Carlos Brum (“Beyond the Dunwich Horror”), William DeCoff (“The Haunting of Alice D”), Robin L. Watkins (“Poultrygeist”), and Brian L. Mullen III (“Pretty Dead Things”).
If you never experienced a Richard Griffin feature, you’ll pleasantly find out very quickly the director goes all out and the Providence, Rhode Island born director has a great 1970’s-1980’s homage style side dished with lots of vibrant colors and the abundance of suspending smoke and you’ll see why we cater to much of his work. The script’s dialogue, co-written by Griffin and producer Ted Marr, also excellently defines and solidifies the quick wit and whimsical nature of the comedy-horror and to make no mistake, this comedy-musical-horror has no shame with perversions, has well edited bloody special effects, and is ultimately a blast of lively cult cinema! “Splatter Disco” is a self-proclaimed first slasher musical of it’s kind; honestly, I couldn’t think of a prior film of it’s kind, but “Splatter Disco” has hit and catchy imitative tunes provided by Tony Milano and performed by Daniel Hildreth that go hand-and-hand with the humbling dance choreography.
MVDVisual, POP Cinema, and Shock-O-Rama re-releases “Splatter Disco” onto a not rated DVD home video with a 16:9 widescreen presentation. Regrettably, I’m sorely disappointed in the video quality that fully suffers from the distorting and blotchy compression artifacts that make night scenes fuzzy and flimsy in defintion. The lossy 2.0 stereo track is par for the course, even with musical pieces and soundtrack overlay, but does provide a little restitution for the image loss. Bonus features are aplenty that include a commentary with director Richard Griffin and star Lynn Lowry, a behind-the-scenes documentary, alternate scenes, and a Shock-O-Rama trailer vault. “Splatter Disco” is an entertaining 87 minute Richard Griffin slasher capsule classic full of degenerate song and dance!
A four person punk rock band, known as The Dick-Punchers, kidnap an egotistical businessman named Todd because they suspect the white collar professional to be a vicious, man-eating werewolf. Confined to a chair in an abandoned warehouse, Todd is interrogated, threatened, and tortured to reveal his true beastly self, but as the night drags on, the band’s evidence weakens against Todd and tensions boil to a flare as the band’s leader, Schafer, starts to question their suspicions and motives. Doubts divide the band’s handling of the overwrought situation, especially when Todd’s wife tracks her husband’s phone to his exact location, hoping to catch him in an unfaithful act, but ends up becoming entangled in his internment.
Crafting a werewolf film on a microscopic budget is a daunting and difficult task to accomplish and having the resulting finish to be mediocre is a good achievement for any filmmaker whether working in the independent market or in the Hollywood limelight. Writer-director Kurtis Spieler found a conduit through the immensely barbed brier patch for his 2013 indie horror film “Sheep Skin” and came out relatively unscathed by the pricks. The ambitious werewolf flick was developed on the heels of his Spieler’s 2007 short film of the same title with actor Laurence Mullaney reprising his role of the kidnapped businessman, or maybe a werewolf in plain sight, Todd and with Nicholas Papazoglou returning as producer. With a little more backing behind Spieler’s Invasive Image production company, the director was able to recreate his short to a feature film on a reported $25,000 budget.
The budget amount surely gives a bit of hesitation when going into a viewing of “Sheep Skin,” but by cutting down location costs and maintaining afloat with the equipment already obtained, Spieler puts his heart and soul into the cast of gifted actors and a talented crew and into a story that’s nail-bitingly entertaining without the possibility of a werewolf ever making an appearance on screen. Along side the return of Laurence Mullaney, the relatively unknown Michael Schantz, who had a role in the Alistair Pitt episode of NBC’s popular espionage drama series “The Blacklist,” portrays Schafer, the vengeance seeking leader of The Dick-Punchers. Schantz’s rendition of the character is undeniably acute to the rampant emotions and stakes of kidnapping and holding Todd. Schafer’s band member and girlfriend, Dylan, portrayed by Ria Burns-Wilder finds an unwavering loyalty in her man. The two wild cards, Clive and Marcus, filled in fittingly by Zach Gillette and Bryan Manley Davis. Gillette and Davis play characters that contrast each other very strongly with Clive being more of a bruiser and a hot head looking forward to roid-rage mayhem while Marcus nervously questions his friends’ intentions if the situation goes south. Jamie Lyn Bagley is an It’s Bloggin’ Evil favorite (see our reviews for “Flesh for the Inferno,” “Sins of Dracula,” “Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead,” and “Future Justice“) and the upcoming scream queen becomes the last puzzle piece to a dynamic cast as Todd’s mistrusting wife.
The kidnapping portion of the story starts from the get-go, nabbing Todd as soon as he attempts to leave the office. After all introductions are completed and the plot is set, the pace slows down toward an uneventful position with characters vacillating. Schafer holds many sidebar conversations with his crew, as a good captain should always do, but makes for tedious anticipation instead of white knuckling action. The deceleration of content during this time doesn’t necessarily bore down the story as the characters react rightfully so due in part to Spieler intentionally incorporating doubt into The Dick-Punchers’ plan and when the snowball starts to roll downhill and the strain starts to disintegrate their plan and, ultimately, their friendship, “Sheep Skin” is a juggernaut of confined bloodletting.
Unearthed Films and MVDVisual courtesy releases Kurtis Speiler’s film onto DVD with a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio that soaks in a noir style filter for a mysterious-horror atmosphere. The DVD offers an alternate black and white version of the film that’s preferable as the dark filter kept the image devoid of natural colors. Digital noise overtakes the brighter coloring in which DNR could have reduced the effect for a cleaner finish. The noise also affected the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio with a low lying hum throughout the background of the entire duration. Dialogue tracks levels vary heavily during calmer or character enclosed scenes while the soundtrack booms out LFE during abrupt moments. The DVD has a solid cache of extras including director’s commentary, deleted scene with director introduction, behind the scenes look at the making of “Sheep Skin,” the original short film, The Dick-Punchers music video, and the theatrical trailer. “Sheep Skin” isn’t an archaic werewolf tale, but a fresh suspenseful spin on lycanthrope mythos.
A Church youth group voluntary attends a Saint Christopher’s Catholic Middle School weekend cleanup before the school’s much needed reconstruction and restoration. As soon as they start with the sweeping, dusting, and polishing, three demon nuns, let to suffer behind an enclosed brick wall by a child molesting priest, unleashes their vengeful wrath, a gift from their new lord and savior, the devil, to whom they’ve sold their soul. Quickly, one-by-one the volunteers fall to the flesh hungry demonic nuns, using their sins against them, and extracting their souls for hell bound eternity. The select few to survive the ordeal of nuns will come face-to-face with Satan himself where praying for mercy will get them nowhere and is the same as burning in hell.
Director Richard Griffin once again pushes down the throttle to wrap the shooting of an entire movie in a matter of days on another lightweight budget. “Flesh for the Inferno” had a 9 day shoot with, and no surprise here, Griffin hiring some of his entourage of talented actors and actresses. The stage actors employed are always remarkable to watch; the underrated Michael Thurber, even in a toned down performance, is such a joy to watch with his adaptable skill set to jump into the shoes of any role in any film. The same can be said about the co-leads, Jamie Default and Jamie Lyn Bagley, who easily adjust into various roles from one Griffin film to the next. However, to my surprise, Griffin’s works with new faces, such as Ryan Nunes, Andrew Morais, and Kevin Michael Strauss, whom fit into his homage work of European possession horror. Then, there’s the talented Aaron Andrade who puts any other actor’s portrayal of Devil to shame.
Griffin and long time collaborator and cinematographer Jill Poisson purposefully softens the lens to give the photography a dreamlike or surreal state to mimic the iconic European director styles such as from Mario Bava or more in tunely with Lucio Fulci and though this respectable style was succesffully achieved and did contribute to the Bava or Fulci level of cinematic and atmospheric charm, the haziness was a bit overbearing, almost closing in on the actors within a modified frame of dominating clouds. The effect mostly shadows from what I noticed, right off the bat, the recognizable set from a previous Griffin film, “Future Justice,” sporting a new coat of paint and constructed with new, or new-ish, set pieces to create the Catholic school locale.
Screenwriter Michael Varrati churns out a script in less than a week to give Griffin much time as possible on a location rented much longer than needed. Varrati has written remarkable natural banter between opposition, connected, and flirtatious characters and does well with the dynamics for a quickly progressing story where shit hits the fan, crossing over into act two, in a matter of minutes. Its the dialogue, however, that slightly over saturates “Flesh for the Inferno” and it’s demonic, habit-wearing nuns. Fully engaged conversations between the nuns and the unlucky survivors cross over into theological debates rather than leading into a sacrilegious and unholy curse. Though at times, scenes like the one with Michael Thurber chasing his own tail in a Groundhog Day movie-type scenario was well placed in the story and well shot, even if little-to-no dialogue was present.
“Flesh for the Inferno” was suppose to be Griffin and his crew’s all out gory effects movie the homage attuned director has ever filmed. Yet, I can’t help but feel as if the opportunity was bobbled to recreate a “Demonia’s” bloodshed. The John Dusek effects were simply effective though, catering to all the film’s intention and needs to pull off a nasty nunnery narrative. The Timothy Fife soundtrack isn’t necessarily Fulci inspired as well that perhaps resemble more of a Goblin and Ennio Morricone blend and that’s highly more notable.
Scorpio Film Releasing and MVDVisual distribution together created and distributed another fantastic film that’s graced with retro-sleek cover art, like always, and I’m always impressed by director Richard Griffin’s capability to turn low budget horror into a formidable admiration of the old days of all kind of horror. Griffin and his entourage are on a whole separate level than their counterpart in their Hollywood doppleganger Eli Roth. The MVDVisual DVD looks sleek with a 16:9 widescreen presentation for the 79 minute feature. Bonus material is limited, but informative, that includes a crew commentary, cast commentary, and the film’s trailer.