It’s that time of year again. You know, when you switch on the TV only to be genuinely terrified by family ‘favourite’, the damned weird Michael Keaton vehicle Jack Frost, or sickened at the quality of Vince Vaughan’s dignity-killer, Fred Claus.
It’s times like these we learn to appreciate the little things: a relaxed glass of mulled wine and time with friends; the latest Roger Corman monster mash-up and a selection of at least honestly strange movies.
In case you didn’t guess, Piranhaconda, the new release from Corman, that prolific, veteran producer of tat, is a little bit on the silly side. Swimming in the illustrious slipstream of Sharktopus and, erm, stomping in the footsteps of Dinoshark, through the web of Camel Spiders (sorry- it’s gone), Piranhaconda is unsurprisingly about a big bastard snake with big bastard piranha teeth.
Depressingly starring Reservoir Dog Michael Madsen, hilariously miscast as the obligatory mad scientist, alongside former supermodel Rachel Hunter as some kind of villain or other, this is an enjoyable enough monster romp that ticks most of the requisite boxes. With a fun psychobilly score and Madsen not even having to change his expression for his pay-cheque, you could do far worse than give this a look.
You’d think a film called Piranhaconda would be the worst of this batch, right? Shockingly, you’re wrong. That dubious honour goes to The Lost Episode, the directorial debut of Madsen’s fellow gruff-as-hell character actor Michael Rooker, better known as Henry of Portrait of a Serial Killer fame or Merle from TV’s The Walking Dead.
Basically, combine all the elements of clichéd found footage horror movies into one dull package, and you have The Lost Episode. Lovingly ripping off every film that’s gone before, from Grave Encounters’ TV crew accidentally discovering real ghosts, to REC’s shaky hand-held camera followed by – BAM! theatrics, Rooker’s workmanlike direction and masked appearance as a killer do little to save this from the overflowing scrapheap of similar movies.
Slightly better is the latest effort from Jeepers Creepers writer/director, Victor Salva, the stalker-cycle thriller Rosewood Lane. Starring Rose McGowan as a radio psychiatrist driven to the brink of madness by a creepy paperboy (yes, you read that right), unfortunately, Salva’s film just can’t shake the feeling of being a sub Hand That Rocks The Cradle TV movie. Pleasingly, the director’s making a third Jeepers Creepers film, so let’s embrace that festive spirit, forgive Rosewood Lane and move swiftly on to a genre classic, the mighty Zombie Flesh Eaters.
Yes, Lucio Fulci’s formerly banned video nasty is given the full Blu-ray and DVD restoration with a host of lovely bonus material to gobble up like a greedy Christmas gannet. The Caribbean-set zombie horror, starring Ian McCulloch (no, not the Echo and the Bunnymen frontman) as a British journalist investigating black magic and bloody mad scientists (again!), with its distinctive tropical island setting has never looked more lush. Fabio Frizzi’s brilliant synth score is as infectious as ever and the occasional bouts of brutality should still be capable of shocking the modern, jaded audience.
A horror masterclass from start to finish, the movie also known as Zombi 2 is the perfect demonstration of why Fulci holds such an esteemed position in this genre’s checkered past. Hell, why not skip the other films and just watch this four times?
See you next time for Corman’s newest production, Dragonworm Versus Giant Squidula. Well, maybe not, but Roger: you can have that title for free.
What’s the best horror movie you’ve seen recently? Let us know below…