This little three-minute film will make you defecate profusely

If you’ve been a regular reader of That Was A Bit Mental you’ll notice that all the films I’ve reviewed so far this year have one thing in common: they’re about as scary as solar panels. Which are not scary.

In just three minutes, Lights Out changes this. It’s a short film made for a challenge called Who’s There? in which filmmakers had to make an effective horror story in three minutes.

Most of it is just a case of tension building, but the final shot will stay with you for a long time, especially if you’re the sort of person who has trouble sleeping.

Make it full screen and enjoy (no loud boo scares, I promise. I hate that sort of cheap shit).

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Alice Sweet Alice featured pic

Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review

Alice Sweet Alice posterDirector: Alfred Sole

Starring: Paula Sheppard, Linda Miller, Niles McMaster, Mildred Clinton, Brooke Shields

Also known as: Communion (original title), Holy Terror (re-release title)

“Maybe you are afraid that God will send St. Michael to take another of your loved ones. When St. Michael took my little girl, I only thought of how cruel God was.” (Mrs Tredoni, Alice Sweet Alice)

It’s generally a bit of a taboo in film to combine children with murder. Usually that means filmmakers are wary of killing a kid in a movie – that’s crossing the line – but it also works the other way too.

That’s why it’s difficult to come up with a sizeable list, off the top of your head, of films which feature a scene in which a child murders someone.

Alice Sweet Alice isn’t scared of such taboos. Not only does it include a child being killed mere minutes into its runtime, its entire plot also revolves around the notion that another child may be killing people. Continue reading

Phantom Of The Paradise feat

Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) review

Phantom Of The Paradise posterDirector: Brian De Palma

Starring: William Finley, Paul Williams, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham

“Look, Philbin. I am a professional. I have been in this business a long time. Now, if I don’t want to perform, it’s not because I got stage fright. It’s because some creature from beyond doesn’t want me to do the show. Now gangway.” (Beef, Phantom Of The Paradise)

Continue reading

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Upcoming reviews

Hello friend!

As you’ll know if you’ve been regularly checking the site, That Was A Bit Mental is once again producing film reviews on a relatively regular basis. Since the start of 2014 I’ve already posted 24 reviews, and considering we’re only into March and I posted a total of 23 articles in the whole of 2013, that’s pretty good going.

I thought I’d take a minute to let you know what reviews I have planned for That Was A Bit Mental in the coming months. This is by no means a definitive list – there are some films in here that may not get reviewed any time soon, and there may be some films not in the list that end up getting reviewed. It’s just a general plan.

If there’s anything not on here that you want to see me tackling, by all means let me know by commenting below or emailing me at chris@thatwasabitmental.com – I’ll happily try to track down and review any films you recommend.

That said, here’s what you can roughly expect to see on That Was A Bit Mental over the next few months. Continue reading

The Killers featured pic

The Killers (1964) review

The Killers posterDirector: Don Siegel

Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Clu Gulager, Ronald Reagan

“It’s not only the money. Maybe we get that and maybe we don’t. But I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run. Why, all of a sudden, he’d rather die.” (Charlie, The Killers)

I’ve never been a professional hitman (*taps nose*) but I’m sure if I was I wouldn’t be surprised to see most of my targets leg it as soon as they noticed their time was potentially up.

Charlie (the legendary Lee Marvin) shares my opinion. That’s why, after being hired to put a hit on a guy said to have stolen a million dollars, Charlie is curious to know why said chap didn’t try to run away before he was shot down.

Eager to know what’s going on, Charlie and his hitman partner Lee (Clu Gulager) begin a line of enquiries that see them visiting a string of friends – and enemies – of Johnny North, the man he was paid to kill. Continue reading

The Burning featured pic

The Burning (1981) (Video Nasty review #9)

The Burning posterDirector: Tony Maylam

Starring: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Jason Alexander

“They never found his body, but he survived. He lives on whatever he can catch. Eats them raw, alive. No longer human. Right now, he’s out there. Watching, waiting. Don’t look: he’ll see you. Don’t move: he’ll hear you. Don’t breathe: you’re dead!” (Todd, The Burning)

Although there were a number of slasher films before Friday The 13th (most notably Halloween and Black Christmas), it was that film’s success which led to the birth of a sub-genre that was by far the most oft-imitated during the ’80s: the camp slasher.

(Obviously, by that I mean slasher films set in a summer camp, as opposed to films where a killer prances around going “oo-er missus” before stabbing someone.)

One of the earliest imitations – and one of the best, actually – was The Burning, a film written and produced by the then-indie Weinstein brothers and their small studio Miramax. Continue reading

Before They Were Famous featured pic

Before they were famous: 40 big name actors and their horror film pasts

Everybody’s got to start somewhere, and not every actor saunters straight into an Oscar-winning role in their debut performance.

Who's this? Find out below.
Who’s this? Find out the answer below: she’s the first entry

No, most start off doing cheap or independent films: mostly just to get work and have some actual acting roles to put in their resume, but also in the hope that their performance will get them noticed by one of the big studios.

Everyone in this feature has two things in common. Firstly, they are (or were at one point) all considered major actors or actresses.

Secondly, they all starred in horror films very early in their acting careers. A rare few struck it lucky with horror movies that would become hugely successful: Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween springs to mind.

However, the vast majority instead featured in cheesy low-budget B-movie horrors, the sort of pish they’d rather forget they were ever in. You know, the sort of stuff I review on here.

Here, then, in order of surname, is my handy list of major actors and actresses who found themselves in (usually extremely low budget) horror films early in their careers. Just to make sure they won’t be able to forget them.

Continue reading

Doctor Mordrid featured pic

Doctor Mordrid (1992) review

Doctor Mordrid posterDirectors: Albert Band, Charles Band

Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Yvette Nipar, Brian Thompson, Jay Acovone

“Before this is over, I will drink your blood and feed on your flesh, and it will taste sweet.” (Kabal, Doctor Mordrid)

The story goes that indie studio Full Moon had originally done a deal with Marvel Comics to make a film adaptation of its Dr Strange comics. However, negotiations fell apart at the last minute and so an extensive rewrite was needed.

The result was Doctor Mordrid, a film that doesn’t share an awful lot with Marvel’s hero other than his titular medical qualifications. That’s not to say it doesn’t still have a degree of charm, though.

Doctor Anton Mordrid has been living in New York for 150 years, waiting for the promised return of the evil Kabal (Brian Thompson, best known for playing an alien bounty hunter in The X-Files), who a prophecy dictates will eventually break out of his dimensional space castle prison cell and come to Earth. Seriously. Continue reading

Robot Wars featured pic

Robot Wars (1993) review

Robot Wars posterDirector: Albert Band

Starring: Don Michael Paul, Barbara Crampton, James Staley, Lisa Rinna, Danny Kamekona

DRAKE – “It’s getting ugly out here chief, request surface troops on the double.”

LT PLUNKETT – “Request denied. Stop acting like a weak sister.”

As you may have guessed, this review isn’t about the 1998 BBC TV show in which Craig Charles commentated while a bunch of pale recluses battled their own custom-made robots, before fidgeting nervously as the producers cruelly get a beautiful woman to try and get an excruciating interview out of them.

No, this is yet another low-budget offering by beloved B-movie studio Full Moon, this time pitting two massive mechanical monstrosities against each other while the filmmakers cruelly get a beautiful woman to try and solve a mystery in the process.

So you see, it’s very different. Except for the big robots and the beautiful woman. And the cruelty. Continue reading

Hideous featured pic

Hideous! (1997) review

Hideous posterDirector: Charles Band

Starring: Mel Johnson Jr, Michael Citriniti, Jacqueline Lovell, Rhonda Griffin, Tracie May

“You’re fired! You’re fired from everywhere! You’re fired from the fucking universe!” (Belinda, Hideous!)

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever found in a sewer? What’s that? You don’t do raking around in sewers? Oh. Right. Um, me neither.

But if I did, chances are I probably wouldn’t come across odd little mutant baby things. That’s what one sewage treatment worker finds at the start of Hideous!, another low-budget grotfest from indie horror studio Full Moon.

The man hands over said mutation to Belinda Yost, a woman who specialises in selling mutations to collectors. Which is one hell of a niche market, but let’s go with it for the sake of the film. Continue reading

Reviews of films that are slightly less than sane

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