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SHEBA, BABY

•             RELEASE DATE: Available Now on Blu-ray and DVD
•             WRITTEN BY: William Girdler, David Sheldon
•             DIRECTED BY: William Girdler
•             STARRING: Pam Grier, Austin Stoker, D’Urville Martin

Let it ne’er be said that ol’ Daniel XIII isn’t a well-rounded creep when it comes to all manner of grindhouse fare. I sample from each and e’ery genre like I’m at some sort of crazy-ass dim sum place where instead of lil’ plates of various foods, I’m suckin’ back plates of film… or something. Anyway, here comes a revoltin’ review of a classic of Blaxploitation sin-ema, SHEBA, BABY!

SHEBA, BABY is the story of Chi-town private dick (sans d-ck but with the biggest boobs you’ve ever seen, ‘cuz this flick stars the ever-awesome, no-nonsense takin’, Pam Grier!) who is called back home to help her pops take care of a lil’ mob heat placed on his loan biz. Well, as you can imagine, the toughs are none too pleased with that, with one of your typical full-scale wars resulting. Before you know it the screen is busting apart with car bombs, boat chases, preposterous fashions, and swanky yacht parties where they really go all out and fill trays to the brim with Ritz crackers… literally all expense is spared.

While not one of the crown jewels in the Pam Grier filmography, SHEBA, BABY is none the less pretty damn entertaining. There are a few elements that I believe result in this flick’s lesser-light status; it’s waaaay less over the top/cartoonish than some of the films it shares a star with (FOXY BROWN, COFFY), and with its PG rating, things never get as out of hand as you may expect. Nevertheless, the action present is solid, as is the acting.

Even if the flick isn’t Grier’s best, Arrow Video treats it like a superstar, with a great 1080p hi-def transfer and some cool extras including a commentary track with screenwriter David Sheldon, an interview with the same, and a nice retrospective of Grier’s work with the AIP studio.

SHEBA, BABY deserves a place on yer shelf if you are a drive-in flick aficionado or just a fan of Grier (and honestly, I’ve ne’er met a fan of the ol’ grindhouse that isn’t). It’s a serviceable (semi)exploitation flick, and the transfer and extras make it even more worth it.

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SEVEN DORMS OF DEATH

•             RELEASE DATE: Coming Soon; head here for details
•             WRITTEN BY: Matthew Jason Walsh
•             DIRECTED BY: Richard Griffin
•             STARRING: Anna Rizzo, Graham King, Jesse Dufault, Aaron Andrade, Michael Thurber

Ever sit down to a flick and absolutely know yer gonna love the damn thing just from the opening title crawl itself (well, besides like, STAR WARS… do any other films even have opening title text crawls? I don’t know… hmm, there’s LEGEND…)? Anyway, the new picture from Crypt o’ XIII favorite Richard Griffin, SEVEN DORMS OF DEATH, is just such a film. I mean c’mon, when you’re promised a long lost 80s gorefest that aired once on a forgotten regional spookshow (titled Baron Von Blah’s Celluloid Crypt, for the record), how can you go wrong?

Well, now that I’ve blown any suspense this review might have had (I mean you actually read these things and don’t just scroll to the skulls to see how much I liked a film, right? RIGHT??), let’s take a look at the plot of this madcap monstrosity!

When students at Dunwich University start getting themselves all murderized in a mirror image of killings from years previous, it’s up to the scenery-chewin’ Detective Vargas (Andrade) to solve the case… which may mean the case will go cold quicker than one of the masked madman’s victims! It’s 90 insane-o minutes of psychic premonitions, H.P. Lovecraftinspired stage plays, intentionally phony special effects, a sock puppet Frankenstein monster, interruptions by outrageous commercials, trailers for upcomin’ flicks featuring post-apocalyptic shenanigans and some spanky bloodsuckers (c’mon Richard, you’re going to make those into full length features right? Please?!), and the week’s winning lottery numbers… I could go on, but you’re sold on this already, ain’t ya?

While many of die-rector Griffin’s flicks involve a deft melding of lacerations and laughs, SEVEN DORMS OF DEATH absolutely goes apesh-t with the comedy, and man is it ever hilarious. Ya want to know why this flick is so successful? No? Too bad, it’s my column, and I’m gonna tell ya anyway! Griffin has a genuine love for the horror biz; he can reference Lovecraft, Bava, and EVILSPEAK (hell, even the film’s title is a reference to an alternate title of the Fulci masterpiece THE BEYOND)… sometimes all within a five minute time frame. He’s well-versed in the genre, so when he pokes fun at it, it’s with actual admiration instead of with a “better than thou” attitude, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Seriously, creeps, ya have to give ol’ SEVEN DORMS OF DEATH a go when you get the chance. I really think you’ll laugh yer ass off while being impressed at the depth of references the flick has to offer. In short, it’s kinda like a SCOOBY-DOO episode inspired by giallos… there’s murder, mayhem, and a black gloved killer, but there’s still time to chow down on Popsicles and make with the shtick.

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And since it’s being released on DVD; here’s a retro review for another Richard Griffin fright flick (see, I told you he was ultra-prolific) FLESH FOR THE INFERNO!

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FLESH FOR THE INFERNO

•             RELEASE DATE: Available on DVD March 8th
•             WRITTEN BY: Michael Varrati
•             DIRECTED BY: Richard Griffin
•             STARRING: Anna Rizzo, Michael Thurber, Jamie Lyn Bagley

As anyone that reads this column knows, I am a fan of prolific independent horror maestro Richard Griffin. When I was afforded the opportunity to be among the first to check out his latest feature FLESH FOR THE INFERNO, I jumped on that quicker than a zombie at an all you can eat brain buffet!

The story runs like this: when a child lover of a priest (you inferred correctly) bricks up some nuns in a church’s walls, they take it upon themselves to renounce God. You can guess how that works out… well, I mean you don’t really have to guess… that happens in like the very begin—damn it, I’ve gone off the rails again. I told them to let me continue those morphine drips… Anyway, before ya know it, a group of attractive gaggle of youth groupers come to clean up the church, which of course results in these demon nuns goin’ absolutely Donkey Kong on everyone once they are set free.

While a good portion of Richard’s work in the horror biz has been delivered with a fair share of tongue in cheek among the carnage, FLESH FOR THE INFERNO proves to be another beast all together. It’s bloody, vicious, and a real knockout of a fright flick. Unlike the snarky THE EDITOR, this film proves to be a real love letter to the spaghetti splatter flicks of yore. The lighting is both parts Bava and Fulci, the subject matter is much the same (as is the score for that matter), and all of it is delivered with a true appreciation of the genre. And as always, Griffin understands how to make a perfect grind house flick—keep it short, keep it bloody, and keep it movin’!

I highly recommend FLESH FOR THE INFERNO to any and all fans of Italian horror; it’s the flick you want to exist when you say “They just don’t make them like that anymore”, cuz believe you me tiger, you’ll hit the jackpot with this one!

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