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October 6, 2015

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - The Don Rickles TV Specials - Volume 1 (2015)

Kevin Moyers reviews some classic TV from a legendary comedian.

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October 4, 2015

Movie Review: Funny Lady (1975)

Directed By Herbert Ross

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

“Here, maybe this will keep you away from strange men,” Billy Rose Jimmy Caan), the harried husband of Broadway star Fanny Brice (who else -- Barbara Streisand) says as he hands her a wad of magazines to read before he departs on a business trip. “Are there any other kind?” Brice - Streisand replies without missing a beat. This is just one of the thousands of myriad pleasures had in Funny Lady, the 1975 sequel to Funny Girl in 1968, which introduced Streisand to an eternally grateful movie-going audience.

As the title implies, Funny Lady sees vaudevillian Brice as sadder and much wiser to the ways of the world. Dumped by her no-good first husband Nick Arnstein (the recently departed Omar Sharif), left with a daughter to raise alone, Brice is on shaky ground as Flo Ziegfeld closes the curtain on his latest production at the height of the Great Depression. Brash hustler Billy Rose (Caan) offers Brice his services to mount the lavish musical “Crazy Quilt” with her in the lead. An inexperienced producer, the over-produced spectacle (which includes a live buffalo!) flops terribly – until Brice wises Caan to showmanship. They retool the show, and it’s a big hit. Wedding bells ring for Brice and Rose, but life is complicated …

Where to begin? Knockout musical production numbers, lavish costumes and sets, hilarious routines – and not a misstep found anywhere. Along with Singin’ in the Rain (1951) Funny Lady can be recommended to those who don’t necessarily like musicals.   

Moreover, check out those songs -- “How Lucky Can You Get,” “More than You Know”, “It's Only a Paper Moon,” “Am I Blue”, and “(It's Gonna Be A) Great Day,” all worthy of their place in the American Songbook. Streisand does a show-stopping turn with “How Lucky can You Get,” which is sung against a stark theatrical backdrop when she feels anything but lucky.

Without question, Funny Lady resides on Streisand’s shoulders. While the “Funny Lady” has rubbed several people the wrong way in both real and reel life, Streisand offers up a portrayal of Brice that is just as much her as the revered stage diva. If Streisand comes off as pushy, self-centered, and demanding, it is because both she and Brice had to be at that point in American history. You cannot help but admire her, if not like her.

Caan makes for an impressive song-and-dance man, and at this point in his career, he was usually cast as a macho, take-no-nonsense man in mostly action pictures. Caan does comedy very well. Sharif is only in a few scenes, but oozes his typical oily charisma. Roddy McDowall, as Streisand’s fey manservant offers good support, but is given little to do.

Another winner for Twilight Time, which is limited to 3,000 copies, the extras are plentiful. There are three brief documentaries. The first, “In Search of a Star” is a nine-minute short that focuses on the casting of James Caan and how he measured up against Streisand. There is the five-minute “The New Look of Barbara in ‘Funny Lady,’” which concentrates on the film’s sumptuous wardrobe design. There is also the brief, three-minute short “Dancing on the Water,” which shows the efforts of the synchronized swimmers used in a campy Esther Williams-inspired production number that occurs in the film’s final third. The Original Domestic Theatrical Trailer and Original International Theatrical Trailer are also provided, as well as the delightful liner notes from Julie Kirgo included in the disc’s booklet.

Grey skies outside? Nothing to do on a dreary afternoon? You need to become acquainted with this Funny Lady post haste.

October 1, 2015

Interracial Sex Havoc #10: 1991 – 1995

The Interracial Sex Havoc project is a reviews selection of films that contain at least one interracial sex scene. I am focusing on regular films (both independent and major studios’ productions), but select adult films are also included (there are tens of thousands of interracial sex scenes out there so it is impossible for one person to watch all of them – although I suspect that I’ve seen more than any sane person on earth). The present chapter is about movies released from 1991 to 1995. Many goodies are presented, including an Oliver Stone film and an Al Pacino flick. So, enjoy what is the present column’s longest chapter yet!

Introduction on Categorizing

Each month when I’m trying to make a choice of what interracial adult films I will include in my research, I find it peculiar that it is so easy to sort out what porn you want to watch with lists that divide the scenes in looks, ethnicities, sex acts, and whatnot. One would say that this is almost offensive. Then, I thought of what that is: Categorizing. And I thought of how useful this is with regular films. Because, simply put, when I browse the internet looking for a film, I like categorization. When I want to see horror, I want the rest of the stuff to be put aside. Heck, categorization goes back to Aristotle! I came to the conclusion that categorization is abusive only on dating sites and social media. I find it really cruel that corporations thought that we need to divide people by whatever means. Because, let’s face it, when you like or dislike someone, all those “options” are irrelevant.

The Reviews

Jungle Fever (1991)

A black man [Wesley Snipes, around the same time he was in King of New York (1990)] is happily married to a mixed race woman [Lonette McKee from Men of Honor (2000)] but he will soon find himself to a relationship with his white secretary [Annabella Sciorra from Cop Land (1997)].

What starts out as a film about sexual relationships (interracial ones at that), it then becomes much more; to be precise, a social commentary unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Writer/director Spike Lee delivered the most important ‘90s film on the subject, and it deservedly won several awards the world over. It is hands down the best film in the present list.

The cast is impressive too and it also includes Samuel Jackson [shortly after he did Def by Temptation (1990)], Halle Berry [almost a decade before X-Men (2000)], Tim Robbins [The Shawshank Redemption (1994)], and Anthony Quinn.

In Loving Color 1 (1992)

This is the porn parody of the same-titled Keenen Ivory Wayans TV show (1990 – 1994) which I have not seen. It consists of five sketches that don’t run for more than 20 minutes each (all divided by the same ‘spot’ that is repeated again and again), but still they feel lengthy.

Movie Review: "The Green Inferno" (2014; Blumhouse Tilt/Universal/High Top Releasing) they said in that old cigarette commercial, 'you've come a long way, baby!!"...

...yes, indeed-ee, folks!! We've definitely come a long way, as far as an semblance of depiction of that oh-so taboo subject of unspeakable horror...that oh-so forbidden atrocity of human behavior...namely, the subversive and gut-wrenching concept of (...yeech!!) human cannibalism. Oh granted, in the past, we're toyed and danced around the ghastly activity, from a pop culture perspective...tempering the material with a certain overt and irreverent level of chuckle-able, knee-slapping humor. Surely, you remember those corny and stereotyped 'Looney Tunes"...the ones which had a helpless and clueless, jungle-entrenched Elmer Fudd, soaking in a big ol' black pot of steaming hot water, while a black-faced, grass-skirted primitive with bone through his nose, and sporting dreadlocks (...'onga-bonga-bonga, onga-bonga-bonga'), is cutting up carrots and potatoes into the bulbous cooking vessel. And a wayward-traveling Bugs Bunny, having taken that wrong turn at Albuquerque once again, burrows in at the last moment, and saves the well as Elmer's skin, quite literally...

...and to that...oh, how we laughed...and laughed...and laughed some more...

...and later, there arose a certain social fascination with media-saturated criminal history, and the equally heinous and unspeakable crimes of true-life cannibals, like Ed Gein and Albert Fish...the horrific exploits of which were incorporated into a provocative and controversial sub-genre of horror films, stemming back as far as 1960's "Psycho". and in years to come, we'd revisit these concepts, time and time again, translated into terror films like "Deranged", the later "Hannibal" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Heck, even during this period, filmmakers would again attempt to temper that oh-so horrific idea of cannibalism, by injecting comical fervor into the ghastly and gruesome proceedings, as evident by dark-humored fright films, such as "Motel Hell", "Delicatessen" and "Parents", just to name a tender and juicy few...

September 27, 2015

Movie Review: American Buffalo (1996; Samuel Goldwyn/20th Century Fox/MGM/UA/Twilight Time)

...OK, let's get it out on the table, right here and now...though, in all honesty, there'd be little-to-no surprise or disagreement, in the proclamation. With countless notable, significant, and yes, acclaimed roles credit to him, stemming as far back as...well, as far back as however long this reviewer has set foot in life (...uh nope, we don't need to go there; we just have to say, yes, it's that far back)...well, let's just come out and say it: Dustin Hoffman is one of the greatest American actors, if not the greatest American actor of the past half-century. There's very few productions, indelibly etched in Dustin's wide-spectrum of films which, given a specific title, doesn't strike most with a sense of deep affection, familiarity and appreciation...not so much in the film title itself, or even the subject matter depicted, but more so, those which bear Dustin's unique and well-accomplished stamp alone. One of those actors whom has starred in many a film, often good...rarely bad, but despite how good or bad the film might have been, Dustin's performance has, for the most part, has always managed to shine through, and that affect...especially if the particular film wasn't particular good...has at least raised the film up, from what might have been considered 'bad', by definition, to at the very least, significant...

September 22, 2015

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! - The Visit (2015)

Peggy Christie reviews the latest from M. Night Shyamalan.

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September 17, 2015

Movie Review: "The Flying Acquaintances" (1973; Vinegar Syndrome)

...back in this reviewer's good ol' early Navy days...that is, before the onset and convenience of home video, and those occasional late-night 'gathering of the buds', at one of the 'buds' conveniently located homes...those smokey & darkened back rooms, and the flickering chatter of an overheated film projector...the murmuring and the snickers and the 'woo-wooing' and the clinking of beer cans...this reviewer's fondest memories of having been 'formally' introduced to the steamy and provocative arena of sexploitation cinema, were the late-night trips we all made, to the local, albeit tucked-away-back-in-the-fields drive-in theaters, in the early eighties. Passion pits, found while stationed in Orlando, Florida...Groton, Connecticut...Great Lakes, Michigan...Norfolk, Virgina. Breaking away from our arduous pre-weekend Naval school studies, or the dust and grit of a Friday workday in the shipyard, once the sun hit the level of dusk, a dozen of us...all young, dumb and full of (...what?? Did I just hear a high pitched 'cuckoo'?? Never mind...) would pour ourselves into a couple of rickety, run-down vehicles, and do some wayward, random bar-hopping. A couple of us would occasionally 'get lucky', and that'd be the last we'd see of them, that night...a couple others, green behind the gills, being unable to hold their 'Milwaukee's Best' (...and that's after the first 12 or 15 of them; hey, you just can't beat a case of beer, for a mere three bucks and change, right??), would pass out, and a readily available taxi would pigeon the wimps back to base...

...the rest of us, beaten down by rejection, but still enjoying a respectable buzz...still, with another case or two of the ol' 'MB' to polish off, and nothing else to do...would roll on over, sometimes on mere gas fumes, to the local, though quite out in the sticks, late-night drive-in theater, which...once the midnight hour rendered a subtle cymbal strike...would covertly screen some of the best, albeit some of the most wildly outrageous softcore film classics...most of which were dated back to the golden age of '70's 'blue' movies. Edgy sex scenes, but not too explicit...wacky fantasy scenarios, which could never possibly happen in real life, save for what might be imaginatively written in 'Forum' magazine...comical interludes, to break up the monotony of the steam sex moments (...oh yeah right...they were so-o-o-o bo-o-o-oring, too...again, yeah right)...shoddy production values, and ridiculously looking cardboard sets...and some of the most ludicrous, over-the-top performances, both in character interaction, as well as during the sex scenes...and all this for the stuffed carload price of five bits...

Cape and Cowl One: Superman!

With the proliferation of the superhero movie, it is a good idea to remember our roots and see how the various media outlets have portrayed our favorite heroes and villains, that is the purpose of the Cape and Cowl series! Supes has gotten the absolute most screen time (far more than Batman, Spider-Man, Hulk, etc.). Still, with the thousands of comic book adventures, feature films, television shows and stage productions there are only a handful of people that have donned the tights and represented truth, justice and the American way in the media.

I know I say this all the time, but it is an incredible honor to be able to work in Superman’s world. Being part of that small handful of artists that populate Metropolis, Smallville and Krypton is something I will cherish for the rest of my days. How will we stack up against the following roll call of the world’s biggest Boy Scout? Join us at The Blog of Steel and watch the journey unfold. Until then… this looks like a job for, well, for me.

September 16, 2015

Check Out Full Moon Features' Indiegogo for "Killjoy's Psycho Circus" and "Evil Bong High-5"!

SAVE THE DATE: Not Seen in More Than 40 Years: THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: THE LOST EPISODES Arrives in a 6-Disc Collector's Set on 9/15

"The Carol Burnett Show helped define the golden age of television" -- The New York Times



Showcasing the Birth of a TV Legend, the 6-Disc Collector's Set ($59.95srp) Features the Best Original Broadcast Episodes from the Legendary Variety Show, Hand-Picked by Carol Herself!

Includes 16 Episodes and Nearly 5 Hours of Specially-Created Bonus MaterialIncluding a Backstage Tour of CBS Studio 33, Never-Before-Seen Bloopers and Outtakes, and Exclusive Interviews with Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Bill Hader, Queen Latifah, Don Rickles and More!


Movie Review: "Mandingo Sex Addict" (2014; Full Circle Filmworks)

...truth be known, often times, one cannot help but rally around and appreciate a filmmaker who, in having garnished a successful career and respectably celebrated reputation, feels ready to take his or her efforts to that next plateau, moving away from a genre expectedly known for...taking things up a notch, so to speak, as far as grander ideas, financially higher-tiered production values and more readily available resources. To be sure, it's a personal growth process, and it has to be absolutely elating, not to mention a boost to a filmmaker's ego, knowing that in being critically upheld, as far as one's work, that the talent comes looking for the filmmaker, rather than the other way around. Considering that, it's even cooler when, despite the intentful desire to move on to bigger and better things, the filmmaker feels equally compelled to get that very last obligatory fist-pump in last hurrah on that lower-rung genre, if at the very least, for personal satisfaction, closing that particular chapter in one's career, taking care of an itch one just has to scratch, and at the same time, affording the devotees of his work, an appreciative genre finale, before moving on...with promise of greater and more diverse things, soon to come...

...will such a 'genre finale' be a creatively conceived and satisfying crescendo moment, or will the overwhelming desire to get to that next level be so great and alluring, that the proposed 'crescendo moment' seems rushed, forced and cookie-cutter standard...even sub-standard?? Like something which one just has to get out of one's system, before moving other words, as the saying goes, 'just phoning it in'?? (...the latter suggestion of which, for good instance, we definitely saw just recently, when director Tom Six, motivated and drawn toward 'getting it out of his system, once and for all' and moving on to something other than his infamous and notorious 'Human Centipede' franchise, punched out a third and final chapter in the gratuitously grotesque and gory 'saga'...and the resulting finale proved...well extraordinarily 'ordinary', at least by what might have been expected on the Tom Six Standard...but that's another story, altogether)...

September 15, 2015

Movie Review: Super Infra-Man

Alright, tonight I am watching Super Infra-Man from 1975. It's a Chinese  Ultra-Man/Kamen Rider type movie. If you ever wondered where they got the idea for Rita Repulsa of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers this is it. Princess Dragon Mom is a mix of Rita and Scorpina.  Dragon Moms lair scenes with monsters volunteering to fight the human is exactly like the Rita scenes. This is just good fun! Definitely not as good as Ultra-Man. It Is a good homage to the Japanese Tokutatsu of the era. The Shaw Bros. got a lot of help from many Japanese creators. 
Don't get me wrong it is bad, but at the same time it's fun and oh so campy! Now Infra-Man himself is a definite amalgam of Ultra-Man and Kamen Rider!  The stories pretty basic, you have this horde of monsters that invade Earth led by Princess Dragon Mom. A group of scientists decide to create a superhero, Infra-Man. They genetically engineer him, what you get is a hero who looks like Kaman Rider with the same colors and powers of Ultra-Man. He can grow to gigantic sizes and battle giant monsters! And, battles he does! 

Now the big difference between Infra-Man and his Japanese counterparts is, Infra-Man has 
decent Kung-Fu action! 

September 13, 2015

Movie Review: Z Storm (Blu-ray)

Reviewed By:

James DePaolo

In my 5 years plus now doing reviews I have watched a lot of movies. Add to that going to the movies and watching films that I do not review that are on Netflix or I go out and buy. So, one can say I am a rabid and avid movie watcher and try not to miss too many titles. I know in my heart of hearts not every film can be a winner, some films fall short intentionally and others unintentionally. Z Storm, is a great premise and I bet in the right people’s hands could make a great film; this was not the right people to handle this film.

Z Storm borders on self-parody and idiocy almost immediately and never fails to stop for one minute and try to come up with something that could save it from its fate. This film I want to think wanted to be taken serious and it just did not have a clue how to do it. It is Z Storm that really lowers the bar on what is acceptable in modern film and this film should never have seen the light of day. I feel all people involved should be on line on their hands and knees apologizing to us for even thinking about watching it.

September 9, 2015

TV Review: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

I've reviewed quite a few TV shows on this site over the years, but talk shows aren't something I'd ever think to write up. I probably should have after the debut of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, because I absolutely love the replacement for The Colbert Report. In fact, it's the first late night show I've watched regularly after dropping off from its predecessors. I didn't drift from The Daily Show and Report for any reason other than being busy with other things. With the advent of Netflix and Hulu, appointment television isn't a thing for me anymore. I only remembered that this debut was happening because of a Facebook post. Normally, I'd catch these things a day or two later.

That being said, I was interested to see what Colbert was going to do with Letterman's old spot. The Late Show debuted when I was in high school, and I watched it almost every night for several years. Letterman always did his own thing, and I knew Colbert would carry that torch in a great way. Through a slightly awkward start, he definitely did.

September 7, 2015

Cinema Head Cheese: Podshort! -

Jeff Dolniak reviews a new channel available online and through your Roku.

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September 6, 2015

Movie Review: Ex Machina (2015)

Caleb(Domhnall Gleeson) who works for the largest internet search engine in the world wins a trip to hang out with the founder(Oscar Isaac) of the company.  When Caleb meets Nathan, he finds out he is part of something much bigger.  Nathan is in a very secluded and highly secure compound where he is developing Artificial Intelligence.  Nathan wants Caleb to perform interviews/tests to see if his creation, Ava(Alicia Vikander), has a conscience.

Caleb is excited for the opportunity despite the odd behavior of his employer Nathan.  The interactions between Caleb and Ava were shot incredibly well.  Caleb starts to feel things are amiss when he gets into the artificial mind of Ava and his dealings with the heavy drinking Nathan.

Plenty of plot twists keep you wondering what may or may not be real inside this film.  Why was Caleb brought here?  What does Nathan really want?  Can Ava love someone?

On a scale of one to five pile drivers, I'm giving "Ex Machina" four pile drivers.  The film kept me interested from start to finish and really kept me guessing.

September 5, 2015

Movie Review: Escape from the Bronx (1983)

When I first looked at the CD art on this I thought Jeff sent me Escape from NY. Okay. Maybe John Carpenter re-released it or something, wanted to get it back in front of the general population. I enjoy Kurt Russell. But on closer inspection I realized this is a film that obviously tried to cash in on the popularity of Snake Plisskin and his band of merry thugs (I mean, they had a character with an eye patch for crying out loud. AN EYE PATCH!)

Escape from the Bronx tells us the story of what a shit hole the Bronx is and some douchebag CEO of the GC Corporation wants to raze it to the ground then rebuild all of New York with nicer housing and no crime. Riiiiiight. How can this guy run an entire company and be so fucking stupid at the same time?

The gubmint assures everyone that they will receive alternative accommodations, better than what they have now, in beautiful New Mexico. Why they have to go live all the way across the country is unclear. As you can imagine, some people are pissed and don’t want to leave. Well, too bad for you because if you don’t get out when they ask nicely, you are fried up extra crispy via the flame throwers carried by the DAS - Disinfestation Annihilation Squad.

Wow. They don’t even PRETEND to sugar coat it, do they? Though I can appreciate their honesty.

Meet Trash, one of these stubborn tried and true New Yawkers (played by Marco DiGregorio from Rome, Italy - I wonder if he’s related to Cha Cha?). He and a bunch of other folks live in the tunnels under the city, lead by Dablone. He thinks the death squads are too chicken to come down and run them out so he does nothing to fight back. But after Trash’s parents are murdered, he enlists the help of a plucky journalist, Moon Grey (who has been trying to get the truth out to the rest of the country about all the bat shit craziness) and a former bank robber, Strike, to kidnap the CEO of GC Corp which will in turn force the government to negotiate terms.

September 3, 2015

Movie Review: When the Wind Blows (1986)

Directed by Jimmy Murakami

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

As author David J Moore states in his authoritative book on Apocalyptic cinema, “World Gone Wild,” “This is no bag of candy for the kiddies, friends.” Indeed.

Jim (voiced by Sir John Mills) and Hilda Bloggs (voiced by Dame Peggy Ashcroft) is an elderly couple who live on their storybook farm outside of London. The talk, bicker and remember the good old days when they learn about the possibility of nuclear war in three days’ time. Jim busies himself by following official government pamphlets by painting all the windows white and constructing a shelter of three doors lying on their side in a hallway. The unspeakable happens, their home and farm is reduced to rubble. The Bloggs continue on talking, bickering, and remembering the good old days … until they eventually crawl into paper bags to await their deaths from radiation poisoning.

Cartoonist Raymond Briggs decided to let the world have it with both barrels after the winsome yuletide fantasy The Snowman in 1982. Taking his all-round circular figures and overly pleasing pastel colors, Briggs took on the Ronald Reagan Cold War era for an altogether bleak and despairing vision. When the Wind Blows runs neck and neck with Grave of the Fireflies as the most despairing animated feature film EVER.

Secondhand Smut #6: Interracial Sex Havoc Leftovers and Other Oddities

Yes, this is another collection of Porn reviews and you ask why. Let me clarify that I believe that porn is the most intimate film genre. It is the only corner in the history of film in which performers allow their fellow performers to penetrate them literally and if this is not performance art I don’t know what is. The performers exchange bodily fluids, and they encourage the viewer to touch himself and even orgasm. If that’s not audience participation or engagement with the subject material, I don’t know what is.

I was originally planning for this sixth installment of Secondhand Smut to review the entire Debbie Does Dallas film series, but I failed to track down the myriad of films associated with it so this plan went down the drain. I then wanted to review the Loose Ends films series, and although I could get my hands to copies of all those films, I did not as I could not find as much information about them as I wanted. You see, I know that they were the first adult feature-length films to include BSDM and I always get charmed by firsts, but in order to write an article I had to find out more background stories than I did. So, finally, what was I left with? I compiled this May 2015 - October 2015 Secondhand Smut issue with reviews that for some reason or another were left out from my more regular column, namely Interracial Sex Havoc. I hope you enjoy as much reading the piece as I did writing it.

9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (1976)

Most of the time the mainstream directors that had a past in porn, had a past which was decent. For example Wes Craven had made The Fireworks Woman (1975) which is highly regarded by both scholars of classic smut, but also the director’s fans who like digging a bit further. Even Lloyd Kaufman’s Sweet & Sour (1974) is a very good effort. Well, in the case of Abel Ferrara this is not the case.

Abel Ferrara went on to make many favorite films of mine, including the early masterpieces The Driller Killer (1979) and Ms .45 (1981), but 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (1976) which was his first feature-length project is an utter failure. Sure the girl-girl interracial sex scene is interesting (and I should have included it in my Interracial Sex Havoc column back when I was still researching the ‘70s) but this film makes a very boring viewing experience with its lack of a real story (it was written by Nicholas John who went on to pen several screenplays for later mainstream Ferrara fare).

Hot summer in the City (1976)

September 2, 2015

Movie Review: Cub (2015, Artsploitation)

Review By: James DePaolo

Artsploitation Films has to be one of the best indie labels out there right now. They have put out some horror films (among other genres) that have really changed the perception the average fan would have of horror and the boundaries of what is acceptable and controversial. I am in the majority that thinks French horror should be credited with some of the most vicious and satisfying horror films I have ever seen. Jonas Govaerts debut Cub really keeps my faith in the French strong.

What on the surface sounds like a standard horror films of watching a group of cub scouts head into the unknown wilderness for an adventure, it turns into something all-together different as the film rolls on. The cubs find themselves in the middle of some kind of killing grounds of a psychopath. To add to their dilemma, there is also a young mask wearing psychopath in the woods as well. We meet Sam who is a disturbed and troubled lad who is treated differently by others. Some of the scouts and at times the scout leaders pick on him and one in particular named Baloo is cruel to him. We watch in one instance that Baloo sets his dog on Sam for his kicks. Like all camping films, we get the scary stories and this time it is about a werewolf boy named Kai.