Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

December 23, 2023

Christmas Horror Capsule Reviews

I realize there are more holiday movies to watch than I could fully analyze. So I thought it might be fun to do capsule reviews of holiday horrors that are available on streaming services. Obviously, I don’t have access to all of them so let’s hit up what’s on Tubi.

And if you don’t know what Tubi is, why are you even here? You’re obviously not one of us. Off you must fuck.

DISCLAIMER: I decided to just highlight Tubi because after watching nine films, I wanted to set myself on fire. Ain’t no way I can watch the twenty offerings remaining on Tubi, let alone manage everything else on Prime, Shudder, YouTube, and Netfl…well, maybe not Netflix.

Do. Better. Netflix. (But don’t get rid of your Korean dramas, I beg you.)


Holiday Hell

A woman goes into a curio shop to find a Christmas gift for her sister. The shopkeeper regales her with the terrifying tales of different items.

Jeffrey Combs. That’s it. That’s the only reason you need to go watch this. Do it. NOW. Seriously, this is the best film on the list and has a nice, if not predictable, little twist at the end.


Hell on the Shelf

A movie of found footage from a paranormal investigative crew in a supposedly haunted house.

Nothing new here. The origin story is about a pair of twin boys who fought over an Andy Elf doll, a doll that possesses whoever touches it and brings a bad fate, and one boy ends up dead. Terrible acting. Cheap effects for camera footage. Don’t worry about blinking and missing something because there’s nothing subtle here. It’s like Ghost Adventures up in this bitch, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.


The Killing Tree

Years ago a psycho killed a bunch of people he thought didn’t celebrate Christmas the right way. After his execution, his grieving widow puts his soul into a Christmas tree. Now he can continue his murder spree and finally kill the one that got away.

Just terrible; goofy special f/x; incredibly thin plot. Everything is awful.

It really is

The 12 Slays of Christmas

Three titty women become stranded in a snowstorm and take shelter in a mansion owned by a creepy old dude. He shares a plethora of terrifying tales with them, twelve to be exact.

The creepy old man, Ignacio Harrington (great name), is a fun character and the actor is fantastic. The three women can’t act for shit and the one who plays Christine looks like she has pink eye. It’s very distracting. But this is a most egregious self-service “film.” The twelve tales are basically trailers or snippets from eleven different Full Moon features, and the twelfth slay was the three women turning into monsters and killing the old man. Ooops, spoiler alert. This was a trailer compilation disguised as an anthology. As much as I love Charles Band, I was kinda mad when I finished this up. Luckily, it’s only forty minutes.


Sister Krampus

Two sisters visiting Europe during Christmas time cross paths with Sister Krampus, bride to the horrifying anti-Claus.

The nun gets involved with Krampus after Mother Superior kicks her out of the convent for DARING to be raped by American Soldiers (during WW2). In the present day she binds herself to one of the sisters. Not really sure why but do I care? No. Should anyone? Also no. The only important part is that after destroying the nun, Krampus is so relieved to be rid of the bitch that he restores life to murdered loved ones of the women who helped him out.

I just…ugh.


He Knows

Masked killer Sammy the Elf kills all the naughty folks in a small town during the holidays.

Sammy the Elf is pretty damned creepy and I loved the practical effects for the kills. But the end…whaaaa?

Nutcracker Massacre

A novelist visiting her family at Christmas becomes reacquainted with a mysterious Nutcracker doll with a mind and agenda of its own.

Okay, the “doll” is actually a 6’ figure. Who the fuck has a 6-foot tall Nutcracker in their house? The characters are poorly written; the story is the most convoluted bullshit ever. However, points for practical effects and a literal nutcracker death. But Patrick Bergen…what the fuck happened to you that you’re involved with this pile of shit?


Psycho Santa

The husband half of a bickering couple, traveling to a family gathering, teases his wife with stories about the legend of a backwoods killer Santa.

While I can appreciate the tales about Santa’s murder spree being shown instead of told, the acting is awful, obligatory nudity tiresome, and the back and forth from the stories to the couple driving gets boring after a while. There is SO MUCH FUCKING FILLER in every scene. This could have been thirty minutes shorter. In fact, it should never have existed at all.


Psycho Santa 2

The still alive but burned Psycho Santa from part 1 returns to kill everyone. Or something. I JUST CAN’T. You’re on your own to watch this one.

Cocktails engaged…


Five years after a Christmas Eve massacre destroyed a small community, the murderer returns. But someone is ready for him.

Not really ground breaking stuff going on here but the acting is better than most everything else on this list. I have to admit to really digging the characters of Crandle (who was on scene for the original massacre five years prior) and Jordan (the new security guard with a secret – or not really; it’s kind of obvious actually.)


All righty. That’s all I could handle this time around. Maybe I’ll try to do this every year but spread it out over a few weeks so I don’t need to get blackout drunk in order to survive with my sanity intact. But I’ve linked the trailers for the capsules and for each offering in the list below.


Happy Holidays!



Nights before Christmas

Chrismassacre (no trailer available)

All Through the House

Santa Claws (couldn't find a trailer for this - it's from 1996 if that helps!)

Once Upon a Time at Christmas

Good Tidings

*Jack Frost

Mother Krampus

Christmas Craft Fair Massacre

*A Christmas Horror Story

All the Creatures Were Stirring

The Christmas Tapes

Black Christmas (2006)

*Better Watch Out

Unholy Night

The Santa Suicides


Amityville Christmas Vacation

A Christmas Slay

Silent Night Bloody Night

*Christmas Evil

Slay Belles

*Rare Exports

Bunch of Riff Trax: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians; Magic ChristmasTree; Santa Claus; Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny


*These are actually very well done films, or so bad they’re highly entertaining, so I do recommend you watch them.

December 1, 2023

Static Age #26: Beasts (1976)

Beasts (1976) DVD box art.

This Static Age’s spotlight goes to Beasts (1976), the fascinating 6-episode British horror series from acclaimed writer Nigel Kneale that was made by ATV for the ITV Network. Each standalone episode tackles a bestial themed horror subject. ‘Special Offer’ is about a paranormal revenge. ‘During Barty’s Party’ is about rat infestation. ‘Buddyboy’ is about a haunting from a dolphin. ‘Baby’ is about ancient witchcraft getting in the way of a pregnancy. ‘What Big Eyes’ is about a man who is keenly interested in becoming a wolf and my comment is that it takes all kinds. ‘The Dummy’ is the best and goriest episode, and it is about a horror movie star burned-out from playing monsters.


And now, let’s switch our focus towards some recent series…


Locke & Key - Season 3

The 3rd (and final) season of Netflix’s Locke & Key (2020 – 2022) finds its protagonists with more trouble at the Keyhouse, but who’s holding the key to solve the mystery in the series finale? Fairy-tale like and owning a big portion of its inspirations to Stephen King, this is well-made but ultimately forgettable.


The narcotics trafficking action goes to Mexico in the 1st season of the aptly named Narcos: Mexico (2018 – 2021) – available on Netflix – and is about the rise of the Guadalajara cartel and the war that the newly-formed DEA had to perform in order to sedate the drug distribution and countless killings. Well-made and with thorough research of its subject matter as well as the historical backdrop, this is gangster television at its best.


Black Mirror - Season 6

Upsetting and more relevant than ever, the 6th season of Netflix’s Black Mirror (2011 – present) is set to scare the shit out of technophobes the world over, with its brilliant five episodes that include ‘Joan is Awful’ in which a start up company’s well-paid employee (Annie Murphy) is seeing her life getting hijacked by a streaming platform that uses it as the template for a series starring Salma Hayek; ‘Loch Henry’ which is about a young couple (Samuel Blenkin and Myha’la Herrold) who study filmmaking and abandons its weak-sounding project about an egg man, in favor of a true crime story that seems to have more bread to it; the feature-length ‘Beyond the Sea’ that is a demented love story and the weakest entry in this season, but at least it is perfectly tuned with the entire ‘identity theft’ thematic concept; ‘Mazey Day’ in which the titular movie star is suffering from an undisclosed condition and seeks isolation, but the obstacle of the Hollywood paparazzi appears to be hard to overcome; the feature-length ‘Demon 79’ takes us to late 1970s England but only merely touches the cinematic aesthetics of the era and tells the story of a woman with brief violent visions who gets approached by genie that gives her motive to perform a series of murders.


Carnival Row - Season 2

Set in Victorian-era England, the 2nd season of Amazon Studios’ Carnival Row (2019 – 2023) employs the fantasy world of fairies in order to raise questions about racism and constitutional power abuse. This final season is much more violent and gritty than the first (a welcome twist) and also benefits from great performances (Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star) and stunning set & costume design. It is not without its faults though, as the main CGI monster is horribly laughable and the final episode’s queer twist came out of nowhere.


The 2nd season of Netflix’s Russian Doll (2019 – present) has the attractive chain-smoking stereotypical New Yorker Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) in another time-travelling adventure that takes her back to 1982, and the show with some of the most adorable dialogues in recent TV history, as well as a lovely rock and new wave soundtrack is an absolute winner.


The 2nd season of Marvel Studios’ I Am Groot (2022 – present) is offering five more short stories of the titular tree kid getting involved in hilarious and cute adventures, all featuring stunning animation work.


The Haunting of Hill House - Season 1

The sole season of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House (2018), created and directed by Mike Flanagan (who also wrote many of its episodes, based on Shirley Jackson’s classic horror novel) is about the titular residence that spooks a family’s past and present. Well-made, genuinely scary, and engaging throughout its mere 10 episodes, this is modern horror television at its best – a masterful event for the small screen that its eeriness will be cherished for years to come.


The Mandalorian

Set in the Star Wars universe, Disney’s 2nd season of The Mandalorian (2019 – present) is offering further adventures of the titular bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) as he protects an overwhelmingly cute baby Yoda and gets mixed-up in all sorts of action-packed situations, but the real riches of the series lie in its gorgeous and spot-on spaghetti western aesthetics.


And now, please allow me a word on some recent mainstream film releases…


Writer/director James Gunn with his wild cinema influences that combine humor (often of the Meta kind) and PG-13 violence seems ideal at this stage of superhero movie overkill, and he expectedly delivers the goods in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 (2023), an epic 2 and a half hour spectacle that perfectly gels action with emotion, showcasing the importance of heroics in a universe that goes bananas, not very unlike the current state of affairs.


The Flash (2023)

DC’s The Flash (2023), directed by Andy Muschietti, is about the titular superhero (Ezra Miller) who accidentally tampers with time and creates a mix-up with parallel universes, resulting in several versions of friends and enemies (including an aged Michael Keaton return as Batman) to come up forward with different agendas, while he also takes the opportunity to try and correct some wrongs from his past. This is not really a movie but more of a CGI showcase, as there is barely any shots, let alone scenes that are not enhanced by this technology, and had me wondering if the filmmakers shot anything else other than a few known actors against green screen backgrounds. This is a terrible example of cinema (if it even qualifies as that) that says a lot about the awful state of pop culture.


Indiana Jones and...

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) goes back and forth in time in director James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) thanks to the powers of the Antikythera mechanism and the newfound de-aging CGI techniques, only to fight Nazis again, this time led by Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen). Expectedly bombastic with its outrageous $300 million budget, this feels like an endless chase sequence, and while it is entertaining enough (if a bit too long at two and a half hours long), it didn’t really gel with blockbuster audiences (most people who grew up with Indy’s adventures are now beyond their forties, me included).


Barely directed by Steven Caple Jr., Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) seems mostly like the work of a committee – Michael Bay is a producer, and Steven Spielberg is an executive producer – and its barebones scenario takes us back to a long time ago, namely the 1990s when the Maximals join the Autobots on a fight with the usual high stakes: saving the world once again! Featuring human-like robots, animal-looking robots (all of them speaking with a variety of stereotypical accents), that are adequate at transforming into cars and vice versa, and only a handful of human actors, this lifeless CGI charade will have you wondering why $400 was spent for its making, and even more so why enough people went to see it in theaters to gross $439 million.


Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Produced by Tom Cruise (the film’s star) and Christopher McQuarrie (the film’s director) on a massive $291 million budget, the bombastic Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) is about the hunt for a two-part key that can give the ultimate power to whoever gets to own it. All of the franchise’s standard tropes are here including facial recognition-avoiding masks and self-destructed messages, as well as James Bond-like travelogue footage of pretty much every tourist location in the world and beyond, but as per usual where the film really shines is during Cruise’s epic stunts (that he performs sans the aid of a stunt man) that reveal his obsession on becoming the western Jackie Chan. Sure, plenty of CGI is involved, but you’ll be in awe to witness how much of the action was actually shot in real sets. Suspenseful and entertaining throughout its 2 and a half hour running time, this is current action cinema at its best, and well-worthy of the $576.5 million it grossed.


Blue Beetle (2023)

Barely resembling a real movie, let alone anything that you could call remotely ‘good’ or even ‘watchable’, DC’s Blue Beetle (2023) directed by Angel Manuel Soto is a piece of excrement that was seemingly made by an algorithm programmed by market metrics, rather than humans, as it is so predictable you could guess where every plot decision is going from miles away and the CGI are remarkably video game-like. Oh, yes, and the titular superhero is of Latin American background (Xolo Mariduena), because you know, you have to tick those ‘diversity’ boxes. The genre has run its course and considering this grossed a mere $129.3 million on an outrageous $104 million budget, the big studios should soon receive the message sane audiences has been sending them for a couple of years now.


And unlikely for me, this time I enriched my bookshelf with the following fiction book additions: Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1978), Thomas Harris’ Hannibal box-set [Red Dragon (1981), The Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999), and Hannibal Rising (2006)], Patrick McGrath’s Spider (1990), William Landay’s Defending Jacob (2012), Don Winslow’s The Cartel (2015), and Burn (2014) by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge.

Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed:

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

November 1, 2023

A Binge too Far #36 – Castle of the recent Jeepers Creepers sequels (2017 – 2022)


Stunning promo art from Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (2022)

Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

Jeepers Creepers 3


This is set shortly after the events of the first film, and before those of its sequel, when the Creeper’s (ever-returning Jonathan Breck) truck is discovered by the local police, and it turns out to be a fortress of booby traps that kill ‘soldiers’ left, right, and center. This is when a cat and mouse game begins in the fields and roads of the middle of nowhere between the franchise’s monster, its hunters, and the locals.


It took a while, but our favorite Creeper is back, but writer/director Victor Salva (who also produced, with Michael Ohoven and Jake Seal) changed a lot without really changing the franchise’s tone and trademark gore and violence. What did he change and what did he keep? Predominately this is more action-oriented than the preceding duo of films (and as such it is arguably much more fun), whilst still maintaining the characteristic dark photography (this is mostly set at nights, but even when we see day shots, they are cold – cinematographer Don E. FountLeRoy was definitely in some grotesque mood while setting his shots up). The plot keeps an ambience that can thematically be found somewhere between the recent Stephen King renaissance and Predators (2010), but there are all sorts of other weird elements on display here, including some ball bombs that are reminiscent of the metal spheres in Phantasm: Ravager (2016).


Overall, considering the development hell this went through (production was about to start on several occasions and by several backers in the last ten years or so), it is a very solid film (and entertaining throughout), and it displays the skills of a filmmaker that has grown up. It received a limited release, and it is now trying its luck on the home video market, where if it does well, we might see more of the Creeper as it is known that a fourth film is the intention of Salva who has already a plot for it.


Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn


Young scientist Laine (Sydney Craven) and her conspiracy theorist boyfriend Chase (Imran Adams) – who is looking for the right moment to propose – travel to Louisiana (where this was actually shot) in order to attend the Horror Hound convention, where the stories they heard of the Creeper (the franchise’s original trilogy is acknowledged in one of several Meta moments) come true as he comes back older and wiser to perpetrate another long series of slayings.


Most people seem to agree that the Jeepers Creepers films are shit (I don’t, and I believe that most of the backfiring is due to Victor Salva’s scandal) yet people still watch them (otherwise they wouldn’t get made), so much in fact that this reboot – directed by Timo Vuorensola [Iron Sky (2012) and Iron Sky: The Coming Race (2019)] – is  supposedly the set-up for a new trilogy, although it found most of its troubles not from the critics or the fans’ poor online ratings, but rather from a lawsuit from Myriad Pictures who claimed that Screen Media Films who backed this co-production between the U.S. and the U.K., had no legal right to do so. The end result is nothing special, and unsurprisingly is not terrible either, yet once again it will mostly be remembered for its backstage legends, something that is a curse with these films, but also a blessing.

Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed:

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

October 1, 2023

A Binge to Far #35 - Hands of the new Ghostface Killers, or the Scream reboot duo (2022 - 2023)

Stunning frame from Scream VI (2023)

Scream (2022) poster



Sisters Tara [Jenna Ortega from Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)] and Sam (Melissa Barrera) are terrorized by a new serial killer in the ghostface mask, but besides the ‘New killer, new rules’ tagline, the murders always go back to the original, and the legendary trio of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette), come back to reveal the identity of the new slasher and off him as well.


Dedicated to late Wes Craven, this fifth film in the 1990s franchise that gave a kiss of life to horror, is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and is both horrifying and fun. Also, at almost 2 hours long it has all the time in the world to pay tribute to the film series’ legacy and bring back several key members of the cast (in the series meta trademark manner, of course). Made on a $24 million budget, this went on to gross a massive $135 million, so you should be sure there’s more coming from where this came from.


Scream VI (2023) poster

Scream VI


As the survivors of the previous film leave the series favorite location of Woodsboro and relocate to New York, where ‘new rules’ apply (as per the tagline, again), they are hunted by a new Ghostface, who’s the most nasty and violent we’ve ever seen in this franchise, and will stop at nothing in his way, butchering people with a variety of methods and utilized weapons of choice.


Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, this is the best sequel to the classic 1990s horror hit we’ve seen in ages and manages to perfectly aim its brutality to its advantage and it perfectly echoes the current crime climate of New York that is not that far away from echoing the chaotic days of the 1970s and 1980s. It is absolutely a slasher when it comes to its aesthetics, but plot-wise I would dare to say that it is a giallo. Returning stars Jenna Ortega and Courtney Cox are brilliant too. Made on a $35 million budget, it was loved by critics and audiences alike, and it went on to gross $168.8 million, so there is probably more where this came from.

Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed:

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

September 1, 2023

A Binge too Far #34: 8th Horrorant International Film Festival – ‘Fright Nights’ report

8th Horrorant International Film Festival

The 8th Horrorant International Film Festival – ‘Fright Nights’ that primarily took place at the prestigious Elize theater of Athens, but also and as per usual traveled to other cities in Greece as well, was a great success on all fronts, including the quality of the program and the record ticket sales. The fact that we also had legendary filmmaker Luigi Cozzi as a guest of honor was a pleasure, and the fans showed their appreciation and love.


As usual the festival opened with last year’s best picture award winner, namely Filip Jan Rymsza’s Mosquito State (2021). The opening ceremony was accompanied by the screening of Han Jae-rim’s Emergency Declaration (2022). The closing ceremony was followed by the screening of Escape Room: La Pelicula (2022).


Competition Horror


This year I was part of the Awards Jury of the ‘Competition Horror’ program, that was rounded by legendary film critic Dimitris Koliodimos and renowned film director Dimitris Panagiotatos. Here are my reviews of this block’s features.


Anthropophagus II

Anthropophagus II


A bunch of college students (that don’t look anything like they’d possibly have the brains for school) led by their professor (who doesn’t seem to be university material either) leave their cell phones behind (quite conveniently for screenwriter Lorenzo De Luca) and willfully isolate themselves in a nuclear bunker so they enhance the experience of their thesis. However, there is a baby-eating cannibal in the facilities as well who might as well slaughter them all one by one.


Anthropophagus (1980) is the sort of film adored by fans of Italian exploitation that tend to only scratch the surface, as in reality it came too late into the game, when Mediterranean filmmakers resorted solely and quite desperately to extreme violence, and although it is actually a decent horror outing, it owes most of its legend due to its status as a ‘video nasty’. A legend that seems to be strong more than 40 years later as director Dario Germani tackles this sequel (although an official sequel called Absurd was released in 1981) which is featuring torture than even Joe D’Amato would be proud of (although it could not possibly match some of the excesses of his 1970s output) as well as inept acting and ridiculous dialogues that perfectly channel the golden age of ‘pasta paura’. It is never really scary, but it remains entertaining and a joy to watch from start to finish, which is not small feat in itself.


The Goldsmith (2022) poster

The Goldsmith


Three down on their luck small-time criminals target and eventually break into a vault full of handmade golden jewelry and the like that is located in the house of an elderly couple (the titular goldsmith is played by legendary TV actor Giuseppe Pambieri and his wife is played by genre film legend Stefania Casini), who soon become the unlikely captors, but this is only the first of many twists in this mystery horror that is quick to turn the tables and become a full-on ‘torture porn’ epic.


Directed by Vincenzo Ricchiuto (who also penned the screenplay with Germano Tarricone), this Italian production is well-shot and looks better than most of its counterparts from the States. It is also quite intelligent, benefits from some of the most exciting performances we’ve seen in European horror in many years, and is an all-around winner. It comes highly recommended and should be missed by no fan of the genre.


Blood Flower (2022)


Hailing from the unlikely Malaysia, director Dain Said’s exorcism-styled horror opus is about a young healer who is suppressing his special god-given gifts so he doesn’t get bullied by other kids, but when an evil spirit inhabits his house he will have to fight both the demon and the well-kept family secrets,


Eerie and original, this is featuring some very hard to watch violence that is often obsessed with pregnancy and infants. Aesthetically it owes a lot to the The Evil Dead franchise (1981 – present), but the prevalent Islamic religious element makes it thematically unique. The special effects that appear to be a combination of practical work and CGI are stunning too and make for a very cinematic viewing experience.


Project Wolf Hunting (2022)

Project Wolf Hunting


A select team of experienced and hardened police officers are on a mission to transfer a group of dangerous and notorious criminals via boat from the Philippines to South Korea. These are not your typical convicts that deserve prisoners’ rights and the like, but rather total scum that rape and kill for breakfast, so despite the numerous measures taken by the authorities to contain them, a riot ensues and all hell breaks loose.


Hailing from South Korea, this action/horror hybrid employs a total overkill with its violence (heads are crushed, throats are sliced, and whatnot) and numerous breathtaking shootouts, resulting in an absolutely entertaining two-hours-long show. The setting is clever and the visuals are delivered with mastery and finesse, as writer/director Hongsun Kim delivers an outstanding work of art; needless to say, it comes highly recommended.


Megalomaniac (2022) poster



This peculiar production from Belgium is doin the festival rounds right now and it is a unique exploration on the thin line between being a victim and a tormentor. Full of nihilism and brutality, writer/director Karim Ouelhaj’s opus is a work of art, mainly in terms of cinematography and direction, but it not solely a visual achievement as it also has a lot to say in terms of philosophy. The final scene is an exercise in sheer brutality and must be seen to be believed.


Skinford: Death Sentence (2023)


Jimmy or James Skinford who also goes by the nickname Skinny (Joshua Brennan), is a small-time con artist who aims to save his ailing father by stealing the riches of a truck. But once the plan goes wrong he is touched by a woman (Charlotte Best) that makes him immortal and a variety of weird situations ensue, including exploding bodies of human trafficking victims and several shootouts.


Hailing from Australia and directed by Nik Kacevski (who also wrote the screenplay, with Tess Meyer), this third chapter in the ongoing horror/action/comedy franchise takes us back and forth in time with its editing, and delivers a more than adequate thrilling ride. But despite its spectacular nature, it is essentially a festival-flavored experience.


What the Waters Left Behind...

What the Waters Left Behind: Scars


An unknown English/American indie rock act named The Ravens are on a failed tour across Argentina, when their drummer gets seduced by a mysterious gothic groupie who brings the usual troubles of tensions among band members and the like, but things escalate in Leatherface manner soon. Directed by Horrorant darling Nicolas Onetti, this is yet another sequel on this year’s program, and although it is not the kind of film that is pushing the envelope by any means and towards any direction, it is sexy, fun, and gruesome, so there is a lot to like and enjoy, so it comes recommended.


It Came from the Water (2022)


Miserably (and in a desperate attempt to appear current) set amidst our real lives’ recent post-apocalypse-styled Covid-19 pandemic, this is about a group of Polish teenagers who get fed up with the lockdowns and head to a local party for a night full of sex and drugs, but the celebrations get cut short amidst a different virus breakout, namely the cinematically common zombie one.


Featuring incredibly attractive but also very talented young Polish actors and directed with competency (and even occasional mastery) by Xawery Zulawski (who also wrote the screenplay with Krzysztof Bernas and Maciej Kazula), this may be far from being original or innovative, but it’s not your standard living dead programmer either as its fun and energetic tone turn it into a very entertaining spectacle overall. The director is the son of legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski, and his future behind the camera looks more than promising.


Note: The Lake (2022), directed by Lee Thongkham and Aqing Xu was also screened as part of this block, but I didn’t manage to review it in time for this article.


Panorama Competition


The ‘Panorama Competition’ was another excellent block made available in this year’s festival that showcased great films from a variety of horror-related genres and subgenres, and here’s my thoughts on them.


The Exchange (2022) poster

The Exchange


Directed by Vladimir Kharchenko-Kulikovskiy (his feature length debut, but he had previously helmed a lot of television series), this Ukrainian production was made amidst the invasion that country is facing from the malicious forces of Vladimir Putin, and cleverly uses the war as its backdrop to tell really captivating story, about a father who is trying to reclaim his son behind enemy lines.


Part war drama and part action spectacle, this dramatic filmic event is a piece of art to behold, essentially cinema for the ages. Obmin (its original title) is important cinema and engaging storytelling about things that matter, and while it is current, it never neglects to tell a fascinating story. This is a masterpiece that will be set apart from the rest of the festival programmers of its time and be forever cherished by celluloid aficionados.


Next Door (2022)


Written and directed by debuting filmmaker Ji-ho Yeom and hailing from South Korea, this is about the discovery of a dead body in the mysterious room ‘next door’ and the horrors and comedic situations that ensue. Suffering from a low budget that restrains the action in a few interior and poor sets, along with a premise that is far from original, this reveals a promising man behind the camera, but he’ll need better material to showcase his talents and it should be as far removed from the ‘single room drama’ as possible.


Haunting frame from Do Ut Des (2022)

Do Ut Des


Rich playboy and compulsive womanizer Leonardo (Gianni Rosato) is guilty of a terrible past, but he meets his match in the mysterious author Emanuelle (Beatrice Schiaffino), in this erotic thriller that includes several sexy moments, but also stomach-churning rape scenes that most audiences won’t be able to handle.


Directed by Monica Carpanese (who also penned the screenplay) and Dario Germani (who also handled the cinematography duties), this takes the central female character on a journey that echoes some of the antics of Emmanuelle (1974) and its many sequels and re-incarnations – there is even a scene that is bluntly referencing the Sylvia Krystel original – without becoming a proper re-imagination of any sort. Emanuelle’s Revenge (the film’s international title) is slick (the way it depicts the world of the privileged is lavish) but it is also hard to watch (the scenes of abuse are impossible to handle), essentially becoming the appropriate viewing experience of the subject matter, but these themes are very sensitive and should be handled with more care.


Tre Uomini e un Fantasma (2022)

Tre Uomini e un Fantasma


Three down on their luck men that are friends since childhood become small-time con artists and they steal a bag of chips from a little girl who turns out to be possessed and will ruin their lives.


Directed by Francesco Prisco and hailing from Italy, this horror/comedy hybrid employs a lot of untranslatable humor and some better-executed situation jokes, but in its heart it is a haunted house mystery which is why it feels out of place in today’s festival climate. If this concept was made by a poverty row studio of the 1940s we would be talking of a classic.


Sicosexual (2022)


Upon realizing her boyfriend is cheating on her, a young woman is falling in love with a buffoon Youtuber and embarks on a journey of exploring the dark aspects of her sexuality that include cuckoldry and rough sex.


Written, produced, and directed by Marco Velez Esquivia, this has one of the most descriptive titles of this year’s program, as this Columbian picture is an excellent investigation of female sexuality and even kinks in general, and although it doesn’t dig really deep (the story is really restrained and focused), it is a thoroughly interesting experience and a very sexy one at that.


Para Entrar a Vivir (2022) poster

Para Entrar a Vivir


A young couple (the stunning Barbara Goenaga and the pleasant Gorka Otxoa) find it hard to buy a flat on a budget, but with a little bit of help from their parents they buy a house! However, there is a catch. The house has some very dark history which seems nothing to worry about in the beginning as it fulfills all their consumerist wishes.


Directed by Pablo Aragues (who also penned the screenplay) and Marta Carbera (who also produced), this light horror/comedy romance story is suffering from its small cast and contained locations (most of it taking place within the walls of the aforementioned house), but benefits from the fun-to-watch lead couple and its mere 72 minutes of running time, allowing it to never outstay its welcome.


Note: Los Bastardos (2022), directed by Pablo Yotich and Pablo Bustos was also screened as part of this block, but I didn’t manage to review it in time for this article.


First Look


Making films is always hard, but making your first film is even harder, and since our festivals has its eyes always open to new talents, we managed to tackle via this block several pictures from debuting directors; the results are good and the future looks promising.


Mother Superior (2022) poster

Mother Superior


Set in 1975 and at the Rosenkreuz Manor, this is about a young nurse who accepts the task of caring a peculiar old lady, with whom it turns out she’s sharing a mysterious past. Written and directed by Marie Alice Wolfszahn, this German-speaking opus is hailing from Austria, and with its stunning period setting and quality photography, not to mention some really intriguing performances is a joy to see. Short and sweet at a mere 71 minutes of running time it has you lusting for more from its debuting filmmaker.


Brightwood (2022)


A middle-aged couple that is falling apart ends up in the forest to pretend once again that their relationship has any sort of life left to it, but it turns out that they cannot escape the woods and no matter which direction they go they seem strangely and inexplicably trapped in the wilderness; what’s more, in the end this will prove to be the least of their troubles.


Benefiting from an interesting premise, even if not entirely original, but lacking the mastery required for its execution – not to mention the budget – this is at least a film in which its debuting man behind the camera (Dane Elcar, writing, directing, and producing) is aiming for the stars, even if he’s still too young to be able to reach them. Ignoring where the filmmaking team’s skills reach their limits, this cannot hide its many first-timer-type naivety, and it often feels like a student film and looks like one of the many SOV horrors that came from the US in the 1990s. It will obviously not win any awards, but it is very charming overall; not to mention its rewarding and gruesome ending.


Contorted (2022) poster



Written and directed by Kang Dong Hun, and hailing from South Korea, this psychodrama with its supernatural horror sensibilities and aesthetics follows the story of a family that moves into an isolated house which came cheap but for a very deadly reason. As strange noises and other paranormal happenings occur, this looks and feel like a proper modern horror film, and whereas it is pretty much conventional (although not very predictable), it also appears to have been made with passion and professionalism, resulting in a very enjoyable and eerie ride.


Slasher (2023)


Set in the Spanish countryside (it was shot in Cordoba, Andalusia) this is about a young butcher named Julio (Sergio Alguacil) who inherits a grotesque mask that belonged to his father who was the local serial killer and that inspires the youngster to start a new circle of murder and mayhem.


Written and directed by Alberto Armas Diaz, this Spanish horror/comedy is failing on both of its aims as it is hardly ever funny, nor it is scary by any means, but it is somewhat salvaged by its professional enough cinematography. It is not a strong debut, but you can see things that are worthy enough for the audiences to give the young filmmaker a second chance.


Note: Attachment (2022), directed by Gabriel Bier Gislason, and The Other Child (2022), written and directed by Jin-young Kim, were also screened as part of this block, but I didn’t manage to review it in time for this article.


Exploitation Tribute


I was the curator of this block, in which I had the pleasure of working with Vinegar Syndrome, in order to bring three exploitation film classics from different decades. We had the pleasure of screening Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), Mario Azzopardi’s Deadline (1980), and Stewart Raffill’s Tammy and the T-Rex (1994), to appreciative audiences who asked for more and we could do no less than promising exactly this, for next year.


L-R: C. Mouroukis, Luigi Cozzi, K. Chatzipapas

Luigi Cozzi Tribute


The Horrorant International Film Festival is proud to have brought legendary Italian filmmaker Luigi Cozzi for the first time in Athens, Greece as our guest of honor. Mr. Cozzi was a pleasure to have at the festival and he was very kind with his many fans who wanted a photo taken with him or their Blu-ray discs signed. He was also very generous with providing lengthy introductions and Q&A sessions before and after the screenings of his classic films, much to the awe of his excited fans. Luigi Cozzi is a living legend, but he is foremost a fan, and other than consider him ‘one of us’, we now know that he is also a good friend of Horrorant. We were honored to present him with Horrorant’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


The Killer Must Kill Again (1975)

The Killer Must Kill Again


Womanizer and extortionist Giorgio Mainardi (George Hilton, who was happy to work on a non-Western for a change) recruits an unnamed serial killer and hit-man [Antoine Saint-John, later in The Beyond (1981)] in order to kill his wife Nora [Tere Velazquez from Ratas del Asfalto (1978)]. The plan doesn’t go well though and a couple that becomes a chance con-artist duo steals the murderer’s car with the corpse secured in its trunk.


Based on the Al Mare con la Ragazza novel by Giorgio Scerbanenco, this was directed by Luigi Cozzi (who originally wanted to name the film Il Ragno) when he was referred to the production company by Dario Argento, who was unavailable. To this day, it remains Cozzi’s sole giallo effort, on strict terms, and it is impressive as well for being so original – especially for the time it was made, so early in the game – due to a variety of reasons including the known identity of the killer and several humorous touches.


Contamination (1980) poster



A ship from South America that carries coffee arrives at the New York port, but it also contains green alien eggs that upon approaching explode and the liquid they throw turns the recipient human to explode in turn. Assigned on the case by the military is Colonel Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau) who with the aid of Commander Hubbard (Ian McCulloch, no introduction needed) will try to solve the mystery of the eggs’ generator, which is a one-eyed alien monster.


Following the common Italian exploitation film path of the times, writer/director Luigi Cozzi managed to get funding for this by ‘selling’ it as an Alien (1979) knockoff, and whereas the Ridley Scott picture had an alien egg on its poster, the Mediterranean filmmakers came up with several eggs for their opus. Notoriously generous on the gore department and an all-around fascinating spectacle for splatter cinema fans, this also benefits from awkward dialogues and their pulp charm. It is a pure joy to watch from start to finish, and it comes highly recommended.


Paganini Horror (1988) poster

Paganini Horror


A rock group that consists of mostly female members finds it hard to come up with its new hit when it decides to employ an unreleased sheet of music by Niccolo Paganini, but the sinister song opens the gates of hell.


Written by Luigi Cozzi (who also directed) and friend Daria Nicolodi (who also stars), this steps on the expected but not quite realized success of Klaus Kinski’s Paganini (1989), but it fails as much as its inspiration, what with the TV-style approach (Nicolodi lifted ideas from a television series she was working on) and the poor visual effects. But whereas legendary producer Fabrizio De Angeli’s poor budget reveals its sorry self very often, the practical effects are done with quite some care and are competent enough to occasionally satisfy gore-hounds. On the plus side is also a brief but professional appearance by Donald Pleasence.


Greek Shorts


Unfortunately I did not manage to see this year’s Greek short films in time for this article, but these were The Night at the Theatre and Just in Time.


International Shorts


Unfortunately I did not manage to see this year’s International short films in time for this article, but these were La Masia, Lost Connection, A.P.P., La Calima, La Nueva, Bienvenue Chez Candy, With the Lights On, The Last Day, Signal, The Painting, Your Way, My Way, La Condena, Pablo?, Paralelos, Nesun Dorma. Nobody Sleeps, Night Show, Sangre Sangrienta, Zombie Meteor, It Dawns the Longest Night, The Skin, Reunion, Not Behind You, Light, 52 Hz, Anecoica, The 6 Relics of Helena Manson, Heleno, Pisanka, and Claudia.


L-R: Mouroukis, Koliodimos, Chatzipapas 

The Awards


Best Animated Short: It Dawns the Longest Night

Best International Short: Bienvenue Chez Candy

Best Spanish Short: Anecoica

Best Greek Shorts: A Night at the Theater and Just in Time

First Look Award: Attachment

Panorama Award: Next Door

Special Mention Award: The Caregiver

Best Special Effects Award: Project Wolf Hunting

Best Cinematography Award: Francois Schmitt (Megalomaniac)

Best Screenplay Award: Vincenzo Ricchiuto and Germano Tarricone (The Goldsmith)

Best Female Lead and Best Male Lead: Stefania Casini and Giuseppe Pambieri (The Goldsmith)

Best Director Award: Dan Said (Blood Flower)

Best Feature Award: Project Wolf Hunting and Megalomaniac

Lifetime Achievement Award: Luigi Cozzi

Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed:

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.