Movie Review: MUTANT

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Film Ventures International

“Nothing human can have this in its veins and live.”

  • When two brothers — Josh and Mike — go to a small southern town or a vacation, they find most of the residents either dead or missing. When Mike himself goes missing, Josh teams up with the local Sheriff and an attractive school teacher to find him, until Josh discovers that the whole town and most of its people have been infected by a form of toxic waste, and they have all turned into toxic vampires who prowl the streets at night for human blood.

So, here we have a movie that was directed by the same guy who directed the Shatner-riffic Kingdom Of The Spiders. Ooooh boy, with that kind of pedigree, we’re in for some fun, here.

Mutant was another one of those movies that was included on the collection of low-budget C-grade horror flicks I got from Walmart one afternoon, 50 for $20. I’m a sucker for those. Apparently, it originally started life as Pestilence, but then released to theaters in 1984 as Night Shadows, but was given the current title when it was released on video. As to why, I couldn’t tell you. More to the point of the plot? We’ll go with that.

So, we begin Mutant with a couple of brothers that are on vacation together, traveling in the American South. And because you can’t have a road trip in the American South without encountering a bunch of rowdy rednecks in a pick’em-up truck, they eventually get run off the road by the unwashed locals. They find themselves stranded in the nearby small town while their car is getting fixed. This is when they start to discover that the locals are acting a bit odd. Well, of course they are, as they’re strangers in a small Southern town. Duh. There’s that, yes, but also the locals are turning into diseased vampire zombies. Bodies start piling up, several other people start disappearing, one of the brothers dies (whom the other brother creepily refers to as “cute” to someone while trying to find him, which just raises questions that never get answered), the surviving brother meets up with a local school teacher, and they both go around investigating what’s going on to cause the townsfolk to, you know, go all Night Of The Living Dead like that. Turns out, a local company dumping toxic waste is the cause of all the locals turning an interesting shade of blue with dark circles under their eyes, like they’re all cosplaying the 1961 version of Carnival Of Souls, and sucking out everyone’s blood by way of hand vaginas, like with the 1990s animated Spider-Man version of Morbius. Only, that was done a good ten years before that show, but I refuse to believe my beloved Spider-Man cartoon was inspired by this movie. Anyway, chases ensue, things go boom, and mercifully the movie ends.

Given the pedigree, Mutants plays like one of those 1950s-style B Movies that were kind of prevalent in the 1980s. Low budget, cheep effects and middling acting are par for the course, but there’s admittedly a certain enthusiasm here that keeps this from becoming just a painful waste of time. The style starts off as a general Southern Gothic, then shifts to a standard horror movie, and finally ending as an action horror. There’s a lot of exposition in here, and the music score is surprisingly top-notch for something like this.

I would be remiss not to mention that Mutant was probably the main reason why the distributor, Film Ventures International, went under. Let’s just say that the movie theaters were as desolate as the small town depicted in this movie. The studio was floundering at that time to begin with, but Mutants was pretty much the final nail in their coffin. That, and the CEO’s pending divorce, which resulted in him grabbing $1 million from FVI and vanishing, rumored to have fled to Mexico. Really, the story behind FVI deserves its own movie in and of itself.

Overall, Mutants was one of the titles that I remember seeing at the local video store back in the 80s gathering dust on its horror shelf. And, depending on your experiences with some of the other low budget horror and sci-fi movies in Film Ventures International’s stead (which includes Pod People, Day Of The Animals and the classic Jaws rip-off Grizzly), Mutants is either a mildly enjoyable low-budget monster horror romp, or a complete waste of time. For me, this lands more in the former than the later.


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netherbeast incorporated
Shoreline Entertainment

“Here at Berm-Tech, we offer you a hand shake, whether you have hands, hooks, or flippers.”

  • Employees of Berm-Tech Industries, Inc. have kept the family secret for a long time. For years it has been business as usual, until the top “vampire” in charge contracts a dreaded disease, becomes senile forgetting that he’s a vampire and starts killing off other vampire colleagues. A human efficiency expert and “Dead Mike’s” replacement are invited to work at Berm-Tech but soon they discover that some of their associates are not what they appear to be.

Here’s a movie that I stumbled upon early on in my utilizing the Amazon Prime movie streaming service. Netherbeast, Incorporated, going by the site description alone, sounded like it was right up my ally: A business firm that’s a place where vampires can work and live in safety from being hunted by humans, when the boss (who is also a vampire) starts to go senile and begins to hire humans. Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that, otherwise that just sounds like another premise for a syndicated sitcom. Probably for UPN. Before it went bye-bye in the mid-aughts and merged with the WB to become the CW.

What got me to watch Netherbeast, Incorporated, was the pedigree of actors in this: former SNL alumni Darrel Hammond, Kids In The Hall alumni Dave Foley, Judd Nelson, Robert Wagner, Jason friggin’ Mewes, and Steve Burns. You know, that guy from Blue’s Clues? Yeah, he’s in this movie. And with a cast like that, you would presume this would be something of a quirky dark comedy horror. And you would be right. So very, very right.

So, going into the story a bit more: This movie revolves around the goings-on within Berm-Tech Industries, a telephone company in Arizona staffed entirely by vampires who refer to themselves as “Netherfolk”. Turns out that this company was established by President James Garfield and Alexander Graham Bell as a safe-haven for the Netherfolk, a place for them to work, live and generally exist away from the interference from humans, who have a tendency to overreact to there being vampires in existence somewhere. The movie itself begins when one of the long-time employees discovers that the boss is suffering from the netherfolk equivalent of Alzheimer’s, by way of the boss having staked another employee and warning him that he’s suspecting there are vampires in the building and keep an eye out for ’em, ‘kay? Things escalate from there, as it’s in this particular state of mind that has him hiring a couple of humans–“first lifers”–a security expert and a productivity expert to work at the company. Of course, wackiness ensues to try and keep from their undead cover from being blown entirely.

Netherbeast, Incorporated was, for the most part, rather enjoyable. It does seem a bit subdued, though, like there was much more potential that may have been lost in the shuffle. It was going for more of an Office Space with Vampires direction, which works for the most part. However, for whatever reason, Dave Foley and Jason Mewes are woefully underutilized, which is a damn shame. A dirty, lowdown shame, I tells ya. Darrel Hammond is perfectly in his element as the (literally) brain-dead boss, and Judd Nelson was great as the antagonist of the movie. Also, this doesn’t shy away from the gore. Nicely done, movie.

Overall: Netherbeast, Incorporated seemed to get lost in the shuffle of horror flicks that were released in the Aughts. My guess is, it probably had to do with it coming out before the whole Twilight movie franchise made vampire movies popular again. Regardless, this was a pretty good original comedy horror flick. While I’m probably not going to go back to this as much as I do with the annual viewings of, say, Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland or The Lost Boys, Netherbeast, Incorporated is more like a movie that, if I happen upon it on a cable channel, I’ll stay and watch. Still, recommended.

Book Review: AMISH WEREWOLVES OF SPACE (Peril in Plain Space #3)

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amish werewolves of space
Kerry Nietz
Freeheads Publishing

“Can’t drive a hover, or fly a ship,” Greels said aloud. “But the Amish sure can bake.” He noticed a package of noodles was in danger of falling and paused to adjust it. “Bread and noodles. Noodles and bread.”

  • Some say death comes in threes. For the Amish community of Alabaster, it seems to. They’ve maintained an uneasy alliance with the vamperkinder, the altered humans that rescued them from the zombies seven years ago. But after several vicious attacks–nighttime slaughters that could only have bee perpetrated by the kinder–the union of the two peoples is shattered. Meanwhile, a resurgent zombie horde and mysterious nightly howls signal doom, not only for the Amish, but for the entire galaxy. As more and more planets fall, the Raven survivors hunt for a solution. Can they restore the peace? Escape the horde? Save the galaxy? Or is it already too late?

Oh, hey, look! My prayers have been answered! There’s been another Peril in Plain Space series book published this past year (2019), and on Halloween, appropriately enough. And in keeping with the classic monster terrorized space Amish motif, this time around it involves werewolves. Eh, not exactly my favorite classic monster, but really the logical way to go with a series like this. I can’t wait to see if the the good people of Miller’s Resolve will have to tangle with the likes of the mummy, a Frankenstein’s monster, or even some Lovecraftian elder god aliens. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at this third tome in this delightfully entertaining series, shall we?

It’s been several years–seven, if you read the above blurb–since Miller’s Resolve was invaded by the nanobites that turned every living thing it touched into undead zombies. The genetically-altered “Vampire Children” have been blending in with the Alabaster Amish community, a couple of the children having been adopted by one family as well. Everyone’s favorite ex-Amish couple, Jeb and Sarah, have opened up a shop in the nearby town, and even Greers seems to have settled in, having opened up a a general goods store himself. Everything seems just peachy…until some of the livestock gets slaughtered at night by what seems to be a vicious beast, and the Amish community begin pointing the fingers at the vamp kids. Meanwhile, on a busy metropolitan planet, another one of those bone-shaped spacecrafts seen in the previous novel crash-lands and send out its nanotech infestation, turning every living thing into the living dead again. And this is happening on many other planets as well. So now, it’s a race against time to get to the source of the nanotech attacks and stop the genetic mutations once and for all…before the population in Alabaster rise up against the Vamperkinder and the discovery of a werewolf in an adjoining community brings in the gov’ment taking over…

Just like the others in the so-called Peril In Plain Space series, Amish Werewolf of Space is a well-written, well planned out and just overall fun sci-fi action adventure that just happens to have the Amish in there. All of the key players get some further character development, some ending up not the same as they were when this story began, for the good. It’s satisfying how far everyone has come since beginning this fun series, and if there’s only going to be these three titles and no more, I’m satisfied with how this ties everything up. Well done, again. Highly recommended, especially if you’ve read the other two books.

Book Review: AMISH VAMPIRES IN SPACE (Peril In Plain Space #1)

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amish vampires in space

Kerry Nietz
Fireheads Publishing

  • Jebediah has a secret that will change his world forever and send his people into space. The Amish world of Alabaster calls upon an ancient promise to escape destruction. Then end up on a cargo ship bound for the stars. But they are not the only cargo on board. Some of it is alive…or used to be. Now, with vampires taking over and closing in on the Amish refugees, these simple believers must decide whether their faith depends upon their honored traditions or something even older.

A couple of years ago, while bored at work, I was amusing myself by doing Google searches on words that were absurd when paired together: words like “Wafflecone Conspiracy”, “Polka Metal”, “Government Intelligence”, things like that. Just to see what wackiness would pop up. One of those searches was for “Amish Vampires”. And lo and behold, the link for this actual novel, Amish Vampires in Space, popped up. Which tells me that there are clearly other people out there whose brains work just like mine. That should be enough to give anyone pause.

Anyway, as a title like Amish Vampires in Space falls squarely in the Shut Up And Take My Money files, I purchased the Kindle edition of this book, just to check it out, sight unseen. No idea what the book was about…but I had an inkling that, somehow, this would involve Amish vampires. In space. I mean, it’s right there in the title. Brilliant, that. Besides, even it it turned out to be someone’s poorly written subReddit fan-fic that somehow found its way to getting published for realsies, I can at least hold my head up high, and proclaim from the rooftops that I have, indeed, read a book titled Amish Vampires in Space.

I haven’t even gotten to the review of the thing, and I am savoring this for all it’s worth.

So, a little backstory: Apparently, this title came about because the owner of the book’s publishing company was contemplating how popular Amish romance novels were in the Christian fiction market. I don’t know what it’s like now, but there was a time when Christian book publishers’ collective credo involving romance fiction–or, possibly any kind of religious fiction in general–was, “If it ain’t Amish, don’t bother submitting.” Or something like that. Then he started thinking about how popular vampires were in young adult fiction in the general market, and came up with the idea of producing cover art for a fake book he had no intention of actually publishing, more as a satirical goof on the genres. And that was that…until author Kerry Nietz contacted the publisher with an actual idea for the story of Amish Vampires in Space. And so they did. Mind you, they stipulated that he had to have an actual story to give them, and they reserved the right to reject publication. The fact that this not only got published, but also has a sequel further intrigued me.

But, enough prattling about the making of. Let’s get to what you’re really here for: What do I, your Uncle NecRo, think of Amish Vampires in Space? And, can I manage to continue typing out that title without giggling like a five-year-old who heard his grandmother pass gas while bending over?

To answer the later question first: No. I cannot. But, you probably suspected that.

As to the former question: Amish Vampires in Space is a subversive novel of science fiction goodness that takes a rather absurd sounding premise, and manages to weave a story that makes it all not only plausible, but also manages to be an engaging and heart-felt and well thought-out novel chock full of drama, comedy, and action to keep even the most jaded of sci-fi geek engaged to the end of the book. The writing style takes a very cinematic style, keeping the story moving, despite the over-400 page length of the book. I found myself enjoying pretty much every page from when I picked it up, and finding it hard to put back down.

Overall: Whether you pick up a copy of Amish Vampires in Space because of the gonzo title alone (like I did) or more out of morbid curiosity, you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the story contained herein. This isn’t one of those subReddit fan-fics that got lucky, like 50 Shade of Toxic Relationships; this is actually well-written. Recommended.


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what we do in the shadowsParamount Pictures

“Yeah, some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ooooh, those are some nice pants.”

So, there I was, in the hospital due to my knees getting rather messed up. I had my laptop there, and was contemplating taking in a streaming movie to help assuage my growing boredom in just sitting there healing up. I was perusing the Horror section on my Amazon account, and notice one of the titles available was, in fact, What We Do In The Shadows. Remembering friends aggressively recommending I watch this movie for a rather long time, I decided to finally give it a go. I mean, it was made by one of the Flight Of The Concords guys. And I’ve been hearing pretty good things about this mocumentary style comedy horror thing.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a mocumentary and a found footage movie. What We Do In The Shadows falls in the former category, and belongs in the kind of quality mocumentary comedies as This Is Spinal Tap and Anvil: The Story Of Anvil.

What’s that? Anvil: The Story Of Anvil wasn’t a mocumentary, but an actual documentary on the band? That’s depressing. Okay, so how about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping? Okay, we’re good then. Moving along…

So, What We Do In The Shadows follows the unlives of four vampire roommates sharing an old Victorian house, and opening up about their daily goings abouts and various other things that none of the normals of society know about. They’re all getting ready for the upcoming annual masquerade ball, a kind of gathering of supernatural and undead persons and creatures. Over the days, they try and debunk various myths and exaggerations about the vampire lifestyle, something that’s thrown a bit askew when the oldest of the four–a Nosferatu style elderly vampire that dwells in the basement inside a stone crypt most of the time–turns a Millennial, who turns out to be a brat that would make Lestat want to smack him for being so brazen.They also make friends with a human, who helps teach them to understand and embrace the 21st Century and its technology for their benefit; and get into some altercations with the local werewolf pack. Wackiness doth ensue, my children of the night.

What We Do In The Shadows is a fantastic movie. It not just settles as a comedy, content on merely playing around with several vampire tropes and cliche’s, but due to some very good writing, turned out to be more than that. There’s a very tangible sense of pathos and loneliness that the main vampire characters exude, along with their annoyance at the youngest baby bats to infiltrate the group. Even if you’re not a fan of the Vampire genre, I highly recommend acquiring this movie and watching it.


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freaks of natureColumbia Pictures

“I think I’m having brain withdrawals.”

In Freaks of Nature, we welcome you to Dillford, where three days ago, everything was peaceful and business as usual: the vampires were at the top of the social order, the zombies were at the bottom, and the humans were getting along in the middle. But this delicate balance was ripped apart when the alien apocalypse arrived in Dillford and put an end to all the harmony. Now it’s humans vs. vampires vs. zombies in all-out, blood-sucking, brain-eating, vamp-staking mortal combat – and all of them are on the run from the aliens. It is up to three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – to team up, figure out how to get rid of the interplanetary visitors, and try to restore order to this “normal” little town.

Freaks Of Nature was apparently released to theaters on the same day that another so-called “horror comedy” going by the name of Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse was released. Only, Freaks Of Nature was only in 100 or so theaters on October 30th, 2015. I don’t remember seeing this in any of the local Omaha theaters at the time; each one, though, had a showing of the Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse. Which I still haven’t watched. For reasons.

The original script to Freaks Of Nature started life under the title “Kitchen Sink”, something I vaguely remember being reported on back in 2011. It was evidently so memorable I promptly forgot about it until I was doing the usual background investigation on this for the review purposes. Huh. It was filmed in 2013, but was held back by Sony until it was just dumped with little to no fanfare on the previously mentioned date, then slipping into DVD/VOD relative obscurity. Which isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but the question remains: is Freaks Of Nature worth checking out?

Since I’m big on using food-related analogies, I would compare Freaks Of Nature to a good plate of goulash. And in case you were wondering (or aren’t very familiar with the concept of “goulash”), I’m talking about the American Midwest version that really only has the name and maybe the inclusion of beef as the only connection to the original Hungarian dish. It consists mainly of ground beef and macaroni in tomato sauce, and depending on the recipe can include corn, onions and garlic, diced stewed tomatoes, with the option of cheese to be added for taste.

And like goulash, Freaks Of Nature turned out to be a hot mess, but a surprisingly tasty hot mess that was made better with cheese. And if you go back to the original script’s title, you kind of get the idea that the creators of this were in on that fact. The base of this movie feels more like a John Hughes coming-of-age rom com that also features vampires and zombies dwelling together because…reasons. Then aliens invade, and a human, a vampire and a zombie from the local high school have to set aside their prejudices and band together to figure out what the aliens want. Which turns out to be a chemical compound found in the town’s Riblet factory.

For the most part, Freaks Of Nature was enjoyable on a certain level. It’s a movie that’s in desperate need of a focus, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. It’s certainly way better than Vampires Suck. Worth a look-see.

HALLOWEEN’ING Day 28: “Cold” (Static-X)

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halloween'ing 2017
I first heard the song “Cold” as part of the movie Queen Of The Damned. It’s played during the part where Lestat is playing around with a couple of groupies’ heads before he eats them. It’s one of the highlights of an otherwise passable vampire film (in and of itself; as an adaptation…well, that’s not the point of this article, really). I soon came to find out that this song was re-purposed for the film, and the original was done by cyber nu-metal group Static-X.

Coming off of their 2001 release Machine, “Cold” is chilling enough as it is, a nice neo-Gothic metal ode to vampires. However, it’s the video that really makes this a staple in my Halloween music mix: A disheveled looking Wayne Static inside a remote house that’s heavily fortified and barricaded, preparing for a showdown with vampires once the sun goes down. It’s very much an homage to Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, and is awesome in its own right.


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