Thursday, February 11, 2016

Mortal Remains (2013)

Do you remember Karl Atticus?

Mortal Remains first bled on my radar a couple of years ago while on vacation in Evans City, PA.  I was asked that very same question I posed to you, dear reader, earlier.  "Do you remember Karl Atticus?"

Some herald long-forgotten, fringe filmmaker Atticus as a purveyor of the modern Slasher film with his last film, Mortal Remains, being a topic of discussion and debate for decades, even after it had fallen under the banner of a "lost film".  Bizarre tales from its filming and even stranger occurrences when it was once screened for the public serve as a launching point into the abyss.

Horror fans since birth, filmmakers Mark Ricche and Christian Stavrakis set out to uncover the truths about Mortal Remains and Karl Atticus in this riveting docu-thriller.  Through interviews with those who knew and worked with him, Ricche and Stavrakis find themselves closer and closer to Atticus and his hallmark film, with each clue they unearth.  

This film itself carries with it a sense of foreboding dread as Ricche and Stavrakis plummet deeper into their search and inch closer to a horrifying truth.  From the outset, it doesn't feel like such a great idea to be digging up something that maybe should have stayed lost.

Throughout the film, with each new discovery, both men go back and forth as to whether they should continue the film.  Though when one of them appears obsessed with finishing the search, it's quite clear what their decision is.  

In today's Horror world, the idea of unearthing a lost or forgotten film is something that a lot of genre fans can easily get behind.  Let's face it, we live in an era now where film as a medium is disappearing and we're unfortunately losing source materials for far too many pictures that may have only seen the light of drive-in movie theater projectors forty or more years ago.  With that said, I'm right there with our heroes as they search for clues about Karl Atticus!

Mortal Remains is the best genre film that you haven't seen yet!  If you're a Horror fan, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

See it!

For more info and to purchase the film, check out Cryptic Pictures website!

Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

One of my all-time favorite studios for Horror and Cult films is, hands down, American International Pictures.  So many of my favorite, late-night Horror and Blaxploitation films were released by AIP throughout the late 60s all the way up through the 1970s.  If a film I'm watching has the classic AIP logo at the start, I know it's going to be a great time!

Count Yorga, Vampire is no exception.

The film's original title card.
Admittedly, I'd always sort of bypassed both this film and its awesome sequel, The Return of Count Yorga, though I can't really say why.  In fact, my very first encounter with the Count Yorga character goes all the way back to my elementary school days when I'd endlessly borrow a particular book from the school library, Jeff Rovin's "The Encyclopedia of Super Villains".  This book was a treasure trove of, not only comic book baddies, but also film -- the main reason I loved it so much was because of its entry on Freddy Krueger.  Each villain listing had a cool mini-biography of the character it was discussing.  Count Yorga was listed, along with a photo . . . for some reason though, I thought it was stupid and dismissed it.  

Boy was I wrong!

Count Yorga, Vampire is a bit of a slow-burn film, beginning with an ominous narration about vampires as we're treated to a coffin arriving in the port of Los Angeles and heading for a creepy mansion via flat-bed truck.  Next, we're introduced to Yorga himself (played by the late Robert Quarry), leading a seance arranged by Donna (played by Donna Anders) in the hopes of contacting her mother, who has recently died.

Robert Quarry in fine form as the titular vamp.
Among the folks in the seance is Erica, played by Judith Lang.  In a not too unfamiliar plot point, Yorga takes a liking to her and eventually sinks his teeth into Erica, turning her into a pseudo-slave, obsessed with his charm.  

There are some genuinely creepy moments in this film!  One of which is the look of Yorga in vampire mode...

These fangs can cause "a variety of damage", as they say.
The main thread of the film revolves around Yorga trying to get to Erica again and turn her into the Undead so that she can be with him forever.  Of course, Erica's boyfriend Paul (played by Michael Murphy) is going to stand for this and he, along with Donna's boyfriend Michael (played by the film's producer Michael Macready) and Dr. James Hayes (played by Roger Perry, who also appears -- in a different role -- in the Yorga sequel) team up to kick some vampire ass.  

The fun really begins when our heroes infiltrate Yorga's mansion and characters are revealed to be dead or undead; Yorga uses Donna's mother, who is now a vampire herself, as a pawn of his evil!  

Sometimes, Good doesn't always triumph over Evil.
The final reel sees Michael, with a catatonic Donna in tow, frantically trying to escape Yorga and his vampire brides.  

What can I say?  I'm sucker for good-looking vampire dames!

Preceding Carrie by six years, the film ends with a truly terrifying shock moment reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller"!  This seems to have worked out pretty well, as the sequel also ends on a similarly shocking note.

One of the more interesting anecdotes about this film is that it was originally intended to be more of a hardcore porno film!  Shot independently under this guise, once the film was picked for distribution by AIP, all of the erotic scenes had to go; this is pretty evident in the sequence where Yorga has Donna's vampire mother engage with another vampire bride (the scene just cuts before anything happens on-screen).  

This is a very confusing element of Count Yorga as a whole, as Robert Quarry was eventually groomed as AIP's next Horror star, set to take over the mantle from Vincent Price.  Quarry would go on to star in Yorga's sequel, as well as playing villain to Vincent Price in Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Sugar Hill, and Madhouse (which proved to be the last AIP film for both Price and Quarry).

Despite the erotic scenes being removed, there's still a decent amount of gore present.  Although tame by today's standards, Count Yorga, Vampire delivers the goods for fang fans!  In what is probably the film's most disturbing sequence, Erica is found feeding off of a dead kitten!  This particular sequence was originally heavily trimmed, though it shows up completely uncut in MGM's DVD release under the "Midnite Movies" banner as well as the recent (and limited) Twilight Time bluray.

The film is still readily available, as I said on both DVD and bluray on Amazon, depending on what you'd like to spend.  

Definitely see it!