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In each issue, self-described "Videophiliac" Dave Lewis gives the low-down on indie horror flicks on video . . . because it's so much more fun to get scared in your own living room.

The Stendhal Syndrome Dark Romances Volume 2 Addicted to Murder: Tainted Blood Zombie Cult Massacre Zombie vs. Mardi Gras Barn of the Blood Llama

The Stendhal Syndrome     
In this 1996 thriller masterpiece, Dario Argento introduces us to special effects that would be featured in The Matrix (1999) and What Dreams May Come (1998), cleverly executed by Italy's Giovanni Corridoria & Co. Notably, The Stendhal Syndrome features Dario Argento's daughter Asia Argento as the film's main character.

The best examples of the cutting-edge special effects include a scene where the murdering rapist shoots his victim in the head. In this pre-Matrix-scene, a simulated closeup follows the bullet through the head of the victim afterwhich the bad guy peers through the hole. An absolutely delightful treat.

Long before Robin Williams journeyed through oil paintings in What Dreams May Come Asia Argento led the way in her father's film in a series of trips where she is absorbed by oil paintings that come to life as they envelop her.

In Stendhal, Miss Argento portrays Assistant Inspector, Anna Manni of Rome's Anti-Rape Department, hot on the trail of a psychotic, murdering rapist, Alfredo Grossi (Thomas Kretschmann, who played Kapitanlieutenant Wassner in U-571 in 2000).

When Anna is lured to the Uffizi museum in Florence we discover that she suffers from Stendhal's syndrome that gives art an overwhelming power over the afflicted in this scene (the first oil-painting-sucking-her-in sequence) she makes out with a huge, ugly fish under the sea. Way cool. Afterwards she also suffers from temporary amnesia because she took a nasty blow to the head when she passed-out.

Alfredo has sought her out. He has targeted her because he believes that they have some ethereal personal connection. Back in her room, she has another experience with a piece of hotel art that turns into a doorway that she steps through, then onto a crime scene of the current victim. Eerie and will have you checking your soft drink to see if someone may have slipped you something.

In her room, she gets a phone call from Alfredo. Since most of you have seen Scream (1996) it's no big surprise when we realize that he's on a cell phone calling her from inside her hotel room. He brutally rapes her.

Wait, there's more: Not only does he rape her, but he abducts her and when she comes to, she realizes that she is witnessing the raping and killing of his next victim in the car that she is also in. (It is in this scene where we are treated to the aforementioned shot-through-the-head effect.)

She flees the scene and is aprehended by her own police department and taken to the hospital where she is subjected to the rigorous tests and treatments required for rape victims.

Chief Inspector Manetti (Luigi Diberti) decides to keep Anna on the case. She agrees to see Department Psychologist, Dr. Cavanna (Paulo Bonacelli) twice-a week. After she tries to rape her co-worker/boyfriend Marco (Marco Leonardi) things start to fall apart.

The stage is set; now, it's war. Alfredo is on the rampage and so is Anna. Anna develops an obsession for blood which is good, because we all need a little blood now and then. There is no shortage in Stendhal.

I have got to say that in the final scene, when Argento's character loses it, there is no doubt that she was perfect for this part, regardless of it being Daddy's film.

The Stendahl Syndrome was unavailable in the USA, until it was picked up by Troma recently and released on video. You can add this little gem to your video collection for $17.49 (includes postage) from Video Addicts Hotline, P.O. Box 1753, Aberdeen, WA 98520.

Have you seen this movie? Tell us what you thought and share with other Video Addicts, or send an e-mail to thoughts@videoaddicts.com with the film's title in the SUBJECT line.



Dark Romances Volume 2: Bleeding Hearts     
In a time when sequels often pale in comparison to the primal installment, Dark Romances Volume 2: Bleeding Hearts (1998) may supersede its predecessor, Dark Romances Volume One: Born Evil. The second installment from Mark Shepard and Patricia Miller is quick-paced and primed for mainstream American video audiences.

Bleeding Hearts is a composite of five creepy stories for your viewing pleasure. No excuse is made for gross-out special effects similar in delivery and performance to the made-for-tv Tales From the Darkside.

With five tales varying in nature and the input of several writing teams, there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. The production values are top-notch so as not to detract from the delivery. The actors and actresses are all believable enough, even though their characters may be on the rediculous side. Each character has its own distinct clarity adding to the charm of this independent gem.

The first installment, She's Bad, She's Blonde, She's Lunch, is a perfect example. Mark Shepard and Samuel Oldham team up to deliver an entertaining tale of an addicts-on-the-edge couple (they met on the New Dating Game) who will kill anyone for a few bucks. After a succession of bloody yogurt stand holdups, Jay (Ron Kologie) and Velvet (Ruth Waytz) still need rent money so they continue their reign of carnage by taking on a comic book store. Leaving a group of blood-gurgling bodies, they head off to Lover's Lane to celebrate the event.

Here, the story takes a bizarre, fateful twist as they face my favorite nasty, goo-oozing creature (Renee Lillian) with penile-like extrusions that suck the spinal fluid from its victims -- the result of a DNA experiment gone awry. I was having flashbacks from Rabid (1977) w/Marilyn Chambers and enjoying the hell out of myself! And the show was just starting!

Next up, Bryan Moore treats us to Cardinal Sin, a bitter, anti-religious, spiritually irreverent tale of a puberty-stricken high-schooler (Scott Wyler), the son of an overly-religious single-parent-mother (Linda Miller). Ellie Rio plays the centerfold whom the son obsessively fantasizes about. All hell breaks loose when mother-dear catches him playing with his pee-pee to the pornagraphic literature.

In Pet Shop of Death, Rodd Matsui weaves a yarn about Sam (Mark Addy) the husband of dominatrix-wife Ruth (Katina Garner). Sam is approached by his lovely neighbor (Brinke Stevens) eluding to the possibility of romance. Thinking about how nice it might be to be with the neighbor, combined with being fed-up with his wife's abuse, he takes extreme measures that include a wife-eating hamster-monster.

John Strysik wields his dark, romantic screen-witing and directorial abilities on Last Love, a tale about a psycho-therapist (Theresa Pare) who is tormented (and haunted) by Adam (Lonnie Schuyler), her lost love.

Finally, Patricia Miller teams up with Michael P. Hodel on the more cerebral What Goes Around.... An intriguing tale of a struggling composer who has resigned himself to a life of booze and mediocrity, until he is "rescued" by the seductive Diana (Brinke Stevens). The salvation comes at an extremely high price, not only to him but the many artists that have preceded him.

If you only have one B-movie in your collection, it should be this one. If not, consider adding it to your collection. Click here to order online.

Have you seen this movie? Tell us what you thought and share with other Video Addicts, or send an e-mail to thoughts@videoaddicts.com with the film's title in the SUBJECT line.



ADDICTED TO MURDER 2: TAINTED BLOOD    
Kevin Lindenmuth never fails to take you by surprise. I thought that there was a sequel to Lindenmuth's Addicted to Murder (1995) already out. I had this pre-conceived notion of what I thought the next step might be, and sure enough, I saw the film Blade (1998) starring Wesley Snipes. I figured that was the ideal comeback for the follow-up on Mick McCleery's character in the original film. I couldn't find any writing credits for Lindenmuth and was surprised. That was because Lindenmuth had one in the can the same year, Addicted to Murder 2: Tainted Blood (1998).

When I first fired up Tainted Blood, I was disappointed because I had expected Joel to come back as an angry vampire hunter. Then, as I began to get sucked into the new story, I could see that Lindenmuth just mater-of-factly picked up where he left off in Addicted.

Joel (McCleery) the frustrated vampire love-slave turned serial killer, is still feeling jilted by Rachel and goes on a quest to find one of two things; either someone who is like himself that he can relate to and can understand him, or the original object of his bent desires, Rachel.

Angie (Sasha Graham) is back, only now she's the vampiric queen bee of New York. She keeps the rest of the vampire fold on a short leash, all except for her sister, who's running amok leaving behind a long line of half-vampire wannabes who keep screwing up Angie's program as they are not worthy of "the change."

Introducing new character, Tricia (Sarah K. Lippmann) and the surprise story line. Tricia has been diagnosed with an inoperable tumor and is given only a few months to live, which doesn't give her much time to put her affairs in order. Hey, if you're gonna die and you'd rather not, why not become a vampire, right? Good thinking. Angie's impressed and starts the process to convert her.

Tricia discovers that becoming a vampire ain't as easy as it sounds, so Angie hooks her up with Jonathan (Ted Grayson) who can teach her the proper skills that she needs to become a real vampire.

With all these great story lines running at once, it's like watching a vampire soap opera without commercials. It's always interesting and you're wondering what happens next? My guess is, there's either an Addicted to Murder 3 in the works, or a daytime soap deal going on that'll rival the Dark Shadows series of TV yesteryear.

Pick up a copy of Addicted to Murder 2, if you can. And keep watching those daily TV schedules to see if Addicted to Murder becomes a new hit series on the FOX network.

Have you seen this movie? Tell us what you thought and share with other Video Addicts, or send an e-mail to thoughts@videoaddicts.com with the film's title in the SUBJECT line.



ZOMBIE CULT MASSACRE    
DO NOT see this movie if you are squeamish or have a tendency to puke when you see a live, dead person eating someone else's guts! I gotta tell ya, as far as zombie movies go, this one gets the coveted Bucket-O-Brains Award. Not only is it jam-packed with blood 'n' tasty guts but it's rooted in a solid story line that would make any member of the living-dead proud.

Marvin (Michael Botouchis) and Sally (Lani Ford) are off on a joy-ride to who knows where and get lost in the boonies. Sally insists on stopping at the next service station for directions.

Meanwhile at a local cult compound the living dead are chasing followers of a renegade religious sect, led by Jeffrey (Bob Elkins), and devouring them if they get their hands on one. The cult members are as well equipped and armed as the Branch Dividians and with little effort, pick 'em off one-by-one.

With directions and a map in hand, Marvin and Sally hit a man on the road who turns out to be a zombie. The zombie takes a chunk out'a Marvin's arm, when Billie (Bridgette Otto) & George (Randy Rupp) happen by and take out the zombie with their artillery. Marvin and Sally hitch a ride to the compound with their new found cult friends, where they are introduced to Jeffrey. Jeffrey sends Marvin to Doc. Lenny (Duffy Hudson) 'cause he don't feel so good.

Doc. Lenny is whacked-out chemist specializing in mind-altering drugs that are used for recreation and controlling cult members. His lab/office is equipped with scientific gizmos and a cage that houses a zombie-woman for experimentation. He's gonna fix up ol' Marvin for sure.

While Marvin's gettin' doctored, Sally's gettin' to know the, "lay of the land." Guess who that is? That's right. No women in the compound can have sex with anyone (including their own husbands) except for Jeffrey, himself. The megalomaniac runs the show using everything in his path to his wicked benefit using religion as a front.

Sally is leaning toward joining the cult but is perplexed by Jeffrey's debauchery. He explains, "Only by being immersed in sin, can I judge sinners." While Marvin's back at the Doc's havin' a halucination hey-day, where he gets up-close and personal with the Devil (Steve Losey), who is also a television evangelist that Marvin remembers from his youth. Losey's character is a brilliant cross between Dennis Hopper's Blue Velvet (1986) character and Michael Keaton's Betelgeuse character in Beetlejuice (1988).

Roach (Lonzo Jones), a local, gnarly biker dude pays a visit to the Doc to score some liquid mescaline. Marvin is released as he, "sees the light." Sally's having second thoughts because she catches Jeffrey receiving sexual favors from Billie and she's jealous. She tells Marvin that she wants to book, and he rushes her to the Doc's office to get her head fixed.

The Devil convinces Marvin that he should get rid of Jeffrey and take over the cult members, while Roach, Sally and his biker gang declare war on the Jezus Freaks. The blood-drenched, action-packed finale will surely satisfy your desires for blood guts and gore.

You'll love to hate Bob Elkins' performance as the evil cult leader who deserves some kind of award for the best bad guy portrayal in a B-movie.

Have you seen this movie? Tell us what you thought and share with other Video Addicts, or send an e-mail to thoughts@videoaddicts.com with the film's title in the SUBJECT line.



ZOMBIE! VS. MARDI GRAS  
Written and Directed by Mike Lyddon, Karl DeMolay and Will Frank, Zombie vs. Mardi Gras (1999) will have narrow appeal limited to the specific first-class, raunchy, major videophiliac sufferers.

Lyddon's mixed-format creation is presented in full zombie-dellic black and white to soften some of the rough edges. Although the production quality of this film may be less-than-desireable for mainstream audiences, it has a spark of genius that cannot be denied. The dis-jointed film has several things going on at once, so bear with me...

Mr. McGuffin (Matt James) a bitter sorcerer who was trampled during Mardi Gras in his youth embarks on his evil plan to execute justice on all partygoes this year. First he conjures Imatta (Lorelli Fuller), Mistress of the Night a titty-dancer who wrigles and gyrates throughout the film. Then he calls forth the evil Harpo Marx-looking Zombie (Karl DeMolay) to do his dirty work.

Aliens, hovering in a spacecraft, witness the events unfold as a publisher (Dudley Bachelor) assembles a video team to cover the Zombie vs. Mardi Gras event. The team consists of Dale Ashmun, Veronica Russel and videographer, Garth Currie (playing themselves), interviewing event attendees throughout the film.

A lone, ninja warrior (Jason Deas), is aware of the cosmic disturbance and sets out to destroy the Zombie. While Natalie Asparagas (Jeanett Hauser) speaks in code on the phone about the strange goings on, "It'll be handy dander, salamander," then bathes on camera.

Gallileo (Keith Bien) is approached by a bureaucratic angel (Roy "Rusty" Jackson) who offers him a temporary pardon from purgatory if he will agree to go to earth to rid us of the evil spawn.

Throughout the film, random partyers are being killed by falling bullets in an on-going gag.

Got that? That's what's going on, all separately and at the same time. The film features nudity, titty and bum flashing (typical of Mardi Gras) and a few attempts at creating some mild gore including Zombie's ripping off, and munching on, a woman's breasts.

Only to be seen by those who really must view this kind of material. To the rest of the entertainment community, I appologize. You probably shouldn't have read this far. If you can't live without it, you can get a copy by clicking here.

Have you seen this movie? Tell us what you thought and share with other Video Addicts, or send an e-mail to thoughts@videoaddicts.com with the film's title in the SUBJECT line.



BARN OF THE BLOOD LLAMA  
Edited and Directed by Kevin West, Barn of the Blood Llama (1997) is an irreverent comedy by Kirk L. Hunter, Earl Saathoff, Kelley Swinney and West that pokes fun at the bad drive-in sci-fi movies of days gone by.

There's implied sex, incest and beastiality with a science fiction score and a hillbilly melody. Add to that the spattering of colorful characters and micellaneous film stock that varies from black-and-white, to color and your choice of hues (i.e., sepiatone) and you got yerself a toe-tappin' humdinger of a good time on video (or not).

This is not great cinema. Hell, it ain't even good enough to be considered bad cinema, but not bad for a no budget, fun romp through a silly Llama farm called the World O Wool, where we meet local Animal Coroner, Dr. Albert (Kelly Swinney) as he's porkin' the daylights out'a his favorite love-Llama, Bessie Sue.

Janet (Lucinda Hinton) and Bea (Kirsten Carter) are a pair o' horny country gals who pick-up hitchhikers and yee-ha with 'em in the back seat.

Bessie Sue makes a break for it. Lost, animal lover, Toni (Lucinda Cruse) runs into Bessie-Sue-on-the-loose with her car, fatally wounding the Llama. Dr. Albert happens upon the scene and is heartbroken. Toni's car is messed-up so she catches a ride to the World O Wool.

Janet and Bea give flailing rock-star-has-been and one-hit-wonder Bock (Earl Saathoff) a lift to the ranch so that he can receive his youth treatments from the wacky Dr. Albert. He steals $700 from the girls to pay the Doctor.

A funeral is held for Bessie-Sue who is buried at sea in a coffin that looks as if it had been made by a giant cookie cutter in the shape of a Llama.

There's an "obligatory music video" followed by wild, blood thirsty Llamas - spewing toxic cud - on a murderous rampage, triggered by a menstruating woman. The mutated Llamas are the result of Dr. Albert's experiment synthesizing a youth regeneration serum derived from animal hormone... something to do with hatching Llama clones from Wool-covered eggs.

The mutant Llamas begin to take on human traits, steal cars, hide bodies, rape (wearing sheepskin prophylactics) and pillage, while the girls, turned kickboxing-ninja-babes, defend the camp by using can-lids as ninja stars and Jug (Kevin West) the cook, serves up barbequed Llama innards, happy meal-style. The story takes a twist at the accidental discovery of day-glow wool.

Jug holds the secret to destroying the mutant Llamas, which involves resurrecting his deam momma (G. K. McFarland), whom he killed and buried in the backyard because she would only have sex with his younger brother Gibby (Kirk Hunter).

Toni escapes but may have a growing super-mutant-llama-hybrid growing inside her ... could there be .... a Blood Llama sequel yet to come?

Have you seen this movie? Tell us what you thought and share with other Video Addicts, or send an e-mail to thoughts@videoaddicts.com with the film's title in the SUBJECT line.


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Dave Lewis, a non-recovering videophiliac, is constantly on the lookout for strange and unusual videos. If you have an independent film (with or without good production values) or know of a rare or unique film that may be good for review, please write:
Dave Video Addict, P.O. Box 1753, Aberdeen, WA 98520. Or, e-mail Dave at webmanabc@hotmail.com.

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