Wicked Wisconsin Wednesdays

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 31: Aswang


I’ve been hunting for this movie since October now. Throughout that time,  I have very much enjoyed mispronouncing the title as “Ass-wang” – like if Wang Chung had their own vampire beast . But thankfully, the movie also goes by the exceedingly generic The Unearthing, which I guess we can only dream of the archaeological thriller that could have been.

I think the title is technically pronounced more like “os-wong”, which is infinitely less fun. Crude (fun) names aside, this is a movie that actually has some cred to it, which is nice for a change. Aswang premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994, which makes it just that much more sassier and special than Black Cadillac could never dream of being.

 Everybody have fun tonight!
Everybody ass-wang tonight.

While I may be scraping at the bottom of the barrel for cash, I did splurge a bit and bought Aswang on DVD. Though it’s a German release (Das ultimative Böse which pretty much just means ‘The Ultimate Evil’), so I’m not really sure if there ever was a UK release for this. Possibly not. Moments like these that I really hate country codes. I’m surprised this little movie has been lost along the wayside. It’s rather difficult to find much about it on the Interwebs. I really couldn’t find to much about anyone connected to the film. The original story was written by Frank L Anderson, who was born in the Philippines and later moved Wisconsin. Most of the actors are from Kenosha. Well, according to IMDB anyway.

Anyway, the movie, right?

Aswang begins with some a girl, Katrina, and her boyfriend discussing their unborn baby. She ignores his pleads to go to a clinic and instead goes into an office where she and a couple sign a rather complicated agreement. Katrina has decided to pose as “Janine” for the Null family. She’ll be acting as Peter’s wife, who won’t see any of his orchard fortune if he isn’t married. His mother is in a wheelchair and seemingly normal until we see her clucking to her pet chicken, but if we’re all being honest with ourselves, isn’t that what any good Midwestern mother do?

Turns out Peter’s twin sister Claire is also a bit off her rockers. She lives unseen in the run-down house in the back garden, but has been under the care of Cupid, the attentive housekeeper. She’s quite attentive, actually as she insists of giving Katrina a drink at the dinner table and is insulted when she tries to turn it down. After knocking back a few, Katrina begins to dance which upsets the mother enough to bring her into a small attack. But everyone seems cheerful enough like some sinister Folgers commercial.

But clearly none of this is good for the baby. “Cider” plus creepy dreams and a really strange family? Poor Katrina, you’re totally fucked.

Meanwhile, Dr Harper is digging through the woods with his dog when they come across a disgusting, rancid skull. He’s later caught trespassing by Janine and Peter. Finding the doctor on the land really seems to be rather protective of his property. But he says he’s been finding scores of those weird skull/nest/cocoon bits all over the area. Seemingly forgiving the small misunderstanding, Dr Harper is invited over for dinner where he is shown Peter’s large collect of art from the Philippines, including a painting of the Aswang.

Dr Harper heads back to his little shack his, uh, shacked up in where he reads up about the Aswang. He discovers that it is Filipino vampire that eats on fetuses. Most die, but some can also turn into a Aswang. But he has little time to do anything with this revelation because he and his dog are quickly axed off. Sorry, fed on by mummie dearest.


We get to see some great worm-tongue, proboscis bit in action by the Aswang. The, I dunno, “slurpy bit” tries to attack Kat in the night, but she actually puts up a pretty damn good fight for a pregnant lady. After seeing Peter arrive to assist his mother, Kat realises that she’s gotten herself into some crazy shit.

Unfortunately, she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. Instead of trying to get away, she goes to look for “Claire” for assistance. She sees that the small home is covered in blood and dead bodies, but tries to save Dr Harper’s life instead of just getting the hell out of that place. This is pretty standard for horror fare, but I also feel like those mothering instincts should kick in sometime right about now. To be fair, they do as soon as she starts getting chased by a woman with a chainsaw. It’s as good a time as any.

While Kat is busy tripping over graves in the woods and running down long country roads, Peter is mourning loss of Claire, but at least he doesn’t lose sight of the prize: Kat’s unborn baby. She’s eventually brought back by an idiotic policeman and goes straight back into the arms of the Null Nuts. At this point I’m kind of rooting for the Nulls because I’m interested mostly in what the effects will look like.

The ending is actually pretty great and there’s no way in hell I’m going to ruin it by telling you who is the victor in all of this. But it did make me go “Whoa. YES!” So I guess that’s a bit of a victory. Aswang is will worth checking out yourself. If you love screaming at the screen and fearing for character’s lives, watch this bad boy.

I actually really liked Aswang. The story is pretty messed up, there’s lots of gore and a really beautiful setting. Even the acting didn’t suck! HOORAY! I would have liked to have seen more development in the beginning of the film, like how Katrina got herself stuck in this situation to begin with. If you’re not paying enough attention at all, it can be easy to miss what the plan is supposed to be, exactly. Though the film is good on making a rather unsettling atmosphere, it just should have taken it’s time a bit more. I can’t believe I’ve written that for a WWW movie, but I wish this movie was longer.

But what I was mostly disappointed by was the lack of Wang Chung in the soundtrack. And that, I’m afraid, is something that just can’t be forgiven.

I’d walk a million miles
To eat your babe tonight
So if you like my deal
I’ll make you my fake wife
The vampire in me is strong
My mom is just like me
We’re kill you soon
Enjoy that cider, please

Blood now.
You’ll chase through the town
Blood now.

Everybody Ass-Wang tonight!
Everybody Ass-Wang tonight!


Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 27: Billy Club


I don’t know about you, but I’m finding looking for a new place in London to be the largest pain in my ass. Many of you dear readers probably don’t have a clue what it’s like to look for a flat in London (neither did I until about a week ago), but it’s super intense. Gearing up for this big move meant that I’ve been insanely busy with that and various other projects and, well, my job that actually pays my bills. My husband and I have been so busy we forgot to watch the World Series. We watched a few of the play-off games, but everything else seemed to have slipped past us. And believe me, we are big baseball fans here and watched Brewer lose more games than is good for the soul.

So it seems only fitting that this week’s movie is rather baseball themed. Billy Club is a film that doesn’t beat around the bush.

Billy Club is set in the small town of Two Rivers in Eastern Wisconsin in the year 1996. Bobby Spooner comes into the local bar where he runs into some former classmates like the barmaid, Alison. The movie takes no time in introducing two utterly obnoxious characters (Kyle and Danny), both of whom used to play little league ball with Bobby. The weekend the gang all meet up to play ball is “the 15th anniversary” of the gruesome deaths of a former coach and teammates. The deaths were all pinned to another one of their teammates, Billy.

Meanwhile, there is a killer on the loose. He’s a bat-wielding catcher taking out kids in an old photo one-by-one. It seems inevitable that our four main characters are up to bat at some point (yes I know, but it’s not any worse than the actual dialogue). They make matters worse for themselves by taking a trip up to a cabin in the woods, but Billy ruins everything by getting pulled over for drunken driving.

Kyle and Alison decide to go into the cemetery where the fallen teammates reside while Danny returns to the cabin alone. Kyle accidentally falls into grave that has been dug up, and he immediately blames Billy and his supposed release from the mental hospital for it. And suddenly things take an interesting turn. Kyle and Alison begin to have an argument about guilt over what happened all those years ago. Of course they’re vague on details, which makes it pretty heavy on intrigue.

Come morning, Danny is still alone and eats all of Alison’s “boomers” – mushroom laced chocolate. There really isn’t any point to this whole subplot, but it does begin to trigger some memories of guilt that he still has over neglecting to stop Billy from being bullied when they were on the team together. Local Crazy Jo arrives to harass Danny (mentally?) about how he “didn’t do anything.” It doesn’t take long until Danny becomes the next easy target.

In a flashback, the little ones are shown harassing Billy, who is tied up and sitting in a dunk tank. Each member of the team takes a turn trying to hit the ball on the target (and man do the suck), but Alison is the only one who refuses to throw. Hopefully her life is spared in the end.

Billy Club is a better movie than I probably deserve right now, but unfortunately it takes too many random turns in subplots for this to be as enjoyable as it could have been.  As we find out, Kyle has a little crush on Bobby. After trying and failing to make a move, it’s Kyle’s turn to run out into the woods alone. He falls into a murky pond that actaully feels like a throwback to Bog, which I really hope is what the creators were going for here. But it appears as though Bobby is first.

And then there’s still a half hour left of the movie. It seems strange that the “Final Girl” is, well, final so early on. But there are so many unexpected bits here at the end that I hardly want to give it away when Billy Club is well worth watching yourself.

There really is nothing better than enjoying a movie a lot more than you expected to. I would gladly recommend Billy Club to any fan of the slasher would be pleased to watch. It’s gory, fun and pretty clever minus it’s brief lapses in judgement, but I really think the writers and directors (Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer, who plays Kyle) really had fun with this. It all feels like a love letter to Friday the 13th without treading on the story’s toes.

One added bonus is that this movie has some really excellent poster artwork. Check out the movie’s website to take a peak. They really are wonderous.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 26: The Jeffrey Dahmer Files


“A disaster is different things to different people at different times. And for us, at this time, this was a disaster.”

There was a stretch of a few months that I think I was watching a movie about either Ed Gein or Jeffrey Dahmer, every other week. All of them made to different amounts of success. The first time I saw The Jeffrey Dahmer Files was nearly two years ago. Trying to explain your state’s most notorious serial killers can be a bit difficult without sounding deranged or absolutely horrible. You want to grasp the full problem without sounding sickofantic. The best, most “educational” way I informed my own husband about Dahmer was by watching this documentary with him.

What this 2012 documentary shows is not some in-depth horror show, but rather assumes that the audience already knows the basics about the crimes. Jeff mostly covers the days leading up and following Dahmer’s arrest.  A detective, a former neighbour, and a medical examiner are three people who were all wrapped up in Dahmer’s case.

Some serial killer movies can be almost a fantasy version of facts. They are what we want them to be without any consideration for victims or reality. Some documentaries even get it wrong by ignoring the world that the very criminals had to live in. Thankfully this documentary opens up that world in a interesting, informative way.

I really liked Pamela Bass the best out of all the interviewees. She brings a tall-tale aspect to the documentary. She helps to illustrate how much the Dahmer has been ingrained into the modern American myths. He’s more of a character out of story now than feeling like the true horror he was.

But really, each interviewee offers such a different aspect to the story. It does help give a scope of how far-reaching these crimes were. Pat Kennedy, head detective of the case, acts as a sort of tragic hero of the story. He’s a man whose city let down its community. Kennedy faced backlash over his close relationship with Dahmer over the course of the trial. The case ended Kennedy’s first marriage.

Jeffrey Lentzen, the medical examiner, adds a solid base of fact with his story. He keeps a stoic face throughout. But while he was perhaps the most emotionally detached from the case, his words often left the most unsettling feeling with me. His delivery about how he never sees horror films really got to me. He doesn’t say “because what I see is much worse” but you can just fill in the blanks how horrible the things he sees are every day.

The reenactments are often what divides audiences, but I think they’re done fairly well. They often leave much up to the imagination. For many viewers, this might not be the right sort of film for them. Are you looking for intense amount of details on the deaths of the victims? It’s not here. It’s almost even danced around instead of leading you by the hand the entire way, but like the people interviewed in the documentary, you are mostly informed of what only people looking from the outside would know.

The Jeffrey Dahmer case is a fantastic documentary and I still enjoyed it upon second viewing. If you’re interested in a subtle true-crime documentaries, then this is a smartly made film that is definitely worth a watch.

Bonus fun: one of the reenactment scenes in the optometrist features Mark Borchardt (of American Movie fame and director of Coven). American Movie director Chris Smith works as the executive producer.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 23: Invasion From Inner Earth


Yes. I know the title card above says They and not Invasion From Inner Earth but this is one of those movies that inexplicably has several different names. It even has a third – Hell Fire. But They sounds like ‘they’ forgot what this movie about and the only thing on fire in this movie is in a fireplace. So Invasion From Inner Earth is what I shall be referring to this Bill Rebane movie from now forward.

Invasion From Inner Earth was released in 1974, sandwiched between Rebane’s more popular two films: Monster a Go-Go and Giant Spider InvasionAfter Monsters A Go-Go’s bizarre release in 1965, Rebane worked for a German production company. When he returned, he moved his family to Gleason, Wisconsin where he started The Shooting Ranch. This is where this week’s movie was born. There’s plenty here that signals what many later Rebane movies would include. Unfortunately, this one is not one of the more spectacular or interesting.

Before the opening credits, some vaguely important-looking men learning about the destruction that is occurring in the town.There is some sort of plague killing people off, but since that’s not interesting enough the scene quickly changes to people running away/dead in the streets. Like many Rebane films, you start with all the build up and action straight away so you can take a nap later. Then in what I thought was the opening for a Universal Movie, is actually the Earth in a blue haze, followed by an excellent ‘UFO on a fishing pole’ scene.

A girl, Sarah, and her brother Jake are seeing chatting together in a cabin.  There’s really no point to this scene other than Jake explaining that he had been hunting and didn’t see a single animal all day. Oh and Sarah appears to be a loser with no social life other than her attraction for a researcher named Eric. But this anti-social nature makes Sarah stay home while her brother takes off with other researchers to head into town. The researcher’s plane takes off, but as they prepare for landing, the pilot and his passengers begin to get strange reports from the air-traffic controller. “It’s like the plague” says he tells them of the mysterious thing that is killing everyone else. The man tries to stop the researchers from landing by throwing  himself on to the runway to stop them.

The controller-man’s attempts at thwarting their arrival is unsuccessful, as they just land somewhere anyway. The group begins to look for more fuel in a shed that typically , but realise that all the fuel has gone. Jake and Andy decide to search the area around them. Other Dude and Bearded Man hang out at the lodge where shit begins to go down. Well, kind of.

Other Dude and Other Man #2 hear strange noises and see strange lights. The two can’t seem to make any sense out of what is going on and either can I.

Sarah (yes, she’s still in this) begins to receive strange radio messages. Being the grooviest hermit in Northern Wisconsin, I can’t blame them (who I assume were aliens)  for “testing out” their equipment on her. But obviously this is not of any interest or suspense because the scene just moves back to the researchers who have regrouped back in the cabin. Luckily there’s more thrilling radio conversations, and YES the boys are reconnected with Sarah, who scolds them for being out late. So, like the good children they are, the researchers fly back to Jake and Sarah’s cabin for more exciting scenes.

Thankfully a radio host fills in the information of what’s going on. There are various areas being targeted by the strange disease and over 5,000 have died. Many of the transmissions in these areas are down. The lack of communication apparently frustrates the kids, who begin discussing what is going on. Bearded Man is convinced it is UFOs, which is totally ridiculous. Right? RIGHT? But they keep this conversation going as Bearded Man hawks is crazy.

In another strange turn of events, the scene switches to a television show. The host (“Remember when the little green creature came to your door was probably a Girl Scout selling cookies?) interviews two idiots who have had run-ins with the UFOs. “Are you sure you didn’t have an early visit with Santa?” I still have no idea why they keep including this. Just to rub it into the main plot’s face that it doesn’t really matter? Anyway, there’s not really much of a point to these interviews. But it’s at least a more watchable part of the movie, so it keeps me happy.

As it is now half-way through a Rebane movie, things get pretty boring. In fact, I’m about as bored as everyone in the cabin appears to be. Bearded Man tries to get it on in Sarah. More attempts to get radio contact. Though they do find a station that keeps plays the same jazzy tune two times in a row. Some solid drama there.But at least there’s more evidence that red light = UFOs.

Oh and Other Dude blows up in a plane. Gee, I’ll miss him.

Finally, someone does something and Jake decides to head into town for food on the snowmobile. He goes on a sort of Western ride…in the snow. It’s all beautiful dramatic and utterly pointless. But this also means that Sarah is left with the two men pining for her affections (I think) which only means that there should be so juicy love-triangle business (there’s not). Then Jake is zapped off his snowmobile and…?

The kids finally leave the cabin where Bearded Man shares his lovely theory of UFOs: UFOs come from Inner Earth, not outer space. Something about Mars one being closer to the Earth than the Moon was. Apparently Martians were not interested in staying on Mars once is started to drift away and chose Earth. Specifically the interior. They found what was going on the surface of the Earth pretty lame and stayed away, but found the atmosphere of the inner earth much more similar to their home on Mars.

Yes. That’s the explanation and at no point does anyone pipe up with “You’re a fucking nutcase.” But that’s okay because… whatever. The group then split up for some unknown reason. This means the last ten minutes or so of the movie is just watching people walk/fall aimlessly in the woods and snow. Finally Sarah and Bearded Man meet FOR THE WORST ENDING EVER. I’m still screaming “WHAT?” So…if anyone understands what the fuck happened at the end there. Please fucking explain.

I don’t know. Invasion from Inner Earth is not one of Rebane’s more notable films. It’s pretty much The Alpha Incident in a log cabin. There’s hardly a plot and zero character to the characters. At this point, it’s what I’ve come to expect.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 22: Bog


Bog. Now this is a movie that I have been looking for everywhere. Lo and behold it was on YouTube all along (how about those searching skills, eh?).

I suppose the main reason this is a little bit tricky (and I really mean only a little bit – I really am stupid) is the odd dates surrounding the movie. Bog was originally filmed around Harshaw in northern Wisconsin in 1978, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the film finally got a release. To be fair, 1978 Wisconsin looks like 1983 Wisconsin and probably still looks like 2015 Wisconsin so it doesn’t make too much of a different when it was filmed.

This movie has lived on in legend. This is a film that has only ever received a VHS release. An official DVD copy has never happened, which I guess is why it was such a pain to find. There are bootleg copies, or so I’ve heard, but I always imagine bootleg movies are for pirates. Anyway, I was so desperate to find this movie that I was just shy of hunting down a VHS copy myself and investing in a VHS player.

So finally: Bog! It’s here! And was the worth the anticipation? Not really. But it is still worth chatting about.

Of course Bog opens much like a 70’s sitcom with the bizarre purple framing and forlorn love song. Two couples are out in the boonies of the Wisconsin woods. The women are, of course, whiny and just wanting to shop. The men are, of course, dumb and ‘Northern’. Strangely, though, it’s the women who has the best intuition of something being wrong with the bog. One of the wives (who’s name I understand is May considering how many EFFING times they shout her name) is attacked by a fish lens. But the other one (who’s name is shouted much less) is also attacked on her way to seek refuge in the station wagon.

The police find the women dead in the water, but virtually unhurt. Well, other than being dead in a bog and missing a load of blood. But the two deaths seem to put everyone into a deep think. The autopsy showed that whatever did it, probably wasn’t human. But the coroner has this cracker of a line: “Could we have a Dracula running loose out there?” Ah yes. A Dracula. While the “professionals” continue their speech, the two widowers decide to buy a couple of guns and track down the beast themselves with the help of the local Gollum crazy-fuck. The crazy brings them to his friend, Adrianna. She’s about as much help as the Dracula theory. Thankfully the crazy gets scared off and dies. It’s an extremely brief and off-screen death, but I’m still satisfied.

That plot-line is completely inconsequential because then we get into some real action, if you know what I mean. The sheriff and the coroner are in love! People who have zero personality and even less likability. It’s the most compelling romance ever seen on screen. Sorry, Love Story. But that groovy little song from the opening credits gets to play again, which is pretty good.

Back on the, sub-plot, the widowers share the information they’ve learned from Adrianna with the happy couple. A small party head out to the bog to blow up the lake some more (which is what woke up the “thing” in the first place). While the sheriff and his deputy seem certain that they’ve done the trick, the monster attacks again. But even when the two husbands “pump it full of lead”, the monster still lives.

It’s after this that I realise that the coroner is mackin’ on the doctor – not the sheriff. But everyone looks about the same shape. The quality is pretty bad on this, so if you don’t have a mustache I don’t have a clue who you are. But I can tell that two divers have showed up to contribute to the search. This is, of course, a terrible idea because EVERYONE KEEPS DYING. What help will divers be? But there is finally a kind-of glimpse of the monster which is about as satisfying as it’s going to get in this movie, apparently. Though watching them dive through the lake is as exciting as watching ice melt – ironically where the doc thinks where monstersuit came from (because the thawing of the Ice Age didn’t start until the 70s).

Strangely enough, we see the divers getting attacked, but the film kind of “forgets” to inform us if they die or not. I suppose that three-second cut back to their boat means they died? Either way, I feel a bit sorry for the divers because I’m pretty sure no one is letting the word out that there is a MONSTER IN THE BOG. But what do I know? I don’t even know who’s dead or just so boring they decided to just drop a character’s scene.

The lovely couple (whose names I’ve learned are Brad and Ginny) examine the bits the divers found in the lake. But when they go back to the work, they find that someone stole the egg cluster. That someone being the monster, which apparently just walked through town entirely incognito, broke into a lab and just waltzed back out. Fairly impressive or I’m not certain everyone in Northern Wisconsin has to be extremely unobservant. This isn’t good so they tell the sheriff (there is actually a sheriff in the movie), and they devise a plan to trap the monster. I mean it’s about time, really.

Brad and Ginny decide to lure the monster with a “blood scent generator.” A chemical used to kill fish is combined with the chemical from a fireman’s hose, and this is enough to lure and trap the beastie alive. During all the light-drama, Adrianna runs out of her little cave and is “accidentally” shot and killed. Long live Adrianna!


Everyone’s favourite celebrity couple bring in their “favourite Ichthyologist” friend in to help them study the monster. Apparently the beast and Adrianna are somehow connected. This is supposed to be something I’m interested by, but since Adrianna and her total-lameness is an utter bore I really don’t care. While studying the beast alone, Ginny is attacked and is carried King Kong-style off by the monster to his home so she can be his new best friend.  Thankfully dating Brad has its charm and a search party is sent for the coroner when no one can reach her by phone.

And then Bog pretty much ends like you think it would, including a title card of “The End?” (remember the eggs?) which means they want to make a sequel but they never, ever will. Whatever. It ends and we get to listen to that groovy-ass theme song for the third time! If you ask me, this was really a movie about love and triumphing over adversity. That adversity being the awfulness of nature that is always trying to kill you.

Bog was made the same time frame of a bulk of Bill Rebane’s movies, but this monster movie makes Rebane look like Kubrick. To be fair, I actually think the movie could do with a DVD release. It was really difficult to watch mostly because the quality of the picture was so bad. Not that you get to see very much of the monster, but it would be nice to maybe kind of tell what it looks like for the fleeting moments it is there.

The best part of this movie, though, is the constant use of Wisconsin jargon. I personally find this very charming, but I’m assuming no one else does. But it is hilariously flat at times. There are so many classic lines to share with friends or perform at the Globe: “I got an idea. Works like a champ every time.” “Lay it on me.” “I’ll take the brown sleeping bag. you take the green one.” “We haven’t got a brown one.” Some real drama. Of which this movie really has none.