Friday, September 9, 2022

We go to 11


This marks Outpost Zeta's 11th year! I have been putting out a review every Friday without fail, multiple reviews around the holidays, trading cards, and a lot of other things. (I would have done this announcement on its 10th birthday, but I kind of forgot... It's been a long pandemic, friends.)

I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read my little movie blog. You're the best. I hope you discovered some films that you've liked or at least enjoyed hating.

I think it is time to change up the format. Posts will not be weekly anymore, they will be coming monthly from here on out, but they are going to be longer reviews. I really want to take a deeper look at these cult and b-movies I love so much and I need to go past 500 words and I want to take my time and produce some good content for you.

So, check back here in a couple weeks as we give the site a long needed makeover and take a deeper dive into the first movie ever reviewed on Outpost Zeta. That's right. Get ready for a look at The Apple (1980)!

The Apple: The Outrageous 1980 Dystopian Sci-Fi Musical — Lethal Amounts
"Who Me?"

Friday, September 2, 2022

The Greasy Strangler


The Greasy Strangler
Jim Hoskins

The Greasy Stranger is about the friction between its bright surface and the oozing grease of horror and emotional damage that lurks underneath. It’s not a serious film but at the same time it does explore some complicated and messy emotional relationships, albeit with a lot of highly strange and gross things going on at the same time. Big Braden (Sky Elobar) and Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) are overly bright and audacious in public but behind closed doors and in the cover of darkness they reveal with highly greasy and unpleasant life they both inhabit in each other’s orbits.


When someone says they don't like the Greasy Strangler.

Big Braden is the emotional center of the film. He feels stifled in his day-to-day life and although he loves his father, Big Ronnie, he also is feeling the need to strike out on his own and that opportunity comes when he meets Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) while father and son give their walking tour of famous spots from disco history. Ronnie doesn’t like Janet coming between him and his son, more importantly he doesn’t like the thought of her undermining his authority. Braden’s arc is the struggle to find his own voice and purpose.

The biggest obstacle is the fact Big Ronnie is the Greasy Strangler.

There is no mystery here, the identity of the Greasy Strangler is revealed within minutes of the film starting which should serve as a tipoff that the movie is going to subvert the usual plot points. What is the Greasy Strangler? Apparently, he’s a local legend who kills people while covered in grease. That’s it. Why does Big Ronnie’s grease obsession drive him to kill? That’s a good question but it’s also an irrelevant one. The Greasy Strangler is just a fact of life for these characters. 


It's called fashion, sweaty. Look it up.

I think what is often overlooked is that as a viewer we are encouraged to identify with Braden and his struggles, we want his dad to see him as an equal. Sometimes you get exactly what you want, and it turns out the be the biggest mistake you’ve ever made.

The soundtrack helps set the tone of the film  with a mixture of almost whimsical and upbeat sounds, there is also something unrelenting and menacing about it as well. We get this reinforcement of the theme of zany and grotesque, and it works marvelously. 

The body horror of the film is gross but far too cartoonish to be taken seriously, eyes pop out, faces are punched in, gaping nose holes are poked, and just so many upsetting shots of weird looking dicks. The film also lives up to its title with plenty of shots of greasy food, grease in barrels, grease covered bodies, and more. It is a masterpiece of being absurdly disgusting. 

You’ll be thinking about The Greasy Strangler long after you’ve watched it, whether it’s laughing about the quotable dialog, recoiling from the horror, or being unable to get rid of the image of giant conical red tipped dicks. Proceed with caution.

Friday, August 26, 2022



Rebekah McKendry

Glorious is a “COVID film,” these are usually shot in limited locations with small casts. There are a slew of these films ever since lockdown was a thing, and I love them. I think these limitations can really bring out some interesting problem solving and creativity, and I think it is exactly that which makes Glorious such a fun horror film as it sets out to cram cosmic scale horror into a rest stop bathroom.

Wes (Ryan Kwanten) awakens in a rest stop bathroom with a massive headache and a mysterious voice coming from the next stall. The stall has an elaborate piece of graffiti featuring a demonic creature but the voice coming from the other side is pleasant enough. This voice belongs to a being named Ghat (J.K. Simmons), and Ghat has a request for Wes and he’s not going to like it one but… but it seems that time is running out for the both of them.

"I should have smoked that blunt now I woke up
on the set of From Beyond."

Glorious boils down to the back and forth of Wes and Ghat. This wouldn’t work without some some great chemistry between Ryan Kwanten and J.K. Simmons. Simmons manages to dominate a film in which he never physically appears. His Ghat is magnetic and filled dry wit and menace. Where as Wes is a scrambling mess of a person looking for any way out of his situation, Ghat is a methodical, charming yet relentless. Underneath that surface, it is just as madly scrambling to survive but it maintains the illusion of control.

Despite rarely taking a step outside of the rest stop, Glorious has a beautiful look to it. The most striking element is the use of animation in the form of bathroom stall graffiti to tell the history of the cosmic forces at play. The bathroom is a contrast of squalor and bright neon lighting. This lighting scheme also serve as a narrative reminder of the collision of the grime of earthly life and psychedelic cosmic threats lurking just beyond the veil of our perceptions.



Pacing is vital to a film like this because it needs to keep the tension constantly climbing, the climax has to feel inevitable but at the same time satisfying on a narrative level. This is where Glorious stumbles just bit, it starts so strongly and keeps building on to this moment and it has to because the story asks quite a bit of Wes by the end of the 2nd act and we have to get him emotionally to a place where he would even consider doing such things. Glorious takes just a bit too long tearing down Wes and the film loses some steam but not enough to completely undermine the climax.

Glorious was a delightful surprise. I knew very little going in but each revelation works and the characters have an enjoyable chemistry. Glorious is a great horror comedy that I hope gets the recognition that it deserves.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Blood Diner


Blood Diner
Jackie Kong

Blood Diner is a delirious mess. I don’t think I like it, but I keep coming back to because there are some inventively goofy sequences, so there must be something compelling going on. The biggest issue with Blood Diner is that it is always running at full tilt. Every moment feels like a grotesque cartoon which would work fine in a short film, but Blood Diner just becomes exhausting. The whole enterprise feels like it runs out of steam as we hit the climax which is just when things should be reaching peak zaniness. This is a problem that plagued horror in the later half of the 1980s, too much comedy and not enough horror elements. 

"Look, I'm just really into contact lens solution, OK?"

The film is a riff/homage on Blood Feast (1963), a film that is also very silly but plays it very serious which manages to be much more interesting (while not being a very good film either). Michael (Rick Burks) and George (Carl Crew) Tutman are brothers who have been indoctrinated into the cult of Sheetar a goddess worshiped by the lost civilization of Lemuria. Their uncle, a disembodied brain in a jar, guides them in the ritual to resurrect their goddess and it involves harvesting a lot of body parts from unsuspecting women. 

In 2022 it is difficult to escape the misogyny inherent in the movie’s premise. The vast majority of women in Blood Diner are reduced to victims, literal slabs of meat to be consumed. Thankfully the movie never lingers on their suffering it is much more interested in silly spectacle. The flip side of this is that cast is filled out with non-white actors including a POC woman as the antagonist looking to bring the Tutman family to justice. A nice change from the parade of square-jawed white cis men who were (and still are) the heroic forces of so many films.


"Bring on the corn on the cob!"

The director, Jackie Kong, has made a movie I did like, The Being (1981), which is also a campy homage to horror films of the past, but that one works much better than Blood Diner. Aside from a dream sequence, the monster movie elements are played straight and this flip flop of tone makes for a much more interesting film. 

Blood Diner is trash, but it supposed to be trash. It’s a trashy homage to a trash film. Technically that makes it double trash. I personally have a pretty low tolerance for movies that try to deliberately be camp and emulate ‘bad movies.’ Ultimately, I feel like Blood Diner is just trying to hard to be wacky and gross and it becomes annoying rather than entertaining. I’m not a fan of Blood Feast either but it is a far more entertaining film and at least has some historical importance as an early gore film. Blood Diner is a movie that has its fair share of fans, but I can’t count myself among them.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Amityville 1992: It’s About Time


Amityville 1992: It’s About Time
Tony Randel

This movie has virtually nothing to do with the Amityville Horror series but that’s probably not a surprise at this point. There are a flood of films with Amityville in the title now because you can’t copyright a village and/or a house style. Amityville 1992 was doing it before it was cool (it was never cool). You could safely cut out one shot and a small section of dialogue and sever all connection to that film series, but if it managed to get a few extra viewers to rent this movie so be it. 

It's a surprisingly fun little film.

Jacob Sterling (Stephen Macht) is a well-regarded architect who brings home a clock from the notorious Amityville house. The clock is, of course, very haunted and soon the house and Jacob are as well. Only his son Rusty (Damon Martin) realizes something is up but who’s going to believe him?  The only other person who seems to understand is local weirdo, Iris Wheeler (Nita Talbot).


Frog House 1992

Amityville 1992: It’s About Time manages to craft an uncanny atmosphere by giving us some very atypical haunted house and demonic possession elements. I really enjoyed how the haunted clock physically infiltrated the space and began to alter the house. A less interesting film wouldn’t have demon clock extending secret drills to literally enmesh itself into the physical environment. The demon possession comes via dog bit of all things, and it too is a physical intrusion of supernatural elements. These two possessions mirror each other as the story continues.

It is pretty obvious that Amityville 1992 is not a large budget production, but the money is well used. Most of the film takes place in the house and in a turn away from the typical spooky decrepit mansion or idyllic middle-class home, the house in the movie is a nightmare on its own. It’s filled with clashing ugly patterns and colors. The layout is strange. The house feels wrong even without the haunted clock causing problems.


"Hurry, I need to be on the Even Horizon."

Another welcome element was the use of comedy in what is a dour series of films. Amityville 1992 cultivates some absurd kills and moments but uses them to build on the uncanny atmosphere almost as much as they threaten to break any suspense. It is yet another odd ingredient in an odd film. I can only guess what someone who rented this looking for some demon shenanigans and instead got a woman killed by a robot bird on top of an ice cream truck.

Direct to video sequels more often than not disappoint so it is exciting to find one that tries to bring something new to the formula and carves out its own identity in the process. Amityville 1992: It’s About Time is kooky little haunted house movie that manages to be more weird than scary but honestly the Amityville films needed more weird (or a least before Amityville went to space or fought a shark or whatever the heck is going on with these films today.)

Friday, August 5, 2022



Niall Owens

Gateway demonstrates that you can tell an effective ghost story with very little in the way of special effects. Gateway communicates it horror almost entirely through careful composing of shots and by the uncanny way in which its specters behave. A lot of modern horror give us ghost as just another monster meant to chase people around in dynamic ways. They lack a sense of being unearthly and that’s where Gateway succeeds.

A group of men who are looking for a spot to move their marijuana growing operation, find an abandoned house in excellent shape, but with one door that will not open. Mike (Tim Creed) is one of these people and he’s in a bad way, his sister’s murder haunts him constantly. The group feels watched and stressed inside the house, the locked door begins to open for certain people who end up dead shortly after, and then the spirts come walking up the stairs and things get really bad.


This is an aggressively brown movie.

Gateway is a hell of a slow burn. It opens like a low-key crime drama, and it’s the first half-hour that will test a lot of viewers' patience. This is a very low budget production, as demonstrated by some iffy sound engineering and a lot of standing around and talking. After the movie gets everyone in the house things pick up considerably. Everything about the film improves, from the pacing to the sound design.

The supernatural elements are never given adequate explanation. They exist outside of such mortal concerns. Any answers given only lead to further questions. We long to learn what’s behind the door and it is held tantalizingly in front of us for a while. Once we do get to see, we are only left with, ‘well what is beyond that?’.  Also, at this point a couple of black clad and utterly silent beings begin to appear in the house and rather than shrieking and chasing people around they go about their own strange business which is far more sinister.


"We saw you across the threshold of life and and
unlife and we liked your vibe."


The human element is primarily carried by Mike’s story, he’s the one under pressure to make the grow operation work or he’s going to be on the wrong end of a gangster, he’s the one with a dead sister and accompanying sleep paralysis. Mike is so well developed that the rest of cast falls by the wayside. I suppose the focus on him is necessary in the early 1/3 of the film because he’s literally all we have to sit with as this entire criminal enterprise is revealed to us.

Gateway was a delightful discovery, a genuinely unsettling supernatural story and unsettling in a way that I don’t see often. The crime drama element feels a little half-baked, but it is an excuse to get a bunch of people who don’t trust each other into a death trap of a house.

Maybe it isn’t death, maybe it is something far worse.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge


Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge
Richard Friedman

I don’t know why we need to know its Eric’s revenge up front. Is it important that we know Eric is going to be doing some revenging, before the movie starts? Unsurprisingly, the Phantom of the Mall terrorizes the residents of a brand-new mall. This mall just happens to be built on the remains of the burned down house of Eric Matthews (Derek Rydall). Susie (Kimber Sissons), Eric’s former girlfriend is on the case to discover the identify the mysterious figure killing mall employees.

It's Eric.

"Okay, maybe I should have read the Instant Pot Instructions."

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge is set to be prime junk cinema and I think if it had been made just a few years prior it might have been. The film we get is unfortunately listless and lacks that maniacal spark that can make a rote slasher film like this feel fresh. There are attempts to make something unique, the mall setting, giving the Phantom modern technology, his kung-fu skills, and making him an angsty teen. These never work as well as they might. The uninteresting staging and dull lighting don’t help matters much either. By 1989 the slasher film was feeling tired, and it shows in a film like this, there’s just nothing here that feels fresh.

By 1989 horror films had also been under intense scrutiny for years, miserable authoritarians had gone after them for their depictions of violence. Many films in the later 1980s were rendered toothless by editors who were told to cut depictions of gore in order to be suitable entertainment for places like Blockbuster Video which had a terrible track record of censoring the films it made available. Phantom of the Mall is filled with scenes that might have had an impact on the screen but are rendered as forgettable.

"What is a weasel?"
"A miserable pile of secrets."


None of the cast is terrible but even the charismatic Ken Foree feels like he doesn’t have much to do as a mall security guard. Morgan Fairchild has a handful of fun scenes as an archly evil mayor, the rest of the production certainly could have taken a few cues from her. Pauly Shore appears as Buzz who happens to act just like Paul Shore. If The Phantom (or Eric if you’re nasty) is supposed to be an updated version of the classic horror character he is supposed to be charming, or at the very least a talented and soulful person, but Eric (aka The Phantom of the Mall) is bland. He’s just angry and mean, and although he’s given a tragic backstory it never translates into a sympathetic character.

The most notable thing to ever come out of Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge is the end credits theme song which is an amusing enough goof on the whole movie (it does repeatedly drop the r-slur so your ability to enjoy it may vary), when I have brought up the movie to others, it’s the only thing that ever gets mentioned.

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge isn’t great but if you need some 80’s mall horror nostalgia… I’d just watch Chopping Mall (1986). It’s better in every way and it's even set in the same mall.