Archive for Juan Piquer Simon

Slugs: The Movie (1988) Review

Posted in Slugs: The Movie with tags , , , on October 3, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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SLUGS: THE MOVIE

***  Out of 5

Tagline- They Ooze. They Slime. They Kill.

Release Date- September 16th, 1988

Running Time- 89-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Ron Gantman (Novel- Shaun Hutson)

Director- J.P. Simon

Starring- Michael Garfield, Kim Terry, Philip MacHale, Santiago Alvarez, John Battaglia

Slugs was released in 1988 and was directed by Juan Piquer Simon under the name J.P. Simon and he’s also used the name J. Simon and he’s been dubbed the Spanish Ed Wood and a couple of his films have even played on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Juan Piquer Simon is probably best known to horror fans for the 1982 cult classic so bad it’s good Pieces. I first saw Pieces back in the 80s on VHS (how retro is that) and its a movie I never forgot. I saw so many horror films back in the 80s that years later I would rent or buy something thinking I’ve never seen it only to start watching and remember it, but Pieces I never forgot. As a kid I thought it was one of the greats, but as a kid a film featuring some nudity and a whole lot of gore is gonna be a major appeal. When I finally saw Pieces again as an adult after not seeing it for several of years I didn’t quite see it as one of the greats anymore, but I still loved the film for all its idiocy. I first saw Slugs about 2006 and even though Pieces was the only film by J. Simon I saw he was a favorite filmmaker of mine and Slugs is just another reason why I love this guy. While not as gory as Pieces, Slugs is just a campy good time that matches Pieces in the fun factor. I also saw Satan’s Blood in which, Piquer has a producers credit and according to the credits on IMDb also did some uncredited directing.

Juan Piquer Simon truly was the Spanish Ed Wood and that’s not meant as an insult since I enjoy some of Wood’s work, but in terms of styles they are a lot a like. I actually see Pieces as J. Simon’s Plan 9 from Outer Space as both are meant to be serious, but are high on camp and both have odd random plot points that have nothing to do with the film. Slugs is in someways semi-forgotten despite a couple of DVD releases and its a film that deserves more of a following as its such a fun film. The film is quite absurd, but the fun factor is through the roof. While many fans of the director would most likely cite Pieces as their favorite film by J. Simon and that’s a great choice and the gore F/X for a low budget splatter film look terrific, but me I think I might favor Slugs, but its very close and I often change my mind. I love the full title Slugs: The Movie. I guess when people went to see this in theaters perhaps just to make sure they know its a film just title it Slugs: The Movie. That just kind of makes me laugh I mean what else would it be?

Mutated man eating slugs begin to feast on the people of a small New York town.

The screenplay by Ron Gantman was based off a novel by Shaun Hutson, which I have never read so I have no idea how much they have it common. The script by Gantman is highly entertaining due to the silly nature of the absurd plot. The film is set on Halloween with the final act on Halloween night, but the setting really has nothing to do with the film since its just a passing mention and there aren’t even any decorations. Characters are actually fairly decent and while they may not have a whole lot of depth they are however better developed than most would assume going in and more importantly the characters are a lot of fun. I’m not sure how much of the campy aspects of the script were intentional, though I assume some were, but most weren’t, but regardless Slugs is high on camp value with some truly hysterical dialogue. This would have to be my favorite exchange.

Kim: Did you hear about Harold and Jean Morris?

Mike: Nope, why?

Kim: They’re dead.

Mike: Come on now.

Kim: Yeah, I heard it on the news. There was some sort of explosion in their greenhouse. They were both inside.

Mike: Wha-Wait a second, how’d this happen?

Kim: No one knows.

Mike: Ah, Jesus. They were nice people. I liked them a lot.

Kim: I know, I did too.

And here’s possibly my favorite bit of dialogue;

Frank: You ain’t got the right to declare happy birthday. Not in this town.

As director J.P. Simon crafts a fun, but also slightly sluggishly paced film. From the start intentional or not, Simon sets up a fun tone. The pace as mentioned can be a bit sluggish in spots and while Slugs is never boring it can feel a little overly long despite running at only 89-minutes. However the film is also quite fun and while nowhere near as gory as Pieces, J.P. Simon still stages some excellent gore scenes that can be quite gruesome. There really isn’t much suspense, but there are some effective scenes such as after a couple has sex the floor is covered with 100s of Slugs. J.P. Simon lives up to the Spanish Ed Wood title with a silly, but often fun film that while has some pacing issues is still a good time. Juan Piquer Simon would pass away in January 8th, 2011 at the age of of 75.

One thing that never fails to make me laugh is the main character played by Michael Garfield his name in the film is Mike Brady and every time he’s called by his full name I think of Robert Reed from the Brady Bunch as on the show his name was Mike Brady. And the name Mike or even his full name is mentioned some many times its actually quite funny.

The score by Tim Souster is also a highlight as its often campy and more often than not doesn’t fit in with what’s happening onscreen and it feels as if Souster was composing a different horror film and it was just applied here. And lastly Frank Brana who fans should recognize from Pieces has a small role as Frank Phillips.

Overall Slugs is quite enjoyable despite some issues I had with the film its still quite fun. Fans of schlock cinema should enjoy.

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Satan’s Blood (1978) Review

Posted in Satan's Blood with tags , on April 13, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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SATAN’S BLOOD

*** Out of 5

Release Date- August 14th, 1978

Running Time- 82-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Carlos Puerto

Starring- Angel Aranda, Sandra Alberti, Marian Karr, Jose Maria Guillen

Released in 1978 Satan’s Blood is a satanic themed horror movie and despite a couple of DVD releases is a semi-forgotten film, which was produced by Juan Piquer Simon who has been dubbed the Spanish Ed Wood for his films Slugs and the so bad its good Pieces. Satan’s Blood is from Spain and while I’m no expert on films out of Spain the one thing I love from what I have seen is they have some decent atmosphere and that even goes for some of the weaker films I’ve seen. Satan’s Blood is by no means a great film, but it does have an eerie vibe going for it.

Andy (Guillen) and his wife Annie (Karr) who is pregnant decide to take their dog and go for a ride around town. As they are driving a car pulls up along side them with a man and woman in the car and they keep looking over. Finally the guy Bruno (Aranda) calls Andy by name and claims to know him from college. Bruno invites Andy and his wife to come over to his place, which they agree. Even though Andy has a weird feeling about it he goes anyway. But this turns out to be a deadly mistake.

The screenplay by Carlos Puerto has the right idea, but the fact nothing is explained kind of does the film in. First we’ll start with the good; Puerto does attempt at giving the characters a little bit of depth as we find out Annie once cheated on her husband with his brother and that last time she was pregnant she had a miscarriage. Bruno also once attempted suicide. However when all is said and done none of these ideas really lead to anywhere with the plot and seems nothing more than filler, but it was a nice try by Puerto to try and give his characters depth rather than create faceless characters. However the script never really offers much in the way of explaining things and while not horrible it is a bit weak.

Some of the problems of the film is nothing is explained and random things just seem to happen like the opening scene for instance, which has a naked woman and the satanic cult and the scene plays no part of the rest of the film; and the main characters are too stupid to really root for. Even though Andy gets a weird feeling he still goes to the house and while he does consider turning back, Bruno persuades him to keep going and when at the house on a photo Andy sees his home address on the back, but doesn’t mention it until later. Bruno hasn’t seen Andy since college so how would he know his home address? Even though Andy and Annie get the feeling something isn’t right they never really make a real effort to leave. Holding them up is a storm and the next the day the car isn’t working, but if you sense danger common sense is to leave and sure if they leave the movie ends, but the fact Andy and Annie never make a legit effort to leave is rather annoying. There is even a scene where someone enters the house and attempts to rape Annie and yet they still don’t leave the house. One guy is peeping in the window who I assume is a member of the cult and than he gets killed by someone I assume is a member of the cult as well, but nothing here is ever explained.

As director Carlos Puerto delivers a somewhat sluggishly paced film, but it does have a decent feel of atmosphere with an eerie feel that helps keep the film above float. The visual look is strong and Puerto gets excellent use of his locations as well. But the problem with the film is not a whole lot really happens at times and even though the film is only 82-minutes it does feel a little overly long at times. The fact so little is explained with the script does hinder the direction, but overall what the film may be lacking with the writing, Puerto does sort of make up for it with solid direction.

Overall Satan’s Blood does make for a decent time killer, but the fact the film explains as little as possible does hurt the film. Fans of 70s Euro horror should find something here of enjoyment since the film does have an eerie feel as well as some nudity and while I enjoy the film its not a personal favorite, but it does have some decent atmosphere and while this can’t fully make up for the flaws it does help.

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