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Terror in the Tropics

USA 2005
produced by
Midnight Marquee
directed by A. Susan Svehla
starring Mark Redfield, Kimberly Hannold, Jonathon Ruckman, Wayne Shipley, Jennifer Rouse, Leo Wayne Dymowski, Philip Holthaus, Diane Gervasio, Bela Lugosi (stock footage), Boris Karloff (stock footage), Lon Chaney jr (stock footage), Sammy Petrillo (stock footage)
written by A.Susan Svehla, musical direction: Ramar Q.Ubermann

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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There is an old saying saying that good horror actors don't stay dead (for very long) - though I'm not at all sure if I haven't just made up that old saying -, so it's only fitting that Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney jr, undoubtedly 3 of the greatest horror actors, would star in a 2005 film, decades after their respective deaths. Of course their scenes are entirely made up from scenes of their old (poverty row) movies, as Terror in the Tropics understands itself as a loving hommage to poverty row cinema from the 1930's and 40's, and, just like in Dead Men don't Wear Plaid, to which the movie boldly compares itself, old scenes are intermingled with newly shot footage made to look just as old. The films material was lifted from include such genre faves like Devil Bat, The Ape, Bela Lugosi meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, films from the Mister Wong-series, the classic The Most Dangerous Game, and even the silent special effects spectacle The Lost World from 1925.

 

The story: Young Mary Ankers (Kimberly Hannold) is invited to Fog Island by mysterious Armand Tesla (Mark Redfield) to the reading of a will ... but somehow she doesn't trust the whole thing, so she takes quarelling reporters Rose (Jennifer Rouse) and Ace (Leo Wayne Dymowski) with her. Aboard the ship she meets Grant Gardner (Jonathon Ruckman), with whom she promptly falls in love, as well as others going to Fog Island for the reading of the will ... and she meets detective Flanagan, who is working on a case that would prove the real-life existence of Skull Island from King Kong (which is where the dinosaur footage from Lost World comes in). But after he has solved his case, he agrees to accompany Mary to Skull Island, as she figures she needs all the help she can get ... and bloody right she was, because Armand Tesla is a madman who wants to bump off all the prospective heirs in one go to keep the inheritance all to himself. And occasionally he uses his brother's (Bela Lugosi) giant bat to do the dirty work (which is where the Devil Bat-footage comes in).

Eventually, Armand Tesla has killed all the heirs but Mary and Grant, whom he has hunted across the island just like in The Most Dangerous Game, but he has made one mistake: He has killed Zoltar (Philip Holthaus), the son of his housekeeper (Diane Gervasio), and the housekeeper thanks him for it by stabbing him. Our hero and heroine are saved, Flanagan has solved his case (well, not really), and our quarelling reporters were locked away in a cupboard ...

 

... and somehow the film doesn't really work: First off it's because of an aimless plot, the dinosaurs do not go well together with the old dark house storyline, the extended scenes on the cruiseship waste way too much time setting up way too little plot, and the constant, oh-so-knowing name dropping of vintage B-movie stars and characters gets annoying before long. Secondly the old footage is not integrated into the new film all that well, most of it seems to be just there as a way to save on special effects or to have an excuse to put big names onto the poster/DVD cover. Of the three stars, only Bela Lugosi seems to be integrated into the story at least half-heartedly, Boris Karloff, as both an old professor killed by a gorilla (from The Ape) and Mister Wong does little to further the plot, and Lon Chaney jr only lies on an operating table perpetually grunting for no apparent reason at all.But what's most annoying about Terror in the Tropics is that it's not really funny. It seems yet another reference to an old film always stands in the way of a good joke, the story in itself is too aimless to induce laughter, and ultimately the comic relief roles come across less entertaining than in the old movies.

That all said, Terror in the Tropics still comes across as a labour of love, made by people who are well versed in poverty row horror, and if you consider yourself to be a fan of these old films, this one might just make you smile warmly despite all obvious flaws the film has ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

Amazon

Amazon UK

Vimeo

 

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!