VIDEOS

We want to hear your thoughts!

MOVIE REVIEW: The Rejuvenator (aka Rejuvenatrix) (1988)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Rejuvenator (aka Rejuvenatrix) (1988)

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.Oh, brother. If you love “So Bad It’s Good” movies (or ‘SoBIG’s’, as I usually refer to them), you gotta love the drive-in ‘classic’ and direct-to-video “disasterpieces” from the mid-to-late Seventies, definitely the Eighties, and even some entries from the Nineties and beyond. So, if you’ve never seen 1988’s The Rejuvenator (aka Rejuvenatrix), set your “phasers” on “to be STUNNED!” This is a SoBIG trash wallow at its very finest; a mishmash of all the best aspects of films that actually have gone on to become classics in their own right.

If Death Becomes Her, Sunset Boulevard and David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly were involved in some kind of horrific car crash, the result, pulled from the tangled, mangled mess of wreckage, would be this little gem. A no-name cast, the community theater-level acting, and some surprisingly good practical effects (for this micro-micro budget), make this a good/bad movie lover’s glistening wet dream.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.The Rejuvenator begins with your garden-variety, B-movie mad scientist, Dr. Gregory Ashton, (John McKay) is doing some, shall we say, unorthodox work in the field of gerontology and biology. Not that he’s actually studying elderly people, but he IS trying to find a way to retard or even reverse the aging process. And naturally, as the movie begins, he’s not having the best of luck in refining said process, as a deformed lab animal kills other test subjects before meeting its own sticky, gooey demise.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

Ashton’s research is being funded mostly by the vain, petulant, grandiose fading Hollywood actress Ruth Warren (Jessica Dublin), whose agenda for supporting his work is – what else? – to make herself younger again, so she can make her ‘huge big-screen comeback,’ and show the rest of the dime-a-dozen starlets and ingenues how it’s done. It’s not helping matters any that Ashton is constantly being spied upon by his sleazy, unctuous colleague, Dr. Germaine (Marcus Powell), superior sneer and upper-crusty accent included.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.The good doctor and his benefactress aren’t without their own unrequited admirers, though. Ashton is assisted in his research by Dr. Stella Stone (Katell Pleven), a woman who is actually smart and beautiful…not the usual direction that kind of role takes in this kind of picture. Ruth’s not-so-secret admirer is her manservant, Wilhelm, (James Hogue, obviously filling the Erich von Stroheim role from Sunset Boulevard), a former ‘paramour’ from her halcyon days, who is now content to wait on her, hand-and-foot if that allows him to continue to be close to her. (Yes, I see you rolling your eyes, but it’s that kind of movie!)

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

Threatened with losing his funding if he doesn’t come across with the goods, and soon, the harried Dr. Ashton has no choice, but to do what just about all ‘mad-doctors’ do in his situation: he complies. He injects Ruth with the serum he has “almost” perfected, and after the required flurry of surprisingly good low-budget makeup effects, (provided by Ed French, Dan Frye, and Bruce S. Fuller), Ruth magically is converted into…ANOTHER ACTRESS!

You heard me. The stunning ‘new edition’ of Ruth has renamed herself “Elizabeth” (Vivian Lanko, who pulls double-duty here as the “improved” Ruth and as The Thing She Turns Into), whose backstory is now “the young niece of Ruth Warren, who is taking care of her estate, while her aunt goes away on a very long retreat.”

If you’ve seen enough of these monstrosities, (yes, that pun IS intended), you know where this is headed. Being an Eighties film, there has to be enough satisfactory sex and violence, so the sex part comes in when Elizabeth shows Dr. Ashton her gratitude for the miracle he’s worked for her. Wait, don’t leave! There’s so much more…

All the while, in the background, Dr. Stone and Wilhelm skulk around, mooning after their respective objects of desire and imagining what it would be like to finally be with them romantically. (There’s a dream sequence involving all the principal characters that includes a ‘dance number’ you have to see to believe!)

But, back to the ‘youth’ serum. You might recall that I mentioned it was “almost perfected”? Well, it has some pretty disgusting side effects, including the desire to murder random people and remove their brains – Oh, didn’t I mention that? Ashton’s serum is synthesized from human brain tissue, and one of the problems is that the more serum is used, larger and larger doses become required as the body builds up a tolerance to it with each application.

What would an Eighties schlockfest like this be without the opportunity to mix even more sex and violence onscreen? When Elizabeth’s sexual appetites increase with her new youthfulness, she ‘graduates’ from Gregory, moving on to random strangers, and eventually going out on her own to prowl the nightlife, going into the most retro-tastic club you can imagine, where the hot, big-haired, heavy-metal all-girl band called The Poison Dolly’s are playing!

The tunes, which sound like the kind of stuff that The Runaways turned down, are sublimely terrible, and of course, the band is dressed so that not too many people are really paying much attention to the “music.” When the serum begins to wear off and Elizabeth resembles a putrid pumpkin more than Cinderella, this is where the aforementioned murder of some posh poseur happens outside the club…in a phone booth, no less! (Remember those?)

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.From here, it’s all pretty much by-the-numbers. Greg Ashton struggles, along with Stella, to try and artificially synthesize the formula in the lab successfully, so that brain tissue from cadavers will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, the suspicious and jealous Dr. Germaine is closing in to shut down Ashton and his lab for good, snatching the research results for himself. And all the while, Elizabeth’s transformations grow more and more extreme, as does her need to hold onto her newly-found youth – at any cost.

Am I making this direct-to-video hoot sound better than it actually is? If so, my sincere apologies. But this IS entertaining enough that it wouldn’t surprise me if the MST3K/RiffTrax guys or Elvira have already worked their magic with it.

Brian Thomas Jones’ script (adapted from Simon Nuchtern’s original screenplay) and direction, rises above a first-year film school student’s initial project…but not that far above it. Just about all of the actors walk through this like it’s something to pad their resumes with, but not much else, although as the Dollar Store version of “Norma Desmond”, Lanko and Dublin seem to be having the most fun, playing the venial and selfish “Ruth/Elizabeth”. As funny as it plays when the “switch” occurs, Lanko’s not half-bad keeping the continuity going with the character.

It’s probably not even coincidental, the similarities between The Rejuvenator and another film that came out three years before it, Stuart Gordon’s celebrated Lovecraft adaptation, Re-Animator. For all we know, Re-Animator probably had the same level budget but better actors, a seasoned director at the helm, and the ridiculously gory effects of monster master John Carl Buechler.

At the end of the day, just like some of its counterparts, The Rejuvenator makes a great, fun, bad time-capsule worthy window into a crazy-ass decade, as well as a throwback to When DTV Low-Budget Movies Ruled The Earth. The makeup effects guys went on to establish some pretty impressive credentials, even if the cast and creative team did not. But for all the work that went into this, good, bad or indifferent, I feel perfectly fine in awarding it two-and-a-half out of five stars.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

Oh, and side note: like so many rarities that were only released originally on VHS tapes, I was “lucky” enough to stumble over The Rejuvenator, while surfing YouTube, where it’s one of their free movies. There are other places where you might be able to get it, but I strongly suggest that if you find yourself really jonesing to see this, get to YouTube now while it’s still available.


Posted by Samuel Glass in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, VIDEOS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: Review of Ritual by JXV & Interview with Rikk R’Treat

EXCLUSIVE: Review of Ritual by JXV & Interview with Rikk R’Treat

JXV Ritual Album Art, courtesy of JXV

I’m no stranger to the world of underground metal, punk and hardcore. When I listened to and reviewed the last JXV record (formerly known as Jason X Voorhees) record Horror Edge, I was excited by that album. You can view that review here: Jason X Voorhees: Horror Edge.

With the sophomore and, sad to say, final album for JXV, I was not only excited to hear it, but Rikk reached out during the recording process. I was honored to be able to throw out opinions and just hear what was going on during the production of the album.

This new record Ritual has really got me thinking that there is hope for the underground music world after all. There are some better-known acts out there touring and playing festivals, which is fine and ultra cool, but we can’t forget that some festivals are specific to particular areas. Those of us whom cannot get to them have to rely on the underground local scene to get us by. JXV, hailing from San Diego, California, is far from local for me, but for their area and for music lovers in general, they’re worth seeking out. This is a hardcore band that has 98 members…okay, six members, but they really complement each other perfectly with each vocal style betwixt the two vocalists as well as having two guitarists, bass, and drums. Each person compliments the other perfectly. Ritual, truly shows how they take from each other and throw it in the recipe for a perfect blend of every influence.

The album opens up with a title track “Ritual”, with a super ominous and creepy tone that sets the pace for the whole record, even some keys up in this to give that overall ultra horror sound. Track number two we get into “Trick x Treat”, which the band recently released as a single accompanied by a music video (see below). This song definitely is a perfect way to introduce everyone to what they’re getting into. This track alone gives us metal, hardcore, and horror punk. Literally, everything you need for a good song, right here. I’ve been telling everyone I come across; “This song, “Trick x Treat”, is the perfect song”. So if you’re going to get into this band, this song is out right now and the video below will give you the taste of perfection. Slide from this into “False Patriots”. My damn god this track also. I don’t know how to get into this except, if you’re a metal fan and like to slam hard, this is the shit right here.

The following track is “Devil’s Night”, a gang-style Hardcore/Horror Punk number with a lot of spooky to it but also gives us some upbeat vibe. The track features vxDEDxv, a fellow straight edge rapper. I think this track will make you all very happy as well. Then we have “Bath Salt Zombies”. I’m not sucking dick here because JXV and myself are in this horror edge game. I am actually truly passionate about this album. We all know, even if we are homies, I’ll tell you if it isn’t good, but this song is probably my favorite on this whole album. Punk as fuck and fast break your neck thrashin’ shit, another track featuring a straight edge rapper SE Frank. The last three songs are pretty awesome, too. “Living Dead” is pure PUNK ROCK with two minutes of circle pit action. “From the Plague We Come to an End” — solid black metal meshed with beatdown hardcore like goddamn..what are they doing? The mix of genres is insane yet put in these songs with perfection. Finally, the last track, “Noose”, is a great way to end the album. JXV gives us the hardcore breakdown for most of the song and signs off beautifully.

I know I said it four million times, but this record is solid from start to finish — heavy, fast, and diverse with the different genres that are portrayed in each song. I strongly believe if you’re more a fan of any metal, punk, or hardcore, this album will please you and may spawn some interest in whatever isn’t your main listening pleasure. Each member really shined through on this album, and the influence is there in each song.

Unfortunately, JXV has decided to call it quits after this record, life gets in the way of art sometimes, and unfortunately, that is the case here. I’ll say this though: this band has not only been great colleagues in the horror, straight edge and music areas of life for myself and many others. They have been great friends as well. We all share the same passions for music and life, and I’m honored that I’ve had the chance to befriend this group and hear their music — music that has PROVEN it’s not just, “Hey we’re a hardcore band”. No, this is a band that has taken every inch of what they love and placed it into this record and has shown that the underground still has acts out there that need to be heard. In true DIY fashion, this band has set out to prove something even if they didn’t know they were doing it. I wish them all the best of luck on future endeavors and I know if they each put the type of heart and soul that this record has then whatever they do it’ll be just as amazing.

RITUAL Will be released July 6, 2018, SO BE READY TO GET THIS ALBUM! YOU WILL NEED THIS IN YOUR COLLECTION! Please check out JXV on bandcamp as well as Optimist/Pessimist Records all of which can be found at the end of the interview with Rikk R’ Treat, drummer of JXV.

JXV Ritual Band Photo : Courtesy of JXV

House of Tortured Souls: When you guys started JXV what was the intent, or sound that you were going for with the band?
Rikk: When I originally came up with the idea for JXV, I had just discovered The Jasons, and although I enjoy them, at the moment I wanted to find something heavier in the horror scene. I also watched Freddy vs Jason that night and realized that JASONxVOORHEES would be a rad heavy straight edge band name…sometime after that I began writing our first song “Immortality Rates”. Oddly enough, at the time I wanted the band to sound like early Aiden, My Chemical Romance, and Atreyu — horror punk based but a bit more aggressive. Obviously, that didn’t exactly happen. After Drink Blood Not Booze came out, Callen, Devon, and I began looking for committed band members. Once Lalo joined/ we wrote the music for lyrics I had written for a song called “HxC” (“Human Centipede”) and then began to work on other songs off of our album Horror Edge. We had troubles with our original bassist but eventually got Jacob on bass, who has been involved in the band since before we released Horror Edge. After over a year of playing as a five-piece, we added out second guitarist, Yako, who helped us get to where we are now sonically. As a six-piece, we have been able to add more “beef” to our old songs and push ourselves to write heavier songs for the new record.
HoTS: Horror Edge was a great album. Did you find it hard trying to market the music and style within the horror punk scene?
Rikk: Thank you. I think overall JXV has been hard to market. Horror punks don’t always get the heavy vocals, and hardcore or metalcore kids don’t understand the horror part. Unfortunately, I’ve often heard about how incoherent we are, but I never understood that because to us it all makes sense together. Sure, surf and death metal don’t mix often, but why not experiment?
HoTS: Your influences are vast across the board. Does the rest of the band share these common influences?
Rikk: As you can hear in our music, our influences vary quite a bit. I think we all overlap in certain places but not in other spots. If you knew our specific influences you’d be able to tell which songs were written by whom on Ritual.
HoTS: This album Ritual is produced perfectly. How long did it take to record this album?
Rikk: We began recording drums in November and finished all mixing and mastering in early June. So quite a while. This was mainly because we hadn’t finished writing all tracks when we started recording, and we all had very different schedules to work around to get into the studio.
HoTS: Was there any clashing of ideas when writing/recording the record?
Rikk: I wouldn’t say there were major clashes while writing, however, it has been more difficult for us to write music off the cuff as a “jam”. A good portion of our music has usually been written and structured before we meet to hash it out with instruments. The songs that were more free-form usually took the longest but, regardless, still came out great.
HoTS: The collaborations with fellow straight edge rappers. How did this come to pass and did you feel this was a bold move within the genre of horror/hardcore?
Rikk: A number of us have always loved nu-metal bands like Linkin Park and Korn. A lot of us also really love hip-hop. I have a lot of respect and love for my edge brothers SE Frank and vxDEDxv, who have both been big supporters of JXV. I had been in talks with them about working on something together, so all it took was finding the right songs they could fit on. As far as the particular genre, I rarely hear rap involved in horror, but traditional hardcore and hip-hop seem to flow together often so it just made sense to us.
HoTS: The song “Trick x Treat” is the single you chose to release. Why is that?
Rikk: “Trick x Treat” was the second song written for this record. I was very inspired by it to draw some artwork, so it was in part because I put a lot of work into the cover art. Once the whole record was written, it ended up being the track that mixed both the heaviness that half the album has with the campy horror that the other half has. So it’s a good representation of the full record.
HoTS: How did you guys find the balance when writing? By this I mean, each track is blended perfectly with punk, hardcore, metal, even rap/hip-hop.
Rikk: We didn’t really think much about the balance of sounds; we just wrote and structured what made sense to us. One may likely argue that none of the album is balanced at all, but to each his own, right?
HoTS: What spawned the idea to call it quits after this final show in July?
Rikk: As mentioned earlier, it is hard to match schedules in a six-person band. For some of us, it also just seemed like time to shift focus on other things. It’s been great working together with my bandmates, and I love them all, but we have to be sensitive to the needs of each member – even if that means we aren’t going to be playing anymore.
HoTS: What’s on the plate for each of you after the finale?
Rikk: Most of us have projects in the works. Once they are finalized or official we’ll share more! From what I know Yako, Devon, and Jake are each hoping to start heavy bands, respectively. Lalo has plans to start an indie project and I will be continuing to play in The Writhers for the rest of the year. As of right now, Callen does not have any musical plans, but when he does we will be supportive of his goals.
HoTS: Anything you want to share with the readers? Words of wisdom?
Rikk: In the immortal words of Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other.” We in JXV have always appreciated all and any support we have been given and will continue to be grateful well after we’re done. Also please be on the lookout for our album Ritual to be released in July!
HoTS: Even as homies within the scene of edge, horror, hardcore. Being a musician myself we together have made our music with a heavier tone and yet still pimped hard to a scene that doesn’t really have a lot of bands that dare try D/C tuning or metal vocals, so sharing all this with you all and being hardgore/horror edge brothers has been a true honor. I want to say thank you for everything you have done with Optimist/Pessimist records, and for sharing JXV with the world. Believe it or not, you guys’ music has inspired me to just keep doing what I do, and I’m positive once people hear Ritual they’re going to want more, and if you’re not playing out. They’ll have to make their own music, so the inspiration is definitely there and going to spawn a new generation of horror music.
Rikk: Thanks, man, I really appreciate everything you’ve done for us. You have been a huge help and your support has been a motivation to keep going. I don’t mind if people don’t go out and spawn new horror music – however, I do really hope people will listen to the album and try to understand our vision.

“Trick x Treat” video:

Posted by Schock in INTERVIEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, VIDEOS, 0 comments
John Roisland on Deadworld Zombie Sodas

John Roisland on Deadworld Zombie Sodas

By John Roisland

12250016_510827055758704_7625133617300950654_n

In need of a change from cola? Tired of doing the Dew? Do yourself a favor and check out Deadworld Zombie Soda. Coming to you from Caprice Brands in Livonia, MI, and manufactured by Intrastate Distributors in Detroit, MI, these mad soda scientists have created a delicious monster (several, actually). The kind hearts that they are sent me a care package of a few of their flavors for me to sample, and they are FUCKING AMAZING! Sure, every major soda brand has an orange, a root beer, and a grape, but not like these tasty treats.

Zombie soda selection

A small sample of Deadworld Zombie sodas.

In addition to the standard soda flavors, Deadworld Zombie Soda offers an expansive and creative menu with flavors such as:

Black Cherry

Vanilla Root Beer

Vanilla Cream

Green Apple

Cotton Candy

And those are just a few of the delicious options Deadworld offers.

So, I made a little video of the sampling (it's also on our House of Tortured Souls YouTube page).

Keep an eye out for Deadworld Zombie Soda, as they are ripping up the convention circuit where you can try samples and purchase soda directly from them!! Find them on their homepage, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Contact them, place your order, and tell Janelle that Ii said, "Hello!"

Trust me when I say that you will NOT be let down by their product!

Oh, I haven't tried it yet, but keep an eye out for the new Deadworld Zombie potato chips brought to you by Caprice Brands and manufactured by premier chip maker Better Made Potato Chips in Detroit, MI. If they are half as good as the sodas, you'll still be thrilled.

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in FOOD AND DRINK, PRODUCT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, VIDEOS, 0 comments

VIDEO: A Message From Beefcake the Mighty!

A Message From Beefcake the Mighty
For All of You Tortured Souls out There!!

Fair use doctrine.
Beefcake the Mighty at Riot Fest 2014
House of Tortured Souls CEO John Roisland was lucky enough to meet Beefcake the Mighty when he attended the Scares That Care Weekend 2015, and he was nice enough to let John record a greeting for all those who visit our newly launched website! Please enjoy and don't forget to tell all your friends about House of Tortured Souls!

Posted by Alan Smithee in VIDEOS, 0 comments