What follows are done by trained professionals, don't try these at home. Ratings are out of ****. 10/19/19 - The Sadist (1963) **1/2 Forced to stop at an isolated garage for repairs, a trio of teachers are held captive and tormented by a demented gunman. Engaging, if not great low budget thriller with second string acting. The main heavy Arch Hall Junior overplays things with a squinty, leering, giggling, cretinous punk routine. It’s a performance fine for a villain biting the dirt at the start of a 50s TV western, but wears thin as the feature film length center of attention. Granted, Hall puts in a major effort. The deficiency is clearly experience and skill, not aptitude. And he definitely has the mug for it, channeling that David Patrick Kelly vibe a couple decades early. The desolate south western desert scenery elevates the proceedings, as does an inconsistent script that sometimes knocks the ball out of the park. The story defies period convention with the outcome for one of the protagonists, and the ending is novel if totally deux ex machina, making for distinctive if not high quality viewing. 10/20/19 - Phone (2002) **1/2 Another Asian woman is tormented by a long haired ghost. A journalist changes her phone number to avoid harassing calls after a publication puts several people in jail, and gets a harasser from the grave instead. The film clearly takes cues from Ringu. Including when an innocent child gets pulled into the mayhem, by listening in on a weird call that turns her moody and violent. As things go downhill, the journalist tracks down prior phone owners to the source, learning it's no accident her family is targeted. At which point the film takes a conventional but effective ghost driven murder mystery direction. Like many Asian films of the type, the ghost is less sympathetic than its victims. In this case a jilted and vindictive underage girl, selfishly willing to destroy entire families to get what she thinks belongs to her. The preposterous premise sets a hard handicap to overcome (seriously, a cursed cell phone number?). But this film manages to, barely, on the strength of solid acting (with a stand out performance by the child actor) and a competent script. Making for a gory, sordid, entertaining watch. Burial Ground (1981) ** Gathering at a chateau to learn what a professor has unearthed, three perpetually horny couples find out it's a zombie horde. The film wastes little time starting the graveyard onslaught, delayed only by the characters boinking a few times as a substitute for exposition. Some effective but very inconsistent undead effects are on display, with inventively gruesome masks and hands mixed in with some "just slab some gunk on this guy and shove him in the scene" shots. Some conventions are up-ended, in this case the zombies are organized, use tools, and are even capable of scaling walls like lizards. They also somehow know to hang out around cars, just in case anyone gets the bright idea to drive away. Unfortunately the heroes are less resourceful. Their first reactions include standing around accosting and hurling insults at the undead as they shamble closer. Or stand idle conjecturing on why it is happening. When the horde surrounds the building and pound at the doors, their first reaction is to go to the second floor and close the shutters. And having learned head shots work, they quickly fall back to ineffective body assaults. Then there's the mansion staff who for some daft reason set a bear trap in the middle of the back yard. Unless we're expected to think the zombies did it, in which case they could have hid it a lot better. Then again, given the mental prowess of these "heroes", laying the trap in plain sight was good enough. The film's creepiest element is the son with major (hot) mama issues. Amped on the weird-o-meter by the casting decision that a child actor wouldn't be creepy enough, let’s get a small stature creepy adult actor to play the mommy groping zombie snack. Clearly apes the classic Zombie, right down to inferior renditions of the maggot faced rise from the earth and the eye gouging pull through the window scenes. And while Zombie has its flaws, it’s a cinematic landmark compared to Burial Ground. That said, this is still bloody (literally) good bad movie fun. 10/21/19 - 3 Dead Trick or Treaters (2016) *** A paper delivery man finds the graves of 3 missing kids behind a vacant house, with a story attached to each grave marker. This is garage band film making - edgy, unpolished, abrasive, seizing your attention by the throat. The film is entirely without dialog, relying on unspoken cues and pre-determined motives to drive the action. The scene framing is particularly slick, as is the effectively subdued soundtrack. The stories are less stories than they are lead ups to acts of cruel butchery, with the framing story folding back in mid-film instead of the typical end of the anthology. As a story it is particularly thin, and with almost no foundation. But as a visceral experience, a series of blood splattered sensory obscenities, the film shines.