Weekly Update: This week was dedicated to the films of Len Kabasinski; a Pennsylvania filmmaker who has self produces, directs, writes and stars in movies, often with a familiar cast of cohorts. His director trademarks include: Martial Arts, Gore, Female Nudity, Heavy Metal, and low production values. There is an enduring charm to these films, and thankfully many of them are free to Amazon Prime subscribers, making them quite easy to experience.
Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-
256. Swamp Zombies (2005)
Kabasinski’s first film reminds me of the sort of movies I made with friends in High School. In that it is clearly a group of friends in the woods with whatever resources they had to work with, doing the best they can… and a lot of things going horribly wrong. The audio is off, the camerawork and framing are confusing, and the acting ranges from amateurish to godawful. But you know what, he fuckin’ tried. The plot is simple enough; a local hospital is performing experiments which are causing people to reanimate, now the zombies are loose and terrorizing a group of students in the woods. I am not going to recommend this film for any but the most devout of z-movie fans, but there’s a charm there in the background which Len would hone and improve upon vastly in later releases.
257. Fist of the Vampire (2007)
Len Kabasinski wanted to combine Martial Arts and Vampire movies, and in that he succeeds. Production values are certainly better here than Swamp Zombies, employing lots of green screen shots and computer effects which up the ante quite a bit. Entertainment is endless from these not at all convincing effects shots. But the film’s real highlight is in the awkwardly edited and framed fight scenes. It is clear Len and team knows what they are doing move-wise, but he still is trying to figure out how to shoot these sequences, and the results are often hilarious.
258. Angel of Reckoning (2016)
A more recent entry in Len’s filmography, this is his most polished film to date, with a simple but compelling narrative, workable (if sometimes stilted) dialogue, and well-shot action sequences. It is genuinely impressive to see this film in the context of his previous ones, because there is a conscious effort to improve in every aspect of the filmmaking process. Jessica Kabasinski carries her lead performance amicably, and many of the secondary actors hold their own quite well. The film’s pacing feels solid, slowly building to the violent climax with more and more layers of insanity. A real highlight of the film are the over-the-top Gangland characters who feel straight out of 80s Cannon productions like Death Wish 2.
259. Apocalypse Female Warriors (2009)
Len Kabasinski loves to have badass female leads and this film brings that out in triplicate. The filmmaker attempts to bring a Post-Apocalyptic atmosphere with zero budget, and the results are mostly ineffective. Low-budget Apocalypse films generally succeed by scaling down their production aims, but this attempts a full out Mad Max-like plot without the means to accomplish it. Even the first Mad Max cost a few hundred thousand dollars to make, because destroying cars is not cheap. Len might have done well saving his funds to do this one when he could afford some set-building. The movie does have an impressive Minigun prop, but that isn’t sufficient to carry things.
260. Curse of the Wolf (2006)
Touted by the team at Redlettermedia as their favorite of the Kabasinski chronology, Curse of the Wolf combines zero-budget schlock charm with a ludicrous plot and some of the most hilarious werewolf makeup I’ve ever seen. Len is still using a cheap camera here, and it does hurt the watchability a bit, but this was the first of his films which feels like Len is sort of in on the joke, and having fun with his lack of production funds. Give this one a look first if you are seeking out a few good B-movie laughs.
261. Bound by Blood: Wendigo (2010)
… How do you manage to make a movie about a flesh-eating Native American Spirit Demon boring? Fuck this shit.