Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Demented

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

tn_dementedslashersearch14b“That’s over with! Those men are in jail. I wish you would just stop dwelling on it!”

Sometimes when you’re on a Slasher Search or a Horror Quest you have to take what seems like an empty barrel, turn it upside down and start banging on the bottom and see if any chunks break off and fall out into the dirt. And if you do that you run the risk of watching something like DEMENTED (1980). From the box it sounded like an I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE rip-off, which is dangerous territory. It’s actually a little weirder than that sounds, but not really in a good way.

Director Arthur Jeffreys has no other credits, which is not surprising, or might mean that it’s a porn director using a fake name. The writer, Alex Rebar, did an obscure Christmas horror called TO ALL A GOODNIGHT, directed by David Hess.

In the opening scene our heroine Linda Rodgers (Sallee Elyse, credited as Sallee Young) comes home and starts petting her horse before suddenly being jumped by a bunch of yahoos with pantyhose on their heads who drag her into the barn and gang rape her. The complete lack of buildup or establishing of characters or story makes it seem even cruder than I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but at least the rape scene is much shorter and less graphic.
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The Fly (1986)

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

tn_theflyDavid Cronenberg’s THE FLY is about a best case scenario for a remake. It takes the premise of a fun but very dated old sci-fi joint and gives it context, tone and emotional substance more fit for its time of 1986. At the same time it’s a great stealth-Cronenberg movie that was normal enough to be a big hit at the time but artful and weird enough to be different from anything we’d seen before. This was his brief Hollywood period with DEAD ZONE, which was sandwiched between THE BROOD/SCANNERS/VIDEODROME and DEAD RINGERS/NAKED LUNCH/M. BUTTERFLY/CRASH/EXISTENZ/etc.

It starts cute with undiscovered genius Seth Brundle (DEATH WISH‘s Jeff Goldblum) awkwardly hitting on magazine reporter Veronica Quaife (THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT‘s Geena Davis) and somehow getting her back to his lab, which she’s not happy to learn is also his bachelor’s pad. She’s skeptical and probly a little creeped out until he demonstrates what he’s secretly been working on: “telepods,” a set of chambers that can disintegrate matter on one end and reintegrate it on the other. Teleportation. Star Trek shit! He points out that it will revolutionize transportation. In one of the few corny bits in the screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue (PSYCHO III, KULL THE CONQUEROR) we find out Brundle gets car sickness as extra motivation for inventing such a thing.
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The Boxer’s Omen

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

tn_boxersomenTHE BOXER’S OMEN is one of these movies I’ve had recommended to me for years but for some reason never listened. I guess everybody just talked about how FUCKIN CRAZY it was, and I like FUCKIN CRAZY but sometimes a man needs more. For example (HERESY ALERT this paragraph) I couldn’t get into that beloved Japanese freakout available from Criterion, HOUSE or HAUSU. It is indeed unique and goofy and graphically fun, but feature length? I think that’s the ultimate example of a movie that if I stumbled across it on TV at 2 am and had never heard of it it would seem like the greatest achievement in the history of cinema, but when I intentionally sit down to watch it as a real movie I have a hard time getting through it.

Maybe that’s what I was worried BOXER’S OMEN would be. Then I was looking at the box and it said Bolo Yeung was in it so of course I rented it. Why didn’t you say so?
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Brainscan

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

tn_brainscan“Don’t you see? Senseless violence is not entertainment.”
“What is it then?”

I think I saw BRAINSCAN a long time ago and thought it was stupid. And I was right. But watching it again I think I give it a little more credit than I did back then. It’s definitely not of the quality one would hope for from the director of ROLLING THUNDER and the writer of SEVEN. But even in its dated technology (it’s about an evil interactive CD-ROM) it’s kind of ahead of its time, and it has a very ominous tone to it, darker and more unsavory than the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels it was aping.

Like, in the opening scene Michael (Edward “and if you want to shine them on it’s ‘Hasta la vista, baby”” Furlong) is talking to his best bud for life Kyle (Jamie Marsh) on the phone while watching his neighbor Kimberly (Amy Hargreaves from BLUE RUIN) change her shirt. When he comes away from the window he turns on the TV… but then we see that he’s watching her on the TV from a camera he set up. Then he makes a hang up call and watches the footage of her answering in slow motion. At least he’s not jerking off as far as we can see, but jesus. This is our protagonist?

Michael is not that bad a prediction of what life is like for a big chunk of society now. He’s a kid who spends most of his time in his bedroom with his technology. He has a voice activated animated “Igor” on his TV screen that he tells to dial numbers for him or hold his calls or other things. It’s unclear how intelligent it is. He talks on speaker phone and the TV screen shows photo montages of his friends. He’s ahead of his time.

Where he gets this technology is not really spelled out, but his only parental interaction during the movie is a voicemail from his dad telling him he loves him and that “Business is going well here. I wish you were here with me to see all the new equipment.” His mom died in front of him when he was a kid. It still haunts him, and is implied as maybe the reason he’s so attracted to the morbid shit. (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Spa

Thursday, October 30th, 2014
slashersearch14

This one isn’t exactly a slasher movie, but I didn’t know.

tn_deathspaWow, DEATH SPA was not what I expected from a movie about a spa of death. This is a much more professional and imaginative movie than its Fitness Horror forefather KILLER WORKOUT. Sure, it’s completely ridiculous, because it’s about a whole bunch of spectacular deaths at a health club run by a supercomputer. But it’s a little more credible than that sounds, in my opinion. A little.

It opens with a long, show-offy tracking shot in which some of the letters on the STARBODY HEALTH SPA neon light go out so it spells “D   EA TH SPA”. And then the first woman we see practicing alone in the dance studio (Brenda Bakke, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY) seems to have a screen presence and beauty of a caliber much higher than required. I actually thought damn, she should be the lead, but she’s about to get it.

Actually she survives, but is hospitalized for a while and then wears bandages over her eyes. (And remember, Eric Bogosian threatens to burn her eyeball in US2. Coincidence? Yes.) The lead-lead is William Bumiller (LAST RESORT), who has not gone on to canonization in a Seagal film, but who also seems better than the material needs. As spa owner Michael Evans (not based on the actor from Good Times as far as I can tell) he projects rugged, capable, but not dumb. He gets a call about what happened and rushes there in his Porsche between quick flashbacks of somebody on fire. So right away we know he’s got a fairly noteworthy past. (read the rest of this shit…)

Killer Workout

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

slashersearch14tn_killerworkoutKILLER WORKOUT is low budget fitness club horror made by fringe action auteur David A. Prior, so it has by far the most punching I’ve ever seen in a slasher movie. I gotta respect that, at least. Prior did this between KILLZONE and DEADLY PREY. Unlike his horror debut SLEDGEHAMMER it’s not shot on video, which means it meets my rigid standards of a slasher movie I am willing to try to watch.

When a muscley blond guy (Ted Prior, HARDCASE AND FIST) starts working at Rhonda’s Workout the musclier brunette guy (Fritz Matthews)  jumps him in the parking lot and they have a bare knuckle brawl. Then it happens a couple more times. Lots of old cowboy style ducking and swinging and getting tossed and knocking over furniture. The blond guy is clearly up to something, it seems from our viewpoint like he must be undercover, but other people suspect he’s there to stalk and murder them.
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Slaughter High

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

tn_slaughterhighslashersearch14I almost turned this one off during the April Fool’s Day flashback prologue, when the popular kids prank “that stupid dork Marty” (Simon Scuddamore) by making him think he’s gonna lose his virginity to the hot girl Carol (Caroline Munro, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, CAPTAIN KRONOS – VAMPIRE HUNTER, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, MANIAC)  in the girls locker room showers. Instead he finds himself naked in front of ten popular kids filming him, poking his ass with a pool stick, electrically shocking him, chanting “Where’s the beef?” and having two dudes pick him up by his thighs and dunk his head in the toilet. Real Abu Ghraib shit.

Since the coach breaks it up they come after him again when he’s staying late in the chemistry lab. They trick him into smoking a bad joint and mix up his chemicals so that they explode, which ends up causing a fire and dumping a big jar of acid (unwisely left open on the edge of a high shelf) on his face. All that is fine except the acting (especially by the nerd) is Troma-broad, without the content being as crazy, and if they’re not gonna take this at least half serious I’m not sure it’s worth my time. But when we skip to the present day it straightens up and starts acting like it’s a real horror movie, so I stuck with it.

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Nightmare

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

tn_nightmareslashersearch14I guess I should’ve known about this one, but I didn’t. 1981’s generically titled NIGHTMARE (sometimes called NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN) is apparently pretty notorious due to getting banned in the UK as a “Video Nasty.” That’s not the same as being good. But it has a sleazy, unhinged feeling to it that makes it stand out. It feels like it is definitely not made by slick professionals, but possibly by actual crazy people.

It begins, appropriately, with a guy dreaming he wakes up in his underwear with a woman’s severed head in a pile of guts at the foot of his bed. This will be our killer, George Tatum (Baird Stafford), an often sweaty, always confused mess of a man constantly in agony because of his extremely messed up sexuality. He’s haunted by childhood memories of walking in on his mom (or a mistress or hooker, it seems like, but the credits say mother) in a corset on top of his tied-up dad, slapping him. And then he remembers Mom getting decapitated.

Not surprisingly this is a problem in George’s daily life. For one thing, he likes to go to the Times Square peep shows to jerk off, but he keeps seeing head stump flashes and falling to his knees in anguish. Ruins the whole night, I’m sure.

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The Initiation

Monday, October 20th, 2014

slashersearch14tn_initiationTHE INITIATION is yet another sorority-themed slasher movie (see also HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, SORORITY ROW, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE I and II, KILLER PARTY, BLACK CHRISTMAS, BLACK XMAS), but it’s toward the high end of that list as far as quality. “Introducing Daphne Zuniga” as Kelly (although she had already been in THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD), one of a group of new pledges beginning their Hell Week at a college in Dallas or Fort Worth while somebody possibly connected to her is going around stabbing people, mostly with a 3-pronged gardening tool.

It’s got a little bit of HALLOWEEN and a little bit of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The HALLOWEEN is in the section that takes place in an insane asylum where the inmates all get loose at night and mob a nurse’s car. She gets stabbed, but we don’t see who did it, and none of these witnesses are gonna be able to explain it. They just giggle uncontrollably, suck their thumbs or flick their tongues like lizards. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Burning

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

tn_burningTHE BURNING is a slasher movie I like, and I can acknowledge that it’s not great but it just fits into my wheelhouse (you know, the house where I store all my wheels as well as some of the movies I like). Something about those FRIDAY THE 13THs and SLEEPAWAY CAMPs just engrained the summer camp of the ’80s into my mind as a perfect place for a slasher. By day it’s canoes and pushing people off of docks and wearing those gym socks with the stripes at the top. Then at night you realize you’re out in the middle of the fuckin woods! What the fuck are you gonna do if (let’s be honest – when) something happens? Where are you gonna go? Deeper into the dark, quiet woods?

But actually Jason and these guys are scarier when they strike in the sunlight. The sanctity of the summer paradise invaded by machetes and improperly used spear guns. Lens flares and dripping blood. (read the rest of this shit…)