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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

TMN Zine issue 2 Now Available!

Issue 2 of the Terrible Movie Nights zine is now available for purchase in the store. Includes 20 movie synopsis/reviews, color cover and custom black & white artwork. Plus an exclusive review of Final Exit not available online. Check it out!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ticks

Watched November 24, 2013

1993
Starring: Seth Green, Alfonso Ribeiro, Ami Dolenz, Rosalind Allen, Clint Howard.

I was incredibly excited to finally find this movie on DVD as it was just released in that format this year. I have no idea why it wasn't available earlier, but for the longest time I just couldn't find it, and it was too expensive as a used VHS. I first saw Ticks around the time in came out in the '90s and loved it. I have often regaled friends with the plot as I was so excited about the ridiculous concept and I couldn't wait to finally share it with them.

Outside of Los Angeles, in the national forest there are a ton of illegal marijuana farmers, including Jarvis Tanner (Clint Howard) who runs a pretty strange operation. He is an anti-government nut, based on his choice of radio stations, and he has a series of machines that fertilize his pot plants. The machines tend to ooze a lot of waste that leaks into the surrounding forest. As the waste has oozed into the surrounding environment it has effected the ticks eggs causing them to grow and mutate.

Meanwhile in LA, we meet Panic (Alfonso Ribeiro) a troubled teen, waiting by an underpass when Tyler (Seth Green) is dropped off by his dad. Panic intimidates Tyler but then Holly (Rosalind Allen) and Charles (Peter Scolari) arrive with a van full of kids. It turns out that it's an outward bound type set up where Holly and Charles take city kids into the woods for a weekend. The van is packed full of various stereotypes of troubled kids: the slut, the tough guy, the nerd, the quiet one, etc. Off they go into the woods.

They all arrive at the cabins where they're going to spend the weekend. Holly and Charles are terrible at teaching the kids camping skills. Charles's daughter Melissa (Virginya Keehne) takes Tyler for a walk; she brushes up against a tree and a giant mutant tick attaches itself to her back. Tyler gets if off, but they run back to camp freaking out. Charles doesn't make a big deal out of it. The campers get a strange visit from Jerry and Sir, who are marijuana farmers but play it off like they are making sure everyone is having a safe time in the woods. Panic brought his dog with him and later that night he finds it dead, Tyler and Charles take to the vet to figure out what happened, leaving everyone else at the camp. The vet tries to take a blood sample, but the dog has been drained. She jams a syringe into the stomach to let some gas out when she pulls a giant tick out. The tick now has a syringe stuck in it but is still alive and it crawls all over the office before they kill. Now Charles and Tyler know what's been attacking everyone so they head back to the camp to get everyone out of there. Panic ran away after his dog died and is now wandering in the woods when he gets bit by a tick. Luckily, he stole some steroids from the tough guy and takes those to try to survive.

A fire starts in the woods and it pushes all the ticks towards the cabins. The ticks are everywhere but at least the teens made it into the cabin. Sir and Jerry show up seeking refuge and they are reluctantly let in. The Panic shows up almost dead, because not only was he bit by a tick but earlier Sir and Jerry shot him. Panic dies in the cabin as the fire moves closer and the ticks continue to attack. Because of the steroids Panic mutates into a super gigantic tick that tries to kill everyone. When fire hits the ticks they immediately explode. Tyler takes a broom and lights it on fire and gets the van. All the ticks manage to get out of the cabin and into the van and tick Panic catches on fire and explodes. They all escape safely back to the city.

After my vague memories kept me excited for so many years,  this movie it totally holds up. The tick effects are really gross and awesome, and there are lots of them. After knowing Alfonso Ribeiro only as cousin Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air it's hard to see him as a tough guy, but he does fine. His transformation into the gigantic mutant steroid ticks is disgusting and amazing. It is sad as the only black kid he dies, especially since there were way worse kids on that camping trip.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jack's Back

Watched November 17, 2013

1988
Starring: James Spader, Cynthia Gibb, Robert Picardo,

I don't think I comprehended how much I like James Spader until I saw this movie. It's not so much that his performance is outstanding, it's more that you seen him shirtless a lot. When I picked up the VHS, I knew that it wasn't straight up horror but I figured it would be some fun as the premise is based around a serial killer.

A serial killer has begun killing prostitutes on the 100th anniversary of the Jack the Ripper murders. The police are on the case but they don't have much to go on, but they do end up linking all the prostitutes to a health clinic. John (James Spader) is a doctor who works at the clinic and is also curious about the connection to the clinic. He begins to do his own research trying to figure out who the murderer may be. He is suspicious of one of the clinic technicians, Jack (Rex Ryon) so he follows him after work. John finds him at the apartment of clinic's patients, he busts in to see that the woman covered in blood. Jack tries to flee with John in pursuit, they end up in a city government building, where Jack says he just was giving the woman an abortion, but they he tries to strangle Jack. They get in a big tussle, it ending with Jack hanging John to make it look like a suicide. 

*SPOILER* Cut to John waking up from a nightmare, or so we think. It's not John, but his twin brother Rick who through some weird twin connection saw the murder. The cops think it was a suicide because they also think that John is the serial killer. Rick is now on the mission to clear his brother's name and find the real killer. Rick meets up with Chris (Cynthia Gibb) who worked with John at the clinic. They have some instant chemistry, but Rick doesn't know exactly how to clear his brother's name. The cops question Rick and they hypnotize him since he claims to have details about John's murder. In his hypnotic state he relives the last moments on John's life and sees who killed John, it was Jack! They find Jack but can't link him to any of the prostitute murders. Several people come up as witnesses that John couldn't have committed some of the murders because he was out of town on a business conference. The killer is still out there and the cops now think it's Rick. 

Rick has another hunch and goes to the house where Jack lives and steals a bag that has some dirty latex gloves in it, tying Jack to the murder of the last woman that was killed the night that John was also murdered. The real killer is preparing to kill again. He heads to Chris's house where she is sleeping. He breaks in, in turns out the real killer is the head of the clinic and a total asshole as we have seen throughout the film. Luckily Rick busts through the window to save Chris and the cops show up because they were following Rick, thinking he was the killer.

Chris and Rick embrace and the end but they don't kiss which makes sense because they both were almost murdered. There aren't any sex scenes in the movie, which is a little bit of a letdown but is also really logical because Rick just lost his brother and people are being murdered left and right which isn't really a turn on, for most people anyway.

Since he plays twins you get twice the James Spader action, you get straight laced doctor Spader and bad boy shoe salesman Spader, who wears sleeveless shirts. If you don't like James Spader, don't watch this movie, but otherwise it's a good thriller with some cool twists.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fright Night

Watched November 11, 2013

1985
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall

I picked up Fright Night 2 while in Portland digging through the Goodwill bins, but I'd never seen the first one. Luckily, Jen had a VHS copy to loan me so I could catch up before we watch the sequel. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie, it was a treat after all the crap I usually watch.

Charley (William Ragsdale) in a regular teen who lives in a normal suburban neighborhood. He's a big fan of Fight Night, a horror show on TV hosted by Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall). He's got a sweet girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) who he's pressuring to go all the way, but she's not ready. 

One night he notices that someone is moving into the empty house next door. He sees a coffin being brought into the house and is immediately suspicious. Charley continues to watch his neighbor and becomes convinced he is a vampire, after all he watches Fright Night all the time and he knows the signs. The new neighbor Jerry (Chris Sarandon) sees Charley spying on him in the bushes, so he later tries to kill Charley by throwing him out the window. Obviously Charley is right that Jerry is a vampire. Charley tells this to Amy but she is doubtful, to quell his fears she pays Peter Vincent to come over to Jerry's house to help prove that Jerry isn't a vampire. They get Jerry to drink fake holy water, so it appears that he isn't a vampire. Charley is still suspicious but he doesn't have any more proof, so he leaves with Amy and his crazy friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). 

The night is not over yet, Jerry is aware that Charley knows his secret. Jerry bites Evil Ed, turning him into the goofiest vampire ever, with amazingly huge teeth and fangs. Peter Vincent goes home, thinking that it's all a silly joke, but then he's attacked by Evil Ed.  Meanwhile Amy and Charley are trying to run away from Jerry, they try to lose him in a night club. Jerry is very attracted to Amy, she looks likes one of his former lovers. In the club, Jerry casts a seduction spell on Amy and takes her back to his house. Peter Vincent is now convinced that vampires are real, Evil Ed turns into a wolf to attack him but Peter stabs him. There is a fantastic sequence of Evil Ed morphing from a wolf back to vampire as he dies.

Peter and Charley meet up to head into Jerry's house to get Amy back. Jerry has bitten Amy and leaves her to painfully transform into a vampire. Peter and Charley are confronted by Jerry's bodyguard, they shoot him multiple times but he keeps coming back. Finally they stab him and he melts into green goo and a skeleton that fades away, it's awesome. Now they have to get Jerry who can escape them as a bat and as fog, plus Amy is now a vampire. Peter is convinced they can save Amy by killing Jerry before sunrise. Jerry retreats to the basement as the sun is beginning to rise, and it seems that all is done for our heroes. Through chance they break a blacked out window that begins to let in the sun, they continue to break windows until Jerry is blasted with sunlight and destroyed.

This movie is great! The special effects are excellent. Chris Sarandon is so good as the vampire. I love the over the top vampire teeth on Evil Ed and Amy. I highly recommend this movie, it's funny and scary. If the sequel is even half as good I will enjoy it, so stayed tuned for Fright Night 2.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Day of the Dolphin

Watched October 13, 2013

1973
Starring: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Paul Sorvino, Edward Herrmann

Before watching this movie, all I knew about it was from The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode that parodies it. That episode is pretty great so I figured the source material should be at least a little fun. The tagline on the back of the box is " He unwittingly trained a dolphin to assisinate the president."

Dr. Jake Terrell (George C. Scott) is a marine biologist who has been working with a dolphin named Alpha on an island lab. He has been keeping the exact scope of his work a secret but some pieces of it have leaked out regarding teaching the dolphin to talk. Curtis Mahoney (Paul Sorvino) is a reporter who makes his way onto the island to try to discover what is the nature of the research. Dr. Terrell and his wife Maggie (Trish Van Devere) get a little warning on this and hide Alpha, instead letting Curtis on see Beta, the new female dolphin.  I'm not sure why Dr. Terrell is so secretive about his research, but he does think that what he is working on with Alpha could be used for evil.

Dr. Terrell ultimately does give a presentation of Alpha's speaking abilities to bunch of old men, who have some sort of sway. Alpha answers Dr. Terrell's questions, the men aren't totally impressed and they keep asking Alpha weird questions that he can't answer.

The group of old men are some sort of secret organization and they steal Alpha and Beta. This is where we learn of their plan. Since Alpha can speak and understand specific commands they plan on using him to blow up the president's yacht. They do this by strapping a backpack bomb on Alpha that is magnetized and when Alpha swims under the boat it will attach to the hull.  It's a very strange plan and is ultimately foiled because Alpha puts the bomb underneath the bad guys boat.

If you really like dolphins perhaps you'll enjoy this film, there is a lot of footage of the dolphins just frolicking in the water. When the dolphins talk it sounds terrible, lots of Fa loves Bea and Fa love Pa. Fa being a shorter version of Alpha and Bea a shortened version of Beta. It's such a strange concept that you might think it would be more enjoyable but it's long and boring. One of the stranger scenes is when Dr. Terrell is showing Curtis his reel to reel tapes of Alpha progressing with language. Instead of just playing one at a time he just starts playing one after the other so they're all playing horrible dolphins sounds layered on top of each other.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sleepaway Camp

Watched October 6, 2013

1983
Starring: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet, Katherine Kamhi

In the last couple of months we've watched several of my favorite movies and I don't mind at all. Sleepaway Camp is another movie I first saw in my teens and absolutely loved. I would obsess with my best friend about the strange flash back scenes that Angela has of her parents and of her brother. We even made a short movie for our drama class that combined Sleepaway Camp with Blood Feast. If you've seen it or not, I'm not gonna spoil the super amazing ending here, so don't worry.

It begins with a summer lakeside boating accident. A father is playing with his two young kids on a little boat. But the kids are little tricksters and they push their dad off the boat, making it tip over. They all have life vests on so it's all good fun. Some teens are waterskiing nearby and they are totally goofing off like teens are prone to do. The teens don't see that the boat has flipped over and they run over it, killing the dad and one of the kids.

Ten years later, we learn that it was the little girl Angela who survived and she has been raised by her totally crazy aunt. This is the first year that Angela (Felissa Rose) will get to go to camp with her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten.) They head off to Camp Arawak, it looks much like the same spot where Angela's dad was killed. The camp is filled with councilors who look over 30, and most everyone wears tiny shorts and for the guys, even tinier crop tops. 

Angela is a quiet girl who has a hard time fitting in. Judy (Karen Fields) is one of her cabin mates and she is a huge bitch to Angela, and everyone. Even one of the councilors, Meg (Katherine Kamhi) gives Angela a hard time about being quiet and not participating. At the mess hall, one of the nicer councilors notices that Angela isn't eating so he takes her to get some ice cream. A pedophile cook takes Angela into the back to get some ice cream and is about to molest her when Ricky shows up and saves her. Shortly after the incident, the cook is standing on a chair, salting a giant vat of boiling water. Someone pulls the chair out from under him and he is drenched in the boiling water, getting 3rd degree burns all over his body. The camp director Mel (Mike Kellin) plays it off as an accident and doesn't tell the campers about it. 

Campers continue to get murdered and Mel continues to play the deaths off as accidents. Angela is still shy but suprisingly opens up and talks to Paul (Christopher Collet) a nice friend of Ricky's. Paul and Angela hang out a couple times and it all seems to be going well. One night after dinner, Paul gives Angela a tiny kiss, but she totally freaks out and runs away. 

Angela gets it together and invites Paul to meet her on the beach after the big camp social. This is where everything gets crazy. Mel is trying to figure out who the killer is without alarming all the campers, and he suspects Ricky. Meg is stabbed while taking a shower right before she was supposed to meet Mel for a date. It seems like half the camp is murdered that night. Finally we see who the crazed camp killer has been all along and it's completely surprising.

The twist ending really makes the movie special and memorable. Watch it for yourself to find out, there's good reason this movie has a crazy cult following. I know it just may seem like a camp slasher flick but it has so much more, you just have to see it to believe.

I hadn't looked up Sleepaway Camp  before on IMDB and I was completely surprised to find out that the actor who plays Paul also played Gary Lee in Prayer of the Roller Boys! That's another favorite due to a brief obsession with Corey Haim, so I'm sure I'll force everyone to watch it again with me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nukie

Watched September 29, 2013

1988
Starring: Glynis Johns, Steve Railsback, Siphiwe Mlangeni, Sipho Mlangeni

I knew this movie was going to be terrible. 

The success of E.T. spawned many copycat movies like Mac and Me. I have to say that aliens usually aren't very cute and E.T. was an exception not the rule. PG rated family movies that are bad tend to be really bad, so I knew before I started the movie it was going to be rough. I was right in my prediction that this is another strange E.T. rip off featuring weird wrinkly aliens.

Nukie and his sibling Miko are travelling through the galaxy as beams of light. As they are zooming around Earth when something happens to their flight abilities and they are separated and fall to Earth. Nukie lands in Africa and Miko lands in the US.

Miko is captured by some scientists who probe the crap out of him/her. Nukie and Miko can still communicate telepathically so Nukie knows that Miko is in America but doesn't know where that is. Twin boys, Tiko and Tokie (Siphiwe and Sipho Mlangeni) find Nukie in the desert and bring him back to their village. Sister Anne (Glynis Johns) is the local missionary of their village, and she's got some weird agenda of her own. Nukie meets a monkey that tends the general store and that monkey loves candy. To get the attention of the villagers Nukie causes an earthquake that destroys many of their pots of water. Nukie is a jerk. Because of the earthquake the villagers decide they have to sacrifice one of the twins, they send them both into the desert with no help. One of the twins is bit by a snake but Nukie shows up and helps him. Nukie brings both twins back to the village. This turns the village so they decide to help Nukie find his brother.

Meanwhile at the lab, Miko is getting sick from all the tests that are being performed on him. The computer, E.D.D.I.  takes pity on Miko and they become friends. There is one researcher, Pamela who is let on that they should be nice to Miko and help him find his brother.

 Nukie and the twins hop in a cart that is half a car and drawn by two donkeys and head to America. They ride for an extremely long time, I guess they don't know that you can't get to America from Africa by land. Luckily Miko was able to pinpoint where Nukie really was and with help from Pamela gets in a helicopter and heads to Africa to meet Nukie. The gross alien siblings meet up and fly away together. They end up taking the candy loving monkey with them. What a mess!

The computer E.D.D.I. has a great freak out moment where it flashes No! on many of its screens a lot. This movie is so strange. Nukie is a very gross character that has snot oozing out his nose for much of the movie. I chose to illustrate the only redeeming part which were the cute donkeys that pulled the crazy car cart. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fear No Evil

Watched September 22, 2013

1981
Starring: Stefan Arngrim, Elizabeth Hoffman, Kathleen Rowe McAllen

This film covers the eternal struggle between reincarnations of Lucifer and Gabrielle, I guess they will constantly battle each other until the end of time.  We see an old man version of Gabrielle find Lucifer and stab him with a special golden staff. Now that this Lucifer is dead, he will be reborn and the battle of good versus evil will continue.

Next we see a baby, Andrew, at his baptism. As the holy water is poured over him he begins to bleed, squirting his mother in the face with blood. Wind blows through the church disrupting the ceremony,  in fear Andrew's mother runs out of the church with him. Next we see their house, over time it falls apart, it's a metaphor for how Andrew is ruining his parent's lives. His parents have a very strained relationship with each other and it seems like it's because Andrew has been such a terrible child. Now it's his 18th birthday, his mother made him a cake, but in lighting the candles his father drops it on the floor. The parents yell at each other and the mom fall down, when she tries to get up an iron falls on her head.

At school, Andrew (Stefan Arngrim) doesn't seem to have many friends but he does like a girl, Julie (Kathleen Rowe McAllen.) Julie doesn't know Andrew exists until he hands her a book she forgot in class, she has a vision of herself and Andrew entangled in a bed kissing and it's terrifying.

Now that Andrew is 18, he realizes that he's the embodiment of Lucifer. Andrew tries to dream rape Julie, it's pretty terrifying, but Julie manages to wake up.  Julie continues to get strange visions about Andrew and about an old woman.  She leaves her house, without telling her parents, and finds the old woman, Margaret. It turns out Margaret is the current embodiment of the angel Mikhail. Margaret believes that Julie is the embodiment of Gabrielle. Margaret tries to explain what they must kill Andrew but it's convoluted.

The church happens to be staging their annual version of the Passion play. Andrew decides that night is the right time for him to embrace his satanic powers. He ruins the play, starts killing people and raises some zombie dead. Margaret and Julie run around trying to find Andrew. Luckily the magic staff also stuns Andrew/Lucifer so he can't get away. They finally catch him and stab him with the staff, destroying him. They've won this round, until Lucifer is reborn again.

The tone of this movie is all over the place. It's trying to be a spooky religious horror movie but it's cut with high school scenes that feature then contemporary songs by the likes of the Boom Town Rats, The Ramones, Talking Heads, B-52's, Patti Smith and more! The music was fun, the tonal shifts were not.

There is a super crazy scene where all the high school guys are taking a shower, including Andrew. One of the dudes, Tony starts teasing Andrew, so Andrew kisses Tony, literally locking lips with him and forcing him to the ground. It's such a strange scene, they don't address how weird it is but  it does feature lots of male nudity.

I think there was supposed to be some chemistry between Julie and Andrew, so it would be harder for her to kill him but that never happened. Since they established the thin plot at the beginning, it was just a waiting game to have the same events happen all over again. It's a strange movie but it didn't leave me with many memorable scenes.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Allure

Watched September 22, 2013

1999
Starring: Sam Ball, Judi Croon, Jennifer Fleming, Eric Gunther

I found this on the street in New York sometime around 2002.  By the title I thought it might be some homemade porn, but oh no it's something very different. Even moving across the country several times I have kept this movie as it's a favorite.

A college student is studying in the library where he is given a flyer to a singles mixer. The lady flirts with him as she gives him the flyer and promises she'll be there if he comes. He goes to the mixer at a bar and there aren't a lot of people there but he lady does show up. They do tequila shots together and she suggest they ditch this place and go to a real party. They head to a rave that has about 6 people at it even though the director tries to make it seem crowded. The lady suggests they do some drugs, she doesn't say what. The student is reluctant but is quickly convinced, my guess is that he just wants to have sex with her. She gives him 2 pills of something and they keep kissing. Not long after he doesn't feel very well, he goes to the bathroom and collapses.

It's morning when we see him again, and he's in an abandoned warehouse sitting in a bathtub full of ice. There is a phone by him, it rings and a woman tells him to call 911. Some flashbacks show that all the people at the rave took him into a surgery room and stole his kidney.


It ends with some text saying the black market for kidneys is very lucrative but it also says that the American Medical Association doesn't verify that that the market exists at all.

While looking up some reference images for this post I came across the Snopes article about kidney theft. It's an urban legend that goes back to the early '90s that also had a resurgence in the mid-1990's, but there is no real proof to it.

This movie is short and strange and that's why I like it.  I guess I also enjoy it because you really don't think that it will end up with him getting a kidney stolen. It does have an IMDB page: Allure, but I'm not sure where you could find a copy. I guess keep your eyes peeled on the street when someone throws it out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Switchblade Sisters

Watched September 15, 2013

1975
Starring: Robbie Lee, Joanne Nail, Monica Gayle, Asher Brauner

This movie changed my life. I first saw it between high school and college; I absolutely loved it. I brought it up at movie night to make sure that everyone got a chance to see it, as it's a personal favorite.

Lace (Robbie Lee) is the leader of the Dagger Debs, the sister gang to the Silver Daggers. At the local burger joint she runs into Maggie (Joanne Nail) a girl without a gang. They get into a fight and the police show up. All the girls are taken to juvenile detention.  Maggie is about to be molested by the warden Mom Smackley when all the Dagger Debs come to her rescue. Since Maggie doesn't have a gang she's invited by Lace to join the Dagger Debs. Lace is still stuck in the joint when Maggie is released. Lace gives Maggie a note to give to her boyfriend Dom (Asher Brauner), the leader of the Daggers. Maggie gives the note to Dom at the gang's hangout but he reads it in front of everyone and it's romantic and personal. That night Dom goes to Maggie's apartment and rapes her, which is super messed up. Lace is released and she introduces Maggie to Dom and the gang, not knowing that Dom already raped Maggie. Patch (Monica Gayle) is super suspicious of Maggie joining the gang, so she mentions that Maggie has to do a job to prove her allegiance. The task she is given is stealing a medallion from Crabs (Chase Newhart) the leader of the rival gang. Maggies manages to do this and is welcomed into the gang. Crabs and his gang retaliate by shooting Dom's brother Guido and gang raping his girlfriend Cherry. Maggie has the idea to attack Crabs's gang at the roller rink where they hang out on Friday nights. Maggie knows the turf because she used to live in that part of town.

Meanwhile Lace tries to reconnect with Dom and informs him that at the juvenile detention she found out she's pregnant. Dom doesn't care and throws her some money to get an abortion. Lace talks to Patch who convinces her that Maggie is making the moves on Dom and that's why he has become distant. 

At the roller rink, everyone is just skating around and all seems cool. Then the Silver Daggers and Dagger Debs attack! But Crabs's gang has their own weapons and they fight back. Dom is shot and Lace is kicked in the stomach. Dom doesn't make it,  Lace recovers at the hospital, but she lost the baby. Maggie knows that someone tipped off Crabs because how else would he have known about this attack. Lace plays it cool when all the girls visit her at the hospital, but reveals to Patch that she told Crabs about the attack because he promised he would take Maggie out. 

Maggie gathers all the girls together to take a stand. The Silver Daggers, now that their leader Dom is dead don't support the girls. The girls break away from the Daggers and rename themselves the Jezebels. Maggie goes to the local black radical gang for more muscle to figure out how to get their revenge on Crabs. It's obvious that Maggie is the new leader but Lace shows up and makes it look like she's in charge.  They all plan the big attack and Maggie is adamant that Crabs must be taken alive to figure out who ratted out the previous attack.

Crabs and his gang have a front where they give out free meals to kids, but I guess they use that as a front to get them addicted to drugs. All the girls attack Crabs's gang with Molotov cocktails and assault vehicles. It's a bad ass attack with the Jezebels and the black radical gang beating down Crabs's gang. Maggie corners Crabs and is about to figure out who squealed but Lace and Patch show up. Patch shoots Crabs and says that he was gonna run. Maggie is pissed.

Back at the gang hangout all the girls are celebrating their victory, they even got a special cake. Lace on the verge of completely losing her hold on the gang and doesn't know what to do. Patch helps Lace get it together and they both accuse Maggie of being the traitor who got Dom killed. Maggie challenges Lace to a one on one fight to prove her innocence. They have a vicious switchblade fight that ends with Maggie stabbing Lace in the throat. The cops show up and take all the girls in, but Maggie is filled with fury and promises that they'll be back.

The rape scenes are tough, but I love that these awesome ladies get through it by sticking together. I love that they shed their abusive dudes to form their own gang. Lace is both tough and a huge baby, it sucks that she was so attached to Dom that she couldn't see what an asshole he was. I highly recommend this movie.

The VHS version that I have was released by Quentin Tarantino's production company and includes him discussing his favorite parts of the movie. I'm glad that he made the movie available again but I always fast forward through him talking about the movie because I can't stand it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Gruesome Twosome

Watched September 14, 2013 

1967
Starring: Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells, Chris Martell, Rodney Bedell

As a teen, Blood Feast was one of my favorite horror movies. It's so ridiculous, gory and low-budget. It's so bad that it made me think that anyone could make a movie so I started making my own movies. That included a video project for my drama class called Camp Blood, a mash up of Sleepaway Camp and Blood Feast.  It never occurred to me to look up more movies by gore and exploitation master Herschell Gordon Lewis. So I'm starting now with The Gruesome Twosome.

 The Gruesome Twosome is awesomely terrible but it delivers everything I'm looking for in a movie. I'm a fan of camp and gore, so it's pretty easy to please me. It begins with two mannequin heads with construction paper faces. They talk to each other about what's gonna happen in the movie, concluding with one of the mannequins being stabbed and having blood squirt out of it's head.

The basic plot is that Mrs. Pringle (Elizabeth Davis) runs a wig shop out of her house with help from her son Rodney (Chris Martell.) They don't just sell wigs, they sell genuine human hair wigs and they get these wigs by scalping young co-eds. Mrs. Pringle lures the girls in with a room for rent sign, then traps them in a room with Rodney where he cuts off their hair and most of their head with it.

Several girls have gone missing so the local college is on alert. Kathy (Gretchen Baker) lives on campus with several other girls and she is curious about the strange disappearances and murders. She thinks she has a lead and calls the police but it's just a strange old man who was bringing some bones to his dog. One of Kathy's roommates wants to move out of the dorms so she hears about a room for rent. She is then captured and her hair is removed. Since Kathy knew what this friend was up to she goes to check out the room for rent and finds Mrs. Pringle. Kathy is stuck in the room with Rodney and about to get it when Kathy's boyfriend and the police show up. They arrest Mrs. Pringle and her son and the wig shop goes out of business.

With the minimal plot there is a lot of filler. One scene has all the girls in their pajamas in their dorm room eating KFC chicken and dancing. They also go to the beach and hang out in bikinis and frolic in the water. There is a fair amount of dialogue re-dubbed and it sounds terrible. I still loved this movie, it's so silly. The acting is terrible and you know what's going to happen, but it's great. The gore is super gross though, Rodney rips out one of the girls guts and it's super disgusting. Even if you still see the actors moving when they're supposed to be dead. All the shots last too long, but it's okay. Since it was made in the '60's all the wigs and hairstyles are big and fun. 

Herschell Gordon Lewis is still alive and well, no longer making exploitation movies but instead is a master of direct marketing! Check out his site: herschellgordonlewis.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Neon Maniacs

Watched August 4, 2013

1986
Starring: Clyde Hayes, Leilani Sarelle, Donna Locke.

I just recently walked over the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time this summer, it was quite an experience, but I never knew about the horror lurking at the base of the bridge...until now. Little did I know that there are a bunch of mutant freaks, all with different signature characteristics, that come out at night and attack people. They drag their victims back to their lair where I assume they eat them.


Natalie (Leilani Sarelle) is just your typical teen out for a fun time with friends in San Francisco. What does that mean? Well, piling in a van and going to the park where everyone pairs off to make out. The neon maniacs show up and kill all of Natalie's friends, she barely manages to survive by staying in the van. By they way, these maniacs don't wear neon clothes, nor do they glow neon, but their blood is neon green, so that's where they get their name. The cops find Natalie in the van, she tells her story but they don't believe her. She heads home, her parents are conveniently in Europe. To de-stress after watching all her friends die she takes a dip in her pool, she falls asleep and is woken up by a blood rain, no, that was just a dream.

At school, no one believes Natalie's story, and they're pissed that their friends haven't reappeared. Steven (Clyde Hayes) has had a crush on Natalie for a long time and uses this opportunity to make a move, and surprisingly it pays off. Meanwhile, junior monster hunter Paula ( Donna Locke) is hounding Natalie for more information about the monsters. Paula has a video camera so she goes down to the bridge and finds the monsters, she tapes them but when she gets home the tape is blurry. 

Since Paula was around the monsters they got clued on to her scent and they track her down at her home. She eludes one of them and pushes it in the shower where she figures out that water destroys them. Paula lets the police know that she's seen the same monsters that Natalie saw but they still don't believe the monsters exist. 

Now it's time for the battle of the band costume party and Steven's band is playing. Everyone dresses up super awesome except for Natalie and Steven. Paula arms them all with squirt guns to protect from the monsters. Steven's band is Rick Springfield lite and they compete against a bunch of 40 year old in a hair metal band. Soon enough the maniacs show up and start dragging teens away. It takes Paula, Steven and Natalie awhile to get their squirt guns, but they do take out a couple of the maniacs.

Now that even more teens are head the police assemble a special squad to investigate under the Golden Gate Bridge. They don't find anything, but they don't really look that hard. The chief is the last guy looking around when he's attacked. It ends with Paula, Natalie and Steven in his car driving off, it's really unsatisfying.

While the ending was strange there is a lot of great stuff happening in this movie. Paula has a super nerdy friend who tips her off to monster happenings who is eating C-3PO's cereal, he's also wearing a may the force be with you shirt later on. Paula is just a super cute girl, too bad the actress didn't make any other movies. One of the maniacs is a snake cyclops and is super cool looking. I recommend this silly fun movie.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stunt Rock

Watched July 31, 2013

1980
Starring: Grant Page, Monique van de Ven, Margaret Gerard, and Sorcery.

We first found out about this movie because the trailer was on the Sweet Sixteen DVD and it looked amazing. We thought the dvd and vhs were out of print; the only copies we found on amazon and ebay were expensive. We did find a place to rent it locally, but then Jen did some real searching and you can buy the DVD for $15 from the band Sorcery's website: http://sorceryrockband.com/stuntrock.htm
I bought the DVD and we had a bonus movie night to experience the magic, but it ended up being a little disappointing.

I'm sure this happens all the time in Hollywood, the behind the scenes creators want to get their moment in the spotlight. Grant Page is a real life stunt man who was most active in the '60's and '70's. Sorcery is a real '70's rock band that incorporated wizards and magic into their live shows. Put them together with no real plot and you've got Stunt Rock!

The thin plot that tries to hold the film together is that Margaret Gerard is a journalist doing a story on people who are so into their jobs that it kills them. She meets up with Grant Page as he is escaping from the hospital after being slightly injured doing a stunt. She begins to interview him about his job. This means that we get to see lots of memory flashbacks of Grant's famous stunts from other movies he's done. The stunts are great, but they choose to show them in strange split screen montages. Grant happens to be friends with Sorcery, so we get to see them play every night. The first time we see Sorcery it's great, the wizard makes fireworks appear and does magic tricks. By the third concert I was pretty done with Sorcery. That's about it for the plot. Grant does more stunts and asks Margaret out on a date while he is holding on to a rope strung between buildings. Some stunts are explained, which is cool. If you already love Sorcery's music this is like a really fun concert movie, but as a regular film it doesn't come together.

This reminded me of The Wizard of Speed and Time, which is about a special effects guy. I'm sure it must be tough to be the person that makes all the movie magic happen and not get recognized like actors do, but that's just the way it currently goes.

If anything, I would say watch the trailer, it sums up the movie and shows the greatest parts while being the correct length for the subject matter.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Lair of the White Worm

Watched July 28, 2013

1988
Starring: Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi.

The most exciting part of this movie, to me, was that since it wasn't completely a horror movie I didn't really know what to expect. Boy, I didn't know what I was in for at all.

Angus (Peter Capaldi) is an anthropology grad student who is working on his thesis by digging a hole near Eve's (Catherine Oxenberg) family bed and breakfast. He uncovers a weird looking skull and that kicks off the strange happenings. Angus and Eve go to a party thrown by Lord James D'Hampton (Hugh Grant) where they celebrate his family slaying the white worm back in medieval times. Upon the unearthing of the skull, Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) returns to her estate unexpectedly.

Lady Sylvia is a nutjob. She hears about the skull so she enters Eve's bed and breakfast and steals it. She also lures a teenage hitchhiker to her mansion, where they play snakes and ladders. She then bites him and drowns him in her hot tub. She is a crazy snake lady. I guess her snake powers work like vampirism, if she bites you and you don't die, you turn in to a snake person.

Meanwhile, Angus is trying to find out more information about the skull. It also turns out the Eve's dad disappeared near a cave entrance that may have been where the white worm was slain. Angus and Lord D'Hampton begin exploring the cave.

Eve's sister, Mary (Sammi Davis) begins to have these super crazy visions when she looks at a crucifix. She sees Jesus on the cross with a snake surrounding him, then a bunch of nuns are raped, it's nuts. Mary is then kidnapped by Lady Sylvia as a sacrifice to the white worm. It turns out that Lady Sylvia is a follower of the white worm, a pagan god that was shunned when Christ came on the scene. 

It all culminates at the cave, where Lady Sylvia has tied up Mary and is going to penetrate her with a wooden dildo then give her to the worm. The worm is real after all! Luckily Angus and Eve manage to save Mary and Lady Silvia is eaten by the worm.

The year that this movie takes place in is a mystery, all their clothes seem 1980's modern, but they all drive cars from the 1930's-40's. But maybe that's just what the English countryside is like. I didn't put it together until I was writing this up that the director Ken Russell also made super weird freak out movies like Tommy and Altered States, so I shouldn't have been so surprised when this movie turned out to be super weird.

Just as a note: It was Angela's favorite movie that we've watched since she started watching movies with us.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

To Die For

Watched July 21, 2013

1988
Starring: Brendan Hughes, Sydney Walsh, Amanda Wyss, Scott Jacoby.

Basically Dracula in LA. Excellent vampire death scenes with face melts.

The VHS that we watched has some pretty great trailers for movies I had never heard of: Ginger Ale Afternoon and Headhunter, they both look genuinely bad.

Jen and I were talking so much during the beginning, I had to watch it again to check out the plot points that I had missed so this write up wouldn't be a total joke. For some reason based on the cover I thought this was a horror comedy, but now I'm pretty sure I've been looking at so many movie covers I just got mixed it up. This one is the classic Dracula story but set in modern day L.A.

We meet Kate (Sydney Walsh) at a fancy yacht party. She was dragged there by her boyfriend, but she has no interest in him. Instantly, she attracts the eye of Vlad (Brendan Hughes) and they wander off and make out. She agrees to leave with him, which is so unlike her, so she goes to get her coat. When she gets back, he is gone, and she's pissed. There is a guy at the party who was drinking champagne out of his shoe, he also leaves and is in the parking lot doing coke, alone. While Kate is waiting for Vlad to show, a crazy hairy monster that looks more like a lumpy werewolf than a vampire, attacks the coke guy and kills him.

 Kate leaves the party sad and alone. When she gets home, her roommate Celia (Amanda Wyss) is waiting with exciting news. Celia just got engaged to her doctor boyfriend!

The next day, Kate wakes and prepares a breakfast of a muffin in a bowl with a packet of sugar on top, drenched in milk. What!? Luckily, she's too busy to eat it and runs out the door to her job as a real estate agent.  She just got a new client, who she hasn't met, who wants to see some houses at night. That night it turns out that Vlad is her client. Sydney is extremely attracted to Vlad but won't succumb to him for some reason. Instead Vlad seduces Celia and bites her. Celia's fiancĂ© gets really pissed when he's dumped for no reason. Celia also gets really possessive about Vlad. Some other vampire rival also has it in for Vlad.

There are some vampire bites and stakes in the heart, but it doesn't really matter much. It all wraps up at the end. The vampire melting death scenes are great and they really hold up as awesome special effects. It's shot on video but the production is actually pretty good. It's mediocre but I might give it a second pass at some point.

While looking up more info on this movie I found out that there is a sequel, Son of Darkness: To Die For II. It's about a baby vampire, or that's what I gathered from the wikipedia description. That really surprised me because I couldn't imagine this movie making much money on it's release, but I guess it was cheap to make so it was cheap to make a sequel too.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Silent Night, Deadly Night

Watched July 14, 2013

1984
Starring: Robert Brian Wilson, Gilmer McCormick, Lilyan Chauvin.

This movie could also be called How to Create a Spree Killer. We first meet Billy when he is about 3 or 4 years old. His parents and infant sibling have all come to the old folks home on Christmas Eve to visit his grandfather who appears to be catatonic. The family leaves Billy with his grandfather briefly and the grandfather scarily tells Billy about how Santa Claus will punish you if you were the least bit naughty during the year. The family is driving home when they come across Santa Claus! Actually it's just a man in a Santa Claus suit who shoots Billy's father and kills Billy's mother while Billy runs to hide in the bushes. 

Several years later, we see Billy at the Catholic orphanage where he is being raised by nuns. The nuns are aware of the horrible way that Billy's parent's were murdered but they are just ignoring it or trying to beat it out of him. Billy acts up around Christmas time and doesn't want to sit on Santa's lap.  He ends up punching Santa in the face and is punished for it. Young Billy also sees some of the older kids having sex through a peephole and is beaten for that too.

Once Billy turns 18, (now played by Robert Brian Wilson) one of the nicer nuns gets him a job as a stock boy at a toy store. Billy is initially a great worker but as the holiday season approaches he gets a strange distant look in his face. The store has hired a Santa but on Christmas Eve he calls in sick. The store manager asks Billy to act as Santa that day. Billy cannot handle it, he acts very strange with the children. The store has an employee Christmas party that night and Billy just loses it, now that's he dressed as Santa he embodies his terrible vision of Santa. Billy strangles his first co-worker with a strand of lights. He then kills all of his co-workers and his boss, but it doesn't stop there.

Billy takes an ax and just starts wandering around town. He knocks on the door where a babysitter (Linnea Quigley) is having sex with her boyfriend. She opens the door only wearing her denim cut-offs and nothing else. Billy punishes her by impaling her on a stag's head that's mounted on the wall. The little girl that was being babysat comes out when she sees Santa, Billy asks her if she's been good and she honestly says yes, so he gives her a box cutter from his pocket. Merry Christmas!

Billy continues to walk around killing whoever he can find. He stumbles upon some teens who are night sledding and he beheads one of them. The cops catch on that there is a murderous Santa on the loose, the nice nun that got Billy the job figures out that he's gone nuts. By morning, Billy makes it to the orphanage to dole out his own punishment on the mother superior.

It's definitely a neat story where you already know the killer and you're just waiting for him to snap. Not that Billy should have killed anyone but it's not a surprise considering all the terrible things that happened to him and no one tried to help him work through it.

As we watched this Jen mentioned that she was sure Hollywood would be remaking this one, little did we know that they already did. It came out in late 2012 as Silent Night, I just watched the trailer and it doesn't look anywhere as awesome as the original. Plus the killer santa is not a good looking as young Robert Brian Wilson. This is a welcome addition to my permanent VHS collection. I've also heard some crazy things about the sequel, so I might have to add that one to the ever growing list.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Octopus 2: River of Fear

Watched July 7, 2013

2001
Starring: Michael Reilly Burke, Meredith Morton, Fredric Lehne, John Thaddeus.

This movie taught me that there's an exciting new career waiting in New York City; being a scuba cop! You get to regularly jump into a gross, dirty river and try to find drugs smugglers, but sometimes you stumble onto crazier things. Nick (Michael Reilly Burke) is young scuba cop who's been assigned to work with Walter (Fredric Lehne) who's about to retire from the scuba cop game. Together they think they've finally nabbed a drug smuggler, but it turns out it's the most powerful judge in town out for some night fishing. This makes the news so Nick and Walter are chastised by the chief of police, but they know that something's going on. Meanwhile there have been random dead bodies showing up on the docks. 

 This whole story takes place a few days before the 4th of July and the Mayor has a big fireworks spectacle planned, this is New York City after all. We know that it's New York by the tons of stock footage used in the movie. The Mayor sends his aid, Rachel (Meredith Morton) to check out why these scuba cops are making the waterfront seem dangerous, just when he wants lots of people to come out and celebrate independence day. Rachel finds Nick, interviews him and is drawn to his swimmer's body, or something, she just starts tagging along for no reason.

Nick is really stuck on the drug smuggler thing, so along with Walter they keep swimming around the river trying to find drugs. Instead of drugs they find a giant, killer octopus! Nick escapes from the octopus tentacles but Walter is killed. No one back at the police station believes that there is a giant octopus in the river, so Nick looks like a fool.

Meanwhile, Rachel is randomly assigned to take a group of young kids to an event in Brooklyn or Jersey, on their way back everything gets crazy. The Octopus somehow damages the tunnel that they're driving through and it begins to fill with water. Nick finds them and helps get them out of the bus they're on but it takes so long to move these kids. This is supposed to be the big tense finale, which is weird because it doesn't really have much to do with the Octopus. All the kids get out safe, then the Octopus is blown up as they watch the fireworks.

I went in with low expectations, therefore had fun watching this movie. The CGI of the octopus is done mostly in the dark of night, so it looks somewhat real. They just use a fake tentacle for the scenes with people and that stands up as well. Rachel has this extreme widow's peak that is hard to look away from. Walt and Nick look to be about 5 years apart in age, which makes it weird to think that Walter is supposed to retire really soon. In the end they catch the drug smugglers, it was the judge after all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Refrigerator

Watched June 30, 2013

1991  
Starring: Julia McNeal, Dave Simonds, Angel Caban.

I put this movie on with low expectations, mostly because inanimate objects that kill is a really difficult concept to pull off. I was so happily surprised when it turned out to be fun and weirdly enjoyable.

Eileen (Julia McNeal) and Steve (Dave Simonds) are a newlywed couple from Ohio who are headed to his new job in New York City! Before they arrive they arranged to look at an apartment in Alphabet city. They arrive and Steve manages to talk the building manager into renting it for $200, which even then is a crazy steal. Too bad the apartment contains a secret killer.

Steve starts his job as some cubicle suit, but it doesn't matter because this isn't Steve's story. Eileen is basically a housewife but she does want to be an actress. She gets a call from a friend about an open audition, she gets ready for it but can't find her keys. She goes crazy tearing everything apart and she still can't find them. After missing the audition, she finds her keys in the refrigerator. Juan (Angel Caban) the plumber stops by the apartment to see if anything needs to be fixed, since this is an old apartment building there is plenty that needs to be done. I have to say the chemistry between Eileen and Juan is instantly electric. There is no spark between Eileen and Steve even though they're the married couple.

Steve begins to have dreams about the refrigerator, inside he seems a miniature version of his boss. Eileen also has dreams about the refrigerator but she sees her crazy mother. Juan comes by another day with his assistant to fix more things in the apartment. Eileen goes to check out all that New York has to offer including weird shacks in abandoned lots and the perverts around 42nd st.

Juan leaves the apartment and his assistant is eaten by the refrigerator. Days later Eileen finds a hat in her crisper drawer. She begins to suspect that something weird is happening then her mother comes to visit her out of the blue. Apparently Eileen's mother tried to kill herself when Eileen was a little girl. They rehash this story and bond over it. Eileen goes out for cleaning supplies and Eileen's mom is eaten by the refrigerator. Eileen comes back home and knows something is wrong. I'm not sure how she figures out that it's the fridge. Steve comes home from work and Eileen wants him to get rid of the fridge. Steve goes on a rant about how important refrigerators are and with them we can have cold drinks at any time, he refuses to get rid of the fridge. That night everything goes haywire as the fridge commands Steve to give Eileen to it to eat. Eileen won't have it and she stabs Steve in the back with a kitchen knife. Juan comes in to save the day and uses a drain snake to lasso the fridge closed. This makes the fridge bring all the appliances to life and they destroy Steve. Juan and Eileen make it out of the apartment together.

It ends wonderfully with a scene of Eileen and Juan as a couple and they are about to compete in a flamenco competition, it was established earlier that while Juan is a plumber his real passion is flamenco dancing.

All the extras are awesome characters. At the end when Juan and Eileen are running out of the building one of the neighbors in the building is a man in a bathrobe with a puppet on his hand. There is a lot of product placement (my guess is uncompensated) for Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Rolling Rock beer (in cans!) and more. I thought this movie was great, I'm really happy I own it and I look forward to sharing it with more people.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Curse III: Blood Sacrifice

Watched June 23, 2013

1991
Starring: Christopher Lee, Jenilee Harrison, Andre Jacobs, Henry Cele.

No, I haven't seen either Curse I or II, but I doubt the knowledge of those movies would have made Curse 3: Blood Sacrifice any better.

The year is 1950, Geoff Armstrong (Andre Jacobs) and his wife Elizabeth (Jenilee Harrison) are white, sugar cane farmers in Africa. Elizabeth is newly pregnant and a truly horrible lady. Elizabeth's sister is visiting with her husband/boyfriend. Elizabeth and her sister take a drive around the neighborhood when they come across a tribe in the middle of a ritual sacrifice. The tribe is about to sacrifice a goat when Elizabeth and her sister take the goat away because they don't want to see a goat killed. This pointless act is what sets off the chain of events that drive the "plot" of this movie. The tribe was sacrificing the goat as an appeal to help a sick or dying boy. Since the goat wasn't sacrificed it unleashed an angry demon. 

Elizabeth sings a song when she is upset that goes " America, America, America.." repeated over and over to help calm herself down. There are a million songs about America that are in the public domain so I don't get why they couldn't give her a real song to sing.

Elizabeth's sister heads to the beach with her husband/boyfriend. They are getting it on in a tent when the demon comes to kill them. While this is happening Elizabeth goes to visit her English neighbors, an old lady and her granddaughter. She brings them some chocolate chip cookies that they refer to as " chock-lit chip cookies from America." They say this so many times it makes me think that the cookies must be poison.

A big storm comes, and in the cover of darkness the demon begins to stalk Elizabeth. She comes home from visiting the neighbors to find her husband dead in the pantry. The foreman that works for Geoff shows up and tries to warn her about the demon, but Elizabeth puts it together that the foreman must have killed him. Not much later the foreman turns up dead, so she was wrong. The only person that I wanted the demon to kill was Elizabeth because there is nothing that made me empathetic to her plight.

Elizabeth runs to her English neighbors for help and she proceeds to burn down their field and barn trying to kill the demon. But it does work and she destroys the demon.

The demon is a pretty cool crocodile/swamp thing creature. None of the deaths are that great. Not a fun movie, I would skip this one if I could go back in time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Star Time

Watched June 17, 2013

1992
Starring: Michael St. Gerard, John P. Ryan, Maureen Teefy.

Rough stuff. The back of the box reveals the twist ending, which sucks because it's the only thing this movie has going for it. At the same time, if I hadn't read the synopsis I would have had even less of a clue to what's supposed to be happening in this movie. It's a terrible art house drama that is slow and difficult to watch, IMDB says it's a horror movie, but I think it barely fits in that genre.

We meet Henry (Michael St. Gerard) as he's walking onto the roof of a building where he plans on jumping off to commit suicide. While on the building, a strange older man, Sam Bones (John P. Ryan) shows up and talks him down off the ledge. Sam Bones becomes a mentor to Henry. I guess Henry became suicidal when his favorite TV show was cancelled; it was a Leave It To Beaver style black and white family show. Sam convinces Henry that now it's his time to shine and become a TV star. From Sam's viewpoint, the best way to get on TV is to become a serial killer. Henry obviously has a lot of problems, we see flashbacks of his meetings with his social worker, Wendy (Maureen Teefy). These sessions don't seem to help Henry much, he gives in to Sam Bones pressure to kill people pretty easily. 

Henry puts on a crazy baby face mask, grabs an ax and starts his killing spree. He kills a bunch of people and does make it on TV. I don't think that it helps him with his problems at all. He continues to see Wendy but I don't think she really is helping him work through his problems either. She also doesn't put it together that he's the serial killer that's been on the news. There are all these strange flashes on multiple TV screens with naked ladies telling Henry that they'll be his once he kills. The best part of the movie for me, were the fake commercials, including one for donuts that come in a handy single serving box.

SPOILER: It wraps up with Henry trying to help Wendy escape from Sam Bones, only to figure out that Sam Bones is a figment of Henry's imagination. Henry is pushed off the roof of Wendy's apartment building but is still somewhat alive at the end. The ambulance arrives as Wendy, a witness, runs away. The last scene is Henry in a gurney by the ambulance but everyone is gone? As the credits roll, a crazy free jazz song about star time plays.

There is a lot of nonsensical dialogue between Henry and Sam, maybe that's supposed to be a tip off that Sam Bones is just a figment of Henry's imagination. This movie does contain a fair amount of naked ladies show on the TV screens that entice Henry to kill, but it's mostly just creepy. Henry does kill a lot of people, but they're all strangers and you don't see much of the murders.  His social worker is completely inept, but she is played by the director's wife, so it was a labor of love. This crazy movie was nominated for the 1992 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, what!? 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cherry 2000

Watched June 8, 2013

1987
Starring: Melanie Griffith, David Andrews, Ben Johnson, Marshall Bell.

I watched this right after Escape from L.A. and there are several similarities that make the pairing make sense even if the movies themselves don't. They are both futuristic dystopias with a western theme. This one has the added features of romance and robots that are lacking in Escape from L.A. Also Escape from L.A. takes place completely at night while Cherry 2000 mostly takes place in the bright desert daytime.

Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) happily works at a recycling factory and comes home to his perfect wife, Cherry 2000 (Pamela Gidley). She's perfect because she's a robot. She makes him a hamburger dinner, washes his dishes, has sex with him and listens to him complain about his day. They make out on the kitchen floor as the washing machine showers them with sudsy bubbles. The water is too much for Cherry, it causes her to malfunction and she shuts down completely. Sam is distraught and takes her to the local robot repairman, unfortunately the water damage is too extensive and Cherry cannot be fixed. The Cherry 2000 is a rare robot model and very difficult to replace. Sam has his specific Cherry's memory chip on a micro CD ( it looks identical to the micro CD technology used in Escape from L.A.) Sam cannot image replacing Cherry with a different robot model. His work friends take him to a bar to try to have sex with real women. The bar is super awesome futuristic with crazy hair and make up. Hooking up in the future is extra technical where contracts are signed before anything happens. Sam has been out of the scene with his robot for so long that he doesn't have any paperwork about his abilities so all the real women shun him. He decides he has to get a new Cherry 2000, but that requires leaving Anaheim for the lawless wasteland of Nevada.

Sam heads out the wild west wastes of Nevada where he tries to hire a Tracker who will get his robot for him. All the guys at the saloon laugh at him when he says he wants a Cherry 2000, but he is told to find E. Johnson. E. Johnson turns out to be Melanie Griffith, Sam balks at hiring a woman but no one else will take the job. They drive off together to get the job done. This is where it gets pretty crazy but still formulaic. I barely believe that Melanie Griffith could use a gun or track down anything but she is still charming.  They drive into the wastelands where trackers are banned, so they are constantly shot at. They have to cross a river at one point and they do so by getting a magnetic crane to pick up their car. Then the car is dropped down a drainage pipe, all while being both shot at and shooting people themselves. E. Johnson pretends to be tough, but there is some instant chemistry with Sam, even though he's a city weenie who's in love with a robot.

They are constantly getting captured then escaping and being shot at by a lot of people but never hit. The abandoned robot factory is in Las Vegas, which has been covered by sand dunes. I don't really understand why the desert is off limits but still protected by this guy Bill (Marshall Bell) and his cronies. They get into the factory and find a Cherry 2000 model, Sam activates her with his specific wife micro CD. They try to escape in the plane that got them there, but it's now too heavy with three people. E. Johnson volunteers to hop out as her job was getting Sam his robo-wife, so she's technically done.  At the last minute, Sam realizes that a real woman is so much better than a robot, so he dumps out Cherry and picks up E. Johnson. They fly off into the sunset together. Cherry 2000 is left to rust in the desert, but finds Bill's girlfriend who offers her a sandwich that she doesn't understand.

I'm not sure if I would have cast Melanie Griffith in an action role, but she manages to pull it off fairly well. The plot is minimal so you know what will happen by the end, but they definitely fill every possible minute with crazy action even if it is nonsense. There are some intentional jokes along the way, so you're not supposed to take it too seriously. I would recommend it just for the bar scenes because everyone is dressed so awesomely.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Escape from L.A.

Watched June 8, 2013

1996
Starring: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Georges Corraface, Stacy Keach, Pam Grier.

After some terrible earthquakes and flooding in the late 1990's, LA breaks off from the continental US and turns into a island. There is a conservative uprising with the the president revoking term limits and the US becomes a extremist conservative state. Instead of like in Escape from New York, where Manhattan island is turned into a penal colony, all sorts of miscreants are now sent to the island of LA. The president's daughter, Utopia (A.J. Langer) while on airforce 3 steals a top secret briefcase and takes it to LA, where she hooks up with Cuervo (Georges Corraface) a radical who want to use it to attack the US. It is now the year 2013, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is once again hired by the government to go in and retrieve, not the president this time, but the briefcase. He is given an 8 hour time limit by infecting him with a secret disease that only they have the antidote to, so he got to hussle before he dies in there. The government plays it like they finally captured Snake and are just dumping him in LA, like they do to everyone who breaks the strict morality code.

 Since this movie was made in the mid-90's, Snake is given a terrible CG single person submarine which he uses to arrive on the island. It's also supposed to be the way he gets off the island once he's done but it falls into the water instead of staying docked on the beach. He immediately meets some surfers, including Peter Fonda and they all know the legend of Snake Plissken. Off he goes on his completely ridiculous mission that is really a serious of strange interactions and battles. Of course my favorite part is Bruce Campbell as the General Plastic Surgeon of LA, who's face is a grotesque mash up of all the common procedures like a super straight nose, naturally killer chin and huge cheek implants.

Everyone is contantly shooting at Snake while recognizing him, but he barely gets a scratch. He meets up with Map to the Stars Eddie (Steve Buscemi) who you think is just trying to help him get around but ends up double crossing him. Snake finds Cuervo but is captured and forced to play basketball for his life. Snake is the first person to win this full court shot challenge, but Cuervo tries to kill him anyway. Snake manages to get the briefcase that contains the micro CD that the president wants back. The micro CD contains the world codes to activate specific satellites that can knock out the power to any country. There is also a world code that would trigger the shut down of the entire world. 

After some more crazy things like hang gliding on the Santa Ana winds and surfing the canyons on an aftershock tsunami, Snake manages to steal a helicopter. He grabs Utopia, the briefcase and makes it to the mainland just in time for the virus they gave him to completely take hold. The virus was a ruse though, it was the run of the mill flu.  The president and his men are waiting there and they retrieve the briefcase and shoot Snake, but Snake was using special holographic technology they had given him to trick them. He then takes the real disc and uses it to shut down the entire world so everyone gets a fresh start. I guess he then had to find a nice tree to hide under as he got over his flu symptoms.

By no means does this movie compare with Escape from New York, but it's some silly fun. The tone is all over the place, with serious stuff tempered by some goofy moments. The soundtrack features then popular hard rock from bands I thought sucked in high school like Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills, and Tool along with some strange western tinged songs that give it a future western vibe.  The CGI looks terribly dated, but the other special effects hold up pretty well. It is definitely a sequel in repeating the plot of the first but not making a progressive strides to let it stand apart. It was fun to coincidentally watch it in the year that it's supposed to take place, I should keep an eye out for that with more future past movies.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sometimes They Come Back...Again

Watched June 2, 2013

1996
Starring: Michael Gross, Alexis Arquette, Hilary Swank, Jennifer Elise Cox

While I was in Portland a lot of the movies I picked up are sequels, but I feel often it doesn't really matter if you've seen the original to have fun with the sequel. I'll be putting that to the test and hopefully it won't be ruining the VHS movies for me. If anything it should make me want to watch the original since the first one is usually the best. I haven't seen Sometimes They Come Back, but based on some minor IMDB research the future star power seems to reside in the sequel. After watching it, that isn't saying much.

It begins with an old lady washing her dishes basically in the dark. She cuts her hand washing a knife and when she goes to get the band-aids off the very stop shelf she falls off a rickety stool and hits her head on an iron pig. The old woman's son, Jon (Michael Gross) comes with his teen daughter Michelle (Hilary Swank) to take care of the funeral and clean up the house. It turns out that when Jon was a kid, his older sister Lisa started dating a greaser named Tony (Alexis Arquette.) Jon got a bad feeling about Tony, especially since Tony was always taking his sister to a creepy cave/electrical transformer station to make out, and then some. One of those nights, Tony wasn't just making the moves on Lisa, he was performing a ritual using Lisa to turn him and his cronies into immortal demons. Jon interrupted them during their ritual, supposedly killing them through electrocution, but also killing Lisa in the process. Well, now they're back and they need to complete the ritual using Jon's daughter Michelle.

This is where the movie really turned into a bummer for me and made it pretty blah. While explaining what previously happened they also explained what needs to happen, so now I'm just waiting for those things to happen and they do. All the mystery and suspense is taken out of the story. Alexis Arquette plays Tony but it appears that Tony is supposed to have some sort of sex appeal to the young girls in town and he doesn't. This is also before Alexis fully transitioned from living as a man to living as a women. Either way, the casting is kinda off for me if Tony is supposed to be a hunky but sinister guy, but is really just a weird dude. Both Alexis and Hilary do have some huge front teeth, so maybe that's the big attraction.

There are some awesome death scenes, one is the mentally challenged guy who mows everyone lawn is pulled underground by some grass tentacles then run over by his own lawnmower. Jules (Jennifer Elise Cox) is a psychic teen who makes friend with Michelle, but is then Gambit-style cut to death with her own deck of tarot cards. I did hope she was going to make it to the end.

There is a priest in town that was aware of the first time that Jon tried to get rid of the demons, he's the guy that explains the plot to everyone. He also has a great holy book that explains what can be done to stop the demons. In the book there is an illustration of a false prophet needs to cut off a finger, and it shows the tip of a middle finger being chopped off. The priest thinks he's the false prophet and completely cuts off his thumb to try to stop the demon ritual. This doesn't work and the priest dies. Of all the digits you could cut off to stop some demons at bay, why would you choose the thumb? For me that the most important digit to keep, that's what lets us grab things. Then when it finally comes down to it Jon cuts off the exact same thumb, but luckily this time it works and the demons are expelled and Michelle is saved from being a sacrifice. Still, cut off a pinky if you need to cut of a finger is my motto.

The first movie is based on the concept or characters from the Stephen King story Sometimes They Come Back. I could easily see the interest in the first telling of the story, or in the detailed reading of this in story version, it doesn't come across well as a video. The special effects were good especially in a time when CGI was becoming the norm even for straight to video releases like this one. Nonetheless I don't think I'll be keeping this one as part of the permanent collection, it just doesn't have anything endearing that I haven't seen somewhere else.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

C.H.U.D.

Watched May 24, 2013

1984
Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Kim Greist, Christopher Curry

Yet another movie that I have stared at the cover a million times in the past and never actually wached. I even had used the term C.H.U.D. when talking about gross people, well I finally got around to watching it and it's a pretty solid horror movie.

George (John Heard) is a photographer who's been doing a story on a group of homeless people that have been living under the streets in abandoned subway tunnels. Just as George is trying to finish up with his photos to give to the journalist he has a hard time tracking down his subjects. A.J. (Daniel Stern) runs a local soup kitchen and he regularly feeds the same group of people who live in the tunnels and also becomes worried when he no longer sees them coming in. One of the homeless tunnel dwelling women is arrested for trying to take a police officer's gun. She is one of George's subjects, so she calls him to bail her out. She tries to explain why she needs the gun, there is something strange happening in the tunnels and she needs it for protection. She's been seeing mysterious monsters in the tunnels and one attacked her husband. George and A.J. become aware that they've been trying to help the same group of people. They go down to the tunnels together and find remnants from EPA testing, like a mysterious boot and a geiger counter. The police don't seem to care much, but George's photos show some disturbing images. Then A.J. sees one of the C.H.U.D.'s (Cannabalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.)  The C.H.U.D.'s have been eating some of the homeless people that live in the tunnels, but they've also been capturing people off the street. 

George and A.J. find out that there has been toxic waste being improperly dumped into the tunnels for years and that's what's mutated people to create the C.H.U.D.'s They discover that it's all been a coverup by one of the city officials in trying to get rid of waste. He decides to trap anyone and any C.H.U.D. underground and use gas to blow them up. Except George and A.J. are still in the underground tunnels. Lauren (Kim Greist), George's live-in model girlfriend helps them escape from the tunnels before the gas explodes, supposedly killing all the C.H.U.D.'s.

The tunnels that are supposedly underground are pretty well lit, but I have to say that's better than not being to see anything at all. The special effects on the C.H.U.D.'s is great, they have creepy glowing eyes and gross fang teeth. It was very enjoyable and I look forward to keeping it in my collection.