Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rejuvenator, The (1987)

...aka: Rejuvenatrix

Directed by:
Brian Thomas Jones

Corman's THE WASP WOMAN had been ripped off so many times before that I figured this low budgeter didn't stand a chance. I was wrong! Ruth Warren (Jessica Dublin, who also appeared in several Troma films at this time) is a wealthy, but depressed, former movie star whose career has seen better days. Thankfully she also funds Dr. Gregory Ashton’s experiments in reversing the aging process and he (John MacKay, from Hal Hartley's great comedy/drama TRUST) offers a special serum created from human brains that ends up making her young again. She changes her name to Elizabeth (and is now played by younger Vivian Lanko) and starts making plans for a comeback, but there are some serious complications. When the serum wears off, she becomes a nasty monster who needs live human brains in order to return to normal, but as her tolerance grows, more and more people die, and things get really out of control.
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Director Brian Thomas Jones goes entertainingly over-the-top, paces his film just right and gets the most out of Ed French's terrific, throbbing, swelling make-up FX. Fairly well acted for the budge range (especially by Lanko and MacKay) and humorously written by Simon Nuchtern. Don't miss it! With James Hogue, Roy MacArthur and Kurt Schwoebel, all of whom appeared in PRIME EVIL (1988), Katell Pleven as Ashton's assistant, Marcus Powell. and Louis Homyak (the promiscuous, cannibal-virus-spreading suburban dad from the fun FLESH EATING MOTHERS).

★★★

Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!, The (1972)

...aka: Curse of the Full Moon, The

Directed by:
Andy Milligan

Most people seem to hate this movie and basically anything associated with director Milligan. This one's very slow moving, has awful make-up, bad lighting, horribly recorded sound, the token Milligan plot dealing with an inheritance and wealthy, depraved British characters, and a huh (!?) nonsensical/chaotic ending, but some of the overwrought performances are actually pretty amusing, the overkill melodrama is hilarious at times and it's kind of interesting... at least for a little awhile. For the record, I'd consider this one of Andy's better efforts. Faint praise that be. I know. I know.
.
In England, poor Gerald (Ian Innes) is in for a treat when he visits the family mansion of his new bride Diana (Jackie Skarvellis, from Milligan's 1970 vampire movie THE BODY BENEATH). Pa Mortimer (Douglas Phair) is a bedridden grouch, older sister Monica (Hope Stansbury, who gives the standout performance here) is a sadistic and childish psycho, mom Phoebe (Joan Ogden) is a miserable mess and unpredictable, mentally retarded brother Malcolm (Berwick Kaler) is kept chained-up in a secret room. Only the older brother seems normal. Well, sort of. Something isn't right, as the son-in-law soon realizes, but his wife won't let him leave. Yes... they all turn out to be werewolves guarding the family secret. The older insane daughter torments the chained up brother by insulting him and beating him with a belt in some outrageous out-of-place scenes. She also buys a cage full of flesh-eating rats from a grimy vendor and in a shocking, standout scene, nails a real rat on a board! The whole rat idea has no relevance to the plot and was added by the director to bulk up the running time and cash in on the success of WILLARD, so that (sort of) explains the title.

1/2

Raven, The (1963)

Directed by:
Roger Corman

A bona fide schlock horror spoof, set in the 15th Century, finds rival sorcerers Vincent Price and Boris Karloff (both great in their roles, naturally) caught up in a delightful battle-of-powers on their quest for supremacy, which culminates in an exciting sorcerers duel; a classic fusing of comedy and fantasy with some dated, but still fun, special effects. Co-star Peter Lorre has a field day, gets many of the funniest lines and pretty much steals the entire film as a fellow sorcerer who is cursed to occasionally transform into a raven, Hazel Court is asked to do little but stand around looking ravishing in some provocative gowns (though it is to her credit that she generates laughs and great sex appeal when given little to work with) and Jack Nicholson delivers what must be the worst performance of his entire career (rivaling his work in THE TERROR) as Lorre's daffy son. Special effects are imaginative for the time and the screenplay by Richard Matheson (who knows this territory quite well, having adapted HOUSE OF USHER, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and others for Corman) has very little, if anything, to do with the Poe poem, but is instead a playful send-up of the entire cycle of films. Corman later claimed that some of the dialogue was ad-libbed and this was one of his all-time favorite movie shoots. Cinematographer Floyd Crosby, composer Les Baxter and others capture the appropriate mood in this fun B flick. Also with Olive Sturgess and John Dierkes.

★★1/2

Re-Animator (1985)

Directed by:
Stuart Gordon

Stuart Gordon's directorial debut is one of the highlights of 1980s horror; a witty, over-the-top, gore-drenched thriller with an amazingly odd and effective sense of black humor. Brilliant, but insane and obsessive Miskatonic University medical student Herbert West (the great Jeffrey Combs, in the role that made him a horror film icon) is on the verge on concocting a serum to bring the dead back to life, and faces cynicism from both peers and professors, most of whom end up regretting it later. West's serum ends up working all too well in reviving the dead, and the rest is an amazing barrage of blood, gore and outrageous comedy, leading up to a finale that pretty much redefines over-the-top. Bruce Abbott plays Combs' straight-laced roommate and med school colleague Dan Cain, and super-sexy Barbara Crampton plays the Dean's daughter, who's involved in the film's most memorable scene. David Gale is excellent in a co-starring role as a sleazy, lascivious doctor who ends up losing his head. Also in the cast are Robert Sampson as the dean, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon (the director's wife, who almost always appears in his films) and Ian Patrick Williams (from Gordon's DOLLS). After RE-ANIMATOR hit the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews, Gordon (then known for his notorious "Warp" trilogy at Chicago's Organic Theater) had a big hit on his hands, and became one of the most respected and prolific contemporary American horror directors around.

Based (very loosely) on H.P. Lovecraft's 1922 six-part "Herbert West, Reanimator." It was available in unrated (the one to check out) or a re-edited R-rated version (that actually runs eight minutes longer but is missing much of the gore). It was followed by the disappointing BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (released as RE-ANIMATOR 2 overseas) and BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2003). Gordon has also written a fourth film called HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR that's currently trying to find funding. And for more of the same, make sure to check out Gordon's FROM BEYOND (1986), which reteamed Combs with Crampton for more of the same outrageousness.

★★★1/2

Ripper, The (1985)

Directed by:
Christopher Lewis

Nice guy college professor Richard (appealing played by Tom Schreier), teaching a course in famous serial killers, becomes possessed when he puts on a ring that once belonged to Jack the Ripper. Soon, he's prowling around dressed in black slaughtering young women. The excellent, gory, detailed effects scenes have the killer slashing the necks of his victims, cutting them open, reaching his hand inside and pulling out bloody globs of internal organs. The professor's understanding girlfriend Carol (Mona Van Pernis) and two of his star students; Cindy (Andrea Adams, from Blood Lake) and Steve (the very irritating Wade Tower) try to help. Guest star Tom Savini shows up at the end for about five minutes as the "real" Jack the Ripper. When the ring is cut off, Tom changes back into the professor, but the cops shoot him anyway! While several other guys are credited with the special effects, they're so good that I kind of wonder if Savini wasn't somehow involved sans credit. This movie is heavily padded and has some bad acting, but the gore, some well written dialogue scenes and Savini's cameo make it a little better than most shot-on-video films from this time period. The people behind this also made Blood Cult (1985) and its sequel Revenge (1986) in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area. The director is the son of actress Loretta Young.

★★

Return of the Living Dead, Part II (1988)

...aka: Revenge of the Living Dead

Directed by:
Ken Wiederhorn

While the original did an excellent job bringing a sense of humor to the modern zombie film without short-changing the horror in the process, this mediocre sequel is far less successful. A couple of bullies pick the wrong military drum to start poking sticks at, release a toxic chemical and once again unleash the brain-hungry brain-dead from their graves, who descend upon an unfinished and ever-expanding suburban tract home development. How Spielbergian of them. James Karen (one of the best character actors in the business, though directed to go as annoyingly over-the-top as possible here) and Thom Mathews both return from the first film, though playing completely different characters (Karen an experienced grave digger; Mathews his frustrated new protegee), though one quips about having a feeling of "deja vu." They, along with Mathews' irritatingly fidgety girlfriend (Suzanne Snyder) are in the cemetery when the zombies start popping up, so they take off and end up teaming (sort of) with one of the kids who found the canister (Michael Kenworthy), his bitchy older sister (Marsha Dietlein), a friendly cable installer (Dana Ashbrook) and a senile doctor (Philip Bruns). The military gets news about what's going on and order an evacuation, but the principals gets trapped inside their barricade with no way to escape.

The zombie / gore make-up is excellent this time out, and there's a fun supporting role for Bruns, who helps relieve some of the tedium in his comic role. The production values are also pretty slick and there's plenty of brainless action to keep it moving along. Unfortunately, most of the humor is stale, forced and juvenile this time out. Come on now... a Michael Jackson zombie? Ok, I'll admit. I actually laughed at that. But the majority of the characters are annoying assholes and it's nowhere near as scary, funny, entertaining or inventive as the original.

Director Wiederhorn also did the above average Nazi zombie film SHOCK WAVES back in 1975, which, despite being pretty rough around the edges and a much lower-budgeted affair, is superior to this one. Watch for small roles played by Mitch (Shocker) Pileggi and Forrest J. Ackerman ("Famous Monsters") as a zombie. Several other people from the original also appear here, including Brian Peck (who played Scuz in the original) as various zombies, Jonathan Terry (army colonel), plus the return of Tar Man.

It was followed by Brian Yuzna's Return of the Living Dead III in 1993 (which was an improvement over this one), as well as two more dreadful sequels made over ten years later; Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis (2004) and Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave (also 2004), both of which debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel before heading to video. Watching the last two films actually made me boost the score of this one by a full point.

★★

Return of Swamp Thing, The (1989)

Directed by:
Jim Wynorski

One of Wynorski's most expensive movies is also, ironically, one of his worst. Dick Durock is likeable enough as the title good guy in this unfortunate comic mess, which is a far cry from the DC Comics and even the OK, but not-so-great, 1982 Wes Craven movie. Le Swamp Thing must battle the evil Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) again, who's camped out in a secluded Bayou mansion patrolled by gun-totting guards. He's aided by an equally evil lady scientist (the ever typecast Sarah Douglas) and the loopy Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask, fresh from the remake of NOT OF THIS EARTH) in attempting to reverse the aging process. Botched gene-splicing experiments result in mutant human/animal beasts that are locked away in the basement lab. Arcane's pretty, but incredibly stupid, stepdaughter Abigail (Heather Locklear, who actually won a 'Worst Actress' Razzie Award for this role!) is one of the targets of the experiment. She's plant obsessed and a vegetarian, which makes her a perfect love interest for our mossy hero. Low point might be her cracking a stupid T.J. Hooker joke.

Well, the costume is great and Durock, Jourdan and Douglas are good, but unfortunately there isn't enough material here for a feature film, and too much time is spent showing the misadventures of a pair of irritating (to put it mildly) little kids, inbred backwoods idiots and jerky survivalists. Joey Sagal, Monique Gabrielle and Jim Grimshaw co-star. Durock reprised the role in a short-lived TV series (shown on the USA network). A kids cartoon show and action figures were also made.

1/2

Introduction

First off, I'd like to say thank you to anyone stumbling onto this blog with any interest in vintage horror films. That automatically makes you cool in my book!

The Bloody Pit of Horror is dedicated to my favorite eras of horror cinema; the 1950s through the 1980s. Why this period? It could be that as a child of the 80s and a teenager of the 90s, I grew up on these films, whether going to the local video store to rent them, going to the theaters to see them or watching them at 3 in the morning on now-defunct late-night TV shows such as "Monster Vision" or "Up All Night." Or it could also be that I feel these three decades have the broadest scope and the most variety to offer from a bigger variety of countries. One thing's for sure; horror was booming during this period and many of the big names were just getting their start... By concentrating on this period in horror history I get to touch on the big worldwide sci-fi boom of the 50s, then move on to Hammer horrors, AIP, German krimi, Japanese monster mashes, and the Italian Gothic horror renaissance in the 1960s. The fall of censorship laws toward the end of that decade means I get to see what directors all over the globe did with their new found cinematic freedom in the 1970s (drive-in classics, TV movies-of-the-week, giallo, major studio releases that managed to snag major awards and some of the most twisted and sleaziest films imaginable). The 80s brought a whole new attitude; a wave of slasher flicks, gory horror-comedies, endless sequels, the occasional foreign art flick that didn't seem to fit but was most welcome anyway, and much, much more.

The director's reigning supreme during this period are some of the most famous and most important genre filmmakers around - Dario Argento, Jack Arnold, Mario Bava, John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Roger Corman, Wes Craven, Joe D'Amato, Terence Fisher, Jesus Franco, Lucio Fulci, Ishiro Honda, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Jean Rollin, George A. Romero and scores of others. It's no accident that many of these directors are still busy at work today, and the ones who aren't like aren't only because they've passed on.

The subject matter is endless... mad scientists, vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, Satanists, sadists, giant lizard monsters, serial killers, Gothic seductresses, undead slashers, flesh-eating cannibals... The films are in beautiful black-and-white or "blood-dripping" color. From ambitious art films to award winners to unadulterated sleaze-fests that continue to shock and amaze to this day... This is the prime era of horror, if you ask me. It's no wonder so many movies being produced today are trying to cash-in on the "grindhouse" / retro flavor of this time. It's also no wonder so many of these films have been "remade" in recent years. It's just simply a terrific and diverse period in film history.

Of course I'm going to be missing out reviewing some fantastic films by limiting myself to just three decades. Some of my favorites, actually. From the silent, expressionist German classics to Chaney's gems to the Universal Horror monster classics of the 30s to the Val Lewton-produced masterpieces of the 40s, all the way to today's current releases. I can't say it's not difficult to limit myself, but doing them all would just take too much time and way too much space. These other titles naturally will be mentioned from time to time in the reviews, for reference sake, so I'll try to put a good word in for them whenever I can.

Herrrrre's Johnny! Make that Justin. Yes, tis me. I'm adding a photo of myself because,
well, numerous people were curious what I looked like. So now ya know.

My ultimate goal with this blog is to catalog every single horror film that falls into the chosen time frame. I hope to watch as many of these as possible. If I can't find the movies, I plan on providing cast / crew information, a poster and / or VHS / DVD cover and a plot synopsis for the them. Hopefully all of the links will be open eventually, but right now I'm concentrating on the films I have seen and can provide reviews for.

Since technically speaking, the 1980s would also include 1990, I'm including 1990 titles here as well. Titles will be listed first and foremost under their original release title, whether it be English-language or not. I'll list as many alt. titles as I can dig up for the foreign ones so you should be able to find the film on here using that handy feature on the top left corner. When it comes to the year, I'm using IMDb as a guideline unless I know otherwise. If a film was made 2 or more years before receiving a release, the production year will be noted. I also am including films whose production  / copyright date may fall within the guidelines but whose release date does not. I'm doing this so every title someone might expect to find here is found here.

Films are evaluated on an 8 point scale, from 4 stars (masterpiece) to 1 star (terrible). Below "terrible" (yes, some film do sink lower than that), the worst of the worst are divided into two groups, so-bad-it's-good (which are often so entertaining in their own way they transcend a rating) and so-bad-it's-unwatchable (which will be given the "NO STARS!" kiss of death). I grade strictly on quality because one man's garbage may be another man's treasure, and vice versa. Meaning, films like Shriek of the Mutilated or Blood Freak will receive a low rating even though I personally adore both of them in all the badness. I feel that grading on entertainment value alone is a bit misleading since we all have our own idea what qualifies as a "good-bad" movie. I prefer to just call a spade a spade, and let the viewer decide whether ineptitude amuses them or not.

When I first started this blog, I used the grading scale posted below. I've went ahead and changed it to a 4 star scale because I found my ratings a little sketchy in between 4 - 6. I will leave this posted until I finish converting all of my original ratings over to stars.

GRADING SCALE:

1 - Abysmal. Bottom-of-the-barrel, sewer-dwelling, thoroughly inept films. Sometimes they're laughable, sometimes they're just tedious and boring.
2 - Awful. A film that may be a chore to sit through, but has a single redeeming factor, competent scene or decent acting performance that spare it the "1" rating. A lot of "so-bad-its-good" titles fall here.
3 - Bad. Very little to recommend. The majority of movies I didn't enjoy will get this rating since I can usually find at least couple of things that weren't so awful about it.
4 - Below average. Usually awarded to a film that has some level of technical competence, yet seems incredibly by-the-numbers or just plain uninspired.
5 - Average. I can either take it or leave it.
6 - Above average. Worth a shot. The good outweighs the bad, but still something's a bit off about the whole thing...
7 - Good. Recommend. It more or less accomplishes what it sets out to do. The buck stops here though for most self-aware schlock/exploit/sleaze titles. Hey, low-aiming is low-aiming, right?
8 - Very Good. Highly recommended, ambitious and/or original films that I think most horror fans would enjoy.
9 - Excellent. Classics. The films that are influential and timeless, with maybe just one itty bitty aspect that keeps it from getting a 10.
10 - Masterpiece. No film is "perfect," but a perfect score here denotes a film to be the best of the best within its particular genre. Very few films will receive this rating.

I hope everyone enjoys this blog and what it has to offer. This is, of course, constantly under construction and numerous changes will be made on a weekly basis. Right now I'm trying to acquire films from this time period and post all of the reviews I've already written, which I have saved either on a word file or under my IMDb account.

Comments or feedback, positive or negative, are always welcome. Once I get the Index for each letter up and running, please make sure to let me know if I'm overlooked a film produced between 1960-1990, and I will make sure to add it to the list and give you a shout-out for helping out.

Thanks again for taking the time to visit!

Raw Meat (1972)

...aka: Death Line

Directed by:
Gary Sherman

In 1892, a cave-in trapped people deep underground in London, but they have lived on through the years by means of air pockets, water filtration and the occasional stray animal. Now, as the race of people has slimmed down to one last longhaired vagrant with a bad complexion and his lair has been bypassed by an elaborate subway system, late-night travelers start disappearing, turning up dead and/or being cannibalized. Stuffy, sarcastic police Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence) and colleagues are on the case, a couple of bickering college students (Sharon Gurney and David Ladd) get involved and Christopher Lee shows up in a top hat for one brief scene as Calhoun's scheming rival. Though often slow moving, the story and cast are good, there's some gore (impalements, slit throats...) and some surprisingly stylish directorial touches. Long, unbroken shots of victims in the cannibal lair and through abandoned areas of the subway are pretty interesting and so is the treatment of the killer, who, when compared to many of the main characters, comes off sympathetically. Original British title: DEATH LINE.

★★1/2

Premature Burial (1962)

Directed by:
Roger Corman

PREMATURE BURIAL is generally considered one of the least successful of Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, which I think has a lot to do with the absence of series star Vincent Price (this is the only film of the eight he didn't star in). Because the film started as an independent production and Price was under contract with AIP at the time, he was not able to do the film. Price's inimitable presence would have indeed turned this into an entirely different film (and probably would have helped diffuse some of the more horrific elements of the story), but I have no problem whatsoever watching Ray Milland in the lead role either. I also have no problem with the series taking a more serious turn. While not quite up to some of the other Corman Poe films, it's in many ways one of the more atypical (it's fairly grim, moody and foggy), but that doesn't mean it is a bad horror film by any stretch. It's actually pretty good.

Mr. Milland plays a cranky medical student who is obsessed with the idea that he will one day be buried alive; a fate that also befell his father. He has even devised his own special tomb, complete with trap doors, alarms and escape hatches in case his fears do indeed become a reality (one of the more clever touches in the Charles Beaumont/Ray Russell script). Naturally, all doesn't work as planned and before the movie is over Milland gets buried alive, goes mad and busts out of his tomb to indulge in a murderous rampage. Hazel Court, who usually passed up playing the lead virtuous good girl role for the naughtier supporting ones, actually gets to do play both here. The fine supporting cast also Richard Ney as a doctor who may or may not be up to something bad, Heather Angel as Milland's concerned sister, John Dierkes, Alan Napier, Dick Miller (who is credited as "Richard Miller" and is hard to recognize in a small role as a grave-robber who become a victim) and Brendan Dillon.

MGM's Midnight Movies DVD collection doubles this movie with the timeless MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964), which is a must for horror film collectors. It has two great interviews with a grinning Roger Corman about the productions of both films, plus trailers.

Score: 6 out of 10

Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

Directed by:
Mick Garris

Joseph Stefano, who had scripted the original 1960 Hitchcock classic, also wrote this unnecessary prequel, which made its debut on cable TV (Showtime) before heading to video. Anthony Perkins returns for the fourth time as Norman. He's still just as emotionally troubled as before but apparently a little more psychologically stable, seeing how he's now married to a compassionate and understanding woman (Donna Mitchell). Norman calls in one of those self help style radio shows and talks about his horrific childhood to the radio host and her doctor guest. Flashbacks feature Olivia Hussey as mother Norma and Henry Thomas (little Elliot from E.T. all grown up) as the young Norman. Norma is painted as the nasty, nutty town slut, who locks her son in the closet, teases him with sexual advances and makes him wear dresses and make-up. It all shows how Norman became Norman. Fair enough. The problem I have with these types of movies is that the earlier films did an adequate enough job delving into the Norman psyche without having to really visualize anything, and they did it without having to wallow around in the sordid details. That makes this one come across a little on the pointless side; as if they're just looking for an excuse to wring more money out of a brand name.

Not only is this an unnecessary venture, but it also makes the mistake of explaining away a character who worked so well because he was always allowed to be a little mysterious. Sure, we always had clues dropped about him, his mother and his formative years in the earlier films, but when you get too detailed and explain someone away in such conventional terms and then visualize it all, the enigmatic creepiness of the character goes right out the window. Nope, Norman just isn't scary in this film. You simply pity him. However, the first two films were strong enough that you were both frightened by and felt sympathy for the character. Not really the case here. However, this isn't a bad film, either. It's well made, well produced and well acted (by Perkins, Hussey, Thomas, CCH Pounder as the talk show host and Warren Frost as the doctor), so it's not completely worthless.

At the end, older Norman's recollections of his past make him snap (yet again) and he tries to murder his new wife. Will he? Won't he? Is he beyond help? Will Norm be locked away forever? Do you really even care anymore? So much for practice makes perfect. Perkins returned to the horror genre in the (boring) German production A DEMON IN MY VIEW and the TV movie IN THE DEEP WOODS before his death in 1992.

Score: 4.5 out of 10

Puppet Master (1989)

Directed by:
David Schmoeller

Psychic researchers (led by Paul Le Mat and his awful haircut) are lured to the beautiful, ocean side Bodega Bay Hotel by the death of a colleague (Jimmie F. Skaggs) and come to realize that the puppet creations of long dead scientist Andre Toulon (William Hickey, who appears in a brief 30s period flashback) are still alive... and killing. The five stringless killers include Pinhead (a doll with a tiny head but large hands and human strength), Tunneler (who has a drill on his head), Jester (a depressed clown with a knife), Leech Woman (leeches come out of her mouth) and Blade (probably the scariest looking one - with a skull face and razor and hook hands). Using their special talents, the puppets make mince meat out of the interlopers. The David Allen stop motion effects, which bring the puppets to life, are excellent. They're combined with some less effective puppetry, but all-in-all, they did a fairly good job on the overall effects. The gore make-up and Richard Band's atmospheric score are also very good. The surprise ending features a guy that must be related to Morpho from THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF! With Robin Frates as the widow, Irene Miracle as the bitch, Matt Roe and Kathryn O'Reilly as kinky "sexual psychics" and Barbara Crampton in a cameo appearance.

This was a very big video hit for Full Moon (a division of Paramount), so a slew of sequels were made for the video market. This one and the first two sequels (1990's PUPPET MASTER 2 and 1991's PUPPET MASTER III: TOULON'S REVENGE) are worth checking out, but the series pretty much went into the toilet after that. The first five or six (can't remember) films were released in a limited edition box set from Full Moon that quickly went out of print. They now sell for hundreds of dollars on ebay.

Score: 5.5 out of 10

Pumpkinhead (1988)

... aka: Pumpkinhead: The Demon of Revenge
... aka: Vengeance: The Demon

Directed by:
Stan Winston

Widowed general store owner Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) seeks the aid of a backwoods witch (Florence Schauffler) to avenge the accidental death of his son at the hands of careless young motorcyclists. She conjures up the title creature to do the dirty work, but when Harley has a change of heart, he finds that he no longer has any control over the relentless killer. Although grim, dreary and highly uneven, this is helped along by first-time director Winston's excellent monster creation. It's one of the best looking creatures since Alien (which was also designed by Winston) and it pretty much makes the difference here. It busts out windows, drags victims onto the roof, claws them and throws them from treetops and tosses everyone around with ease. Its monstrous face becomes more and more human as the film progresses and the body count rises. Henriksen, a fine and under appreciated actor, adds a great deal of warmth to his character, bringing a much-needed human edge to the proceedings and making his own scenes compelling. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the six "teen" characters, who are poorly-drawn and as disposable as they come. When the film begins focusing more on them and the routine kill scenes in the second half, things quickly go downhill.

Veteran character actor George "Buck" Flower has a decent role as a redneck father who lives in a shack with his wife and about ten little kids. Tom Woodruff, Jr., who gets credit for playing Pumpkinhead, also helped design the great suit. The cast also includes Jeff East (from Craven's Deadly Blessing), Cynthia Bain, John DiAquino, Kerry Remsen, Joel Hoffman, Kimberly Ross, Brian Bremer, Lee de Broux and Dick Warlock.

Followed by the OK direct-to-video sequel Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings in 1994 ("starring" Bill Clinton's brother, Roger!), as well as several more sequels in 2006 and 2007 that I haven't seen yet. Lance somehow reprised his role in the latest two.

★★1/2

Psycho Cop (1988)

Directed by:
Wallace Potts

Many horror fans out there have probably seen the late-night cable staple PSYCHO COP 2 (1992; aka PSYCHO COP RETURNS) and probably wondered about the existence of the relatively obscure original. Well I found it. It sucks! Three unbearable yuppie college couples travel to a big, secluded vacation house despite the usual tell tale signs that they should go home. A psychotic, Satan-worshipping policeman (Bobby Ray Shafer), who walks like a robot (and gives a performance to match) does most of them in. The annoying characters constantly talk to themselves, are always losing things, wander off into the woods alone, guzzle buckets full of beer and whine about the feeling of being watched ("It's probably just a deer!"). People are killed with a knife down the throat, hatchet and crucifixion. This is one instance where you may have a hard time telling if it's intentionally this bad or it was all accidental. I am leaning toward the latter, but just remember the common theme is awful. Awful acting, awful writing, awful filmmaking, awful movie. "It can't be!" screams the pot smoking caretaker before taking an axe to the head.

Score: 1 out of 10

Primal Scream (1987)

...aka: Hellfire

Directed by:
William Murray

Futuristic P.I. Corby McHale (Kenneth J. McGregor) narrates this feature length flashback about what happens when he takes on a case involving a troubled blonde (Julie Miller) who's targeted for murder. It's 1993 and her brother is involved in marketing some kind of top-secret energy catalyst called HELLFIRE (also the shooting title) that ends up causing victims to disintegrate, leaving only a pile of dust. There's a corrupt company behind all of it who'd rather kill than to have the secret exposed. So far, so boring. Ten minutes into this (after an assassination attempt, an exploding space station and a double impalement during sex) I figured the loose ends would be tied up somewhere, but they never are. In fact, nothing in this spoofy mess makes a lick of sense. There are so many pointless characters that the motivations of the villains are constantly muddled, the performances are terrible and it can't decide whether it wants to be action, sci-fi, horror or comedy. God awful!

Score: 1 out of 10

Prime Evil (1988)

Directed by:
Roberta Findlay

Findlay's most professional-looking horror movie from the 80s (which she also shot and edited) opens with a monk being decapitated, then cuts to present day New York City where a Satanic cult is busy at work. Christine Moore (who also starred in Findlay's LURKERS that same year) is Alexandra Parkman, a virginal social worker whose evil grandfather (Max Jacobs) is planning on using her as chief sacrifice in an occult ceremony that promises immortality to followers of Satan. The cult, disguised as priests and nuns, is led by the seductive Thomas Seaton (William Beckwith), who sends out a fat henchman to kidnap women off the streets to offer up their blood. The women are kept tied up in the church basement in their lingerie (and are often the ones to appear topless). Meanwhile, a defective nun (Mavis Harris) goes undercover in the cult to expose them. The plot is pretty familiar by now, but it's competently made, Beckwith and Moore are pretty good (wish I could say the same for most of the rest of the cast) and a slimy demonic creature designed by Ed French shows up very briefly at the end. Plus there's what might be the most depressing carriage ride through Central Park ever caught on film. You know you want to see that.

With Tim Gail, Ruth Collins (PSYCHOS IN LOVE), Amy Brentano (star of Findlay's BLOOD SISTERS), Jeanne Marie, Gary Warner, T.J. Glenn (IGOR AND THE LUNATICS), Roy MacArthur, Miriam Zucker, Gregory Sullivan, James Hogue, Jim Cirile and Kurt Schwoebel.

Score: 3.5 out of 10

Other, The (1972)

Directed by:
Robert Mulligan

Leisurely paced, good-looking filmization of Thomas Tryon’s best-seller (adapted by the author himself) is a quietly disturbing psychological drama which effectively eschews standard good/bad twin plotting and has an intoxicating period atmosphere (1930s rural America). Niles Perry (Chris Udvarnoky) is a sensitive young boy who lives on a farm with an extended family that includes a severely depressed, reclusive mother (Diana Muldaur) who locks herself away in her bedroom reading novels and a protective, caring, God-fearing German grandmother (Tony-winning stage legend Uta Hagen, who’s excellent here). Niles’ mischievous twin brother Holland (played by Martin Udvarnoky, real-life twin brother of the star) seems to be responsible when a rash of sudden deaths plague the household, but there’s a lot more to the story than meets the eye, and many plot twists best not revealed by me. Excellent acting (the Udvarnoky brothers are especially impressive and unlike most other child actors, not irritating at all), evocative soft-focus photography, clever directorial touches and atypical plotting make this a winner. John Ritter has a small role as a brother-in-law, Victor French (from the Little House on the Prairie TV series) is the handyman and Jerry Goldsmith (THE OMEN) did the score.

★★★1/2

A Titles

Films are listed by their original English-language release title when available. If the film has not been officially released in the U.S. then I'll use the informal release title. If that's not an option, then I'll go with the original foreign release title. I am trying to database every horror title made between 1950 - 1990 right here and will constantly be adding more in the future so make sure to check back! A * next to a title means I have it rated and have uploaded a photo but haven't done the review yet. If you see anything missing, shoot me a message and it will be added.
___________________________________________________________________________

[TV] = Either made specifically for TV or debuted on TV.
[X] = Contains hardcore sex.
[short] = Has a running time of less than 45 minutes.
[doc] = Genre-themed documentary; includes mondo shockumentaries.
BLUE = USA, Canada
RED = Most of Asia, Turkey, India
GREY = UK
ORANGE = Central and South America, Spain and Portugal
YELLOW = Most of Europe, Russia
PURPLE = Australia, New Zealand
GREEN = Africa
___________________________________________________________________________

A TITLE INDEX

- A.A.A. Masseuse, Good-Looking, Offers Her Services (A.A.A. Massaggiatrice bella
presenza offresi...) (1972; Demofilo Fidani) Italy
- Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953; Charles Lamont) USA
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951; Charles Lamont) USA
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955; Charles Lamont) USA
- Abby (Possess My Soul) (1974; William Girdler) USA
- Abducted (Terror in the Forest) (1986; Boon Collins) Canada
- Abominable Dr. Phibes, The (The Curse of Dr. Phibes) (1971; Robert Fuest) UK
- Abominable Snowman, The (1957; Val Guest) UK
- Abomination, The (1986; Bret McCormick) USA
- Abracadabra (Tian ling ling, di ling ling) (1986; Tai Kit Mak) Hong Kong
- Absolution (Murder by Confession) (1978; Anthony Page) UK
- Accident, The (Blood of the Black Dog; Car Spirit; Che wan) (1983; Pao-Lun Lu) Hong Kong
- Act of Vengeance (The Rape Squad; The Violator) (1974; Bob Kelljan) USA
- Adam and Eve vs. the Cannibals (Adamo ed Eva) (1983; Enzo Doria, Luigi Rosso) France, Italy
- Adoration (1986; Olivier Smolders) [short] Belgium, France
- Adrénaline (1990; Anita Assal, Barthélémy Bompard, Philippe Dorison, John Hudson, Jean-Marie Madd-eddu, Yann Piquer, Alain Robak) France
- Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide, The (1971; Lee Raymond) USA
- Adventure at the Center of the Earth (Aventura al centro de la tierra) (1965; Alfredo B. Crevenna) Mexico
- Aenigma (1987; Lucio Fulci) Italy, Yugoslavia
- Aerobi-cide (Aerobic Killer; Killer Workout) (1987; David A. Prior) USA
- After Darkness (1985; Sergio Guerraz and Dominique Othenin-Girard) Switzerland
- Aftermath, The (Nuclear Aftermath; Zombie Aftermath) (1982 [shot in 1978]; Steve Barkett) USA
- After the Fall of New York (2019 - Dopo la caduta di New York) (1983; Sergio Martino) France, Italy
- After Midnight (1989; Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat) USA
- Afterward ("Shades of Darkness" series) (1983; Simon Langton) [TV] UK
- Against the Crowd: Murrain (Murrain) (1975; John Cooper) [TV] UK
- Age of Insects (1990; Eric Marciano) USA
- Agonizing in Crime (Agonizando en el crimen) (1967; Enrique López Eguiluz) Spain
- Aimilia, the Psychopath (Aimilia, i diestrammeni) (1974; Pavlos Parashakis) Greece
- Akelarre (1984; Pedro Olea) Spain
- Alabama's Ghost (1973; Fredric Hobbs) USA
- Albino (The Night of the Askari; Whispering Death) (1976; Jürgen Goslar) South Africa, UK, W. Germany, Zimbabwe
- Alchemist, The (1983 [filmed in 1981]; Charles Band) USA
- Alias John Preston (1955; David MacDonald) UK
- Alice (Neco z alenky) (1988; Jan Svankmajer) Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, UK, West Germany
- Alice Cooper: The Nightmare (The Nightmare) (1975; Jørn Winther) [TV] USA
- Alice or the Last Escapade (Alice ou la dernière fugue) (1977)
- Alice, Sweet Alice (Communion; Holy Terror) (1976; Alfred Sole) USA
- Alien (1979; Ridley Scott) UK, USA
- Alien 2: On Earth (Alien 2 sulla Terra; Strangers) (1980; Ciro Ippolito) Italy
- Alienator (1989; Fred Olen Ray) USA
- Alien Contamination (Contamination; Toxic Spawn) (1980; Luigi Cozzi) Italy, West Germany
- Alien Dead, The (It Fell from the Sky) (1980; Fred Olen Ray) USA
- Alien Factor, The (1978; Don Dohler) USA
- Alien from the Deep (Alien degli abissi) (1989; Antonio Margheriti) Italy
- Alien Predator (Cosmos mortal; The Falling) (1984; Deran Sarafian) Spain, USA
- Alien Prey (Prey) (1981 [made in 1977]; Norman J. Warren) UK
- Aliens (Alien 2; Alien II; Alien: The Return) (1986) UK, USA
- Aliens Are Coming, The (1980; Harvey Hart) [TV] USA
- Alien Space Avenger (Alien Terror; Space Avenger) (1988; Richard W. Haines) USA
- Alien Terror (The Incredible Invasion; Sinister Invasion) (1971 [made in 1968]; Jack Hill, Juan Ibáñez) Mexico, USA
- Alien Zone (The House of the Dead; Zone of the Dead) (1978; Sharron Miller) USA
- Alison's Birthday (1981 [filmed in 1979]; Ian Coughlan) Australia
- Alligator (1980; Lewis Teague) USA
- Alligator II: The Mutation (1991 [copyright 1990]; Jon Hess) USA
- Alligator Eyes (1990; John Feldman) USA
- Alligator People, The (1959; Roy Del Ruth) USA
- All in the Dim Cold Night (Qiu deng ye yu) (1974; Feng-Pan Yao) Taiwan
- All the Colors of the Dark (I tutti i colori di buio) (1972; Sergio Martino) Italy, Spain
- All the Horrors of Satan (Satanás de todos los horrores) (1974; Julián Soler) Mexico
- All the Kind Strangers (Evil in the Swamp) (1974; Burt Kennedy) [TV] USA
- Almost Human (Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare) (1974; Umberto Lenzi) Italy
- Alone Against Terror (Sola ante el terror) (1986 [made in 1983]; Jesus Franco) Spain
- Alone in the Dark (1982; Jack Sholder) USA
- Alpha Incident, The (Girl from a Red Planet) (1976; Bill Rebane) USA
- Alraune (Mandragore; Unnatural) (1952; Arthur Maria Rabenalt) West Germany
- Al-ta'weeza (Altawiza; The Curse; The Talisman) (1987) Egypt
- Altered States (1980; Ken Russell) USA
- Alucarda* (Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas) (1975; Juan López Moctezuma) Mexico
- Amazing Colossal Man, The (The Amazing Nth Man) (1957; Bert I. Gordon) USA
- Amazing Transparent Man, The (Search for a Shadow) (1960; Edgar G. Ulmer) USA
- Amazing Transplant, The (The Transplant) (1970; Doris Wishman) USA
- Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story (L'eslave blonde; Schiave bianche - Violenza in Amazzonia; White Slave) (1985; Mario Gariazzo) Italy
- Ambulance, The (1990; Larry Cohen) USA
- American Gothic (Dark Paradise; Hide and Seek) (1987; John Hough) Canada, UK
- American Nightmare (1983 [shot in 1981]; Don McBrearty) Canada
- American Scream, The (1988; Mitchell Linden) USA
- American Werewolf in London, An* (1981; John Landis) UK, USA
- Amityville Curse, The (Amityville 5) (1989; Tom Berry) Canada, USA
- Amityville Horror, The (1979; Stuart Rosenberg) USA
- Amityville II: The Possession (1982; Damiano Damiani) Italy, Mexico, USA
- Amityville 3 (Amityville III: The Demon) (1983; Richard Fleischer) USA
- Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1988; Sandor Stern) [TV] USA
Amorous Adventures of a Young Postman, The (Beiß mich, Liebling; Love, Vampire Style) (1970; Helmut FörnbacherWest Germany
- Amphibian Man, The (Человек-Амфибия) (1962; Vladimir Chebotaryov, Gennadiy Kazanskiy) Soviet Union
- Amsterdamned (Mystery of the Canals) (1988; Dick Maas) Netherlands
- Amuck (Alla ricerca del piacere; Replica of a Crime) (1972; Silvio Amadio) Italy
- Anatomist, The ("ITV Play of the Week" series) (1956; Dennis Vance) [TV] UK
- Anatomy of a Psycho (1961; Boris Petroff) USA
- Anatomy of Terror ("Thriller" series; An Echo of Theresa) (1973; Peter Jefferies) [TV] UK
- And Now the Screaming Starts (Bride of Fengriffen) (1973; Roy Ward Baker) UK
- And Soon the Darkness (1970; Robert Fuest) UK
- Andy Warhol's Bad* (Bad) (1977; Jed Johnson) USA
- Andy Warhol's Dracula (Blood for Dracula) (1974; Paul Morrissey) France, Italy
- Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (Flesh for Frankenstein) (1973. Paul Morrissey) France, Italy, USA
- Angel for Satan, An (Un Angelo per Satana) (1966; Camillo Mastrocinque) Italy
- Angel Heart (1987; Alan Parker) Canada, UK, USA
- Angel of Death (L'angel de la mort; Commando Mengele) (1986; Andrea Bianchi) France
- Angel's Flight (Shock Hill) (1965; Raymond Nassour, Kenneth W. Richardson) USA
- Angry Red Planet, The (Journey to Planet Four) (1959; Ib Melchior) USA
- Angst (Fear; Schizophrenia) (1983; Gerald Kargl) Austria
- Anguish* (Angustia) (1987; Bigas Luna) Spain
- Animals Film, The (1981; Myriam Alaux, Victor Schonfeld) [doc] UK
- Another Son of Sam (Hostages; Son of Sam) (1977 [shot in 1975]; Dave A. Adams) USA
- Antichrist, The (L'Anticristo; The Tempter) (1974; Alberto De Martino) Italy
- Antichrist 2: Magic London, The (El anticristo 2) (1989; Germán Monzó) Spain
- Ants! (It Happened at Lakewood Manor) (1977; Robert Scheerer) [TV] USA
- Antwerp Killer, The (1983; Luc Veldeman) Belgium
- Apartment Zero (Apartment 0) (1988; Martin Donovan) Argentina, UK
- A*P*E (Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla) (1976; Paul Leder) South Korea, USA
- Appointment, The (1981; Lindsey C. Vickers) UK
- Appointment with Fear (Deadly Presence) (1985; Ramsey Thomas) USA
- Apprentice to Murder (1988 [made in 1986]; Ralph L. Thomas) Canada, Norway, USA
- April Fool's Day (1986; Fred Walton) USA
- Arabella: The Black Angel (Arabella l'angelo nero) (1989; Stelvio Massi) Italy
- Arachnophobia* (1990; Frank Marshall) USA
- Arcana (Arcane) (1972; Giulio Questi) Italy
- Are You in the House Alone? (1978; Walter Grauman) [TV] USA
- Arnold (1973; Georg Fenady) USA
- Aroused (1966; Anton Holden) USA
- Arousers, The (A Kiss from Eddie; Sweet Kill) (1972 [made in 1970]; Curtis Hanson) USA
- Arrival, The (The Unwelcomed) (1991 [shot in 1990]; David Schmoeller) USA
- Ashes of Doom (1970; Don Arioli and Grant Munro) [short] Canada
- Ash Tree, The (1975; Lawrence Gordon Clark) [TV] [short] UK
- Asphyx, The* (The Horror of Death) (1973; Peter Newbrook) UK
- Assault (The Creeper; In the Devil's Garden) (1970; Sidney Hayers) UK
- Assault! Jack the Ripper (Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku) (1976; Yasuharu Hasebe) Japan
- Assignment Terror (Dracula vs. FrankensteinLos monstruos del terror) (1970; Tulio Demicheli) Italy, Spain, West Germany
- Astounding She-Monster, The (1957; Ronnie Ashcroft) USA
- Astro-Zombies, The (Space Vampires; The Space Zombies) (1967; Ted V. Mikels) USA
- Asylum (House of Crazies; House on the Strand) (1972; Roy Ward Baker) UK
- Asylum of Satan (The Satan Spectrum) (1972; William Girdler) USA
- At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma) (1964; José Mojica Marins) Brazil
- Atom Age Vampire (Seddok, l'erede di Satana) (1960; Anton Giulio Majano) Italy
- Atomic Brain, The (Monstrosity) (1963; Joseph V. Mascelli) USA
- Attack of the Beast Creatures (Hell Island) (1985 [made in 1983]; Michael Stanley) USA
- Attack of the B-Movie Monster (The Naked Monster) (1985; Wayne Berwick, Ted Newsom) USA
- Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957; Roger Corman) USA
- Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman) (1958; Nathan Juran) USA
- Attack of the Giant Leeches (Demons of the Swamp) (1959; Bernard L. Kowalski) USA
- Attack of the Hideopoid (1989; Rick Werner Fahr) USA
- Attack of the Killer Computer (The Urge to Kill) (1989; Derek Ford) UK
- Attack of the Killer Refridgerator (1984 [released 1990]; Michael Savino) [short] USA
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978; John De Bello) USA
- Attack of the Mayan Mummy (The Mummy Strikes) (1963; Portillo, Warren) MexicoUSA
- Attack of the Monsters (Gamera tai daiakuju Giron) (1969; Noriaki Yuasa) Japan
- Attack of the Mushroom People (Fungus of Terror; Matango) (1963; Ishirô Honda) Japan
- Attack of the Puppet People (The Fantastic Puppet People) (1958; Bert I. Gordon) USA
- Attack of the Robots (Cartes sur table) (1966; Jesus Franco) France, Spain
- Attack of the Witches (Atacan las brujas) (1968; José Díaz Morales) Mexico
- At the Earth's Core (1976; Kevin Connor) UK, USA
- Attic, The (1979; George Edwards) USA
- Audrey Rose (1977; Robert Wise) USA
- Autopsy (Autopsia) (1973; Juan Logar) Spain
- Autopsy (Angela; Tarot) (1973) France, Spain
- Autopsy (Macchie solari; Sun Spots) (1975; Armando Crispino) Italy
- Autopsy of a Ghost (Autopsia de un fantasma) (1968; Ismael Rodríguez) Mexico
- Avenger, The (Der Rächer; The Headhunter) (1960; Karl Anton) West Germany
- Avenger of Soho, The (Der Todesrächer von Soho) (1971; Jesus Franco) Spain, West Germany
- Awakening, The (The Wakening) (1980; Mike Newell) UK
- Awakening of the Beast (O Ritual dos Sádicos) (1970; José Mojica Marins) Brazil
- Awful Dr. Orloff, The (Gritos en la noche) (1961; Jesus Franco) France, Spain
- Axe (California Axe Massacre; Lisa, Lisa) (1973; Frederick R. Friedel) USA
- Aztec Mummy, The (La momia azteca) (1957; Rafael Portillo) Mexico

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