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, June 7, 2009

Drive-In Madness (1987)

...aka: Screen Scaries

Directed by:
Tim Ferrante

James Karen (who mentions his appearances in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER and POLTERGEIST) narrates this 82-minute documentary, which centers around drive-in style exploitation and horror features of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Included are many coming attractions, brief interviews with eight genre luminaries who share their own drive-in memories and talk about their careers, concession stand commercials and some 50s-style new footage shot at a drive-in. Linnea Quigley (Mr. Karen's co-star in THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) describes her early work on sexploitation films, the unexpected controversy of SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT and how awful the prosthetic makeups were for Return. After a preview for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, John A. Russo and Russell Streiner discuss the film, its budget and its impact. Later they discuss their ultra rare sex comedy THE BOOBY HATCH (1976), complete with clips and a trailer, and a trailer for Russo's MIDNIGHT (1981) is also shown.
Bobbie Bresee gives us a brief history of drive-ins and talks about how they're being replaced by late night TV and video. She also talks about her first lead role in MAUSOLEUM (1981), her appearance in GHOULIES (1984) followed by a trailer for that film and her then-new starring role in DEADLY STING (which would eventually be released as EVIL SPAWN), complete with behind-the-scenes footage from that film.
Next up is an "intermission," which is basically a valentine to Samuel M. Sherman's crucial drive-in supplier Independent International Films. Throughout this documentary we gets loads of trailers for films distributed through his company. In fact, nearly everything Al Adamson ever directed gets some face time, from the very successful biker opus SATAN'S SADISTS (1969) to DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (which they say was originally called Blood Freaks and then The Blood Seekers) to GIRLS FOR RENT ("What you see on the screen in Girls for Rent is actually happening in the United States today! It was too hot to tell before, but now the lid is off!") We get coming attractions for HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS, BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR, NURSE SHERRI, BLAZING STEWARDESSES, etc., as well as some of Independent International's foreign acquisitions, such as FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR (1968) and HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN (1972). Sherman himself is interviewed, talks about how the company came to be, his work with Adamson, trying to hunt down Angelo Rossitto and shows us the Frankenstein mask used in DvsF.
Forrest J. Ackerman ("Greetings from Horrorwood Karloffornia!") pops in next to talk to us from inside his Ackermansion. He mostly talks about acting role in DvsF and having to do his own stunt with a broken arm. George A. Romero and Tom Savini are next up and discuss Pitssburgh area drive-ins and again say home video will destroy it all (when this was made only 2000 drive-in theaters remained... as of 2007 there were less than 500). Savini talks about how he was influenced by the Lon Chaney bio THE MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES (1957). Romero discusses his change-of-pace romantic drama THERE'S ALWAYS VANILLA (1971) and how it was doomed to failure because the original distributor botched the release by only opening it in a couple of theaters.
Drive-in trailers for the 4-hour "Blood-O-Rama Shock Festival," the early mondo movie MACABRO (1958), DON'T OPEN THE WINDOW, VAMPYRES (1974) and others are shown. There also double feature trailers for THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS / MUTINY IN OUTER SPACE, a black-and-white one for DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS and PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (where an announcer promises free vampire fangs for boys and zombie eyes for girls who attend!) and BLOOD BATH / QUEEN OF BLOOD ("She turned the Milky Way into a galaxy of gore!") There are also trailers for then-recent Empire/Wizard releases such as TROLL, DEADTIME STORIES, FROM BEYOND, PSYCHOS IN LOVE and others.
Released on several separate occasions under two different titles. The listed title is the full length version, which was released on DVD by Sub Rosa Studios in 2008. The second version is titled SCREEN SCARIES, which was released to VHS only and has been reduced down to just 40 minutes.

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