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.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Directed by:
Joe Dante
John Landis
George Miller
Steven Spielberg

Review coming soon.

Score: 5 out of 10

Twice Dead (1988)

Directed by:
Bert L. Dragin

Review coming soon.

Score: 4 out of 10

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Directed by:
Mel Brooks

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Tremors (1989)

...aka: Beneath Perfection
...aka: Dead Silence
...aka: Land Sharks

Directed by:
Ron Underwood

Review coming soon.

★★★

Trilogy of Terror (1975) (TV)

...aka: Tales of Terror

Directed by:
Dan Curtis

Karen Black excels playing a quartet of very different roles in this three-part made-for-TV horror anthology adapted from the works of Richard Matheson (with contributions by William F. Nolan) In “Julie,” a meek female college professor turns the tables on a student (played by Gregory Harrison) who drugs, rapes and attempts to blackmail her with scandalous pictures. “Millicent and Therese” details a pair of feuding sisters; a frigid, jealous brunette and a kinky, malicious blonde. Finally, ”Amelia” (also known as “Prey”) details Black’s horrific battle with a relentless re-animated Zuni fetish doll inhabited by the spirit of a bloodthirsty African warrior. Although the first tale doesn’t hold together all that well and the second is too predictable, this is well worth sitting through for the excellent final segment and, as always, it’s a joy to watch Black at work. “Amelia” (which gave millions of children nightmares back in the 70s) is also available separately on video as TERROR OF THE DOLL. Robert Burton, John Karlen, George Gaynes, Jim Storm and Tracy Curtis (the director's daughter) co-star.
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Twenty years later, it was followed by a 1996 cable sequel starring Lysette Anthony in all three tales. That was also directed by Curtis and scripted by Matheson, plus featured a remake of the killer doll segment. The Dark Sky DVD release has a commentary track from Black and Nolan, and two featurettes, one about Matheson and the other about Black.

★★★

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)

Directed by:
Rudy De Luca

Review coming soon.

Score: 4 out of 10

Troll 2 (1990)

...aka: Goblins
...aka: Troll II
...aka: Trolli
...aka: Trolls

Directed by:
Claudio Fragasso

Review coming soon.

SBIG

Trapped (1989) (TV)

Directed by:
Fred Walton

Solid, made-for-cable thriller features Kathleen Quinlan as a businesswomen who becomes trapped in her closed and locked down for the night high rise with a psychotic maniac. A new computer security system adds to her problems, making it nearly impossible to escape the building. Despite the obvious premise and lack of plot complication, Quinlan is very good and director Walton's execution is tense and suspenseful, he makes excellent use of the location and manages several great edge-of-your-seat moments, elevating this above most other similar films. Also with Bruce Abbott (RE-ANIMATOR), Katy Boyer and Ben Loggins. MCA/Universal released it on VHS, but there's no DVD as of this writing. Should be, though.

★★★

Toxic Avenger, Part II, The (1989)

Directed by:
Michael Herz
Lloyd Kaufman

After the Tromaville Home for The Blind is blown up by the evil Apocalypse Incorporated, Toxie (played by John Altamura; voiced by Ron Fazio) sets out to put an end to their reign of terror. He also travels to Japan to search for his long lost father. This OK parody of horror, superhero and martial arts films is filled with cartoonish gore, grating overacting and campy dialogue. There's a good gag for every bad one, but the scenes in Japan (shot on location in Tokyo) are pretty hilarious at times. Pericles Lewnes (REDNECK ZOMBIES) was in charge of the make-up FX. Filmed back-to-back with Part III, this is available in both R and Unrated ("Director's Cut") versions.

★★

Track of the Moon Beast (1973)

Directed by:
Dick Ashe

Review coming soon.

Score: 2 out of 10

Noche del terror ciego, La (1972)

...aka: Blind Dead, The
...aka: Crypt of the Blind Dead
...aka: Mark of the Devil, Part 4...aka: Night of the Blind Dead
...aka: Tombs of the Blind Dead

Directed by:
Amando de Ossorio

At times an interesting spin on your standard zombie movie, at other times a senseless mess... this little Euro zombie flick was nonetheless a big hit in Europe, managed to acquire a cult following and spawned three sequels; EL ATAQUE DE LOS MUERTOS SIN OJOS (1972; aka RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD), EL BUQUE MALDITO (1973; aka THE GHOST GALLEON) and LA NOCHE DE LAS GRAVIOTAS (1974; aka NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS). Tombs opens with a group of hooded, blood-drinking knights trying a blonde woman up to a rack, slashing her open with swords and then drinking her blood. A not-too-seamless transition brings us to present day when Betty (Lone Fleming) meets up with old college roommate Virginia ("Helen Harp"/Maria Elena Arpón) and her male companion Roger (César Burner) at a Lisbon pool. The three decide to go camping together and hop a train that will take them to their destination. Before you know it, assorted jealousies and a lesbian flashback lead Virginia to jump off and spend the night alone in an eerie old castle. Skeletal, eyeless zombies (who are the killer cult from the opening sequence and often referred to as 'The Knights Templar' by fans even though that term is never used in the film) kill her. When Betty, Roger and others go to the castle to investigate, they're faced with a similar fate...

Some may be shaking their heads at my low rating, but first of all, I need to point out that I have only seen the VHS release of this film from Paragon Video (released in 1986) and have not yet gotten around to seeing the uncut re-mastered version available from either Anchor Bay and Blue Underground. As is, the tape is poorly dubbed, poorly transferred and seems to have been heavily cut. I'm not sure if the train finale was intact or not, but it was a real butcher job on the version I saw and is left nearly incomprehensible. Then again, there are scenes and transitions that I couldn't imagine possibly being good under any circumstances. For example, when Betty is being raped she cries, screams and puts up a fight, then when it's all over, she acts as if nothing had even happened. On the plus side, the skeleton-zombie design is good, there's a decent score and a few picturesque settings and crumbling castle backdrops to give this a nice Gothic atmosphere.
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Despite the myriad production/ continuity problems I encountered, I'm certainly willing to give this another try now that better versions are available. I'll try to get to that here soon and finish up the series with a viewing of the fourth film (which I haven't seen yet). Also in the cast are José Thelman (who appeared in three other horrors from the same director, including the second Blind Dead sequel), Verónica Llimera (HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON), Francisco Sanz (LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE), María Silva, Antonio Orengo and Britt Nichols (from several Jess Franco films).

★★

Tower of London (1962)

Directed by:
Roger Corman

Remake of the 1939 Universal film of the same name (which is superior in just about every possible way), this also covers the treacherous period of corruption, greed, torture and murder circa 1483 in England at the Tower of London, "A monument to the corruption to the soul!" Vincent Price (who had appeared in the original version as the Duke of Clarence) is the hunchbacked Richard III, the self-serving, sadistic son of King Edward IV, who shows up at his father's deathbed to kill, kill and kill some more to ensure his place on the throne. He literally backstabs his brother, strangles his wife, plots to discredit (then suffocates) two young princes, uses a torture chamber in the basement to stretch a woman out on the rack and threatens a man with a rat on his face while being visited by the ghosts of his victims and descending further into madness. Price does a convincing job with the nasty characterization (if you don't mind the part played in a highly theatrical manner) and while the supporting cast isn't as good as the original version, most do a fairly good job. Sets and costumes are acceptable, but this production is otherwise dull, a little too talky and the low-budget shows in a battlefield sequence obviously lifted from another film.

So sadly, while watchable, this doesn't come anywhere close to either the original or any of the high-quality Poe adaptations Corman and company were cranking out at around the same time. One of the screenwriters was Leo V. Gordon (who also gets a story credit). Francis Ford Coppola (who would direct DEMENTIA 13 next) was the dialogue director. The cast includes Joan Freeman (who'd later become one of Jason's victims in FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER) as the female lead, Michael Pate as Sir Ratcliffe, Bruce Gordon as the Earl of Buckingham, Richard Hale, Sandra Knight, Charles Macaulay (who played Count Dracula in BLACULA) and an uncredited Morris Ankrum as the archbishop.

★★

Tomb, The (1986)

Directed by:
Fred Olen Ray

Thieving treasure hunters seeking a fortune in ancient valuables accidentally disrupt the long sleep of long-dead, blood-drinking Egyptian princess Nefratis. After her tomb is desecrated and artifacts from it are smuggled into California from the expedition's sole survivor, John Banning (David Pearson), Nefratis (now in the sexy revived form of Michelle Bauer) heads to the streets of L.A., uses a golden scarab to turn Banning into her loyal slave and then kills anyone who gets in the way of retrieving her stolen goods. Ray's loose adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Jewel of the Seven Stars" sounds like it should be a load of B-movie fun, and it has a cast that screams B-movie fun (more on that later), and it really, really tries to be B-movie fun, but it's from that early Ray filmmaking period before he started to embrace and work within his low-budget limitations in a more humorous and irreverent kind of way. In other words, this film seems like any other anonymously-directed horror exercise hampered by its low-budget limitations and lacking in a distinctive kind of humor and energy.
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The film does have some comedy (though much misses the mark), gore (a ripped out heart, a decapitation, a beetle under the skin, etc.) and T&A (cue Russ Meyer film graduate Kitten Natividad as a stripper), but the tone and pacing both seem off, it's actually a bit dull and also hard to forgive its false ad campaign. Exploitation vets Cameron Mitchell (as a receiver of one of the artifacts), John Carradine (as an Egyptologist) and Sybil Danning (as a criminal) were very prominently featured in the trailer and on the video box, but each only appears in a cameo or smaller supporting role. Danning's scene (which opens the film) seems like it belongs in an entirely different movie, Carradine is only around for a single scene and Mitchell has the largest role, which clocks in at around ten or so minutes before he's killed. The real stars are exploitation queen Bauer (who has her first lead role in a horror film right here... and was unfortunately dubbed for some strange reason), Pearson (who goes by the name David O'Hara now), Richard Alan Hench (as the son of one of the victims) and Susan Stokey (who plays Mitchell's niece).
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Dawn Wildsmith (who was married to the director around this time) shows up long enough to be pushed onto a bed of snakes while topless. Michael D. Sonye (the voice of the Imp in the legendary SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA) plays a waiter. A band decked out in Egyptian outfits (complete with dancing mummies) perform "Tutti Frutti" during a bar scene, and there's also a decent song called "Danger Boy" by Jeffrey Walton on the soundtrack. Oh well, at least they tried.

1/2

Time Walker (1982)

...aka: Being from Another Planet

Directed by:
Tom Kennedy

A killer mummy strikes a college campus and it wants it's precious ruby back. I saw this many many years ago and hated it, but it needs a rewatch.

Score: No rating.

Three on a Meathook (1972)

...aka: 3 on a Meathook!

Directed by:
William Girdler

Four young women on vacation break down along a country road in the middle of the night and are picked up by awkward Billy Townsend (James Pickett), who lets them come back to the secluded farm he shares with his controlling, widowed father. Pa (Charles Kissinger) doesn't exactly welcome the guests with open arms, but reluctantly caves in to his son's wishes if he agrees to take them into town in the morning. As the women are ready to turn in for the night, they're all attacked and brutally killed by an unseen assailant. One's stabbed to death while taking a bath, two are blasted with a shotgun and the fourth is decapitated with a hatchet (a brief, but grisly, effect). The next morning, poor, lonely Billy doesn't remember a thing but Pa insists he attacked and killed the women. Billy runs off to town to drown his sorrows in a nightclub and runs across a bitter barmaid named Sherry (Sherry Steiner). The two immediately hit it off, Billy invites her back to the farm and she decides to go spend a day or two there with her friend Becky (Madelyn Buzzard). Will history repeat itself, or will Billy's newfound love save the day? And what gives with all the mention of delicious, yet strange-tasting meat, that Pa serves everyone?
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Like DERANGED (1972; released in 1974) and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), this was loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein, and while it's not nearly as good as either of those other two films, it's not completely without its own special charm. The film is actually one of the first of its kind in the backwoods psycho genre, which would become popularized with the huge success of Chainsaw two years later and then revitalized a second time three decades after that with the release of the Chainsaw remake. After the first twenty or so minutes, the film settles down into a slower-paced, low-key psychodrama detailing Billy's attempts to live his own life away from his father. It's all pretty predictable, but Girdler at least throws us a curve ball at the very end, and even adds a little exposition. During the nightclub scenes, the action stops for two songs performed by a little known group called American Xpress. Thankfully, both songs are great. The acting is highly variable, though Pickett gives a fairly good performance.
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Linda Thompson, who plays the bathtub victim and is the one to provide most of the nudity, had been crowned Miss Tennessee in 1972 and was the girlfriend of Elvis Presley from 1972 to 1976. Their relationship was the subject of the TV movie ELVIS AND THE BEAUTY QUEEN (1981) starring Don Johnson and Stephanie Zimbalist. Thompson was also married to Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner for several years and is the mother of obnoxious reality TV "star" Brody Jenner. Linda and Bruce divorced after a couple of years and she eventually met and married composer David Foster. The two went on to write hits for such artists as Whitney Houston ("I Have Nothing;" which earned the couple an Oscar nomination), Josh Groban and others.
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Mr. Girdler would go on to become an independent success story during the 70s, later making the highly profitable genre films GRIZZLY (1976; a JAWS cash-in that ended up becoming one of the highest grossing films of its year), DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1976) and THE MANITOU (1977) before tragically dying in a helicopter accident in 1978.

★★

Three Cases of Murder (1955)

Directed by:
George Eady
George More O'Ferrall
Wendy Toye

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

They Live (1988)

...aka: Invasion Los Angeles
...aka: John Carpenter's The Thing

Directed by:
John Carpenter

Nada (played by former professional wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper) is a drifter swept under the rug by our system, who travels to Los Angeles to find construction work, and ends up homeless and struggling to get by. He stumbles upon a shipment of special sunglasses that reveal black and white visions of Earth being taken over by aliens, who are silently integrating themselves within the upper echelon of our society. Through the glasses, many "established" and "respectable" citizens moving up the business and political food chain are seen as skull-faced extraterrestrials, money says "This Is Your God" and billboards/signs have subliminal messages like, "Obey," "No Independent Thought" and "Marry and Reproduce". Carpenter's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS for the yuppie era is a clever, politically relevant attack on greed, high-level corruption and rampant 80s conservatism subtlely taking place under the surface of an oblivious society. It's smart, entertaining, intelligent and effectively satiric at times, though toward the end it resorts to formula action and sci-fi movie cliches. Piper, as it turns out, is a surprisingly appealing and competent actor, unlike most other wrestlers, singers and athletes who have attempted to have a film career. Carpenter also scripted (using the name "Frank Armitage" and basing it on the short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" by Ray Faraday Nelson) and did the score (with help from Alan Howarth).
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The cast includes Keith David as another construction worker who gets involved, Meg Foster in an underwritten role, George "Buck" Flower as a homeless man who gets a taste of power for the first time in his life, Peter Jason, Raymond St. Jacques as a preacher, Jason Robards III, John Lawrence, Susan Barnes, Sy Richardson, Susan Blanchard (from Carpenter's PRINCE OF DARKNESS), John F. Goff and Larry J. Franco (who produced the film). Though not perfect (with a ridiculously overlong fight scene thrown in), it's very ambitious and one of Carpenter's best films.

★★★

Thirst (1979)

Directed by:
Rod Hardy

Vampires who operate their own personal "clinic" target a woman who may be the reincarnation of Elisabeth Bathory. Strange and intriguing. Review coming soon.

★★★

They've Saved Hitler's Brain (1963)

...aka: Amazing M. H, The
...aka: Madman of Mandoras, The
...aka: Return of Mr. H, The

Directed by:
David Bradley

Jerry Warren look out! This scrambled mishmash has footage from some barely released 1950s source (titled MADMEN OF MANDORAS), with new footage from Bradley, a car crash scene stolen from the Robert Mitchum vehicle THUNDER ROAD (1958) and was shot at several different times in several different countries by different directors, cast and crew! Some of it was even photographed by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Stanley Cortez. You can tell because the production values in some scenes drastically drop right before your eyes! The plot, as is, involves a young woman who tracks down some missing relatives to the tropical Caribbean isle of Mandoras. She and her hubby soon discover that Neo-Nazis are regrouping and plotting to take over... by listening to the orders of Hitler, whose preserved head is still alive and giving orders! You've been warned.

Score: 2 out of 10

Terror Train (1979)

...aka: Monstre du train, Le
...aka: Train of Terror

Directed by:
Roger Spottiswoode

A bunch of nice, popular frat guys trick the horny college nerd (Derek McKinnon) into a bed with a topless (and armless) female corpse, from which the poor guy emerges in psychological shambles. After spending time in an institution, he secretly boards a train hosting a masquerade party for the graduating seniors, starts killing those responsible for his earlier traumatic experience and dons the costumes of each successive victim. One of the more popular slasher movies of the era, this (like all of Jamie Lee Curtis' early horror films other than HALLOWEEN) is actually pretty bland for the duration of its running time. The cast is OK (Ben Johnson is especially likable here as the train conductor), John Alcott's photography is stylish, David Copperfield's magic act is pretty fun to watch and there's an effective surprise ending to make it all tolerable. With Hart Bochner (APARTMENT ZERO), Sandee Currie (CURTAINS), former model and Prince protege "D.D. Winter"/Vanity (now working as an evangelist) and Joy Boushel.

★★

Terror Within, The (1988)

Directed by:
Thierry Notz

Producer Roger Corman brings us yet another futuristic ALIEN-inspired film with a little HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP thrown in for good measure, this time set on post-holocaust Earth. Some of our planet's last survivors (led by Andrew Stevens) have holed up in an underground scientific lab and are running out of supplies, so they investigate the surface and encounter "gargoyle things" (man-in-a-suit monsters designed by Dean Jones). A surviving girl is found and brought back to the lab, where scientists discover she's pregnant. During an attempted abortion, a small mutant monster bursts from the girls stomach, runs off, becomes full-grown, then returns later as a big, white creature with big claws and sharp fangs, to kill everyone off. Steam, guns and knives barely seem to phase it, but a dog whistle can slow it down (!) Toward the end, guest star George Kennedy gets to say "Die you miserable, ugly fuck!" Naturally this thing is full of cliches, but it's passable; decent sets, effects and acting (female leads are played by solidly by DANCE OF THE DAMNED's Starr Andreeff and THE NEST's Terri Treas). John Lafayette and Tommy Hinkley co-star. Stevens would return to directed, write and star in the direct-to-video sequel, THE TERROR WITHIN II, again for Corman.

★★

Terror on Tape (1985)

Directed by:
Robert A. Worms III

Cameron Mitchell (with a gray afro, dark eye shadow and pale face paint) is Shoppe, the owner of a video store specializing in shock. His first customer is a nerd suffering from hypertension who's wanting to rent a fine family film, but is shown clips from a series of horrors instead. By the way, all of the films covered in this compilation tape were once distributed by the company Continental Video. Footage from RETURN OF THE ALIENS: DEADLY SPAWN (1983), VAMPIRE HOOKERS (1979), BLOOD TIDE (1980), CATHY'S CURSE (1977), MADHOUSE MANSION (1974), FROZEN SCREAM (1980), TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976) and EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (1974) end up turning the nerd's hair gray and send him away in anger. His second customer is a construction worker wanting zombies. Instead, he's shown clips from KIDNAPPING OF THE PRESIDENT (!), the slasher NIGHTMARE (1981) and, finally a zombie film (sorta); CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (1980). When the guy wants a movie with hot ladies, Mitchell jokes about something called "Attack of the 50 Foot Mammaries" and then shows some topless scenes from a couple of movies already covered. This leads into THE SLAYER (1982), ALIEN PREY (1977) and the H.G. Lewis classics TWO-THOUSAND MANIACS (1964) and COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1964).
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Shoppe talks to a skull he claims is his mother and a rubber Spider named Herman before trying to shut down for the night. The clock strikes midnight and in wanders a sexy woman (played by Scream Queen Michelle Bauer; really camping it up here) through the fog. She claims she's never been scared in her life and wants extreme horror that will put her over the edge. A barrage of gory clips from the films we've already seen (plus BLOOD FEAST) do the trick. And that's about all she wrote folks! It's usually listed with a 1985 production date (which is what it says on the end credits), but this may have actually been filmed as early as 1983.

★★

Terror at Orgy Castle (1971)

Directed by:
Zoltan G. Spencer

As you can imagine from the subtle title, this is one of those very cheap, quickly shot early 70s soft-porn "horror" movies that completely misuses any horror trappings it may contain. It also seriously misuses dialogue. Well, actually it doesn't have any dialogue between characters because it was so low-budget they couldn't afford sound, so instead we get a narrator who never shuts up and a score that alternates between generic organ music for the "spooky" scenes and generic upbeat light rock for the sex scenes. Bill aka the narrator (William Howard) and his worldly girl Lisa (not sure of the actress... maybe Bambi Allen?) come across a creepy castle while on a European vacation. After Bill justifies why they would risk their lives hanging around there ("We've made it together practically everyone else, so I figured, why not?"), the two go inside and encounter a mute butler named (what else?) Igor and the castle owner, Countess Dominova (played with a bare minimum of enthusiasm by some woman who calls herself "Holly Woodstar.") Bill and Lisa decide to spend the night. Why? Well, the details are kind of fuzzy but it's basically because Lisa wants to mark "sex in a spooky castle" off her places-I-want-to-"make it" checklist. More narration follows that attempts to flesh out the characters... "Lisa fell in love with the antique furnishings... especially the old bed." Oh wait, that was just a cheap set-up for the ten-minute long sex scene to follow. My bad.

So after Bill and Lisa "make it" and "make it" some more, Bill finds a copy of "Dracula's Daughter" (which he looks at for about 5 seconds and suddenly knows all about succubi and various other Satanic things), a ghost appears in a mirror and he goes snooping around downstairs, where he finds the vampiric/Satanic Countess doing some decidedly odd things. First off, she rubs some magical gook on two naked ladies lying on the floor. Next thing you know she transforms into a he (complete with heavy mascara), so she/he can have sex with the two women. A nude blonde (Jane Tsentas) and another woman rape Bill later that night when he goes back to bed. Not shaken or stirred by the previous evening's activities, Bill decides to stick around another day so he can attend the Countess' costume party, where there will be ridiculous looking sequin costumes, food, dancing and "strange brew." After watching two people have sex on the dinner table while people rub grapes all over them, and a woman getting off by having a rat squished on her stomach (??), Bill and Lisa decide they've had enough, run upstairs, grab their bags and try to make an exit for the door. Oops! Too late. They're hypnotized and forced to take part in more orgy castle hijinks. Doh! During the soul-stirring conclusion, Bill is tied to a rack naked while being serviced by two ladies and Lisa is gang-raped by a bunch of guys who trade off wearing some hilarious-looking glittery sheep headdress. "One after the other the men donned that Satanic mask of animal virility..."

Best I can say is that I'm glad to have another of these obscure sex-horror combos checked off my list. There's plenty of sex scenes and a ton of full nudity from both the ladies and the dudes, so as a sex film I guess it delivers the goods. I'll give it a couple of points for that. Everything else about it is awful, from the acting to the "comic" narration to the cheap looking set (the same ones used for DR. TERROR'S GALLERY OF HORRORS and BLOOD OF DRACULA'S CASTLE) to the flat photography to the boring music score. No credits are provided for the film (not that anyone would want credit for it). Something Weird has paired it up with EVIL COME, EVIL GO (an exploitation-sex-shocker that blows ORGY CASTLE out of the water if you ask me) and THE HAND OF PLEASURE (which I haven't watched yet) for the DVD release.

1/2

Terror at London Bridge (1985) (TV)

...aka: Arizona Ripper
...aka: Bridge Across Time

Directed by:
E.W. Swackhamer

The London Bridge is transported to Lake Havasu, Arizona and reconstructed there brick by brick, but the spirit of legendary lady killer Jack the Ripper also comes along for the trip and is unleashed (via a drop of blood) onto the unsuspecting public. Suddenly, women are being murdered, a detective (David Hasselhoff) is called in to investigate and city officials (*yawn*) try to cover it all up so it doesn't cut into their tourism. Routinely directed with a predictable formula script full of stock characters and situations, this made-for-TV movie (originally broadcast as BRIDGE ACROSS TIME but on VHS under the title TERROR AT LONDON BRIDGE) actually copies many ideas from German director Ulli Lommel's obscure 1983 thriller OLIVIA (aka FACES OF FEAR). The cast (Stepfanie Kramer, Adrienne Barbeau, Clu Gulager, Lindsay Bloom, Ken Swofford, Rose Marie, Lane Smith, Barbara Bingham) is pretty interesting, at least.

★★

Le locataire (1976)

...aka: Tenant, The

Directed by:
Roman Polanski

Psychological horror about a timid Polish office worker (played by the director) who unravels when he moves into a new apartment whose former occupant committed suicide. Based on a Roland Topor novel. Review coming soon.

★★★

Tenement (1985)

...aka: Game of Survival
...aka: Slaughter in South Bronx
...aka: Tenement: Game of Survival

Directed by:
Roberta Findlay

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Tell-Tale Heart, The (1953)

Directed by:
Ted Parmelee

Review coming soon.

★★★★

Teen Wolf Too (1987)

...aka: Teen Wolf 2

Directed by:
Christopher Leitch

Producer Kent Bateman (who had directed the schlocky gore flick THE HEADLESS EYES for porn producer Henri Pachard back in 1971) gave his son Jason Bateman (then a popular teen heartthrob from the Valerie TV series, which was also produced by Kent) the lead in this sequel. Thanks dad! Jason plays Todd Howard, cousin of the character played by Michael J. Fox in the original, a college student (studying crustacean reproduction?!) and amateur boxer, who wins the girl of his dreams and in the ring thanks in part to becoming a werewolf. Lifeless, unfunny and annoying rehash of the original; just another one of those films made to squeeze some more money out of an idea that wasn't any good in the first place. It also wastes perfectly good supporting players James Hampton and Mark Holton (both repeating his role from the original), Kim Darby, John Astin and Kathleen Freeman. Daddy Bateman also backed the film MOVING TARGET (which was made for TV) and produced and directed BREAKING THE RULES (which wasn't) for his son to star in.

NO STARS!

Teen Wolf (1985)

Directed by:

Rod Daniel

Michael J. Fox (just then starting to get huge because of the Family Ties TV series) stars as Scott, a teenager who learns that he is among a long line of werewolves. His dad (James Hampton) is also one but has managed to conceal it all these years. It takes a while for Scott to become used to the wolf tendencies, but he eventually uses them to both snag attractive girls and help his high school during their annual basketball championship. A surprise box-office hit, this corny, stupid and completely predictable teen comedy opened the floodgates for dozens of similar films mixing horror elements, brain-dead teen comedy and a "feel good" message that saturated the market in the mid/late 80s. And that's something difficult to forgive. Not only was it popular enough to have scores of immitations, it also spawned an animated TV series and an even-worse sequel starring fellow TV star Jason Bateman. Showtime later reworked the same idea for a kids movie called BIG AND HAIRY. Alright, stop snickering.
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The cast includes Mark Holton as typical overweight comic relief named (ugh) Chubby, Lorie Griffin (CHEERLEADER CAMP), Doug Savant (who'd go on to star on the TV shows Melrose Place and Desperate Housewives), Scott Paulin, Elizabeth Gorcey (ICED), Troy Evans as a basketball coach, Richard Domeier (EVIL DEAD II), Jim McKrell and Playboy Playmate Lynda Wiesmeier.
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Pointless trivia bit: Pay special attention to a scene in the high school gym where a hired extra actually briefly flashes his manhood before the camera.

Score: 3 out of 10

Vineyard, The (1988)

Directed by:
James Hong
William Rice

As of this writing, Chinese-American character actor James Hong has appeared in over 350 (!) films and TV shows, beginning in the mid 1950s. Throughout his career, he was often used in small or stereotypical supporting roles (which he has commented negatively upon in the press a time or two), but he eventually got around to co-directing, writing, producing and starring in his very own horror film, and here it is. He's Dr. Elson Po, a wealthy vineyard owner who produces the finest wines this side of Italy. His sinister business is actually a front for his youth-preserving wine, which he needs to survive, along with a special amulet he stole from his mother (Vivian Lee) many years earlier. Without either, he reverts back to being a very old man. Also around are a garden full of killer zombies, lingerie-clad women chained up in the dungeon, martial arts fighting henchman, snakes and tarantulas.
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Dr. Po's friend Paul Edmonds (Karl-Heinz Teuber) poses as a film producer to lure a group of young actors and actresses to his island mansion with the prospect of film roles. Instead, they're all killed off one by one in a variety of different ways (human corpses are the main ingredient in his wine). For some reason (*cough* Hong co-wrote it *cough*) gorgeous Playboy centerfold Karen Witter wants his body. People are stabbed, decapitated and castrated, and when magic spells are cast a girl pukes up spiders and acupuncture pins pop out of a guy's neck. Some of the characters are extremely annoying (especially the himbo surfer dude), much of the acting is bad and the story is overloaded and all kinds of silly, but I'll give it a little credit for at least trying to be different. The production values are sufficient and there's probably enough action, gore and nudity to entertain most B-movie fans.
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The cast also includes Michael Wong as our nerdy hero, Lars Wanberg, Cheryl Lawson (who also starred in THE DEAD PIT), Sean P. Donahue and lots of stunt men and women in smaller roles.

★★

Vampire on Bikini Beach (1988)

...aka: Vampires on Bikini Beach

Directed by:
Jerry Brady

In Venice, California, a bunch of vapid 20-somethings ("This killing stuff is really making me feel weird. Can we change the subject?") spend their days bouncing around on the beach and their nights hanging out in neon pink lit clubs listening to Journey knock offs and ordering Screaming Orgasms. A bunch of young women are being murdered in the area; their bodies marked with puncture wounds on the neck and each drained of blood. Rock band drummer and computer expert "Weird Harold" (Todd Kaufmann) thinks it's a vampire, but no one seems to believe him except for bubbly bikini shop worker Judy (Jennifer Badham). While walking through an alley, their friends Bob (Stephen Mathews) and Kim (Nancy Rogers) bump into a couple of hooded cultists, who drop a book as they pass by. Kim takes it home with her and it starts glowing and smoking, so they take it to a bookstore owner who tells them they're in possession of "The Book of the Dead," which was used by a cult of demon-worshippers in the Middle Ages. They leave it with priest Dr. Gower (Jacques Dury) to decypher some symbols, but he's murdered and the book disappears again. The man behind it all is a vampire named Falto (Marius Olbrychowski) who wants to find his perfect mate with his "army of the dead;" pale-faced zombie henchmen led by bat-faced Demos (William Hao).
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There are two syrupy love montages, several scenes at the club where a band performs two full songs (such as "Loaded With Love Tonight") and one bikini dance montage to help eat up time. The acting's terrible, it's boring and not even good for unintentional laughs. It can't seem to make up its mind who the protagonist is and one of the girls narrates the film (likely to try to make some sense out of it). The best scene is the opening credits, which feature speeded up cars driving down the highway and a giant moon. With Jennifer Jostyn (MILO, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES) and Ken Abraham (CREEPOZOIDS, BLOODY MOVIE).

Jungfrukällan (1960)

...aka: Virgin Spring, The

Directed by:
Ingmar Bergman

Review coming soon.

★★★

Venus Flytrap (1987)

Directed by:
T. Michael

Lots of nudity and sex are the main selling points of this videotaped obscurity, which goes out of its way to try to copy the Italian sleazefest THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK. Three very annoying, overacting punks (two male, one female) rob a music store, beat up the clerk and stick a record in his mouth before following two shop-lifting yuppies back to a snooty party. They threaten to kill everyone, play "strip darts" and Russian Roulette, beat a guy up and try to rape the best looking girl. Little do they know, but the people they are harassing are actually (gulp!) psychotic necrophiliacs. The punks get exactly what they deserve when their unwitting hosts seduce and then kill them all off. Too bad it takes so long to get to that point. A nerdy voyeur videotapes everything, and the victims are all attacked while having sex. Admittedly, it's a good exploitation premise even when it's being recycled, and this film has plenty of flesh on display (male and female) but it's so obnoxious, smug and badly acted, it's not all that enjoyable to sit through. The sets (sparse decor, bare walls, potted plants, etc.), overly bright lighting and videotaped quality all bring to mind the feel of a porn production from the period, so I wouldn't be one bit surprised if director "T. Michael" normally works in that field.
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The cast includes Kimberley Kates (going by the name "Kimberley LaBelle" here), Steve Malis (who also produced the film), Kevin Glover (from LOVE BITES; also a producer) and Deirdre West (HELL SPA). It was released to VHS by the obscure label Legacy Home Video, who also released the awful and equally obscure shot-on-video anthology PIECES OF DARKNESS (1988).

After Death (Oltre la morte) (1988)

...aka: After death - L'isola maledetta
...aka: Zombi 4
...aka: Zombie 4
...aka: Zombie 4: After Death
...aka: Zombie Flesh Eaters 3

Directed by:
Claudio Fragasso

On a tropical island, a team of scientists trying to come up with a cure for cancer make the mistake of first treating a voodoo priest's young daughter. The girl dies and her scorned father decides to use "The Book of the Dead" to bring forth a horde of zombies, starting with his own wife. Out of that mess, only a little girl named Jenny - who has been given a special amulet by her mother before she's killed - manages to escape with her life. Twenty years later, the now abandoned isle is visited by two groups of people. The first consist of three backpackers - hunky Chuck (Chuck Peyton, the real name of gay porn star Jeff Stryker), David ("Alex McBride"/ Massimo Vanni) and Valerie (who prefers not to receive credit, thank you very much) - checking to see if there's any validity to the zombie island legend. The second consists of a four army pals (Jim Gaines, Nick Nicholson, Don Wilson and Jim Moss), one of their girlfriends (Adrianne Joseph) and a now-grown Jenny (Candice Daly), who are there because some kind of mystical force draws their boat to the island. The occasional zombie is still lurking about, but even more will be crawling out of their graves once one of these nimrods decides to read a passage from "The Book of the Dead;" the title of which is hilariously written on the front of the book with a sharpie!
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Just like the previous film in this bogus retitled "series," this is horribly dubbed, full of terrible dialogue, overuse of a fog machine, brainless action and hokey gore effects, and it can't seem to make up its mind about what kind of zombies it wants to present to us. Call me a traditionalist if you want, but I've always preferred the slower-moving variety of living dead, even though I can deal with fast-movers if that's how they're consistently presented. What I can't deal with is a film that tries to have it both ways. Some of the zombies here slowly shuffle along like they do in Romero or Fulci movies, but others run, jump and suddenly leap offscreen like they're ninja assassins. The look of the zombies also differ; some are dressed like average people but others are clad in robes and headscarves. So I guess what we have here is an Italian production with badly dubbed American lead actors running around the Filino jungle fighting off Middle Eastern flavored zombies. Sounds better than it actually is, folks.
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Director Fragasso (billed as "Clyde Anderson" here) is best known for TROLL 2, which to many is the holy grail of terrible horror. Unfortunately, all the machine gun firing, fighting and blood being flung around gets tedious in no time and this doesn't have much of that bad movie lunacy we'd later encounter in Nilbog.
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The 2002 DVD release from Shriek Show features interviews with Stryker, Daly (whose drug-related death in 2004 is apparently still under investigation) and Fragasso.

1/2

Zombie 3 (1987)

...aka: Zombi 3
...aka: Zombie Flesh Eaters 2

Directed by:
Claudio Fragasso
(uncredited)
Lucio Fulci
Bruno Mattei
(uncredited)

A man steals the "Death One" compound from a top secret military lab, is shot while trying to escape and becomes infected. He makes his way to a hotel, chops off his hand, turns into a zombie, kills a maid and infects a room service waiter before the military barge in to contain the infection. They're successful, but unfortunately not smart enough about disposing of the bodies and decide to just toss them all into an incinerator, sending toxic ash into the skies. The local bird population then become carriers of the disease and start attacking and pecking people, who then become infected, puss-oozing killers. Three American soldiers (future director Deran Sarafian, "Richard Raymond"/ Ottaviano Dell'Acqua and "Alex Mc Bride"/ Massimo Vanni), a bus full of tourists and a young woman (Beatrice Ring) traveling with her brother hole up in an abandoned resort trying to avoid not only the zombies but also the soldiers since they've been instructed by General Morton (Mike Monty) to kill everyone located inside the contaminated area, whether they're infected or not.
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Some call this awful and some call it enjoyably over-the-top trash, but either way it's not "good" in the traditional sense. And with no less than three directors working on the project, it's no wonder. Fulci, who would later disown it and call it the worst thing he ever worked on, shot about 70 minutes of footage before leaving the film due to bad health. Most of his footage did end up in the finished product (some sources claim around 60%) and the rest was filled in by Mattei and screen writer Fragasso. As a result, there's noticable shift between the tone, the presentation of the zombies and the overall ambience. The fog machine seems to be working in overdrive one moment as zombies slowly shuffle along in the streets, but by the next scene we have speeded-up action of living dead who are anything but dead. Hell, they're downright acrobatic; running, leaping from high places or through walls, showing individual strength by wrestling and throwing people to the ground and hanging upside down from rafters to grab at people!
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It's fast-paced and loaded with blood, variable gore effects, stuntwork and brainless action scenes (including several big explosions), with the lead male characters doing karate kicks and constantly showing off with hilarious unneeded flips while fighting zombies. In fact, much of the time it seems more inspired by RAMBO and other popular action movies of the time than it does the films its title sequelizes. Toward the end there's even a hilarious copy of the famous Willem Dafoe shot in PLATOON as a helicopter flies away! Combine with some of the worst dubbing and dialogue known to made and you've got something that will tickle certain people's funny bones... but just tick everyone else off.
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The "Zombi" series, just like the later-half of the "Demons" series, is strictly in-name-only with nothing to really connect each film other than the zombie theme. Romero's masterpiece DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) was released as ZOMBI in Europe, became a huge hit and led to the Fulci-directed cash-in ZOMBI 2 (1979), which in turn led to more and more "sequels," including this one, ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH (1988), ZOMBIE 5: THE KILLING BIRDS (1987; yep it was filmed before 4), ZOMBIE 6: MONSTER HUNTER (1981; yep, it was filmed before 3, 4 and 5), etc. ZOMBI(E) 3 actually isn't even the only film to use the same sequel title. It was also used in different markets (often as a reissue title) for BEYOND THE LIVING DEAD (1972), LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (1979), ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (1980), BURIAL GROUND (1981) and others.

1/2

Zaat (1972)

...aka: Attack of the Swamp Creatures
...aka: Blood Waters of Dr. Z
...aka: Dr. Z
...aka: Hydra
...aka: Legend of the Zaat Monster

Directed by:
Don Barton

Review coming soon.

NO STARS!

Zombie Nightmare (1986)

Directed by:
Jack Bravman

Muscular "teenager" Jon-Mikl Thor (a hard-to-believe one-time popular Canadian rock singer who was also in the unbelievably awful heavy metal horror vanity production ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE and is way too old for this role) stars as good samaritan Tony Washington, who manages to save a local grocery from two robbers but is unable to save his own ass when some obnoxious punks (including Tia Carrere in her film debut) mow him over with their car, leave him for dead and then flee the scene of the crime. His disgruntled mother (Francesca Bonacorsa) goes to a voodoo priestess (Manuska Rigaud) for help and Tony is brought back from the dead (in awful make-up) to get revenge. Adam "Batman" West guest stars as a police chief. This one is so tame and lightweight it almost seems like an attempted throwback to older horror films. Well, except for the fact it's horribly acted, boring, unoriginal and has laughable makeups. It pretty much falls into the unwatchable category, was ridiculed on an episode of MST3K and currently has a nice position on IMDb's Bottom 100 list. Metal heads will at least approve of the soundtrack, consisting of songs by Thor, Motorhead and Girlschool (among others). Frank Dietz stars as a detective, along with Linda Singer (JUNIOR), John Fasano and Walter Massey (EVIL JUDGMENT).

Tales of Frankenstein (1958) (TV)

Directed by:
Curt Siodmak

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Tell-Tale Heart, The (1960)

...aka: Hidden Room of 1000 Horrors
...aka: Horror Man, The
...aka: Panic

Directed by:
Ernest Morris

Hey, Bill Castle wasn't the only one using gimmicks in the 1960s. This one opens with the foreward "To those who are squeamish or react nervously to shock, we suggest that when you hear this sound..." The screen then fades to black and we hear a heartbeat. "...close your eyes and do not look at the screen again until it stops." And when the very first scene begins, what do we hear? A heartbeat, of course! Strangely, this little gimmick isn't even really used in the film during the more violent scenes that may actually effect squeamish people, but instead is a sound used (along with dripping water, a ticking clock and clammering metal) to illustrate the lead character's inner turmoil. Librarian Edgar Marsh (Laurence Payne) is suffering from nightmares. Sniffing a mysterious white powder (hmm... cocaine?) seems to help calm him down, but it doesn't help change the fact he's lonely, painfully shy, socially backward and sexually inept. After being turned off by an aggressive woman at a bar, he returns home to flip through nude postcards while slowly rocking in a chair. Hey, even though it's loosely based on Poe there's nothing wrong with throwing some D.H. Lawrence in here too, is there?

The very next day, he spots an attractive young woman exiting a carriage. Her name is Betty Clare (Adrienne Corri), she's just moved to town to work as a florist and is going to be living right across the road from Edgar. In fact, her window is adjacent from his so he has no problem peeping in as Betty brushes her hair and changes clothes. Edgar quickly becomes infatuated and wants to ask Betty out but doesn't know how to go about it, so he turns to his best friend Carl Loomis (Dermot Walsh) for advice. Carl and Edgar share a love for chess, but couldn't be any more different otherwise. Carl is debonair, outgoing, charming, popular with the ladies, a good dancer and a world traveler with varied interests.

Edgar finally works up the nerve to ask out Betty and the two go on a couple of awkward dates. But when Betty is introduced to Carl, she's instantly smitten, and so is he. One evening Edgar is watching Betty's window and sees her and Carl making love. In a rage, he lures Carl over, murders him with a fire poker and buries his body under floorboards in a room he keeps locked. From then on out, he begins to sink deeper into madness; haunted by the sound of Carl's still-beating heart...

A low-budget, low-key, set-bound psychological horror tale from Brigadier Film Associates; this was basically swept under the rug during its day and has since been pretty much forgotten. And that's not really much of a surprise since it was made the same year as the controversial PEEPING TOM and the extremely popular PSYCHO; both expertly made films with strong psycho-sexual content. Despite the fact this isn't as good as the two aforementioned films, it's still well worth watching. Payne gives a well-modulated performance as an awkward, reclusive man gradually becoming unglued. Walsh and the very expressive Corri are also good in their roles. The Victorian era production design is passable, though not particularly detailed.

The film deals almost exclusively with the three aforementioned characters, though small roles are played by Selma Vaz Diaz (maid), John Scott and John Martin (detectives who show up at the very end), Annette Carell (landlady) and David Lander (jeweler). The film may have been released as late as 1963 here in America.

★★★
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