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.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

...aka: Blood of the Werewolf

Directed by:
Gene Fowler, Jr.

Up until the point this film was made, producers had really underestimated teenagers, their love for the horror genre and how much of a dent they could make at the box office if there was a film that directly related to them. And that's something really hard to imagine these days, where it seems like theatrically-released horror films geared toward an adult audience are few and far between; with the majority of big screen genre releases rated PG-13, cast with flavor-of-the-week CW Channel model types of limited (or no) talent and edited like a music video to help ADD-addled brains fight the temptation to start clicking cell phone buttons in the darkened recesses of our nation's cinemas. However, things were quite different back in 1957, when horror films were primarily considered adult fair. That all changed with the release of this film.
.
Thanks to a brilliant last-minute title change (it was originally called BLOOD OF THE WEREWOLF), obvious parallels between its angst-ridden lead and Jim Stark (played by James Dean) in the hit REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955), issues concerning everything from teen dating to how parents just don't understand, an ear for teen lingo of its day and a marketing campaign designed to draw attention to the high school setting/teen appeal, this caught on with a younger audience in a big way. Suddenly a small film meagerly budgeted at 82,000 dollars went on to become a smash hit, raking in millions during its original run. Others immediately tried to cash in, leading to I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (1957), MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS (1958), TEENAGE MONSTER (1958), TEENAGE ZOMBIES (1959), TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) and others. Teenage Werewolf is also notable for being the first lead role for actor Michael Landon, who'd go on to become a huge and enduring television star for playing Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza, Pa Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie and angel Jonathan Smith on Highway to Heaven.
.
At Rockdale High School, juvenile delinquent Tony Rivers (Landon) has a tendency to "hide behind jive talk," scream and explode into violent rages. Yessir, he has some major anger management issues and is rather easy to set off. Make a loud noise near him and he'll pummel your face in. The troubles may be stemming from home. Mom's dead and while dad's a nice enough guy, he's a weak disciplinarian who keeps long hours at work and doesn't get to spend much time with his son. After getting into a fist fight with his friend Jimmy (Tony Marshall), a local police officer (Barney Phillips) suggests Tony visit psychologist Dr. Alfred Brandon (Whit Bissell). Tony's resistant at first until his rage gets the better of him at a Halloween party, so he finally breaks down and goes to see Brandon, hoping he can help him control his rage. Instead, evil Dr. Brandon sees the perfect specimen for his regression hypnotherapy experiments. These sessions (complete with an injection of something-or-other) reduce Tony to his animal instincts and before long he's time-lapsing into a clawed, fanged, drooling, hairy-faced werewolf and attacking random people.
.
Tony kills his friend Frank (Michael Rougas) while he takes a shortcut through the woods late at night and then kills gymnast Teresa (May 1957 Playboy Playmate Dawn Richard) in the high school gym the following day. Faculty and students see the beast fleeing the school and recognize the jacket as being Tony's. Police are called in, a torch-carrying mob is organzied and the hunt is on for the teenage werewolf. Throw in a dog vs. werewolf fight and a random musical number (Kenny Miller's "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe") and the mix is complete.
.
The cast also includes Yvonne Lime as Tony's understanding girlfriend, Malcolm Atterbury (THE BIRDS) as the teen wolf's dad, Vladimir Sokoloff (MR. SARDONICUS) as Pepe the school janitor (who seems to know all about werewolves) and Louise Lewis (BLOOD OF DRACULA) as the high school principal.

★★★

Brain of Blood (1971)

...aka: Brain, The
...aka: Brain Damage
...aka: Creature's Revenge, The
...aka: Oozing Skull, The
...aka: Undying Brain, The

Directed by:
Al Adamson


Abdul Amir (Reed Hadley), the beloved and respected leader of a fictional Middle Eastern country called Khalid, is dying of cancer, so he, his doctor friend Robert Nigserian (Grant Williams) and his assistant Mohammed (Zandor Vorkov) make arrangements to have his brain transplanted into another body. After he dies, Amir's aluminum-foil wrapped body is then hand delivered to Dr. Lloyd Trenton (Kent Taylor) in America for the operation. Trenton can't wait to try out his new machine, which uses lasers to cut through skulls without damaging the brain, and after using a scalpel to peel back the skin, he finally puts the machine to work, removes the brain (which looks nothing like a human brain and is in fact came from a local butcher!) and then hooks the brain up to some machine with electrodues and tubes to circulate blood through it to keep it fresh. The blood transfusions come from a couple of unwilling female prisoners - Katherine (Vicki Volante) and some nearly-dead, unnamed Asian girl (Margo Hope), who are kept chained up in the dungeon and are tormented by the doctor's cackling dwarf assistant Dorro (Angelo Rossitto) before he drains them of their blood.

While Dr. Trenton waits, his giant, bald, retarded, acid-scarred conehead henchman Gor (John Bloom) goes out looking for a nice, strong body to house the disembodied brain in. He pushes a thief off a fire escape and brings the body back to his lab. It's rejected by Dr. Trenton, who instead decides to put Amir's brain into Gor's body. He also arranges for an assassin to kill the guys from India. The assassin runs them off the road but Robert manages to bail out before the car explodes and then picks up Amir's lady friend Tracy Wilson (Regina Carroll, with her amazing giant platinum blonde hair) at the airport. The two of them then head to Trenton's mountaintop clinic, where Amir awakens, freaks out about his appearance and puts the beat down on both Trenton and Robert. Tracy mutters something about a plot to overthrow Khalid (?) then flees into the woods with Amir-Gor. Meanwhile, Katherine manages to get keys to her shackles and then tries to navigate her way out of the dark, rat-and-spider-filled dungeon, which sees to extend for miles.

The last half hour basically consists of Amir-Gor, Tracy, Trenton (now armed with some sonar device that can control the monster), Robert and Katherine running around outside trying to find one another and is capped off with a surprise twist ending. There's some truly terrible acting (particularly in the case of Ms. Carroll), silly dialogue, a bit of gore (the brain transplant scene, which is very bloody and fairly well done, goes on for about five minutes), a car chase, a couple of explosions and a Gor flashback that reveals the history of his deformity (a couple of rednecks took his toy away, hit him with a shovel and then poured battery acid in his face). It's cheap, badly made and overloaded with assorted nonsense. In other words, your standard Al Adamson flick.
.
Samuel M. Sherman wrote the story and produced. The cast also includes Richard Smedley (THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED) and Bruce Kimball (NAZI LOVE CAMP 7). It's available on DVD either in its original format through Image Ent. or in the series "Cinematic Titanic" (under the title THE OOZING SKULL); with silhouette commentary from some of the people behind the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000. I always recommend watching these films in their original format without being distracted by being spoon fed wisecracks the whole time, but whatever floats your boat...

Strait-Jacket (1964)

Directed by:
William Castle


Director/producer William Castle was best known for supplementing his campy fright films with fun theatrical gimmicks, utilizing everything from "death by fright" insurance policies to 3-D ghost viewer glasses to flying plastic skeletons to wiring theater seats to give audiences a mild electric jolt. In 1964, he would employ what many people considered his greatest gimmick of all - Joan Crawford. The advertising promised that the film "vividly depicts ax murders" and they even handed out cardboard axes to theater-goers during its initial run, but this film is still all about Crawford, who gives her all playing convicted axe-murderess Lucy Harbin. After spending twenty years in an asylum for chopping her husband and his mistress to pieces, a rehabilitated Lucy has been released and is sent to live on a farm with her brother Bill (Leif Erickson), sister-in-law Emily (Rochelle Hudson) and estranged sculptress daughter Carol (Diane Baker). Lucy tries to return to a normal life, and re-connect with her daughter, but is being haunted by horrific visions (children chanting a rhyme about her original crime, heads and a bloody axe in her bed, etc.) that threaten to send her back to the loony bin. Oh yeah, and a new series of axe murders begin all over again. Is Lucy really losing her mind? Is someone else trying to make her think she is? Or is someone else trying to implicate her in a new series of crimes?

Like previously stated, this is Crawford's show all the way. She dominates the proceedings whether it be the quieter, heartfelt reunions scenes to the campier or more emotional moments, such as when she starts furiously knitting while dodging a doctor's questions or when she gets drunk, tries to seduce her daughter's boyfriend and then lights a match off the grooves of a playing record! She also has some great dramatic scenes, especially one where she confronts her potential son-in-law's snobby elitist mother (Edith Atwater). While Crawford's excellent performance is the main reason to tune in (the actress also toured across the country to sign autographs, meet fans and promote this film), it's not the only reason to tune in.
.
The film is enjoyably scripted by Robert (PSYCHO) Bloch. Nearly the entire supporting cast is very good, particularly Baker as the daughter and George Kennedy in an early role as the sleazy farmhand. And that's Lee Majors as Crawford's husband during the opening sequence. The only really amateurish performance comes from Mitchell Cox as the asylum doctor who pays the farm a visit to check up on Lucy. He was the vice president of Pepsi at the time and was hired at Crawford's insistence (also look for several Pepsi product placements). As far as "vivid" axe murders go, this does deliver severed heads galore and several brief - but memorable - decapitations.

The DVD release from RCA/Columbia features a good 15-minute documentary on this production called BATTLE AXE: THE MAKING OF "STRAIT-JACKET" (2002), featuring interviews with Baker and various film critics, historians and fans, as well as some great vintage clips of Castle, Crawford and Bloch promoting the film.

★★★

Mirage (1989)

Directed by:
Bill Crain

One of the more obscure horror efforts of 1989, this low-budgeter plays like a mix of Beverly Hills 90210 (yuck), teen slasher flick and DUEL-inspired killer truck thriller, with roving camerawork that seems inspired by the MAD MAX films. Somewhere in the middle of the desert, some young adults are hanging out doing the usual. Well, if you count having sex in a the bed of a moving, driverless truck while some horrible rock singer screeches "I want to play with your poodle" as the "usual." With that stupid five-minute quickie behind them, blonde Chris (Jennifer McAllister) and her surfer dude look blonde boyfriend Greg (Kenneth Johnson, who speaks in an irritating Valley Dude accent) decide to shoot some arrows and frolic in the desert like two brainless beach party rejects in lurv. They're waiting on some friends to show up at their campsite for a little get-together. Trip (Kevin McParland), the mullet-headed "smart ass" of the group, who gets off on running over bunny rabbits, and Trip's shrill/bitchy girlfriend Mary (Nicole Anton) encounter a mysterious black pick-up truck with tinted windows. The truck chases after them, corners them and acts like it's going to crash into them before it disappears into thin air. Not overly concerned about the incident, Trip and Mary finally join their friends for some beers around a campfire.

Also showing up to complicate matters is Kyle (Todd Schaefer), who is Greg's brother and Chris's ex-boyfriend. Kyle wants to win back Chris, so he's brought along a bouncy bimbo named Bambi to make Chris jealous. Since Bambi is played by third-string Scream Queen Laura Albert (THE UNNAMABLE, DR. CALIGARI, etc.), the director makes sure he gets his money's worth by having Laura flash her breasts about half a dozen times during a tag football game. Afterward, Kyle gets Chris alone to lets her know how he feels and how he's changed, and the gang find a note left on their jeep's windshield that reads "You are all going to die." Hmmm...

After getting into a fight with Greg, Kyle takes off. Bambi goes home and Kyle decides to just ride his motorcycle around for a little bit. Back at the campfire, the black truck reappears and tries to run over Greg. Greg is convinced it's Kyle trying to get revenge. Before morning, both of the vehicles will be gone (their truck is even blown up with a grenade!), two of the them will be dead and the survivors must scurry across the desert as the mysterious black truck tries to track them down. The killer truck driver even likes to toy with his victims, leaving behind bloody body parts and threatening notes. There's some action, the long stretches of flat desert are fairly well used, the camerawork is good at times and there's a bit of gore (a neck is slashed, someone is run over, someone is shot through the face with an arrow, etc.) It's a long way off from DUEL, but it's not all terrible and there are some good scenes. Unfortunately, when the silly killer is finally revealed toward the end it's a big disappointment and any of the suspense and ambiguity built up during the film is all lost.

★★

Histoires extraordinaires (1968)

... aka: Spirits of the Dead
... aka: Tales of Mystery
... aka: Tales of Mystery and Imagination
... aka: Tre passi nel delirio
... aka: Trois histoires d'Edgar Poe

Directed by:
Federico Fellini
Louis Malle
Roger Vadim

Three top European directors take on the works of Edgar Allan Poe in this impressively mounted three-part horror anthology. Roger Vadim's "Metzengerstein" is incredibly beautiful. It was shot around great-looking, crumbling oceanfront castles and is remarkably photographed, costumed and scored. It's just a shame the core plotting is so weak and the segment is otherwise forgettable. The evil Baroness Frederique (a sometimes kinkily clad Jane Fonda, the director's wife at the time) is an insatiable tyrant who presides over orgies and sadistic, dehumanizing games. When she destroys a pure soul; her distant cousin Wilhelm (Peter Fonda), horses and fire play a key role in her demise. Though subtle, the romantic implications between the sibling actors is a bit discomforting at times. "William Wilson," by Louis Malle, is a well done, entertaining and underrated reworking of the old doppelganger theme starring Alain Delon as an arrogant lout and his better half, a exact copy who drives him crazy by putting a halt to his evil impulses. Odd story structure here and Brigitte Bardot (in a black wig) is good support during a fateful card game. And then comes the really great stuff...

"Toby Dammit" (released separately as "Never Bet the Devil Your Head"), a brilliant and sometimes supremely chilling piece of enigmatic filmmaking from Federico Fellini. Terence Stamp (not long after his award-winning performance in The Collector) is a marvel of facial expressions as boozy, obnoxious British movie star Toby Dammit, who falls apart at the seams upon arriving in Italy to start production on a Western reworking of the story of Christ. Instead he becomes imprisoned in his own personal hell. In every possible technical department, this segment is a triumph and the creepy finale (borrowing a key image from Mario Bava's Kill, Baby... Kill!) has lost absolutely none of its impact. The score by Nino Rota, art direction/ production design by Ghislain Uhry and Carlo Reva and cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno all deserve special recognition in this segment.

"Metzengerstein" also features Françoise Prévost (Murder Clinic), Serge Marquand (The Grapes of Death) and Philippe Lemaire (Blood Rose). John Karlsen (Terror in the Crypt) and Katia Christine (The Hand That Feeds the Dead) are in "William Wilson." Salvo Randone (from Fellini - Satyricon), Ernesto Colli (DEADLY INHERITANCE) and Dakar (Zombie) are in "Toby Dammit."

The version I saw (entitled Tales of Mystery and Imagination) was a great-looking, subtitled print, though a dubbed version also exists featuring narration by Vincent Price.

★★★1/2

Stigma (1977) (TV)

...aka: Ghost Story for Christmas: Stigma

Directed by:
Lawrence Gordon Clark


One of the later entries in the Ghost Story for Christmas BBC series, which lasted through much of the 70s; putting out one short film per year from 1971 to 1978. While doing some landscaping near a country home, a pair of workers attempt to remove a huge rock with a bulldozer. As the stone is lifted up, something sinister seems to be released from underneath. Suddenly, mum Katharine Delgado (Kate Binchy) starts to experience strange noises and visions, before noticing she's bleeding around her ribcage. Upon further inspection, there's no wound or cut; the blood seems to simply be coming from her pores. She wraps herself in a bandage and doesn't say anything, as not to worry husband Peter (Peter Bowles) and teenage daughter Verity (Maxine Gordon). Later that evening the bleeding seems to stop and Katharine goes to bed only the awaken the next day... And right here's where I better just stop with the plot synopsis.

Overall, it's a decent 32-minute short subject, with minor plotting and average acting. The premise itself is fairly creepy (as is a clever aerial shot at the very end of the film), though it doesn't quite get under your skin as well as A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972), an earlier entry from the same director (Lawrence Gordon Clark). This one does have some nudity and blood in it, plus the great song "Mother's Little Helper" by The Rolling Stones is played. Followed by THE ICE HOUSE (1978), which ended up being the last "Ghost Story" until the series was briefly revived in 2000 with host Christopher Lee.

★★
1/2

Giallo a Venezia (1979)

...aka: Giallo in Venice
...aka: Gore in Venice
...aka: Mystery in Venice
...aka: Thriller in Venice

Directed by:
Mario Landi

Even though GAV is a minor cult favorite and highly sought after title among fans of sleazy Italian horror / exploitation flicks, I'm walking away from this one with pretty mixed emotions. The bodies of Flavia (Leonora Fani), who was drowned and then dragged to shore, and her architect husband Fabio (Gianni Dei), who was stabbed to death with a pair of scissors, are discovered lying along a canal in Venice. Poofy-haired Detective De Paul (Jeff Blynn) is on the case, and tries to piece together clues with help from his Kojak-look assistant Maestrin (Eolo Capritti) and police commissioner Alberto (Giancarlo Del Duca). Meanwhile, sunglasses-wearing psycho Andrea Caron (Michele Renzullo) repeatedly stabs a hooker to death in a most-unmentionable place with - you guessed it! - a pair of scissors, and seems to be stalking his former lover Marzia (Mariangela Giordano), who no longer wants anything to do with him and has found a new hunk of man meat named Marco. But is Andrea also responsible for the murders of Flavia or Fabio? And what part does artist Bruno Nielsen (Vassili "Karamesinis" / Karis), whose artwork happens to feature - you guessed it! - a pair of scissors, play in all this?

The movie gives us a reprieve from the typical murder-mystery format by spending half its time in flashback mode detailing the tumultuous relationship between the original victims. Fabio is a sadist who has a hard time getting off unless he's somehow degrading his naive wife. The degradation comes in many forms. He rapes her, smacks her, makes her have sex in public, allows a random perv to feel her up in movie theater and forces her to give a 17-year-old delivery boy a hand while he secretly watches from behind some blinds. Ahhh, the things we do for love... First you think you've met that special someone and next thing you know they're making you prostitute yourself out to horny sailors who forget to pay you when they're done. These flashback scenes will probably please all the sleaze hounds in the house by offering up gratuitous close-up full-frontal nudity and overlong sex scenes. In fact, the entire first half seems to consist mostly of uncomfortable, awkward sex scenes, as well as a "self-pleasure" scene that seem to go on for an eternity. So if it's 70s era soft-core you want, you'll get plenty of that here.

However, this film pretty much fails at everything else. Though it is classified as a giallo (if by title only), the mystery itself is tepid as can be and the horror elements are basically relegated to just a couple of gory moments. Other than the prostitute murder, a guy is set on fire and there's a scissor stabbing. The most gruesome moment (which actually is well done and effective), features a nude woman being tied to a table and slowly getting her leg slowly sawed off. Other than that, this one seems more concerned with showing skin than anything else. From a technical standpoint, there's not much good to say. The dialogue is terrible, the acting is average, the cinematography is flat and the score sounds like generic elevator music. There's also almost no attempt to capitalize on the picturesque Venetian setting.

I actually preferred director Mario Landi's other horror film - Patrick Lives Again (1980) - to this one. It delivers more on a guilty-pleasure front, with just as much sex, but even more tasteless moments and gore, than this one. Plus it's much easier to find (there's never been an official VHS or DVD release of GAV in America).

★★

Straight On Till Morning (1972)

... aka: Dressed for Death
... aka: Til Dawn Do Us Part
... aka: Victim, The

Directed by:
Peter Collinson


Hammer Studios can't be accused of never trying to branch out and try new things, and this horrific drama (billed as a "a love story from Hammer") is one good example to illustrate that. Plain, wide-eyed, very awkward oddball Brenda Thompson (Rita Tushingham) is a young woman with a pitifully low self-esteem and some major psychological issues. We first meet her at home, telling her lonely mum (Clare Kelly) she needs to fly the nest to find a husband for her upcoming baby. Truth is, she's not really pregnant, she just really, really wants to be, because she's that desperate for love and companionship. Off to London she goes, finding a job at a clothing shop, scouring the streets for a potential father-to-her-upcoming-child and becoming roommates with attractive blonde social butterfly Caroline (Katya Wyeth). Thinking her stay at Caroline's pad will lead to interactions with all kinds of eligible men, she's saddened to realize most are more interested in bedding her roommate, who seems quick to oblige with just about any guy who shows her interest. Guys just seem to find Brenda weird and overbearing, because quite frankly, she is. Watching her cluelessly interact with guys, smacking of desperation and subservience, is pathetic and embarrassing. But thanks mainly to Tushingham's balanced portrayal, you can't help but feel for her even when she's annoying the piss out of you. In many ways, she's almost a precursor to Sissy Spacek's CARRIE and Angela Bettis' May; well-intentioned, offbeat, lonely but generally misunderstood by everyone around them. In other words, young women who may not have ended up where they ultimately do if not for a cruel, superficial, self-involved and judgmental society driving them to desperate measures.

After finding Caroline in bed with Joey (James Boland), a guy she has a crush on, Brenda goes out, kidnaps a dog named Tinker, takes it home, gives it a bath and then returns it to its owner, Peter (Shane Briant) the next day. He senses something in Brenda and decides to strike up a bargain. If she lives with him, cares for him, cleans for him, cooks for him and changes her name to Wendy, he'll give her the baby and the relationship she desperately wants. Peter has many problems of his own. For starters, he's aimless, jobless, insecure and seems to detest beauty. Secondly, he's a psychopath with some major abandonment issues who has a habit of stabbing his lady loves with a box cutter when he senses they're about to leave him or the relationship isn't working out. While Peter and Wendy begin to learn more about each other, Brenda's mom and the police are out searching for her, as well as Caroline when she also turns up missing. Things basically lead where you think they are going to lead, but it's the journey itself, the offbeat characters and the lead performances that keep you watching.

Tushingham (best known for her award-winning role in A Taste of Honey) is very effective in this role, displaying a wide variety of emotions throughout and so painfully shy and awkward that she wears her hair in her face the majority of the movie. Sure she can be very frustrating and just as perplexing, but that's precisely what this role requires. Briant, with his golden blonde hair, is also very good as the troubled psycho with an angelic, almost androgynous look that fits the part perfectly. Which comes back to all of the Peter Pan references; the title itself, Peter, Wendy and Tinker, etc, alluding back to a man who's essentially still an emotionally stunted little boy.

I have to admit, the quick editing style is really going to turn many viewers off. It turned me off at first, as well. Many scenes are overlapped and cut within seconds as it flashes back and forth between two sets of characters. Flashbacks used primarily to provide insight into the lead characters, are incorporated in the same dizzying fashion. Sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it does, but it's a decidedly different direction for Hammer. Ditto for the script, which goes in a unusual direction for a Hammer psychological chiller and is quite insightful at times. Annie Ross appears in a small role and sings the title theme.

★★★

Splatter Farm (1987)

...aka: Degenerates, The

Directed by:
John Polonia
Mark Polonia
Todd Smith

These days, a good number of horror films are shot on video, but during the 1980s that wasn't such a common practice and very few that were shot on this format actually got a video release. This is one of those rare homemade camcorder horrors that did, and in some ways it's easy to see why. Despite the fact that the acting, script, filming quality and special effects are as bad as they could possibly be, it still goes that winning extra mile to be sick; memorably so in some instances. It claims to be based on "a shockingly true incident that occurred on a rural Pennsylvania farm in the summer of 1968" and warns "Please be advised that this film contains graphic subject matter" (for once, not an exaggeration). Before the credits even roll, a young guy chops up a body with an axe in loving slow-mo detail as way too-runny Kool Aid blood flies all over the place. And after the credits roll, we see that same young guy cut up another body with a knife, remove the heart and eats it. The sick-o responsible for those murders is named Jeremy (Todd Smith, sometimes credited as Todd Rimatti), an extremely disturbed/ perverted handyman in a John Deere jacket who lives on a farm with a lonely old bat named Lacey (Marion Costly, one of the worst actresses you'll ever see). Lacey's nerdy identical twin teenage nephews Joseph and Alan (John Polonia, Mark Polonia) come to her secluded country home to spend the summer and have no clue what's in store for them. And to be perfectly honest, neither did I! So if you enjoy cheap, sick films you may want to stop reading right here and save the sick surprises for yourself.

Jeremy (who usually seems to be wearing eye makeup and lipstick) stares at people licking his lips lasciviously, picks skin off his hand and eats it, plays with himself under the dinner table, beats a horse to death with a hammer and sleeps in a barn decorated with various human body parts (some in jars) and dead animals. In one scene, he decapitates a guy in the woods, licks the bloody neck stump and then uses the severed head to give himself a blow job. Yikes! Not only is Jeremy sick, but so is Lacey. She likes to play footsy with her favorite nephew Alan under the table (before slipping drugs into his tea and raping him!) and keeps her dead husband Ray's corpse hidden in a shed where she rubs its crotch and says of Jeremy, "He's a fine boy and you would be proud of him... even if he did kill you with an axe." Turns out her husband was actually her brother and Jeremy is actually not just a handyman, but also her inbred son from when he raped her.

Just as the brothers start discovering body parts all over the place, they also discover that the phone is out and their car won't start. But they really never seem overly concerned about what's going on. Eventually, Jeremy knocks out Joseph, ties him up on the barn and slaps his around until he's spitting up blood. He then pisses on him (!), rips off his pants and fists him (!!), licks his own hand (!!!) and then rubs shit all over poor Joe's face and mouth (!!!!) Going into this not really knowing anything, that was something I wasn't really expecting to find here. When all is said and done, someone gets buried alive, someone has their head blown off with a shotgun and someone has their crotch blown away with a stick of dynamite (it actually looks like a Pringles can wrapped in aluminum foil). While there's plenty of blood and gore in the film, the fx are seldom convincing. The sound actually isn't bad and every once in awhile there's an interesting or creative camera angle used.

A lot of people saw this during the video era (with the director credited as "P. Alan"), but now it's on DVD thanks to the folks at Camp Motion Pictures, who have also unearthed several other forgotten 80s SOV efforts such as the VIDEO VIOLENCE films and Jon McBride's CANNIBAL CAMPOUT and WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE. The extras include a commentary track from John and Mark Polonia, the 25-minute documentary featurette "Back to the Farm" with the Polonia's going back to the Wellsboro, Pennsylvania shooting location and discussing the film, as well as some Super 8 slasher shorts from the hard-working siblings. They would go on to direct over 20 more videotaped horror and science fiction films from the mid 90s to today.

1/2

Splatter University (1982)

...aka: Campus Killings

Directed by:
Richard W. Haines

God awful Troma release has awful acting and dialogue, a stupid plot, little gore and no nudity, making one wonder why exactly it was released and what kind of audience the filmmakers had in mind when they made it. A new teacher (Francine Forbes) from a small Catholic college tries to find out who is responsible for a rash of murders. There are lots of ridiculous suspects and some major poofy 80s hairstyles. After a girl is killed, her friends unknowingly throw beer cans on her dead body (which is hidden in a dumpster) in the only intentionally funny part. That girl's roommate doesn't even notice she's missing until "3 weeks later." Another dumb ass at a drive-in theater stumbles into the woods alone when her boyfriend doesn't come back even after hearing there's a killer on the loose. For comic relief (?) a guy talks about having herpes, a girl giving some guy a blow job spits and says, "I heard it sucks" and an ugly redhead tries to seduce a priest. The killer is not hard to figure out. For a great laugh, check out the picture on the back cover of the video box (below). It's funnier than anything actually in the movie.
.
.
The director made the stupid but much better CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986) and others for Troma. The lead actress was a former teen beauty queen who would go on to become an infomercial queen under the name Forbes Riley. Dick Biel (NEW YORK CENTERFOLD MASSACRE) and co-writer John Elias Michalakis (the director of I WAS A TEENAGE ZOMBIE) are also in it. It was released in R or "Unrated" version, with the latter running just a minute longer.

Reborn (1981)

...aka: Renacer

Directed by:
Bigas Luna

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Straw Dogs (1971)

...aka: Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs

Directed by:
Sam Peckinpah

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Visitor from the Grave (1980) (TV)

...aka: Hammer House of Horror: Visitor from the Grave

Directed by:
Peter Sasdy

Review coming soon.

★★

Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)

Directed by:
John De Bello

Review coming soon.

★★

Roller Blade (1985)

Directed by:
Donald G. Jackson

Review coming soon.

SBIG

Stepford Wives, The (1975)

Directed by:
Bryan Forbes

Review coming soon.

★★★

Relentless (1989)

Directed by:
William Lustig

Review coming soon.

★★

Nightwish (1989)

...aka: Night Wish
...aka: Nightwish: Out of Control

Directed by:
Bruce R. Cook


Review coming soon.

★★

Pink Chiquitas, The (1986)

Directed by:
Anthony Currie

Review coming soon.

★1/2

Witching Time (1980) (TV)

...aka: Hammer House of Horror: Witching Time

Directed by:
Don Leaver


Review coming soon.

★★

Wraith, The (1986)

...aka: Interceptor
...aka: Phantom

Directed by:
Mike Marvin

Review coming soon.

★★

Leviathan (1989)

Directed by:
George Pan Cosmatos

Review coming soon.

★★

Wicked Women (1990) (TV)

Directed by:
Robert Sidaway

Oliver Reed narrates this tiny collection of Hammer clips/trailers featuring some of the studio's most evil female characters. Included are Ingrid Pitt as COUNTESS DRACULA, Bette Davis as THE NANNY and in THE ANNIVERSARY, Tallulah Bankhead in FANATIC/DIE, DIE MY DARLING, Martine Beswick in DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE and a couple of others. What this really is is a single episode of the near-worthless The World of Hammer (1990) series. The entire 25-minute run time consists of nothing but clips (and not even the best clips), there are no interviews and the narration here isn't exactly trivia-packed or insightful, meaning this Anchor Bay tape is a rip-off. Back in 2000, AB released every episode in the 13-part series, each to an individual EP tape; each with a run-time of less than half-and-hour. The very least they could have done was squeeze four episodes onto three tapes instead of making one pay individually for each of them. Not that that would make the show any more worthwhile... The series itself sucks and is little more than a last opportunity to ring some quick cash out of the Hammer brand name. Don't bother.

Since the release of these tapes (which are to be avoided on amazon, ebay and other sites where they still sell them), Anchor Bay has re-released these episodes as simple bonus features attached to the "Hammer Collection" DVD series. WICKED WOMEN, for example, is an extra on their release of THE WITCHES (1966). I won't bother with reviewing the other tapes ("Christopher Lee," "Peter Cushing," "Lands Before Time," "Sci-Fi," "Vamp," etc.) in the series. This review will suffice for any of them.

★1/2

Remote Control (1987)

Directed by:
Jeff Lieberman

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Outing, The (1985)

...aka: Lamp, The

Directed by:
Tom Daley

Review coming soon.

★1/2

Rampage (1987)

Directed by:
William Friedkin

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Wicked, The (1987)

...aka: Outback Vampires
...aka: Prince at the Court of Yarralumla
...aka: Tomorrow's News

Directed by:
Colin Eggleston

Review coming soon.

★1/2

Lifeforce (1985)

...aka: Space Intruders
...aka: Space Vampires
...aka: Vampires from Outer Space

Directed by:
Tobe Hooper

Review coming soon.

★★

Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout (1989)

...aka: Horror Workout

Directed by:
Kenneth J. Hall

Review coming soon.

★★

Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

...aka: Serpent
...aka: Q
...aka: Winged Serpent, The

Directed by:
Larry Cohen

Review coming soon.

★★★

Lonely Sex, The (1959)

Directed by:

Richard Hilliard

Review coming soon.

★1/2

Sentinel, The (1976)

Directed by:
Michael Winner

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Directed by:
Frank Oz

Review coming soon.

★★★

Sexbomb (1989)

Directed by:
Jeff Broadstreet

Review coming soon.

★★

Sorority House Massacre II (1990)

...aka: Jim Wynorski's House of Babes
...aka: Night Frenzy
...aka: Nighty Nightmare
...aka: Sorority House Massacre 2

Directed by:
Jim Wynorski

Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Suspiria (1977)

...aka: Dario Argento's Suspiria

Directed by:
Dario Argento

Review coming soon.

★★★1/2

Sssssss (1973)

...aka: Cobra, The
...aka: Kobra
...aka: SSSSnake
...aka: Sssssnake Kobra

Directed by:
Bernard L. Kowalski

Snake-haters will get some chills out of this ridiculous, but interesting and very entertaining tale of a mad scientist, Dr. Carl Stoner (the wonderful Strother Martin), who is plotting to turn his new assistant (Dirk Benedict) into a king cobra with daily injections of tainted snake venom. He also kills off his enemies or detractors using snakes and makes money on the side doing an informative lecture/ demonstration to visitors of his secluded house/ lab. The obviously brave leads are constantly surrounded by and have to handle all varieties of snakes (even the dangerous ones), while schlockmeister Kowalski (ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES) does a good job with character development and shock scenes. Although some of the visual effects are cheesy and dated, John Chambers' make up FX remain highly impressive. The video didn't come out until the movie was over 20 years old and has obviously had some nudity (a skinny dipping scene with hilarious-looking painted vegetation - that moves! - to cover backsides) and violence cut out for a PG rating. The DVD version retains these cuts.
.
Heather Menzies (PIRANHA) has a good supporting role as Stoner's daughter, who falls in love with Benedict over the course of his stay, and future Captain America Reb Brown plays a jerk who is attacked while taking a shower. The cast also includes Jack Ging as the sheriff, Richard B. Shull as a doctor and Felix Silla as "the seal boy." The movie was double-billed with THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF (1971), and was ripped off by 1996's CURSE OF THE PUPPET MASTER, which was nearly a scene-for-scene copy substituting puppets for the snakes.

★★1/2

Sweet Sixteen (1981)

...aka: Sweet 16

Directed by:
Jim Sotos

Someone is running around murdering teenager again. Is it a beautiful 16-year-old girl (Aleisa Shirley) who is new to the area? Strangely, the scenes dealing with sheriff Bo Hopkins and his family are more entertaining that the horror content. Review coming soon.

★★1/2

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

Directed by:
Peter George

Review coming soon.

1/2

Spectre (1977) (TV)

Directed by:
Clive Donner

An American occult investigator (Robert Culp) teams up with a doctor (Gig Young, in his final role) to investigate alleged human sacrifices at a secluded British mansion. A Druid cult turns out to be responsible. Things culminate in a topless occult ceremony featuring a barely-seen (and terrible-looking) lizard monster mostly hidden by a blaze of fire the entire time! Some people like this one and the cast is decent, but I found it silly, dull and ponderous, and understand why it hasn't seen the light of day on video or DVD. Executive producer Gene (Star Trek) Roddenberry also co- wrote the screenplay. The cast includes John Hurt, Ann Bell, Gordon Jackson, James Villiers, Majel Barrett, Jenny Runacre, Vicki Michelle (VIRGIN WITCH) and Penny Irving (HOUSE OF WHIPCORD). It's been ages since I've seen it, so I'll try to give it a rewatch sometime.

1/2

Sugar Cookies (1972)

...aka: Love, Death
...aka: Love Me My Way

Directed by:
Theodore Gershuny

Review coming soon.

★★

Someone's Watching Me! (1978) (TV)

...aka: High Rise



Directed by:

John Carpenter



Review coming soon.



★★1/2

Squirm (1976)

Directed by:
Jeff Lieberman

Review coming soon.

★★1/2
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...