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, October 9, 2009

Resurrection of Michael Myers Part 2, The (1988)

Directed by:
Richard Holm
Henrik Wadling

The clutz (co-director Holm) from the original short horror spoof is in the hospital while some kind of office party is going on. Michael Myers (this time wearing a mask that actually does look like the original mask) is resurrected and sticks a pair of scissors through a guys head. In the same morgue, some kind of chemical manages to resurrect both Leatherface and Jason, who also instantly get to work slaughtering people. Leatherface pins a woman down, saws off her arm and then beats her to death with it while Jason pours acid in another guys face. When they're done, they high five each other and go off to cut off women's clothes with their weapons and have a karate fight with a blue-faced zombie who repeats famous one-liners (from Freddy, Eastwood and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD). Meanwhile, Myers takes a dump, dunks a guy into it and flushes him down the toilet, bashes a bottle over a woman's head and then sticks the jagged bottle into her face, shoves a VHS tape into a guys mouth and cuts open the zombies head so he can eat his own brains. Things end with a rap song.

Again, it was all shot with what appears to be a commercial grade camcorder, and the nth generation copy I got to see didn't help matters. This one's still a bit better than the first. There's a lot of amateur gore, a little nudity, skateboarding, dancing, an issue of Fangoria, a rap end theme song and plenty of horror movie references and inside jokes (some of which will be lost on those who haven't seen the original). No clue if any of the dialogue is actually funny or not since it's in Swedish.


Resurrection of Michael Myers, The (1987)

Directed by:
Mikael Beckman
Richard Holm
Henrik Wadling

Silly, amateur Swedish horror spoof (which runs just 25 minutes and understandably hasn't seen any kind of official release) reuses the original HALLOWEEN score and opens with theater patrons viewing the final reel of the original John Carpenter film. In a nearly-abandoned office building, a psycho (Mikael Lindgren) in a jumpsuit and white mask - which looks nothing like the Myers mask - cuts his way out of a package and proceeds to chase a clumsy clerk (played by co-director Holm) around while killing off anyone who crosses his path. The clerk falls down the stairs (twice), runs into walls, hits his head a bunch of times and rolls around on a skateboard, a guy has his throat slashed, another has his head smashed against a wall and a third is stabbed and lifted off the ground like the nurse in HALLOWEEN II. For some reason, one of the victims returns as a demon/zombie, bites a chunk out of someone's arm (an obvious nod to DAWN OF THE DEAD) and then gouges out his eyeballs with his thumbs (THE EVIL DEAD). Freddy Krueger also makes an appearance. At the end, there's a karate fight and the cast dances around to the song "I'm Your Boogeyman."

Available only in Swedish (though there's not too much actual dialogue), it's essentially a shot-with-a-camcorder fan film that would be right at home on a local public access TV station. A few of the gore fx are decent. All three directors went on to work on other things. Beckman (who appears here as a security guard) is a Swedish porno director under the name Mike Beck, Holm directs Swedish TV shows and Wadling has taken on various production jobs over the years, including work on EVIL ED (1996) and THE UNKNOWN (2000). Followed by a sequel.


Kaidan nobori ryu (1970)

...aka: Black Cat's Revenge
...aka: Blind Woman's Curse, The
...aka: Strange Tales of Dragon Tattoo
...aka: Tattooed Swordsman, The

Directed by:
Teruo Ishii

For avenging the death of her father, Akemi Tachibana (Meiko Kaji, who'd go on to star in the excellent LADY SNOWBLOOD) spends three years in prison; heading home to take her place as leader of a large Yakuza clan upon release. As per her father's wishes, Akemi attempts to head a more civilized and less ruthless brand of crime family when she takes the reigns, but finds the task next to impossible when a series of events force her and her associates back to their violent ways. For starters, there's a rival Yakuza who are moving into their territory and plotting to take over. It's sadistic leader, Dobashi (Tôru Abe), has just teamed up with soft-spoken, yet stealthy and very skilled, swordswoman (Hoki Tokuda) who has a grudge against our heroine for slaying her father and accidentally blinding her in the process. Secondly, she believes herself to be cursed by a black cat that seems to be everywhere lapping up blood. And finally, someone's running around decapitating and skinning the dragon tattoos off the backs of her family members. The Tachibana clan eventually disband, at least temporarily, until some innocents are dragged into the picture and they're forced into a bloody climactic battle.

What will keep many at arms length the entire time is how needlessly complicated and busy the whole shebang is. The film is stuffed with so many supporting characters (several of whom are irrelevant to the main storyline) that our leads aren't adequately fleshed out. Just a few of these include a depraved, blood-licking hunchback (memorably played by Tatsumi Hijikata) obsessed with helping out Aiko, an embarrassing, arrogant rival gang leader (Ryohei Uchida) who struts around the village in a thong and a half-assed pseudo love interest for Akemi, played by Makoto Satô, who ends up getting romantically involved with the pure daughter (Yôko Tagaki) of a kindly local restaurant owner (Yoshi Kato). All these characters really do is underline an uncertainty in tone prevalant throughout the film.

Not-so-welcome humor mostly fixated around body odor is spread throughout the film for some strange reason. Both the ghost cat curse and the Yakuza crime themes have been done better elsewhere, many times before and since this one, so I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to secure a copy of Blind Woman's Curse, which received a DVD release in 2007 from a company called Discotek Media.


Home for the Holidays (1972) (TV)

...aka: Deadly Desires

Directed by:
John Llewellyn Moxey

Standard, brief (73 minutes), talk-heavy, low-budget Movie of the Week fare, written by Joseph Stefano (PSYCHO) and executive produced by Aaron Spelling, is helped along by a decent cast of familiar faces. It's Christmastime as dying Benjamin Morgan (Walter Brennan) requests his four estranged daughters return home for one visit. They; eldest, straight-laced Alex (Eleanor Parker), alcohol/pill addict Frederica (Jessica Walter), snotty and promiscuous Joanna (Jill Haworth) and young, sweet Christine (Sally Field), a college student, are immediately informed by their father that he thinks that his wife/their stepmother Elizabeth (Julie Harris) is attempting to slowly poison him to death... just like she was accused of doing to a previous husband. A rainstorm floods out the roadways and the characters find themselves stranded as one-by-one they're picked off by a gloved psycho dressed in a rain slicker.

It's darkly lit, overly familiar, somewhat predictable and the venomous family dynamic makes for a pretty depressing viewing experience, though Stefano attempts to temper things with black humor and the film can now be seen as a proto slasher utilizing the holiday feel several years before BLACK CHRISTMAS did the same. Several of the actresses elevate the material as much as possible, particularly Parker and Harris, both of whom give performances of chilly restraint. The same cannot be said for Walter, who probably landed the role after her excellent psycho portrayal in the previous year's PLAY MISTY FOR ME. Her big scene finds her camping it up in near hysterics with a broken bottle in her hand. Haworth is sufficient as an icy bitch, while Field is still stuck in the squeaky clean rut she found herself in after making a name for herself on the TV shows Gidget and The Flying Nun. It wouldn't be until a few years she'd make a name for herself in Emmy (1976's SYBIL) and Oscar (1979's NORMA RAE) winning roles.

I best remember this one for that Vidmark VHS cover pictured above, which always intrigued me as a kid. No official DVD release as of yet.

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