Ratings Key

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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Return of the Family Man (1988)

Directed by:
John Murlowski

"Kink's Pizza" delivery boy Alden (Liam Cundill) shows up at a hotel to drop off a pizza. A shady-looking guy opens the door and tells him to come inside, where he sees money and guns laid out on a table and a bunch of Italian and Asian men measuring out cocaine! Oh, no criminal could be THAT stupid to casually expose their criminal activity to a bloody pizza delivery boy, this must just be a dream... Then, a bunch of excited, scantily-clad ladies come out from another room and start nuzzling up to him. Or a sex fantasy... Suddenly an Asian man busts through the door, a gunfight breaks out, nearly everyone is shot and killed and the assassin then points his gun at delivery boy's boys head and tries to shoot, but the clip is dry. Make that a nightmare... Nope, believe it or not, this is all supposed to be real. The killer threatens to return and kill Alden before he takes off running. Alden high tails it out of there, the maid sees him fleeing the room and by the time Alden flips on the TV set, he's in the news. His friends; couple Brian (Terence Reis) and Vickie (Michelle Constant), are about ready to take a trip and have managed to rent out a mansion dirt cheap. Despite the fact that Brian hates Alden, Vickie talks him into letting Alden him tag along with them so he can hide out and let his experience blow over.

Meanwhile, infamous mass murderer Mark Allen Schecter aka The Family Man (Ron Smerczak), is in the middle of being transferred to another nuthouse when one of the guards unwisely decides to get a little rough with him. The psycho then pokes out an officer's eyeballs with his own fingers, gets his hand on a gun and then shoots the rest of the cops. The transport bus crashes and Family Man picks his handcuffs, shoots the rest of the prisoners and then escapes into the woods. Alden, Brian and Vickie arrive at their destination and discover they've been had. The place is a complete dump. To make matters worse, the realtor didn't bother to tell them that he's also rented the place out to another group. Snooty blonde Libby (Debra Kaye), a tour guide working for the travel company "American Adventures," has just arrived with four foreigners in town; Sylvie (Dominique Moser) from France, Marty (Kurt Egelhof) from India, Evelyn (Vicki Bawcombe) from Ireland and British punk rocker Weasel (Adrian Galley). Libby has already managed to alienate the entire town by accidentally running over their satellite dish, so everyone is given a chilly reception by the locals. And did I mention the name of the place they're staying at is "The Schecter Estate?"

Before The Family Man arrives, he decides to crash a family's cookout long enough to knock the dad's face into the fireplace and beat mom to death with a frying pan and meat tenderizer (the children are also killed off screen). He then sinks a broken beer bottle into a drunk's stomach and steals his car. There's a rumor that he killed his parents for the insurance money and possibly has millions of dollars hidden somewhere on the grounds of his estate. One morning, the vacationers wake to find that one of the girls has disappeared. A few of them head into town to try to get help, but the policemen is a prick and tells them to come back in 24 hours. While looking in the cellar, Brian finds a hidden room in the basement that's been bricked up. Inside are family pictures, candles, teddy bears, skeletons and dead animals... plus a trunk loaded with cash. Before he can share his good fortune with his buddies, he's beat to death with a hammer. When everyone else returns, they discover Brian's body and realize that the killer is lurking around, but by that point they find themselves stuck after the psycho sinks their car in a lake. And by stuck, I mean slasher movie stuck. Not like really stuck. They could always, you know, walk somewhere instead of hanging around the house and getting killed.

The first half really isn't much worse than most other 80s slasher flicks. Some (not all) of the acting is terrible, but there are also a couple of decent scenes, plenty of murders and some scattered (sometimes intentional) laughs. Unfortunately, the final half hour is so incredibly stupid that you get the impression the filmmakers just gave up after awhile. By that point, all of the characters are well aware there's a killer around, but continue to wander off by themselves to get killed. They also decide to create their own weapons to fight back. The Indian guy MacGiver's a bomb out of wire and a camera (?!) and the blonde makes a torch out of her hairspray cans. The latter manages to torch the killer (giving him a charred appearance from there on out) before getting her face diced by a blender (!) Another is hung from a ceiling fan, there's a drowning and the finale features the killer trapped in the well trying to pull the heroine down there with him as a propane tank wired to explode rolls down a hill toward them. Also pay close attention to how many times characters mention that this is taking place in the United States. Only a film shot elsewhere would have to reassure us over and over again that we're in America, so it figures that this was shot in South Africa.

The American VHS release was from Raedon Video, a label that became known for distributing some of the worst low-budget trash available at the time. Amongst their releases: the lame living dead pot-harvesters flick TOXIC ZOMBIES (1980), Andy Milligan's wacky THE WEIRDO (1986), ALIEN PRIVATE EYE (1987), THE BRAINSUCKER (1988; which I'll be reviewing here soon), the terrible shot-on-video slasher HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD (1988) and a pair of OK efforts from Dennis Devine: DEAD GIRLS, probably the best of the Raedon releases, and HELL SPA (both 1990).



CavedogRob said...

Where the hell do you find these movies! Just keep finding them!

Chris J said...

But how often does a south african slasher flick come up? Theres only 3 total. Watch "The Stick" insane psychological thriller from SuthAfrca

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Not too often! This one was at least a little painful than The Stay Awake.

Someone recommended The Stick to me a few years ago so I did get a copy. Must be a barely seen film as you're only the second person I've seen ever mention it. Will try to get around to watching it sometime here soon.

Catherine Leask said...

Hello! I am desperately searching for a copy of this movie. Do you have any leads or advice? If you have a copy I would love to buy it off of you. Please email me- leask.cm@gmail.com

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Sorry I had to take a hiatus. Did you ever find your copy?

You can view the movie right here:

Unknown said...

The movie was pretty good a lot better than I expected

Robert Bowman said...

The movie was pretty good a lot better than I expected

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