Friday, August 17, 2012

Bloody Nasty (1989)

Directed by:
Richard Gabai
Robert Strauss

Very difficult to find, this horror-comedy never received an American distribution deal. Some got to see a bit of footage in the documentary series THIS IS HORROR (which was shown on TV as Stephen King's World of Horror) but that was about it. The film promptly disappeared soon after. The only country that I'm aware of that did actually put this out on VHS (on the EK Video label) was the ever-reliable Greece, who seemed to get many films out on home video that were not released anywhere else. This is the version I was able to get my hands on and it has burnt in Greek subtitles throughout. In the opening scene, three people; Roy Flowers (Todd McCammon), Mona (Karen Russell) and ringleader Felipe (Jamie Jones), show up in a graveyard armed with a shovel. Felipe has Roy start digging up the grave of a notorious serial killed Luis Orlando aka "Blade" aka "The Butcher from Bogata" (Richard Rifkin), who claimed he killed because it kept him alive. After digging up the body, cutting off the corpse's finger and removing a ring, Mona and Felipe decide to kill Roy so they can split the money two ways instead of three. They hit him over the head with a shovel several times, impale him with a steel pole and then bury Roy in Luis' grave before taking off.

The airplane that Roy was supposed to be on explodes and the fiery debris - including the stolen right (!!) -rains down onto the graveyard Roy is currently buried in (gee, what a coincidence). Somehow this is enough to resurrect him. Back at home, Roy's mother (Catherine McGuinness) and sister (Allison Barron) get the bad news that Roy was killed in the plane crash. The awful, foul-mouthed, extremely irritating mom is too busy bitching about the bills, how dirty their home is and the fact her ex-husband's alimony checks keep bouncing to really even notice. Sis on the other hand is stricken with guilt because she had talked her brother into coming home and now he's dead. But no need to worry sis, he'll be there soon enough. Barry Hefna (Troy Donahue) shows up to inform the grieving family that since Roy used a credit card to purchase his plane ticket, the card's insurance acts as his own personal insurance (oh give me a break!) and hands mom over a check for 350 thousand dollars. And that helps to turn her tears of grief into tears of joy. She immediately moves into a nicer house, stocks up on caviar to celebrate their good fortune and calls her daughter and Roy's neglected nurse girlfriend Sylvia (Shannon Absher) "pussy ass weeping willies" for showing some grief and crying.

Roy starts the journey home and makes a pit stop at a mechanic's to have to him remove the steel pole still lodged in his chest. When he arrives, instead of a warm greeting, he's greeted with hostility by his mother, who is more concerned with him getting blood on the carpet and the possibility of having to hand the money back over than him being alive. The family agrees to hide his existence so they can keep the loot. Meanwhile in Miami, psychic Wanda Dance (Linnea Quigley) takes time out from her clairvoyant stripper routine to consult her crystal ball. After learning that Luis, her ex-boyfriend, is back amongst the living she decides to head on over to L.A. to see him. Naturally, Luis has taken possession of Roy, who slips in and out of the sadistic killer's personality. He starts speaking Spanish, acts cruel to his girlfriend and family, punches out his sister's boyfriend Danny (Gabai) and doesn't seem in full control of his body or actions, plus has no memory of what he's done when Blade has taken over. And it only gets worse from there.

Roy sneaks out to the motor home his girlfriend is staying in and slices her up with an electric carving knife. Instead of reporting it to the police, the family decide to wrap the body in plastic and bury it in their backyard. Wanda shows up dressed in a mesh body stocking and with luggage in hand looking to move in so she can be with her man, even though he'd previously made her eat the "cajones" of one of her lovers. When Roy / Blade discovers that his family is considering killing him, he ends up getting (and looking) even nastier. He sticks his mother's hand down the garbage disposal and cuts her tongue out, beats Donahue (who is trying to weasel his way into the family and help them win a lawsuit against the airline) to death with a baseball bat and does some other not-so-nice things. There's a séance / attempted exorcism, the sister repeatedly whining "It's all my fault," a scene of the mother listening to her daughter have sex and saying "Yeah, give it to her good, boy!" (yuck) and the expected T&A from Linnea.

On the plus side, some parts of this are fairly amusing, the unknown McCammon is pretty good in the lead and Quigley is hilarious in her supporting role. Unfortunately, some of the characters (particularly the mother and sister) are extremely annoying and unpleasant, it could have used more gore (given the title, I was expecting it to be nasty, after all!) and the finale, which includes long 'comic' scenes of the mother trying to figure out her fancy new car and garage door opener and then getting lost in suburbia while cursing up a storm - is God awful. Still, I'm not quite sure why this didn't get a U.S. release. There are certainly worse campy horror-comedies that did and many of them didn't even have the 80s direct-to-video drawing power of Quigley or Donahue. It's worth finding if you're interested in any of the actors and a maybe for fans of low-budget 80s 'B' movies. Songs on the soundtrack are from Gabai's band The Checks.


Night Creatures (1962)

... aka: Captain Clegg

Directed by:
Peter Graham Scott

In 1776, a burly man accused of "attacking" (raping) and trying to murder a woman has his ears slit, his tongue cut out and is tied to a tree on an uninhabited South Seas island and left to die on orders of ruthless pirate Captain Nathaniel Clegg. Clegg was soon after captured and hung. Sixteen years later, something sinister is afoot near the Romney Marshes in a small village facing France on the sea called Dymchurch. A man happens to stumble upon a bunch of glow-in-the-dark skeleton-faced men on horseback (the horses are also skeletal) and what appears to be a living scarecrow and ends up falling into the quicksand marshes and dying. The village is known for their illegal alcohol smuggling, so a group of British soldiers led by Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) are sent there to investigate those claims. They invade a local tavern run by Mr. Rash (Martin Benson) and trash the place. The same bald guy who's had his tongue cut out years earlier, "The Mulatto" (Milton Reid), is now used as a sort-of human bloodhound (!) to sniff out any alcohol. With his help they find a hidden cellar, but are unable to locate any outlawed booze. That's because it's ingeniously hidden behind a large cask, which leads over to coffin maker Jeremiah Mipps' (Michael Ripper) workshop. The outlawed alcohol is transported inside of caskets so it won't be detected.

The man who'd mysteriously drown in the marshes earlier turns out to be Tom Ketch (Sydney Bromley) and he's the same guy who'd betrayed the tight-knit village by reporting them to the authorities. It's no coincidence he's turned up dead. Jeremiah tells the investigating captain that those in the village believe he'd fallen victim to The Marsh Phantoms, the ghostly skeletons we'd previously seen, but Collier is skeptical of those claims and continues his investigation. The entire village and the whole smuggling operation is run by an unlikely source; Reverend Blyss (Peter Cushing), who informs one villager "There's no need to think. I'll think for all of you." Despite the fact the notorious pirate Captain Clegg happens to buried in this village's own cemetery, that doesn't mean he actually is buried there. In fact, Reverend Blyss is Captain Clegg, who staged his own death. Immediately upon seeing him, The Mulatto goes crazy and attacks him.

Blyss / Clegg instructs everyone to keep their cool until the King's Men are gone but the tavern owner ends up killing one of the sailors who sees some villagers transporting liquor out. Using a decoy (Jack MacGowran) to lead the sailors on an all-night goose chase searching for the supposed phantoms, Blyss and company manage to get all of their liquor out of the village and to a nearby windmill for pick-up. An increasingly more frustrated Collier refuses to leave until the mystery is solved, particularly now that one of his men has been killed and his mulatto has broken his shackles and run off. One subplot centers around young beauty Imogene (Yvonne Romain), whose legal guardians are currently the tavern owner and his wife. She's secretly seeing the squire's son Harry Cobtree (Oliver Reed), who also moonlights as a lookout for the liquor smuggling operation in a scarecrow costume, but Mr. Rash would love to be more than a wholesome father figure to the voluptuous girl. When Rash discovers that Imogene is the daughter of Clegg, he offers to exchange her continued anonymity for sex. She refuses and, after a fight with Harry, Rash ends up all but ratting out the village to Collier and his men. A tragic end for our titular anti-hero ensues.

Originally titled Captain Clegg, this is based on the novel "Dr. Syn - A Tale of Romney Marsh" by Russell Thorndike. The same novel had already been the basis for DR. SYN (1937) and would be filmed again a year after this one as DR. SYN, ALIAS THE SCARECROW (1963), a popular Disney production. Hammer's take on the story credits "John Elder" (Anthony Hinds) with the script but does not give any credit to the author of the source novel. Like all Hammer productions, this has quality sets and costumes, good atmosphere, photography and editing and a rousing score. All of the actors are good in their roles. However, competence across the board doesn't really save it from the sheer predictability of the plot, which offers up few - if any - real surprises. It's very watchable, yet still pretty forgettable.

The title Night Creatures was originally going to be used for Hammer's planned adaption of Richard Matheson's novel "I Am Legend" (which never happened), so it was passed off to this production instead for its American release.

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