Archive for February, 2011

Cameron Mitchell Madness!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2011 by Brain Hammer

The late, great Cameron Mitchell (1918 – 1994) was a veteran character actor, with well over 200 acting credits to his name! Westerns, comedies, sword & sandal epics, war pictures, TV shows – the man truly did it all. Cameron is beloved to horror fans for appearing in the 1964 Mario Bava giallo classic “Blood & Black Lace” and for starring in the controversial 1978 shocker “The Toolbox Murders.”

Over the years Cameron appeared in numerous cheaply produced “B” movies. This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features three of the very best of those efforts. Best of all, all three of these fantastic fucked up flicks are widely available on dvd, and can be easily found for CHEAP. Several “budget” dvd companies have released these flicks on dvd, either by themselves or included in one of those “horror collection” box sets.

 

In honor of Cameron Mitchell (RIP) – let the bloodshed begin!!!

 

THE DEMON (1979)

THE DEMON is a very strange South African (!) slasher flick about a demonic masked killer who sports a glove with tiny knives for finger nails and enjoys slowly asphyxiating his victims with plastic bags. This one starts out with the violent abduction of a young girl. Her distraught parents call in psychic detective Cameron Mitchell to investigate. Cameron hams it up big time, and sweats, slobbers, and stammers his way through a very over the top performance as a psychic sheet sniffer. After checking out the girl’s bedroom (check out the groovy Patrick Duffy & David Soul posters!) he provides the family with child-like drawings of “the demon” and helpfully explains that “he is less than a man and more of a man…much more.”

We then meet our “final girl,” a young nursery school teacher (Jennifer Holmes) named Mary who keeps getting the feeling she’s being followed. Mary shares a house with her disco bunny cousin Jo. Jo is dating a swinger in tight pants by the name of Dean, and the film is ruthlessly padded with scenes of their 70’s styled romance. The demon kills time by waiting outside of “Boobs Disco” and is rewarded with a freshly ejected drunken skank to assault. He chases her down with his deadly glove and has a wild run in with a gaggle of bikers and pimps along the way! Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, a little kid discovers a skeleton with a blonde wig up in a tree, the father of the kidnapped girl tracks down the demon and gets snuffed for his efforts, and Cameron has an explosive final encounter with the missing girl’s mother!

The film then lets you catch your breath and slowly settles into the third act, where the killer finally begins the assault on Mary and her friends. Prank phone calls, a broken key inside a doorknob, and a sudden blackout all lead into a lengthy game of cat & mouse where the demon stalks Mary in the darkness. Hats off to director Percival Ruebens for the infinitely wise decision to keep his leading lady topless for a good five minutes or more during the climax!

This often overlooked old school horror flick is in many ways a “prototype” slasher flick. It features a lot of the classic slasher ingredients that would later be featured in classic 80’s slasher flicks. It borrows heavily from John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and lifts its lethal glove from Mario Bava’s “Blood & Black Lace.” (which also starred Cameron Mitchell) This flick also comes off as terminally confused. “The demon” is never really defined or explained, much like “the shape” in “Halloween.” In some scenes he appears to have super human strength, but by the end of the film the supernatural elements are forgotten. It appears that this one started off as more of a fantasy and was then changed, perhaps in the middle of production, to become more of a clone of Carpenter’s film. It feels like two films being spliced together.

Despite these flaws this one is certainly worth a look for hardcore fans of obscure 70’s horror. The plot is anything but routine, and is full of wild twists and turns that will keep the viewer entertained. It doesn’t deliver a lot of chills, but it provides more than enough tacky 70’s atmosphere, cheap laughs, and jaw dropping WEIRDNESS to keep me satisfied. Cameron Mitchell steals the whole movie. It’s well worth tracking down a copy just to watch him chew up the scenery. “What we’re dealing with here is an aberration of the species – hallucinating evil!”

 

NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985)

This unbearably wacky anthology horror film features God (Ferdy Mayne!) & Satan (Lu Cifer) riding in a train full of break dancing, lip syncing retards. The train is destined to crash at dawn, killing everyone on board. (no big loss really) God & Satan pass the time before the crash bickering with each other and reviewing the “cases” of the recently deceased before passing judgment on them.

The first tale is a condensed version of an unfinished horror film entitled “Scream Your Head Off,” which was written by Phillip Yordan and directed by John Carr. John Phillip Law (“Diabolik”) stars as Harry Billings, your average joe with a thirst for cars, women, and booze. Harry accidentally kills his wife in a car crash on their wedding night and winds up in a sanitarium, about to enter a new world of terror. The evil sanitarium is run by the demented doctors Fuller & Brewer and their psychotic henchman Otto, played by none other than Richard “Bull” Moll of “Night Court” fame! The doctors run a black market business where they abduct young girls, torture them, and then dismember them so they can sell the limbs to medical schools around the world.

Harry is brainwashed with electroshock therapy, hypnosis, and mind altering drugs until he becomes an unwilling accomplice to their crimes. Harry combs the local bars and churches looking for whores to abduct. Harry also becomes the lover of Dr. Fuller, who eventually decides to double cross Dr. Billings and have him lobotomized. Harry finally wakes up from his drug induced stupor and leaves Fuller in the demented hands of her former partner in crime.

The second story is an abbreviated version of the offbeat 1983 horror flick “Death Wish Club,” which was also done by Yordan & Carr. A millionaire picks up a slut at a carnival and gets her a career in porn. A young medical student sees one of her fuck flicks and falls in love with her. He quickly winds up shacking up with the slut, which pisses her sugar daddy off to no end. The two young lovers are then kidnapped after a brutal bout of hotel room kung fu fighting and forced to join a bizarre “club” that likes to play Russian roulette styled games. A giant poisonous insect flies around the group before escaping through a window and killing a person outside. An electrocution machine fries a Jimi Hendrix lookalike until his eyeballs melt(Excuse me while I smoke!). Finally, a giant construction wrecking ball crushes a woman inside a sleeping bag.

The final and most lengthy tale of terror is a punched up version of the 1980 occult horror film “Cataclysm,” which was written by Yordan and directed by Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan, & Greg Tallas. This one is an unholy brew of atheists (Richard Moll, making a second appearance), Nazis, “Omen” styled religious fanatics, cloven footed demons, and an Anti-Christ itching to rule the world. Cameron Mitchell stars as an overworked and bitter cop trying to solve the mystery of “Olivier,” an eternally young looking Satanist and former Nazi who has sold his soul to the true God – Satan in exchange for eternal life. Olivier tries to recruit the controversial author of the best selling book “God Is Dead” into his infernal army, and winds up having to fight the author’s devout Catholic wife in a battle to the death.

Incredibly all five of the aforementioned directors get a credit for NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR. Phillip Yordan wrote the wrap around story, which attempts to link the footage together. As you can imagine, all three stories suffer a great deal from the massive amounts of editing required to splice them all together into one feature length film. “Death Wish Club” gets it the worst. The story is so badly butchered, all continuity and characterization goes right out the window. “Cataclysm” loses most of its plot, but in exchange gets a couple of freshly added scenes with very cheap looking clay monsters. “Scream Your Head Off” is the gem of the trio. That unfinished film had the potential to be very cool, and the gory footage from it that’s used here gives “Night Train To Terror” a big boost. Too bad that one was never completed.

The end result is considerably more than a little…uneven. The first two stories fly by at a lightning pace, but “Cataclysm” drags on at over 40 minutes long. Most of the splatter can be found in the first half of the film, which features a fair amount of hacked limbs, severed heads, and rupturing facial wounds. The use of gratuitous nudity and hysterically cheap looking clay animation is always appreciated. The wrap around story is ridiculous (why would God & Satan ride a train that crashes?) and the production value of the new footage is pretty much abysmal. There’s also an incredibly annoying theme song which is maddeningly repeated throughout the movie.

It would all be more than enough to spell sheer disaster if the film wasn’t so damn entertaining. There’s no reason why this should work, but it does. It doesn’t make any sense, but it doesn’t matter. This one defies all logic and demands to be appreciated for the bizarre work of art that it is! A brain damaged masterpiece of schlock cinema. Fans of flicks that are “so bad they’re good” should consider this a must see!

 

 

MEMORIAL VALLEY MASSACRE (1988)

Cameron Mitchell takes the money and runs with a brief appearance as the sleazy owner of Memorial Valley Campground, a dumpy campsite that opens to the public while still unfinished and under construction. Cameron’s determined to cash in on the Memorial Day weekend, and isn’t concerned with the rash of mysterious accidents that have recently plagued the park. Not even finding a dead guard dog in the water supply is enough to change his mind. Cameron leaves his fresh faced college boy son in charge and is never seen again. (He must have been due on the set of “Space Mutiny!”) Sonny boy immediately ruffles the feathers of the tough talking manager of the campground, played by John Kerry – sadly b-movie actor John Kerry, not Senator John Kerry.

A haggard collection of idiot campers decide to rough it and set up shop in the woods for the weekend. The campers include beefy bearded bikers and their raunchy road mommas, cock teasing wet t-shirt sporting skanks and their sexually frustrated speed metal blasting boyfriends, and an unspeakably ugly family of slobs complete with an obese yet impish and possibly gay son with a penchant for motorized mischief. The legendary b-movie actor William Smith also shows up and turns in a great performance as a gravelly voiced alcoholic former General who never leaves his RV. Call it clever scripting if you wish, but I personally think William wasn’t getting paid enough to do much more than sit around and pound booze. His voice sounds like he was swallowing hot coals and gargling toxic waste before every take.

After some unbearably wacky footage of campers dropping their pots & pans, we discover that the person responsible for the recent acts of sabotage is actually a CAVEMAN! Yes indeed, a genuine throwback. Raised alone in a “micro eco-system,” this savage stalks the woods of Memorial Valley attacking anyone or anything that disturbs the peace. Sadly, this “killer caveman” looks more like a lanky bucktoothed teenager in a Tina Turner wig and black socks. Even more hilarity is provided by the tubby Chris Farley in training man-child who steals everything in sight and tears up the woods on his sweet ass ATV. When these two titans collide the sparks really start to fly!

Speaking of sparks, how this “primitive” would know how to ignite a gas tank is never explained. But at least it allows William Smith to leave the picture with a bang. The caveman also possesses the inexplicable ability to sabotage cars and radios, and can even drive a bulldozer! He easily snuffs several of the campers before the final incredible plot twist is revealed – the caveman is really the long lost son of the grouchy campground manager! After the father & son reunion turns deadly the nerdy neanderthal returns to the woods defeated and alone and the camp is closed for good, or at least until the sequel – which the complete and total failure of this film mercifully spared us.

Writer/director Robert C. Hughes is responsible for this one. He also helmed the far superior 1987 “hicks in the sticks” picture “Hunter’s Blood” with Clu Gulager. Hughes could always be counted on for beautiful outdoor photography and knowing how to keep a picture moving. MEMORIAL VALLEY MASSACRE isn’t nearly as tense or atmospheric as “Hunter’s Blood,” but it probably wasn’t meant to be. This one is a lot more lighthearted, and goes pretty easy on the splatter for a slasher flick. As a result, it works more as a unintentional comedy than a straight horror film.

This ultra low budget horror epic is a real pisser. A product of the gloriously cheesy 80’s for sure, with the sort of bad acting, big hair, and annoying keyboard music you’ve come to expect and love. If you’re looking for a fun horror flick to watch while killing a few brain cells this one will do nicely.

 

CHUCK U FARLEY!!! KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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REVENGE!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 24, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a terrible trio of hardcore exploitation favorites. Three classic genre flicks filled with racism, violence, rape, & most importantly: REVENGE!!! I love flicks where lots of scumbags get wasted, especially when they really have it coming – and these are three of the very best!

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (1977)

When a movie opens with a line like “Where you goin’ bitch? I want my smack back!” you know you’re in for a treat. A freak car accident allows a trio of convicted killers on their way to prison to escape. They kill their guards, steal a pimp’s car and head for the sticks. Along the way they commit a pair of bloody armed robberies that both end in murder. During the last holdup the gang takes a young Black female hostage and goes back to her family’s house to lay low until night falls.

Racism by the truckload quickly ensues as the redneck leader of the trio, Jesse Lee Kane (played to perfection by William Sanderson of “Blade Runner” fame), constantly insults both the Black family members and his Latin & Asian partners in crime. The family suffers constant humiliation and degradation at the hands of the sadistic bigot and his pals. Mom is forced to piss herself, wheelchair bound Grandma is threatened at gunpoint, the feisty son is referred to as “King Coon Junior”, his teenage sister is raped, and the Father of the family, a Reverend no less, (the hilariously named Ted Turner!) is savagely beaten with his own bible! The brutality is ramped up by the attempted rape and eventual murder of a white female friend of the family, and worst of all the backyard slaying of the cute little best friend and “blood brother” of the young son!

The cops finally catch up to the killers, and a tense and drawn out hostage situation seems inevitable. The cops silently surround the Turner house and wait for an opportunity to strike. But in order to stay alive, justice will have to be dealt out by the Turner family, not the police or the courts. Malfunctioning surveillance equipment and a sudden change of heart by the formerly by-the-book police officer in charge allows the family to dish out the type of brutal and exacting punishment that the bastards deserve. “There is no higher law than an eye for an eye.”

This flick really works because of how extreme it is. If it pulled any of its punches it wouldn’t be nearly as effective and entertaining. This gut-cruncher is infamous for the scene where a little boy has his head bashed in with a rock. This scene was almost always edited out of the early video releases, and was enough to have the film branded a “Video Nasty” and banned in the UK. It’s very nasty stuff that rivals the more well known “Vanilla Twist” child murder scene in John Carpenter’s “Assault On Precinct 13.” There’s also rape and several bloody murders on display. But even the ample amounts of violence featured take a backseat to the primary exploitive element – RACISM! This is perhaps the most incendiary film ever made!

I counted no less than 70 racial remarks. There were 28 different anti-Black epithets. I give a lot of credit to writer Straw Weisman for coming up with so many different horrible racist terms for the script. A lazy writer would have simply tossed the N-bomb around a few dozen times and called it a day. Not Straw. In FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE the word “nigger” is only used 8 times. That may sound like a lot but it really isn’t for an exploitation flick, and it pales in comparison to the much more nasty and unusual insults frequently used here including “monkey face,” “deputy dawg,” “jive ass spade,” and “black ass booger.” There were seven different variations of the word “coon” alone, including the incredible “a real bend over backwards and shine your shoes master coon!” But the Blacks aren’t the only ones who suffer this kind of verbal abuse, as terms like “spic,” “slant eyes,” “white trash,” “pink pig,” and “faggot” are liberally used as well. This flick is truly an equal opportunity offender.

This clas-sick genre flick had a short but memorable theatrical run in the late Seventies that included near riots on 42nd Street and in Baltimore MD. Blacks in the audience went CRAZY watching this movie and started tearing seats out of the floor and throwing them at the screen and at each other! By the final reel where the Black family finally gets revenge on the white racist, the audience (or what was left of them) would start loudly cheering and applauding! Legendary director and pervert John Waters saw the film in Baltimore and later wrote about this wild experience, calling it “fabulous!” Blue Underground released a beautiful dvd of “Fight For Your Life” which is completely uncut and features a hilarious commentary track with writer Straw Weisman, director of photography Lloyd Freidus, and Blue Underground head honcho Bill Lustig. This is essential exploitation.

 

 

THE EXTERMINATOR (1980)

This flick opens with a bang right in the middle of a burning jungle in Vietnam. A trio of GI’s including our hero John Eastland (Robert Ginty – RIP) and his best pal Michael Jefferson are taken prisoner by the Vietcong, who proceed to tie them up and interrogate them. One of the unlucky soldiers is decapitated before Jefferson can get free and proceed to blow the shit out of everybody in a merciless slow motion bloodbath. John and Mike fight their way to a helicopter which carries them both to safety.

We then flash forward about a dozen years or so and find the two vets working together in the same NYC warehouse. John discovers a pack of street thugs stealing beer one afternoon and a violent confrontation ensues. Mike shows up and the two pals manage to run the punks off. This leads to a retaliatory beat down and flesh ripping attack that leaves Mike in a hospital bed, paralyzed for life. John uses his trusty flamethrower to get information and quickly tracks down the punks that crippled his friend. After a dramatic confrontation that includes the classic line “That nigger was my best friend, you motherfucker!” John fills the scumbags full of lead and leaves one of them still alive to have his face eaten off by rats!

Not content to stop there, John soon unleashes an onslaught of violent fury against the entire NYC underworld. No pimp, pervert, or pusher is safe. THE EXTERMINATOR is best known for his trademark flamethrower, but he also takes the time to make his own homemade mercury filled bullets, and really knows his way around an industrial meat grinder too! I always get a chuckle out of seeing a fully clothed mafioso going into the meat grinder and nothing but fresh ground hamburger coming out of it! No pesky clothing or shoe pieces to worry about!

The late great Christopher George (“Pieces,” “Enter The Ninja”) plays the hard boiled cop trying to track down the exterminator down. Chris takes up a lot of the running time slowly investigating the case and romancing his doctor-girlfriend, played by Samantha Eggar (“The Brood”). The scenes with these two are pretty much worthless. The vigilante quickly becomes a hero to the public but is considered a dangerous menace by the mayor, who fears more for his re-election attempt than he does the publics safety. As the body count rises John also becomes a target for the C.I.A., who consider him to be a threat to national security.

The legendary James Glickenhaus wrote and directed this classic exploitation flick which is chock full of nasty violence and SLEAZE including child prostitution, sex slaves, torture, mutilation, and disfigurement! The perverted sequences featuring the “chicken shack” are unreal. It makes you wonder where in the hell this stuff was filmed! There’s an especially gory decapitation during the violent opening sequence that ranks as one of the best I’ve ever seen. Not realistic by any means, but exceptionally cool looking! This flick is a little uneven in terms of pacing, but more than makes up for it with grit and grue.

Like any exploitation flick, this has to be seen in all of its full uncut glory to be appreciated. When the more extreme moments of splatter are scissored there’s not a lot left here to be enjoyed. This film was heavily edited to earn an “R” rating. Tango Entertainment recently released the digitally remastered unrated director’s cut on dvd. That’s the only version worth seeing. Fans of violent genre flicks influenced by “Death Wish” and “Taxi Driver” will eat this up.

 

CLASS OF 1984 (1982)

A masterpiece of prophetic punk rock perfection written and directed by Mark L. Lester, who also helmed the classic “Commando.” An idealistic pacifist music teacher named Andy Norris (played by the bearded and sensitive looking Perry King) is transferred to Lincoln High, an ultra violent and dangerous inner city high school. After settling into the neighborhood with his pregnant wife he immediately runs afoul of the local teenage gestapo, led by the brilliant yet twisted student Peter Stegman. (played by Timothy Van Patten of “White Shadow” & “Master Ninja” infamy)

Stegman is a ruthless kingpin of crime who controls the booming high school drug and prostitution rackets. His slightly less than impressive gang consists of: Drugstore: the skinny and strung out drug dealer and wisecracker, Fallon: the muscle who beats people up and breaks in the new prostitutes, Barnyard: the token fat slob who loves The Clash, and Patsy: the pasty faced punk rock skank. The five of them somehow manage to control the entire school population and staff AND dominate other rival gangs via intimidation and violence. There’s an awesome racially fueled gang fight between the Swastika sporting punks and a Black gang highlighted by the young Caribbean accented gang leader saying “No one messes around with my man Leroy. I’m gonna cut you white meat!”A fresh faced and non twitchy Michael J Fox appears in an important supporting role as a band geek who takes a shank to the kidneys after narcing on the gang for selling his best friend a lethal dose of dust.

Mr. Norris tries his best to do things by the book and keep the kids in line but it proves useless. He tries to turn the kids in but the police are unable to do anything because of a lack of proof. His only ally in the school is the burnt out and booze addled Biology teacher, played very convincingly by the legendary Roddy McDowall. After a sick and disgusting act of retribution where the punks skin every cute little bunny in the bio lab, Roddy eventually snaps and decides to teach his class at gunpoint! Mr. Norris barely manages to talk him out of blowing the students away, and he will eventually regret that decision.

During a bizarre bathroom showdown with the teacher, Stegman smashes his own face into a mirror and convincingly blames Mr. Norris for it. Norris finally gets pissed off and destroys Stegman’s beloved automobile in return. Stegman then declares all out war on the teacher. The movie reaches a whole new level of nastiness when the punks show up at the Norris household and gang rape his pregnant wife! This unspeakable act leads to the final showdown at the big band recital. The pasty faced punk rock skank (who looks very fuckable by the way!) shows up and presents Polaroids of the dirty deed to Mr. Norris, which is enough to finally make him ditch his pacifist ways and start spilling blood like a man! This teacher will assure that the class of 1984 will earn a higher degree in pain! “Life is pain. Pain is everything. You will learn.”

I’m a huge fan of this flick! Few revenge themed films are this satisfying. The end sequence where Mr. Norris has to fight his way though the high school and finally gets his revenge on the gang is fantastic. Arms are severed, table saws sever spines, people are set on fire, plummet to their deaths, and are crushed with cars! This flick is also exceptionally well made and acted. It almost plays like an after school special, only with a bad case of herpes. This flick drips with a genuinely sleazy punk rock atmosphere. There’s a nifty scene where Stegman and his pals go to a punk rock club and skank to the ripping sounds of Teenage Head! Speaking of music, I almost forget to mention the incredibly cheesy theme song “I Am The Future” which was provided by Alice Cooper. Quite an embarrassment for old Alice, as it sounds like a very lame Broadway tune!

Anchor Bay released a beautiful dvd of CLASS OF 1984 that features goodies like the trailer, a director’s commentary track, and interviews with Perry King and his on-screen wife Merrie Lynn Ross. I highly recommend a purchase. This one gets better every time I watch it.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

 

Good Efficient Butchery!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This brutal batch of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT highlights a terrible trio of 80’s psycho-slashers. Not for the weak or easily offended, these clas-sick genre flicks all feature violent psycho killers stalking and slashing their sexy female victims.

Ladies, lock your doors – or LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE (1980)

The late, great Nicholas Worth chews up the scenery as Kirk Smith, a deranged Vietnam vet with a voracious appetite for weight lifting and strangulation. Kirk spends his days working as a sleazy photographer, prowling the streets of Los Angeles looking for attractive young women. When night falls the psycho strangler violently breaks into the homes of women that live alone and has his way with them. He enjoys burning them with candle wax, biting their breasts, and violating their every orifice. Kirk favors an unusual Vietnamese method of strangulation: wrapping a large gold coin in nylon and using it as a tourniquet to slowly squeeze the life from his lingerie clad victims.

Not content with the brutal acts of rape, mutilation, and strangulation, Kirk also has a fetish for leaving his victims’ dead bodies in lurid positions in public places. This final outrage is a slap in the face to the terrified citizens, and to the dumbfounded police. The ego maniacal serial killer also enjoys calling in to a local radio show to taunt the female psychologist host – Lindsay Gale, by boasting of his demented crimes. A police detective investigating the case becomes romantically involved with Lindsay, just as Kirk also decides to to set his sights on her. This love triangle quickly turns deadly, because no matter how hard Lindsay tries to stay alive – the murderer is always just a phone call away.

“Don’t Answer The Phone” is equal parts sleazy/disturbing/inept/hilarious. The sweaty psycho killer is fantastic and the numerous scenes of him in action are brutal and convincing stuff. Nicholas Worth does a great job playing an emotionally disturbed character, wildly fluctuating from angry to sobbing – often within the same scene. The movie then takes a turn for sheer unintentional hilarity whenever it features the bumbling police officers that are investigating the case. The comedic value is great enough that the goofballs at Rhino Home Video once released this film (in a heavily edited form) on dvd.

Don’t mistake “Don’t Answer The Phone” for pure schlock though, as it packs a quite a punch in the vein of other crude, yet effective flicks like “Maniac” and “Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer.” The original storyline was based on the Michael Curtis novel “Nightline,” which was a fictionalized account of the notorious “Hillside Strangler” case. The corpses of the female victims being left in lurid, open legged display by the killer and the formation of a “strangler task force” are both taken directly from the real case.

Fans of serial killer flicks, police thrillers, brutal home invasion kills, and occasional moments of odd, out of place cheesy comedy will no doubt appreciate this. BCI released a beautiful looking, 100% uncut dvd release of DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE that includes goodies like a commentary track with director Robert Hammer (no relation), an interview with Nicholas Worth, a stills gallery, and a nifty trailer reel featuring ads for a few of Crown International’s clas-sick genre flicks. Essential exploitation!

NIGHTMARE (1981)

A very sweaty man in tighty whiteys writhes around in his bed before waking up and finding a bloody severed head at the foot of his bed. The freshly severed head then opens its eyes, which causes the man to begin screaming. It was all just a dream – or a NIGHTMARE, if you will. The sweaty man in question is a criminally insane psychopath named George Tatum. George is a homicidal schizophrenic who suffers from mild amnesia, dream fixation, and seizures. After being arrested for the sexual mutilation and murder of a family in Brooklyn, George Tatum is sent to a mental hospital where he is force fed a cocktail of experimental hypnotic drugs.

The doctors hope to cure George of his reoccurring dreams and violent episodes by keeping him doped up and subjecting him to radical behavior modification techniques. The secret experiment is quickly dubbed a breakthrough success and the doctors believe that they have completely rebuilt his damaged mind. The next logical step is reprogramming George for future government and lucrative private sector use. Before George can be sold to the highest bidder, the doctor in charge of the experiment foolishly decides to release him into the general public on his own recognizances. This proves to be a deadly mistake.

George Tatum is still incurably insane. The drugs can only temporarily suppress his desire to kill and mutilate, they cannot completely erase the twisted memories from his mind. George begins cruising the NYC sex shops and the lurid sight of whores behind glass is enough to make him fall to the ground and begin foaming at the mouth like a rabid animal. George then hops into his car and begins the long drive from New York to Florida. George is strangely determined to track down a single mother named Susan Temper and her three children, and he is more than willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. For the Temper family, George’s twisted dreams become a real life nightmare that they can’t escape alive.

Writer and Director Romano Scavolini is the mastermind behind this controversial 1981 slasher flick. His inspiration for the story came from an article in the New York Times, which described how the CIA had been administering experimental drugs to schizophrenics. Scavolini used this disturbing idea as the basis for a horror story, and “Nightmare” was the end result. What makes this film so disturbing is the fact that there has been plenty of real life George Tatums. He is not the boogeyman, or a masked mauler who strikes without any real reason or motive. George Tatum is a psychopath, and one of the most convincing in horror history.

Baird Stafford does a fantastic job in the lead role of George Tatum. He spends most of the movie sweating like a pig in his underwear. He might have been a little too convincing as a psycho, as he only went on to star in one other movie seven years later. The highlight of this flick for me is an incredible sequence where George Tatum suddenly appears behind a unsuspecting victim that is talking on the phone. Baird has just the slightest hint of a smile on his face, and you know the worst is about to come. He slits the woman’s throat and Scavolini treats the audience to a loving close up of her gushing wound. Blood spurts from her throat as she gurgles and struggles to breathe. Then George sits on top of her and begins slowly plunging the knife into her body. What makes this scene really stand out is the way that George appears to be fucking her with the knife. Sweat pours from his hair as he reaches his climax, and the scene is punctuated with a nasty shot of George licking the blood off his hands.

The rest of the cast is horrible, although it’s hard for me to decide if I dislike the actors or the characters that they are playing. The character of Susan Temper is one of the most thoroughly unlikable and unsympathetic I’ve ever seen. She’s a stressed out single mom who spends the majority of the film sleeping, fucking her bearded boyfriend Bob on his boat, and yelling at her children. There’s a scene where she completely abandons her children and thoughtlessly leaves them locked outside of their house while she frolics with her lover. Of course, with children as wretched as hers it’s somewhat easy to understand why she acts like she does. Her daughters are two chubby little pigs that never stop screeching and squeeling. And then there’s the one and only C.J.

C.J. Temper is a purely evil little bastard with a Dorothy Hamill haircut. He’s a rotten little schemer that loves to pull elaborate, mean spirited pranks on his family, friends, and babysitter. He smirks as the police are called in to investigate his dirty deeds. He later pours ketchup all over his body and pretends that someone stabbed him, which causes his frantic mother to almost kill herself racing home. Just when you think you can’t hate this little fucker any more, he then has the appalling nerve to mock the brutal death of his best friend. It’s almost impossible not to despise him and root for his violent demise. C.J. manages to be a formidable foe though, and proves to be an expert shot as he arms himself with a handgun and precisely blasts through a small hole in a door with the trained skill of a professional marksman.

No discussion of “Nightmare” would be complete without mentioning the Tom Savini controversy that surrounds the film. Romano Scavolini claims that Tom Savini was the special effects supervisor for the entire film. Tom Savini claims that he never worked on the film because he was too busy working on Creepshow at the time. Despite Savini’s dismissal, there are several photos of him on the set that prove he worked on at least one scene in the move – the centerpiece decapitation by hatchet.

This incredible scene is the bloody highlight of the film. It is shown in pieces throughout the film, and then shown in its entirety at the climax. Fans of “Friday The 13th” will find this decapitation to be a very close recreation of the classic Betsy Palmer head slice. Watch the blood flow, watch the twitching hands in front of the body. It’s trademark Tom Savini. There’s really no denying that he created that effect. How much, if any of the rest of the film he worked on is debatable. The rest of the effects in the film are all effectively gruesome, but they are perhaps not quite up to snuff with Savini’s usual work.

Tom Savini was furious when his name was splashed all over the posters for “Nightmare,” and he successfully sued the production to have his name removed from the ads. His name still appears in the credits of the film though. Savini claims that the producers offered to pay him for his name value only, not for his work. He found this distasteful and dishonest and refused. Romano Scavolini on the other hand is adamant that Savini was the special effects supervisor on the film, and claims that Savini refused to have his name on the film because he wanted the credit to go to his friend and assistant Lester Lorraine (RIP) instead. Regardless of who you choose to believe, the photos prove that Savini worked on the film in some capacity. It remains one of the great slasher controversies to this day.

“Nightmare” was also a source of much controversy in the UK. The film was banned by BBFC as a Video Nasty, and the head of UK video distributor Oppidan served six months in jail for selling an uncut version of the film! This is the only time in history that someone went to jail for distributing a horror film. Angry critics and bad reviews savaged the film in every country it was released in. The New York Daily News wrote three separate articles attacking the film. Despite, or more likely because of this controversy, the film quickly became a box office success. Variety reported that the film earned over 4 million in 28 cities throughout America and Canada. Not bad for a low budget slasher flick.

I consider NIGHTMARE to be one of the very best 80’s slasher flicks. It works in a big way because of how brutal and realistic it feels. There are a lot of other slasher flicks that are faster paced and have better acting and higher production value, but very few can compare in terms of sleaze, splatter, and an overall sense of shock and disgust. If you want to go inside the mind of a schizophrenic killer, this is a must see flick. This is also essential viewing for all fans of slasher flicks.

 

THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982)

The female residents of New York City are being sliced and diced by a rampaging maniac. The press dubs the killer “The New York Ripper” – and he wields the blade with precision, quickly carving his way through the big apple. A hard boiled, whore banging police detective teams up with a closet fag psychoanalyst to hunt for the sadistic slut snuffer with the wacky voice of a duck. Things get personal when the deviant duck slices up the nipples and eyeballs of “Kitty,” who just happens to be the detective’s favorite prostitute! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!

“The New York Ripper” is one of my favorite Lucio Fulci films. It plays out like an ultra sleazy combination of an Italian giallo and an American slasher flick, and reeks of cheesy 70’s police drama. Thanks to the typically atrocious dubbing the characters all sport thick and terrible “Noo Yoik” accents. My favorite character is the tough talking coroner, who delivers the immortal line – “He used a blade. Stuck it up her joytrail, and slit her wide open. He could have done a better job if he had more time. But overall it was good, efficient butchery.” The music throughout also is appropriately funky/sleazy sounding. Clearly not for everyone, but jaded horror fans looking for an unrelentingly grim and sadistic slasher are likely not to be disappointed.

This is quite possibly legendary director Lucio Fulci’s most bloodthirsty effort, which is really saying something. The abundant gore on display here is fantastic. No discreet cutting away from the action. Nothing left to the viewer’s imagination. Fulci delivers the real thing as always. The multiple razor blade slashings are gory as hell. The most disgusting scene has to be the extended razor blade torture that the killer inflicts upon actress Daniela Dora (who had already puked her guts up in Fulci’s clas-sick “City Of The Living Dead”). The best part of that sequence is when the killer slowly drags the razor across her eye. The eyeball even rolls back into her head as it’s being cut, which adds a particularly unnerving and realistic feeling to the scene.

“The New York Ripper” is also one of Fulci’s most controversial films. It is frequently accused of being misogynistic and overly brutal toward women. “The New York Ripper” is unquestionably an extremely violent and unpleasant film. The over the top carnage is almost nonstop, and the motivations and emotions of the mad killer are equally perverse and disturbing. There’s also an abundance of SLEAZE on display – with plenty of Times Square sex shows (including a HOT performance from Zora Kerova of “Cannibal Ferox” infamy!), gay porno mags, and a cuckold husband who gets off listening to tape recordings of his wife having sex with other men. Not to mention the infamous “toe rape” scene, which is another incredibly nasty and unusual highlight.

Bill Lustig’s Blue Underground recently released a fantastic special edition dvd of THE NEW YORK RIPPER that was remastered in blood-soaked high-definition from its original camera negative, and presented completely uncut and uncensored. The bonus features exclusive to this new special edition release include “I’m an Actress! – Interview with Zora Kerova” and “NYC Locations: Then & Now.”  Yet another top notch release from Blue Underground, and yet another flick that no respectable horror collection should be missing!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Consumption and Carnage!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This batch of Brain Hammer approved PICKS FROM THE CRYPT are a terrible trio of clas-sick 80’s horror flicks that all take place within the cozy corporate confines of everybody’s favorite hang out spot – the shopping mall! (and a furniture store!) These sloppy shopping sprees don’t just cause massive credit card bills, they also quickly rack up staggering body counts. Prices aren’t the only things being slashed…

CHOPPING MALL (1986)

At Park Plaza Mall the security force isn’t just tight – it’s terrifying! A shady looking criminal learns this the hard way in the opening scene, which is also a promotional reel for the revolutionary Protector 101 Series robots. The Protectors are a trio of motorized security guards specially designed to detain intruders and send an alarm to police. These modern marvels are armed with close range sleep darts, incredibly strong retractable claw arms, and lasers that can cut through debris. As a vaguely scientific type explains the Protector’s special features, Paul Bartel & Mary Woronov (“Rock ‘N’ Roll High School,” “Eating Raoul”) make a quick cameo and add some witty quips.

Four young couples make plans to have an after hours slumber party inside the mall furniture store the same night the Protectors are set to go online for the first time. The gang includes Ferdy – a nerd with a great personality, a goofy looking candidate for prickhood named Michael, a bucktoothed geek named Craig and their respective love interests; Alison, Leslie, and Suzie. There’s also another couple, but they’re pretty much body count material (although the chick has the film’s most memorable line).

As the kids settle in for an evening of romance in the store, disaster strikes upstairs. More specifically, lightning strikes the generator on the roof of the mall three times in a row! Unfortunately for everyone inside Park Plaza, the Protectors were recharging their batteries at that exact same moment and the massive amounts of electricity cause the robots to snap and become killbots. The killbots use their deadly claws to interrupt a cigarette smoking technician’s centerfold stroke fest and rip out another tech’s throat. Then the three deadly mechanical guards begin making their nightly rounds throughout the mall. Legendary actor Dick Miller (“Piranha,” “Gremlins”) makes an brief appearance in his trademark role of Walter Paisley and gets electrocuted.

Michael wanders off to buy his girlfriend Leslie a pack of after-sex smokes and gets a taste of the Protector’s now lethal sleep darts. When Leslie wonders off to find Michael we are treated to a magnificent close up of her pink Playboy panties. Then the killbots catch up to her and blow her head up real good with a mighty laser blast!

It doesn’t take long for the seemingly indestructible robots to smash through the glass of the furniture store windows and begin attacking the surviving three couples. The guys force the girls to crawl inside the ventilation ducts in an effort to reach the parking level, and then break into the always conveniently located shopping mall gun store and arm themselves with guns and propane tanks. Eventually the girls join in on the assault too and all hell breaks loose. Spending the night in the chopping mall will cost them an arm and a leg… and a head.

This 80’s masterpiece was co-written and directed by the amazing Jim Wynorski of “Slumber Party Massacre II” and “Hard To Die” legend. Being a Corman/Concorde production, this flick has an unmistakable cheesy vibe. Nothing here is meant to be taken seriously. Check out the sleazy pizzeria with a “Slumber Party Massacre” poster on the wall! The acting is pretty good in my opinion. 80’s horror fans will enjoy seeing scream queen favorites Kelly Maroney (“Night Of The Comet”) and Barbara Crampden (“Re-Animator”) in action. I am a HUGE fan of Suzee Slater (“Savage Streets”), who steals the show as the smoking hot blonde with incredible tits that refuses to let her boyfriend go down on her and then demands that he buy her cigarettes after they have sex! Her death scene is so good they even show it again during the end credits.

The killbots were created by Richard Short and they look fantastic. The many scenes of the Protectors in action are very well done, especially considering the low budget of the film. The voices of the killbots were provided by none other than Jim Wynorski himself. There’s no shortage of gunfire and explosions, and there should be more than enough throat ripping, railing kills, and immolation to keep viewers riveted. The film’s brief running time is actually an asset, as this flick never wears out it’s welcome or becomes tiresome. It’s non stop fun and action from start to finish.

The good folks at Lionsgate released an excellent dvd of CHOPPING MALL that includes some very nice bonus features for diehard fans to enjoy. There’s an awesome commentary track with Jim Wynorski and co-writer Steve Mitchell and a 15 minute featurette entitled “Creating The Killbots” that explains the origins of the creatures. The theatrical trailer and a nice photo gallery are also included. The print was obviously lifted from the old Lightning Video vhs – so the quality leaves a little bit to be desired, but that is a small complaint considering the wealth of bonus features and the cheap retail price. This is a flick that no respectable horror collection should be missing!

 

HIDE AND GO SHRIEK (1988)

The nifty pre-credits sequence features loving closeups of what appears to be a man (we never see his face) applying makeup over his stubbled cheeks. He then throws on some eyeliner and lipstick before hopping into his car to go cruising for whores. The man quickly picks up a blonde tits-on-a-stick hooker and takes her into a back alley to fuck her against a wall for a spell before stabbing her with a switchblade. Cue opening credits.

We then meet a pair of buff young bros named John & David. The lads are pumping iron and planning a big evening with some gals and pals. In what has to be one of the gayest things I’ve ever seen or heard, David actually tells John that “It’s time to motivate. It’s time to shower!” while knowingly nibbling on a banana! Then we get to meet the girls, a rather skanky and unappealing foursome consisting of: Kim the whore, Bonnie the bitch-whore, Malissa the virgin, and Judy the virgin with a boyfriend. Malissa is excited about the possibility of having sex for the first time, and Kim assures her that “You’re going to love making love. You’ll never want to stop.” She also lends her a sexy black negligee for the special occasion!

Two more idiots named Randy and Shawn (also a virgin) show up so that everybody has a fuck buddy and once paired up the eight imbeciles embark on “the adventure of their lives,” which sadly consists of a “Chinese Fire Drill” and sneaking inside the large furniture store owned by John’s father for a night of drunken hide and seek. If this is truly “the adventure of their lives” it must be said that their lives are fairly pathetic. The gang hides out until the store closes for the evening. John’s father is briefly shown after closing, and we also get introduced to a dock worker named Fred – a creepy looking tattooed ex con who was recently released on good behavior after a long and lonely stretch in the joint for armed robbery. John’s father is nice enough to let Fred stay inside the store after hours because Fred just broke up with his girlfriend and has no place else to go.

Once night falls and the store is deserted, the kids come out of hiding and begin the night’s festivities. As the title suggests, a good portion of the film consists of kids playing hide and seek inside the large dark store. This is about as interesting as watching paint dry. The creative touch is that this is a “fine furniture”store, which means there are plenty of beds for the horny teens to jump in and out of while they play. Things pick up considerably once the killer shows up and bashes Malissa’s head into a sink just before she can try out her new nightie. The transvestite killer slips into it instead and then gives her eagerly awaiting love interest the shock of his young life, just before impaling him on giant spikes!

The giggling madman frequently switches disguises and happily stalks after the kids while wearing the clothes of their dead friends. Once the dimwitted teens finally discover that there is a killer in their midst they “arm” themselves with the deadliest weapon they can find – mannequin arms (!) and go looking to turn the tables. But who is this crazed cross dresser with a thirst for carnage, and what brought him to the store in the first place? The incredible answers to those questions are revealed in the mind blowing ending, which I do not wish to spoil for anyone. All I will say is that the identity and motivations of the madman are very “unique,” and make this otherwise forgettable slasher flick quite memorable.

Calling this “otherwise forgettable” might be a bit harsh, because I do enjoy this flick quite a bit. It’s certainly a product of the gloriously cheesy 80’s. The hair and fashions (check out the sweet jams the character David is wearing!) on display are truly cringe worthy. Extra special attention must be given to lead actress Bunky Jones, who sports one of the skankiest slut outfits ever captured on film. I also have to applaud director Skip Schoolnik for his infinitely wise decision to have three of his four leading ladies take their tops off! Hats off Skip!

The dark store makes an ideal setting for this type of slasher flick. There are quite a few scenes of the kids trying to find their missing friends that manage to be tense and atmospheric. This flick takes it’s time to get going, but once it does it rarely stops to let you catch your breath. The splatter effects were done by the legendary lunatic Screaming Mad George. The highlight of the film for gorehounds is an elaborate set piece that concludes with a nude girl being decapitated by an elevator! A rather weak body count is the film’s only major fault. I wanted all of these annoying kids to die and was a little disappointed to see so many of them still alive and kicking when the end credits rolled.

Sadly, HIDE AND GO SHRIEK has slipped into semi-obscurity. There hasn’t been an official dvd release as of yet, and the rights to the film seem to be in dispute. I would love to see a special edition dvd with a director’s commentary and perhaps a “where is she now” piece on Bunky Jones! Fans of fun 80’s slasher flicks with perverse twists and turns such as “Sleepaway Camp” and “Girls Nite Out” should really appreciate this.

 

PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE (1989)

A pack of ruthless politicians and land developers will stop at nothing to obtain a valuable piece of land for it’s use as the location of a brand new giant shopping mall. The stubborn homeowners refuse to move, so the bastards burn down their house – accidentally killing the family in the process with the sole exception of teenage son Eric.

Eric manages to escape but is horribly disfigured from the fire. His life now thoroughly ruined, Eric withdraws from society and hides out inside the massive catacombs underneath the shopping mall. After about one year spent listening to power ballads, pumping iron, and decorating his secret hideout with lots of expensive looking furniture, Eric goes batshit insane and finally decides to seek revenge. Armed with conveniently located knives, crossbow, poisonous snakes, and massive amounts of dynamite, Eric unleashes an all out assault on the shopping mall. Not content with just killing the people directly responsible for his family’s deaths, the phantom of the mall preys upon anyone at all who crosses his deadly path.

A reporter named Peter teams up with Eric’s sensitive ex-girlfriend Karie and her comic relief best friend Buzz (a fresh faced, pre “weasel” Pauly Shore!) to investigate the murders and try to stop Eric before he can chop up more innocent shoppers. Their brilliant detective work eventually uncovers the deadly secrets of the mall’s origins and the kids wind up at the mercy of the town’s evil mayor, inexplicably played by Morgan Fairchild and all 48 pounds of her fluffy blonde hair! This leads to the explosive finale where the film finally lives up to it’s name.

This flick is hilarious, and most of the laughs are unintentional. This is the only version of “Phantom Of The Opera” you will ever see that features a kung fu fighting phantom in a high school varsity jacket. The shopping mall location and satire was probably meant to feel hip and fresh. It was already done to perfection years before by George A. Romero in “Dawn Of The Dead.” (Speaking of which, DOTD veteran Ken Foree has a small role here) This 1989 effort from director  Richard Friedman (“Scared Stiff”) plays more for laughs than earlier 80’s slasher flicks, and is mostly held together by a string of over the top and amusing creative death scenes.

The death scenes are definitely what keeps things interesting here. The shopping mall location allows violent death by escalator, exhaust fan blade, and incinerator door. There’s a great forklift face smash featuring a flying eyeball that later winds up in a dish of fro-yo! My personal favorite was the deadly cobra bite to the crotch. Where Eric found a poisonous cobra in the mall remains a mystery for the ages.

There’s nothing resembling scares or suspense. The story sucks, the music is horrible (with the sole exception of the kick ass punk rock theme song which was provided by the Vandals!), and the acting is pitiful. Other than that, this is a great flick. Seriously. I can’t help but pick this one apart and take the piss out of it, but PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE is still 100% Brain Hammer approved. You can’t go wrong with this one on a Saturday night with a few beers and buds.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Savini Splatter Fest!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Love him or hate him, no one can deny how incredibly important and influential Tom Savini’s work has been to the horror genre. After already turning heads with his effects work in classics like “Deathdream,” “Deranged,” and “Dawn Of The Dead,” Tom Savini became a fucking legend by creating the incredible death scenes for Sean Cunningham’s “Friday The 13th.”

 Make no mistake about it kiddies: although “Halloween” may have came first by a few years, “Friday The 13th” was THE slasher flick that inspired a flood of imitations and single handedly kicked off the 80’s slasher craze. Eager producers were more than willing to spill some blood in order to carve up a bit of success at the box office, and Tom Savini was the man they called to get the job done right.

After the incredible success of “Friday The 13th,” Tom worked a number of other classic 80’s slasher flicks. In some cases Savini’s effects were the real stars of these movies, and his name was proudly plastered all over the posters, sometimes in bigger letters than any of the actors!

This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features three of my all time favorite 80’s slasher flicks with eye popping and mind blowing special effects from the legendary Tom Savini.

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

MANIAC (1980)

The late great Joe Spinell (“Rocky,” “The Godfather”) commands the screen as Frank Zito, a deranged serial killer who prowls the streets of the big apple looking for beautiful women to rip the life out of. Frank was the end result of childhood of brutal child abuse. His beautiful mother Carmen tormented his young mind and savaged his body, leaving him with both emotional and physical scars. Despite this abuse Frank loved his mother with all of his heart and when she was taken from Frank when he was very young in an auto accident he never fully recovered.

His adult mind becomes lost in a sea of voices. He harbors a deep resentment for women, in particular the ones the ones that sit and smile and say “yes miss, no miss, not now miss, whatever you say miss?” In Frank’s defense – it really is enough to drive a man crazy. Frank defends himself with a shotgun and hunts for tasty game after dark. His male victims are just random joes caught with their pants down and are quickly disposed of with strangulation or a face full of lead. Frank Zito is a ladies man. The women are treated to more torturous ways of slaughter and are routinely strangled, shot, stabbed, and scalped.

The scalps are very important to Frank. He brings them home to his creepy looking apartment and nails them to the heads of mannequins that he uses for sex. Frank also dabbles in the arts. He works as a painter, abstracts mostly, some stilllifes, landscapes, that sort of thing. As an artist, Frank lives by the philosophy that things change, people die, but in a picture or painting they are yours forever. The mannequins are Frank’s supreme creation, and he captures the beautiful young women so that they may be his forever.

That’s why Frank has such a fancy for fancy girls and their fancy dresses and lipstick, laughing and dancing. He has to stop them because they don’t know when to stop. He warned them not to go out tonight. They can lock their windows and doors, but they can’t lock the madman out of their minds. The voices in Frank’s head implore him to be careful and always warn him that he could be taken away for doing the things he’s doing. This doesn’t stop Frank from stalking and slaying as many women as possible.

Frank’s already busy life becomes even more complicated when he takes a stroll in the park one day and winds up being photographed by a stunning young fashionista named Anna D’Atoni. (Caroline Munro of “Slaughter High” fame!) Frank tracks Anna down and the two hit it off in a big way. Despite possessing an appearance that could be politely described as “creepy looking” or perhaps “weird and greasy,” Frank charms the pants off of Anna and takes her out to dinner at a restaurant over in Jersey called Clams Casino. Great Italian food. Frank later attends one of Anna’s exclusive fashion shoots. This allows Frank the opportunity to tap his toes to the funky sounds of Don Armando and the 2nd Avenue Rhumba Band’s sizzling number “Goin’ To A Showdown.” It also gives Frank to the perfect chance to follow a model named Rita home and stick a large knife in her chest because she knew. Rita Knew.

Frank’s third and final date with Anna sadly didn’t go nearly as well. A nighttime visit to the graveyard to pay respects to the beautiful Carmen Zito sounds like a perfect date, but Frank loses control of his emotions at the gravesite. Overcome with the feeling of emptiness and loss, Frank desperately reaches out at for woman now closest to his heart and attacks Anna. Scared and confused, Anna lashes back with a shovel and gives Frank a terrible cut on his arm. Losing blood and the final shreds of his sanity, Frank lamely retreats to the comforts of his apartment. But the worst for Frank has yet to come. His many female companions now have revenge on their minds and decide to take matters, and Frank’s head into their own hands.

MANIAC is one of my all time favorite flicks. I recall having nightmares about a guy jumping up on the hood of my parent’s car and shooting us after watching Bill Lustig’s fucking masterpiece of sleazy splatter as a wee impressionable Brain Hammer. Tom Savini’s gore effects in this flick are some of the sickest stuff he’s ever done, and that is really saying something. The graphic scalpings, skewerings, and shotgun shenanigans vividly displayed in this flick caused many stomachs to turn when it was first released. Even Stephen King admitted to have been disgusted by it. In his 1981 book “Danse Macabre” he refers to the classic whore scalping scene as “well-nigh impossible to watch.”

This infamous and controversial flick really set a new standard for other 80’s flicks to follow in terms of grit and grue. Few slashers or exploitation flicks can come close when it comes to possessing a suffocatingly disturbing, perverse, and violent atmosphere. “Maniac” is a brutal film that is clearly “love it or hate it” material and more than a few critics hated the film. Some self righteous cunts in California even took it upon themselves to paint over beautiful billboards with the classic Joe Spinell crotch shot artwork. Some newspapers refused to run ads, or even list the title of the film. Despite, or more likely because of this controversy the film was very successful. Joe Spinell was right, it wasn’t just a horror picture, it was a HAPPENING.

I really can’t say enough great things about Joe’s performance in this flick. “Maniac” was Joe’s baby. Joe Spinell wrote both the story and screenplay and co-produced the film. His performance is completely over the top, but is also really disturbing because it comes across as real. “Maniac” is a genuinely chilling film because there have been more than a few real life Frank Zitos in the world. Joe Spinell was one of the first people to accurately portray a demented serial killer and really delve deep into the twisted mind state and background of the character. He carries the whole movie. You spend every second with the killer and there’s no attempts to make sympathetic characters out of the victims. It’s to Joe’s credit that every scene in “Maniac” is riveting. I’m a huge fan of Joe Spinell, I even have the Tony Gazzo action figure. It’s a shame he left us so soon, I would have loved to see him starring in more movies.

Bill Lustig did a great job here directing his first non-porno flick. “Maniac” was made on a very small budget but still looks and sounds fantastic. Bill later went on to direct a string of cult classics, including “Vigilante” and the Bruce Campbell/Robert Z’Dar epic “Maniac Cop.” I consider “Maniac” to be Bill’s true masterpiece, and I’m not alone on that one. This flick has quite the cult following. Frank Zito is known to prowl around the net, and even has his own facebook profile.

Bill Lustig’s Blue Underground recently re released MANIAC on dvd. This is a must own dvd that includes a wealth of bonus features including audio commentary from Bill Lustig and Tom Savini, a 49 minute documentary on Joe Spinell, a radio interview with Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro, trailers, still gallery, and a “Gallery Of Outrage” consisting of the film’s many bad reviews. If you don’t have this in your collection you suck.

 

THE BURNING (1981)

A mischievous group of young campers assemble under the cover of darkness and prepare the biggest number that Camp Blackfoot has ever seen. The kids plan to scare the shit out of a cruel and sadistic summer camp caretaker named Cropsy. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the bizarre prank involving a rotting skull and candles backfires in a big way and Cropsy’s bedding catches on fire. The flames ignite a can of gasoline and in seconds Cropsy’s shack is engulfed. Tragically, Cropsy wasn’t familiar with the “stop, drop, and roll” concept and ran around screaming while trying to make his way into the nearby lake.

Cropsy survives the fire, but is very badly burned. He looks so bad that hospital orderlies describe him as “a fucking Big Mac, well done.” Five years of unsuccessful skin graphs leave Cropsy horribly disfigured and more than a little pissed off. Once he finally regains his strength he leaves the hospital with a burning hatred raging in his mind. Cropsy makes one final attempt at regaining his humanity by hiding his burns and picking up a hooker, and the whore’s eventual repulsion and rejection of Cropsy is enough to make him snap and shove a pair of scissors into her abdomen.

Now completely deranged, Cropsy grabs his trusty pruning shears and returns to Camp Blackfoot to have his revenge. As Cropsy prowls around the camp, we are introduced to a number of campers including the wisecracking and porn peddling Dave (Jason Alexander from “Seinfeld”), fast talking ladies man Eddy (Ned Eisenberg, who stole the show in “Moving Violations”), shy and misunderstood Alfred (Brian Backer, who later proved in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” that he could play a geek with the best of them), junior jerk off champion Woodstock (Fisher Stevens from “Short Circuit”), a menacing meat head named Glazer (Larry Joshua), and Glazer’s incredibly hot virgin girlfriend Sally (Carrick Glen, who also appeared in the Brain Hammer approved slasher clas-sick “Girl’s Nite Out!”).

Cropsy bides his time until a large group of campers and two counselors leave the camp for an overnight canoe trip. Cropsy tags along for the ride and when night falls the bloodshed begins. Not in the least bit concerned about who he kills, Cropsy makes mincemeat out of any unhappy camper that crosses his path. This legend of terror isn’t just a campfire story anymore. The pain is all too real to Cropsy, and he uses his wicked shears to hack life and limbs away from those who enjoy a normal existence. Don’t look, he’ll see you. Don’t breathe, he’ll hear you. Don’t move…YOU’RE DEAD!

I consider THE BURNING to be a true masterpiece of 80’s horror. It was written by Harvey Wienstein shortly before “Friday The 13th” turned the world of horror on it’s ear and was released just afterwards in time to cash in on the booming slasher market. This is one of the very best slasher films set in a summer camp. Only “Sleepaway Camp” rivals this film when it comes to capturing the madcap spirit of camp. A lot of time is spent getting to know the characters, and I think it ultimately adds to the impact of the film. The kids are all sympathetic characters, which makes their wholesale slaughter at the hands of Cropsy even more potent. It also gives us a chance to enjoy an extended shower scene with Carrick Glen and her beautiful soapy chicken breasts.

Tom Savini’s gory special effects were the major selling point of the film. Tom already had a well deserved reputation as a wizard of gore thanks to his fantastic work on films like “Dawn Of The Dead” and “Friday The 13th.” Interestingly, Savini turned down a lucrative offer to do the effects for Steve Miner’s “Friday The 13th Part II” and chose to work on “The Burning” instead. Tom Savini has created many incredible effects over the years, but “The Burning” perhaps more than any other film is the best showcase for his brilliant work.

The multiple stabbings, slicings, skewerings, and shearings are about as bloody and over the top as anything ever splashed upon the screen. The incredible “raft massacre” scene is the highlight of the film and is the stuff of legend. Much credit must also be given to director Tony Maylam, as well as editor Jack Sholder (“Alone In The Dark”) for knowing how to use these special effects to their fullest potential in the film. The numerous death scenes are tightly edited for maximum impact. The effects are spectacular and still look great today. All around, “The Burning” is an 80’s slasher flick that more than stands the test of time.

It’s well known that “The Burning” is one of the all time great slasher flicks. Sadly, for far too long a decent looking, uncut print of “The Burning” was something of a “holy grail” for slasher completists. The original R rated vhs releases, and most of the region 2 dvd releases were all heavily edited and therefore worthless. Several years ago I paid $25 for a murky looking bootleg vhs copy of the uncut Japanese print – and thought it was quite a bargain. Looking back I could kick myself for such a foolish purchase, especially when I watch the beautiful looking remastered dvd print of “The Burning” that MGM officially released in September of 2007.

After several years of having this one tucked up their ass, MGM went the extra mile with this dvd release. First of all, they were wise enough to present the UNCUT version of THE BURNING with all of the juicy splatter intact. The dvd features beautiful picture quality and is much clearer looking than any previous release. Best of all, we get several brand new bonus features – including a 17 minute Tom Savini special effects featurette entitled “Blood N’ Fire,” a commentary track with director Tony Maylam, a photo gallery, and the theatrical trailer. After years of anticipation, this dvd release wound up being well worth the wait. No respectable horror collection is complete without this.

 

THE PROWLER (1981)

1945. A young soldier returns home to the States from the brutality of WWII and is greeted by a “Dear John” letter from his best gal, Rosemary. The sudden heartbreak causes the soldier to snap and go insane. His response to having his heart ripped out is donning his combat fatigues and crashing Rosemary’s college graduation dance. Armed with a pitchfork, the silent prowler crashes a gazebo grope fest that Rosemary was enjoying with her new boyfriend and swiftly impales the young lovers. As a final gesture of contempt, the killer leaves a rose on their bloody corpses. This violent death left the small town of Avalon Bay shocked and horrified, and Rosemary’s killer was never identified or captured.

After 35 long years of silence, the town attempts to bury the memories of the brutal murders once and for all and decide to finally have another graduation dance. As the preparations for the dance are underway the Sheriff (Farley Granger) catches wind of a report about a killer that robbed a store in a nearby town and cut up a young victim before stealing their car. Despite the fact this maniac could be heading for Avalon Bay, the Sheriff seems more interested in leaving town for his weekend fishing trip. The Sheriff leaves his young deputy Mark (Christopher Goutman) in charge of keeping the town safe. Mark has a pretty young love interest named Pam (Vicky Dawson), and the two make plans to keep an eye on each other during the dance.

As the sexy sorority sluts put on their war paint and prepare for the evening’s festivities, Rosemary’s killer also prepares himself for a night of action. After donning his old combat uniform the madman breaks his trusty pitchfork out of storage and also grabs his bayonet and shotgun. Obviously still holding a lethal grudge against happy young lovers, the prowler sneaks into the girls dormitory and begins an all out assault. The first victim has a bayonet violently rammed through his skull. This unfortunate lad’s girlfriend is showering at the time, and the killer proceeds to give her a breast exam with his pitchfork. Pam almost becomes the next victim when she discovers the prowler in the stairwell, but she barely manages to run away and tell Mark that someone was chasing her.

Blissfully unaware that a psycho killer is lurking in their midst, Mark and Pam then wonder around the campus looking for someone pulling a bizarre prank. As they slowly begin to uncover the deadly secrets of Avalon Bay, the prowler strikes again and slits the throat of a young girl taking a swim. A teacher goes looking for the missing girl and gets a bayonet in the neck for her efforts. Mark and Pam eventually wind up frozen with fear inside a large house owned by the creepy old man that runs the school (the late great Lawrence Tierney!) and have a mind blowing final battle with Rosemary’s killer.

“The Prowler” has to be considered one of the most bloodthirsty slashers ever made. The eye popping special effects from Tom Savini steal the show and make this essential viewing for gorehounds. There’s a spectacular exploding head shot that rivals anything seen in “Dawn Of The Dead” or “Maniac.” The bayonet head stabbing is especially brutal, and the way the actor’s eyes pop out as the blade works it’s way through his skull never ceases to give me chills. All of the deaths in this movie are gory as hell and help “The Prowler” stand out in the pack of slasher flicks that were flooding the market at the time.

The always reliable Joesph Zito directed and did a great job. He later went on to direct “Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter” based on the strength of his work on “The Prowler.” The film has a distinctly polished feel and is much classier looking than some of the other slashers of the time period. The extended opening set in 1945 was done quite quite effectively on a very small budget. The photography by Raul Lomas and the score by Richard Einhorn also go a long way in helping the film capture a superior atmosphere.

The low budget only really hurt the film when it came time for distribution. Sadly, there wasn’t enough money available to properly market the film or get it in enough theaters to make a profit. As a result, the film quickly slipped into semi-obscurity. Too bad really, because this is clearly one of the best slasher flicks. It somehow manages to be both superior in terms of glossy production value and flesh ripping carnage. The best of both worlds.

For many years, a good looking uncut copy of  THE PROWLER was hard to come by. In 2002 the fine folks at Blue Underground did horror fans a big favor by releasing a dvd of “The Prowler” that is completely uncut and uncensored. It also includes nifty bonus features such as an audio commentary with Joseph Zito and Tom Savini, and Tom Savini’s behind the scenes gore footage. BUY IT!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

 

Juan Piquer Simon Splatterfest!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! Welcome to the wild world of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT!

This time around I’m throwing the spotlight on a terrible trio of clas-sick exploitation flicks from the notorious Spanish writer, producer, and director Juan Piquer Simon. Juan grew up raised on a diet of classic American cinema in his native Spain and considers himself an adamant fan of fantasy, thriller and horror films. Juan Piquer Simon’s efforts are infamous for being so bad, that they’re actually good. Simon has even been called the Spanish answer to Ed Wood.

I’m a huge fan of his flicks, especially the ones featured in this column. Something about the horrible dubbing, the incoherent editing, the incomprehensible plots, the tacky synthesized music; it all adds up to create pure movie magic! For all of their many, many faults, Simon’s flicks are hysterically funny and entertaining as Hell. They also deliver the goods in the splatter and sleaze departments, with plenty of scenes of flesh ripping ferocity.

In honor of the late, great Juan Piquer Simon, LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

PIECES (1982)

Boston 1942. A blossoming young pervert named Timmy Reston sits alone in his bedroom putting together a jigsaw puzzle featuring a nude pin up girl. His emotionally unstable mother walks in and catches him red handed. Infuriated, she asks him where the filth came from and slaps around the little brat while demanding answers. She warns the boy that he will end up like his father and proceeds to slam a picture of the man into a mirror. This violent act appears to have a profound effect on the boy. Mrs. Reston sends her son off in search of a plastic bag so she can junk all of his toys. Timmy returns with an axe instead and repeatedly slams it into mommy’s skull! Then the pint sized psychopath removes mommy’s head with a saw! After shutting his mother up for good Timmy goes back to work on his blood splattered puzzle.

A friend of the family becomes concerned when she can’t reach Mrs. Reston and shows up with police. When the cops break in they discover a gruesome sight in the bedroom – enough blood on the floor to ensure that something had been butchered. Then they find Mrs. Reston’s severed head in a closet. Little Timmy is found cowering in another closet, covered in blood and whimpering about a big man that hurt his mommy. We are told that Mr. Reston is overseas in the Air Force and that the murderous little bastard Timmy will be sent to live with an Aunt who lives nearby.

After the opening credits we flash forward forty years to find an unseen killer (who is obviously Timmy Reston all grown up) on the prowl at a large New England university. A bizarre skateboarding accident involving a large pane of glass reminds the madman of his mother smashing the mirror with his father’s picture forty years before and inspires him to go on a brutal killing spree. The unseen slasher stalks after the sexy young students so he can remove their limbs with a chainsaw and use the pieces to create a human version of his prized pin up puzzle! His first victim is a tasty young co-ed that he decapitates with a chainsaw in broad daylight.

Hard boiled police detectives Lt. Bracken (Christopher George of “Grizzly” & “Enter The Ninja” fame!) and Sgt. Holden (Leslie Nielson lookalike Frank Bana, who also appeared in “Return Of The Evil Dead”) are sent in to investigate the murder. They start with the Dean, who seems more concerned about bad publicity than the murder itself. The Dean (Edmund “Don’t Open Til Christmas” Purdom) turns the detectives on to the head of the anatomy department and closet campus queen – Professor Brown. (Jack Taylor, who appeared in numerous Spanish horror epics including “Ghost Galleon” & “Night Of The Sorcerors”) Professor Brown seems to think it might be one of the boys, but Sgt. Holden assures him that at this point the investigation consists of buying clothes without labels and trying them on for size.

Shortly afterwards we are introduced to the campus stud Kendall James. (Ian Sera, who also appeared in “Pod People”) A blonde hardbody sends Kendall an invitation to fuck in the campus swimming pool later. Kendall accepts the invitation of course, but the killer beats him to the pool room and proceeds to net the girl like a large fish and then shear away her limbs with his trusty saw. This time the madman takes the girls’ torso as a souvenir. The temperamental and sneering campus gardener WillArd (unforgettably portrayed by Paul “BLUTO” Smith!) stumbles upon the bloody crime scene and has a wild run in with the cops that ends with Sgt. Holden threatening to BLOW his brains out!

The detectives question Kendall and his nerdy best friend “Goggles” and wind up believing that Kendall had nothing to do with the murder. Lt. Brown even decides to turn to Kendall for help with the investigation. He also arranges for an undercover police officer named Mary Riggs (played by Christopher George’s wife – Lynda Day George, who also starred in “Mortuary” and “Day Of The Animals”) to join the campus faculty as the new female tennis coach.

Meanwhile, the killer decides he needs a pair of arms and decides to relieve a pretty young dance major of hers inside an elevator. Kendall hears her screams of torment and barks out orders to the police officers on the scene. The sight of the limbless girl in the elevator is enough to make a seasoned police officer puke his guts up, but Kendall immediately seizes control of the situation and tells the guy to go call an ambulance! The girl initially survives the attack but dies in the hospital from the massive shock and loss of blood before she can identify the killer. Mary searches for clues and stumbles upon the fucking Kung Fu Professor (Bruce Li!) who attacks her because of something he ate. Bad chop suey maybe.

The mad butcher then sets his sights on the legs of Susie Billings, a sexy young tennis player. The ever resourceful killer sabotages the campus P.A. System so it continuously plays canned intermission music. This makes a perfect cover up for the sound of his chainsaw. While Mary, Kendall, and WillArd are fumbling around with the music the lousy bastard kills her. It’s all enough to make Mary unleash a devastating display of sheer frustration! BASTARD!!!

Lt. Brown turns to Kendall yet again for help and sends him to the record vault with Sgt. Holden to pour over files looking for any reference to the campus staff. Mary goes to a suspects house for an evening for a cup of coffee and a few questions and winds up getting a lot closer to the killer than she bargained for. Just as Mary is drugged and her lovely feet are about to become the final addition to the murderer’s supreme creation, Kendall unearths a clue that reveals the killer’s true identity. Kendall and the cops have to race to stop the killer before he can finish his human jigsaw puzzle. This all culminates with an unbelievable mind blowing genital crushing grand finale that must be seen to be believed!

I have seen this flick more times over the years than I could possibly count. I make everyone I know watch this movie. Whenever I talk to people about horror flicks I always have to mention PIECES. This flick is absolutely hilarious, and manages to get a little funnier every time I watch it. It plays out like a really gory and outrageous version of an Italian Giallo. The unseen, black gloved killer is pure Dario Argento. The soundtrack from Carlo Maria Cordio (aka CAM) is atmospheric and excellent, even if it borrows heavily from Goblin’s score for “Zombi.” “Pieces” was written by the terrible trio of director Juan Piquer Simon, producer Dick Randall (“Slaughter High”), and the infamous Joe D’Amato. (“Antropophagus”) No wonder this slasher flick is so full of brutal violence and perverse sexual overtones. There’s some tasty nudity to enjoy and even a little something for the ladies when Simon slips in a full frontal shot of Ian Sera. IT STINKS!

There’s more sidesplitting dialog in this howler than any other I can think of. From the cross eyed girl with the HUGE tits that dreamily coos how “the most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed at the same time,” to WillArd proudly proclaiming  he “ain’t getting’ paid by the hour,” to Christopher George imploring his partner to “take some uppers, anything, just get me a lead!” The dubbing and dialog definitely make this work an unintentional comedy.

“Pieces” also works as a slasher flick. Big time. The graphic violence is very nasty and convincing. In the gruesome scene where the killer chainsaws into the abdomen of a girl in the shower a real pig carcass was used which makes the scene very effectively disgusting. From start to finish this flick takes no prisoners. This gory little gem definitely lives up to its’ immortal tag line: “You don’t have to go to Texas to have a chainsaw massacre!”

Several “budget” dvd companies have released PIECES. The fine folks at Grindhouse Releasing released an amazing 2-disc special edition dvd release, which is loaded with bonus features and should be considered a must-have for hardcore fans of the film. Either way, it can easily be found for cheap – so there is no excuse for not owning this clas-sick 80’s splatterpiece. This is a fucking must see!

 

POD PEOPLE (1983)

A meteor crashes to Earth while a truck full of poachers lead by the one and only Frank Bana, drive around in fog. Then there’s more outer space footage, this time with a ball of blue light. A poacher named Matt who looks like Jesus grabs his trusty crossbow in response. Then there’s even more outer space footage, this time with a ball of yellow light apparently heading towards Earth. The poachers argue for a while and then find a tree full of nightingale eggs. During their hunt there are some incredibly fake shots of lightning that even Sam Raimi could snicker at. We next meet a little red headed scamp named Tommy who loves animals and his telescope. Timmy peers at the moon which has turned green and his bedroom lamp flickers ominously.

The evil poachers steal eggs and Sam, the geek of the group, is the only one who notices a blinding flash of light in the sky and a fiery explosion in the woods nearby. Sam goes to investigate and stumbles upon a eerily lit cave full of fog and large alien eggs. He wisely decides to break one of the eggs open and is revolted when he finds a rotisserie chicken inside. He then grabs a conveniently located club and starts making omelets out of the alien eggs, much to the anger of the mother alien who catches him in the act and makes him quickly regret it. Frank Bana and Jesus assume their geeky partner in crime has deserted them and are forced to rough it in the woods until morning.

The next morning we spend some quality time with little Tommy and his incredibly angry and miserable Uncle Bill. We also meet Tommy’s mother Molly, who lives as single parent under Uncle Bill’s oppression. Just as you start to appreciate how miserable Tommy’s existence truly is, prepare for a series of neck snapping cuts that violently throw you into a recording studio where an idiot named Rick (Ian Sera!) is cutting his new hit single. Before the sheer hilarity of that idea sinks in long enough to make any amount of sense, we then fly into the woods for a shot of a fog covered mountaintop and listen in as Frank Bana & Jesus sit around doing nothing and ponder breaking into a ranger’s station. Then we settle back into the studio and are treated to a taste of the toe tapping classic “Hear The Engines Roll Now.” During the session a studio skank named Laura coolly remarks how Rick is pretty good, which causes a comic relief gay guy in an I’M A VIRGIN t-shirt to snap back: “Good?!? He’s THE BEST!”

Rick is a relentless perfectionist in the studio who never jokes about his living. When he boldly declares that “IT STINKS!”, few can argue. He even accuses his best gal and backup singer Sharon of coming in half a beat late and blasting out like a foghorn! Just when the tension in the studio is about to reach its breaking point, the group’s cool-headed manager Brian steps in and tells the gang to get ready for their weekend vacation to a nearby forest. Rick thoughtfully invites along Laura the skank which makes Sharon explode with jealousy. Brian then has a heart to heart conversation with Sharon and assures her that making out with chicks is just part of Rick’s act as an artist. Incredibly, Sharon understands this and the whole gang piles into a Winnebago and heads off to their doom.

For the next several minutes the film is ruthlessly padded with scenes of Rick, Laura, and Brian smiling like idiots in the front seat of the Winnebago and lengthy shots of the camper slowly making its way down a long stretch of road in the woods. Things finally pick up when little Tommy finds the one alien egg that Sam the poacher didn’t manage to destroy and decides to take it home. Rick and the gang set up camp and it isn’t long before the love triangle between Rick, Sharon, and Laura turns ugly. Sharon throws coffee in the face of Laura and she runs off into the woods where she stumbles upon evil Frank Bana & Jesus. Laura manages to escape the clutches of the poachers but doesn’t fare so well when she gets a good look at the alien, which pushes her off a cliff.

Rick and the other idiots find Sharon and take her back to their camper. When they can’t revive her they decide to drive her to a hospital. Brian the manager reminds them that it’s at least 50 miles to the nearest town and with the bad roads and weather they would never make it. Exactly what bad roads and weather is never explained, since they drove into the woods with no problem. Rick barely manages to drive to crabby Uncle Bill’s cabin for help, and Uncle Bill is nice enough to greet him with a shotgun and tells him to go to Hell. Molly finally convinces Bill to let the kids inside. While all this is taking place, upstairs in Tommy’s room the miracle of life is in full effect when the egg breaks open and reveals a Cornish game hen covered in strawberry jam.

Meanwhile at a nearby campsite, the evil poachers are still sitting around, this time pondering the merits of stealing the kids’ camper. Before this or anything else can possibly happen, the alien makes an appearance. Jesus attempts to distract the extra terrestrial with some chicken and Frank Bana tries to get the drop on it with a net. The poachers’ plan backfires in a big way and the hunters become the hunted. Just when things are getting interesting we cut back to little Tommy’s room and watch his alien pal Trumpy grow up. Scenes of Trumpy interacting with cute little kitties, bunnies, and birdies are sure to tug on the heartstrings. Then the film takes a turn for madcap hilarity when Trumpy sucks up a snout full of peanuts and then unleashes his magical mystical powers of mind control to make all of Tommy’s toys and clothes come to life and dance around his bedroom. Wacky!

The rest of the film turns into a never ending collection of pointless scenes with the characters driving around looking for help, arguing, doing dishes, taking sleeping pills, showering, and arguing some more. Finally the evil alien shows up and breaks up the monotony by snuffing a chick in the shower. Uncle Bill manages to wound the alien with a shotgun blast and chases the monster into the woods. Rick grabs a rifle and also gives chase. Molly and Sharon run around looking for Tommy, and Tommy tries to hide Trumpy. This all leads up to the film’s memorably downbeat ending where Uncle Bill is taken out with a lethal extra terrestrial karate chop, the mother alien succombs to the firepower of Ian Sera, and cute and innocent Trumpy is left alone to starve to death in the woods. The kids will love it!

Juan Piquer Simon’s honest attempt at a mean spirited “Alien”cash in was severely hampered by the greedy and short sighted producers, who insisted that the script be changed in the middle of filming to more closely resemble the then wildly popular film “E.T.” It’s been rumored for years that POD PEOPLE was meant to be an “official” Italian sequel to “E.T.”  To add to the confusion, the film was released internationally as “Extra Terrestrial Visitors!” The worlds of foggy backwoods horror and family friendly extra terrestrial hilarity collide and the end result isn’t very pretty, or interesting. This is a train wreck of a film. It works very well as a comedy though.

This made perfect fodder for the brains at “Mystery Science Theater 3000”  to savage. A lot of MST3K fans consider “Pod People” to be one of the all time great episodes and I have to agree. The MST3K episode featuring “Pod People” was released on home video by Rhino. The original, uncut version of the film has never been released in the States. In light of J.P. Simon’s recent passing, and the undying popularity of MST3K, I would hope Shout! Factory might step up to the plate and give us a special edition dvd release.

 

SLUGS: THE MOVIE (1988)

Not to be mistaken with SLUGS: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL, this motion picture tells the cautionary tale of a small New England town invaded by hideous hordes of bloodthirsty mutant radioactive slugs. The first victim is a doofus teenaged fisherman who gets dragged down to his watery grave in front of his bikini bottom sporting blonde bimbo gal pal. Next up on the slugs’ menu is the town drunk and his pooch, who are both devoured inside of the drunk’s home.

Coincidentally enough, the grumpy and ineffectual town Sheriff is sent to the drunk’s house the next morning to serve an eviction notice. Sheriff Reese inexplicably brings along the town’s health commissioner, Mike Brady and the two men discover the drunk’s nasty looking partially devoured corpse. Despite the slime trails covering every square inch of the house, Sheriff Reese is completely baffled as to what could have happened and Mike suspects rats.

Shortly afterward, Mike gets a call from an angry old hag complaining of a backed up sewer. By the time Mike gets to the house, the town’s sanitation supervisor, Dan Palmer is already there waiting for him. Dan descends into the sewer system and discovers a large pipe choked with the rotting remains of dead rats, chickens, cats and dogs. As this is taking place, an old man in a greenhouse has a wild run in with a slug inside his gardening glove that ends with grandpa hacking off his hand with a hatchet, much to the shock and disgust of his haggard wife! In the confusion, a conveniently located can of gasoline ignites and causes a massive explosion, killing them both.

Mike has an encounter with the slugs in his garden when one of the bastards bites his finger. Mike snaps up a few of the slugs and brings them to an English friend of his wife, a vaguely scientific type named John. The English egghead agrees to examine the slugs and gets a close up look at their ravenous appetite for flesh when one of slugs eats a hamster. In the meanwhile, Mike keeps himself busy tagging along with Sheriff Reese to investigate the spectacular deaths of a pair of horny teens who are found devoured beyond recognition.

We also spend some down time with a bored alcoholic housewife who accidentally chops up one the slugs that had been hiding inside a head of lettuce and serves it up to her yuppie husband for dinner. Ingesting the salty tasting mutant slug meat infests his body with deadly parasitic worms that later ruin a business luncheon when they cause blood to pour out of his mouth and nose and make his eyeballs explode!

John the scientist eventually decides that the slugs are mutated, and Mike and Dan discover that the mutation was caused by poisonous gas escaping from a pipe in a landfill that used to be a toxic waste dump in the 50’s. Mike tries to go to the sheriff with his theory and the sheriff quickly dismisses him as an idiot. Then Mike makes the mistake of turning to the poorly dubbed and purely evil town planner, Frank Fucking Phillips (Frank Bana!) for help. When Mike tries to declare a state of emergency, Frank Phillips informs him that “he ain’t got the authority to declare happy birthday in this town!”

Finally Mike goes to the Mayor, but the corrupt politician is more concerned with lining his pockets with a lucrative real estate deal than the public’s safety. In frustration, Mike decides to take the law into his own hands and heads into the sewers with his pal Dan and a shitload of volatile chemicals for an explosive final confrontation with the quickly multiplying hordes of murderous mutated slugs.

Another splatterpiece from Juan Piquer Simon, and possibly his most bloodthirsty and entertaining effort. SLUGS is a very fun tribute to the monster flicks of the 50’s that influenced him as a filmmaker. The title and inspiration for this film came from one of British splatterpunk novelist Shaun Hudson’s most popular books. Most of the graphic gore depicted in the film is lifted directly from Hudson’s novel. This was a relatively low budget affair that was shot in upstate New York and Madrid Spain. A lot of fun can be had as the expense of the dubbing of the Spanish actors. The voices used for the dubbing are simply horrible, especially the guy who dubs Frank Bana. The plot is about as recycled as they come, right down to the nerdy scientist and grumpy, ineffectual police.

The obvious highlight of the film is the non stop gore, which was impressive enough to win a Goya award for best special effects. That’s right folks, this is an award winning film. That means it must be good! People looking for liberal doses of blood, guts, and slugs need look no further. The good folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment released SLUGS on dvd, both as a single disc and as part of the fantastic Man’s Worst Friends Fright Pack, which also includes such clas-sicks as “Rats: Night Of Terror,” “Parasite,” and Lucio Fulci’s “The Black Cat.” Highly recommended!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!