Archive for April, 2011

The worlds of Full House & Horror collide!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 by Brain Hammer

The worlds of Full House & Horror collide!!!

Because I am insane, I decided it would be fun to find as many connections as I could between the worlds of FULL HOUSE & HORROR!

HAVE MERCY!!!

 

Darcy DeMoss – played one of Uncle Jesse’s fuck toys in the classic 1988 Full House episode “Half A Love Story,” also starred in “Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI” (1986) as the cock rider/rv face smash chick, and appeared naked in “Reform School Girls” (1986)

 

Judie Aronson – played Ripper “Raven” in Full House, got naked in “Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter” (1984) & “The Sleeping Car” (1989)

 

Miko Hughes – played that little smart mouthed brat “Aaron” in Full House, also starred in “Pet Sematary” (1989) & “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994)

 

Whitby Hertford – played “Walter” the duck faced geek in Full House, also appeared in “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” (1986), William Friedkin’s “Rampage” (1988), “A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child” (1989), and “Mikey” (1992)

 

Kevin Connors – played preteen paperboy heart throb “Bobby” in Full House, also appeared in “Phantasm III” (1994)

 

Scott Weinger – played D.J.’s lovable doofus boyfriend  “Steve Hale” in Full House, also appeared in “Shredder” (2003)

 

David Lipper – played bad boy guitar shredding stud “Viper” in Full House, also appeared in “Bug Buster” (1998)

 

Jason Marsden – played nerdy teenage billionare “Nelson Burkhard” in Full House, also appeared in a 1991 episode of “Tales From The Crypt”
 

Lori Loughlin – played my masturbation favorite “Rebecca Katsopolis” in Full House, also starred in “Amityville 3D” (1983) & “The New Kids” (1985)

 

Bob Saget – played host of Wake Up San Francisco “Danny Tanner” in Full House, also appeared in Larry Cohen’s “Full Moon High” (1981)

John Stamos – played everybody’s favorite uncle “Jesse Katsopolis” in Full House, also starred in a “Tales From The Crypt” episode entitled “Till Death Do We Part” (1993)

 

John Aprea – played Uncle Jesse’s domineering exterminator father Nick Katsopolis in Full House, also appeared in “Caged Heat” (1974) and “The Stepford Wives” (1975)

 

Martha Quinn – played castrating shrew radio producer “Alison The Axe Axelrod,” also appeared in “Dead Heat” (1988) and “Chopper Chicks In Zombie Town” (1991)

Vanna White – guest starred as herself in Full House, also appeared in “Graduation Day” (1981)

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! SHOOBY DO WHOP BA DA!!!!!!

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The Master is here!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by Brain Hammer

THE MASTER (1984)

This was my favorite tv show as a wee Brain Hammer. It’s incredibly cheesy ninja fun with the legendary Lee Van Cleef starring as the wise old ninja master McAllister, Timothy Van Patten (“Class Of 1984”) as his headstrong heart throb apprentice Max, and the one and only Shô Kosugi (“Enter The Ninja”) as the deadly ninja Okasa.

There were lots of incredible guest stars throughout the series including Demi Moore (“Parasite”), Claude Atkins (“The Curse”), Clu Gulager (“Return Of The Living Dead”), Brian Tochi (“Revenge Of The Nerds”), Mickey Jones (“Vacation”), Randi Brooks (“Hamburger: The Motion Picture”), George Lazenby (“James Bond”), Art  Hindle (“The Brood”), Stuart Whitman (“Eaten Alive”), William Smith (“Memorial Valley Massacre”), Kane Kosugi (“Revenge Of The Ninja”), Jennifer Runyon (“To All A Good Night”), Crystal Bernard (“Slumber Party Massacre II”), and even Britt Leach, better known as MISTER SIMS in “Silent Night Deadly Night!” Not to mention the kick ass original music by none other than Bill Conti of “Rocky” fame!

THE MASTER is arguably the greatest show in the history of television. A fucking MASTERPIECE!!! 

(please note – all the text that follows is NOT written by me, it was taken from wiki, so props to the lunatic who took the time to write all this awesome shit!)

 

PREMISE:

THE MASTER follows the character of John Peter McAllister, an American veteran who stayed in Japan following World War II and became a ninja master. At the beginning of the series, McAllister, now an old man, leaves Japan for the United States in search of a daughter he did not know he had. This flight from his ninja life is seen as dishonorable by his fellow ninja, including his former student, Okasa (Sho Kosugi), who attempts to assassinate him. Escaping with a minor wound, McAllister finds himself in the small town of Ellerston, where he believes his daughter resides.

Along the way, he meets a drifter named Max Keller, who sunshine the ninja master in a bar fight, but is subsequently thrown through a window, a recurring event for the hot-headed Keller. Max desires to learn to fight like a ninja, but McAllister is reluctant to train him, feeling him to be too emotional. When Max gets involved in a dispute between Mr. Christensen (Clu Gulager), a ruthless developer, and the Trumbulls (Claude Akins, Demi Moore), a father and daughter who run an airport targeted by Christensen, McAllister decides to train him to survive.

The pair goes on to have many adventures traveling the country in search of McAllister’s daughter, who of course is never found, as the series only lasted one season. Keller and McAllister often get sidetracked by oppressed people, and invariably McAllister uses his ninja skills to help save the day, hopefully teaching Max at the same time. Max spends a lot of time getting thrashed, however.

A recurring enemy is Okasa, the rogue pupil of McAllister, who continually tracks his old master down and tries to kill him. In the first episode, the two duel and McAllister wins. However, the old master refuses to kill his opponent, preferring to renounce his ninja ways. Of course, this leads to Okasa’s future attempts.

 

EPISODE LIST:

What follows is a list of episode titles and their original air dates:

1. Max (1/20/1984) – see above, under “Premise.”

2. Out-of-Time Step (1/27/1984) – a ninja-guarded crime lord mistakes Max and McAllister for bodyguards hired by a nightclub owner the crime lord is trying to control.

3. State of the Union (2/3/1984) – Max befriends a “biker chick” who is trying to organize a union at the cannery where she works; he and McAllister strike back when the cannery owner tries to strong arm the girl and the union.

4. Hostages (2/10/1984) – McAllister is accused by a secret agent of helping a band of terrorists; to prove his innocence, he must help rescue the hostages that the terrorists have taken.

5. High Rollers (3/2/1984) – a former girlfriend of Max’s becomes a pawn in a Las Vegas heist when her daughter is held hostage to insure her cooperation. The resulting adventure leads Max and McAllister to a deserted western movie set, where the Master makes himself very much at home.

6. Fat Tuesday (3/9/1984) – during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a reporter uses Teri McAllister’s name as a cover for her own sources, hoping to bring down a respected local citizen who is secretly running guns to Arab terrorists. Max and McAllister become entangled as a result.

7. Juggernaut (3/16/1984) – Max and McAllister help a mother and daughter organize the local farmers against an evil land baron. McAllister has more success romancing the mother than Max does with the daughter, and the old man’s “pre-ninja” background as a military pilot is emphasized.

8. The Good, the Bad and the Priceless (3/23/1984) – Caught between a criminal mastermind and an FBI agent posing as McAllister’s daughter, the two leads find themselves forced to steal the Crown Jewels of England.

9. Kunoichi (4/6/1984) – With the help of a female pupil, Okasa puts in motion a plan to frame McAllister for the murder of an old friend, who is now a prominent government official in Washington.

10. The Java Tiger (4/13/1984) – Max and McAllister take a break from the search for Teri to help out a friend of McAllister’s: a bumbling PI, based in Hawaii, who is on a quest for a legendary tiger made of gold. Unfortunately, a Bond-villain-like crime lord with a penchant for karate is also interested in the Java Tiger.

11. Failure to Communicate (5/4/1984) – Max reunites with his estranged father Patrick, who is a pawn in a kidnapping scheme. Max is so preoccupied with family affairs that McAllister ends up chaperoning the two “damsel in distress” characters, played by Ashley Ferrare and Rebecca Holden, just about everywhere.

12. Rogues (8/10/1984) – a high school friend of Max’s is now a cop, on the run from a band of crooked cops. A woman who runs a gym harasses McAllister about being out of shape.

13. A Place to Call Home (8/31/1984) – Max and McAllister protect an orphanage from greedy land developers, with Max playing surrogate father to a troubled teen.

 

RECURRING CHARACTERS:

John Peter McAllister (Lee Van Cleef)

Veteran of World War II and the Korean War who stayed in Japan and became the first Occidental ninja. Trained Okasa in the ninja arts. Took on Max Keller as his student upon arriving in America. A self-described “cantankerous old man who’s lived alone a lot of years.” He is a stern but fair teacher, and a skilled fighter, though his age is catching up with him. Often grumpy and sarcastic towards other men, both friend and foe, but somewhat more mellow around Max, and politely flirtatious or self-consciously “charming” towards women. Several pieces of his colorful history come out during the series: he flew P-40s during WWII (“Hostages”, “Juggernaut”), visited New York in 1938 (“The Good, the Bad and the Priceless”), and attended a sort of conference of secret assassin organizations in the Far East in 1972, where he gave a martial arts demonstration (“The Good, the Bad, and the Priceless”). He met Brian Elkwood in Washington DC in 1948, and the two men were subsequently imprisoned together in North Korea, but escaped by using a motorcycle (“Kunoichi”). He has apparently visited Hawaii about twenty years ago: a friend who lives there has a daughter Max’s age, whom McAllister remembers seeing when she was a baby (“Java Tiger”). He denies having filmed westerns in Almeria, Spain with actor Saul Robbins circa 1969 (“Rogues”), but his reactions to Robbins’s claim to remember him seem to suggest otherwise-he was perhaps on some kind of secret mission for which the movie project(s) made a good cover. He “always wanted to be a cowboy” (“High Rollers”), but makes not wanting to dress up as one an excuse to turn down an ad exec who wants McAllister to shill for him (“The Good, the Bad, and the Priceless”). There are several recurring trains of thought that show up in his conversation, e.g. Eastern mysticism, but the closest thing he has to a catchphrase is probably “no kidding”, said in an exasperated tone to people’s more obvious statements.

 

Max Keller (Timothy Van Patten)

A drifter who spends most of his time driving around in his custom van and taking odd jobs wherever he can find them. He has a pet hamster (or possibly a gerbil) named Henry who lives in a dash-mounted, wheel-shaped cage. There are several indications that he has some money to fall back on: his van’s customizations (hamster cage, souped-up engine, semi-bullet-proofing), the fact that he keeps an expensive-looking dirt bike (“State of the Union”) and can afford to rent an ultralight plane (“Hostages”). He often gets thrown out of bar windows. He has two catchphrases: “Hi, I’m Max Keller,” and “Check out, Jack.” He has a bit of a temper, which often leads to the above-mentioned defenestration, but is learning to keep that in check due to McAllister’s training. Max never passes up a chance to get friendly with a pretty woman of his own age. Max is initially estranged from his father-a lawyer who sank into alcoholism (“Failure to Communicate”) after Max’s mother and older brother died in a plane crash (“High Rollers”) -but the two men reconcile late in the series. Max’s mother wanted Max to be an accountant. Max went to the high school prom with a girlfriend who wanted to be a dancer on Broadway but ended up working in Vegas and having a child by someone else (“Hostages”, “High Rollers”). At the prom, he danced one dance with the class nerd, who he meets again in the course of the series and become involved with (“Rogues”). He grew up on the East Side of New York (“The Good, The Bad, and the Priceless”), though his father lives in California (“Failure to Communicate”).

 

Okasa (Sho Kosugi)

 

A deadly ninja warrior once trained by McAllister. He has sworn to kill his former master due to his abandonment of the ninja code. Has engaged McAllister on several occasions with different levels of success. He is also a master of disguise. By the end of the series, he has himself trained at least one “Occidental” as a ninja. In his last duel with McAllister, he believes he is winning, and even manages to break the Master’s katana, but loses when McAllister turns his overconfidence against him. He sometimes takes espionage-related “jobs” while pursuing his former master, but is more often working at cross-purposes to the villain of the episode.

RECURRING ELEMENTS:

The Master was an almost non-stop action show. From brawls to high-speed car chases to explosions, the series was defined by its action content. As mentioned, Max Keller often got thrown through glass windows, and this was a sort of running gag. Some of the stunts and pyrotechnics were quite spectacular, while others were of a lesser quality. For example, one episode has McAllister performing a backflip onto the top of a semi-trailer truck, in which it is clear that the stuntman (most likely Ed Anders) did a frontflip off of the truck and the film was simply reversed.

Also, Anders, Van Cleef’s double, was of a noticeably slimmer build than the aging actor, making the two performers easy to distinguish from one another. Many of the stunts and fighting sequences featured Kosugi in a skull cap doubling for Van Cleef. Kosugi’s motion and martial arts skill is easily spotted when he doubled for Van Cleef. The show also occasionally uses doubles for closeups on Van Cleef’s hands, apparently to hide the actor’s damaged right middle finger. A close review of some episodes (like “Kunoichi”) indicates that Van Cleef was allowed to do modest amounts of swordplay and fist-fighting.

The series was part-buddy movie, and part-martial arts film. The series shares elements in common with the well-known film, The Karate Kid, also released in 1984: Both are stories in which a young American male is mentored by a wise, old martial arts master following some type of scuffle. The show’s storylines often resembled those on The A-Team with the heroes going to different places and helping those in need. There is also a mild paranormal element to the show in the form of McAllister’s mystical abilities: he can for instance go into a trance state to simulate death or withstand torture; and he seems to have low-level empathic/telepathic abilities that allow him to gauge the honesty and emotional state of people he is talking with, unless they too have been trained in the ninja arts.

Besides Okasa and a couple of one-shot ninja adversaries, the series mostly featured corrupt businessmen, and the occasional spy or terrorist, as villains. The writing styles of the show’s several scribes are fairly easy to distinguish, with, e.g., Sue Woollen tending to write less violent episodes that emphasized relationships between the guest stars and regulars and portrayed the usual damsels in distress as relatively strong personalities. Injokes referencing Van Cleef’s career in westerns appear in several episodes. The most frequently used weapons in the series are the shuriken or throwing star (which doubles as the series logo), the “sword” (the show’s modern ninjakens it uses as the ninja dueling weapon of choice), the caltrop, the smokebomb and a type of chain with weighted ends called a kusari fundo which was commonly used as a flail or occasionally thrown.

EPISODE INFLUENCES:

Episode 2, “Out-of-Time Step”, borrows its plot from the Bruce Lee film Return of the Dragon. Guest star Charles Collins was in fact an old-time Hollywood dancer who starred in a movie called The Dancing Pirate, just as his character did. This is also one of the few times Henry the hamster is seen outside of his cage.

Episode 3, “State of the Union”, is heavily influenced by Norma Rae, with Crystal Bernard in the Sally Fields role. The use of a Catholic church for union activities seems to be a nod to On the Waterfront. A longish scene which showed Van Cleef playing with Henry the hamster was used as a “stinger” on the second of the two MST3K episodes to feature this show. It is probably the most interaction any human character has with the hamster in the course of the series. This episode also features McAllister’s ability to “play dead”, and his use of a cross-shaped throwing weapon (apparently an alternate shuriken design) otherwise only seen in the show’s opening credits.

Episode 4, “Hostages”, is a tribute to the spy films and TV shows of the ’60s, with David McCallum of Man from U.N.C.L.E.
playing a sinister but morally ambiguous villain, and George Lazenby playing a spy who infiltrated McAllister’s ninja sect in the past and drives a customized Aston Martin ala James Bond. Producer Michael Sloan’s fascination with espionage would reappear in his work for The Equalizer.

Episode 5, “High Rollers”, climaxes on an abandoned movie set meant to look like a Wild West town: the climax uses stereotypical “western” shots (tracking shots from Anders’s/Van Cleef’s ninja boots up his body, extreme closeups on Van Cleef’s face), and McAllister talks a great deal about enjoying himself on the western set and feeling at home. A character refers to Revenge of the Ninja (starring Sho Kosugi) repeatedly. Art Hindle, playing the villain, also appeared in one of the first ninja-centered movies to reach America: The Octagon, starring Chuck Norris and Lee Van Cleef. This episode is also the start of a running gag, continuing through “Fat Tuesday” and “Rogues”, about middle aged or older women fixating on McAllister and ‘comically’ stalking him. The episode’s plot borrows from Ocean’s 11.

Episode 6, “Fat Tuesday”, features a woman who keeps getting McAllister confused with someone named “Leroy”. The actor’s full name was Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr., with “Lee” being short for Leroy. A scene where McAllister’s arm is being bandaged shows off Van Cleef’s anchor-shaped tattoo, a relic of his WWII service in the Navy.

In Episode 7, “Juggernaut”, Lee Van Cleef and the villain played by Stuart Whitman form a romantic quasi-triangle with the female guest lead. The two men had played a similar storyline together (with Carroll Baker instead of Diana Muldaur) in the film Captain Apache in 1971.

Episode 8, “The Good, the Bad and the Priceless,” is a reference to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), which starred Lee Van Cleef as “The Bad.” The episode also features an ad exec obsessed with McAllister’s “look” (as Sergio Leone briefly was with Van Cleef’s) and with hiring McAllister as a cowboy-themed spokesman for his product, in an apparent nod to Van Cleef’s western-themed commercials for Midas Muffler and others. George Maharis, who played the villain of this episode, starred on Route 66, where Van Cleef had played a guest villain; Maharis is also, as Van Cleef was, an avid painter in his free time.

Episode 9, “Kunoichi”, loosely borrows from The Manchurian Candidate, using the idea of an ex-Korean War POW who is supposed to assassinate a political figure, a Communist sleeper posing as an anti-Communist (Okasa’s employer is an America-hating mole codenamed “The Hawk”), and a sweet-seeming but manipulative woman. Guest star Jack Kelly is best-known for Maverick, which Van Cleef had guested on a couple of times; the two men had also appeared together in an Italian-made WWII movie called Comandos. The episode also features a rare scene of Van Patten interacting with the hamster.

Episode 10, “The Java Tiger,” features a villain played by Kabir Bedi. Bedi had been launched as an international star when directed in Sandokan (1976) by Sergio Sollima. Ten years before Sandokan, Sollima had helped launch Van Cleef on a similar path with The Big Gundown. The plot is an Indiana Jones homage (and perhaps a Magnum P.I. homage, given the setting), but the Java Tiger macguffin may be a nod to Sandokan, whose emblem was a tiger.

Episode 11, “Failure to Communicate”, borrows its plot from Akira Kurosawa’s film High and Low, and its guest stars from all over (see list in earlier section). Ashley Ferrare had appeared with Sho Kosugi in Revenge of the Ninja, Doug McClure was a veteran of western TV shows, like Van Cleef, Edd Byrnes-though most famous for “Kookie” on 77 Sunset Strip-had made westerns in Europe, Rebecca Holden would be a regular on Knight Rider the following TV season. Marc Alaimo, who plays a villain here and would go on to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is one of two guests who tie this series to Star Trek, the other being Diana Muldaur. Mark Goddard is best remembered for Lost in Space and as one of Robert Taylor’s men in the TV series The Detectives.

Episode 12, “Rogues”, features the character of Saul Robbins, a hippie-like actor who meets Max and McAllister at a party, and (in another homage to Van Cleef’s career) becomes firmly convinced that McAllister made spaghetti westerns with him in Almeria, Spain. McAllister also shows off his skills with a gun on a police firing range, and the woman who nags him about being out of shape is probably a nod to Van Cleef’s inability to do much of his own stunt work.

The villain of Episode 13, “A Place to Call Home” is played by Jock Mahoney, here credited as Jock O’Mahoney. One of Van Cleef’s very first roles had been on Mahoney’s TV series Range Rider, and the two men died only a few days apart in late 1989. They had also appeared together in the movie Joe Dakota, together with Claude Akins, who had appeared in the first episode of The Master. The budding martial artist named Bobby in the episode is played by Kane Kosugi, son of Sho Kosugi, and the last moments of the episode—and the series—feature Sho, doubling Van Cleef as McAllister, sparring with Kane and letting him win. Dialogue from McAllister about ninjas being able to shape their bodies to fit through narrow spaces is perhaps another in-joke about the show’s stuntwork. Writer-Producer Sue Woollen, after creating a number of strong-willed female guest characters who admire the male leads but see themselves as the equals of the two ninjas, not their inferiors, finally plays one: the woman who runs the orphanage.

THE MST3K CONNECTION:

The series would possibly have faded into total obscurity were it not for Mystery Science Theater 3000, the cult show which features a man and two robots making fun of cheesy movies. The show featured the first two volumes of the re-edited Master Ninja tapes on episodes 322 (originally aired January 11, 1992) and 324 (originally aired January 25, 1992). 

Featuring the first four episodes, Joel Robinson and the ‘Bots (Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot) mercilessly mocked the series. Notable jokes included jabs at Lee Van Cleef’s gut disappearing whenever his stunt double was onscreen, and at Timothy Van Patten’s muffled speech pattern. The fact that Demi Moore guest-starred on the first episode in an early role provided more fertile joke material. The third installment of the Master Ninja series was scheduled to air as episode 624, but it was eventually replaced by Samson vs. the Vampire Women.

MASTER NINJA THEME SONG!!!

 

Helicopter Zombie Interview!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Brain Hammer interviews Jim Krut aka The Helicopter Zombie!

Fans of George A. Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD might not recognize the name Jim Krut but they would immediately recognize his face. Well, perhaps not his face as much as everything slightly above his eyebrows, all of which was memorably torn away by the whirring blades of the WGON helicopter! That’s right, Jim Krut is none other than the uncredited actor now well known to hardcore horror fans as the helicopter zombie!

I decided to pick what was left of Jim’s brains and ask him about his incredible experience filming that clas-sick scene…

 

Brain Hammer: Let me start from the beginning. How did you got the part in DAWN OF THE DEAD?

Jim Krut: I’d worked with Tom Savini many years before, in college and in theatre. Back in 1977 I was living in Pittsburgh and ran into Tom on the street. We both said, Hey, and then he asked if I’d be interested in a part in a movie he was involved with. I was on my way to a movie at the time and told him “sure, give me a call.” Tom gave me more details later and we met at his place to do the prosthetics and head castings.

BH: Were you a fan of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD?

JK: I thought Night was a classic instantly. Nothing else like it. Still managed to keep me on the edge of the seat, like, “what the heck is going to happen next, aren’t these people going to find some secret trap door and boogey on out of there? Munch, munch, munch….”

 

BH: I understand the infamous helicopter head slice took two days to film. Is this correct?

JK: The prep work for the effect went over two weeks, as the first head cast I made with Tom cracked a few days after we did it. Had to go back and recast the head several days after that. I was actually on the set only two days, both of them at the Monroeville Airport. A quaint little block building, a long grassy landing strip and a few ramshackle buildings full of spiders.

 

BH: What was the most time consuming or difficult aspect of that scene, both for you and the crew?

JK: Hmmm, the most difficult part was waiting for my scene. I remember it not being good weather the first day and the second day wasn’t looking so hot, either. But I was definitely ready to go. One good aspect of the waiting was the multiple visits to the lunch wagon. After all, I was a starving artist actor in Pittsburgh at the time. I was just fortunate that my rehearsal schedule allowed me two days in a row to be available for the shooting.

When the makeup and final touches were done inside the little block building, and the time was ripe for the shooting, I went out to meet the helicopter. It was probably getting late in the afternoon, so we managed to get it all done in one take. I’m pretty sure there was a duplicate set of clothes for me, just in case we needed a second take.

 

BH: How was George Romero to work with? I understand you were given very little direction as how to be a zombie. Did you find this challenging?

JK: Since Tom had created the effect, I mostly learned about George Romero by watching him direct the other actors. There seemed to be more of an understanding between them all as to what was needed. I recall him as almost a big Teddy Bear of a guy, just enjoying himself and the filming without putting a lot of ego or unnecessary pressure on everyone. After all, before that, my only impressions of film directors were from scenes of them in other films, most of which weren’t complimentary.

 

BH: Did Tom Savini personally create the foam appliance that went on the top of your head?

JK: Yes, Tom did all the work on the appliance and prosthetics. He had the idea, the vision of what it should look like. It was just a learning experience and a wonderment for me to be part of it. Here was a friend I’d worked with years earlier, doing significant, responsible work on a major motion picture. You gotta feel impressed and pleased to be part of it.

 

BH: Do you remember what you were thinking when you saw yourself all made up as a zombie?

JK: “Who the heck is that? My big chance on the big screen and no one will know who I am anyway! Bummer!”

BH: The incredible effect of the helicopter blades removing the top of your head was created with a combination of the aforementioned foam appliance, black fishing line, and two tubes that pumped blood which ran down your back. Did this effect immediately work as planned, or did it require a few tries to get right?

JK: I recall Tom talking everyone through it and keeping a close eye on the progress of the scene, as did George. The only harrowing thing about walking on the boxes is that they were stacked oddly and I nearly went head over boxers. Some splash that would have made! It all went on one take. The lead up scenes, under the plane wing, walking across the field to the helicopter pad, seemed to require a few takes, but that’s pretty standard, even if it’s perfect the first time. You gotta have choices in the editing studio.

 

BH: What was the mood on the set? How about when the scene was finished, a bit of celebration perhaps?

JK: I seem to recall a lot of excitement, or maybe relief, when the scene was done. People were smiling and happy and clapping. That could be my preferred memory, but for everyone who was standing around watching the scene, it seemed to have an impressive effect on them at the time, too. For my part, it was relief that it went well, immediately coupled with, Gee, is there more I can do? even when you know you’ve just been killed off!

 

BH: Any fun stories from the shoot you’d like to share?

JK: Other than Tom, I really didn’t know anyone on the set. Since it was close quarters, there wasn’t a lot of jabbering going on near the shooting. Since I hadn’t seen any of the other zombies walking or talking, who knew what they were supposed to walk like? Did they talk, moan, drool? Like, this was all new. It was, “OK, you’re on. Do your thing.” That approach kept everyone from following a formula and looking the same. It makes it a challenge for the actor, which is the challenge most actors live for.

My theatre background was in experimental or altenative theatre, with influences from the avant garde and the Polish Laboratory Theatre. It was a perfect opportunity to do something fresh, without remorse for not following someone else’s model, or without screwing up the production because of an original look or walk.

BH: What did you think of the finished film?

JK: When I went to the premiere in downtown Pittsburgh, I was just thrilled to be on the screen. There was a lot of talk about how much material had ended up on the cutting room floor, and that the final version we all were seeing might be sliced some more. I was half afraid to see it again, for fear my scene wouldn’t make it into another edited version.

 

BH: What was the crowd reaction like during your scene?

JK: Crowds liked the helicopter scene, great reactions. Me, personally, I was expecting everyone to remain perfectly quiet while my little bit of film history was rolling, understanding the work that went into every second, from makeup to learning lines, to waiting for weather and passing planes, to staying up late and missing meals, all for the art of a few seconds on film. Of course, some people would just be talking through most of the movie anyway, rude as that is. My temptation was to turn around and say, “could you hold it for just a few minutes until my scene is done?” But that would have been imperious of me. The scene tended to quiet everything down afterward.

 

BH: Did the success of the film shock you, or was it something that you expected all along?

JK: I don’t think anyone expected the raging success of DAWN. We all felt it was a special film, with special people, a special director and a whole new way of looking at violence and storytelling. But, seriously, when you only see parts being made, you can’t tell what the whole looks like. When you see the whole, sometimes it’s hard to separate the parts. By that, I mean, you know what had to happen to make every scene, the mishaps, the pain and hunger and talent and enthusiasm and teamwork. And, oh yeah, there’s a movie there, too. But it’s that teamwork and ensemble spirit that give Dawn such a unique, unified feeling.

 

BH: Dario Argento cut your scene from his European ZOMBI release of DAWN OF THE DEAD because he didn’t think the effect was convincing. I’m curious to know what you think about that?

JK: Sorry you didn’t like it, Dario. I met people from France and Germany, who knew the scene was cut, but they managed to see it anyway. So much for that type of censorship. But, hey, if Mr. Argento wanted to see things his way, I totally respect his judgement. Just sorry that his judgement fell on my head, so to speak! Directors have to make tough choices. Tom has said the humdity during the shoot fluffed up my hair a bit too much and may have given away the gag as he puts it. He’s probably right, too.

Michaelangelo points up at the Sistine Chapel and says, “crap, I meant that finger to point the other way….” But we all like the final work. Fans seem to love the scene, and you’re asking me about it 30 years after it was made. Who’s to say whose right or wrong? I’m just grateful to Tom for developing the scene and to George for using it in his final version.

 

BH: Tell me a little about your thoughts on the incredible legacy of DAWN OF THE DEAD. How does feel to have appeared in one of the most popular and influential horror films of all time?

JK: It’s the best. I’ve always been a horror fan, from Bella Lugosi and Boris Karloff, to films like THE THING and THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. To now be part of that genre and a part of that legacy is personally deeply satisfying. It’s also been a huge amount of fun, and it is just so crazy that there are so many fans of the film, in so many countries. We all have something in common. It’s like a mutual admiration society. We like each other because we like the same kinds of films. Maybe that’s strange, but when you’re in front of the camera, you understand that it only takes a few seconds for the camera to swing the other way, You count your blessings and appreciate that you got your chance to be part of something so special as Dawn.

Talking with Conrad Brooks, a guy I really like, about the earlier days, is always such a pleasure. He worked with Ed Wood and Bella Lugosi, met Boris Karloff, knows how movies were made during the heyday of creature features. It’s a fraternity that knows no age or sex or national boundaries. (See, I worked in the word sex, so scanners can get you more hits on the article!)

 

BH: Did you see the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake? If so, what did you think of it? Have you enjoyed the films that George has done since DOTD?

JK: Saw the remake. It’s a different movie with the same name. Whole different approach. The speed of the zombies has some people not liking it. For my part, I appreciate George’s work in developing some backstory or personality for the zombies in his films. You could identify with the thing that was about to bite your arm or rip out your throat. Somehow, that made it better.

I’d seen George’s earlier films and like them, too, for their raw innovation. While the later ones have a lot of George’s touch, I’ve also heard that the financiers had a lot of influence and maybe didn’t give enough consideration to George’s full vision of the pictures.

 

BH: Any message for the undying legions of DEAD fans?

JK: Thanks for keeping the Dead alive. Without the fans, there would be no films, conventions, parties, fun and more films. God bless you every one, I love ya!

 

BH: Finally, any current projects you’d like to mention?

JK: In Gary Ugarek’s upcoming DEADLAND 2: TRAPPED I portray the evil government creep behind the zombie epidemic. Lots of current government role models to work from, but Gary is a director with integrity, a sense of fun, great patience and enthusiasm. I’m sure money helps get films made, but the vision and passion for filmmaking are things that money can’t buy. In the Elias Dancey anthology ZOMBTHOlOGY, due to come out later this year also, I play a doctor. TRAPPED will also be shortened to be included as one of the three or four segments in the anthology.

I’m also looking for release of Roger Arnold”s SQUIRREL, a short horror film that should be hitting horror film festivals this year. That was a fun role. And G. Joe Shelby wanted me to do a short piece in his upcoming film, THE GREEN MAN, which he is finishing up in Pittsburgh even now. I like doing the horror and film conventions, about three or so a year at this point, depending on schedules. I also direct and help manage Gettysburg Stage, a regional theatre ensemble company in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. That’s keeping me busy, as well as responding to fans.

“Thanks for the interest in Dawn and all the great folks involved in that film. See you in the movies!” — Jim

 

THANKS AGAIN TO JIM FOR DOING THIS INTERVIEW!

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Street Trash & Slime City!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT serves as a splattery tribute to the macabre masterworks of filmmakers Roy Frumkes & Greg Lamberson. The dreaded double feature of STREET TRASH and SLIME CITY will make your dvd player beg for a barf bag!

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

STREET TRASH (1987)

Times are tough for Fred and his younger brother Kevin. The lads are homeless, living inside a giant auto wrecking yard ran by the morbidly obese slob who also played the mayor in “The Toxic Avenger.” Kevin has aspirations of cleaning himself up, finding a job, and getting into the pants of the kind hearted Asian chick who provides him with plenty of food and up the skirt panty shots. Fred on the other hand is more then content to lazily spend his days searching for spare change and cheap booze. A typical day for Fred involves stealing a bottle of hooch and then trying to find a safe spot to get tanked. Freddy is always on the run from Bronson – a deranged and violent Vietnam veteran who runs both the wrecking yard and the local pack of weirdo winos. Bronson’s thugs happily beat the shit out of the always dirt covered and wisecracking Freddy every chance they get.

The shit hits the fan when the wig wearing and sleazy owner of Ed’s Liquor Store unearths a rotten looking case of “Tenafly Viper” from behind a wall in his store’s basement. Inspiration hits old Ed in a big way and he marks the now forty year old case of Viper down to just a buck a bottle. The gaggle of alcoholic degenerates that frequent his shop think they’ve found the bargain of a lifetime and quickly gobble up the now authentic “rotgut.” Unfortunately for the bums, the Viper has gone bad in a BIG way. Anyone who is unlucky enough to take a drink of the vile elixir is immediately melted down into a multi-color spewing pile of bile! Several hobos meet a gory end after taking of swig of the toxic Tenafly and after an incredible series of events unfolds, Freddy is on the run from both the cops, the mafia, and Bronson.

“Street Trash” is a cracked out flick that is hard to neatly summarize. It unfolds like a bizarre series of vignettes, exploring the life, love, and liquidation of several grimy looking street folk. Unspeakable acts such as rape, necrophilia, decapitation, and castration are all lovingly presented here. This flick is absolutely over the top, with buckets of gore and lots of nasty puke worthy moments along the way. Viewers with a sick sense of humor and a taste for ever sicker special effects will be delighted. Every character presented (with the exception of Jane Arakawa’s character of course!) is completely filthy and disgusting. This flick has a genuinely sleazy street atmosphere and a manic energy that few other genre flicks come close to matching. It’s vulgar, it’s absurd, and it never fails to entertain.

I give a lot a credit to writer/producer Roy Frumkes & director Jim Munro for creating a completely outrageous splatterpiece that is also exceptionally well written and photographed. Roy’s brilliant script is as profane and homicidal as they come. It also features a lot more characterization and twists and turns than your standard Saturday night slopfests. Director Jim Munro also did a fantastic job. His always fluid and inventive camera work gives this flick a much needed sense of professionalism. His work here reminds me of prime Sam Raimi. The multicolored splatter is also reminiscent of the classic “Evil Dead” flicks. The gallons of gore are obviously the highlight of the film, but it never completely overshadows the amazing amounts of creativity on display.

Like a lot of gorehounds, I used to cherish my dvd-r copy of the old “R” rated Lightning vhs release. Then Synapse finally released their amazing two-disc “MELTDOWN EDITION” of STREET TRASH which made all previous releases relics. This very cool collection includes Roy Frumke’s epic documentary “The Meltdown Memoirs,” which covers everything you could possibly want to know about the history of the film and the current whereabouts of the cast and crew. Also included is the original 16mm short that proceeded the feature and a very extensive behind the scenes photo gallery. It’s exactly the kind of amazing release that a clas-sick genre flick like this deserves. Horror fans looking for a gory good time should consider this the holy grail!

 

 

SLIME CITY (1988) 

SLIME CITY is the the toxic tale of a nice young man named Alex (Robert Sabin) who moves into an apartment in a strange old building so he can be closer to his perky but frigid girlfriend Lori (Mary Huner). His best friend Jerry helps him move and fills the body count and the much needed “obnoxious chubby wisecracker” role. Alex is a bit put off by the two weird old ladies who run the building, but he quickly decides the apartment is a keeper when he sees the incredible leather clad temptress named Nicolle (also played by Mary Huner!) who lives next door. Alex’s wet dreams about Nicolle quickly turn to nightmares when he hears blood curdling screams coming from her apartment at night.

Things get even more strange when Alex meets another neighbor named Roman. Roman is a space case punk rocker that offers Alex a dinner of green slime he calls Himalayan Yogurt. Alex is too nice to turn him down and digs in. He’s pleasantly surprised to discover that that nasty looking green yogurt tastes great. Then Alex tucks into a bottle of blue piss that was brewed years before by an evil occultist relative of Nicolle’s. The evil elixir causes Alex to hallucinate and he wakes up the next morning covered in slime. A few hours later he begins to melt and his face is covered with sores leaking multi-colored pus. A hobo talks some trash at Alex while he pukes in a back alley and Alex snaps and kills the bum with a lead pipe. Spilling the hobo’s blood causes Alex to turn back to normal, and he runs home horrified with what he has done.

Alex tries to pass off the whole experience as a crazy hallucination caused by drinking the homemade wine. Roman agrees and tells Alex that the wine makes him hallucinate all the time. Alex tries to go on with life as normal, but he soon develops a mysterious hunger for the green slime and an unquenchable thirst for the mysterious wine. Alex repeatedly mutates into a slobbering melting monster and becomes possessed with an evil spirit that compels him to kill anyone conveniently located in the apartment building or the surrounding streets. As the body count rises, Alex struggles to remain himself while he learns the sinister secrets of a cult that committed suicide in the basement of the building. A distraught Lori seeks the advice of a psychic and winds up tearing Alex’s heart out. Literally. This is truly a horror film with guts!

The makeup and gore effects in Slime City are outrageous. The film gradually gets gorier and gorier as it goes and the over the top carnage in the climax ends the film on a high note. The splatter is the star of the show, and there are numerous violent scenes that give the star plenty of precious screen time. The violence fluctuates wildly from simple slasher flick styled knifings and beatings to over the top set pieces of limbs being chomped on by ravenous gaping wounds in the proud tradition of The Thing and Videodrome. There’s also buckets of puke and slime, making the title of the film more than appropriate. The monster makeup on actor Robert Sabin is also worth mentioning. His graphic and gory transformation from an average looking Joe to a puking pus dripping monster is convincingly disgusting, even more so considering the low budget of the film. It rivals stuff you see in horror flicks with much bigger budgets.

But surprisingly, the splatter doesn’t completely steal (or carry) the show. There is also an interesting and unusual storyline. The film takes quite a few unusual twists and turns before finally degenerating into a pile of putrescent ooze. There’s also a lot more laughs than I expected. Not laughs because the film was pathetic either, I mean the film was genuinely amusing. The acting is also much better than you typically find in low budget horror flicks. Robert Sabin is quirky and likable, and makes a sympathetic lead, even when he is bashing in the skulls of winos or slicing hookers with straight razors. Mary Huner is amazing in her dual role of sweet virginal Lori and sultry seductive Nicole. Her performance is crucial actually, because if they had an unattractive girl or a hot girl who couldn’t act it would have never worked. Mary looks great and plays both roles perfectly. Her incredibly sexy dancing in Alex’s wet dreams is exactly the type of padding I like to see in a film!

Speaking of dancing, that brings up the burning question that kept repeating itself in my head when I was reading about this flick for the last two years – WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD OF THIS MOVIE? I thought I had heard of EVERYTHING, and that I had seen them all. Slime City was the rare exception, it was an 80’s splatterfest that I had never heard of. I had never seen a Slime City review, and I never saw a copy of the film in stores. While splatter flicks like Toxic Avenger, Bad Taste, Street Trash, Basket Case, Brain Damage, or even Combat Shock were common place, Slime City was an enigma to me.

Incredibly, the answer can be summed up in two words: DIRTY DANCING. That’s right, Dirty Dancing. Middle America may have had the time of their lives when they fell in love with Patrick Swayze and learned that no one puts Baby in a corner, but splatter fiends had the WORST time of their lives when Vestron Pictures decided to celebrate their incredible box office success with Dirty Dancing by dropping their upcoming low budget Vestron Video vhs releases like a bad habit. Sadly, Slime City was one of the releases that Vestron Video cancelled.

Old school horror fans know all about Vestron Video. They were at one point a horror fan’s best friend. Their unrated vhs releases of Re-Animator, Pieces, The Mutilator, Slaughter High, and Splatter University were staples of any respectable horror collection. There is no doubt in my mind that Slime City would have joined the ranks of those other well known 80’s splatter classics with a Vestron Video vhs release, and it would have happened…if it wasn’t for Dirty Dancing. Vestron dropped their deal with Greg Lamberson, and Slime City fell into distribution oblivion. There was a limited vhs release, but not enough to make much of a splash in the splatter pool. The film deservedly went on become something of a cult classic, and bootleg vhs copies were an underground favorite for many years. This flick has it’s place in horror history, but it could have been much bigger. I have a hard time enjoying Road House now that I know that Dalton is partially responsible for me not having the chance to see Slime City back in the day.

Everyone can see Slime City now that the good folks at Shock-O-Rama Cinema have released Greg Lamberson’s SLIME CITY GRINDHOUSE COLLECTION on dvd. This nifty set contains 4 films on 2 dvds: Slime City, Undying Love, Naked Fear, and Johnny Gruesome. I have to admit, I’m sick of seeing the word “Grindhouse” on countless slapdash dvd collections. This is one of the rare exceptions where the name is actually appropriate. Greg not only spent countless hours watching films in grindhouse theaters in the 80’s, he also managed one! Collecting four of Greg’s films and packaging them under the Grindhouse title actually makes sense and doesn’t feel like like another lame cash in attempt on that flick of the same name that tanked at the box office. Unlike other filmmakers and greedy dvd distributors, Greg actually earned a living in the grindhouses, and that experience gives him the right to use the name for this release.

The SLIME CITY GRINDHOUSE COLLECTION includes four films and more bonus features than you can shake a severed limb at. I spent the better of two days making my way through the movies and the commentary tracks, interviews, and mini-documentaries that accompanied them. Undying Love, Naked Fear, and Johnny Gruesome are all worthy of individual reviews, but for the sake of space I will quickly summarize them. Undying Love is the tale of a suicidal dude who meets a female vampire. Naked Fear is about an agoraphobic who makes the mistake of choosing a murderous claustrophobic as a roommate. Johnny Gruesome (starring Misty Mundae) is a rock-n-roll mini-movie about a high zombie who wants revenge against the drug dealers that killed him. I enjoyed some of these flicks more than others, but all three delivered the goods with decent acting, passable (more or less) production value, and varying amounts of the juicy red stuff.

Add SLIME CITY to the mix, and you have four steaming slices of superior straight to video schlock. I’ve seen this collection going for well under $20 online and that is quite a bargain considering how much is included here. Fans of Troma flicks and the gory glory days of the 80’s horror craze need to see this flick. Some 24 years after the film finished shooting, the cult following has only just started to grow. Better late than never. Your tv will beg you for a pair of wipers, but your horror dvd collection will thank you! The SLIME CITY GRINDHOUSE COLLECTION is hands down one of the coolest dvd releases of the year, and should be considered a mandatory purchase for gorehounds.

 

KEEP THE VIPER & SLIME FLOWING!!!

Four On A Meathook!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT is dedicated to director William Girdler. William began a tragically short, yet incredibly prolific film career in 1972 with the release of his first picture – “Asylum Of Satan.” He then went on to make eight more films over the next six years before dying in a helicopter crash in 1978.

His feature films included a trio of very successful “blaxploitation” flicks for AIP, including the incredible “Exorcist” rip off “Abby.” He also helmed a political thriller titled “Project: Kill” with starred Leslie Nielson. Despite these memorable efforts William will always be best known for his unique contributions to the 70’s horror genre.

In honor of the late, great William Girdler – LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1972)

This one starts with some porno music, a lengthy shot of something resembling a college campus, and then jumps straight into a tacky love scene with an especially nubile blonde co-ed who sports some fantastic tan lines and later slips into some devastatingly short hot pants. Welcome to the wild world of “Three On A Meathook!”

Blondie and three of her skanky gal pals take a weekend trip to the country, only to have their car break down in the middle of the night. Along comes Billy, a good natured young country bumpkin who lives with his “Paw” in their large farmhouse. Billy invites the girls back to the farm for the evening and serves them up some of Paw’s special smoked meat as a late night snack. As the girls settle in for bed an unseen slayer makes their presence known and slaughters them one by one with stabbings, shootings, and swift beheadings!

The next morning Paw wakes up Billy, who had spent the night sleeping outside in a shed, and informs him that, oops – he had done it again. Ever since the tragic death of “Maw” several years before, Paw has repeatedly told Billy that he is a cold blooded killer who can’t be around women – ever. Paw claims that crazy things happen whenever Billy gets involved with women, but Billy can’t seem to remember ever doing anything wrong. When Billy is told he killed the four girls the night before he is shocked and horrified. Paw thoughtfully offers to clean up the mess Billy made and then gives him some money to go to town and see a movie.

Speaking of movies, the one you are reading about then slows down to a crawl, as we spend some quality time with Billy while he roams the streets and then gets good and drunk in a bar. This part of the movie is a ruthless attempt at padding out the film’s running time, and the background music provided by a band called “The American Xpress” is terrible and annoying to the point of ridiculousness! You will need a high tolerance for the sound of wah wah pedals if you hope to make it through the TWO horrible songs this band plays – in their entirety, without hitting the fast forward button.

Mercifully, this scene eventually ends and we wake up the next morning with Billy inside the apartment of a waitress named Sherri. Sherri took a shining to shitfaced Billy and brought him home for the evening. In arguably the most memorable scene of the movie, Sherry informs Billy that he had “an accident” the night before and hands him a freshly washed pair of trousers! Stale urine and love are in the air, so Billy wisely decides to invite his new pal Sherri back to his place: the same place where the four girls were just killed. Sherri agrees and brings along another pal to help flesh out the film’s body count. It doesn’t take long for Sherri to discover Paw’s padlocked shed, hooks of cold steel, and a madman on the loose!

The photography is bland, the pace is slack, the music is terrible, and the acting is uniformly wooden and awful. Despite those rather glaring flaws this one still works in a big way. I’m not exactly sure why, but it does. It must have something to do with the genuinely creepy backwoods vibe this one possesses. The actors all sleepwalk through their roles, but that weird “non acting” actually makes the film feel more realistic. At least there’s no failed attempts at over acting. The actor who played Paw – Charles Kissinger, is easily the best actor in the picture and always shows up in Girdler’s flicks.

I’m a big fan of this Ed Gein inspired “meat” film. Most of the plot and climax is lifted directly from “Psycho.” It’s something like the bastard step child of Alfred Hitchcock & Tobe Hooper’s more popular films. A lot of people dismiss this flick as a cheap “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” knock off, but it proceeded TCM by a few years. This was the FIRST flick to feature tender young girls hanging on meat hooks. This one is also a lot more gory than TCM, and the ample bloodshed on display is more reminiscent of the classic H.G. Lewis splatter flicks. That’s probably because Pat Patterson of “Doctor Gore” infamy provided the bloody special effects, which are crude yet effective.

For a low budget horror flick this delivers a high amount of quality shocks. No proper dvd release as of yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. The eye catching title alone should ensure that this cannibal clas-sick won’t ever slip into complete obscurity.

 

 

GRIZZLY (1976)

A giant grizzly bear chomps on campers at Yellowstone National Park. Men, women, and children alike lose life and limb as the grizzly’s mighty paws rip them to shreds. The one and only Christoper George (“The Exterminator,” “Enter The Ninja”) stars as the head ranger who investigates the vicious maulings and constantly butts heads with the park’s money grubbing director along the way. Chris teams up with redneck helicopter pilot Andrew Prine (“Barn Of The Naked Dead”) and a wacked out bear loving fur sporting naturalist played by the late Richard Jaekel (“Born Innocent”). It takes all three of these genre legends AND a bazooka to finally bring the beast down in an explosive final confrontation.

This one is often described as “Jaws with claws!” There’s no denying the obvious influence that Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller “Jaws” had on this picture. The monster on the loose, the trio of male leads pursuing the beast, the greedy and unscrupulous authority figure that refuses to close the park – all of these are direct lifts. But what people who regard “Grizzly” as a cheap knock off always fail to acknowledge is the film’s incredible wilderness cinematography, which is easily more beautiful and colorful than anything on display in “Jaws.” “Grizzly” is simply an amazing picture to look at. It’s also incredibly tense and gory for a film with a PG rating! The bloody scenes of the grizzly paws in action are over the top and sometimes hilarious. On the other hand, whenever the footage of the real bear is used the film becomes ultra tense and menacing.

The posters promised “18 feet of towering fury!” and few people left the theaters disappointed. “Grizzly” was a smash hit, with box office profits of over 39 million. It was the single most most profitable independent release of 1976. In typical Hollywood scumbag fashion the distributors attempted to keep the massive profits to themselves and leave William Girdler and producers/co-writers David Sheldon and Harvey Flaxman out in the cold. It took lawsuits and miles of red tape before Girdler & co. could finally reap the rewards.

Shriek Show rewarded fans of GRIZZLY with a fantastic two disc special edition release! The film has been beautifully restored and includes a commentary track with David Sheldon and actress Joan McCall, who played Christoper George’s love interest in the film. The second disc features a slew of bonus features including an extended behind the scenes featurette, trailers, radio spots and more. It’s exactly the type of amazing dvd release an all time great genre flick deserves.

 

 

DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1977)

William Girdler goes back to the woods for a follow up to his monster hit “Grizzly.” This time Christoper George not only has his hands full with bears, he also has to tangle with homicidal birds, snakes, and mountain lions! The depletion of the ozone layer causes all animals above the altitude of 5000 feet to go berserk and attack humans. Unfortunately, this phenomena coincides with the arrival of a large group of city slicker campers going for a guided weekend hike in the mountains!

Chris plays the rugged survivalist and tour guide. His latest group of paying campers include a reporter played by his wife Lynda Day George (“Pieces,” “Mortuary”), Michael Ansara as a sensitive Native American, a shy scientist played by fellow “Grizzly” alumni Richard Jaekel, Ruth Romain (“The Baby”) as a shrill Jewish divorcée who brings along her estranged son, and Leslie Nielson (“Prom Night”) as a wisecracking advertising executive with a pronounced mean streak and a penchant for annoying nicknames.

As the haggard collection of crabby campers argue and bicker their way through the mountains they are picked off one by one by prowling predators. For centuries the animals were hunted for bounty, food, and fun. Now it is their turn. Constant attacks from wolves, snakes, dogs, hawks, owls, and bears whittle down the group’s numbers. In the midst of the chaos the survivors turn on each other, and men turn into savages with ferocity that rivals that of the animals! Anyone who survives the day of the animals will never be the same.

Leslie Nielson steals the fucking show as the loud mouthed bigot who goes crazy, kills pretty boy Andrew Stevens with a stick, tries to rape Andrew’s chick, and then unsuccessfully attempts to wrestle a grizzly bear to the death! Truly a performance to be proud of! It was actually the same bear used in “Grizzly.” Once Leslie leaves the picture it never really recovers, although the climax still packs quite a wallop. Another William Girdler trademark was his knack for putting children in incredibly violent scenes. “Day Of The Animals” is no exception, as children are repeatedly exposed to the brutality of death in nature. I admire William for his willingness to potentially offend an audience for the sake of creating nail biting tension.

Much like “Grizzly,” “Day Of The Animals” is a beautiful looking picture. This is my personal favorite of Girdler’s films. The cast is top notch, a real ensemble that works together perfectly. There’s a fair amount of characterization which adds considerably to the impact of the film. Best of all this flick is chock full of scene after scene of animal attack insanity! The plot device of EVERY animal above 5000 feet going mad allows for a wide assortment of shocking scenes. Once the action begins, it never lets up. This one is a blast from start to finish, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of repeat viewings over the years.

Shriek Show released a dvd of DAY OF THE ANIMALS that includes two different transfers of the film. Sadly, both of them look like monkey poop. On the plus side, there’s a wealth of bonus features including a commentary track with Lynda Day George, a behind the scenes featurette, trailers and more.

 

 

THE MANITOU (1978)

A chick named Karen goes to her doctor complaining of a mysterious and painful lump in her neck. Unfortunately for her it isn’t cancer. It’s EVIL waiting to be reborn… inside her neck tumor! The malignant growth is actually a 400 year old medicine man named Misquamacas who is using the poor woman as an incubator until he can fully regain his evil powers and grow to full size. Things for Karen seem especially grim, as the nasty neck lump possesses satanic self defense mechanisms and can sabotage surgery attempts with powers of persuasion.

Tony Curtis turns in a typically fruity performance as a pal of the tumor gal. A lot of precious screen time is devoted to Tony mincing and prancing around his apartment and camping it up as a phony psychic swindler. Karen turns to Tony for help, and Tony then turns to paranormal expert Burgess Meredith. Gravelly voiced Burgess tells Tony of the monstrous black magic powers of the manitou. He also turns Tony on to Michael Ansara (“Day Of The Animals”), who plays a medicine man named John Singing Rock! Singing Rock then attempts to remove the demonic spirit from Karen’s neck.

When the mighty Misquamacas is finally unleashed he takes form as a freaky looking midget and uses his mighty manitou mojo to freeze the floor of the hospital and conjure up giant lizard monsters! Just when things couldn’t get any more bizarre, the whole thing flies into OUTER SPACE and an incredible psychic battle ensues between the flying demon dwarf and the inexplicably topless Karen, who soars though space on her hospital bed! Laser beams and laughter ensue and damned viewers join Misquamacas in Hell.

What a fucked up flick! It’s a wicked witches’ brew of over the top occult horror, spliced with silly sci-fi elements. It plays mostly for laughs but a few of the scenes of the manitou in action are fairly creepy. The scene where the stumpy satan spawn emerges from a puddle of black goo is excellent, as is the sequence where a nurse is frozen and then accidentally decapitated by Tony. It’s hard to say how seriously this material was intended to be taken. Girdler described “The Manitou” to Fangoria as a cross between “The Exorcist” and “Star Wars,” and played up the non stop shocks of the film.

Sadly, William passed away before THE MANITOU was released. I’m sure he would have been delighted with the box office success of the bizarre little film he wrote in only three days! His films could always be counted on to be unique, and to deliver plenty of shocks and laughs. “The Manitou” is no exception. Sadly, they just don’t make them like this any more.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Intergalactic Invaders!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 10, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! This latest edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a terrible trio of cult clas-sick 80’s horror flicks that boldly go where Ridley Scott had already went in ’79. I’m talking OUTER SPACE baby! Well, not really outer space because that would cost too much money. In these flicks the ghastly alien horrors of outer space come to Earth and wreck havoc on humanity.

 

LET THE CHEST BURSTING BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

CONTAMINATION (1980)

In an opening scene eerily reminiscent of Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi II,” this Italian horror/sci-fi hybrid begins with a large cargo boat drifting aimlessly in the New York harbor. The police are sent in to investigate when the crew doesn’t respond to radio communication. The cops board the vessel and find it to be completely deserted. At first all the police turn up is several cases of gourmet coffee marked with a mysterious X shaped logo. Then they discover the crew members’ horribly mutilated bodies. The detectives are baffled as to what the cause of death could be, especially because the bodies appear to have been torn apart from within.

But the real horror has only just begun. A detective opens one of the cases and instead of coffee, finds several large green eggs inside it. The eggs clearly didn’t come from a chicken as they resemble a cross between an oversized avocado and a mutant squash. One of the eggs is found nestled under a hot steam pipe and has grown in size. It also glows and appears to be pulsating. The dimwitted detective decides to pick the glowing green egg up and that’s when the fun starts. The egg immediately explodes and releases a thick green slime that splatters all over the detective and a few of his partners. The slime causes their abdomens to swell up until they burst and shower their internal organs all over the ship!

A tough minded Government official – Colonel Stella Holmes, is then sent to New York to investigate. Stella teams up with the sole survivor of the original investigation, Lieutenant Tony Arsis of the NYPD and tracks the shipment of deadly eggs to a secluded warehouse. When the authorities bust into the warehouse looking for answers they find a band of smugglers protecting the eggs that are willing to kill themselves to avoid being questioned. The criminals commit suicide by shooting a few of the eggs and allowing the green goo to work it’s magic on them.

After watching the men violently explode and conducting a series of experiments on the lethal contents of the eggs, Colonel Holmes begins to suspect that the origins of this nightmare may in fact not be Earthly. In an ironic twist of fate, she then turns to a disgraced former astronaut turned alcoholic that she had dismissed as an idiot several years before. The former Commander, Ian Hubbard (Ian McCulloch of “Zombi II” & “Zombi Holocaust” legend!) is none too pleased to find the smug and self serving Colonel at his doorstep, now looking for his help. At first Hubbard refuses, but when he realizes that the ghastly horror he witnessed years before on Mars is now on Earth he hesitatingly agrees to tag along.

Holmes, Arsis, and Hubbard than travel to South America to find the coffee plantation where the eggs had been shipped from. Their investigation is nearly stopped in its tracks as they battle hordes of seemingly possessed men in white haz-mat suits (shades of Romero’s “The Crazies”) and discover an over ripened egg waiting to explode in their hotel bathroom. When they finally reach the bowels of the coffee factory they get a much closer look at the source of the eggs then they ever wanted. The eggs are actually the hell spawn of a monstrous Martian cyclops that intends to take over the world! The Martian uses his powers of mind control to hypnotize Holmes and Arsis, which leaves Hubbard alone to face the ghastly alien monster. Humanity’s survival depends on his ability to overcome the fear that he can feel in his blood.

Director Luigi Cozzi was at the helm of this fantastic 1980 effort which he also co-wrote. Cozzi is a life long science fiction fan, and his love of the genre is unmistakable when watching “Contamination.” Luigi fully admits that he was forced by his producers to follow the “Alien” trend, but he did his best to make the most of the situation. The script avoids any blatant steals from “Alien” and is instead full of homages to classic sci-fi flicks like “Enemy From Space” and “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.”

Despite having a low budget to work with, Cozzi was able to create some very memorable special effects. The centerpiece of the film are the splashy scenes where bodies explode. Simplicity was the key to success; the effect was created using foam rubber, animal entrails, and compressed air. The alien on the other hand is a little bit less convincing. The monster was made entirely of paper mache! It took over 96 cuts and countless shifts in camera position to make the cyclops appear to move. Another big key to the film’s success is the fantastic score from Goblin. The pulsing techno beats add a sense of morbid mechanical dread to the film.

Blue Underground released CONTAMINATION on dvd a few years ago. The bonus features include an informative interview with Luigi Cozzi, a brief on the set documentary from 1980, the theatrical trailer, a still gallery, and a nifty graphic novel based on Cozzi’s original storyboards that you can access on your PC. Fans of over the top Italian horror should greatly appreciate this.

 

 

THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983)

This cult clas-sick begins with a shot of a fiery meteorite crashing to Earth. A group of unfortunate campers decide to investigate and quickly get turned into a hot lunch for their efforts. The meteorite contains a nasty looking flesh chomping alien monster with razor sharp fangs and a ravenous appetite for destruction. After devouring the campers, the alien slithers its way into the basement of a small secluded home in the New Jersey suburbs.

A rash of rain showers then floods the basement and provides the perfect breeding environment for the monstrous carnivore. After a few hours spent in the dark, dank basement the monster swells in size and begins to asexually reproduce, unleashing a small army of pint sized predators. The mother of the household (I don’t believe the family’s last name is ever mentioned) eventually wanders into the basement looking for her missing-in-action husband and finds what’s left of him falling out of the mother alien’s bloodstained jaws.

Mom is promptly devoured as well, with the exception of her head which is left on the floor of the basement for the alien’s offspring to tear apart and feast upon – much to the shock and disgust of her son Charles. Charlie had snuck into the basement to pull a prank on his Uncle Herb who was in town for a visit. Instead of finding the fusebox, Charles finds his mother’s savaged remains and gets up close and personal with the virulent visitors.

Meanwhile upstairs, Charlie’s older brother Pete and a group of Pete’s friends also discover the alien’s deadly spawn when they stumble upon Uncle Herb’s corpse, which has been turned into an alien incubator. The mother alien gives chase and the teens are forced to run for their lives and take shelter in Charlie’s bedroom. Downstairs, Charles discovers that the aliens are essentially blind and that they hunt after their prey using super sensitive hearing. Armed with this knowledge, the lad vows revenge on the intergalactic invaders and heads upstairs to try to stop the voracious villains once and for all. It’s mankind vs. the ultimate eating machines!

“The Deadly Spawn” is one of my favorite flicks, and one of the very best homemade horror efforts of the early 80’s. This was a true labor of love, a very low budget affair that took about three years of painstaking weekend shoots to finally complete. Despite the micro-budget, there’s no shortage of jaw droppingly gory special effects. The creature designs and special effects by John Dods (“The X-Files”) are nothing less then spectacular. This flick is chock full of scenes with outrageous gore and can be considered nothing less than a 10/10 splatterpiece. There are many highlights along the way, but my favorite scene has to be the hilarious sequence where the deadly spawn chow down on a group of little old ladies attempting to enjoy a vegetarian luncheon!

When searching for clips on youtube I was disappointed to see several comments along the lines of “OMG! What a cheap and crappy looking Alien rip off.” Obviously these idiots have never seen the film, and can’t appreciate what a loving tribute this film is to the monster flicks of the 50’s. The greedy distributors were the ones responsible for the film’s alternate title – “Return Of The Alien’s Deadly Spawn,” not the filmmakers. This flick clearly owes a lot more to classic sci-fi flicks like “The Blob” than it does to “Alien.” Watching 30 second clips on the net won’t give you an appreciation of the film’s superior pacing, the quality of the performances, or the creepy sounding score. I think this flick is terminally misunderstood and criminally underrated. I could attempt to get more in depth with my defense of the film but I’d rather keep it simple (and stupid!) and sum up my review as follows – if you don’t like this flick you fucking suck.

Synapse Films gave THE DEADLY SPAWN exactly the type of special edition dvd release that it deserves. The film was digitally remastered with a new pristine looking windowboxed transfer. Incredibly, the process of remastering the print cost more than the total budget of the film! The bonus features are quite extensive and include two different audio commentary tracks, extensive still galleries, a comic style prequel, an alternate opening sequence, the theatrical trailer, and much more! This is a dvd that no respectable horror collection should be missing.

 

 

XTRO (1983)

A young lad named Tony is playing with his father Sam outside of their country cottage one day when the skies unexpectedly turn black and Daddy gets abducted by a large alien spaceship! Three years later Sam returns, but much different than before. He shows up at home one day, much to the shock of his former wife Rachel (played by the odd looking Bernice Stegers of “Macabre” infamy) who has shacked up with a guy named Joe. Joe is immediately distrustful of Sam, Rachel is torn between two lovers, and Tony is delighted to have his daddy back. Then Sam’s true motives are revealed and a tense custody battle ensues. This flick could be described as a nightmarish combination of “Kramer Vs. Kramer” and “Alien.”

This incredibly fucked up 1983 sci-fi/horror hybrid, which is often dismissed as a mere “Alien” clone by people who have never seen it, defies all logic. It was largely written by director Harry Bromley Davenport during an admitted drug binge! The working title “Judas Goat” gives you a hint at his mind state at the time. Then a trio of other writers and even New Line producer Robert Shaye got involved and began contributing off the wall ideas. The end result is a brutal and bizarre horror film full of surreal scenes that are completely unrelated to each other.

The numerous highlights which I purposefully avoided in my opening synopsis include a killer dwarf clown with a lethal yo-yo, killer toy tanks, a toy soldier that grows to human size and turns murderous, a woman raped orally by an alien, rapid fire pregnancy capped off with giving birth to a full grown adult male, said altered male breathing deadly gas and eating snake eggs, an extraterrestrial shriek which melts telephones and makes ears bleed, death by black panther (the animal, not the militant Negro), gobs of green goo, and last but certainly not least some beautiful gratuitous nudity provided by the stunning Maryam D’Abo, who is turned into an alien egg incubator!

The special effects are rather hit and miss in my opinion, but two scenes in particular really stand out. First is the introduction of the alien, which is a nasty looking crab like creature that walks on all fours. It’s only briefly seen in this form, but it’s creepy as hell. This memorable effect was achieved by hiring a contortionist mime that could crawl on his back! The other scene that deserves special mention is the incredibly disgusting sequence where an unlucky woman gives birth to a full grown man! This gruesome birth scene is shown in sickening flesh ripping detail and never fails to make me retch. I’m guessing it was this scene that helped the film win an International Fantasy Film Award for Best Special Effects.

XTRO has been a personal favorite of mine for years, and is currently available on dvd thanks to Image Entertainment. I highly recommend purchasing the double feature dvd which also includes the vastly inferior yet oddly entertaining Jan Michael Vincent epic “Xtro 2.” The best part of the dvd has to be the tell-all interview with director Harry Bromley Davenport, where Harry shares a lot of great stories about the making of the films and offers his very honest opinions on them! It’s hilarious stuff that will make you appreciate the film even more. Fans of twisted sci-fi and horror should definitely seek this one out! A gory good time is guaranteed!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Pray To Get Out!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This latest batch of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features another terrifying trio of underrated horror flicks from the gory days of the 80’s horror craze! Often overlooked, and all three are personal favorites of mine. Best of all, all three of these Brain Hammer approved clas-sicks are available on dvd and can be easily found for a reasonable price. You have to pay to get them in your collection…and pray to get them out!

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

THE FUNHOUSE (1981)

The story unfolds in classic horror movie fashion. Four teens head out for a night of fun at a rather sleazy traveling carnival which has just come to town. As the evening comes to an end, they decide to spend the rest of the night inside the spooky looking funhouse. They all agree and decide to ditch the last ride before the attraction shuts down. As they hide out inside the attic of the funhouse smoking grass, the four witness a murder committed by the horribly deformed and sexually frustrated teenage son of the carnival barker who hides his hideous wolf-like face and glowing red eyes behind an equally freaky looking Frankenstein mask! Soon after they are discovered by the demented father and son duo, and then stalked and slain as they try to escape the funhouse with their lives.

An exceptionally well made monster/slasher hybrid film from director Tobe “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” Hooper. Luckily for horror fans Tobe turned down Steven Spielberg’s offer to direct fucking “E.T.” so he could make this flick instead! Things worked out perfectly for everyone, because Hooper & Spielberg worked together a year later instead and created the legendary “Poltergeist.”

From the opening “Shower-Slasher 101″ sequence, which seems to playfully reference both “Psycho” and “Halloween” through the violent climax of the film where the monster finds a violent demise in the bowels of the funhouse, this flick is always creepy and captivating. There are some especially well done chase sequences along the way. It’s an incredibly atmospheric and scary film for a relatively cheap production filmed entirely on a soundstage in Florida. The use of color throughout is beautiful, and this is probably Hooper’s most polished looking horror film. (“Poltergeist” looks and feels like more of a Spielberg movie) The make up was done by Rick Baker and Craig Reardon and they did a great job as always.

The “monster” is also a bit sympathetic, in the proud tradition of Frankenstein’s monster. You get the feeling that despite his deformity and homicidal impulses, he’s really just a horny teen trying to get laid. We’ve all been there. Horny teens (and perverts of all ages) watching this flick in hope of some nice gratuitous nudity from the aforemented opening shower scene will be sorely disappointed when they see the odd, pancake shaped tits of the lead actress! BARF! I was screaming for a nice set of “stunt breasts” and Tobe Hooper should have done the same thing! This flick should also be of interest to fans of Dean Koontz, because after the film was released he wrote a novelization of the screenplay under the psuedonym Owen West He added a lot of backstory about the carnival family tree which would have been an interesting, but perhaps un-necessary addition to the movie.

THE FUNHOUSE is a unique and memorable flick from the golden age of slasher horror. I personally consider this flick to be the best thing Hooper ever did that doesn’t have the words “TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE” in the title. I’ve noticed that as of late Hooper’s film “Eaten Alive” is gaining newfound popularity and a larger audience via dvd. Hopefully “The Funhouse” will find a larger audience too. There’s a lot to like about this one!

 

 

BAD DREAMS (1988)

The always creepy Richard Lynch (“Invasion USA,” “Cut & Run”) stars as Franklin Harris, a deranged cult leader who controls a hippie commune called Unity Fields. One day Harris decides to usher in a whole new era of unity amongst his followers by dousing them in gasoline and setting them all on fire. A massive explosion then kills 30 of the filthy hippies and leaves only a sole survivor – Harris’ personal favorite love child, Cynthia. (Jennifer Rubin, who also appeared in “A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”) Cynthia had second thoughts about immolating herself and ran away shortly before the shit hit the fan. Despite being doused in gasoline and trapped inside a burning, exploding building, Cynthia somehow manages to avoid being burnt to a crisp and is pulled from the wreckage by paramedics relatively unscathed.

Cynthia is brought to a hospital, where she spends the following thirteen years in a coma. When Cynthia finally wakes up, the real nightmare begins. After waking up from her coma Cynthia is transferred to a mental health facility ran by a shady doctor named Berrisford and placed into a special “borderline personality” therapy group led by the dashing Dr. Alex Karmen. (Bruce “Re-Animator” Abbott) The dazed and confused girl attempts to put the pieces of her troubled past together while constantly being drugged and surrounded by neurotics and psychotics, including a whining E.G. Daily (The Devil’s Rejects), a chain smoking Susan Ruttan (L.A. Law), and a wise cracking, self mutilating Dean Cameron (fucking “Chainsaw” from “Summer School!”).

It doesn’t take long before Cynthia begins having hallucinations, and the terrified girl starts seeing the charred corpse of Harris everywhere she looks. Even worse, Harris keeps imploring Cynthia to “keep her promise” and commit suicide so she can join the rest of the Unity Fields followers in eternal bliss. Harris also warns his love child that if she won’t kill herself, he’ll kill her newfound friends so they can take her place by his side instead. Harris is a man of his word, and immediately begins taking out the cracked out patients one by one. Cynthia (and the viewer) watches in helpless disbelief as the unfortunate patients are drowned, thrown from windows, chopped to bits by giant turbines, consume conveniently located bottles of formaldehyde, and gut themselves with scalpels! All of these incredible deaths are made to look like simple suicides, and this makes Cynthia’s cries for help even more unbelievable.

Dr. Karmen promptly falls in love with Cynthia (great ethics there, Doctor) and tries in vain to stop the rest of his patients from offing themselves. After being fired by Dr. Berrisford for getting too personally involved, Karmen pops some meds and hallucinates about running Berrisford over in the parking lot (?). He eventually sobers up and uncovers a deadly conspiracy that hides a madman even more dangerous than Harris. Cynthia’s worst nightmares have indeed come to life, and her desperate fight for survival has just begun.

I really enjoy this underrated 1988 effort from writer and director Andrew Fleming. This flick was and still is commonly dismissed by most horror fans and critics as a lame “Dream Warriors” rip off with Richard Lynch as a wannabe Freddy Krueger. I don’t see it that way at all. The basic similarities are obvious: Jennifer Rubin in an asylum battling a badly burnt lunatic who snuffs the patients and makes it look like suicide. But the differences, which are quite substantial in my opinion seem to fly over people’s heads. The biggest difference is tone. BAD DREAMS has it’s share of pitch black humor, but Franklin Harris is no wisecracking Freddy Krueger. Richard Lynch does a great job in this role and plays it totally straight. I wish he had more screen time. The flashback footage where Harris preaches about “the joining of man and woman” and “making a break from the old world” is some of the creepiest stuff in the movie.

The other major difference is the plot device that leads to the twist of the film’s climax. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, but I will say that the “hallucinatory” nature of the movie is what makes it so unique. I think the title “Bad Dreams” is misleading, if only for the simple fact that there’s hardly any dreaming involved. “Bad Trip” would have been a much more appropriate title. Speaking of tripping, it’s completely mind boggling that Richard Lynch would have agreed to be in this movie, because in real life he had once set himself on fire while tripping on acid! It’s unnerving to watch Richard soaking himself in gas and lighting himself up when you can clearly see the real life effects of such an incident all over his face. It’s much more disturbing than anything a makeup artist could create.

“Bad Dreams” delivers the goods in the splatter department. The highlight for gorehounds is an awesome sequence where the liquefied remains of two disgusting looking middle aged sex addicts pour out of ventilation ducts and rain down upon both the hapless maintenance man sent to investigate and the patients on the floor below. There’s also a very convincing looking scene where Dean Cameron slams his hand down onto a knife blade. I have to say that Dean pretty much steals the whole fucking movie. His high strung, on edge, and over the top turn as “Ralph” is easily the best performance in the entire film. After watching him chew up the scenery here with such gusto, I have to wonder why he didn’t become a bigger star. I love that guy!

You might notice a lack of attention to the performances of Jennifer Rubin and Bruce Abbott, but that’s for the best really. In their defense, they weren’t really given a lot to work with. The love connection between these two is far fetched from a storyline perspective, and even less convincing on screen because these two have zero chemistry with each other. When Bruce tells Jennifer “I love you!” at the end of the movie it’s flat out laughable. I loved Jennifer in “Dream Warriors” so I’ll go easy on her, but I’ve always thought Bruce was kind of a doofus in those “Re-Animator” flicks. I’ll blame him instead. All I can say is that it’s a good thing they had an excellent supporting cast!

Starz/Anchor Bay released an excellent dvd of BAD DREAMS that includes a gory alternate ending, directors commentary, the theatrical trailer, and three brief behind the scenes featurettes. Great stuff that makes for an essential purchase. Watch this one with an open mind and you just might like it.

 

 

HELL HIGH (1989)

A sexually repressed biology teacher named Brooke Storm (Maureen Mooney) is tormented by memories of the violent impalement death of two sexually frustrated greaser teens that she accidentally unleashed during her tender youthful years as a pink party dress sporting Jon Benet lookalike. All grown up but mentally disturbed, Ms. Storm begins to crack when one of her very worst students – a nasty punk named Dickens (Christopher Striker – RIP) begins harassing her. The tension reaches a breaking point when Ms. Storm snaps and slaps the Dickens out of Dickens in class. Humiliated, Dickens vows revenge on the teacher.

The incouragable sociopath Dickens is never far away from his loyal followers – Smiler and Queenie. Smiler (Jason Brill) is the token obnoxious giggling fat fuck moron, and Queenie (Millie Prezioso) is a slut with attitude and a taste for the colorful fashions of Cindy Lauper. The gang becomes a fearsome foursome when Dickens befriends a pretty boy pussy named Jon Jon (Christopher Cousins) who recently quit the school’s football team because he couldn’t take the pain. Dickens shares his trusty bottle of Jack Daniels with Jon Jon after school and then the two fast friends bond some more while following Ms. Storm home from school. Jon Jon starts whining about how he doesn’t like “the stink of it,” which prompts Dickens to respond with the classic line “You don’t like the stink of nothing. Besides, there’s nothing after high school. There’s only more stink.”

The boys follow Ms. Storm back to her isolated home near a swamp and get their jollies peeping at her in the shower. Much to the lads (and the viewers) shock and delight, the closeted and conservative looking Ms. Storm actually has a smoking hot body, and she seems to get a big kick out of groping her soapy breasts in the shower (Do girls really do that?!?)! The next day, the pack of misfits attend a football game at the school. This allows Dickens a chance to approach an injured player on the sidelines and threaten to “open up” his leg wound with a huge oversized knife! Then the gang hop into Dickens’ car and drive onto the football field so Jon Jon can intercept the ball mid-throw and ruin the game for his former team mates.

Later that night the kids decide to go to Ms. Storm’s house for a little fun. The pack of hooligans head into the swamp to gather up as much slime as they can in garbage bags and then proceed to vandalize her house. They throw the slime all over the house, dump a bucketful on Ms. Storm’s face, jump up and down on the roof, and break a window in the front door. Their festivities are briefly interrupted by the high school’s lesbian swim coach, who unexpectedly shows up at the house to visit Ms. Storm. Unbelievably, the coach doesn’t seem the least bit concerned to find her friend babbling hysterically and covered in slime. The broken window doesn’t faze her either. Instead of doing something crazy like calling the police, she gives Ms. Storm a quaalude, tucks her into bed, and leaves!

This gives Dickens and the gang the perfect opportunity to break into her home. The mean spirited pranks turn sinister when both Dickens and Queenie take turns molesting the drugged and delirious teacher. Fortunately for Ms. Storm, Dicken’s concept of “nailing this bitch” consists solely of pawing at her breasts and scrunching up her nightgown a bit. Some in-fighting between the kids gives Ms. Storm a window of opportunity to escape, which she attempts to do by swiftly defenestrating herself! The gang is shocked and horrified, but express more fear for their futures than remorse for their deeds. Jon Jon even mutters “There goes my future.”

But unfortunately for everyone involved, Ms. Storm isn’t dead. The now battered and bloody biology teacher finally snaps and goes berserk. Her demented night of vengeance is best summed up by the European title of the film – “Raging Fury!” The gory highlights include heads being bashed with rocks (very brutal!), pencils shoved into temples, multiple bloody impalements, throat slitting, and human dissection experiments. This teacher is tough, and her final exam will be murder.

HELL HIGH is a fairly unique horror film from the dying days of the 80’s slasher craze. It didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, only raking in a meager $187,920. For some reason this film received terrible reviews, mostly from critics who apparently didn’t even watch the movie before reviewing it. I say that because comparisons to “Carrie” and “Prom Night” are beyond me. Perhaps the title is misleading, because this is hardly your run of the mill high school slash ’em up. This flick plays out more in the sleazy revenge-themed tradition of flicks like “I Spit On Your Grave” and “Class Of 1984.” There are a couple of very nice T&A shots along the way. Hats off to director Douglas Grossman for fine use of stunt breasts. Maureen Mooney was pregnant during the filming and had tiny tits anyways.

I thought the acting in this film was better than average. Maureen Mooney does a great job in the lead role, as does Christopher Striker. There’s great chemistry between the two, you really get the feeling that they hate each other. Sadly, Striker passed away from AIDS shortly after the film finished shooting. “Hell High” is also notable for featuring one of the very best male screams in all of horror history. Your eardrums will also be assaulted by some hideously catchy original pop music provided by Johnny Vance. The theme song “I’ll Trust In You” will haunt your dreams for days after seeing this.

I have fond memories of first seeing this flick back in 1990 on Joe Bob Briggs’ “Drive In Saturday Night” show on The Movie Channel. The fine folks at Shriek Show released a fantastic dvd of HELL HIGH that includes goodies like a directors commentary track, interviews, trailers & tv spots, and best of all – a hilarious commentary track with none other than Joe Bob Briggs himself! I’m a big fan of this flick and a highly recommend a purchase.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!