Archive for May, 2011

Thank God You’ve Graduated!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This time around I’m throwing the spotlight on a sinister selection of overlooked and underrated old school horror and exploitation flicks that feature classroom carnage. Thank God you’ve graduated!

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH (1976)

In what can only be described as a “what the fuck?” moment, “Massacre At Central High” actually begins with the final shot of the movie, and then works its way through an opening credits montage consisting of the film’s many brutal and explosive highlights set to a sensitive sounding Seventies soft rock song called “The Crossroads Of Your Life.” Once that insanity winds down we are introduced to David (Derrel Murray) – the new kid at Central High, a large high school located near the California coastline. David immediately runs afoul of the little league gestapo that dominates the school.

The terrible trio of Bruce (a snobby and domineering hang gliding enthusiast), Craig (an ill tempered diver with an impressive mane of chest hair), and Paul (a big blonde doofus surfer) have turned the students of Central High into scared mice. On David’s first day the thugs decide to punish a geek named Spoony (Robert “Revenge Of The Nerds”Carradine!) for painting a swastika on a locker as a form of social protest. David interveins, asking Spoony where to find the student lounge. Bruce informs David that he is looking for trouble, and that he will quickly find it unless he minds his own business.

David walks away and has a much more pleasant encounter with a pretty gal named Theresa. (Kimberly Beck of “Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter” fame!) Theresa points David in the direction of the student lounge, where his old pal Mark (Andrew “10 To Midnight” Stevens!) is waiting for him. David is shocked when he discovers that Mark is the fourth member of Bruce’s gang. Mark assures David that he’s riding pretty high around the campus with Bruce and the boys. He tries to convince David to drop his loner shit and just lay back and enjoy the place. Then Mark introduces David to his girlfriend – Theresa. The same Theresa that David met and fell in love with earlier. Bummer.

An afternoon with the gang spent showing David around degenerates into destruction when the boys decide to trash the beloved old jalopy belonging to Rodney (Rex Sikes), one of their less fortunate classmates. David comes along for the ride and hates it. He later apologizes to Rodney and agrees to help him fix his car. Soon afterward David is again appalled when he sees Bruce and company threaten a fat slob named Oscar with a switchblade. Then the bullies turn their attention toward the obnoxious handicapped volunteer assistant librarian Arthur and trash the library. When David goes to help Arthur clean up the mess Mark asks him what in the hell he’s doing and tells him that he’s going “to blow it.” David responds by telling his old friend Mark that he’s “already blown it for thinking you’re more than that poor guy.”

Things get really nasty when Bruce decides that a couple of his “bull dyke” classmates named Mary & Jane (Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith & Lani O’ Grady – both RIP) need a good fuck. Mark won’t have anything to do with the proceedings, but does nothing to stop it before leaving. Paul on the other hand thinks that rape “might be a new kick!” The three bastards drag the girls kicking and screaming into an empty classroom and attempt to have their way with them. Theresa shows up to interrupt the gang rape but Bruce quickly sends her packing. Then David shows up and hands all three of the punks their asses! David’s right hook is more than enough to rattle their brains. Incredibly, Theresa gets angry at David for fighting and runs off.

This leads to a tender sequence on the beach where David apologizes to Theresa. He admits that if he keeps jumping in without thinking and starts swinging he could “really blow it.” He then explains to Theresa that running is the only thing that keeps his anger under control. David and Theresa then frolic on the beach in the proud “Rocky III” tradition and then go for a night time swim in the nude. Mark and the gang find David’s jeep on the side of the road and Mark convinces them to give David one last chance. Bruce agrees, and sends Mark off to talk to him. Mark stumbles down to the beach and finds his best friend and his best gal too close for comfort. Devastated, Mark goes back to Bruce and tells him that he couldn’t talk any sense into David. He then begs his friends to settle the score with David later, when he’s not around to see it.

Later that night, Bruce, Paul, and Craig go to David’s house and confront him inside the garage – where David is working on Rodney’s car. David refuses to come out from under the car so Bruce gives him a shove which accidentally causes the heavy car frame to crash down onto David’s leg! David is crippled for life, but tells authorities that it was simply an accident and that he was alone at the time. After a few weeks in the hospital David returns to Central High with a limp and a thirst for revenge. He decides to liberate the students of Central High by eliminating the brutal bullies that oppress them. First on the hit list is Bruce, who is electrocuted after some hang glider sabotage. Then Craig is snuffed after diving headfirst into a drained pool. Finally big dumb Paul gets his in a fiery auto wreck.

The students of Central High are happy to finally be free, but it doesn’t take long for the formerly abused to become abusive themselves. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Fat slob Oscar begins throwing his weight around. Rodney becomes a snob who can’t stop fawning over his new car. Arthur becomes even more obnoxious and uses his superior intellect to insult the library patrons. Worst of all, Spoony, Mary, and Jane turn into self righteous hippies that decide who could use a “good fuck!”

One by one, the students all go up to David, looking to “join up” with him and rule the school together. Disgusted with the hypocrisy, and how quickly it takes place, David decides the only fair thing to do is to kill them too. David is no mercy killer. He decides how and when they will die. Arthur dies from lethal hearing-aid sabotage, Oscar and Rodney both get blown up real good, and Spoony, Mary, and Jane have their torrid three way fuck fest interrupted with dynamite and falling rocks! Then David goes to the student/alumni prom with a bomb. Can Mark and Theresa stop him in time? Thank God you’ve graduated!

I consider this to be the greatest teenage revenge flick of all time. Really, no other flick comes close when it comes to exploring teenage fascism. One of the greatest lines in the movie is “There’s definitely a message in all these accidents – the higher you feel, the deeper you fall.” It’s much more thought provoking than the usual Seventies exploitation fare. It works because the characters and the storyline are realistic. Nagging questions, like where in the hell are the teachers, parents, or police are easy to ignore. It’s also worth mentioning that the explosive ending was later lifted and recycled in the cult classic “Heathers.”

I would very much like to see a special edition dvd release of MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH. This one deserves a larger audience, if only for being one of the few horror films that could never be remade.

 

 

GRADUATION DAY (1981)

A gifted high school track star named Paula drops dead after an especially grueling 30 second 100 meter dash. Her overbearing coach George Michaels (Christopher George of “Pieces” & “Enter The Ninja” legend!) assumes most of the blame for pushing the girl too hard and is eventually fired. Paula’s tragic accidental death inspires a psychopath to go on a killing rampage. A lunatic in a fencing outfit hacks their way through the remaining Midvalle High track team members and makes them run for their lives. Armed with a stopwatch, the killer always times the brutal murders and tries to kill in 30 seconds or less.

The less than prime suspects include the crabby coach, the switchblade wielding high school principal, Blondie – the principal’s secretary who is up to her garter belt in work, Virgil Frye (“Revenge Of The Ninja”) as the dimwitted and disgruntled campus security officer, the disgusting yet inexplicably popular horny old music teacher who suffers a little blackmail from the eternally topless and destined to be slaughtered Linnea Quigley, and Paula’s butch older sister Laura (Patch Mackenzie) – who has just returned home from the Marines for Paula’s funeral. Laura will be receiving Paula’s diploma at the upcoming Graduation Day ceremonies, if the quickly diminishing study body lasts that long. Graduating from high school has never been so deadly!

The co-writer and director Herb Freed was convinced that the secret to a successful slasher flick somehow related to the timing of the murder sequences. He thought that it had something to do with how quickly the lethal events took place, or how much time elapsed between the murder scenes. Interesting theory. But I have to question the overwhelming amount of ANNOYING MUSIC that was contained in Herb’s equation for success. GRADUATION DAY opens with a lengthy opening montage of young athletes in action that reeks of stale disco cheese. Then there’s a down home good ol’ whiteboy soul jam called “Graduation Day Blues” highlighted by the harmonica playing skills of the boyfriend of the dead girl. It hurts, but not nearly as bad as the unholy seven and half minutes dedicated to the band “Felony” and their wretched turd of a song called “Gangster Rock!” Despite the fact that this flick came out in 1981, Felony is painted up like KISS and have a particularly horrid disco-rock hybrid sound. The singer of the band is fucking terrible, and listening to seven monotonous minutes of the same verse and chorus is sheer torture. The music is far more brutal than the gore in this one.

Not to say that the killings are weak in “Graduation Day.” It delivers the goods when it comes to creative deaths. I love the football and pole vault impalements. There are also multiple beheadings, skewerings, and stabbings to enjoy. The shoddy gore effects are somewhat laughable, but there’s no shortage of blood. The acting is hit or miss but not nearly as bad as you might expect. Patch Mackenzie does a good job with a rather limited role and I love Christopher George as the asshole coach. Any flick with Christopher George is Brain Hammer approved. Christopher was even nice enough to get his sexy young niece Vanna White a small role in the film. The killer turns in a great performance too. I can’t say much more to avoid spoilers, but the final scene when the killer’s identity and motivations are revealed is excellent, as is the extended fight the killer has with the ass kicking heroine.

GRADUATION DAY came out during the peak of the slasher genre and managed to carve up some decent box office with nearly $24 million! It has gone on to become something of a cult clas-sick, and a favorite of 80’s slasher enthusiasts. Troma released a very nice dvd of “Graduation Day” that includes a short interview with Linnea Quigley and a slew of the usual nonsense you have come to love and expect from a Troma dvd release including multiple trailers for other Troma films and an annoying intro from Lloyd Kaufman.

 

 

SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986)

Simon Scuddamore (RIP) stars as Marty Rantzen, a nerdy Doddsville High chemistry major who is constantly tormented by a rowdy pack of mean spirited classmates. An elaborate series of April Fool’s Day pranks begins with Caroline “Maniac” Munro’s character Carol Manning teasing Marty’s cock and luring him into the girls shower. Marty’s wet dream becomes a nightmare when instead of a naked and soapy Carol he discovers the gang lying in wait for him instead.

Armed with flash photography, they poke the naked teen with a yardstick and yell “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” Then they give him a taste of 280 volts, which is enough to send him to the floor. The black janitor sees this happen and runs and tells the gym teacher that “they’re foolin’ about in the girl’s shower room!” The boys drag Marty into the toilet and proceed to give him the mother of all swirlies. Poor Marty might have drowned if not for the coach finally showing up to save his naked ass.

The coach punishes the culprits with a detention workout, and enjoys humiliating Marty a bit too much before letting him off the hook. The wisecracking and jester mask sporting leader of the gang – Skippy, vows revenge on Marty and hatches yet another demented scheme to pay him back. Two of the bullies pretend to apologize to Marty and offer him a laced joint as a mock peace offering. Marty accepts and goes off to the chem lab, where he eagerly fires it up. The tainted dirtweed makes Marty sick and he runs to the john to throw up. That gives Skippy the chance to trick the coach into letting him leave the detention, at that exact same moment mind you, so he can sneak into the lab and cook up an unstable chemical concoction on a red hot bunson burner. I should also mention the bottle of nitric acid lurking overhead on a flimsy wooden shelf. Marty returns to the lab after puking his guts up just in time for Skippy’s sabotage to take effect and a massive fire breaks out. Marty tries to stop the fire and gets a face full of nitric acid for his efforts. Then the lab explodes.

Marty somehow survives the accident, but is badly burned and horribly disfigured. As he is being wheeled out by paramedics Carol attempts to apologize which gives Marty one last chance to grab at her – BUT IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM! Or a flashback if you will. Carol was having a nightmare. Since graduating from Doddsville High, Carol has grown up and become a successful b-movie actress. Her sleazy agent Manny (played by the infamous Dick Randall) tries to talk her into a career in porn. You can tell Manny is a producer of tremendous class because he has a “PIECES” poster on the wall of his office! Carol turns down Manny’s generous offer to star in skin flicks and decides to go to her crummy class reunion instead.

Incredibly enough the entire motley crew of high school friends that participated in the April Fool’s Day brutality years before agree to return to the school for a special April Fool’s reunion. Even more incredibly, the gang seems to find nothing particularly unusual about the fact that Doddsville High has been closed and deserted for five years, or that they were the only alumni invited to the reunion. Undeterred, the old friends decide to break into the abandoned school for a night of wacky fun. Then things get even more bizarre when they discover that a well stocked party has been prepared in one of the classrooms. Someone even took the time to set up their old lockers inside the classroom. After some joking around for old times sake Skippy takes credit for the evening’s festivities. Then he does some of Carol’s “really good” cocaine and immediately nods out.

Things get interesting when Marty (now sporting Skippy’s old jester mask) makes his presence known in the halls and nails the former black janitor turned black caretaker to a door. Then the same guy who gave Marty the laced joint chugs a beer can full of acid which causes his intestines to swell until they burst through his abdomen, causing a mighty explosion that sprays blood onto the face of the cross eyed asian chick! She wanders off and goes upstairs to take a bath (!) and slips into a tub full of acid. Marty’s former tormentors are then forced to hide out in the school or attempt to flee into the night. Marty majored in cutting his classmates, and one by one they are impaled, disemboweled with a riding lawn mower, electrocuted during sex, drowned in sewage, and hung. This unbelievable carnage leaves Carol alone to run around the halls of horror for a good long time before the eye popping twist ending is brought in to throw everything out the window again. APRIL FOOL’S!

SLAUGHTER HIGH was produced by the dreaded duo of Steve Minasian and Dick Randall, who also brought us slasher clas-sicks like “Pieces” and “Don’t Open Til Christmas.” The film was originally going to be titled “April Fool’s Day,” but Paramount beat them to the punch. Paramount should have beat them with even more punches, as the film featured a recycled score from “Friday The 13th” alumni Harry Manfredini. Most of the “original” score consists of eight synth notes that are maddeningly repeated over and over again. It is impossible to watch this flick without getting that tune stuck in your head. “Slaughter High” is sometimes accused of being a generic, or even inferior 80’s slasher flick, but the nasty gore effects make it stand out in a big way. The unrated version of this flick features some very juicy splatter.

Tounges are firmly in cheek for most of the proceedings, and fans of unintentional humor will get a kick out of the lame attempts to hide the actors’ thick British accents. I get a big kick out of Dick Randall’s cameo as the sleazy producer. Simon Scuddamore does a great job as Marty, and makes a very sympathetic lead. It’s a shame that he committed suicide shorty after starring in this picture. I would have liked to have seen him in other things. Caroline Munro looks beautiful here, but her makeup and wardrobe is full on 80’s hideousness.

Some people have complained about the twist ending, but I think it makes sense within the context of the film and it adds a lot of fun to any repeat viewings. It also provides the filmmakers with an opportunity to throw in yet another splatter murder. No complaints here. This is a fucking clas-sick! SLAUGHTER HIGH is finally available on dvd and no respectable horror collection is complete without it.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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Hardware Holocaust!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 25, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This batch of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a fearsome foursome of hardcore hardware hack ’em ups. Cult clas-sicks that all feature plentiful scenes of power tools piercing flesh!

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978)

The late great Cameron Mitchell stars as Vance Kingsley, an apartment building super who slips into psychosis and becomes a homicidal maniac. Vance dons a ski mask, grabs his trusty toolbox, and begins taking the lives of the filthy females in his apartment building that do “unnatural” things to their bodies. His victims are a haggard assortment of naked skanks that include alcoholics, porn stars, and strippers. Bit by bit, the killer carves up a nightmare with a power drill, hammer, screwdriver, and nail gun.

The madman then sets his sights on a sweet virginal gal named Laurie. Instead of hacking her to pieces, he kidnaps the young girl and ties her up to his bed. Vance later explains to the terrified gal that she reminds him of his daughter, who was recently killed in a car accident. In his deranged mind Vance believes he is protecting Laurie from God, who wants to claim her pure soul the same way he claimed his daughter’s.

Despite the fact that all the murders take place within the same apartment complex, there’s no sign of forced entry, and the murders are all committed with tools, Vance is never seen as a suspect by authorities. The police are baffled by the sheer brutality of the crimes and can’t seem to find a single clue. Laurie’s brother Joey and his best pal Kent finally get fed up with the ineptitude of the police and decide to take the law into their own hands. Their investigation eventually turns up a dildo and a deadly secret. Will Laurie survive, and what will be left of her?

Director Dennis Donnelly’s “The Toolbox Murders” was one of the most controversial horror films of the pre-slasher era. It was even discussed at length on the Donahue show. Old Phil ranted and raved about how sick the film was and even showed the nail gun murder scene in it’s entirety, much to the shock and horror of the fat housewives in his studio audience! “The Toolbox Murders” was also banned in the UK for several years as a video nasty. It’s certainly lurid stuff, but it’s exceedingly well made and also works a character study. Cameron Mitchell does a fantastic job in the lead role and actually makes the character somewhat sympathetic. Miles beyond the usual mute masked killers, and a lot more interesting too.

A few years ago Bill Lustig’s Blue Underground released THE TOOLBOX MURDERS on dvd. As expected from Blue Underground, the dvd features a number of fantastic supplements including a commentary track with producer Tony Didio, DP Gary Graver, and star Pamelyn Ferdin, theatrical trailers and tv spots, and a still gallery. My favorite feature is “I Got Nailed In The Toolbox Murders” – an interview with actress Marianne Walter, better known to old school porno fans as Kelly Nichols. Hail Bill Lustig! You are truly a sleazy gorehound’s best friend!

 

 

DRILLER KILLER (1979)

A true piece of rock & roll cinema, “Driller Killer” begins with an on screen title card instructing viewers to play the film LOUD. Infamous director Abel Ferrara stars (under the name Jimmy Laine) as Reno Miller, an up and coming avant garde artist who struggles to keep a roof over his head and to hold on to the last shreds of his sanity. Reno is constantly tormented by the sleazy denizens of the mean streets of NYC, and his manhood is threatened by his girlfriend’s girlfriend. Things take a turn for the worse for Reno when a fucking horrible punk rock band called Tony Coca Cola & The Roosters move into the apartment above him and assault his eardrums with their non stop rehearsals.

The constant noise prevents Reno from finishing his latest masterpiece, a bizarre and bloody painting of a buffalo. After many long nights filled with frustration, inspiration finally hits Reno in a big way when he catches a TV ad for a nifty combination belt/battery pack that allows mobile use of power tools. Reno quickly runs to a hardware store to buy one, and then begins wandering the streets at night with a drill. Now completely unhinged and frequently hallucinating, Reno drills holes into any bum that makes the fatal mistake of bothering him. Reno has become one of those who kill violently!

Despite the rather lurid sounding premise and title, this is actually more of a cracked out character study than a traditional slasher film. “Driller Killer” owes a lot more to films like “Taxi Driver” than “The Toolbox Murders.” Horror fans looking for non stop bloodshed will be sorely disappointed, although the film is punctuated with some fairly graphic kills. The film’s gore centerpiece is the brutal scene where Reno plunges the drill into a hobo’s forehead. This incredible scene was used as cover art for the notorious UK vhs release, which was promptly banned and instrumental in helping to create the “Video Nasties” craze. As a result, “Driller Killer” was banned in the UK until 1999 and wasn’t released uncut until 2002.

“Driller Killer” perfectly captures the sleazy essence of the big apple in the 70’s. It was the directorial debut of Abel Ferrara, who would later go on to helm equally disturbing films with much bigger budgets including “Ms. 45” and “Bad Lieutenant.” “Driller Killer” is hardly a perfect film, but the positives outweigh the negatives by my estimation. The film takes a long time to get to the bloodshed so impatient horror fans might have to hit the fast forward button a few times to complete a viewing. There are numerous scenes of Reno arguing with people. Mostly his girlfriend, but also his landlord and his art dealer. Bickering and bad music largely comprise the first two thirds of the film. In the long run this actually works in the film’s favor, because it’s much easier to relate to Reno’s descent into madness when you suffer right along with him as you watch.

Cult Epics has released DRILLER KILLER on dvd a few different times. The best release is the two disc collectors edition which is presented in widescreen and includes a hilarious drugged out director’s commentary track, theatrical trailers, and three of Ferrera’s early short films. Essential exploitation.

 

 

THE MUTILATOR (1985)

This one starts out innocently enough with tender music and soft focused shots of a wife lovingly preparing a birthday cake for her husband, Big Ed. Little Ed Jr decides to give his Daddy a big birthday surprise by cleaning Daddy’s beloved gun collection. Ed Jr goes from being meticulous to matricidal when he accidentally gives his poor Mommy a back full of buckshot. Big Ed comes home to find his son cowering over his dead wife and becomes unhinged. He drags his wife’s bloody carcass into the living room and begins pounding booze to steady his nerves. He even pours some into the mouth of his dead wife for grins.

Then we flash forward several years and find Ed Jr all grown up, nursing a Budweiser and sporting some impressive chest hair. Ed Jr was enjoying an evening out at a bar with his frigid and horrible girlfriend Pam when he receives an unexpected phone call from his long estranged Father. Big Ed wants Ed Jr to close up his condo on the beach for the winter. Big Ed encourages his son to “take the responsibility and face it like it man.” Ed Jr is none too pleased at the idea of having to go to the isolated condo for the mundane tasks of turning off the electricity and water, but his bossy and manipulative girlfriend decides it would be the perfect chance for four days of rest and relaxation on the beach. Their annoying friends Ralph (a beer obsessed law student who wears a sweater on his shoulders), Sue (Ralph’s pretty puritanical love interest), Mike (a big blonde doofus), and Linda (Mike’s horny girlfriend) invite themselves along, and the next morning the six pals all load into Ed’s car for a fall break getaway.

When the gang arrives at the condo they are shocked to find the front door wide open. The place is trashed, full of garbage and empty bottles of booze. Ed Jr assures his friends that there is nothing unusual about this because his father is a drunk. He does get a bit worried when he notices that his pop’s prized battle axe is missing. What Ed Jr and his friends don’t know is that Big Ed is lurking inside the garage. There he silently wrestles his inner demons and is confronted with his violent memories. As he clutches his axe, he closes his eyes and dreams of the different ways he should have killed his young son.

Mike and Linda wander around the garage and eventually stumble across Big Ed’s trophy room. This allows Mike to make a crack about “Goose – the moon god” and grab Linda’s ass. Then they go back to the condo and have dinner with the others. Then they go for a moonlit walk on the beach. For some reason we watch all of this. This stretch of the flick is torturous to put it nicely. Things finally pick up when doofus and the slut go skinny dipping in the condo’s pool. This allows Big Ed the opportunity to drown Linda. Mike doesn’t notice of course, and then spends the next several minutes walking around looking for his missing clothes and girlfriend. Being an especially big retard, Mike doesn’t suspect anything is wrong and instead has fun playing a game of hide and seek with himself. This all ends rather violently when Mike utters his immortal line “I’m…coming…to get you!” and Big Ed shows up to rip his chest apart with a boat propeller!

As all this is going on the other four kids are taking a stroll on the beach. They run into a friendly police officer who warns them to be careful on the beach at night. The cop should have taken his own advice, as shortly thereafter he has a large piece of wood slammed into his face and is swiftly beheaded by Big Ed! The the kids play an extended game of “Blind Man’s Bluff,” which is yet another retarded variation of hide and seek. (a recurring theme here) This pads out the film nicely, as the kids and the killer stalk after each other in the dark for a while. Then the game ends without incident and the scene whimpers out like a dying rat.

Then as the kids decide to settle in for the evening, Ralph goes out on one last mission to track down Mike and Linda. Instead of finding his friends he finds Big Ed and gets the business end of a pitchfork in his throat. Sue becomes worried when Ralph doesn’t return and convinces Ed Jr and Pam to join her in the search. They make the infinitely wise decision to split up, which gives Big Ed the chance to get up close and personal with sweet little Sue. He drags her into the garage and in one of the most notorious moments in slasher history proceeds to slowly insert an oversized fishing gaff into her crotch!

Ed Jr. and Pam eventually find Sue’s mutilated body and the bodies of their other missing friends, which Big Ed had displayed as gruesome trophies. As they attempt to escape the hellish condo with their lives intact they have an unbelievable final confrontation with Big Ed that results in massive loss of life and limb. Their horrifying vacation was no longer just a day at the beach, it had become a nightmare.

I’m a huge fan of this infamous slasher shocker from writer/producer/director Buddy Cooper that so proudly pushes the boundaries of good taste. This film starts off with a brutal scene of accidental matricide, and then degenerates into a series of increasingly perverse and lurid murders. There is no doubt that the single most effective and memorable element of the film is the graphic gore. The death scenes in “The Mutilator” are about as over the top as they come. The scenes with the juicy fishing gaff and boat propeller murders are the stuff of legend for gorehounds. In terms of splatter, “The Mutilator” ranks right up there with other brutal 80’s slasher flicks such as “Maniac” and “Nightmare.”

The pacing and acting on the other hand are abysmal. All of the actors are uniformly wooden and awful, with the exceptions of Jack Chatham as the silent but deadly killer and the one and only Morey Lampley – who steals the show as the rather dimwitted Mike. Morey’s performance in “The Mutilator” is not good by any means, but it is one of a kind to say the least. He comes across as a guy who never quite learned his multiplication tables, and the film never fully recovers after his quirky character is quickly dispatched.

No review of “The Mutilator” would be complete without mentioning the incredible toe tapping theme song – “Fall Break,” which was performed by Peter Yellen & The Breakers. The film was originally going to be titled “Fall Break,” and obviously Buddy decided not to bother replacing the theme song after changing the title to the more graphic sounding “The Mutilator.” Not every slasher flick features a theme song with lyrics like this:

When the leaves of summer turn red and gold, and the football games bring a hint of the cold, time to get away. We’ll pack the car with escape in mind, forgettin’ our classes leavin’ books behind, time to get away. We’re goin’ on a fall break! (Fall break!) Running in the sand, feelin’ all right. And when you fall into my arms I’ll break into your heart…”

THE MUTILATOR  is one of the all time great slasher flicks, and it is a crime against humanity that this film is still not officially available on dvd. I treasure my unrated Vestron vhs, and can only hope that one day this clas-sick will get the kind of special edition upgrade it so richly deserves.

 

 

NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985)

After a brutal gang rape occurs on a construction site in a small Texas town, a masked killer with a bad case of Darth Vader-itis and a penchant for horrible Freddy Krueger wisecracks goes on a killing spree seeking revenge against… well pretty much everyone. Dressed in camouflage, driving a hearse, and armed with a pneumatic nail gun, the deranged killer makes swiss cheese out of any redneck that crosses his deadly path.

The unfortunate victims are repeatedly nailed in the head, the groin, to trees, to the highway, and sometimes to each other. The dimwitted country bumpkin sheriff with a badge that likes to switch sides on his chest at random teams up with an always denim clad county medical examiner who looks like the bass player from Journey to investigate the murders. As these two geniuses wander around aimlessly looking for clues the nail ridden dead bodies begin stacking up like cord wood.

I’m a huge fan of this hilariously inept 80’s slasher flick with a huge body count. This flick delivers like fifteen bloody murders and some nice titties within its 90 minute running time. Hard to argue with that! “Nail Gun Massacre” is a special film for many reasons, but my favorite part has to be the odd, inexplicable appearance of a toothless old geezer who randomly shows up in a scene and proceeds to steal the whole fucking movie by asking the immortal question “Hey, what put all them holes in her body? Sex?” That’s followed closely by the dead body that starts to tip over and is thoughtful enough to prop himself back up so he doesn’t fuck up the shot. You don’t see that in every flick, folks.

Fans of gratuitous nudity will enjoy a steaming eyeful thanks to a big haired blonde who proudly displays her enormous rack, complete with tan lines and a set of nipples roughly the size of a midget’s thumbs! There’s also a fairly sleazy scene with a really ugly couple bumping uglies against a tree, and an unbelievable moment where a hick talks his bimbo date into having sex on the hood of his car “so they can really fly!” The latter sex scene is set to the tune of a toe tapping number entitled “Foozeball” that is played in it’s entirety not once, but twice in a row. It’s guaranteed to get stuck in your head. What I really appreciate about the chicks in this flick is the fact that they are all 100% authentic trailer trash. No pesky silicone or cosmetic surgery to ruin the fun, they all look like chicks you could pick up at a county fair.

Writer, producer, and co-director Terry Lofton was the brains and the bucks behind this incredibly cheesy homemade horror flick More than a few critics have slammed “Nail Gun Massacre,” but I think it more than delivers the goods for horror fans with a hunger for bloody mayhem and cheap, sometimes unintentional laughs. Terry has stated that he didn’t want to make a “real blood & guts type horror movie” but instead wanted to make a fun, low key horror flick. Hats off to Terry for a job well done!

Synapse Films released a fantastic looking dvd of NAIL GUN MASSACRE that was fully restored in high definition and is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The special features include outtakes, a promotional trailer, and an interview with Terry Lofton. There’s also some very funny liner notes from Michael Felsher that point out some of the film’s many shortcomings.  If you attempt to take this seriously, you’ll probably hate it. But if you watch this flick with sense of humor you’ll love it. This is a perfect movie to watch on a Saturday night with a few beers and buds.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Welcome To The Jungle!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This editon of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a terrible trio of infamous Italian cannibal clas-sicks. These savage efforts all serve up heaping helpings of jungle carnage and an abundance of flesh ripping, gut munching, and animal cruelty. Definitely not for the weak, the faint hearted, or the easily offended. Welcome to the jungle baby. You’re gonna die.

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!! 

 

 

CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE (1980)

Vietnam vet Norman Hopper (John Saxon!) returns home from the war scarred both physically and mentally. He tries in vain to settle back into domestic bliss with his wife in their Atlanta home but is tormented by recurring nightmares where he relives the gruesome bloodshed and flesh eating he witnessed in the jungles of ‘nam. He’s also infected with a violent infectious strain of cannibalism (!) thanks to a starving P.O.W. that took a bite out of his arm. Much to his horror and his wife’s disgust he slowly develops a taste for blood, and the tender thigh meat of the flirtatious teenage girl who lives next door.

Things take a turn for the worse after Hopper’s old combat buddy Charlie Bukowski (played by the legendary Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is released from the nut house also nurturing a taste for human flesh. Charlie takes a bite out of a half naked girl inside a grind house theater and winds up on the run from the cops and an idiot gang of bikers attempting to be vigilantes. He holes up inside a large indoor flea market and blows away quite a few cops and bikers as they try to bring him to justice. Norman shows up and convinces the cops to let him go inside to talk to Charlie. Norman regains Charlie’s trust by reminding him that the best way to deal with a can of tear gas is to piss on it, “Just piss on it.”

Norman and Charlie are then both brought back to the local mental institution, where yet another deranged vet – and coincidentally enough the same guy who bit Norman in Vietnam – Tom, is also being treated. The trio of cannibals becomes a quartet when a nurse is also infected with the cannibalism virus. The four lunatics (made up with the exact same race and gender as the four leads in George A. Romero’s “Dawn Of The Dead”) fight their way out the hospital, and then waste a few street punks who get in their way before heading into the Atlanta sewers for a gut-wrenching final showdown with the police.

Antonio Margheriti directed this infamous shocker, and the very prolific Dardano Sacchetti wrote the screenplay. This is a unique “cannibal” flick, as it features cannibalism as a virus that can be spread from person to person. The deranged flesh hunters are somewhat similar to the infected killers in Romero’s “The Crazies” and David Cronenberg’s “Rabid.” They crave flesh and blood and will stop at nothing to get what they want. The violence here is really quite exceptional, with lots of brutal fight scenes, splashy gun battles, and gory flesh ripping. The opening sequence features an especially disgusting moment where the starved P.O.W.’s chomp into the freshly barbecued flesh of a young Vietnamese girl. The highlight of the film has to be the spectacular demise of Giovanni Lombardo Radice, who has a giant see-through hole blown in his abdomen! There’s also a delightful “shock” ending that ends the film on a great note.

Apparently actor John Saxon considers this flick to be a personal low point of his life and career, and in the “Cannibal Apocalypse Redux” documentary admits he that even contemplated suicide at one point after realizing he had appeared in such a vile picture. If that’s true, imagine how John must have felt a few years later when he was starring in crap flicks like “Hands Of Steel” and “Welcome To Spring Break.” This flick features more characterization and emotional depth than the standard cannibal efforts, and is well acted and very nicely shot. It’s also “nasty” enough to have been banned in the UK back in the day, and was heavily edited in the States when released under the name “Invasion Of The Flesh Hunters.” Like any action/horror/exploitation flick, this has to be seen UNCUT to be fully appreciated.

Hats off to Image Entertainment for releasing a beautiful, digitally remastered dvd of CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE that is 100% uncut. It also includes several “sewer dwelling special features” including the aforementioned “Cannibal Apocalypse Redux” documentary, “Apocalypse In The Streets” – a video tour of the filming locations, trailers, still galleries, and more. It’s exactly the type of special edition dvd that a superior genre flick like this deserves.

 

 

CANNIBAL FEROX (1981)

A young pair of brother and sister anthropologists – Gloria & Rudy Davis (Lorraine De Salle & Danilo Mattei), take a trip to the jungles of South America to help prove correct Gloria’s theories on the “myth” of man eating man. They intend to prove that cannibalism no longer exists, and has NEVER existed! How they can prove cannibalism never existed by simply visiting a jungle is not explained. Also not explained is why they would want to bring their hot pussied little whore of a friend Pat (Zora Kerova) along for the trip. The three idiots quickly manage to crash their jeep and have to trek through the jungle on foot.

After a tasty encounter with a native who is contently munching on some fat green worms, the gang runs into a dead body and pair of lowlife drug pushers that are on the run from the New York mob after pulling a sting on a couple of Brooklyn horsemen and running off with $100,000. At first the rather strung out Mike Logan (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) tells a tale about a tribe of vicious cannibals that attacked them and mutilated their Portuguese cocaine and emerald harvesting companion. His buddy Joe is wounded, and lets Mike do most of the talking. Later that night and the next day Mike has some fun with Pat. After a few coke fueled fuck fests he asks her if she would like to “make” an Indio girl. Pat, being a well established slut, is intrigued by this and agrees, which leads to the attempted rape and cold blooded murder of one of the young natives.

Shortly after this senseless murder the now sick and delirious Joe finally breaks his silence and tells the real story behind the death of the “Portuguese.” It turns out that the story Mike told the gang was a lot of batshit. The so-called “Portuguese” was really a young Indio boy that Mike had tortured and murdered for not producing any Emeralds from the local rivers. With the cocaine Mike was on, he went completely crazy and seemed to get a perverted kick out of make the poor bastard suffer. Mike gouged out one of the Indio’s eyes, then castrated him and left him to bleed to death. After telling Gloria and Rudy his incredible story Joe dies from an infection. This gives Mike and Pat enough time to steal all of the supplies and leave the others for dead.

The adult men of the Indio tribe had all conveniently been away on a hunting trip while Mike was on his rampage. After returning home and discovering this incredible outrage the tribe decides that all of the white people must die, slowly. It doesn’t take long for all four of the survivors to be captured and brutal and primitive justice is dished out in short order. Once the unholy cannibal ferox has begun the natives have a blast hanging Pat with hooks through her tits and then give Mike more than a little taste of his own medicine. Humiliation and mutilation are only the appetizer for this blood feast – castration and decapitation are the main course. And of course no jungle revenge would be complete without a little cannibalism for desert.

This outrageous 1981 Umberto Lenzi film begins with a thoughtful pre-credits disclaimer that warns viewers that “the following feature is one of the most violent films ever made” and that “there are at least two dozen scenes of barbaric torture and sadistic cruelty graphically shown.” I lost count somewhere along the way, but that number sounds about right to me. Pretty much every other scene consists of nauseating footage of animals being killed, either by other animals or humans. One particularly disturbing moment features a tied up and defenseless little mongoose being savaged by a large snake! However, with all the flack that Lenzi (and all the other “jungle” flick directors) deservedly gets for his completely unnecessary cruelty to animals, I’m left wondering why more people don’t hate Francis Coppola for doing the exact same thing in “Apocalypse Now,” or despise Walter Hill for “Southern Comfort.” I guess when they do it – it’s considered art.

This is my hands down my personal favorite of all of the Italian cannibal/jungle flicks. For all of its many faults I find this one ridiculously entertaining. Say what you want about this one, it certainly isn’t boring. The dubbing, the dialog, the score – all cheesy perfection. This one wins the prize for featuring the most plentiful gore of all the early 80’s jungle flicks. It also wins the prize for the most frequent use of the word “twat” in any non porno film! Speaking of porno, the infamous Robert Kerman of “Cannibal Holocaust” & “Debbie Does Dallas” legend makes a brief appearance as a NYC cop looking for Giovanni’s character. This one has a delightfully sleazy vibe throughout that lends itself to a lot of repeat viewings.

Grindhouse Releasing did a typically beautiful job with their deluxe uncensored letterboxed edition of CANNIBAL FEROX.  As usual their dvd release includes a slew of bonus features including directors commentary, trailers, and still galleries. No gorehound’s dvd collection is complete without this gem, SHITFACE!!!

 

 

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)

Roger Kerman (“Eaten Alive,” Cannibal Ferox”) stars as Harold Monroe, a NYU anthropology professor who travels to the “Green Inferno” jungles of the Amazon searching for a missing crew of documentary filmmakers. After a long and brutal search he discovers their remains and the reels of footage they had shot before dying. The deceased documentarians had a reputation for being sensationalist filmmakers that strived to shock and offend their audience. The lost footage from the jungles reveals them to be much worse.

The film is assembled by technicians at the university and Monroe is the first to see it in its entirety. He is constantly being pursued by greedy network executives that want to buy the footage along with his incredible story. The network is convinced that the more you assault an audience the more they will love it, and that this remarkable documentary footage would pull huge ratings. Monroe arranges a special screening for them, purely to prove his point that the footage is too vile for anyone to see and that it should be destroyed. What unfolds before the unfortunate viewers eyes is sheer horror.

The four filmmakers, led by the incredibly obnoxious director Alan Yates and his girlfriend/assistant Faye Daniels had brutalized the jungle and its inhabitants in a crude effort to get “shocking” footage. Arson, rape, murder, and impalement are all part of Alan’s demented script and if the natives aren’t savage enough to do those sort of things Alan and his crew are more than willing to do it for them. The natives eventually snap after enduring such incredible cruelty and seek revenge. One by one the crew is killed, dismembered, and eaten as the cameras roll catching every last moment.

After seeing these horrific events unfold the network executives have no choice but agree that footage is too much for anyone and agree to have it destroyed. This leaves Professor Monroe to light up his trusty pipe and muse: “I wonder who the real cannibals are.”

This is the undisputed king of the “cannibal” films. No other flick in this perverse little sub-genre comes close when it comes to unsettling gruesome horror. This flick doesn’t often provide the sort of unintentional laughs you’ll find in “Ferox.” Director Ruggero Deodato deserves much credit for helming such an uncompromisingly grim and shocking motion picture. Deodato calls “Cannibal Holocaust” a “clear and straightforward denunciation of the journalistic approach as we know it today,” and if that was his honest intention I’d have to say the film was a success. That doesn’t really explain the seemingly unrelated scene where a native woman is raped and then beat to death with a stone phallus though, or the numerous scenes of animals being slaughtered.

The influence this eternally controversial flick had on later films like “The Blair Witch Project” and “House Of 1,000 Corpses” is obvious. “Cannibal Holocaust” was a pioneering genre film for using “lost footage” to help tell its story, and this plot device has been lifted several times since. This one has a bad rap for essentially being garbage, but the quality of the film making, the acting, and the score all rises well above the expectations of your average exploitation enthusiasts. Riz Ortolani’s haunting score is my favorite part of the film. The pacing is excellent and the film is beautifully shot. I’m a big fan of this one. If you don’t want to take my word for it you should consider the fact that “Cannibal Holocaust” made more money in Japan than “E.T.”  Who are you to doubt the great nation that gave us Godzilla?

In the proud tradition of their superior “Cannibal Ferox” dvd, Grindhouse Releasing unleashed a devastating two disc deluxe edition of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST that has more bonus features than you can shake a severed limb at! There’s a behind the scenes documentary, directors commentary, interviews with the stars, trailers, still galleries, and much more. Essential purchase.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

No One Will Hear You Scream!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This time around I’ve selected three of my favorite fucked up flicks from the 1970’s. These clas-sicks are often overlooked by horror fans and deserve a larger audience. Best of all, all three are available on dvd and can easily be found for a reasonable price.

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973)

This one starts with a sweaty confused looking man apparently running for his life. He ducks behind a wall and rests by a fountain while attempting to catch his breath. Then a friendly looking girl in a tacky dress appears from out of nowhere to comfort him, before slitting his throat with a razor blade. Welcome to the wild world of MESSIAH OF EVIL! You will never be the same. The haunting theme song “Hold On To Love” that accompanies the opening credits slowly begins lulling the viewer into submission. Then we are treated to an extended out of focus shot of a deranged woman babbling inside a large insane asylum hallway. The mad woman thoughtfully warns the viewers that “They’re coming here. They’re waiting at the edge of the city. They’re peering around buildings at night, and they’re waiting. They’re waiting for you! And they’ll take you one by one and no one will hear you scream. No one will hear you SCREAM!!!”

We are then introduced to a pretty young woman named Arletty (Marianna Hill of “The Baby” and “High Plains Drifter” legend) who goes looking for her missing father and stumbles across an undead cult of rat munching murderous maniac albinos that are wiping out a small town on the California coastline while awaiting the upcoming return of their messiah. As Arletty searches the town for her father she befriends a swinger named Thom (Michael Greer) and his two sexy female traveling companions – Laura (Anitra “Invasion Of The Bee Girls” Ford) & Toni (the aptly named Joy Bang!). Thom is bored and disillusioned and has more than a little money to burn. He particularly enjoys paying the town drunk Charlie (the eternally drunken and shiftless Elisha Cook Jr. of “Salem’s Lot” infamy!) to ramble on about the nights when “blood covered the moon.” Charlie tells Arletty that her father is dead, but assures her that he will be back to see her soon, and whatever she does – she must not bury him!

Arletty is horrified by the words of the booze addled derelict, but decides to resume the search for her father. It doesn’t take long before the town’s madness begins to infect her mind, pollute her body, and threaten her life and the lives of Thom, Laura, and Toni. The zombified townsfolk attack and devour Laura in a deserted supermarket, and Toni gets dispatched while watching a Sammi Davis Jr western in a grindhouse theater. Then Arletty begins puking up lizards and bugs just as her dead daddy finally shows up to reveal the incredible history of the messiah of evil! Massive amounts of blue paint, fire, and decomposition are unleashed until finally Arletty and Thom wind up in the Pacific ocean desperately attempting to swim for their lives.

As one of my favorite obscure horror flicks from the early 70’s, this flick is just brutally bizarre. It’s also one of the most strangely haunting little films I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. The director Willard Huyck (who would later direct the infamous “Howard The Duck!”) and writer Gloria Katz deserve much credit for creating such a memorable and disturbing horror film. Many of the scenes throughout are genuinely creepy, and there are a number of visually stunning shots. This actually reminds me quite a bit of a Dario Argento flick: great to look at, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The narrative is rather jumbled and it will probably take a few viewings to fully grasp and appreciate what is being presented.

Despite the rather gory sounding premise, this film is somewhat restrained in the gore department. This is a rather unusual zombie flick, as there is a distinct lack of graphic gut munching on display. It’s worth mentioning that this flick was also titled “Dead People” and “Revenge Of The Screaming Dead”; both titles would make this appear to be a run of the mill zombie effort. There’s no shortage of bloody violence though, and the film possesses an unpleasant dreamlike atmosphere that will keep you on edge. The death scenes that take place inside a garage, supermarket, and movie theater are all fantastic stuff that make this sometimes confusing film well worth the effort.

MESSIAH OF EVIL can easily be found on dvd, usually for cheap. I recommend shelling out a few extra bucks and seeking out the special edition, 35th anniversary release from Code Red. This version looks and sounds the best, and features goodies like interviews and commentary tracks. Penny pinchers should check out the Diamond Entertainment dvd, which includes “The Devil’s Nightmare” (also a great flick!) as a double feature. You can also find this flick in several of those cheap-o “horror collections.”  There’s no excuse for not owning this clas-sick!

 

 

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973)

The legendary Paul Naschy plays an Indian mystic named “Krishna” (of course!) who battles his evil twin brother Kantaka. Kantaka was horribly disfigured after an angry mob set a fire that destroyed his castle, and he uses the diabolical powers of black magic to resurrect the recently deceased female relatives of the people that tried to kill him. The resurrected zombie women then become pawns in Kantaka’s deadly game of revenge. Kantaka’s victims include the father of a lovely redhead named Elvire Irving. Elvire becomes romantically involved with Krishna, and a deadly love triangle is created when Kantaka decides that he wants more than her heart.

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES is a masterpiece of over the top occult themed horror from the dreaded Spanish tag team of director Leon Klimovsky and actor/writer Jacinto Molina (aka Paul Naschy). I’ve been on a tear lately trying to collect as many of these films as I can. This is by far the most entertaining of the bunch I’ve seen. Say what you want about all the unintentional humor, inappropriate lounge music used for score, or the sheer overwhelming cheesiness of these old school Spanish horror flicks – I personally think they have a creepy, authentic horror atmosphere that rivals many other, far more polished horror films. Director Leon Klimovsky could always be counted on to deliver the goods. I’ve enjoyed every film of his that I’ve seen. They are always chock full of eerie cavernous castles, freshly unearthed rotting corpses, lots of gory effects and blood, and an abundance beautiful women.

Jacinto Molina really was an ICON of horror. Sadly, even after his passing he still doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for the decades full of clas-sick horror films that he’s written, directed, and starred in. This guy has really done it all. He played every memorable movie monster there ever was. His most famous reoccurring character of course was Waldemar Daninsky – the wolf man. He’s also appeared as the Devil, Dracula, a mummy, a hunchback, a grave robber, an evil knight, a mercenary, an exorcist, and an assassin!

A lot of Molina’s characters in these films are practitioners of the black arts. Over the years many of his films featured evil characters that boldly experiment with Satanism, Sorcery, Witchcraft, blood sacrifices, alchemy, immortality, and resurrection of the dead. Molina in real life studied black magic in order to make his films and characters more authentic. His storylines are always completely wild and over the top. “Vengeance Of The Zombies” is no exception. The tale of a family curse, a brother’s betrayal, and an army of murderous zombies is the stuff of pure fantasy. Molina said when he wrote the screenplay he must have been “under the effects of hashish, or like Bram Stroker, I’d had one hell of a nightmare.”

No werewolves or vampire women this time around. Instead we are treated to grave robbing, black masses, masked murder rampages, voodoo, ritual sacrifice, chicken decapitation, the walking dead, and the sight of Naschy as both an Indian mystic and a horned Satan who drinks blood from a golden chalice! There’s lots of bloody mayhem in this one, and some nice nudity provided by some especially HOT looking women. Krisha’s gold-painted assistant Kala is played by Mirta Miller (“Count Dracula’s Great Love”), and she is one of the most unbelievably beautiful women I’ve ever seen.

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES is now available on a beautifully remastered dvd thanks to the fine folks at Deimos/Brentwood. Also available on dvd from Deimos/Brentwood is Paul Naschy’s 1980 film “Night Of The Werewolf,” which is also excellent. Best of all, these flicks are cheap. I got both in a double feature set for only $20! Horror fans looking for something a little…different should give these a try.

 

 

TOURIST TRAP (1979)

A group of five young people go traveling through the desert when one of their vehicles get sidelined with a flat tire. One of the youngsters – Woody, takes the tire and goes looking for a gas station. He manages to find one, but it appears to be deserted. Woody wanders around looking for help and hears a voice in an adjacent room. When he goes inside the room he discovers a group of bizarre looking mannequins, that laugh maniacally and begin leaping out at him. Then to his horror; the door locks itself, the windows close themselves, and objects including bottles and knives begin flying at him. In a panic he manages to break a hole in the door, but someone or something on the other side grabs his arm and pins him against the door. Then a large metal pole flies across the room and impales him.

When Woody doesn’t return, the others decide to go looking for him. As they drive further down the highway they see a sign for a “tourist trap” called Slausen’s Lost Oasis. The gang thinks that it must be where Woody had went for help and decide to go check it out. Then their jeep stalls and the headlights break. The sole male of the group – Jerry, stays behind to try to fix the jeep while the three girls decide to go skinny dipping in a nearby lake. That’s when they meet Mr. Slausen (Chuck Conners), the rifle toting proprietor of Slausen’s Lost Oasis.

Mr. Slausen thoughtfully offers to help the gang fix their jeep, and gives them a ride back to his house so he can fetch his tools. His “house” is actually a large old museum filled with western memorabilia and realistic looking wax dummies. Mr. Slausen explains that his business was ruined thanks to the new highway system (shades of Psycho) and that his wife had died, leaving him all alone. Even his brilliant artist brother Davey left the Lost Oasis to take a job at a big wax museum in the city. Most of the kids are creeped out by the place, but one of the girls named Molly seems oddly interested and sympathetic towards Mr. Slausen.

Slausen and Jerry leave the girls in the museum and go off to repair the jeep. The girls wander around the museum marveling at how realistic the mannequins look and feel. One of more adventurous girls decides to check out the large house next door the museum. She quickly regrets it when she meets a maniac in a hideous looking mask that uses deadly powers of telekinesis to strangle her! The masked madman eventually captures the rest of the kids and ties them up in the basement. The kids are forced to watch the monster suffocate another young girl with a face full of plaster. Molly manages to escape the museum and runs to Mr. Slausen for help. That’s when the murderous secrets of the Lost Oasis are revealed. Illusion and reality begin to blend together and Molly has to fight to stay alive and save her friends. But who will survive, and what will be left of their sanity?

David Schmoeller’s TOURIST TRAP is a personal favorite of mine. It’s an unbelievably creepy combination of the supernatural and slasher sub-genres. It reminds me of a cracked out combination of “Ho“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “House Of Wax,” and “Phantasm.” First time viewers will no doubt be caught off guard by the many sensational shocks along the way. I left out a lot of the key moments in my review because I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone. People with an abnormal fear of mannequins should avoid this flick like the plague. The maniacal mannequins in “Tourist Trap” laugh and scream at the terrified victims to be and quickly drive them (and the viewer) insane.

Chuck Conners is fantastic as Mr. Slausen. He commands the screen in this one as a horrific hybrid of Norman Bates and Leatherface. The rest of the cast is also very good. Jocelyn Jones in particular does a great job as the sympathetic lead who loses her grip on reality. The one and only Tanya Roberts (“Purgatory,” “Charlie’s Angels”) also stars and her two major talents can be seen defying gravity and boldly stretching the limits of  her tight blue tube top! Everything about this flick is superior, including the spooky score from Pino Donaggo. The body count is relatively low compared to the slashers that would follow in the next few years, but very few low budget horror flicks are as unnerving, or as original and intense as this.

Koch/Full Moon Releasing were responsible for the 20th Anniversary Edition dvd release of TOURIST TRAP. The film is presented completely uncut and digitally remastered. There’s also a commentary track from director/co-writer David Schmoeller that dishes the dirt about the film’s origins. Add to that the original trailer and several trailers for other Full Moon releases and you’ve got an essential purchase. Fans of chilling and thrilling late 70’s horror should consider this a must see.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Rape & Revenge!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT is all about some good old fashioned r & r. I’m not talking about rest & relaxation, I’m talking RAPE & REVENGE! If the massive amounts of sexual sadism, torture, humiliation, and suffering contained within start to overwhelm you, just repeat to yourself – “It’s only a movie…only a movie…only a movie…”

 

LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)

Seventeen year old Mari Collingwood is dying. But for her the worst is yet to come! It all started when Mari and her fast living pal Phyllis took a trip to the big city to see a Bloodlust concert, eat some ice cream, and score on some good grass. Unfortunately for the girls they fall into the clutches of a quartet of psychotics, comprised of escaped convict and murderer Krug Stillo (David Hess), the sadistic Fred “Weasel” Padowski, Krug’s dimwitted heroin addict son Junior Stillo, and the gang’s feral female fucktoy – Sadie.

The four psychos spend the night assaulting Phyllis inside their hotel room hideout and the next morning sneak the two girls into the trunk of their getaway car and head off to the country to escape the law and have some more fun. Along the way the car breaks down, and the girls are able to briefly escape. To Mari’s shock she realizes that she is literally right in front of her house! Unable to go inside where Mari’s parents are nervously waiting for her along with the dimwitted and inept local police, the girls have to run into the nearby woods. Krug and Company give chase and what follows is almost unspeakable horror.

The girls are soon captured, and Krug, Weasel, and Sadie all have a blast engaging the girls in all sorts of humiliating sexual acts. Pants are pissed, and Lesbianism is explored at knife point. Things turn violent as name carving, rape, dismemberment and disembowelment all ensue. Phyllis is gutted and Mari is shot in the head and left to bleed in a pond. After the carnage is over the killers wash the blood off their hands in the same pond and then wander off dazed. The brutality of the crimes seems to even appall the killers.

They wind up back at the Collingwood house, and incredibly enough become the Collingwood’s house guests for the evening! (a bit of a stretch to say the least!) As the thugs help themselves to heaping helpings of spaghetti and wine, the Collingwood’s discover their guest’s deadly secrets and finally decide to take the law into their own hands. The punishments fit the crimes, as castration, throat slittings, and chainsaw dismemberment are the orders of the day.

Pretty much the definitive “rape & revenge” movie. Also the most brutal. The only other flick that comes close is “I Spit On Your Grave,” but “Last House” came first and is a lot more realistic and influential in my opinion. Wes Craven has called this ultra sick retelling of Bergman’s “Virgin Spring” his “answer to stylized, Hollywood violence.” Hats off to Wes for a job well done. The violence in this film has a sickening realism that few other flicks can touch. There are times it feels like demented documentary footage. The rape scene is the most disgusting I’ve ever seen. Watching flies crawl on Sandra (Mari) Cassell’s face while David Hess is on top of her drooling as he briefly violates her and takes her virginity by force is almost unbearable. AS IT SHOULD BE! Rape isn’t pretty. Neither is this movie.

Watching the parents get their gruesome revenge on the killers is undeniably satisfying, but also forces the moral question if the ends justify the means. The victim’s family becomes as brutal and savage as the killers. It’s an interesting theme that Wes Craven also explored in his follow up film “The Hills Have Eyes.”  The tone of “Last House” is very grim, although it occasionally suffers from failed attempts at wacky humor (the scenes involving the cops and their comic misadventures are real buzz-killers) Another Wes Craven trademark that is established here is his love of bizarre “booby traps.”

I consider LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT to be a fucking must see. It’s one of those crucial exploitation flicks that I think everyone should have to endure at least once in their lifetime. Love it or hate it, this flick is one of the most important and influential flicks in the history of the horror genre and it must be respected. Hats off to MGM for releasing a pair of fantastic dvds of this flick that feature a lot of nice bonus features, including cast interviews and commentary tracks that can be easily found for a reasonable price.

 

 

HITCH HIKE (1977)

Franco Nero (“Enter The Ninja”) and Corrine Clery (“Moonraker”) play Walter & Eve Mancini, an eternally bickering married European couple taking a road trip across the United States. Along the way they stop to see the sights, pound booze, and hate fuck each other inside their camper. Their dysfunctional relationship is put to the ultimate test when they pick up a hitch hiker named Adam (David Hess).

Adam quickly reveals himself to be a pervert, asking Eve if she wants to suck his cock. After Walter pulls the car over to kick his ass, Adam pulls a gun and also reveals himself to be a bank robber on the run. Adam forces the couple to drive him to safety before his double crossed accomplices can catch up to him and the suitcase full of cash. Along the way Walter and Eve try to tip off the police but Adam proves to be a good shot and doesn’t hesitate to blow a large hole in the cop’s head! (great gore effect!) Adam also survives an insane bulldozer showdown with his former partners in crime.

Night falls, and after setting up camp Adam ties up Walter and finally has his way with Eve. Things get extra nasty as Eve seems to get off on it, much to Walter’s disgust. Adam tells Walter “All you have to do is know to touch her…” and seems to be right. Then everyone sits around the camp fire for a while and talks shit to each other. A double cross, and then a triple cross ensue and only one person walks away from a spectacular car crash with the money and their lives.

This is the second film where David Hess would star and command the screen as a violent sexual deviant. “Hitch Hike” is a fantastic little road thriller that was expertly directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile. This film is beautifully shot and tightly edited. David Hess has called this “the most psychological of the three films” and I would have to agree. This isn’t as much exploitation as it is a thriller. There is a lot of dialogue involving relationships between men and women, as well as homosexuality included that is more intelligent than you might expect from a flick like this. The twists and turns along the way will keep you riveted throughout. This flick also has one my favorite endings in genre history.

This is easily the most underrated entry of the “trilogy.” My pal the “Horror Geek” Mike Bracken calls this flick “a lost classic” and I have to agree. Anchor Bay/Blue Underground have both released HITCH HIKE on dvd and it should be easy enough to find. Fans of Franco Nero and David Hess should consider this flick mandatory viewing.

 

 

HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980)

The flick that will make you scream “DO IT TO ME ONCE MORE!” David Hess and Giovanni Lombardo Radice play the dynamic duo of Alex & Ricky: a pair of super swinging NYC psychopaths. Alex is so bad, he even rapes and murders a girl – at the same time mind you – BEFORE the opening credits! I guess the producers didn’t want anyone to forget who David Hess was!

Alex runs a garage and deals in hot cars on the side. Ricky is his loyal, semi-retarded sidekick. One night a rich and good looking young yuppie couple pulls into the garage after hours looking for a quick repair. Ricky fixes the problem while Alex makes chit chat with the chick and ogles her ruthlessly. The couple mentions a small get together taking place at their house later and Alex and Ricky quickly invite themselves along. Once at the party and introduced to the three other guests Alex starts pawing at the girl and Ricky gets his freak on all over the dance floor much to the amusement of the others. (HILARIOUS!)

After a “now you get me, now you don’t” game in the shower, and a crooked card game where the kids try to swindle the mongoloid out of his money, Alex decides that the rich kids are trying to have some fun at their expense and whips out his trusty straight razor. The secluded house on the edge of the park becomes the ideal setting for an orgy of sexual sadism.

Every exploitative element (with the sad exception of Religion, I would have loved an obvious Jew for Hess to hurl abuse at!) is used to its fullest potential. You want multi-racial lesbianism at knife point? You got it. Racism? In spades. Rape? You bet’cha! Well, not so much actual rape as the constant threat, or perhaps promise, of rape. Violence? Oh yeah! Feast your eyes on brutal bloody beatings, razor blade slicing, poolside urination humiliations, and even 9mm castration!

As nasty as this flick sounds (and undoubtedly is) it actually plays out in a lot more entertaining fashion that you might expect. This flick is my favorite of the trilogy because I feel it has a lot more repeat viewing value than the other entries. I can’t get enough of David Hess saying “It’s too late for boogyin’ anyway” or calling the black chick “Roots.” I never tire of hearing that catchy disco theme song or watching Giovanni get down with his bad self as he seduces the always lovely Lorraine De Selle (“Cannibal Ferox!”) with his funky dance moves.

This Italian effort which was directed by the legendary Ruggerio Deodato (“Cannibal Holocaust”) obviously owes a debt to “Last House On The Left,” especially with Hess starring and the title. However, this is no inferior rehash. This flick is a tight thriller with a nifty twist ending. Another interesting aspect of the film is the fact that it mostly takes place within one location. Once we enter the house, we only rarely leave it. It’s to both Deodato’s and Hess’s credit that the film never gets boring.

As I’ve said before, this flick is a personal favorite of mine. I’ve forced many people to watch it over the years and it never fails to entertain. People who might consider “Last House On The Left” too brutal might find this more tolerable. There is a lot of unintentional humor to enjoy here, especially with the music and wardrobe. Lots of nice nudity throughout, and lovers of BUSH will get a hairy eyefull when the lovely leading lady Anne Belle sheds her clothes. Not to mention classic lines like “street fighting you don’t learn watching Telle Savales on tv.” This really is a clas-sick.

You can get HOUSE OF THE EDGE OF THE PARK on dvd, with a slew of bonus features, including a very in-depth interview with David Hess that covers all three films, thanks to the fine fiends at Shriek Show.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

The 70 greatest 70’s horror flicks!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2011 by Brain Hammer

The 70 greatest 70’s horror flicks!!!

In my humble opinion,  the 70’s was the best decade for clas-sick horror and exploitation favorites. This list is comprised of the 70 flicks I think are the best of the decade, arranged by year of release and alphabetical order.

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!! 

 

01. I Drink Your Blood (1970)


 

02. Mark Of The Devil (1970)

03. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1970)

04. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

05. Tombs Of The Blind Dead (1971)

06. Twitch Of The Death Nerve (1971)

07. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972)

 

08. The Gore-Gore Girls (1972)

09. Horror Express (1972)

10. Last House On The Left (1972)

 

11. Raw Meat (1972)

12. Three On A Meathook (1972)

13. Vampire Circus (1972)

14. Vengeance Of The Zombies (1972)

15. Don’t Look In The Basement (1973)

16. Horror Rises From The Tomb (1973)

17. Messiah Of Evil (1973)

 

 

18. Return Of The Evil Dead (1973)

19. The Crazies (1973)

20. The Exorcist (1973)

 

21. The Legend Of Hell House (1973)

22. Black Christmas (1974)

23. Deathdream (1974)

24. Deranged (1974)

 

25. Devil Times Five (1974)

26. Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell (1974)

27. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)

28. Silent Night Bloody Night (1974)

29. The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1974)

30. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

 

31. Deep Red (1975)

32. Jaws (1975)

33. Shivers (1975)

34. The Devil’s Rain (1975)

35. Alice Sweet Alice (1976)

36. Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)

 

37. Carrie (1976)

38. Eaten Alive (1976)

39. Grizzly (1976)

40. Massacre At Central High (1976)

 

41. The Omen (1976)

42. Day Of The Animals (1977)

43. Suspiria (1977)

44. Rabid (1977)

45. Rituals (1977)

46. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

 

47. The Sentinel (1977)

48. Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

49. Devil Dog: Hound Of Hell (1978)

50. Faces Of Death (1978)

51. Halloween (1978)

52. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

 

53. Jungle Holocaust (1978)

54. Martin (1978)

55. Piranha (1978)

56. The Toolbox Murders (1978)

 

57. Alien (1979)

58. The Amityville Horror (1979)

59. Beyond The Darkness (1979)

60. Bloodeaters (1979)

61. The Brood (1979)

62. Cannibal Holocaust (1979)

 

63. The Demon (1979)

64. Driller Killer (1979)

65. Phantasm (1979)

 

66. Salem’s Lot (1979)

67. Savage Weekend (1979)

68. Tourist Trap (1979)

69. When A Stranger Calls (1979)

70. Zombi II (1979)

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Jill Schoelen Jamboree!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Jill Schoelen Jamboree!!!

This latest edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT is dedicated to the one and only Jill Schoelen! Jill is one of the more underrated “scream queens” in my humble opinion. She appeared in a string of memorable horror flicks including Wes Craven’s Chiller (1985), The Stepfather (1987), Curse II: The Bite (1988), Cutting Class (1989), The Phantom Of The Opera (1989), Popcorn (1991), and When A Stranger Calls Back (1993). Jill has two major assets going for her: she is beautiful, and she is a great actress. I want to be classy in writing this little tribute in hopes that Jill might read it, but I have to be honest. She looks like somebody’s sister… somebody’s sister I would like to fuck.

In honor of Jill Schoelen and her legions of fans, I shall now review three of the clas-sicks that she starred in.

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

THE STEPFATHER (1987)

Jill Schoelen plays an adorable young girl named Stephanie who doesn’t care much for her new stepfather, Jerry. Stephanie’s mother assures her that Jerry (Terry O’ Quinn) is a sweet man, and a great provider who wants nothing more than to make a family and get to know her better. Stephanie tries to make the best of the situation, but becomes distrustful of Jerry when she discovers how incredibly possessive and overly protective he is toward his new family. She gets a sneak peek at Jerry’s dark side when she catches him freaking out and smashing things in a fit of uncontrollable rage in the basement.

Stephanie has a very good reason to be afraid of Jerry – he is in fact a psychopath that murdered his first family before altering his appearance, changing his name, and moving to a new town to start over. Jerry will let nothing get in the way of his twisted dream of having the perfect all American family, and kills anyone who raises his ire or acts overly suspicious towards him. When Jerry catches Stephanie kissing a boy on the front porch one night he goes berserk and accuses the boy of trying to rape her. Stephanie’s defiance of his rules shatters his illusions of her perfection and causes him to snap once again and finally decide that he will have to kill the girl and her mother. Daddy’s home… and he’s not very happy.

THE STEPFATHER was loosely based on the real life case of John List, a New Jersey man who killed his entire family and then disappeared for 16 years before finally being captured after he was profiled on an early episode of America’s Most Wanted. This is more of a thriller than a straight up slasher flick, but it still manages to impress with some sudden mood swings and scenes of intense violence. The opening sequence that shows Jerry’s bloodstained former home and the dead bodies of his former wife and kids is fairly gruesome. There’s also a nasty 2X4 bludgeoning that really packs a whollop. Director Joesph Rubin (who also directed another favorite of mine – “Dreamscape”) does a solid job and creates a good balance of suspense, tension, and black humor. He went on to milk this formula for all it was worth far less successfully in his other well known thrillers “Sleeping With The Enemy” and “The Good Son.”

Terry O’ Quinn (“Lost”) is terrific in this flick. His performance as a psycho is so offbeat and convincing, I’m surprised he didn’t go on to be the Anthony Perkins of the nineties. Terry commands the screen from start to finish and displays some truly superior acting skills. His incredible performance in this film ranges from bloodthirsty rampages to an ultra tense dinner scene where he says nothing and yet somehow manages to show his inner rage boiling away using only his eyes. You also get the feeling that his deranged character is really buying into his fantasy of the having the perfect family. It’s chilling stuff, and a good thing too because his performance almost single handedly carries the entire film.

The mother is played by a horrible actress, and the “old step-brother” subplot is a throw away time waster. Jill Schoelen on the other hand turns in a great performance as the sassy and suspicious stepdaughter who eventually has to defend herself and her mother against a maniac hellbent on having a perfect family. While the acting in this flick is a little bit uneven, it never spoils the fun. I consider “The Stepfather” to be one of the very best 80’s pseudo-slashers. Terry O’ Quinn’s amazing performance alone makes this one a must see.

Just in time to cash in on the enivitable, lame remake, the good folks at Shout! Factory released THE STEPFATHER on dvd for the first time in the States. The dvd includes a commentary track with director Joeseph Ruben, and a fantastic retrospective titled The Stepfather Cronicles that features interviews with the director, producers, and writer of the film, and none other than Jill Schoelen herself! This is an essential purchase.

 

 

CUTTING CLASS (1989)

Paula Carson (Jill Schoelen) is a pretty high school cheerleader who gets caught in a lover’s triangle between her troubled basketball superstar bad boy boyfriend Dwight (Brad Pitt, in his first major film role!) and Brian (Donavon Leitch), the disturbed yet sensitive new kid who has just been released from a mental institution after killing his father. Dwight and Brian have a secret history (“Righty tighty, lefty loosey!”) and when Brian shows up offering Paula his hot dog because she had “that look” Dwight explodes with jealousy.

When Paula’s Father (Martin Mull!) goes off for a duck hunting vacation he has an arrow put through his chest by an unseen assailant with a deadly grudge against the bumbling district attorney. Then the killer pursues Paula and eliminates any member of the student body or faculty that gets in the way. The asshole art teacher gets extra crispy inside a 500 degree kiln, the haggard vice principal has her face smashed into a xerox machine, and the flabby gym coach is impaled with an American flag while happily bouncing on a trampoline! A couple of Paula’s friends are snuffed too. Then the killer sets a deadly trap inside a classroom for Paula and the Math teacher to solve or suffer the consequences (SAW stole everything from this movie!). No one said surviving high school would be easy, but Paula didn’t didn’t know someone very close to her would be willing to kill to fit in.

CUTTING CLASS opens with a fantastic scene where Jill fetches the morning paper clad only in her white t-shirt and it’s sexy as hell! You don’t see anything, but she just looks so damn naughty doing it. I love that scene! Pretty much the whole movie consists of men leering at Jill’s character. Every man in the movie (with the exception of her father) checks out her ass and tries to get her in the sack. The art teacher enjoys closely examining her stretching and accommodating young muscles. The flabby gym coach snuggles up close to help her improve her archery technique. Even the fruity high school principal played by the late great Roddy McDowall (“Class Of 1984”) can’t resist her. He even buys Jill a new cheerleading uniform just for the supreme pleasure of seeing her bend over in a short skirt to pick up the package! Jill carries the film as the leading lady with ease, and always looks great doing it. B-movie favorite Brenda James (“Slither”) co-stars and steals the show as the fast living hot blooded redhead cheerleader with no panties and breasts big enough to feed a family of four! WOW!

Then there’s the man himself – Brad Pitt. He plays a tough but tender high school rebel with a penchant for child endangerment (he even wears a red jacket to make it obvious that he is a rebel without a cause!). He gets to display his incredible white boy basketball skills AND unleash a jivey sounding black voice to say “I ain’t got no basketball scholarship!” after blowing his big shot with “the university!” I especially like the scene where Brad assures his girlfriend that he’s bigger than her father “where it matters.” This is truly a debut leading man performance to be proud of.

Brad’s male co-star is the internet favorite Donovan Leitch. Popular with both the guys and the gals (especially the guys), Donovan also appeared in the 1988 remake of “The Blob” (great flick). I got a chuckle out of reading his credit as “featured dancer” in the 1984 urban classic “Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo!” Donovan does a great job as the disturbed young man who rides a bike with rainbow tassels on the handlebars and implores people to “gimme that man talk.” MAN TALK?!?

Director Rospo Pallenberg’s “Cutting Class” was one of the very last gasps of the 80’s slasher craze. And a great flick too. I think it’s criminally underrated and often misunderstood. It’s not so much a mocking parody of a high school slasher flick, but is instead a rather tame high school slasher flick done with a lot of cheesy humor. No surprise, as it was written by Steve Slavkin, who also wrote the beloved tv series “Salute Your Shorts!” There’s no graphic gore, but a fair amount of blood is splattered. The mystery of the the killer’s identity is sort of a joke, or perhaps I just find characters identified as “violent schizophrenics” who have endured hours of shock therapy to be overly suspicious.

Horror fans with a sense of humor and a taste for the gloriously cheesy 80’s should really enjoy this. Lionsgate was kind enough to recently release an unrated version of CUTTING CLASS on dvd. This would make a great addition to any 80’s horror fan’s collection.

 

 

POPCORN (1991)

Jill Schoelen stars as Maggie, a beautiful film student at the University of California who is tormented by recurring nightmares. In her dreams, Maggie watches helplessly as a young girl named Sarah is pursued by a mysterious sword swinging Rasputin lookalike. Maggie is baffled as to what the bizarre dreams could possibly mean and keeps a journal detailing her hazy memories. Maggie is convinced that the nightmares would make a fantastic screenplay, but her mother (Dee Wallace Stone of “The Hills Have Eyes” & “The Howling” fame) is concerned and urges her to put the dreams behind her.

Meanwhile, Maggie’s film class decides to hold a fund raiser. At the urging of their professor (Tony Roberts), the students plan an all night horrorfest in an old abandoned movie theater. Ray Walston (“My Favorite Martian”) makes a brief appearance as a fruity old vaudeville performer who schools the kids on the rich history of the Dreamland theater and gives them access to a large trunk full of vintage William Castle styled film gimmicks. As the kids clean up the theater for the fund raiser (set to a musical montage that gave me “Revenge Of The Nerds” flashbacks) a geek named Toby (Tom Villard, who can play a geek with the best of them) stumbles upon a short film reel titled “The Possessor.”

The kids then watch the disturbing short film, which is eerily similar to Maggie’s nightmares. The title role of The Possessor is played by a deranged hippy filmmaker named Lanyard Gates. Gates was driven over the edge by scathing reviews and composed the film as his ultimate revenge on critics and unappreciative audiences. At the end of the film’s one and only screening, Lanyard Gates proceeded to kill his entire family on stage, with the sole exception of his daughter Sarah. Sarah was saved at the last moment by her Aunt, who shot Gates and then accidentally started a massive fire that killed several innocent people inside the Dreamland theater.

Normally a morbid revelation like this would be enough to scare reasonably intelligent kids away, but this is a horror movie, so the class decides to hold the horrorfest at the theater anyway. The lineup consists of a terrible trio of schlocky sci-fi flicks with titles like “The Stench” & “The Amazing Electrified Man.” A large audience full of overacting idiots in Halloween costumes shows up and quickly packs the theater. The fun is short lived however, as someone in the audience is hellbent on bringing the horrors of The Possessor back to life.

The seemingly harmless props that the kids were planning on scaring the audience with are turned into deadly weapons, and unfortunate victims are impaled, gassed, and electrocuted. But who is this maniac? Could it be Lanyard Gates back from the dead? Or is it someone who has been possessed by The Possessor and is compelled to finish to his life’s work? Maggie and her dimwitted and accident prone love interest try to solve the mystery and eventually uncover a madman with a penchant for disguises and a thirst for revenge.

POPCORN was written and partially directed by the one and only Alan Ormsby (“Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”). Alan quit the picture after just three weeks of shooting and took his name off the film. The screenplay is credited to Ormsby’s pseudonym Ted Hackett (Hack it!). This was a notoriously troubled production. Jill Schoelen replaced the original lead actress shortly after the film begin shooting. The title “Popcorn” originally referred to an element in the story that was later removed and never shot. Regardless, the producers decided to keep the title, which does make sense considering the bulk of the film takes place in a movie theater.

The always underrated Alan Ormsby deserves a lot of credit for being one of the first people to pay tribute to the classic horror flicks of the 50’s and for turning the slasher film on its ear by neatly parodying the genre. Unlike a lot of modern horror flicks that attempt to do the same thing, you never get the feeling that he is completely taking the piss out of the genre. This is a loving tribute, done with hearts in the right place. “Popcorn” isn’t particularly gory but it makes up for a lack of blood with tons of energy and a mounting sense of dread and intensity. There are some very nice performances along the way from Jill Schoelen and Tom Villard. Jill is cute as a button and the always offbeat Villard pretty much steals the show.

Sadly, when it was first released in 1991, POPCORN came and went with the force and stench of a stale popcorn fart. The early 90’s were a shitty time for horror flicks and so-called fans that were burnt out on the genre turned their noses up at this one. Since then, the film had repeatedly played on cable and gone on to be something of a cult favorite. Elite Entertainment released “Popcorn” on dvd a few years back. The print is a bit murky looking, and there’s not much in the way of bonus features. The highlight of the disc is a collection of tv spots that include a funny parody of those “I’m going to Disneyland” commercials. After watching these ads the film’s tag line BUY A BAG, GO HOME IN A BOX will be permanently tattooed into your brain.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!