Don’t Get Caught Alive!!!

Gory greetings! This latest bloodthisty batch of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT is a terrible trio of hardcore horror favorites from 1980 that are often mislabeled as zombie flicks, despite the fact that there are no living dead in any of them. Prepare yourself for a infectious, living nightmare!

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)

International superstar Hugo Stiglitz (“Night of 1,000 Cats”) stars as Dean Miller, a reporter who suffers from nightmares. Miller is given an assignment to interview a top scientist who will be arriving at a nearby airport. Shortly after Miller and his cameraman arrive at the airport an unmarked C-130 Hercules makes an emergency landing. The situation quickly becomes tense when the plane’s crew doesn’t respond to radio communication. Airport security surrounds the plane until the doors finally open and out stumbles the dazed looking scientist. The esteemed man of science suddenly stabs the first person who gets close to him and then a small army of oatmeal faced ass kickers with voracious appetites for bloodshed storm out of the plane and begin an all out assault on everything that lives! Massive carnage ensues with multiple dismemberments, machine gun misfires, and throat slittings.

It appears that a radiation leak has transformed thousands of men into monsters who desperately need blood to restore their own mutating plasma. The hordes of flesh eating, blood drinking ghouls quickly take over the airport and then begin swarming into the city. Dean tries to take the incredible story to the public but is shut down by fascist Army officials General Murchison (Mel “Eaten Alive” Ferrer) and Major Holmes (Francisco “The Tempter” Rabal) who want to keep it under wraps. The unsuspecting public eventually gets an eyeful of the maniacs in action when they crash the live taping of an aerobics program and start gouging as many eyes and ripping as many breasts apart as possible!

Dean manages to escape to the nearby hospital where his wife Anna (Laura “Terror” Trotter) works as a doctor. It doesn’t take very long for the ghouls to make their way to the hospital, and they immediately interrupt open heart surgery – which leads to some jaw dropping moments with scalpel throwing surgeons and intravenous blood drinking lunatics! Dean and Anna fight their way out of the hospital, hide inside a gas station which they promptly have to set on fire to escape, and then shoot their way into an amusement park for a deadly ride on a ferris wheel that leads to the incredible mind fuck ending where the “Nightmare” part of the title finally comes into play.

The key to enjoying this flick is to turn off your brain and never take things too seriously. This flick is about as stupid as an Italian horror flick can get, but it certainly delivers the goods for indiscriminating horror fans looking for a bloody good time. The special effects work from Giuseppe Farranti is somewhat laughable, but it never skimps on the splatter. This one might hold the record for the most scenes of eye gouging and breast mutilation! “Nightmare City” is often mistaken for a zombie flick but there are no living dead in this movie. The ghouls here are not lumbering reanimated corpses, but are instead fast moving living and breathing maniacs with oatmeal all over their faces. And as you might expect from an Umberto Lenzi effort, there’s no shortage of gunfire and gratuitous nudity.

Anchor Bay/Blue Underground released a beautiful dvd of NIGHTMARE CITY that was transferred from the original vault materials and presented completely uncut and uncensored. It includes a few nifty bonus features including the theatrical trailer, an Umberto Lenzi bio, and best of all “Tales Of The Contaminated City” – an all new interview with Umberto Lenzi where he offers his unique perspective on the film. Lenzi complains that Stiglitz was a “wooden” leading man forced upon him by the producers and even ponders the influence “Nightmare City” may have had on the Tom Hanks AIDS epic “Philadelphia!” Hilarious stuff that will make you appreciate the film even more. Highly recommended.

 

 

BLOODEATERS (1980)

“Bloodeaters” starts with a bang as a pair of trigger happy federal agents make their way through a forest and then proceed to blow a nasty hole in the throat of a bathing beauty who was sponging off her bare breasts! The murderous feds are on the trail of a pack of marijuana growers as a part of “Operation Torpedo,” and have been instructed to shoot first and ask questions later. A couple of the weed farmers get the drop on the agents and pay them back with stabbing and strangulation.

The hippies’ nice dreams of a 2 million dollar weed harvest go up in smoke, and after much arguing amongst themselves they decide to cut and run. They make plans for one final harvest, snatching as much smoke as they can in a couple of days and leaving the rest for the rabbits before more feds can catch up to them. Miles away, the pair of ruthless government officials in charge of Operation Torpedo – Briggs and Phillips (John “Martin/Martinez” Amplas!) decide to take the law into their own hands and have the forest sprayed with a very dangerous experimental pesticide called “Dromax.” Briggs hires a greasy alcoholic crop duster who burns more fuel than the plane to do the job, which he promptly does with predictably disastrous results.

The Dromax covers the hippies in the fields as they harvest their crops and makes them violently ill. Only two of the hippies manage to escape the field untouched. Incredibly, they bark orders at their friends to hurry up and get ready to leave despite the fact they’ve obviously been poisoned and are puking blood everywhere! The greasy alcoholic crop duster was also poisoned with Dromax and winds up having a bloody showdown with his rancid hag of a wife. The unfortunate side effect of Dromax is that it turns people and animals into bloodthirsty savages. The two hippies that didn’t get sprayed with Dromax quickly realize this when their former friends finally decide to turn on them and attack them with hatchets!

Here’s where things get interesting. The young unsprayed couple only runs a few feet away before the dude can’t run anymore because of the hatchet wound on his shoulder (?). Then they stop at a stream for a drink of water (?!?) before cowering in some bushes, just waiting to be discovered. Oh yeah, and the girl has to cover the dude’s mouth while they hide so he won’t scream like fucking idiot because of the tiny scratch on his shoulder. You can’t put a price on comedy like this. This stuff is fucking priceless. It doesn’t take long for the bloodeaters to find them and put them out of their misery. Then the butchers of the damned hack up an annoying camping couple and make their children orphans in the process. As their mommy and daddy are being slaughtered, Amy and her retarded brother Jimmy get a taste of nature during a tender piano laden montage of Jimmy playing with frogs and snakes.

As all of this carnage is taking place the forest department’s field manager Tom Cole (played by the film’s late writer/director Charles McCrann) decides to invite his brother Jay up for a bachelor’s fishing weekend. Tom’s incredibly shrill and annoying wife Polly promptly invites herself along for the trip and the three of them happily head off into the woods completely oblivious to what has been happening. It doesn’t take long for Tom, Polly, and Jay to stumble upon Amy and Jimmy. They assume that the kids’ parents are probably out frantically looking for them and offer to drive the kids back to town. Along the way Jay does his best to make the little retard smile with his best Chinaman impressions and Polish jokes. Shortly afterward the bloodeaters show up and bash his head in with a rock (no big loss really).

Tom, Polly, and the kids are forced to run for their lives. In desperation they seek shelter in the shack of a miserable old coot who lives alone deep in the woods. The rifle toting old timer is immediately suspicious of Tom because he works for the government, and when the prowling pot farming lunatics show up bearing torches things quickly turn deadly. Somehow, Tom and the others manage to run away and escape into the night. When dawn finally breaks and the worse seems to be behind them, Briggs and Phillips show up to offer them a ride to safety. At first the agents pretend to help the frantic survivors. Then they reveal their deadly desire to cover up the mess that they made and drive back into the forest of fear for a final bloodbath. They thought they were just killing some weeds!

I’m a big fan of this 1980 low budget horror classic that is often dismissed as a cheap Romero knock off. The alternate title “Toxic Zombies” doesn’t do much to clarify things either. Just like the other flicks in this batch of PICKS, there are no living dead in this movie. The “bloodeaters” are living, breathing humans that have been turned into sick and vicious cannibal killers after being exposed to experimental pesticide.

There’s no gory gut munching on display, but there’s more then a little bit of bloody mayhem as the butchers wield their deadly hatchets and machetes. There’s also a lot of unpleasant extended shots of flies crawling around on bloody wounds. It’s all more than enough to have the film deemed as “sick and nauseous” by some, and “Bloodeaters” was even temporarily banned in the UK as a “video nasty.” Old school fans of USA Network (myself included!) might remember seeing this one a few times back in the day when it was featured on “Commander USA’s Groovy Movies.”

Sadly, this film has slipped into semi-obscurity and is perhaps best known today because the writer/director/and star Charles McCrann lost his life in the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001. It’s a shame that this one doesn’t get mentioned more often, as it is a rather kick ass old school horror flick. I would love to see a proper dvd release of this film, it deserves a much larger audience.

 

 

THE CHILDREN (1980)

An accidental leak at a nuclear power plant causes a thick orange mist to form in the air. A school bus with five cute little kiddies on board has the misfortune of driving through the poison cloud as they pass by the plant. The town sheriff later finds the empty bus still running on the side of the road with no one inside. He then spends the rest of the picture setting up a roadblock with his dimwitted redneck buddies and slowly driving around the countryside, occasionally stopping along the way to ask the pot smoking, weight lifting, fowl poaching townsfolk if they’ve seen or heard anything unusual.

The missing bus driver’s charred remains are later discovered in the town cemetery and they resemble an overdone eggplant parmesan. The caustic radioactive cloud has transformed the children of Ravensback into pint sized atomic predators with deadly black fingernails! Their slightest touch causes flesh to spectacularly sizzle and burn away. The warm embrace of the pale faced children ensures a violent demise, and they happily greet their worried parents with open arms.

The mutant children are also impervious to pain and seemingly indestructible. The Sheriff quickly discovers that bullets won’t stop them and in a moment of inspiration grabs a conveniently located replica samurai sword and hacks off one the little brat’s hands – killing it instantly! Armed with the sword and a hatchet, the sheriff and one of the surviving fathers then head into a barn where the children have congregated for an incredible final flesh ripping showdown with the toxic tots.

I first saw this flick as a wee Brain Hammer and loved it. Watching it again many years later, it doesn’t really hold up that well. The acting is horrible, the budget is clearly microscopic, and there are more than a few boring stretches where nothing happens. Despite those flaws, “The Children” is still a damn entertaining flick that I enjoy immensely. The multiple scenes where the creepy looking kids hug their parents and turn them into barbecue are classics. The splashy dismemberments are always shown in loving detail, and are sure to please gore hounds. Not to mention the sheer hilarity of watching grown men blasting a shotgun at children and hacking off their limbs with a samurai sword!

The script has a few interesting attempts at characterization, and largely portrays the older generation as being self absorbed idiots that pollute the world and ignore their children. Then the children turn into monsters and turn on their parents. The twist ending can be seen a mile away, but never fails to crack me up with repeat viewings. This film is well made, despite it’s obviously modest origins. The score from Harry Manfredini is fantastic and would later be recycled into another little known horror flick Harry worked on that year – “Friday The 13th!”

This clas-sick genre flick used to go for a fortune on ebay until the good folks at Troma put the ruthless profiteers out of business by releasing a dvd of THE CHILDREN that includes a wealth of bonus features. There’s a commentary track with the producer/co-writer Carlton J Albright, several featurettes with the cast, crew, and fans, an introduction from Lloyd Kaufman, and the usual nonsense you’ve come to love and expect from a Troma dvd release. The print quality leaves a lot to be desired (it sometimes looks like someone wiped their ass with the frames!) but otherwise this is a top notch release, and a must have.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

 

 

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