Archive for July, 2011

All Hail the Godfather Of Gore!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 15, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This bloodsoaked batch of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT highlights the three notorious horror films that comprise the infamous H.G. Lewis “Blood” trilogy: “Blood Feast,” “Two Thousand Maniacs,” and “Color Me Blood Red!” These pioneering efforts are personal favorites of mine, and should be considered mandatory viewing for all splatter flick fans.

In honor of the “Godfather of Gore” himself, Hershell Gordon Lewis – LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

BLOOD FEAST (1963)

A twisted caterer named Fuad Ramses goes on a brutal killing rampage in an bizarre effort to bring the Egyptian goddess Shitar back to life. Ramses frequently indulges in the wholesale slaughter and mutilation of nubile young girls, and collects their freshly removed body parts for use in the creation of the forbidden feast of the golden goddess. A blood feast, if you will. Police investigate, but are dumbfounded by the lack of physical evidence or motive.

Meanwhile, a trendy and dimwitted aging socialite wanders into Ramses’ shop. Fuad uses his hypnotic powers of persuasion to convince her to allow him to cater her daughter’s upcoming birthday bash. The Friedmont family thinks this Egyptian feast will be the social event of the season. Little do they know that the crazy caterer intends on serving up a weird and grisly ancient rite – in blood color!

The one that started it all. They don’t call legendary writer/director Herschell Gordon Lewis “The Godfather Of GORE” for nothing. Lewis, along with his producer and partner in crime David F. Friedman paved the way for all splatter flicks to follow by being the very first to use hardcore blood and gore as an exploitive element. Armed with a fifteen page script, a small cast of rather inept amateur actors, a shooting schedule of seven days, and less than $25,000 for a total budget, the dynamic duo created an instant genre classic. A truly outrageous little film that was a big success.

The ads screamed “Nothing So Appalling In The Annals Of Horror!” and they weren’t lying. Audiences were shocked in their seats, wide eyed and open mouthed as they soaked in the sights. Even the most jaded drive in flick fanatics had to have been blown away by never before seen moments of explicit carnage such as messy eyeball, tongue, and heart removal, or hacksaw dismemberment! It didn’t take Lewis & Friedman long to realize that they had struck gory gold and they quickly used the profits to begin work on a follow up film. A new era of over the top violent exploitation had begun, and the motion picture industry would never be the same.

All of that said, I am obviously incredibly forgiving of this film. I can happily ignore the obvious flaws, such as the horrible acting, slack pacing (it’s amazing how a 67 minute film can DRAG so much!) and the soundtrack consisting solely of drums and sad trumpet farts, and just go along for the wild ride. I refuse to use the term “so bad it’s good” when describing this movie, so instead I’ll say that “Blood Feast” will be much appreciated by fans of bad acting. Many unintentional laughs are provided by the odd, overwrought monologues woodenly delivered by characters such as the smooth talking and forgetful Tony (“I CAN’T REMEMBER!”) and the grieving and melodramatic mother of the girl who had her brains removed by Fuad at the beach. (“SHE’LL NEVER WEAR IT!”) I’m especially fond of the wooden performance of Scott H. Hall as the hard boiled police chief. Pretty much every line Scott gets is a clas-sick. (“This guy’s UNCANNY!”) His closing quip as he admires the crushed remains of the psycho killer is priceless.

Then there’s the one and only Connie Mason. The stunning June 1963 Playmate of the month made a particularly gorgeous leading lady. Sadly, she possessed about as much acting ability as a coffee table, and therefore came across as being about as bright as a box of hammers on camera. Connie manages to steal every scene she’s in, simply by looking so absolutely fuckable. The scenes of Connie and her gal pals lounging around the pool in their bikinis are fantastic. Friedman coughed up $175 for Connie to star in “Blood Feast,” and it was truly money well spent. Having a Playmate in the movie was another major selling point. Connie obviously had a good time making the film, as she agreed to work with Friedman and Lewis again the following year.

This is truly a clas-sick. Without “Blood Feast” there would be no “Bloodsucking Freaks,” no “Basket Case,” no “The Burning.” No matter how primitive the gore effects in “Blood Feast” may seem by Savini standards, there is no denying how shocking and effective they are. It was all way too much for tender hearted theater owners in the 60’s and 70’s to handle, and the film was often butchered down to a brief 58 minute running time. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it would be to try to sit through a viewing with all of the beautiful blood and guts removed.

Fortunately, horror fans of today don’t have to worry about that sort of bullshit. Something Weird Video has released a spectacular dvd of BLOOD FEAST that is 100% uncut and features a treasure trove of special features including a commentary track with H.G. Lewis and David F. Friedman, the trailer, and 44 minutes of rare outtake footage!

 

 

TWO THOUSAND MANIACS (1964)

A small southern town called Pleasant Valley (population: 2000) magically appears “Brigadoon” style every 100 years. The townsfolk of Pleasant Valley were slaughtered by Union troops during the Civil War, and return from the dead with an appetite for revenge. A group of six northern travelers (led by “Blood Feast” survivor Connie Mason) are tricked into taking a detour into Pleasant Valley and wind up as the guests of honor for the big centennial celebration. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting yankees, the southern hospitality hides a secret agenda, and the sweet as pie townsfolk are really hellacious hillbillies crazed for carnage! The two thousand maniacs are preparing a centennial feast of southern fried blood vengeance – and it will be brutal, evil, and ghastly beyond belief!

Fueled by the profits of “Blood Feast,” H.G. Lewis and David F. Friedman returned to Florida for their follow up film. This time around they were armed with a seventy page script, a large cast of rather inept amateur actors, a shooting schedule of two whole weeks, and almost three times as much total budget. The end result was a tongue in cheek gore epic full of nasty murders and lots of down home, good ol’ boy humor. Animal lovers will enjoy the little brat who runs around with a noose looking for a cat to have some fun with, and seeing a man have his limbs removed by horses! Despite the savage subject matter, the pacing and production values are greatly improved, and this is easily one of Lewis’ more polished looking efforts.

“Two Thousand Maniacs” is just as bloody as “Blood Feast.” It features some incredibly over the top murder set pieces, including a bizarre “dunk the clown” styled game where a giant boulder crushes a chick, and a poor bastard that gets rolled down a hill inside a wooden barrel studded with large nails! One of the sickest parts of the movie is the gleeful, wide eyed reactions of the bumpkin butchers as they slice and dice their way through their victims. Some people find this film to be the most disturbing of the trilogy for that reason alone. There’s a really great sequence where a chick has her thumb removed with a knife, and is then dismembered with an axe. The hillbillies’ demented cackling and the huge smiles on their faces as they hack off the poor girl’s limbs for barbecue is what makes this scene a clas-sick.

Arguably just as important to the picture as the plentiful gore, was the absolutely incredible soundtrack. The multi-talented H.G. Lewis wrote the immortal theme song “Rebel Yell: The South’s Gonna Rise Again,” which was performed by the cast and The Pleasant Valley Boys. It is IMPOSSIBLE to watch this movie without that song getting stuck in your head! Other great songs by The Pleasant Valley Boys like “Old Joe Clark” and “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” are featured throughout, ensuring a toe tappin’, blood splattin’ good ol’ time.Yeeeee Hah! The south’s gonna rise again!

This backwoods beauty is Lewis’ personal favorite of his films, and I have to agree. TWO THOUSAND MANIACS is available in a fantastic special edition dvd thanks to the fine folks at Something Weird Video. The bonus features include a commentary track with H.G. Lewis and David F. Friedman, trailers, stills galleries of exploitation art and about 10 minutes of footage of Connie Mason combing her hair!

 

 

COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965)

Adam Sorg is a greasy and bug eyed avant garde artist struggling to sell more paintings. His work is suffering from a profound lack of inspiration (and talent) and he doesn’t know what to do about it. That all changes one day when his girlfriend accidentally cuts herself on a nail and her blood drips onto one of his paintings. Sorg is instantly inspired and begins painting with his blood, which he messily squeezes from cuts in his fingers. His bizarre and bloody finished creation is a huge critical success and Adam is immediately pressured by his agent for a follow up.

It doesn’t take long for Adam’s sliced up fingers to run dry, so he decides to kill his girlfriend for a fresh supply of crimson color. There’s a priceless moment where Adam paints using her severed head as a brush! After he eventually uses up all of her blood he is forced to prowl the beach around his home looking for new victims. He snuffs a pair of prowling paddle boat enthusiasts and then sets his sights on a pretty young girl he believes would make a perfect model for his ultimate blood stained masterpiece.

This fun little flick was promoted as “A Blood Splattered Study In The Macabre,” and it plays more for laughs than “Blood Feast” and “Two Thousand Maniacs.” As expected, it still packs a nasty punch with plenty of bloody intestine removal and squeezing, shotgunned faces, and worm ridden bodies. In the proud tradition of “Blood Feast,” it suffers from bad acting and slack pacing. A lot of the running time is wasted on endless scenes of paddle boats and an incredibly annoying “groovy” teenage couple that talk in jive and wear wacky wigs. These idiots eventually stumble upon the rotting remains of one of Sorg’s victims, which inspires the immortal line: “Holy bananas! It’s a girl’s leg!”

“Color Me Blood Red” marked the last time that director H.G. Lewis and producer David F. Friedman would work together on a project for over forty years! Shortly after finishing the film the two long time friends and business partners had a falling out and went their separate ways. Despite the troubled post production, the finished film was a success. When “Color Me Blood Red” was combined with the already successful double feature of “Blood Feast” and “Two Thousand Maniacs” the infamous BLOOD TRILOGY was born! This triple threat assaulted drive in and grind house audiences for years and never failed to pack them in.

The ever prolific Lewis went on to write, direct, and produce several more films throughout the sixties and early seventies including fan favorites like “The Gruesome Twosome,” “She Devils On Wheels,” ”The Gore Gore Girls,” and “The Wizard Of Gore.” He remains active as a director to this day, and the long awaited “Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat” was released in 2002.

David F. Friedman went on to produce numerous exploitation epics over the years including the cult classic “Blood Freak,” “The Acid Eaters,” and the notorious “Ilsa: She Wolf Of The SS!” Thank you David. You knew how to spend your money! As a lover of sleaze, I salute you! He was also credited as an executive producer for “Blood Feast 2” and the “Two Thousand Maniacs” remake – “2001 Maniacs.”

Like “Blood Feast” and “Two Thousand Maniacs,” COLOR ME BLOOD RED is available on dvd from Something Weird Video. Lots of goodies on this one, including the original trailer and outtake footage. Best of all is the incredible commentary track with H.G. Lewis and David F. Friedman! The two legends talk happily about the film, and their past history. They also go into great detail about the situation that led to their partnership ending shortly after the film was finished. This is a fascinating listen, and makes this dvd even more of an essential purchase for horror fans.

 

All hail the Godfather of Gore! KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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Deranged Insanity!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 14, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! Your old pal Brain Hammer is back from the grave and ready to party! This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT highlights three of my favorite flicks that feature deranged lunatics on senseless, psychotic killing sprees!

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

GIRLS NITE OUT (1984)

This delightful film opens inside an insane asylum. An especially dangerous patient named Dickie Cavanaugh is found hanging in his cell. Two orderlies begin digging a grave for an impromptu burial and wind up getting snuffed and thrown into the grave by an unseen maniac for their efforts. Meanwhile at nearby Dewitt University, it’s time to celebrate as the basketball team wins a big game and earns a spot in the state championships.

A costume party is thrown in honor of the team later that evening. As the kids party down they swap stories about Dickie’s murderous legacy. The fun is short lived, as the team’s token fat slob Pryor picks a fight with Benson the team mascot for flirting with his girlfriend. Pryor rants about “whores taking all they can get” and then storms off. When Benson goes back to his dorm room after the party he is quickly dispatched by the killer, who then swipes his stupid looking bear costume.

The next night, there is a big scavenger hunt sponsored by the campus radio station. The killer sneaks into the radio station and discovers the secret locations where the items are hidden. Armed with this knowledge and a homemade glove full of steak knives (Freddy Krueger eat your heart out!), the killer then sets out to annihilate as many bubble headed co-eds as possible. The goofy looking ghoul possesses a burning hatred for women and loves to call them bitches while ripping their throats out.

As the body count quickly rises, the head of campus security, Mac (Hal Holbrook!) tries to stop the insanity and find the killer. As police and reporters search the campus for clues Mac receives a phone call from the madman, who claims to be Dickie Cavanaugh. When Mac calls the asylum he discovers that Dickie is indeed dead and that his body was claimed by a relative. Mac is convinced that this mysterious relative holds the key to the secret of the killer’s identity. He then races to stop the scavenger hunt and warn the girls that the next time they go to a fancy dress up party they should check who’s going with them.

This is hands down my favorite 80’s slasher flick where a killer in a bear suit runs around snuffing sorority sluts with a big paw full of steak knives and calls them all bitches, sluts, and whores while doing it. Look for a great “phoned in” performance from Hal Holbrook in this baby. He only appears in a few brief scenes (usually sitting down at a desk, talking on the telephone) and yet somehow still receives star billing. The producers must have had photos of him blowing a guy or something. Hal’s chubby son David co-stars. You might remember him as the fat puking slob who gets an arrow in the throat from “Old Chief Wood’nhead” in “Creepshow 2.” Or not.

Die hard fans of “Revenge Of The Nerds” (myself proudly included) will enjoy seeing Julie Montgomery (Betty!) get the dutch oven treatment from her gassy love interest. Another putrid element of the film is the soundtrack, which features stinky moldy oldies like “Hot Town Summer In The City” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy, I Got Love In My Tummy.” Slasher fans should also keep a look out for brief appearances from Carrick Glen, who stole the show a few years earlier with her clas-sick shower scene in “The Burning” and Rutanya Alda, who starred in “Christmas Evil” and“Amityville II: The Possession.”‘

“Girls Nite Out” is a must see, very enjoyable flick for hardcore slasher enthusiasts. Fans of cheesy and sleazy slashers with perverse sexual twists like “Sleepaway Camp” should eat this up. Shriek Show released GIRLS NITE OUT on dvd as part of their “Guilty Pleasures” line of campy cult clas-sicks. The bonus features include an alternate opening credits sequence, a brief interview with Julie Montgomery, and the original theatrical trailer, which I consider to be one of the all time greats.

 

THE NEW KIDS (1985)

Loren (strange name for a dude!) and his hot sister Abby (played by a fresh faced Lori Loughlin from FULL HOUSE!) move across the country to live with their crazy aunt and uncle after their parents are killed by a drunk driver. Their uncle owns and lives in an old beat up amusement park that he dreams about one day getting back into shape and open for big business. In the meanwhile he runs a small gas station in front of the park and can barely make ends meet. Loren immediately feels sorry for his uncle and gives him the majority of his inheritance money. In exchange Loren and Abbey give to live together inside an old piece of shit barn and slave away working at repairing the park and pumping gas, for free! Great deal.

Things go from bad from worse when the new kids meet the local gang of psychotic redneck dog fighters who terrorize both the high school and the town, led by a cocaine fueled (probably on and off camera) James Spader! When Abbey decides not to offer up her pussy to the gang, they decide everyone in the family must suffer accordingly! The new kids quickly learn three things about southern hospitality – blood, sweat, and TERROR!

DAMN!!! I owe my pal DeathSacks a million for turning me on to this masterpiece of slick & glossy 80’s styled teenage revenge, which was directed by Sean S. Cunningham of “Friday The13th” fame! This is now officially one of my favorite flicks of all time. In the genre of high school themed revenge, done with a lot of drama and intensity, it’s easily one of the best I’ve ever seen. It ranks right up there with other classics like “Massacre At Central High” and “Class Of 1984.″ Cunningham has said in numerous reviews that making this movie really “bummed him out.” He describes it as “Walking Tall” in high school, and found both the storyline and the filming of numerous scenes of brutal violence and sexual content to be very disturbing. It must have reminded him of his glorious days on the set of “Last House On The Left!”

“The New Kids” has it all, including but limited to: rednecks with thick southern accents, characters named Joe Bob, dog fighting tips, cocaine in abundance, a sadistic albino (well not quite, but Spader’s hair is pretty damn bleached out), inept and unless police with bad moustaches, Lori Loughlin in skin tight blue jeans and blood stained white cotton panties, brutal bathroom beatdowns, urination humilation, bloody bunny rabbit in the shower pranks, shotgun shenanegans, bumper car hilarity, house of mirrors hijinks, decapitation via roller coaster, accidental electrocution, pitbull throat ripping, and fiery face melting! And did I mention the brief yet essential appearence of TOM FUCKING ATKINS as the stern yet lovable father with a heart of gold?!? The opening montage where Tom works out with the kids is pure gold. “Why does it hurt to be tough?” You’ll know the answer to that question after you watch this life affirming motion picture.

Not to mention the lead kid in the movie is a total badass. He’s not your your normal tormented tender teen with feet of clay. This kid takes no shit whatsoever from the bullies and stops at nothing to defend his sister’s honor. He also bankrolls his crazy Uncle’s wild business schemes, breaks into his enemies house at night for a little homoerotic payback at knife point, and even finds the time to fall in love with the sheriff’s hot piece of ass daughter! Now that’s a hero that we can be proud of! As Tom Atkin’s onscreen son I expected no less from him.

A masterpiece in every sense of the word, this flick has earned many repeat viewings in the Hammer household! They really don’t make them like this anymore. Fans of revenge themed flicks and fans of the gloriously cheesy 80’s should consider this a must see flick. THE NEW KIDS is currently available on dvd, and a dvd collection without a copy is piss worthy.

 

INTRUDER (1989)

The night crew at a small supermarket is having a rather shitty night at work. First, head cashier Jennifer’s creepy and violent ex-boyfriend Craig shows up fresh from the joint to confront her at closing time. After she refuses to discuss their past relationship at work, Craig manhandles her and then trades punches with a few of the employees before finally being chased away. After the dimwitted, inept, and elderly local police make a brief and useless appearance, the owners of the store tell the crew that the store is closing for good, and that they will all lose their jobs in a few weeks!

After much bellyaching the night crew eventually gets back to the evening’s work. Immediately afterward, their young lives are quickly cashed in express lane style by an unseen intruder who has somehow made his way into the store. One by one, the night crew are brutally slaughtered until only Jennifer is left standing. Jennifer then has to band together with the last person she wants to see in order to stay alive and survive the wraith of a deranged lunatic who is just crazy about the store. Can Jennifer survive the final check out?

“Intruder” has to be considered one of the most brutal slasher flicks ever made! The special effects in this flick by KNB are the stuff of legend for gorehounds. I’m talking really nasty splatter, with completely over the top death scenes involving meat hooks, ban saws, and cardboard bailers! I worked at a grocery store for years and found these work hazard related death scenes to be very satisfying! These hardcore gore effects are the film’s biggest asset. The first 40 minutes or so of this flick are sort of boring, but as soon as the blood starts flowing the fun doesn’t stop until the credits roll.

There’s also an abundance of wacky characters (the guy who plays Bub is fucking hilarious) and inventive and sometimes goofy camera work. This especially fun slasher flick was written and directed by Scott Spiegel, who also co-wrote “Evil Dead 2.” Scott did a great job in his directorial debut. One of my favorite parts of the movie is a hilarious shot that gives us the point of view of a telephone.

Interestingly enough, “Intruder” was co-written by Lawrence Bender who went on to produce “Pulp Fiction” as well as numerous other Hollywood blockbusters. Fans of the “Evil Dead” series should love this flick as it features both Sam & Ted Raimi as body count fodder and a special guest appearance from Lawrence Bender and Bruce “groovy” Campbell! Hardcore 80’s slasher fans will no doubt enjoy seeing the one and only Renee Estevez (“Sleepaway Camp II”) in a short lived supporting role.

“Intruder” is a very well made and original horror flick, and a must see for all fans of gory slashers. It amazes me that this flick is not more well known. The micro-budget (only about $1000!) and lack of distribution quickly ushered this one into semi obscurity. When originally released on home video in the dying days of the 80’s slasher craze, the film was severely edited to earn an R rating. I think that may have something to do with why the film was overlooked. The few horror fans that bothered to rent this one were probably sorely disappointed by the lack of gore and told their friends to avoid it.

Like any clas-sick horror flick, this needs to be seen UNCUT to be fully appreciated. The fine folks at Wizard Entertainment returned from the grave a few years ago and released a fully uncut dvd of INTRUDER. The image quality isn’t perfect, but the film is uncut and all the glorious death scenes are fully intact. Fans of gory slasher flicks need to see this one!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

 

Stab! Hack! Slash! Kill!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a terrible trio of often overlooked old school slasher flicks that sadly don’t get the attention or respect that they deserve. You’ll pray for day, and you’ll never eat shish kebab again!

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

TERROR TRAIN (1980)

Jamie Lee Curtis of “Halloween” & “Prom Night” fame stars as Alana Maxwell, a young college girl who gets mixed up in a mean spirited New Years Eve prank. A dorky pre-med pledge named Kenny is set up for a dream date with the cock teasing Alana and falls for the old bait and switch winding up in bed with a corpse instead. The shock of it all drives Kenny completely insane and he absentmindedly twirls around in his tighty whities, screaming like a fruit as a result.

We then flash forward three years and find the very same medical students who masterminded the prank throwing a big New Year’s bash in anticipation of their final semester before graduation. They plan the party of the year – a large costume party aboard a small excursion train complete with a horrible disco-rock band and a fruity magician (played by real life fruity magician David Copperfield) with a blonde bimbo assistant. Alana is now dating Mo, one of the leaders of the gang. Alana gets pissed when she finds out that the party was really the idea of Doc, Mo’s mean spirited and most likely homo best buddy. After arguing for a while the couple makes up, but Mo seems interested in fucking the other chicks on board or perhaps Doc.

As the party goers boogie down and enjoy the evening, a masked killer with a serious grudge crashes the party and proceeds to snuff anyone who crosses his path. This psycho understands the advantages of frequently switching his disguises and moves throughout the train undetected. One by one the idiot med students and their bimbo girlfriends have deadly encounters with the silent madman. Further ingenuity is displayed by the killer as he moves corpses to further confuse his potential victims. The conductor finds a bloody corpse in a bathroom, but later discovers it missing. After a few more corpses are discovered, including Mo’s, the train is brought to a screeching halt and the kids are all forced outside into the cold.

The train crew search for the killer and the kids remove their disguises for a roll call where Alana & Doc are revealed as missing. The now frantic Doc has Alana stashed inside one of the train’s compartments and they quickly decide that the killer must be Kenny. While leafing through their old yearbooks they discover that Kenny always wanted to be a magician. Kenny shows up to snuff Doc which gives Alana a chance to warn the conductor, telling him that the killer must be the fruity magician. The conductor gathers all of the kids into one section of the train as the crew searches for the magician and Alana is left by herself in a cabin. The killer quickly makes his presence known, sporting an especially creepy looking mask and carrying an axe. Alana is forced to run for her life, and when cornered has to resort to some serious shovel swinging to stay alive.

Canadians have a real knack for making extremely potent, claustrophobic, and violent slasher films and in this case director Roger Spottiswoode proves to be no exception. Expertly made on a low budget and shot completely on an actual train in just a little over three weeks, this flick packs plenty of thrills and some nice nail biting tension along the way. Having John Alcott of “A Clockwork Orange” & “The Shining” doing the cinematography was another big plus. This one is considerably more stylish and colorful than most of its contemporaries. The end sequence where the killer stalks final girl, Jamie Lee Curtis throughout the train is one of the best scenes like that you’ll ever see.

TERROR TRAIN proves that when done right, a clas-sick slasher flick could delivers just as many thrills and twists and turns as a more conventional horror flick. Why this flick isn’t more well known or frequently mentioned is beyond me. I would have to assume it’s a victim of numbers, coming out during the golden age of the slasher flicks when they were flooding the market. This one often gets overlooked or sometimes dismissed by horror fans for being rather tame in the gore department, but I consider it to be a superior slasher that deserves a much larger audience.

 

 

HELL NIGHT (1981)

A very cool opening shot of a chick screaming pulls back to reveal a wet t shirt contest and a rowdy looking fraternity party already in full swing. Welcome to hell night, an annual tradition where groups of pledges rush the college fraternities and sororities. Wacky pranks and wild stunts are always the order of the evening, and this year a fresh faced foursome, including Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”) and Peter Barton (“Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter”) find themselves facing the grueling gauntlet of Garth Manor. The manor was the site of a brutal massacre twelve years before when according to legend, Raymond Garth murdered his deformed wife and mongoloid children in an act of frustration over never being able to have a normal family and then killed himself.

The obnoxious head of the frat house thinks the isolated and long abandoned mansion would make the perfect location for a night of hell night hilarity and rigs up several elaborate pranks throughout the manor including hidden speakers, doors that can open and close themselves, and three dimensional ghosts. The incredibly small and inexplicably coed pledge group consisting of two young couples are then ushered into the house and locked in for the evening, trapped behind the manor’s large and razor sharp iron wrought gates. A trio of pranksters including the fraternity head sneak in via the mansion’s elaborate underground tunnels to ensure that the four pledges won’t get a moments rest.

In the middle of all this hilarity we discover that Raymond Garth is still very much alive and very pissed off! Ray doesn’t appreciate snot nosed punks breaking into his home and viciously stalks and slashes his way through the pledges and frat brothers with swift decapitations, neck snappings and impalements. Vincent Van Patten (“How’s Your News?”) plays one of the smarter pledges who knows enough to try to escape and manages to scale the deadly fence to go for help. Thinking it’s just another hell night prank the cops don’t believe him, so in desperation he steals a shotgun and goes back to the manor to save the day.

Vince manages to take care of Mr. Garth, but is then killed in retribution by the youngest surviving Garth family member – Andrew. Andrew then sets his sights on Linda & Peter and a lengthy game of cat & mouse begins as the kids make their way through the cobweb and corpse filled basement, run through the massive hedge maze, hole up inside a bedroom for a while, and finally try to climb out of a window. Pretty boy Peter is then thrown to his death by the monster and Linda is left to fend for herself. Can she survive hell night? Only if she prays for day.

“Hell Night” was produced by Irwin Yablans, who had previously struck slasher gold with “Halloween” and was directed by Tom DeSimone, who had previously worked on gay porno flicks and went on to helm the Sybil Danning/Wendy O Williams clas-sick “Reform School Girls!” It was written by Randy Feldman, who labored for another eight years on his next writing effort – the legendary masterpiece “Tango & Cash.” All three of these creative geniuses collaborated on “Hell Night,” and the end result is a rather restrained, yet beautifully shot and composed slasher film that successfully incorporates classic gothic horror and schlocky “old dark house” elements.

Unlike a lot of horror flicks of the same era, this one focuses more on atmosphere and scares than blood and guts. The murder scenes are all convincingly brutal, yet quickly edited for maximum impact with minimum gore. You don’t see a lot, but you see enough. The on-screen violence is relatively brief and there is also a disappointing lack of gratuitous nudity, but this one still satisfies in a big way. Anchor Bay released a very nice looking dvd of HELL NIGHT that includes goodies like the original trailer and a commentary track with the director, producers, and Linda Blair. A must have for slasher fans.

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)

Virgina is a promising student at an exclusive private school. Despite a troubled background, she even belongs to an obnoxious clique of snobby kids that consider themselves to be the cream of the school’s crop. Shortly before her 18th birthday her friends start turning up dead. To make things even more confusing (and trust me, things get very confusing!) Virgina still suffers from blackouts after a car accident she survived a year prior that took her mother’s life.

The bizarre blackouts seem to coincide with the violent murders, and Virgina begins to fear that she might be the killer. John will never eat shish kebab again. Steven will never ride a motorcycle again. Greg will never lift weights again. At the rate they are going there will be no left for Virgina’s party…alive. The pieces of the puzzle come together at Virgina’s birthday bash, which very quickly becomes the bloodiest party of the year!

“Happy Birthday To Me” is an exceptionally well done Canadian horror flick made by director J. Lee Thompson (“10 To Midnight”) and John Saxton right at the fevered peak of the slasher genre. This flick’s memorable ad campaign promised slasher fans “six of the most of the most bizarre murders you will ever see” and unlike a lot of other exploitation flicks of the era, this one makes good on its promise. The death scenes are all very inventive (and brutal!) and tightly edited for maximum impact. The “shish kebab” and “motorcycle” death scenes in particular are the stuff of legend for slasher enthusiasts. There are some DEADLY car stunts on display too. The sequences where the rich kids fuck around jumping their cars over a large drawbridge are really impressive, especially considering a stuntman broke his leg in the process!

This flick also delivers an above average amount of character development, as well as numerous plot twists that will keep you guessing throughout. “Happy Birthday To Me” is somewhat infamous amongst horror fans for it’s unpredictable twist ending, which comes almost entirely out of left field and makes little sense. It’s actually a dreaded triple twist, and say what you want about that being far fetched, it certainly is neither boring or predictable.

All fans of the slasher genre should consider HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME mandatory viewing. It’s a bit overlong, and can be a bit confusing in places, but it’s a very fun and original horror flick for sure. It also stands up very well to repeat viewings! It’s currently available on dvd from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

No One Rests In Peace!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features yet another terrible trio of truly odd and often overlooked horror flicks from the gory days of the early 80’s horror craze. The victims who died are the lucky ones! Be sure you are REALLY dead…

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

SUPERSTITION (1982)

“Superstition” is a very gory 1982 shocker about a large house that is haunted by the vengeful spirit of a witch who was executed in the backyard pond centuries before. The witch Elondra vows revenge on her persecutors and lives up to her promise over the years by killing anyone who steps foot in the house. This flick begins with a great splattery sequence where a pair of teenaged pranksters scare off a couple necking in a car outside of the house and are then butchered and microwaved by the evil witch for their efforts. This shocking scene sets the tone for the mayhem that follows.

Shortly afterwards a geeky looking minister moves into the house along with a recovering alcoholic reverend, and the reverend’s family which includes his wife, (Lynn Carlin, who starred in Bob Clark’s clas-sick “Deathdream”) his two tasty teenage daughters, and young son. (Billy Jayne aka Billy Jacoby of “Hospital Massacre” and “Nightmares” infamy!) The minister is supposed to be counseling the family but seems more interested in getting the girls in the sack! The clan is immediately put off by the houses’ rather freaky acting caretaker and his even more cracked out mother.

Then things take a turn for the brutal and bizarre as a reverend who visits the house is ripped apart by a flying saw blade! Oddly, no one seems particularly disturbed by this horrific death and moves into the house as planned. It takes a severed arm in the backyard swimming hole to really unnerve the family and get authorities involved.

The film then takes a trip down memory lane, as we are treated to extended scenes of Elondra’s past. Her trial, possession, and execution via drowning are all shown in detail and pulled off very nicely, especially considering the low budget of the film. Things get significantly less interesting when we spend time with the reverend’s family as they argue with each other (“Shut your bitchy mouth!”) and lounge around the aforementioned swimming hole. I do credit director James W. Roberson for his decision to keep the girls in bikinis as much as possible though. Sadly, there’s no nudity or sex but the wholesale slaughter of almost every member of the cast more than makes up for it. But are the victims that died the lucky ones?

This flick is a must for fans of over the top gore. Heads explode in microwaves, people are cut in half, nailed in the head, hung in elevator shafts, crushed in a wine press, ripped apart by a flying saw blade and more! There are lots of creative death scenes to enjoy in this one. The splatter was impressive enough to earn “Superstition” a spot on the infamous “Video Nasty” list in the UK back in the day. It’s also an effective “old dark house” horror that features a genuinely creepy atmosphere with plenty of ghosts and witchcraft. The pacing is slack and the acting is awful, but the movie is well made and still works.

SUPERSTITION is a very cool old school horror flick that deserves a larger audience. I think if this flick had more promotion behind it when it was released on video back in 1985 it would have become more of a cult clas-sick along the lines of “Evil Dead” or “Basket Case.” Anchor Bay released it on dvd a few years ago and it’s still easy to find for cheap.

 

 

MIDNIGHT (1982)

A teenage girl named Nancy runs away from home on Easter weekend after her drunken Stepfather (played by Lawrence Tierney!) attempts to molest her. She leaves in a haste without thinking things through and has little pocket money and no car. In desperation she attempts to hitch hike to California to visit her older sister. After an encounter with another pervert offering her a ride she winds up heading south instead, riding along with a pair of traveling friends headed to Fort Lauderdale in their van.

The pair of freewheelin’ freeloaders are themselves strapped for cash, and have to steal gas and groceries whenever possible. Nancy hesitatingly agrees to help them steal in exchange for a free ride. The trio stop at a small town grocery store and have a good old time loading up their carts before running to the van with the groceries and heading for the hills. The local police give chase and the kids barely manage to escape in the nearby woods. They set up camp for the night and crash after a few hours spent smoking hash and arguing with each other.

The next morning things take a turn for the worse as two racist police officers show up at the camp and confront the kids. The cops wind up being two hicks in disguise and things quickly turn deadly. Soon the girl is the only one left alive and is forced to run for her life. She winds up the captive of a deranged family of blood drinking Satanists that kidnap young girls for slaughter. The clan plans on sacrificing Nancy to their master Satan at (you guessed it) MIDNIGHT, in an effort to bring their long dead mother’s rotting corpse back to life. The family worships their dead mother, who had taught them to kill young “demonic” girls when they were children.

John A. Russo of “Night Of The Living Dead” fame wrote and directed this 1982 film which was based on his original novel of the same name. Russo does a great job here creating a bizarre backwoods horror flick. In addition to the creepy death cult, there’s also a twisted sex abuse subplot and a lot of hamfisted religious overtones. This flick is a lot of trashy fun in the proud old school tradition of grindhouse horror.

Despite a shoestring budget this film features a plentiful amount of bloody mayhem which was provided by none other than Tom Savini! The stabbings, throat slittings, and splashy gunshot wounds on display are all very impressive. This film should also be of interest to Romero fans for featuring John “Martin/Martinez” Amplas in a supporting role. Legendary actor Lawrence Tierney turns in a great sleazy performance as the drunken child molesting police officer turned attempted hero. I just wish we could have seen more of him here. He’s easily the best actor involved in the picture.

MIDNIGHT is a relatively obscure, but very worthwhile horror flick. It’s currently available on a bare bones dvd thanks to Lions Gate. It can be found for cheap and is certainly worth a look for 80’s horror enthusiasts. Fans of clas-sick hicks in the sticks flicks like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Mother’s Day” should appreciate this one.

 

 

MORTUARY (1983)

Good looking Mary Beth McDonough (best known to old farts as Erin from “The Waltons”) stars as a dimwitted teenage girl named Christie who mourns the mysterious death of her father by wondering around at night in her skimpy nightgown. It appears that ever since her Daddy got a bonk on the noggin from an unseen assailant and drowned in the backyard pool that Christie has become a chronic sleepwalker. Christie on the other hand is convinced that her mother (Lynda Day George) is trying to drive her insane. Things get even more complicated for the already terminally confused Christie when a lunatic in a black death shroud begins stalking after her with a knife.

In desperation, Christie turns to her blonde doofus boyfriend Greg (a blonde doofus who also starred in “Humongous”) for help. The wacky kids laugh in the face of death and crank up some disco, which causes Christie to exclaim “Hey Boogyman – Let’s Boogie!” Greg keeps himself busy after school stealing tires from a warehouse, stumbling upon a séance being led by non other than Christopher George, and looking for his missing (dead) best friend. The search ends at the roller disco. Need I say more? Needless to say, hilarity and roller-padding ensue. Watch out for the token comic relief fat guy.

Christopher George plays an angry asshole mortician and funeral home owner named Hank Andrews. Hank also owns the warehouse that Greg and his buddy like to steal tires from, and heads up a coven of witches that apparently includes Christie’s mom. Hank’s son Paul (a fresh faced and already completely insane Bill Paxton!) is a fruity little weirdo who also happens to have a big crush on Christie. Greg thinks Paul is a creep, but Christie has a soft spot for the harmless loser who prances and skips with delight after talking to her. Christie and Greg try to find out what her mother and Hank are really up to, and as the title might have already clued you in – it all ends with a deadly confrontation inside a mortuary…where NO ONE rests in peace!

Christopher George AND Bill Paxton in the same movie?!? Playing a psycho father and son duo no less? This is Brain Hammer approved in a BIG way! Christopher turns in another great, angry and irritable performance. One of the many highlights of the film is Christopher snarling “Get out of here before I embalm you!” at his blonde pretty boy co-star. Speaking of co-stars, Bill Paxton completely steals the show here. His performance is…unique, to say the least. This film is perhaps best known for the short yet sweet moment where Bill shows off his new classical music record and then SKIPS through a graveyard on a quest to put some flowers on his mommy’s grave. It’s such a bizarre little moment in slasher history.

That’s about the only slasher history MORTUARY makes. The rest of the film is somewhat predictable and is hampered by a thin body count. There’s also a bit too much disco in this one for my tastes. Flicks like “Mortuary” and “Prom Night” were probably cutting edge at the time for featuring hot and happening sounds, but now they come off as painfully dated. The “who done it” aspect of the film isn’t exactly riveting either. The cast consists of about six people, and one of them is clearly insane. But somehow I doubt anyone would watch this one for the mystery. Perverts will be happy to know that Mary Beth McDonough gets naked in this movie and has a fuck scene on a bear skin rug. This is a must see flick if you ever had fantasies about plowing Erin Walton’s bean field.

Oddly enough, the trailer and cover art for “Mortuary” are a bit more interesting than the film itself. The trailer for the film included no footage at all from the movie, and instead featured Michael Berryman of “The Hills Have Eyes” legend as a creepy looking gravedigger who gets pulled into a fresh grave by undead hands. The madness was accompanied by one of the all time great ominous voice over narrations:

Before your funeral…Before you are buried…before you are covered with the last shovelful of dirt…Be sure you are REALLY dead!”

Sadly, MORTUARY has never had a dvd release in the states. The title is now permanently confused with the unrelated Tobe Hooper film of the same name which sucked. A while ago there was a dvd release of the Wings Hauser zombie epic “Mutant” that included the trailer for “Mortuary.” This gave me hope that the film would finally get a dvd release, but it never happened. Someone should really put a out a special edition dvd of this one. It would make a fitting tribute to the last film that Christopher George completed before his untimely death. Get Bill Paxton to do the commentary track and you’ve got a winner!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

The Ninja Trilogy!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2011 by Brain Hammer

In honor of “the black ninja” Sho Kusugi – this edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT highlights the clas-sick 80’s action flicks that comprise “the ninja trilogy”“Enter The Ninja,” “Revenge Of The Ninja,” and “Ninja III: The Domination!” These ass kickers all feature double digit body counts and an unbelievable assortment of violent and creative deaths via various deadly ninja weapons! “Don’t fuck with the Japanese. They can be very dangerous!”

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

ENTER THE NINJA (1981)

“Enter The Ninja” features international superstar Franco Nero as “Cole,” an American soldier who trains in Japan to become a ninja after his tour of duty is finished. After successfully completing his ninja training Cole travels to the Phillippeans to visit an old army buddy of his – Frank Landers, and his lovely wife Mary Ann. After arriving at the Landers’ plantation Cole is shocked to find his once proud and vibrant friend to be a mere shell of his former self.

Frank is now losing a battle with the bottle and is also battling a ruthless land developer named Mr.Venarius (Christopher George!) who is determined to purchase the plantation. Frank is reduced to a drunken, frequently napping leader of a cockfighting ring (genuine cockfighting footage is used throughout, sure to delight animal lovers!) and in desperation asked his old pal Cole to visit, hoping he could help even the odds against Venarius.

At first Cole and Frank have a few laughs fighting off the multitude of thugs hired by Venarius in an effort to strong arm into Frank into selling his land. But all is not well in the Landers household as Frank is still neglecting his hot piece of ass wife in favor of heavy boozing. In frustration she turns to Cole and he obligingly offers her a ninja mustache ride! Just as the tension in the house is about to reach its breaking point the shit really hits the fan when Venarius finally wises up and hires a ninja of his own to deal with the Landers and Cole.

Sho Kusugi makes his memorable debut as the black ninja, this time going by the character name Hasegawa. The evil Hasegawa has a blast setting the plantation on fire and randomly kicking workers in the face as they run around screaming. (GREAT SCENE!) He then snuffs Frank and takes Mary Ann hostage. This sets up the final showdown between the white and black ninjas. Hasegawa and Cole are enemies with a rivalry that goes back to their ninja training in Japan. With the blood of his best friend on his hands, Cole agrees to a final battle to the death with Hasegawa.

This flick marked Sho Kusugi’s debut in a big budget, internationally released action film. Sho also choreographed the numerous ninja fight scenes which are quite impressive. This typically cheesy Golan Globus production was written by Sharon Stone’s brother – martial arts expert Mike Stone, and was directed by none other than the infamous Menahem Golan himself. More than a few people have poked fun at Franco Nero for his performance in this flick but I think he plays the part very convincingly. His charisma is undeniable and he looks great in his fight scenes. Franco had no martial arts training, so the part of the white ninja was actually played by writer Mike Stone, who did a phenomenal job.

My favorite part of this flick is the appearance of legendary actor Will Hare as Franco’s wisecracking comic relief sidekick “Dollars.” Horror fans should remember Will for his incredible performance as the deranged Grandpa in “Silent Night Deadly Night” who warns little Billy about the dangers of Santy Claus. Will is excellent here too, stealing every scene he is in with his non stop chatter and constant attempts to sell everyone around him porn. Only the coolest ninjas have porno peddling street hustlers as sidekicks!

Fans of the late great Christopher George will love his over the top performance as the scenery chewing Mr.Venarius. Old Chris was on a fucking tear in the early Eighties appearing in one clas-sick genre flick after another. Chris had just finished “Graduation Day” before working on this film and went on to star in “Pieces” the following year! His incredible death scene in “Enter The Ninja” is the stuff of legend and frequently turns up in highlight reels of “the worst scenes ever.”

Despite being a fairly inept production, “Enter The Ninja” became an instant success and helped kick start the “ninja craze” of the early Eighties. Numerous imitations rushed into production as well, and Golan Globus would release a far superior follow up film – “Revenge Of The Ninja,” just a few years later. “Enter The Ninja” is one of the most unintentionally hilarious flicks I’ve ever seen. It’s full of hideous dubbing, jaw droppingly bad performances, and lots of failed attempts at cornball humor. This one is impossible to take seriously, but it never fails to entertain. From start to finish this flick is action packed and a lot of fun. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but it’s a real pisser. WINK!

Sadly there’s been no proper dvd release as of yet. The UK dvd releases are all cut by about 4-5 minutes and this flick has never been released on dvd in the States. I cherish my dvd-r copy of the old school MGM/UA vhs which is 100% uncut with all the glorious neck snapping and cockfighting intact. I demand a special edition two-disc dvd of ENTER THE NINJA with a Franco Nero commentary track and an extensive behind the scenes documentary!

 

 

REVENGE OF THE NINJA (1983)

The black ninja returns! This time around Sho Kusugi plays Cho Osaki, a ninja master who decides to leave Japan after most of his family is slaughtered by rival ninjas. After a brutal massacre that features women and children being slain with arrows and throwing stars, and an epic retaliatory sword fight where Cho chops up the clan of murderous ninjas, Cho accepts the offer from his best friend – an art dealing and gun toting American named Braden- to open an art gallery in Los Angeles. Cho moves to America along with his sole surviving infant son and his mother, who is immediately distrustful of Braden. Viewers can also immediately tell that Braden is untrustworthy because of the creepy and forbidding music that always accompanies the many close ups of his eyes.

We then flash forward about ten years to LA and find Cho’s son Kane grown up and and kicking the ass of every bully that gets in his way. Grandmother is proud of her little ninja but Cho angrily instructs him not to fight. He tells his son that they only train as ninjas to honor their ancestors. He also shows his son that his sacred Katana has been sealed and that he has vowed to never return to that way of life so as to honor Kane’s dead mother. We also get to meet Cho’s eternally pants less and slutty looking love interest Cathy.

Things seems to be going great to Cho and the family, but that all changes when Kane accidentally discovers that Braden has been secretly storing cocaine inside the Japanese dolls in Cho’s art gallery! It turns out that Cathy has been two-timing with Braden all along, and that he is both a drug smuggler AND an evil ninja who uses his ninja powers to snuff the mobsters that double cross him. After things go sour between Braden and a scumbag named Chifano, Braden begins taking out Chifano’s family and business associates one by one. In short order the evil ninja crushes a profane mobster’s chest and head inside a public bathroom, kills a greasy homeless informant with a throwing star (inspiring the very memorable response “What the shit is this?”), and drowns a couple while they fuck in a hot tub.

The police are dumbfounded by the sheer brutality of the crimes and the forces’ Karate instructor Dave Hatcher turns to Cho for help. Cho has no idea his best friend Braden is involved, and decides not to get involved. He quickly changes his mind after he walks in on a group of Chifano’s thugs who are stealing the drug filled dolls from his gallery. A fucking unbelievable battle ensues as Cho fights off the various thugs, led by a tomahawk sporting native American! Cho refuses to let the thieves escape justice but eventually has to give up after being dragged along the pavement for a good long time and having his legs ripped to shreds in the process.

Meanwhile Braden also breaks into the gallery and winds up having a ninja death match with the feisty grandmother. Kane (who has a real knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time) shows up just in time to see Grandma getting a stomach full of Braden’s steel. Braden quickly discovers Kane and tries to kill him too, but Kane is barely able to escape. Kane is later kidnapped by Cathy No Pants after Braden uses his mystical powers of mind control to hypnotize her. Braden then keeps both Cathy and Kane as prisoners as he goes after Chifano for a final bloody payback.

After a busy afternoon spent fighting a gang of multi-racial street thugs all over a jungle gym with his new pal Dave, Cho finally returns home and finds his mother dead. Then Cathy manages to free herself and call at that exact same moment to tell him that it’s Braden who’s responsible and that he is holding herself and Kane as hostages. This final slap in the face is enough to make Cho break the seal on his Katana and unleash 400 years of training in the art of sudden death upon his enemy! “Only a ninja can stop a ninja.” Braden begins an all out assault on the high rise building that Chifano occupies and Cho quickly follows him there.

The two rival ninjas work their way though opposite ends of the building slashing Chifano’s security and a massive body count is stacked up in short order. This ultra violent sequence is my favorite part of the film and features numerous highlights including stomach slashing, groin smashing, eye gouging, tripping on little metal balls and landing into a face full of little metal spikes, hatchets in the head, and machine gun misfires! Somewhere along the way little Kane manages to escape and use his ninja skills to save half naked Cathy and Braden kills best pal Dave with a nifty spring loaded blade! Damn! This all leads to an EPIC showdown on the roof where the two Ninjas have their final confrontation. I don’t want to say much more, but I think it should be obvious from the title that the ninja gets his revenge. Big time.

This was the flick that I watched perhaps more than any other as a kid. Back in the day my older brother gave me a vhs copy dubbed from HBO and I watched it religiously for the next few years. Looking back this is a very crude, violent, and profane film and I have to wonder what in the hell my parents were thinking as I watched this one in the living room over and over again! The body count is staggering and men, women, and children alike are all snuffed. This flick is non stop action and the numerous fight scenes which were again all supervised by Sho Kusugi are all fantastic. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but the final rooftop battle deserves special mention. That scene is really amazing.

The rest of the flick is just as cheesy and inane as “Enter The Ninja,” only with an even more violent urban setting and sleazy vibe. The acting by the cops and the mobsters is all really over the top stuff and sure to be appreciated by cheese lovers. I love the fact that the love interest is never shown in pants. There’s also a mouth watering wet t-shirt scene where she sports a beautiful set of hard nipples that almost poke out young Kane’s eyes! Speaking of Kane, that kid is pretty damn annoying, but nearly as much as he would be in later Sho Kosugi epics like “9 Deaths Of The Ninja.” I really enjoy Sho’s performance in this flick. Very stoic. He carries the film as a leading man really well and this paved the way for most of his ninja follow up flicks.

This essential 80’s action flick was a big hit back in the day and is currently available on dvd. Amazingly enough MGM was wise enough to use the UNCUT version of REVENGE OF THE NINJA that originally aired on HBO on dvd. (this version has more blood than the R rated vhs release) Fans of body count flicks need to see this. This is another one of the clas-sick flicks that warped my mind!

 

 

NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984)

The third and rather disappointing final chapter of the “ninja trilogy” opens with an unbelievable sequence where an evil ninja goes on a killing rampage on a golf course in broad daylight. The cops are quickly called in and the ninja dispatches of several of them too before being fatally wounded during a massive shoot out. Before dying the paid assassin manages to briefly escape the police and possess a sexy young female telephone worker (Lucinda Dickey of “Cheerleader Camp” infamy!) who discovers him nearby.

Once possessed by the ninjas spirit, Christie gains his deadly powers and his desire for revenge against the crooked cops who killed him. Christie then spends her nights killing off the cops and their assorted bimbo girlfriends and her days having sticky V8 covered sex with her hairy shouldered junior detective love interest. (BARF!)

The film is ruthlessly padded with scenes of Christie working out, leading an aerobics class, and dancing in her apartment until Sho Kusugi finally shows up as “Yamada” – a ninja from Japan who comes to America to investigate the death of the evil ninja. It turns out that Yamada and this evil ninja were long time rivals, and that the bastard had taken one of Yamada’s eyes out with a Shuriken in a previous battle. Not fully convinced of his enemy’s death, and knowing the great powers he possessed in life, Yamada discovers that Christie is the one containing the evil spirit and attempts to exorcise the foul demon from her hard body. Once the ninjas demonic spirit is free from Christie it attacks Yamada and a spectacularly stupid special effects filled battle of mystical wonders is unleashed.

Director Sam Firstenberg (who also directed “Revenge Of The Ninja”) was at the helm of this cheaply and quickly put together follow up film. Sadly he couldn’t save this one from sucking. Most of the score is recycled from “Revenge Of The Ninja” and the songs used throughout are all incredibly lame and annoying 80’s pop music. There’s also a ton of continuity errors indicating rush job editing. Lucinda Dickey is easy on the eyes but a rather shitty leading actress. The scenes where she attempts to fight, dance around, or look possessed are all ridiculous, but so is pretty much every other scene in the movie so it doesn’t really matter.

There are lots of unintentional laughs in this one including the sight of a police officer smoking a cigar while shooting at the evil ninja, a “levitating” sword clearly attached to strings, and the luscious mane of back hair on the leading man. Sadly, Sho Kusugi’s talents are almost completely wasted here. For some reason, most of Sho’s back story and the flashback scenes that showed him in action were removed from the film. He doesn’t get nearly enough screen time in this entry, although he does his best to salvage the last twenty or so minutes of the film. The final battle between the two ninjas is easily the best part of the film, and it’s too bad the rest of the film couldn’t have been more in that vein instead of wasting so much time with the girl.

Despite my (many) criticisms, I also think NINJA III: THE DOMINATION is a highly entertaining little piece of 80’s trash. This one is definitely a cult clas-sick that is very popular with fans of “so bad they’re good” flicks. Sadly, this one has never had a dvd release either. Hopefully the rumors of “ The Return Of The Ninja” will come to pass and all three of these flicks will get a re-release or perhaps a box set!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Summer Camp Slaughter!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This RED HOT edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features three of the all time greatest summer camp slasher flicks from the 80’s that don’t have the words “Friday The 13th” in the title! It’s going to be a sizzling Summer Camp Slaughter!

Meet me by the waterfront, after the social…and LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

THE BURNING (1981)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After several years of having this one tucked up their ass, MGM went the extra mile with this dvd release. First of all, they were wise enough to present the UNCUT version of THE BURNING with all of the juicy splatter intact. The dvd features beautiful picture quality and is much clearer looking than any previous release. Best of all, we get several brand new bonus features – including a 17 minute Tom Savini special effects featurette entitled “Blood N’ Fire,” a commentary track with director Tony Maylam, a photo gallery, and the theatrical trailer. After years of anticipation, this dvd release wound up being well worth the wait and was my DVD PICK for 2007. No respectable horror collection is complete without a copy!

 

 

MADMAN (1982)

As the opening titles tell us: “It all started during a campfire at North Sea Cottages, a special retreat for gifted children.” An asswipe named TP (get it?) sings a creepy campfire song that scares the children and viewers with how bad it is. Then the resident old fat fuck of the group tells the morbid tale of Madman Marz. Marz was a farmer who once lived in a house next to the camp. He was a big nasty bastard who loved pounding booze and then pounding his wife and children. One night Marz snapped and slaughtered his entire family with an axe. The madman then walked to the local tavern with the bloody axe still in his hand and ordered a beer. A lynch mob captured him and proceeded to hang him from a tree. The next morning his body had mysteriously vanished. The dead bodies of his family also turned up missing.

Legend has it that if you ever dare yell out the name of the Madman in his woods he will come for you. A snot nosed punk named Ricky decides to show off and loudly dares Madman Marz to come and get him. He even has the nerve to throw a rock at the old deserted Marz house, breaking a window in the process. Old man Max jokingly warns Ricky about the consequences of his actions, and then breaks into a speech wishing the kids the best of luck in the future. Everyone laughs this off as good natured fun.

Unfortunately for the campers and counselors, the legend of Madman Marz is nothing to laugh at. Richie finds out the hard way when he hears a noise and follows a dark shadowy figure back to the Marz house. The Madman is alive and on the prowl. He quickly makes chop suey out of the camp cook “Dippy.” The counselors are an annoying group of spaced out and horny weirdos that spend their time lying on the floor all in a row with their heads together having inane conversations, so it’s hard to work up much concern for their safety as the bloodletting begins.

TP eventually discovers that Ricky never came back to camp and goes looking for him. He finds Madman Marz instead and is viciously hung from a tree. Then Marz begins showing his flair for creative decapitations and swiftly beheads an ugly pair of camp counselors. The night of savage death degenerates into a fiery climax that seemingly eliminates the monster once and for all. The survivors cling to the last shreds of their sanity and are forced to accept the fact that MADMAN MARZ IS REAL! They thought they were alone, but deep in the woods lurks a hideous evil. Don’t even whisper his name!

Interestingly enough, MADMAN was originally going to feature the “Cropsy Maniac” as the killer instead of Madman Marz. Writer and director Joe Giannone and his partner in crime Gary Sales wrote an original story based on the infamous upstate New York urban legend. Unbeknownst to them, the Weinstein brothers were also doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. The casting for “Madman” had already begun when Giannone discovered that another film called “The Burning” was being shot and featured Cropsy as the villain. The script had to be immediately changed and the concept of Madman Marz was born. It’s a similar storyline in the proud tradition of a cautionary campfire tale, punctuated with then-cutting edge violent death scenes.

“Madman” came out at a time when similar slasher flicks were flooding the market and manages to stand out from the bunch for possessing the darkest atmosphere, a fantastic score, and one very impressive looking monster. Madman Marz is one of the very coolest 80’s slasher icons, and his death scenes are almost unparalleled in brutality. This flick contains possibly the greatest decapitations and hangings of any slasher flick ever! The effects are very convincing looking and really add to the impact of the film. It also helps that Paul Ehlers is simply amazing in the lead role. When Paul’s wife went into labor he rushed from the set and actually went to the hospital in full Madman Marz makeup. Imagine the terror this must have caused at the hospital!

Fans of George A. Romero’s clas-sick “Dawn Of The Dead” will enjoy seeing Gaylen Ross (appearing here under the name Alexis Dubin) in a steamy hot tub sex scene. Gaylen looks great in this movie and turns in a good performance. The opening scene featuring the haunting ballad of Madman Marz and the telling of his horrifying legend never fails to give me chills. My only real complaint is that I would have enjoyed seeing that little bastard Richie get killed. The fact that none of the bratty rich kids get snuffed is kind of a bummer, but the mind boggling scene where a tiny chick hides inside a refrigerator more than makes up for this. “Madman” has a well deserved cult following, but it also often gets overlooked when 80’s slashers are discussed. I think the incredible death scenes alone make this flick one of the all time greats.

Code Red recently released a very nice looking 30 year anniversary edition dvd of MADMAN. The bonus features include tv spots, the theatrical trailer, a commentary track with Joe Giannone, Gary Sales, and Madman Marz himself Paul Ehlers, and a new featurette: “The Legend Lives: 30 Years of Madman.” There’s no excuse now for not having a copy of the essential summer camp slasher in your collection.

 

 

SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

This legendary film begins with some especially eerie shots of a deserted summer camp accompanied by the distant sounds of children playing. This immediately puts the viewer off balance, which is where they will firmly remain for the next 88 minutes. The madness begins with a seemingly fun and harmless afternoon on a sailboat. A man named John and his two children Angela and Peter enjoy some fun in the sun when they suddenly cross paths with some careless teenagers in a motorboat.

Tragedy strikes when a girl takes the wheel (doesn’t it always?) and the motorboat smashes into the family as they happily bob in the water. The boat kills the father and one of the children, although it isn’t clear who survived. This mystery is solved eight years later when we see that the survivor was Angela (Felissa Rose), and that she now lives with her tough but tender cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and her insane Aunt Martha. Aunt Martha is one of scariest characters in horror history. She gives the kids a goodie bag full of snacks and ties a string around her finger to remember the kid’s permission slips for camp. The nutjob then implores the children not to tell anyone at camp that she had performed the physical needed for admission. No one would understand…even if she is a doctor.

The kids are then shipped off to Camp Arawak. Upon arrival Angela is shy and withdrawn and talks to no one. Ricky runs into his old pal Paul, who excitedly tells him about the massive jugs his ex-girlfriend Judy is sporting. Ricky tries to turn on the charm with Judy but she quickly proves to be a heartless cocktease. She also despises Angela and proceeds to make her life miserable. Angela also refuses to eat, which causes the musclebound main counselor Ronnie to thoughtfully send her along to meet her doom with the perverted head cook Artie. Artie’s mouth waters when he sees the fresh young chicken and he wastes no time attempting to force feed Angela his tubesteak. Ricky catches him in the act and the scared kids run away before anything worse can happen.

Later that day Artie is still steaming from having his cock blocked. He’s also pissed off because his comically oversized pot of water won’t come to a boil. As he fumes over his shortcomings he adds about three pounds of salt into the 200 gallons of water. As the tubby chickenhawk precariously dangles on a tiny footstool a silent assailant makes their deadly presence known. The small person is obviously a child, but manages to push Artie off balance and leave him hanging onto a filmy shelf above the olympic swimming pool of salty molten lava. Artie tries to bribe his attacker with an ice cream sunday, which confirms that the would be killer is a child. The stool is yanked away, causing Artie to tumble and drop the the barrel of toxic waste on top of himself. Artie somehow survives the attack but is very badly burned. The paramedic even remarks that the pain must be incredible. This angers the hideously old and misshapen camp owner Mel and causes him to snap that it must have been an accident. The greedy grandpa decides to cover up the incident to avoid bad press.

Meanwhile, Ricky has his hands full with a pack of meathead jocks that continually torment him and knock his sweet cowboy hat off his head. The goons also have Angela in their sights, and for a couple of laughs they decide to invite her along for a midnight skinny dip. Angela of course says nothing, and stares holes into them. Later that night the boys take the plunge and an idiot named Kenny manages to convince a girl named Leslie to go on a moonlight canoe ride with him. Kenny starts acting like a jackass and both of them wind up in the water. Leslie swims back to shore and for some odd inexplicable reason Kenny decides to swim underneath the tipped over canoe and begin singing a song called “Hey Hey Baba-Re-Bop.” The unseen slayer suddenly strikes again. Kenny is mercifully put out of his misery by drowning.

The next morning a profane lifeguard discovers Kenny’s waterlogged and snake ridden corpse. Police and paramedics are suspicious, especially considering Kenny’s reputation for being “a pretty damned good swimma.” Mel once again interrupts the conversation and swears that the whole thing is an unfortunate accident. The next day Angela is humiliated by Judy in their cabin and then pelted by water balloons by the mean boys. Ricky rushes to Angela’s defense and tells the cocksuckers to stop messing with his cousin. Mel steps in, and the wrinked old dick punishes the boys. He also punishes Ricky for his rotten mouth. The leader of the gang is a blonde doofus named Billy who proudly tells his fellow campers that he has to take a wicked dump and trots off to the shitter to meet his demise. The unseen slasher strikes again, this time armed with a well placed broom and an beehive full of angry bees.

After finding another dead body Mel begins worrying more about the reputation of his camp than the safety of the remaining children. He also begins to suspect that Ricky is the culprit. Things get even more complicated when love enters the picture and Ricky’s good pal Paul falls for Angela in a big way. Paul even manages to almost get to second base with Angela before she freaks out and runs away. The next afternoon Judy gets involved and begins mocking the new couple and coming on to Paul. A bitchy counselor named Meg gets fed up with Angela refusing to swim or shower with the other girls and decides to throw her in the water. Everyone laughs as Angela almost drowns before Ricky can finally break away from the increasingly unstable Mel and once again come to her rescue.

This is where an already off the wall flick goes even further off the rails into crazy town. The bitch counselor Meg has the hots for the rather decrepit and disgusting looking Mel and throws herself at him. The old man then invites the sexy young thing back to his place for a late night meal. Meg then goes off to wash her cootch and get it clean for the elderly man she is planning on having sex with. As Meg showers and hums a catchy little tune that will drive you bananas, the killer shows up to spoil the fun and stick a knife in Meg’s back.

Mel gets old man blue balls waiting for Meg to show up for their hot date and goes looking for her. He discovers her sliced up body in the shower and once and for all goes batshit insane. He shakes his feeble and brittle fists and rows revenge against Ricky for Meg’s murder. As this is happening Angela arranges a late night rendezvous with Paul. These combustible elements combine to create one the most thrilling third acts in horror history. Judy gets what is coming to her in a big way, Mel finds out that looking for Ricky will be a pain in the neck, a cop shows up with a mustache that is clearly made out of black masking tape, and just when you think you’ve seen it all, arguably the greatest shock in the history of horror is revealed at the waterfront…after the social.

Ah, the “Sleepaway Camp” series. These films have gotten me more ass than any other. Every girl that I watched Sleepaway Camp with fell in love with me. I’ve had wild sex while listening to the soundtrack to Sleepaway Camp II. I even had a wacky lesbian aunt named Aunt Martha (RIP). As you can imagine, the “Sleepaway Camp” films have a very special place in my blackened heart. My cousin beat me to the video store back in the day and snared a used copy of “Sleepaway Camp.” We watched that movie dozens of times in high school. I’ve watched it so many times over the years, with so many different people, I’ve lost count. “Sleepaway Camp” is one of the most entertaining movies ever made. A bad time can never be had during a viewing!

Robert Hiltzig is a genius for making a summer camp movie that shows kids being kids: playing pranks on each other and swearing like drunken sailors. The film is ruthlessly padded with softball, but the non stop vulgarities spewing from the mouths of the players during the game makes the scenes hilarious. Who didn’t tell someone to “eat shit and live” after watching this one? Jonathan Tiersten is a riot in this movie. No one call yell out “COCKSUCKERS! PRICKS!” like he can! Even more obscene is the vomit inducing wholesale hatchet slaughter of a gaggle of little kiddies all tucked into their sleeping bags. The over the top violence in this movie has a mean spirited edge that I really enjoy. Not only is “Sleepaway Camp” of one the very best slasher flicks, it is also one of the most brutal revenge movies ever made. The intimate and sexual nature of some the killings, particularly the vulgar deaths on the toilet or featuring curling iron violation are far more lurid than your usual horror and exploitation fare.

“Sleepaway Camp” has it all. The perfect summer camp setting. The spectacular death scenes and make up effects needed to make a gruesome slasher flick. The quirky characters and offbeat performances that make it so unique. An unbelievable performance from Felissa Rose. I think there is no other slasher flick that compares when it comes to sheer unnerving perversion and horror. The film is full of scenes featuring the violent death of children and young adults and it is laced with a lascivious dosage of homoerotic imagery. Sure, there may have been a lot of other horror flicks in the 80’s that took place in summer camps, but only “Sleepaway Camp” had the balls to feature a leering pedophile who expresses his mouth watering love for “baldies!” The ending packs a wallop that never fails to make jaws drop when seeing it for the first time. The ending of the film is iconic. It has to be considered nothing less than the greatest of all time.

A trio of (almost) equally excellent sequels followed and another is in the works. The horrors of Angela and Camp Arawak will never die. The legions of “Sleepaway Camp” fans have kept the series alive for decades and are always thirsty for more. I think I speak for all Happy Campers when I demand the return of Aunt Martha! Robert, seriously bring her back for the sequel!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP is available on dvd from Anchor Bay Entertainment. It’s a nice looking dvd that includes the trailer and a wild commentary track with Robert Hiltzig and Felissa Rose. The only drawback to this release is the fact that the print is missing some footage, including some gory shots that extend the death scenes. Lovers of hot boy ass will mourn the missing shots of the lads going skinny dipping. Hardcore fans that want a totally uncut version of the film should seek out the Legacy Entertainment release instead. Both are easy to find online. Your collection – Sleepaway Camp = garbage.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Lynn Lowry Mania!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 6, 2011 by Brain Hammer

This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features three clas-sick horror flicks that all feature the stunningly beautiful cult film actress Lynn Lowry!

Lynn has a very unique beauty and presence that really makes her stand out amongst the pack of other, more well known genre actresses and “scream queens.” She’s appeared in several films and television shows over the years and is still going strong, but will always be best known to sick fucks such as myself for a terrible trio of her early roles where she played a diseased sex maniac! My kind of girl! In honor of the lovely Lynn Lowry…

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970)

A wandering hippy devil cult’s van breaks down, so they set up shop in a small town which is nearly deserted thanks to the recent construction of a nearby dam. When night falls after a busy day of catching rats to barbecue, the hippies take acid, pledge themselves to master Satan, and proceed to freak the fuck out. One of their mock Satanic rituals degenerates into the rape of a young girl from town who was caught sneaking a peek from the woods. The girl wanders home dazed and drugged, unable to speak.

When her Grandpa, the town veterinarian, figures out what happened he decides to confront the drug infested hippies. They quickly dose Gramps up with LSD and send him packing. Gramps is reduced to an incoherent imbecile who uses salt & pepper shakers for rabbit ears. This infuriates his chubby and feisty Grandson – Pete, who in turn shoots a rabid dog, expertly extracts a blood sample (!) and then injects the rabid dog blood into the hippies’ meat pies! Yes – meat pies! Did I mention that Petey also works in the town bakery?

The hippies are duped by Pete into buying the tainted pies and quickly suffer the brutal effects of hydrophobia after eating them. The rabies combined with the drugs make them homicidal and they turn on each other before wandering around the town infecting others. One of the female hippies with a particularly roaring sex drive winds up getting gang fucked by several of the local construction workers, and they all become infected with rabies as well. The small town becomes overrun with rabid lunatics on a blood crazed killing rampage and the young kids and the owner of the bakery have to fight for their lives.

I am a HUGE fan of this bloodthirsty 1970 effort from director David Durston. As a Satanist, I get a lot of enjoyment out of dialog like “Let it be known brothers and sisters that Satan was an acidhead!” There are lots of great performances from the hippies to enjoy including Bhaskar as “Horace Bones,” the cult leader, Jadine Wong as the deadly Asian beauty “Sue Lin,” and George Patterson as the wild eyed “Rolo.” George does his best to steal the movie and is very convincing as a slobbering axe wielding lunatic. I also have to mention Riley Mills, who plays the pugnacious “Pete.” This kid is absolutely hilarious. Something about the confidence in the way he delivers his dialog, and the way he carries himself really cracks me up. No one could say “Gran-Paw” better than Riley.

The breathtaking Lynn Lowry made her second uncredited on screen appearance (she had previously appeared in a small role in Lloyd Kaufman’s “The Battle Of Love’s Return”) here as the mute hippie who wields a mean electric knife. Lynn gets naked and looks absolutely beautiful here. She says more with her eyes than some actresses could say with a lengthy monologue. It’s a crime that she wasn’t credited here because her role is arguably the most memorable of the film and her image was frequently used in the ads.

This clas-sick Jerry Gross production was a perennial grindhouse and drive-in favorite, almost always paired with “I Eat Your Skin,” which was a rather lame 1964 black & white jungle/zombie effort from director Del “Horror Of Party Beach” Tenney. The one-two punch of I DRINK YOUR BLOOD and I EAT YOUR SKIN looked unbelievably cool on movie posters and was too much for audiences to resist. Fans looking for a bloody good time might have been disappointed however, depending on where they saw the film, as the film was originally rated “X” for violence and the prints were often butchered by theater owners in a lame effort to tone it down. When you see this flick uncut it is full of bloodshed. The splatter is applied by the bucket full in the proud H.G. Lewis tradition and is sure to satisfy gorehounds.

The fine fiends at Grindhouse Releasing put out a beautiful special edition dvd of I DRINK YOUR BLOOD which is completely uncut, beautifully remastered, and includes a wealth of bonus features including director’s commentary, deleted scenes (which include an alternate ending), and interviews with David Durston, Lynn Lowry, and more! It also features a nifty day-glo cover that glows in the dark. Trippy!

 

 

THE CRAZIES (1973)

An experimental biological weapon is accidentally dropped over a small city in Pennsylvania. This deadly virus is code-named “Trixie,” and causes its victims to quickly become incurably insane and/or homicidal. The freshly infected townsfolk begin setting their homes and themselves on fire, hang themselves, and stab each other with sewing needles. The government quickly steps in and attempts to quarantine the town, figure out why all the good people are dying, and most importantly cover up the mess that they created.

The insanity of the situation is escalated when the soldiers begin shooting non-infected citizens who attempt to flee the town in cold blood. The soldiers attempt to coral everyone in town into the high school gymnasium while Army scientists feverishly work at discovering a cure. Meanwhile, a small ragtag group of survivors barely manages to escape into the deserted outskirts of town. After killing a few soldiers the group hides out inside an abandoned house, but Trixie begins to infect them too.

“The Crazies” was George A. Romero’s return to the realms of socially conscious horror after doing two dissimilar films that were both unsuccessful. The pace here is absolutely breakneck, and the editing manages to be both frantic and very precise. George really is amazing when it comes to creating scenes with multiple shots sewn together. This flick is much more violent than Romero’s clas-sick “Night Of The Living Dead,” and features a great deal of splattery goodness. The opening scene is especially chilling, as a man kills his wife and then torches his house while his children helplessly watch. From there ‘The Crazies” definitely lives up to its name with scene after scene of deranged and sometimes depraved insanity.

The cast consists mostly of amateurs, but fans of Romero’s “dead” films will love seeing both Richard France & Richard Liberty chewing up the scenery here. Richard France seems to be building up steam here for his beautiful, blustery, and one-eyed performance in “Dawn Of The Dead.” Richard Liberty on the other hand isn’t quite as cracked out as he was as “Dr. Frankenstein” in “Day Of The Dead,” but he does get to imbibe in a little delirious yet delicious incest with his tasty on-screen daughter, played by none other then Lynn Lowry!

Lynn actually gets some dialog this time around, and turns in another very memorable performance as a lovely young girl infected with the virus. The trio of leading actors on the other hand are all uniformly unappealing, awful, and forgettable. The rest of the supporting cast isn’t that hot either, but the wooden performances are low key and realistic enough to not ruin the film.

This is one of Romero’s more underrated efforts in my opinion. This one doesn’t get mentioned nearly as often as his other horror clas-sicks, which is really too bad. It’s not a perfect film by any means, as it clearly suffers from a low budget, but it’s still a fast paced and entertaining blast. The influence “The Crazies” had on later flicks like “Outbreak” and “28 Days Later” is obvious. The many haunting images of white jump suited solders with machine guns are unforgettable. As usual Romero is right on the money, and his portrayal of how quickly our society could go to hell rings even more true in the post 9/11 world than it originally did in the Vietnam era.

Blue Underground released a spectacular dvd of THE CRAZIES that includes a very fun commentary track with George A. Romero and B.U. head-honcho Bill Lustig, the theatrical trailers and TV spots, poster & still gallery, and best of all: “The Cult Film Legacy Of Lynn Lowry,” which is an excellent interview/retrospective on Lynn’s career that features a lot of insight from her about the films she appeared in…and lots of nudity! This amazing featurette makes this dvd a must own for Lynn Lowry fans. All Romero fans should consider this mandatory viewing as well.

The 2010 remake of “The Crazies” on the other hand should be avoided like “Trixie.”  The sole highlight of the film for me was the all too brief appearance of LYNN LOWRY in a cameo role as a crazy chick on a bicycle. She looked great in the five seconds she’s on camera, and it’s a shame she didn’t get more screen time! Her appearance in this film should technically make it Brain Hammer approved, but the fact that it’s a yet another shitty fucking remake instantly negates this. I’ve seen a lot worse (the Elm Street remake comes to mind), but I’ve also seen a lot better. This is ultimately a very forgettable film, and any comparisons to the original make this remake look pathetic and tame. “The Crazies” (2010) is NOT Brain Hammer approved and should be avoided by all except for the hardcore Lynn Lowry fanatics such as myself that will buy a used copy of the dvd for freeze frame purposes!

 

 

SHIVERS (1975)

The residents of an exclusive high priced high rise apartment building located just outside of Toronto become infected by a strain of quickly multiplying slug-like parasites that turn them into sex crazed lunatics. The deviants then wander around the building trying to fuck everything that moves and infect others in the process. The mild mannered and sexually reserved head of the apartment’s medical clinic attempts to uncover the origins of the parasites and avoid getting infected himself. When he finally realizes that this will be futile he attempts to escape the building along with his hot piece of ass nurse. To the doctor’s horror, he discovers that the entire building has been taken over by the prowling perverts. Think “Night Of The Living Dead,” but with Craigslist creeps with HPV on Ecstasy instead of zombies!

This was legendary director David Cronenberg’s first full length feature, and the debut of his incredible  “venereal horror” genre. The alternate title “They Came From Within” is a much more apt description of what takes place. His brilliant themes of body invasion, degeneration, and evolution which are presented here would also be explored in his later films, such as “Rabid,” The Brood,” “Videodrome,” and “The Fly.” Even though “Shivers” comes off as a lot more primitive than his later efforts, it still possesses that odd uncomfortable quality that all of Cronenberg’s films share.

He is still one of my favorite directors, simply for the fact that you never know what to expect when seeing one of his films for the first time. There are no limits to his imagination. His ability to make viewers unsettled and uncomfortable is uncanny, and is in full effect in his debut effort. This clas-sick film features hardcore perversion aplenty, with incest and forced homosexuality being only a few of the highlights.

Despite an extremely low budget (about $179,000 American) Cronenberg created a very well made film full of inventive special effects and nasty splatter. Special effects wizard Joe Blasco contributes some excellent work as the parasites are vomited out of their victims and latch themselves onto people’s faces requiring bloody plier removal! The slimy parasites also crawl into their female victims’ orifices while they bathe, much to the shock of horror legend Barbara Steele who appears in a small role. (Yet another plot device that was recycled and reused as a “homage” in that overrated and unoriginal flick “Slither”)

In a recurring theme in this round of PFTC, Lynn Lowry turns in the most memorable performance in the film as the cock teasing and uniform removing Nurse Forsyth! The epic and creepy monologue Lynn delivers where she explains to her doctor lover that “old flesh is erotic flesh” and that “even dying is an act of erotism” is definitely the highlight of the film acting-wise. She also looks really good both in and out of her nurse’s uniform! Lynn definitely left her mark on Cronenberg, as she accidentally stabbed him in the shoulder with a fork during filming!

All fans of David Cronenberg need to have this in their collections. When seeking a copy of SHIVERS, be sure to get your wallets ready and look for the 110 minute director’s cut that was offered by Image Entertainment and others. The “R” rated prints under the title “They Came From Within” and “Frissons” are edited and aren’t worth watching. Clas-sicks like this need to be seen fully UNCUT to be fully appreciated!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!