No One Rests In Peace!!!

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!!!

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3 Responses to “No One Rests In Peace!!!”

  1. SUPERSTITION kicks ass. Never heard of this movie until the winter of 2008, a particualar bad winter for me personally, but I was glad to find this little gem.

  2. That’s pretty much what it was for me, too. I had bought another DVD from Anchor Bay, can’t remember which, and the SUPERSTITION trailer was on it. Never heard of it either, so, I watched it, and thought, fuck, that actually looks good. So, I ordered it and never regreted it.

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