Archive for February, 2012

Alone In The Dark!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2012 by Brain Hammer

They’re out…for blood! Don’t let them find you…

ALONE IN THE DARK (1982)

A quartet of murderous psychopaths escape from a mental institution (run by none other than Donald Pleasence!) during a blackout and soon afterwards lay siege to their doctor’s house. The leader of the pack is the fiercely intense Frank Hawks (played convincingly by the fiercely intense Jack Palance). His second in command is a pyromaniac with delusions of religious grandeur who calls himself Preacher (the late, great Martin Landau). The man muscle is provided by a tubby pedophile named Fatty (who would go on to play the Opera singing “Dynamo” in the Arnold Schwartzenegger epic “The Running Man”), and the fearsome foursome is rounded out by a creep nicknamed “The Bleeder” who likes to hide his face and is prone to violence and sudden nosebleeds.

The psychos have convinced themselves that their new doctor – the seemingly mild mannered Dr. Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz) must have killed the old doctor (who in reality had simply accepted a new job elsewhere) and upon breaking out of the asylum decide that the entire Potter family should suffer accordingly. The same power outage that frees the lunatics from the asylum also turns the nearby town into a madhouse, and the subsequent looting, nuclear power protests, and shitty punk rock gigs make a perfect playground for the psychos. The Potter family find themselves trapped inside their darkened home, slowly infiltrated by madmen who are out for their blood. When the lights go out, the terror begins.

“Alone In The Dark” is an absolute gem of an old school slasher film from writer/director Jack Sholder (Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) and Robert Shaye of New Line. PLEASE do not confuse this flick with the crap Christian Slater/Tara Reid flick of the same name! This one is a must see for fans of Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and Donald Pleasence. Those three legends have a high time (especially Donald, who spends most of his time in the movie smoking grass and spouting some especially over the top dialogue!) chewing up the scenery. Every moment Jack Palance is on screen steals the show, and I think he deserved an Oscar nomination for his performance here. The performances from Dwight Schultz (soon to play a crazy guy himself on The A-Team) as the new doctor, and the rest of his on-screen family are also uniformly excellent. I have to say this is one of the best acted horror movies I’ve seen in recent memory. They really don’t make them like this anymore.

“Alone In The Dark” is not overtly gory, and not lightning quick in terms of pace, but is still well worth the effort regardless. I actually watched the film for the first time in a darkened room and soon found myself totally immersed in the proceedings. There are more than a few tense and uncomfortable moments along the way, and the death scenes, while infrequent compared to the many slasher flicks to immediately follow, are always brutally effective. The scene where the whorish and woodenly acted babysitter is trapped on a mattress while the killer stabs a giant knife up at her from below is incredibly tense and beautifully shot.

This flick is also notable for having the first hockey masked killer in horror history. “The Bleeder” dons the now legendary mask and rips flesh here a few years before Jason Vorhees did the same in “Friday The 13th Part 3.”  That interesting little factoid alone should make this flick more well known in my opinion. Also of note, this seminal horror flick contains a nifty plot device that was later stolen and reused (almost shot for shot) by writer/director Jamie Blanks for his lame post-“Scream” slasher effort “Valentine.” Despite the fact I had actually seen “Valentine” a few times before watching “Alone In The Dark,” I still did not pick up on the “twist” until it was finally revealed. This is another testament to how incredibly well made “Alone In The Dark” is. Even the more well known modern imitators are quickly forgotten once watching the original.

There’s also a wild air of camp to the proceedings. This flick effectively blends wild elements of pitch black humor into its creepy tale of nighttime terror. The end result is a wonderfully deranged little horror film. The hilariously twisted scene where Martin Landau picks up his new hat is a favorite of mine. The pedophile’s “date” and paper folding lessons are especially offbeat and creepy. The bizarre religious themed dream sequence opening and the memorable closing shot of Jack deep in the throes of insane delight both sum up the “fuck the world” attitude of this film a lot better than I can. All horror fans, and fans of clas-sick old school slasher flicks in particular, should consider this one a must see. Years later, I’m kicking myself for not seeking it out sooner.

ALONE IN THE DARK is available in a very nice special edition dvd from Image Entertainment. The bonus features include a commentary track with director Jack Sholder, interviews with stars Carol Levy and The Sick Fucks, the theatrical trailer, and an extensive gallery of rare artwork and lobby cards. Turn off the lights and watch…if you dare!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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Humongous!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2012 by Brain Hammer

HUMONGOUS (1982)

It all began with a brutal rape after a drunken bash in Ontario; doesn’t it always? A young woman named Irma is raped by a sweaty fellow who spits on his dick and promises to give the “old maid” what she has been missing. This evil act is promptly avenged with violent bestial death when a wild pack of security dogs hop a fence and rip the rapist to pieces. Irma seals the bastard’s fate by smashing his skull with a rock, but the seeds of evil were planted deep and a hideous birth is the end result. Irma then hides her deformed monster son on a deserted island protected by the same wild dogs. Dog Island stays deserted over the years because the little monster’s toys were once girls and boys.

Flash forward thirty years: Momma is long since dead, and baby Humongous is now all grown up and free to play. Also playing in the water nearby are a gaggle of teenage imbeciles, including good looking blonde leader Eric and his good natured love interest Sandy. Also along for the boat ride are a geeky chick with glasses named Carla, a hothead with a mullet named Nick, and a chick with huge tits named Donna. The party rages until Nick gets shitfaced and grabs a shotgun. Then a violent power struggle ensues, and a child’s toy boat is lit on fire… at least I think that’s what I just saw. That was a seriously cheap looking effect!

The kids, along with a guy named Bob who showed up earlier to flesh out the body count and provide the back story, wind up washed up on Dog island. Nick goes looking for his missing sister Carla and gets chased around by the last remaining wild dog for his efforts. Things then go from bad to worse when Nick lands in a bear trap and then meets Junior. Donna in the meantime makes great use of her massive tits by using them both as a blueberry basket and a blanket. Eric and Sandy eventually wonder off looking for clues and discover the always conveniently located photo book full of back story, and then the monster’s basement shrine to momma filled with rotting corpses. When they try to warn the others it’s already too late. Massive malformed hands crush skulls like grapes. Necks are swiftly snapped and fresh bodies are stashed away for later consumption. A fiery deathtrap proves useless. It’s loose…it’s angry…and it’s getting hungry!

HUMONGOUS is one of those rare horror flicks that managed to kick ass despite the fact that the VHS print I watched was pitch black and most likely edited. Most of the death scenes occur in murky darkness and what little I could make out seemed trimmed. Despite these fatal flaws, the film is still a kick ass slasher flick with unbeatable atmosphere and violence. Director Paul Lynch had previously struck slasher gold with “Prom Night,” and once again he proves himself very capable of helming a superior slasher. The story is nasty from start to finish, and there is pretty much zero chance any of the kids will survive, which adds to the fun of the film.

The monster is a rather unique slasher killer. His closest living relatives would probably be the deformed freaks in “Hell Night.” “Humongous” is somewhat tame in the blood and guts department, but it’s questionable how much footage was scissored for release. You never get a really good look at the monster: only a few select shots of his deformed face, hands, and body. The monster is not the star of the show here. The focus instead goes to the kids and trying to make them sympathetic body count fodder. It’s something of a suspense thriller occasionally punctuated with slasher violence, but unlike “Prom Night” and the majority of other 80′s slasher flicks, in “Humongous” there is no element of revenge motivating the killings. This is man versus beast in a struggle for survival.

As I mentioned previously, this flick was cursed with an incredibly poor looking home video release. Fans who were lucky enough to see the film the way it was meant to be seen in theaters, or catch it on HBO, must have been especially disappointed to see the pitch black, almost unwatchable home video from Embassy. For many years afterwards this one has been making the rounds on the internet, usually via murky looking, edited prints that were traded and  sold as “uncut.”  I had long been making due with a dvd-r copy that was slightly better looking than the vhs release, but equally edited.

Thankfully, the retards that run Scorpion Releasing finally did something right for a change, and actually managed to put out a nice looking, uncut special edition dvd release of HUMONGOUS in 2011. The bonus features include an interesting commentary track with director Paul Lynch and writer William Gray, an alternate “R” rated version of the opening rape scene (which is the one I was used to watching), and the theatrical trailer. I highly recommend picking up a copy, especially to fans of the film such as myself who might want to “see” it for the first time.

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

The Dorm That Dripped Blood!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2012 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! Today’s lesson in violence is a clas-sick 80′s slasher flick featuring college campus carnage.


THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1982)

With a title like THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, you know you are in for a treat. The dorm the title refers to is 75 year old Morgan Meadows Hall, a former college dormitory that is now condemned and slated for massive renovations. Within the first minute of the movie we see a sweaty, out of sorts fellow running away from something or someone near the dorm. As he cowers in the bushes, an unseen assailant makes their deadly presence known and begins strangling him and hacking away at his hand with a knife. Cue opening credits and some impressively violent sounding violin shrieks.

Once the credits wind down we are introduced to a rather annoying chick named Joanne who is in charge of the dorm’s massive Christmas break shutdown project. Joanne is quickly established as a no-nonsense type of gal as she refuses an offer to go on a skiing vacation with her estranged pseudo-love interest and begins bossing around the small group of students that have offered to help out with the inventory and cleaning. The group gets even smaller when a girl named Debbie (Daphne Zuniga, making her screen debut) announces she has to leave the campus because her grandmother is ill.

The fun begins when Debbie’s parents arrive on campus to pick her up. Dad goes looking for Debbie and gets multiple blows to the head from a spiked bat (!) for his efforts. Then the deranged killer sneaks into Debbie’s parents’ car and strangles her mother with a piece of wire. When Debbie discovers her parents’ freshly dead bodies she faints from the shock. That gives the killer the perfect opportunity to drag her limp body underneath the car and then drive over her, crunching her bones to dust. Then the maniac piles all three corpses into the car and drives away into the night.

The next morning the four remaining students – Joanne, Craig, Patty, and Kirst Noveselic lookalike Brian begin cleaning out the dorm and are bothered by a filthy looking hobo named John Hemmit who apparently lives in one of the empty dorm rooms. The potential body count is fleshed out with a crabby maintenance man named Bill who complains about his missing power drill, and a horny dude named Bobby Lee who shows up to buy some old desks and ogle Joanne. Predictably, Bill the crabby maintenance man is eventually snuffed by the killer with his beloved power drill used as the murder weapon.

The kids prepare a large family styled dinner one evening and the maniac shows up to smash the table and food with a baseball bat while the kids are in the kitchen. The rest of the film is then ruthlessly padded out with numerous scenes of the kids splitting up and wandering around the dorm looking for the ever-elusive John Hemmit. The tedium is punctuated with Brian’s eventual dismemberment and Patty getting dumped into a large vat of boiling water. This leaves Craig and Joanne alone as they hatch a desperate scheme to escape the dorm that dripped blood with their lives.

As the kids attempt to leave they have a violent encounter with John Hemmit, and horny old Bobby Lee makes another appearance that gives the killer a perfect chance to frame someone else for the murders. The bloody mayhem reaches its climax as the madman reveals his true identity and motivations, and unleashes a final outrage that ends the film on a major down note. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say this is one slasher flick where you shouldn’t bother getting too attached to the “final girl.”

“The Dorm That Dripped Blood” is exactly the type of horror flick I had in mind when I originally decided to do these PICKS FROM THE CRYPT reviews. For some reason, this flick is almost always ignored when 80′s slasher flicks are discussed, and if it is mentioned or reviewed it always gets slammed for being boring, too gruesome, and for having a “depressing” ending. That is exactly why I love this flick so much. I think the grim, sickly humorous ending gives this flick a big boost. Not every horror flick needs a happy ending, or a cutesy shot of the killer opening his eyes or walking away to neatly set up a sequel. This is one of the brave few horror flicks that doesn’t give the audience what they might want or expect.

“The Dorm That Dripped Blood” was the end result of three writers and two directors coming together to make a tense and atmospheric slasher. Co-directors and writers Stephen Carpenter & Jeffery Obrow were at the helm when this film was originally shot under the title “Death Dorm.” The title was also changed to the far more generic and misleading “Pranks. “I’m glad they decided to change the title, not only because “The Dorm That Dripped Blood” is infinitely cooler sounding, but also because there is exactly ONE prank on display in the entire film. These are some very straight laced college kids. Hell, they even sleep in separate beds! Sadly, there is very little nudity and no gratuitous sex scenes in this one. Some sorority slut titties would have gone a long way to making this one more of a slasher clas-sick, but the violent deaths, superior score, and morbid climax all add up to make this one stand out from the pack in a big way.

In an age where seemingly every slasher flick ever made gets a big budget Hollywood remake, I’m shocked that this one hasn’t been given the same treatment yet. The title alone makes this flick a perfect candidate for a lame ass “re-imagining.” For years I have been saying I would love to see a remake of The Dorm That Dripped Blood” hit theaters, only so I could finally get a proper dvd release of the original! For a long time there had only been one unauthorized dvd release in the States, and it featured the shabby looking and heavily edited Vipco print of the film. Like any horror flick, this needs to be seen UNCUT to be fully appreciated.

Fortunately, the good folks at Synapse Films recently released an incredible looking blu-ray/dvd combo pack that features a beautifully remastered director’s cut of the film. After owning and watching the R rated Media Home Video VHS of THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD for years, it was a real treat for me to finally get to see the uncut film in all of it’s gory glory. The spike bat and power drill death scenes have been fully restored and they are fucking BRUTAL. Those two death scenes alone would warrant a purchase, but the special features seal the deal. There’s a commentary track with directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter, interviews with composer Christopher Young and make up f/x creator Matthew Mungle, an isolated music track (which is a great bonus, as the score is excellent), and the theatrical trailers. For hardcore fans of the film such as myself, this is a must have. Hats off to Synapse Films for another top notch release. Students of the 80’s slasher craze that haven’t seen this one need to do their homework!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Trip With The Teacher!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2012 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! Brain Hammer is back from the grave and ready to party. It’s time to take a trip.

TRIP WITH THE TEACHER (1975)

A pretty young teacher named Miss Tenny takes four of her sexiest young pieces of jailbait on an ill-advised field trip into the desert. The bus breaks down along the way and Marvin, the mildly retarded bus driver is completely baffled by the situation. The tension quickly reaches a boiling point and a couple of the skanks promptly begin wrestling each other, much to the delight of Marvin (and the viewer!). Then things take a turn for the worse when a trio of bikers show up to “save the day.”

One of the bikers is actually a genuinely nice guy named Jay. We know for a fact that Jay is a genuinely nice guy because we already saw him lend a hand to the other two guys he’s riding with. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the other two guys happen to be a pair of drugged out, psychotic, rape happy bastard brothers named Al & Pete. Al is your standard issue, bad ass David Hess type, played by Zalman King of “The Red Shoe Diaries” infamy. Pete is the classic whimpering and ineffectual sidekick who spends a lot of his time slobbering drunk.

It doesn’t take long before a fight breaks out between Al and the (short) bus driver. Marvin uses his mongoloid strength to knock Al down, but the psychos manage to get the upper hand thanks to a little motorcycle mayhem. Al runs Marvin over with his bike and breaks Marvin’s neck in the process. Pete then freaks the fuck out and in a panic the two brothers take off. The helpless women and tender hearted Jay fiddle around for a while like morons trying to figure out what to do next, and Al & Pete eventually decide to go back to the bus and get their dicks wet before killing everyone.

After making short work of sweet & sensitive Jay, Al & Pete begin having their way with the scantily clad school girls. Miss Tenny watches helplessly as the thugs savage her students. One by one, the girls and their teacher are humiliated, beaten, and raped by the seemingly insatiable brothers. One unlucky gal tries to escape and gets her face pushed into mud until she chokes to death. After many hours of beer fueled bondage and brutality, Jay manages to free himself and tries to convince Miss Tenny and her students to finally fight back. The timid teacher hesitatingly agrees and begins to learn a lesson in revenge.

I really enjoyed this sleazy little 70’s rape & revenge flick from writer/director Earl Barton. The ads for this one screamed “How far should a teacher go to protect her students?” The real question should be, “How  long will a teacher watch her students get cornholed before she finally gets off her ass and tries to stop it?” It’s amazing how much time the teacher spends sitting around watching her students get raped. The thought of defending herself or her students simply never crosses her mind. She never tries to escape either. The girls are all equally dimwitted and miss multiple chances to run away when left alone by the bikers.

The film is largely carried by the performance of Zalman King, who I thought did a great job chewing up the scenery as the lead villain. The teacher and her students on the other hand aren’t quite as interesting, but they all look great, which is all that really matters. This film has an excellent assortment of eye candy. The rape and revenge isn’t quite in the same league as clas-sicks like “Last House On The Left” or “Death Weekend,” but it’s definitely worth a look for sick fucks (myself proudly included!) who crave this sort of thing.

You can find TRIP WITH THE TEACHER on dvd as part of the “Drive-In Cult Classics 8 Movie Collection” from BCI. For less than $10 this set is a steal. It’s also the best looking version of the film available on dvd. BCI uses Crown International’s original prints for their “Drive-In” and “Grindhouse” releases. The version of ‘Trip With The Teacher” included in the “Gorehouse Greats” collection from Mill Creek on the other hand looks like crap. The print used for this transfer is from a foreign source and is all beat up looking. Shop around, and find a BCI release. It’s worth the trip.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!