Grindcrusher!!!

Gory greetings! This special edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT is a special tribute to GRINDHOUSE RELEASING, and the late, great Sage Stallone.

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing the man personally, but I have been a huge fan of Grindhouse Releasing since their inception and have made it known – many times, that they have put out some of the coolest horror dvd releases of all time. As a tribute to the hard work of everyone associated with Grindhouse Releasing, I now present my reviews of four of my favorite clas-sick flicks that they have unleashed on dvd!

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 fantastic special edition dvd of I DRINK YOUR BLOOD which is completely uncut, and beautifully remastered. The bonus features include a commentary track with director David Durston and star Bhaskar, four never before seen deleted scenes (which include an alternate ending), interviews with David Durston, Lynn Lowry, Tyde Kierney, and Jack Damon, the theatrical trailer and radio spots, and an extensive gallery of stills and poster art! There’s also “rare and shocking film” of Bhaskar performing “THE EVIL KING COBRA DANCE” and nifty day-glo cover art that glows in the dark. Trippy!!!

 

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)

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

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

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

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

This is the undisputed king of the “cannibal” films. No other flick in this perverse little sub-genre comes close when it comes to unsettling gruesome horror. This flick doesn’t often provide the sort of unintentional laughs you’ll find in “Cannibal Ferox.” Director Ruggero Deodato deserves much credit for helming such an uncompromisingly grim and shocking motion picture. Deodato calls “Cannibal Holocaust” a “clear and straightforward denunciation of the journalistic approach as we know it today,” and if that was his honest intention I’d have to say the film was a success. That doesn’t really explain the seemingly unrelated scene where a native woman is raped and then beat to death with a stone phallus though, or the numerous scenes of animals being slaughtered, but whatever. They don’t call them exploitation flicks for nothing.

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

In the proud tradition of their superior “I Drink Your Blood” dvd, Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski of GRINDHOUSE RELEASING unleashed a devastating two disc deluxe edition of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST that has more bonus features than you can shake a severed limb at! There’s a one hour behind the scenes documentary, a commentary by director Ruggerio Deodato and star Robert Kerman, interviews with the Deodato, Kerman, and Gabriel Yorke, theatrical trailers, extensive still galleries, the Necrophagia music video for “Cannibal Holocaust,” which was directed by Jim Van Bebber, and much more! The most controversial movie ever made belongs in every horror fiend’s collection, and this definitive release is an essential purchase.

 

CANNIBAL FEROX (1981)

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRINDHOUSE RELEASING did another beautiful job with their deluxe uncensored letterboxed edition of CANNIBAL FEROX.  As usual their dvd release includes a slew of bonus features, including commentary from director Umberto Lenzi and star Giovanni Lambardo Radice, an on camera interview with Lenzi shot in Rome exclusively for this special release, the original Italian, German, and US theatrical trailers, and dozens of rare stills, posters, and publicity materials from legendary Times Square historian Bill Landis. No gorehound’s dvd collection is complete without this gem, SHITFACE!!!

 

PIECES (1982)

Boston 1942. A blossoming young pervert named Timmy Reston sits alone in his bedroom putting together a jigsaw puzzle featuring a nude pin up girl. His emotionally unstable mother walks in and catches him red handed. Infuriated, she asks him where the filth came from and slaps around the little brat while demanding answers. She warns the boy that he will end up like his father and proceeds to slam a picture of the man into a mirror. This violent act appears to have a profound effect on the boy. Mrs. Reston sends her son off in search of a plastic bag so she can junk all of his toys. Timmy returns with an axe instead and repeatedly slams it into mommy’s skull! Then the pint sized psychopath removes mommy’s head with a saw! After shutting his mother up for good Timmy goes back to work on his blood splattered puzzle.

A friend of the family becomes concerned when she can’t reach Mrs. Reston and shows up with police. When the cops break in they discover a gruesome sight in the bedroom – enough blood on the floor to ensure that something had been butchered. Then they find Mrs. Reston’s severed head in a closet. Little Timmy is found cowering in another closet, covered in blood and whimpering about a big man that hurt his mommy. We are told that Mr. Reston is overseas in the Air Force and that the murderous little bastard Timmy will be sent to live with an Aunt who lives nearby.

After the opening credits we flash forward forty years to find an unseen killer (who is obviously Timmy Reston all grown up) on the prowl at a large New England university. A bizarre skateboarding accident involving a large pane of glass reminds the madman of his mother smashing the mirror with his father’s picture forty years before and inspires him to go on a brutal killing spree. The unseen slasher stalks after the sexy young students so he can remove their limbs with a chainsaw and use the pieces to create a human version of his prized pin up puzzle! His first victim is a tasty young co-ed that he decapitates with a chainsaw in broad daylight.

Hard boiled police detectives Lt. Bracken (Christopher George of “Grizzly” &“Enter The Ninja” fame!) and Sgt. Holden (Leslie Nielson lookalike Frank Bana, who also appeared in “Return Of The Evil Dead”) are sent in to investigate the murder. They start with the Dean, who seems more concerned about bad publicity than the murder itself. The Dean (Edmund“Don’t Open Til Christmas” Purdom) turns the detectives on to the head of the anatomy department and closet campus queen – Professor Brown. (Jack Taylor, who appeared in numerous Spanish horror epics including “Ghost Galleon” & “Night Of The Sorcerors”) Professor Brown seems to think it might be one of the boys, but Sgt. Holden assures him that at this point the investigation consists of buying clothes without labels and trying them on for size.

Shortly afterwards we are introduced to the campus stud Kendall James. (Ian Sera, who also appeared in “Pod People”) A blonde hardbody sends Kendall an invitation to fuck in the campus swimming pool later. Kendall accepts the invitation of course, but the killer beats him to the pool room and proceeds to net the girl like a large fish and then shear away her limbs with his trusty saw. This time the madman takes the girls’ torso as a souvenir. The temperamental and sneering campus gardener WillArd (unforgettably portrayed by Paul “BLUTO” Smith!) stumbles upon the bloody crime scene and has a wild run in with the cops that ends with Sgt. Holden threatening to BLOW his brains out!

The detectives question Kendall and his nerdy best friend “Goggles” and wind up believing that Kendall had nothing to do with the murder. Lt. Brown even decides to turn to Kendall for help with the investigation. He also arranges for an undercover police officer named Mary Riggs (played by Christopher George’s wife – Lynda Day George, who also starred in “Mortuary” and “Day Of The Animals”) to join the campus faculty as the new female tennis coach.

Meanwhile, the killer decides he needs a pair of arms and decides to relieve a pretty young dance major of hers inside an elevator. Kendall hears her screams of torment and barks out orders to the police officers on the scene. The sight of the limbless girl in the elevator is enough to make a seasoned police officer puke his guts up, but Kendall immediately seizes control of the situation and tells the guy to go call an ambulance! The girl initially survives the attack but dies in the hospital from the massive shock and loss of blood before she can identify the killer. Mary searches for clues and stumbles upon the fucking Kung Fu Professor (Bruce Li!) who attacks her because of something he ate. Bad chop suey maybe.

The mad butcher then sets his sights on the legs of Susie Billings, a sexy young tennis player. The ever resourceful killer sabotages the campus P.A. System so it continuously plays canned intermission music. This makes a perfect cover up for the sound of his chainsaw. While Mary, Kendall, and WillArd are fumbling around with the music the lousy bastard kills her. It’s all enough to make Mary unleash a devastating display of sheer frustration! BASTARD!!!

Lt. Brown turns to Kendall yet again for help and sends him to the record vault with Sgt. Holden to pour over files looking for any reference to the campus staff. Mary goes to a suspects house for an evening for a cup of coffee and a few questions and winds up getting a lot closer to the killer than she bargained for. Just as Mary is drugged and her lovely feet are about to become the final addition to the murderer’s supreme creation, Kendall unearths a clue that reveals the killer’s true identity. Kendall and the cops have to race to stop the killer before he can finish his human jigsaw puzzle. This all culminates with an unbelievable mind blowing genital crushing grand finale that must be seen to be believed!

I have seen this flick more times over the years than I could possibly count. I make everyone I know watch this movie. Whenever I talk to people about horror flicks I always have to mention PIECES. This flick is absolutely hilarious, and manages to get a little funnier every time I watch it. It plays out like a really gory and outrageous version of an Italian Giallo. The unseen, black gloved killer is pure Dario Argento. The soundtrack from Carlo Maria Cordio (aka CAM) is atmospheric and excellent, even if it borrows heavily from Goblin’s score for “Zombi.” ”Pieces” was written by the terrible trio of director Juan Piquer Simon, producer Dick Randall (“Slaughter High”), and the infamous Joe D’Amato. (“Antropophagus”) No wonder this slasher flick is so full of brutal violence and perverse sexual overtones. There’s some tasty nudity to enjoy and even a little something for the ladies when Simon slips in a full frontal shot of Ian Sera. IT STINKS!

There’s more sidesplitting dialog in this howler than any other I can think of. From the cross eyed girl with the HUGE tits that dreamily coos how“the most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed at the same time,” to WillArd proudly proclaiming  he “ain’t getting’ paid by the hour,” to Christopher George imploring his partner to“take some uppers, anything, just get me a lead!” The dubbing and dialog definitely make this work an unintentional comedy.

“Pieces” also works as a slasher flick. Big time. The graphic violence is very nasty and convincing. In the gruesome scene where the killer chainsaws into the abdomen of a girl in the shower a real pig carcass was used which makes the scene very effectively disgusting. From start to finish this flick takes no prisoners. This gory little gem definitely lives up to its’ immortal tag line: “You don’t have to go to Texas to have a chainsaw massacre!”

The fine folks at GRINDHOUSE RELEASING released an amazing 2-disc deluxe edition dvd release of PIECES, which should be considered a must-have for hardcore fans of the film. The special features include an optional Spanish soundtrack with original score by Librado Pastor, in-depth interviews with director Juan Piquer and genre superstar Paul L. Smith, an extensive gallery of stills and poster art, and liner notes from splatter guru Chas. Balun. There is no excuse for not owning this clas-sick 80’s splatterpiece. This is a fucking must see!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

     

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