The Slayer!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2014 by Brain Hammer

She searched through the dark corridors of the unknown only to find…

THE SLAYER (1982)

Kay is a struggling surrealist painter with recurring bad dreams. When she sleeps she has horrifying visions of agonizing death and is chased by a hideous looking murderous monster. Is it a nightmare, or…

Kay’s husband David, who also happens to be her doctor, wakes her from the madness and offers to take her to the next best place to paradise – an island in the middle of nowhere. Kay’s successful director brother Eric, and his actress wife Brooke also come along for the trip. Brooke isn’t excited about spending a week with the always emotionally distraught Kay, but Eric assures her it will be a vacation she will never forget. Once the gang loads onto a small plane and leaves for the isolated island, there’s no turning back. Kay is now on vacation weather she likes it or not.

After arriving at the cold and barren beachfront, Kay remarks that feels like she’s been there before. The plane’s creepy pilot (and part time prophet of doom) Mr. Marsh tells her she ain’t the first he’s heard say that, and that she won’t be the last. “This island is the kind of place folks dream about.” As the group begins making the mile long trek to the vacation house where they are staying, Brooke gets the creeps and feels like she’s being watched. Eric again assures her that there’s nobody on the island but the four of them…nobody living, that is. They then pass the remains of what appears to have been a large theater. Kay is mysteriously drawn to the abandoned building, and is eerily convinced she had already painted it. David tries to convince her that it’s a coincidence and Eric tells everybody to hurry and leave before they get eaten alive.

The couples finally make their way to the large house, which appears run down on the outside but is nicely furnished and fully stocked with food and booze. As they begin to settle in, Mr. Marsh returns with a warning. A violent storm is brewing, and despite the calm outside… things ain’t always what they seem to be. Eric dismisses Mr.Marsh as “one weird dude” and ignores his warning. We then get to meet a good hearted old salt named Wally who is fishing on the beach. Just as Wally starts to crack jokes, the unseen slayer shows up and cracks his skull with an oar. BUT IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM! Kay wakes up on the beach with a sudden fright, as the rest of the gang is having fun in the sun. Later that night, the couples have dinner and drinks on the beach, but the night is ruined as Eric begins harassing Kay about her unsuccessful career and her shitty surrealist paintings. Kay later tells David that the island is giving her the creeps, which angers him. He tells her that she’s building a wall of depression around herself because of those damned dreams of hers and he fears she might be slipping over the edge.

David later apologizes to Kay in bed, where Kay agains explains how scared she is. As Kay drifts off to sleep sometimes she feels like when she wakes up her real life will be gone, and her dreams will haven taken their place. David assures her it’s all her mind and not real. “It’s just one of those demons that surface every once in while. We all have them.” They then make love and go to sleep together. David wakes up in the night hearing a strange thumping sound. He wanders into the basement, investigates the empty elevator shaft, and incredibly enough winds up being graphically decapitated by the elevator doors! The next morning, Kay wakes up in bed next to David. She rolls over and proceeds to give her lover a tender kiss on the lips to wake him. To her horror, David’s eyes slowly open and blood begins to pour from his mouth. Kay then pulls back the covers to discover his body is missing and that she was kissing his now decapitated, but still apparently still alive head! BUT IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM, AGAIN!! Kay wakes up with terror, now alone in bed with no sign of her husband.

Kay screams for help, and Eric & Brooke come to investigate. Kay tells them about her dream, and the trio then unsuccessfully look all over the house for David. Kay is sadly convinced that David is dead, but Eric assures her that it was just a nightmare and that David is probably off on the coast somewhere taking photos. Eric and Brooke then proceed to spend the next two days searching the surrounding areas for David while Kay sits around on the porch in a daze working on, and then tearing up a drawing in her sketchbook. Kay finally gets off her ass and slowly investigates the abandoned theater, and eventually stumbles upon David’s headless corpse, which has been hung up from the rafters like a trophy!

Kay tells the others about her grisly discovery. She also tells Brooke that she has seen his slayer in her dreams, and if she goes to sleep they will all be killed. “Have you ever had nightmare that was so real, that you thought it was actually happening?” Brooke tells Eric about Kay’s warning, which leads Eric to tell her a little story about his sister. When they were kids Eric & Kay’s parents gave Kay a kitten for Christmas and two days later they found the animal frozen to death in a meat freezer. Kay said something in her dreams did it. Kay then spent years in therapy because of her nightmares. Later that night, Brooke slips Kay some sleeping pill laced coffee, which is perfectly logical thing to do to a manic depressive person with years of nightmare fixation.

Kay breaks down and again tells Eric about the dream, the same dream over and over again. When poppa gave her the kitten. She woke up screaming, something far away coming at her. It did terrible things, and the more she dreamed it the more real it became. She created the slayer with the dream, and it will keep happening until it no longer needs her to give it life. She then drifts off to sleep against her will. Brooke begins to believe Kay’s story, but Eric remains convinced that something alive -not a dream, dragged David out of bed and killed him. He starts to suspect that the “weird dude” himself Mr. Marsh might be the culprit. In desperation, Eric leaves to go fire off a few emergency flares on the beach. He promises Brooke he won’t be long, and sure enough, he is promptly dispatched by the monster – who drags him away while still screaming for a midnight snack. Brooke makes the mistake of looking for David and takes a pitchfork in the tits for her efforts.

This leaves Kay all alone in her world of dreams. She wakes up the next morning and wanders the beach in horror as she discovers the rotting remains of her brother and step-sister. She then locks her doors and windows and tries in vain to prepare herself for a final battle against her unholy creation. She searched through the dark corridors of the unknown only to find terror that strikes again and again. She could not anticipate a web of diabolical horror. This time the nightmare is real. Tonight she will face the slayer!

THE SLAYER has to be one of the most underrated and overlooked low budget horror flicks ever. I am a huge fan of this one and think it gets better every time I watch it. From start to finish, this flick has an unmistakable, eerie, dream like quality. It’s also punctuated with some really nice gory moments like the aforementioned decapitation and pitchfork impalement, and it features one of the coolest looking monsters in horror history. Most horror flicks with triple the budget can’t manage to be this convincing. There’s something about these low budget early 80’s horror flicks that just scream absolute perfection to me, and THE SLAYER is a prime example of that. It’s all about the little moments. My favorite scene in this one is the incredible “head in bed” gag, which I find be truly disturbing. There’s something about the way that the head opens it’s eyes and seems to be alive that really gives me the chills.

Much credit must be given to director and writer J.S. Cardone and co-writer Bill Ewing for writing such a fantastic little horror story. The script is fantastic, full of fun lines that are later ironic or prophetic like “hurry up before we get eaten alive.” Some people over the years have complained about the wrap around story and the film’s ending, but I have no complaints whatsoever. I think the ending of the flick is a real pisser, and wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone. The special effects by Robert Babb and the special effects makeup by Robert Short are also worth a mention. This flick has some very memorable death scenes, and we finally get to take a good look at the monster he is one ugly, ugly bastard. It was all enough to have the film branded a “Video Nasty” in the UK, where it was unavailable for years.

It’s worth noting that this was the very first horror flick to feature a nasty looking large clawed dream monster, and it first introduced the “don’t let me fall asleep or we will all die” gag. This all proceeds “A Nightmare On Elm Street” by a few years, and it does seem a bit unfair that THE SLAYER remains so widely unknown and unseen by horror fans. I would personally take this one over the Elm Street flicks any day.

THE SLAYER is probably best known and remembered by horror fans today for it’s very cool Continental VHS release, which was a double feature along with the 1983 Fred Olen Ray epic SCALPS. This double feature came packaged inside a huge canary yellow box that was ugly as shit but must have been hard to miss on video store shelves. Continental Video also used the violent scenes from THE SLAYER in their incredible VHS clip-collection TERROR ON TAPE, which was “hosted” by the one and only Cameron Mitchell. Sadly, both THE SLAYER and TERROR ON TAPE have never received a proper DVD release. TERROR ON TAPE is a bit more understandable to me, considering the legal logistics of releasing such a compilation film, but the lack of THE SLAYER on DVD is a crime against friggin’ humanity. This is a flick that is screaming for a remastered, special edition release. At the moment, the cleanest version of the film I’ve seen was on youtube, of all places. Hopefully someday this flick will get the love that it deserves. Consider THE SLAYER Brain Hammer approved in a BIG way!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

I Drink Your Blood!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2014 by Brain Hammer

Rabid, drug-infested Hippies on a blood-crazed KILLING RAMPAGE!

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970)

A wandering hippy devil cult’s van breaks down, so they set up shop in a small backwater 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 gang rape of a pretty young girl from town who was caught sneaking a peek from the woods. The poor girl later wanders home dazed and drugged, unable to speak.

When her Grandpa, the town veterinarian, finally 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 hallucinatory drugs coursing through their veins makes them homicidal and they quickly 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 quickly becomes overrun with rabid lunatics on a blood crazed killing rampage, and the two young kids and the owner of the bakery have to fight for their lives. Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid head. Drink from his cup; pledge yourselves. And together, we’ll all freak out!” 

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 highly memorable performances from the hippies to enjoy including the one and only Bhaskar as “Horace Bones,” the charismatic 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 supreme 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 (The Crazies, Shivers) 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 pledges herself to Satan and 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…and much later, the dvd covers.

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 and when they saw the film, as the film was originally rated “X” for violence (the first film in horror history to earn this dubious distinction!) and the prints were often butchered by local theater owners in a lame effort to tone it down. When you see this flick uncut it is chock full of bloodshed. The primitive splatter is applied by the bucket full in the proud H.G. Lewis gross out 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 very entertaining commentary track with director David Durston and star Bhaskar, four never before seen deleted scenes (which include a more downbeat alternate ending), interviews with David Durston, Lynn Lowry, Tyde Kierney, and Jack Damon, the incredibly cool 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!!! This dvd also has some of the very coolest animated, interactive menus that I have ever seen. The whole package is good gory fun! I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Buy or die!

KEEP THE BLOOD AND ACID FLOWING!!! 

 

The Godfather Of Gore!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2014 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! This is a special tribute to the legendary Lucio Fulci! I proudly present my deranged ramblings about “The Godfather Of Gore” and his unholy trinity of undead horror clas-sicks. The dead shall rise and walk the Earth!” 

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980)

A gifted psychic named Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) dies from sheer fright during a séance after receiving a morbid vision of a priest named Father Thomas hanging himself in the cemetery of a cursed town called Dunwhich. Dunwhich is built upon “the ruins of the original Salem” which also hide one of the seven gates of Hell. As foretold in the book of Enoch, the suicidal preacher hanging himself causes the unfaithful servant to go straight to Hell and for the next three days the moon will turn red and the cities’ dead will walk the earth. Horrendous, awful things begin happening in Dunwhich that will shatter your imagination.

For starters, Mary isn’t really dead and was buried alive. Luckily for Mary, the pathologist played by none other than Lucio Fulci himself didn’t bother giving her an autopsy! Mary is saved from an agonizing death inside her partially buried coffin after a hard boiled reporter named Peter Bell (Christopher George – RIP) slowly realizes that Mary is screaming at the top of her lungs inside the casket and does the only logical thing – he grabs a fucking pick axe and slams it right into the part of the coffin where Mary’s face would be! After saving Mary’s life Peter hesitatingly agrees to join her on the quest to find the mysterious town of Dunwhich. According to the prophecies of Enoch, if the portals of Hell aren’t closed by All Saints Day no dead body will ever be able to rest in peace again and the dead will rise up all over the earth and take over the world. Peter and Mary have to destroy Father Thomas’ body to close the gates of hell and save humanity.

Meanwhile, the horror in Dunwhich reaches a fevered pitch as the dead priest wanders the town looking for victims. Staring into the eyes of the evil priest is enough to cause one unfortunate girl (Daniela Dora) to cry tears of blood and then puke up her internal organs, much to shock and disgust of her soon to be brain dead boyfriend (future director Michelle Soavi!). The plague of the dead also manifests itself in the form of sudden earthquakes that cause massive property damage to the local watering hole, angry cat scratching that rips the flesh of a neurotic woman named Sandra (Janet Agren) with incest issues, and undead grandmothers that chomp off a mortician’s fingers.

The town’s madness begins to infect its dimwitted citizens as well. A jealous father takes out his rage and confusion on the town pervert – Bob (the one and only Giovanni Lombardo Radice!) and puts a power drill through his brain. Once Peter and Mary finally make their way to the cursed city they are welcomed by maggots that fall like rain. Peter and Mary brush off the maggots and then team up with Sandra and her shrink Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) before heading into the decrepit catacombs underneath the priest’s grave site for a fiery final showdown with the possessed priest.

This is my favorite Lucio Fulci film, and one of my all time favorite films too. I’ve been a big fan since witnessing the film’s ability to shock and horrify firsthand. I was introduced to this one via a 1990 rental of the Paragon “Gates Of Hell” vhs that caused several of my friends (and their little sisters) to leave the room disgusted. Since then, I’ve watched this one more times than I can count. I think “City Of The Living Dead” is a perfect film, and Fulci’s true masterpiece. This is also my favorite of the many genius works that Lucio Fulci and writer Dardano Sacchetti worked on together. A lot of people prefer “The Beyond,” but I think “City Of The Living Dead” has a much more blasphemous and hallucinogenic vibe. It’s also a considerably more stylish film than “The Beyond” and possesses a truly morbid atmosphere that few other horror flicks can come close to matching.

The late great Christopher George turns in another one of his trademark winning performances. Chris was on a fucking tear in the early 80′s, appearing in one classic genre flick after another before his untimely death in 1983. He also starred in the classic 1980 vigilante flick “The Exterminator” and the following year appeared in both “Enter The Ninja”and “Graduation Day.” Who knows how many more amazing films Christopher would have starred in if only given the chance? The mind boggles. It’s great that Christopher and Lucio were able to work together, even if they didn’t get along and Christopher supposedly filled Fulci’s pipe full of maggots!

Fulci’s favorite leading lady, Catriona MacColl (“The Beyond,” “House By The Cemetery”) and his favorite female victim – Daniela Dora (“The New York Ripper,” “House By The Cemetery”) both star here and both contribute greatly to the film’s success. Catriona does a remarkable job in the role of Mary. Her scene inside the coffin when she wakes up buried alive is fantastic. Daniela steals the entire movie and instantly ensured a place in the annals of horror history for participating in what has to be one of the most insanely sickening death scenes ever captured on film. Daniela proved her “guts” by having the nerve to swallow actual sheep entrails and regurgitate them on camera at Fulci’s command! This is only one of the memorable moments of “City Of The Living Dead,” but the iconic image of Daniela crying tears of blood and then slowly puking up her innards is what immediately comes to a horror fan’s mind when you hear the title.

The living dead mostly take a back seat to the buckets of blood and maggots, but there should be more than enough gut barfing and brain ripping to keep gorehounds happy. The splatter effects from Gino De Rossi (“Zombi II,” “Cannibal Ferox”) are about as top notch as they come. But for some random and completely hysterical reason, whenever the frequently repeated closeup shot of the brain ripping is shown the hand doing the ripping clearly belongs to a black man with hairy knuckles! This makes the climax to the aforementioned gut barfing scene unintentionally hilarious as clearly it’s not Daniela’s hand ripping out Michelle Soavi’s brain. The zombies we do get to see look fantastic, as they were created by the legendary Rosario Prestopino (“Zombi II,” “Burial Ground)”. “City Of The Living Dead” is a horror film with GUTS, and a lot of them.

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD should be considered mandatory viewing for all horror fans. Sharp eyed Italian horror buffs will get a kick out of seeing so many familiar faces. (Watch out for Perry Pirkanen of “Cannibal Ferox/Holocaust” legend in a small yet pivotal role as a perverted gravedigger!) I really can’t say enough good things about this one. “City Of The Living Dead” is an all time horror clas-sick. Anchor Bay and Blue Underground have both released “City Of The Living Dead” on dvd. The dvd features the theatrical trailer and radio spots. BUY IT!!!

THE BEYOND (1981)

The madness begins in Louisiana, 1927 as a young girl named Emily recites passages from the dreaded book of Eibon and is blinded by hellfire for her blasphemy. Meanwhile, an ungodly warlock by the name of Sweik sits alone in his hotel room, conjuring graven images from the beyond and giving them immortality on his canvas. An angry, torch wielding mob descends upon the hotel and make their way to Sweik’s room – number 36. The townspeople blame Sweik for cursing both the hotel, and the town forever. Sweik warns them that the hotel was built over one of the seven doors of evil, and then cautions that only he can save them. Sweik is then violently beaten with chains, crucifed with nails, and his flesh is melted away. “The seven dreaded gateways to Hell are concealed in seven cursed places. Woe be unto him who ventures near without knowledge.”

The story then moves forward to Louisiana, 1981. Liza (Catriona MacColl) was a New York City gal who had done just about everything a girl could do without losing her good English breeding and reputation before a rare turn of luck found her inheriting the old hotel. “But behind this doorway lie the terrifying and unspeakable secrets of hell. No one who sees it lives to describe it.” The first to die is a painter working on the side of the hotel who catches a glimpse at THE EYES of horror and falls to his eventual death off a scaffold. Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) is then summoned to take the badly injured man to the hospital. The next victim is an old sewer rat named Joe the Plumber who kindly shows up to do some work on the hotel’s flooded basement and has his eyes violently gouged out by undead hands for his efforts!

Liza has an unusual series of encounters with a mysterious blind girl named Emily who claims she had been “looking” for Liza. Emily repeatedly warns Liza to go back where she came from, and to hurry. “We blind see things more clearly.” After fishing Joe the Plumber’s body out of the hotel cellar and performing an autopsy on it, John also tries in vain to convince Liza to give up on her mission to reopen the hotel. Meanwhile, the town continues to be cursed with morbid death as a little girl in a morgue watches her mother’s face be eaten away by acid, and is then stricken blind with fear after stumbling into a room full of cadavers. The evil curse also claims the life of a contractor named Martin who was helping Liza renovate the hotel. Martin stumbles off to the Town Hall looking for the hotel’s building plans, has a brief encounter with director Lucio Fulci (which is never a good thing in one of these flicks!), and then falls off a ladder and has his face devoured by spiders! “Woe be unto him who opens one of the seven gateways to Hell, because through that gateway, evil will invade the world.”

Poor Emily is made once more to suffer for her actions, as Sweik returns from the beyond and brings forth the legions of the undead. “And from the day the gates of hell are opened, the dead will walk the earth.” Emily tries in vain to use her trusty seeing eye dog Dickie as a weapon against Sweik, only to find the animal now under Sweik’s control as the jaws of death violently tear apart her throat. When Liza later tells John about her encounters with Emily, she is shocked to hear that he had never heard of her, and that the little house the blind girl had lived in had in reality been abandoned for over fifty years. Liza & John then have to race to escape the cursed hotel, as the gateway to hell begins to loudly howl. They make their way to the nearby hospital, only to find it completely infested with zombies. The girl who didn’t believe in ghosts and the doctor who wouldn’t accept irrational explanations are then forced to “face the sea of darkness...and all therein that may be explored.”

THE BEYOND was legendary director Lucio Fulci’s follow up effort to his diabolical masterpiece “City Of The Living Dead.” In my opinion, and in the opinion of many other horror fans, this is Fulci’s true horror masterpiece. “The Beyond” is one of the most atmospheric, beautiful, and gruesome horror films of all time. From the ultra creepy sepia-toned opening to the incredible, haunting ending, this film commands the attention of viewer and captures their senses. This is another true example of a horror film with GUTS. It features some of Fulci’s most memorable gore sequences, including graphic face melting, eyeball gouging, throat ripping, flesh eating spider attacks, and one of the all time great zombie “head shots.” The fantastic special effects and makeup were created by Giannetto De Rossi (Zombi II) and Germano Natali (Suspiria), and stand out as some of the finest work in their esteemed careers.

Much credit must also be given to the ever prolific and diabolical Dardano Sacchetti, who wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay with Fulci and Giorgio Mariuzzo. The concept of the seven gates of hell, sealed in seven cursed places is hands down one of the coolest in horror history. The Satanic storylines that could spring forth from these gates are seemingly endless. I really wish Sacchetti & Fulci had decided to explore more of them together. The other big key to the film’s success is the beautiful original music by Fabio Frizzi. It’s impossible for me to imagine this film working the way it does without that haunting piano theme, or the pulse pounding theatrics that accompany the climax. The combination of the surreal story from Sacchetti and the exceptional score from Frizzi give this film an unmistakable, dream like quality. The stuff nightmares are made of.

Speaking of nightmares, the notorious Aquarius Releasing (the same folks who brought us such clas-sicks as “Bruce Lee Fights Back From The Grave,” “Faces Of Death,” “Cannibal Ferox,” etc.) were the first to bring Fulci’s film to the States in 1983. The U.S. print was re-titled “7 Doors of Death” and given a different opening credit sequence and musical score. Sadly, most of the graphic gore scenes were removed and Fulci was credited as Louis Fuller! “The Beyond” was never seen in America in its true uncut form until 1998, when Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures, in association with the maniacs at Grindhouse Releasing, tracked down the original master and restored the film, and then began playing it at midnight shows. Anchor Bay then worked with Grindhouse Releasing to finally make the film available uncensored on home video, where it has since gone on to earn a well deserved cult following.

Out of all of the assorted DVD releases of THE BEYOND that are currently available, I’d have to give the Brain Hammer seal of approval to the Grindhouse Releasing disc that was originally unleashed in stores back in 2008. The unrated and uncensored director’s cut of the film was presented in a spectacular hi-definition digital anamorphic widescreen transfer. The bonus features include a brand new 2008 intro by Catriona MacColl, a rare on-set interview with director Lucio Fulci, commentary by stars Catriona MacColl and the late genre superstar David Warbeck, the lost German pre-credit sequence in full color, Necrophagia music video directed by Jim VanBebber (“Gator Green”), theatrical trailers, an extensive gallery of stills and poster art, and liner notes by legendary horror journalist Chas. Balun. I can’t recommend this clas-sick highly enough. Buy or die, you ungodly warlock!

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (1981)

Legendary director Lucio Fulci wastes no time getting down to business in this one and quickly dispatches his favorite female victim Daniela Doria before the opening credits roll! Daniela gets a gory gander at her boyfriend’s bloody hacked up corpse and doesn’t even have time to regurgitate her innards before receiving the business end of a butcher’s knife through the back of her skull. Welcome to Doctor Jacob Freudstein’s house by the cemetery. In this house, what you don’t know will hurt you.

The next to wander innocently into the waiting spider web are the Boyle family: Doctor Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco – The New York Ripper), his emotionally unbalanced wife Lucy (Catriona MacColl – The Beyond), and their incredibly shrill, annoying, and apparently clairvoyant young son Bob (Giovanni Frezza – Demons). Norman jumps at the lucrative chance to move to Boston and resume the suicide research project that his former colleague Dr. Peterson had abruptly abandoned after killing his mistress and then himself. Lucio Fulci himself briefly appears as a Professor, and in a recurring gag that also appeared in other Fulci flicks, he sends the innocent off to slaughter – this time by arranging to have Norman finish Peterson’s project and clear up his suicide.

Bob receives mysterious messages from a dead little girl named Mae, who lives inside a photograph of an old house. She warns him to stay far away from the Freudstein house. Mae’s ghost wanders the streets of Boston and receives prophetic morbid visions of mannequins being decapitated. Mae once again tells Bob to stay away, but his mommy wouldn’t listen. Parents only do what they want to do. Lucy changes her mind ten times about the trip, which causes a last minute change in housing. The helpful local real estate agent Laura Gittleson (Dagmar Lassander – Hatchet For The Honeymoon) arranges an extended stay inside Oak Mansion, better known as Freudstein’s House. She also hooks the Boyles up with a creepy, silent & short lived babysitter named Ann (played memorably by the always striking Ania Pieroni – Tenebrae).

Past and present collide in a vortex of fear! The house by the cemetery is haunted with the anguished cries of dead children. Lost souls that were used as gruesome, illegal medical experiments by the mad Doctor Freudstein. The bastard’s unholy grave lies hidden within the hallway of the house, much to the shock and disgust of Lucy. Norman tries to dismiss this as a common burial practice in New England, and then thoughtfully offers to finally unlock the rusty cellar door, if only to prove that nothing scary is lurking down there. Norman is rewarded for his bravery with a vicious attack from a bloodthirsty bat that refuses to remove it’s fangs from his hand! A few well placed pokes from a large pair of scissors finally manages to get the job done, after some bat blood is sprayed into Bob’s face.

The helpful local real estate agent Laura Gittleson shows up later that night to calm things down and winds up breaking her ankle in Freudstein’s tomb. She then receives a house call from the good Doctor that is punctuated with a violent, agonizing death by impalement. Meanwhile, Norman comes to the brilliant conclusion that Peterson’s research into the Freudstein house somehow lead to his suicide and decides to dig a little deeper. Norman travels back to New York and plays a cassette recording from his unhinged former colleague that reveals the terrifying secrets of the house by the cemetery. The house that draws you in like an infernal magnet. The smell of the rooms, the blood, and the children… not the children! Now that Bob is staying with us, be sure to treat him like a Freudstein. For other guests are surely destined to drop in.

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY marked the memorable conclusion of Lucio Fulci’s beloved “supernatural” trilogy of terror, that began with CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and was rounded out by THE BEYOND. All three films featured actress Catriona MacColl in the center role, surrounded by the surreal and deadly forces of darkness that threaten to overcome humanity. Of the three films in this semi-related series, “House By The Cemetery” is arguably the most beautiful and confusing. The story, which is credited to Elisa Briganti with uncredited “inspiration” from H.P. Lovecraft, borders on incoherent, and the odd, inappropriate dubbing (BOB!) only adds to the comedic confusion. It’s also the most visceral and violent film of the trilogy. “House” might not be quite as pukeworthy as “City” or have the sinister atmosphere that “The Beyond” possesses, but it’s undoubtedly the most mean spirited and morbid entry in the series. Much like Freudstein’s body, the film is crudely stitched together with elements of the supernatural, slasher, and zombie sub-genres.

This flick is sometimes mistaken for a simple zombie film, primarily because of the title and the obvious associations with Fulci’s The Beyond and City Of The Living Dead, but the distinction is the fact that Dr. Freudstein is not an undead ghoul. In an interesting twist, the mad doctor is actually still alive and needs living victims to regenerate his rotting cells. It also appears that Dr. Freudstein transplants limbs whenever necessary. His abdomen is still chock full of maggots though, as Paolo Malco gruesomely discovers towards the film’s climax. The other highlights of the film for gore lovers are the nasty death scenes, in particular the spectacular impalements and juicy throat slitting. Dagmar Lassander’s death scene borders on pornographic, as her gushing arteries drain themselves in clas-sick money shot fashion. But graphic gore aside, this film is also beautifully shot, has a magnificent score, and is one of Fulci’s most atmospheric and mysterious horror films.

Fortunately, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is also one of the easier Lucio Fulci flicks to get a hold of. There are numerous dvd releases to choose from, but I would have to give the Brain Hammer seal of approval to the Blue Underground special edition release. This release was freshly transferred in blood-soaked high definition from its original uncut and uncensored negative and is loaded with exclusive new extras! The brand new bonus features include “Meet the Boyles” – interviews with stars Catriona MacColl and Paolo Malco, “Children of the Night” – interviews with stars Giovanni Frezza and Silvia Collatina, “Tales of Laura Gittleson” – interview with star Dagmar Lassander, and ”My Time With Terror” – interview with star Carlo De Mejo.Deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and still galleries round out the package. This is the type of special edition release Doctor Freudstein would give (or take) an arm or a leg for!

FULCI LIVES!!! KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

VHS Daze!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2014 by Brain Hammer

Gory greetings! This one is a bit of a change of pace for your old pal Brain Hammer. Instead of just reviewing a flick or two I decided to attempt an “article” about my early adventures renting and collecting clas-sick horror flicks on VHS. I hope my fellow horror freaks will enjoy this little trip down memory lane.

My horror collection officially started with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which is about as good as it gets, but sadly I owned the high speed Video Treasures VHS. I watched that tape over and over until it wore out. My mother bought that one for me at our local Ames when I was in 6th grade, and a year or two later she also bought me the Video Treasures VHS release of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Shortly after my folks finally got cable I taped a copy of Night Of The Living Dead from USA Network’s Night Flight. I later added Dementia 13 as a double feature on this tape, and interestingly enough I later bought this exact same double feature on Diamond Entertainment DVD many years later.

Those three tapes were my entire horror collection for years until I randomly found used copies of Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, and Day Of the Dead for sale for $5 each at my local video store. I immediately bought all three tapes, and my true love for horror collecting was born. Around that same time, I remember also scoring a used copy of the heavy metal horror epic Trick Or Treat, and convincing my father that he should buy Ruggerio Deodato’s Cut & Run because I thought the cover was cool. I was also lucky (and demented) enough to tape a copy of Confessions Of A Serial Killer when it played on Cinemax, and watched it over and over.

One summer day in 1996 I got high and decided that I wanted to own all of the Friday The 13th flicks, and spent the rest of the day driving around from store to store buying the cheapest copies I could find. I think I scored at least six of them that day, and then went home and had a massive marathon. Around X-mas time of that same year I was walking down the street and saw a window display in a used book store that included copies of both of John McCarty’s “Official Splatter Movie Guides.” I bought both of them, and was immediately obsessed with the idea of seeing all of the clas-sick films that were reviewed inside. I have to admit, at the time I wasn’t cool enough to own many copies of Fangoria…much less Gore Zone…so these used books wound up being an essential purchase for me. I first read about many, many different horror films in them and then spent the next several years trying to track down as many of them as I could.

Back then, all you usually needed for a Video Store membership was a driver’s license. Some of the more “high end” stores might require another form of ID, or perhaps even a utilities bill in your name. The rarest of the bunch would require a deposit check, or gasp – a credit card number. I would avoid those stores, and stick with the ones with free membership. I would then sign up, and rent as many horror flicks I could…before I would eventually build up late fees and then never return, or the stores would go out of business. I had a car at the time, and would drive as far as two or three hours in any direction from my house looking for new video stores to plunder. The greatest thrill of this was how random the experience could be. You never knew what kind of treasures might be waiting for you inside these little stores.

For example, I remember the first time I stumbled upon my local Hollywood Video, which had a rotting basement FULL of used tapes for sale. My jaw dropped as I saw the big box Continental VHS releases of Blood Feast AND the legendary double feature of Scalps and The Slayer!!! I bought them both that day. Over the years I found some really, really great stuff there, like House By The Cemetery, Don’t Go In The Woods, Maniac, Mother’s Day, Hide And Go Shriek, Chopping Mall, The Demon, The Ripper (with Tom Savini), and incredibly enough the uncut Lettuce Entertain You release of Toxic Spawn (aka Contamination!) Another store I found near my apartment would grudgingly sell you anything on their shelves for $10, and I immediately scored myself copies of 2,000 Maniacs and Bad Taste!

Other times it would just be the thrill of randomly finding a store with a huge selection of stuff to rent. The greatest example of this I can think of was a video store I found tucked inside an ice cream shop that had an entire wall of big box horror VHS that included stuff like Driller KillerThe Prowler, Return Of The Alien’s Deadly Spawn, Wizard Of Gore, and The Manson Tapes. This same store also had a large, gnarly selection of Faces Of Death, Death Scenes, and Traces Of Death tapes, and was even hip enough to have a copy of every John Waters flick, including the ever elusive Multiple Maniacs!

I remember another local store that had a ferocious porno section right next to their horror section. There would be German scat porn and dudes holding up enema bags on the covers…on the shelves right next to the horror section, which also had some great stuff like Hell HighRock N Roll Nightmare, The Devil’s Rain, Sleepaway Camp, Dead Alive, and even Rats: Night Of Terror! All of those were rented multiple times with friends and enjoyed over a lot of laughs. It was an awesome time, finding these new cool movies, and getting to share them with my friends, who also collected this stuff and loved it too.

Another video store I really liked at the time had a killer 49 cent rental section that included the Vestron Video VHS of House On The Edge Of The Park! I was so excited to finally see that one! The cover alone had me sold, and I wound up renting that sick little bastard a bunch of times. Demons was another clas-sick 49 cent rental from that store, along with Burial Ground and Massacre At Central High! The only drawback of this store was the fact that some of their flicks were pretty beat up. I was devastated the time I rented Grizzly only to have it get mangled beyond repair by my VCR when I tried to watch it. The same thing happened when I bought a used copy of The New York Ripper. I’m jumping up and down because I’m so excited to find a copy, and then got it home and only watched about a minute before the tape disintegrated.

Keep in mind, this was the pre-internet era, when things where not so easy to find and we didn’t have instant access to horror at our fingertips, so finding and buying a VHS copy of Street Trash, or Suspiria, or The Crazies, or even something more mainstream like Prom Night could be a real trip. The last stage of my VHS daze was buying used VHS copies of horror flicks on ebay. I spent a small fortune over a few years picking up as many as I could manage. I then discovered the wonderful world of “UNCUT VHS COPIES,” and went bananas buying all of the obscure Euro-horror flicks I had been reading about for so many years. Incredible stuff I had read about for years like Anthropophagus, The Beyond, Zombi Holocaust, Beyond The Darkness, and Cannibal Apocalypse was finally available for my viewing pleasure. Looking back, I could kick myself for all of the $25 blank tape copies I purchased from Midnight Video and Blackest Hearts Media, but this was just before the DVD craze really hit and eventually made VHS collecting obsolete for me.

Pieces currently holds the record for the movie I have bought the most times in my lifetime. I first picked up the strangely edited TZ VHS release (which is missing the entire opening scene and starts with the opening credits!). I then stumbled upon a used copy of the Vestron VHS. A few years later I bought the “uncut” Japanese version of Pieces (with Japanese subtitles) from Midnight Video. All said, that’s about $50 that was spent on those three copies. All of that went out the window when I went to the mall one day and found the Diamond Entertainment DVD release of Pieces sitting there…for $5. That cheap ass, bootleg dvd was the exact same quality, and had the exact same content as all the other “uncut” versions I had previously owned. There was no turning back at that point. Over a few years, I eventually replaced all of my VHS collection on DVD (or dvd-r) and then sold off or gave away all of my tapes. I no longer own a VCR. Those daze are over for me, but it was a crucial and memorable time as a horror collector, and I’m sad that that era of really cool, independently owned video stores is now a thing of the past.

BE KIND, REWIND, AND KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

3 on a Meathook!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2014 by Brain Hammer

WARNING: Not for the bloody mary for lunch bunch!

THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1972)

This one starts off with some tender porno music, a lengthy shot of something resembling a college campus, and then jumps straight into a tacky love scene with an especially nubile blonde co-ed who sports some fantastic tan lines and later slips into some devastatingly short hot pants. Welcome to the wild world of William Girdler’s “Three On A Meathook!” 

Blondie and three of her skanky gal pals take a weekend trip to the country, only to have their car break down in the middle of the night. Along comes Billy, a good natured young country bumpkin who lives with his “Paw” in their large farmhouse. Billy invites the girls back to the farm for the evening and serves them up some of Paw’s special smoked meat as a late night snack. As the girls later settle in for bed an unseen slayer makes their presence known and slaughters them one by one via stabbings, shootings, and swift beheadings! The co-eds became prime candidates for murder!

The next morning Paw wakes up Billy, who had spent the night sleeping outside in a shed, and informs him that, oops – he had done it again. Ever since the tragic death of “Maw” several years before, Paw has repeatedly told Billy that he is a cold blooded killer who can’t be around women – ever. Paw claims that crazy things happen whenever Billy gets involved with women, but Billy just can’t seem to remember ever doing anything wrong. When Billy is told he killed the four girls the night before he is shocked and horrified. Paw then thoughtfully offers to clean up the mess Billy made and gives him some money to go to town and see a movie.

Speaking of movies, the one you are currently reading about then slows down to a crawl, as we spend some quality time with Billy while he roams the streets and then gets loaded in a local dive. This part of the movie is a ruthless attempt at padding out the film’s running time, and the background music provided by a shitty bar band called “The American Xpress” is terrible and annoying to the point of ridiculousness! You will need a high tolerance for the sound of wah wah pedals if you hope to make it through the TWO horrible songs that this band plays – in their entirety, without hitting the fast forward button.

Mercifully, this torturous scene eventually ends and we then wake up the next morning with Billy inside the apartment of a waitress named Sherri. Sherri apparently took a shining to shitfaced Billy and brought him home for the evening. In arguably the most memorable scene of the entire movie, Sherry informs Billy that he had “an accident” the night before and hands him a freshly washed pair of trousers! Stale urine and love are in the air, so Billy wisely decides to invite his new pal Sherri back to his place: the same place where four girls were just violently murdered. Sherri agrees and brings along another pal to help flesh out the film’s body count. It doesn’t take long for poor Sherri to discover Paw’s padlocked shed, hooks of cold steel, and a madman on the loose!

I really enjoy this early Ed Gein inspired “meat” film from the late, great director William Girdler. William began a tragically short, yet incredibly prolific film career in 1972 with the release of his first picture – “Asylum Of Satan.” He then went on to make eight more films over the next six years, including the clas-sicks “Grizzly,” “Day Of The Animals,” and “The Manitou” before dying in a helicopter crash in 1978. “Three On A Meathook” is often dismissed as a cheap “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” knock off, but it actually proceeded TCSM by a few years. This was the FIRST flick to feature tender young girls hanging on meat hooks! This one is also a lot more gory than TCSM, and the ample bloodshed on display is more reminiscent of the clas-sick H.G. Lewis splatter flicks. That’s probably because Pat Patterson of “Doctor Gore” infamy provided the bloody special effects, which are the highlight of the film.

When the co-eds aren’t being slaughtered, the film tends to drag along. As already mentioned, the music is terrible, and the acting is also uniformly wooden and awful. Despite those rather glaring flaws this one still really works in a big way. It must have something to do with the genuinely creepy backwoods vibe that this one possesses. The actors all sleepwalk through their roles, but that weird “non acting” actually makes the film feel more gritty and realistic. The actor who played Paw – Charles Kissinger, is easily the best actor in the picture and always shows up in Girdler’s flicks. The ending of this one is shamelessly lifted from “Psycho,” but as always – they don’t call them “exploitation” flicks for nothing!

Incredibly, there has never been a proper dvd release of THREE ON A MEATHOOK. Most of William Girdler’s films have received some sort of dvd presentation, but for some reason his most graphic and notorious horror flick remains semi-obscure. A bootleg dvd was released by Televista back in 2007, and more recently CG Media Parters released a cool sounding but shitty looking double feature dvd titled “The Naked Torture Show” that includes both “Three On A Meathook” and the Veronica Lake epic “Flesh Feast.” Both of these bootleg releases were essentially vhs quality, and nothing to write home about. Hopefully someone will come along and eventually give this one the type of special edition release it truly deserves. The eye catching title alone should ensure that this cannibal clas-sick won’t ever slip into complete obscurity. Definitely a must-see flick for fans of old school backwoods brutality!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

Hardware Hack ‘Em Ups!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 17, 2014 by Brain Hammer

The blood runs in rivers…and the drill keeps tearing though flesh and bone!

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978)

B-movie legend Cameron Mitchell stars as Vance Kingsley, an apartment building super who slips into psychosis after his daughter dies in a car accident. Vance dons a ski mask, grabs his trusty toolbox, and begins taking the lives of the filthy females in his apartment building that do “unnatural” things to their bodies. The tenants are a tasty assortment of alcoholics, porn stars, and strippers. Bit by bit, the killer carves up a nightmare with a power drill, hammer, screwdriver, and nail gun.

The masked madman then sets his sights on a sweet virginal gal named Laurie. Instead of hacking her to pieces, he kidnaps the young girl and ties her up to his bed. Vance later explains to the terrified gal that she reminds him of his daughter. In his deranged mind, Vance believes keeping Laurie prisoner is protecting her from God, who wants to claim her pure soul the same way he previously claimed his daughter’s. What he does to her nerves is almost as frightening as what he does to his victims.

Despite the fact that all the murders took place within the same apartment complex, there’s no sign of forced entry, and the murders are all committed with tools, Vance is never seen as a suspect by authorities. The dimwitted police (lead by the eternally confused Tim Donnelly of “Parts: The Clonus Horror” infamy) are baffled by the sheer brutality of the crimes and can’t seem to find a single clue. Laurie’s brother Joey and his best pal Kent finally get fed up and decide to take the law into their own hands. Their investigation eventually turns up a dildo and a deadly secret. Will Laurie survive the toolbox murders, and what will be left of her?

Director Dennis Donnelly’s “The Toolbox Murders” was one of the most controversial horror films of the pre-slasher era. It’s hard to believe such a graphic horror flick could come from a director best known for working on TV’s family favorites “Dragnet” and “Emergency.” The film was even discussed at length on the “Donahue” show. Old Phil ranted and raved about how sick the film was and even showed the nail gun murder scene in it’s entirety, much to the shock and horror of the fat housewives in his studio audience! “The Toolbox Murders” was also banned in the UK for several years as a video nasty.

It’s certainly lurid and vicious stuff, but it’s exceedingly well made and also works a deranged character study. Some people complain about the pacing of this flick, most of the complaints note the fact that most of the action takes place in the first 30 minutes or so. Despite the fact the film sometimes drags, I think Cameron Mitchell does a fantastic job in the lead role and actually makes the character somewhat sympathetic. Miles beyond the usual mute masked killers, and a lot more interesting too. I think horror fans would only be let down by this one only if they were expecting a straight slasher flick with a higher body count. This one is more of a sleazy slow burn, and it also plays out more like of a 70’s TV police procedural.

A few years ago Bill Lustig’s Blue Underground released THE TOOLBOX MURDERS on dvd. As expected from Blue Underground, the dvd features a number of fantastic supplements including a commentary track with producer Tony Didio, DP Gary Graver, and star Pamelyn Ferdin, theatrical trailers and tv spots, and a still gallery. My favorite feature is “I Got Nailed In The Toolbox Murders” – an interview with actress Marianne Walter, better known to old school porno fans as Kelly Nichols. Hail Bill Lustig! You are truly a sleazy gorehound’s best friend! This is essential exploitation and a mandatory purchase. Buy this one or get SCREWED!

DRILLER KILLER (1979)

A true piece of punk rock cinema, “Driller Killer” begins with an on screen title card instructing viewers to play the film LOUD. Infamous director Abel Ferrara stars (under the name Jimmy Laine) as Reno Miller, an up and coming avant garde artist who struggles to keep a roof over his head and to hold on to the last shreds of his sanity. Reno is constantly tormented by the sleazy denizens of the mean streets of NYC, and his manhood is threatened by his girlfriend’s girlfriend. Things take a turn for the worse for Reno when a fucking horrible punk rock band called Tony Coca Cola & The Roosters move into the apartment above him and assault his eardrums with their non stop rehearsals.

The constant noise prevents Reno from finishing his latest masterpiece, a bizarre and bloody painting of a buffalo. After many long nights filled with pizza, beer, and frustration, inspiration finally hits Reno in a big way when he catches a TV ad for a nifty combination belt/battery pack that allows mobile use of power tools. Reno quickly runs to a hardware store to buy one, and then begins wandering the streets at night with a drill. Now completely unhinged and frequently hallucinating, Reno drills holes into any bum that makes the fatal mistake of bothering him. Reno has become one of those who kill violently!

Despite the rather lurid sounding premise and title, this is actually more of a cracked out character study than a traditional slasher film. “Driller Killer” owes a lot more to films like “Taxi Driver” than “The Toolbox Murders.” Slasher fans looking for non stop bloodshed will be sorely disappointed, although the film is punctuated with some fairly graphic kills. The film’s gore centerpiece is the brutal scene where Reno repeatedly plunges the drill into a hobo’s forehead. This incredible scene was used as cover art for the notorious UK vhs release, which was promptly banned and instrumental in helping to create the “Video Nasties” craze. As a result, “Driller Killer” was banned in the UK until 1999 and wasn’t released uncut until 2002.

“Driller Killer” perfectly captures the sleazy and amped up essence of the big apple in the 70′s. It was the directorial debut of Abel Ferrara, who would later go on to helm equally disturbing films with much bigger budgets including the clas-sick  “Ms. 45” and “Bad Lieutenant.” “Driller Killer” takes a long time before getting to the bloodshed so impatient splatter freaks might have to hit the fast forward button a few times to complete a viewing. There are numerous scenes of Reno arguing with people. Mostly his girlfriend(s), but also his landlord and his art dealer. Bickering, bile, and bad music largely comprise the first two thirds of the film. In the long run this actually works in the flick’s favor, because it’s much easier to relate to Reno’s descent into madness when you suffer right along with him as you watch.

The good folks at Cult Epics have released DRILLER KILLER on dvd a few different times. The best release is the two disc collectors edition which is presented in widescreen and includes a hilarious drugged out director’s commentary track, theatrical trailers, and the original Porto-pack commercial. The second disc features three of Ferrera’s early short films: “Could This Be Love,” “The Hold Up,” and “Nicky’s Film.” There’s also a trailer for the legendary “Nine Lives For A Wet Pussy.” Cheap bastards looking for cheaper thrills should look out for the “Classic Splatter Pack” double feature dvd from CFS Releasing that features “Driller Killer” along with the notorious “Drive-In Massacre.” Either way, there’s no excuse for not having a copy of this clas-sick in your collection. Buy or die!

NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985)

After a brutal gang rape occurs on a construction site in a small Texas town, a masked maniac with a bad case of Darth Vader-itis and a penchant for horrible Freddy Krueger wisecracks goes on a killing spree seeking revenge against… well pretty much everyone. Dressed in camouflage, driving a hearse, and armed with a pneumatic nail gun, the deranged killer makes swiss cheese out of any redneck that crosses his deadly path. Forget about that guy with the chainsaw, and start worrying about the deranged Nail Gun Killer!

The unfortunate (in many ways) victims are repeatedly nailed in the head, the groin, to trees, to the highway, and sometimes to each other during sex. The dimwitted country bumpkin sheriff with a badge that likes to switch sides on his chest at random teams up with an always denim clad county medical examiner who looks like the bass player from Journey to investigate the murders. As these two geniuses wander aimlessly around the countryside looking for clues the nail ridden dead bodies begin stacking up like cord wood. Who will get NAILED next?

I’m a huge fan of this hilariously inept but equally lovable 80′s slasher flick. This body count flick delivers about fifteen bloody murders and some really nice titties within its 90 minute running time. Hard to argue with that! “Nail Gun Massacre” is a special film for many reasons, but my favorite part has to be the odd, inexplicable appearance of a toothless old geezer who randomly shows up in a scene and proceeds to steal the whole fucking movie by asking the immortal question “Hey, what put all them holes in her body? Sex?” That’s followed closely by the freshly grilled dead body that starts to tip over and is thoughtful enough to prop himself back up so he doesn’t fuck up the shot. You don’t see that in every flick, folks.

Fans of gratuitous nudity will enjoy a steaming eyeful thanks to a big haired blonde who proudly displays her enormous rack, complete with tan lines and a set of nipples roughly the size of a midget’s thumbs! There’s also a fairly sleazy scene with a really ugly couple bumping uglies against a tree, and an unbelievable moment where a hick talks his bimbo date into having sex on the hood of his car “so they can really fly!” The latter sex scene is set to the tune of a toe tapping number entitled “Foozeball” that is played in it’s entirety not once, but twice in a row. It’s guaranteed to get stuck in your head and fuck up your life. What I really appreciate about the chicks in this flick is the fact that they are all 100% authentic trailer trash. No pesky silicone or cosmetic surgery to ruin the fun, they all look like chicks you could pick up at a county fair.

The late, great writer, producer, and co-director Terry Lofton was the brains and the bucks behind this incredibly cheesy homemade horror flick. More than a few critics have nailed “Nail Gun Massacre”  over the years but I think it more than delivers the goods for horror fans with a hunger for bloody mayhem and cheap, sometimes unintentional laughs. Terry had stated that he didn’t want to make a “real blood & guts type horror movie” but instead wanted to make a fun, low key horror flick. Hats off to Terry for a job well done! I think that’s the reason this flick still has such a well deserved cult following – it’s a blast! Unlike a lot of other micro-budget horror flicks from the same era, and especially nowadays, this one is actually fun to watch. It’s a very penetrating story!

Synapse Films released a fantastic looking dvd of NAIL GUN MASSACRE that was fully restored in high definition and is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The special features include outtakes, a promotional trailer, and an interview with Terry Lofton. There’s also some very funny liner notes from Michael Felsher that point out some of the film’s many shortcomings.  If you attempt to take this one seriously, you’ll probably hate it. But if you watch this flick with sense of humor you’ll love it. This is a perfect movie to watch on a Saturday night with a few beers and buds. It’s also cheaper than a chainsaw!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

Cannibal Holocaust!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2014 by Brain Hammer

Ripout! Barbeque! Devour! How long can you take it?

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)

In 1979 four documentary filmmakers disappeared in the jungles of South America while shooting a film about cannibalism…six months later, their footage was found. Genre superstar Roger Kerman (“Eaten Alive,” Cannibal Ferox”) stars as Harold Monroe, a NYU anthropology professor who travels to the deadly “Green Inferno” jungles of the Amazon searching for the missing crew. After a long and grueling search leads the professor into the heart of the Yanomamo village, he finally discovers the filmmaker’s rotting remains alongside the reels of footage they had shot shortly before dying.

The lost film footage is assembled and restored by technicians at the University and Professor Monroe is the first to see it in its shocking entirety. Meanwhile, 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 you rape their senses – the more they will love it, and that this remarkable documentary footage would pull huge ratings. In frustration, Monroe arranges a special screening for them, purely to prove his point that the footage is far too vile and inhuman for anyone to see and that it should be destroyed. What unfolds before the unfortunate viewer’s eyes is sheer horror. “Don’t turn away! Look at it! These are men, men like you!”

The deceased documentarians had a controversial reputation for being sensationalist filmmakers that strived to shock and offend their audience at any cost. The lost footage from the jungles reveals them to be much, much worse. The four filmmakers, led by the incredibly obnoxious director Alan Yates (Gabriel Yorke) and his arrogant girlfriend/assistant Faye Daniels (Francesca Ciardi) had brutalized the jungle and its innocent inhabitants in a crude effort to obtain “shocking” footage. Arson, rape, murder, torture, and barbaric impalement were all part of Alan’s demented script and if the natives weren’t actually savage enough to do those sort of things, Alan and his crew were more than willing to do it for them!

The natives eventually and justifiably snap after enduring such incredible cruelty and seek revenge against Yates. One by one, the murderous film crew is dispatched, dismembered, and devoured as their cameras roll catching every last moment. The men you will see eaten alive, are the same who filmed these incredible sequences. After seeing these horrific events unfold before their eyes, the network executives have no choice but agree that the footage is too much for anyone and agree to have it destroyed. This leaves Professor Monroe alone to light up his trusty pipe and muse: “I wonder who the real cannibals are.”

“Cannibal Holocaust” is the undisputed king of the “cannibal” films. No other flick in this perverse and eternally despised little sub-genre comes close when it comes to assaulting the viewer with unsettling, gruesome horror. This flick doesn’t often provide the sort of jivey music or unintentional laughs you’ll find in Umberto Lenzi’s “Eaten Alive” or “Cannibal Ferox.” Director Ruggero Deodato deserves much credit for helming such an uncompromisingly grim and shocking motion picture. Deodato had already helped pioneer the “cannibal” movement with his 1977 effort “Ultimo mondo cannibale” aka “Jungle Holocaust.”  That film was simply brutal, but incredibly Deodato managed to top himself with “Holocaust.”

Deodato himself 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 extended scene – not involving the film crew – where a native woman is raped and then beat to death with a stone phallus, or the countless stomach turning scenes of animals being slaughtered. They don’t call them exploitation flicks for nothing, but this one actually lives up to it’s immortal “most controversial movie ever made” status. More than perhaps any other flick in horror history, “Cannibal Holocaust” truly is the one that goes ALL the way!

The influence that this eternally controversial flick had on later “lost footage” films like “The Blair Witch Project”  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 flick also has a bad rap for essentially being garbage, but I think the superior quality of the film making, the acting, and the score all rises well above the expectations of even your average exploitation enthusiasts. Riz Ortolani’s haunting score is hands down my favorite part of the film. The contrast between the beauty of the music and the ugliness of the violence is unsettling. The pacing is excellent and the film is beautifully shot. It’s also beyond brutal and can be hard to stomach. The simulated acts of rape and dismemberment are chillingly realistic, and these violent scenes are surrounded with scenes of animals being slaughtered. Not to mention the REAL death footage seen in Alan Yates masterpiece “The Last Road To Hell.” In other words, this is a great first date movie.

In the proud tradition of their superior “Cannibal Ferox” 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 entitled “The Making Of Cannibal Holocaust” that features rare behind the scenes footage, an audio 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 (“The Manson Family,” “Gator Green”), liner notes by the legendary Chas. Balun, and much more! The most controversial movie ever made belongs in every horror fiend’s clas-sick collection, and this definitive release is an essential purchase. Better to rest in peace in the warm body of a friend than in the cold ground…so buy or die!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

Messiah Of Evil!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13, 2013 by Brain Hammer

Terror you won’t want to remember. In a film you won’t be able to forget!

MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973)

This one starts off with a sweaty, confused looking man apparently running for his life from something. He ducks behind a wall and rests by a fountain while attempting to catch his breath. Then a friendly looking girl in an ugly dress appears from out of nowhere to comfort him, before suddenly slitting his throat with a razor blade. Welcome to the wild world of MESSIAH OF EVIL! You will never be the same again. The haunting theme song “Hold On To Love” that accompanies the opening credits slowly begins lulling the viewer into submission. Then we are treated to an extended out of focus shot of a deranged woman babbling inside a large insane asylum hallway. The mad woman thoughtfully warns the viewers thatThey’re coming here. They’re waiting at the edge of the city. They’re peering around buildings at night, and they’re waiting. They’re waiting for you! And they’ll take you one by one and no one will hear you scream. No one will hear you SCREAM!!!”

We are then introduced to a pretty young woman named Arletty (Marianna Hill of “The Baby” and “High Plains Drifter” legend) who goes looking for her missing father and stumbles across an undead cult of cross eyed rat munching murderous maniac albinos. The dead people are slowly wiping out a small town on the California coastline called Pointe Dune while awaiting the upcoming return of their evil messiah. A gun toting grease ball at the local gas station tries to steer Artletty away from Pointe Dune, warning her it’s “dead as hell,” and quickly gets snuffed for his efforts.

As Arletty searches the town in vain for her father she eventually befriends a groovy young swinger named Thom (Michael Greer) and his two sexy female traveling companions – Laura (Anitra “Invasion Of The Bee Girls” Ford) & Toni (the aptly named Joy Bang!). Thom is the son of the Devil. Bored and disillusioned, and with more than a little money to burn. He particularly enjoys paying the town drunk Charlie (the eternally drunken and shiftless Elisha Cook Jr. of “House On Haunted Hill” & “Salem’s Lot” infamy!) to ramble on about the nights when “blood covered the moon.” Charlie tells Arletty that her father is dead, but assures her that he will be back to see her soon, and whatever she does – she must not bury him!

Arletty is horrified by the insane words of the booze addled derelict, but decides to resume the search for her missing father. It doesn’t take long before the town’s infernal madness begins to infect her mind, pollute her body, and threaten her life and the lives of Thom, Laura, and Toni. The ugly, old, but harmless Charlie turns up dead with bite marks all over his body. The zombified townsfolk attack and devour Laura inside a deserted supermarket, and Toni gets dispatched by a mob of maniacs while watching a Sammi Davis Jr western in a grindhouse theater. Then things take a turn for the truly disgusting as Arletty begins puking up lizards and bugs, just as her dead daddy finally shows up to reveal the incredible history of the messiah of evil! Massive amounts of blue paint, fire, and decomposition are unleashed until finally Arletty and Thom somehow wind up in the Pacific ocean desperately attempting to swim for their lives. Terror reigns when he returns!

MESSIAH OF EVIL is one of my all time favorite semi-obscure horror flicks from the early 70′s. This apocalyptic zombie flick is just brutally bizarre and off the wall. It’s also one of the most strangely haunting little films I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Co-directors and writers Willard Huyck (who would later direct the infamous “Howard The Duck!”) and Gloria Katz (who incredibly enough also wrote “American Graffiti” the same year as this!) both deserve much credit for creating such an atmospheric, highly memorable, and uniquely disturbing horror film. Many of the scenes throughout are genuinely creepy and unsettling, the locations and sets are simply breathtaking (especially the incredible paintings used throughout), and there are a number of visually stunning shots and set pieces. This actually reminds me quite a bit of a vintage Dario Argento flick: it’s always great to look at, but doesn’t always make a lot of sense. It might take a few viewings to fully grasp and appreciate what is being presented. I’ve watched this movie more times than I can count, and I always get something new out of repeat viewings.

It’s worth mentioning that this 1973 effort was also titled “Dead People” and “Revenge Of The Screaming Dead”; both titles would make this appear to be a more run of the mill zombie effort. I love the tagline used for “Dead People.” “Meet Albert. Albert likes good music, motor trips by moonlight, and…eating human flesh. Albert is one of the…DEAD PEOPLE!” Gorehounds expecting “Dawn Of The Dead” amounts of blood and guts will be disappointed, but there’s no shortage of bloody violence, and the film possesses an unpleasant dreamlike atmosphere that will keep viewers on edge. The violent death scenes that take place inside a garage, supermarket, and movie theater (one of the best scenes ever!) are all top notch, fantastic stuff that make this sometimes confusing film well worth the effort. There’s also an awesome scene featuring the blood-crazed cannibal zombie-cult attacking the police. All of this morbid mayhem easily makes “Messiah Of Evil” one of the most underrated and overlooked 70’s horror flicks.

MESSIAH OF EVIL can easily be found on dvd, usually for cheap. Penny pinchers should check out the Diamond Entertainment dvd, which includes “The Devil’s Nightmare” (also a great flick!) as a double feature. You can also find this flick in several of those cheap-o “horror collections.” I highly recommend shelling out a few extra bucks and seeking out the special edition, 35th anniversary release from Code Red. This version looks and sounds the best, and features goodies like a commentary track with Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, an audio interview with Joy Bang, the “Remembering Messiah Of Evil” featurette, and the short films “The Bride Stripped Bare” and “Down These Mean Streets.” The only negative thing I can say about this release is the fact that they didn’t include the “Hold On To Love” opening as a bonus feature. Considering the fact that this flick can often be found for as cheap as a dollar, there’s really no excuse for not owning a copy (or two) of this immortal cult clas-sick! Buy or die!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2013 by Brain Hammer

An idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history…

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)

The film review which you are about to read is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. A nightmare that immediately begins as the opening credits roll over the sounds of digging, with flashbulbs illuminating the rotting fingers and faces of freshly unearthed carcasses. The Texas sun soon rises to reveal rotting corpses crudely displayed as macabre art and left to bake in the blazing summer heat. Viewers are then treated to a loving closeup of a dead armadillo, followed by an extended sequence highlighting an invalid taking a piss and tumbling down a hillside. There’s roadkill all over Texas.

“Grave robbing in Texas is this hour’s top news story. An informant led officers of the Muerto County Sheriff’s Department to a cemetery just outside the small rural Texas community of Newt. Officers there discovered what appeared to be a grisly work of art: the remains of a badly decomposed corpse wired to a large monument. A second body was found in a ditch near the perimeter of the cemetery. Subsequent investigation has revealed at least a dozen empty crypts, and it’s feared more will turn up as the probe continues.”

Young Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin, along with Sally’s boyfriend Jerry and their best friends Kirk & Pam decide to visit the cemetery to see if their Grandfather’s grave had been disturbed. To their relief, the grave doesn’t appear to have been dug up, and the kids then decide to take an idyllic summer afternoon drive and pay a visit to the old Hardesty house. They should have listened to the drunk old man in the graveyard. “Things happen here about, they don’t tell about. I see things. You see, they say that it’s just an old man talking. You laugh at an old man, it’s them that laughs and knows better.”

The five youths also should have listened to Franklin & Sally’s horoscope. “Travel in the country, long-range plans, and upsetting persons around you, could make this a disturbing and unpredictiable day. The events in the world are not doing much either to cheer one up. There are moments when we cannot believe that what is happening is really true. Pinch yourself and you may find out that it is.” Their first mistake was not stopping for gas before making the trek to the old Hardesty house. Their second mistake was being kindhearted enough to pick up a weird looking hitch hiker who was stranded on the roadside next to a smelly old slaughterhouse. As Jerry himself would later remark, it will be the last time they ever pick up a goddamned hitch hiker.

The gang picked up Dracula. Franklin and Drac immediately bond over their mutual interest in slaughterhouses. The hitch hiker’s family has always “been in meat.” A whole family of Draculas. Things get interesting when the hitch hiker takes a liking to Franklin’s beloved pocket knife and uses it to mutilate himself. Franklin is understandably upset by this, so the hitch hiker tries to smooth things over by taking Franklin’s picture. Sadly, the picture didn’t turn out so good, and the kids also decline the hitch hiker’s invitation to join his family for an authentic headcheese dinner. The hitch hiker then repays the gang for the ride by lighting Franklin’s picture on fire, and then violently slashing the invalid’s forearm with a straight razor!

The idyllic summer’s day that became a nightmare of fear and blood. For them, an Idyllic summer afternoon became their worst nightmare. The kids manage to throw the hitch hiker out of their van, and the lunatic smears some of his blood on the side of the door as a warning. The mark of Zorro. Now dangerously low on fuel, the gang pulls into a gas station looking for directions to the Hardesty House. The kindly owner and operator of the station has no gas until the next morning, and instead offers the kids some good barbeque and a warning not to go messin’ around some old house. “Those things is dangerous. You’re liable to get hurt. You don’t want to go fooling around other folks’ property. If some folks don’t like it… they don’t mind showing you.”

The kids decide to press on and eventually make their way to old Hardesty house. Once inside, the girls have a blast running around the rotting bedrooms and howling and giggling like maniacs. Franklin also becomes unhinged and begins mocking the girls and blowing raspberries like a lunatic. “If I have anymore fun today, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to take it!” Kirk & Pam later split the scene for about an hour or so to go check out the legendary Hardesty swimming hole, and instead stumble upon a surrounding farmhouse with a loudly purring generator. Kirk foolishly decides to go inside the house looking for gasoline and comes face to face with Leatherface – who swiftly smashes Kirk’s skull with a hammer! Pam is then swallowed whole by the house of evil as she wanders unsuspectingly into the living room of a family of necrophiles. Her attempt to escape is feeble, as Leatherface quickly snatches her up in his massive mongoloid arms and then drags her back inside the house and violently impales her on a meathook!

Later, Jerry decides to go looking for Kirk & Pam and gets a good, close look at Leatherface’s bloody hammer for his efforts. Unfortunately for Sally and her invalid brother Franklin, Jerry had brought the keys to the van along with him. Now stranded,  the eternally bickering brother and sister are forced to wander into the darkness of night with only a flashlight to guide them through the rough Texas terrain. What happens next is brutal beyond description and grisly beyond comprehension. Franklin is bisected by the chainsaw wielding Leatherface, and Sally is chased screaming into the mummified arms of the patriarch of the demented clan of cannibal killers! America’s most bizarre and brutal crimes! Who will survive and what will be left of them?

This was THE one. The one that really fucked up me for life and made me the horror fanatic that I am today. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” was the one horror flick I was not allowed to watch as a kiddie, based on the title and reputation alone. My parents had already let me sit through viewings of “Alien,” “Jaws,” “Psycho,” “The Amityville Horror,” “Salem’s Lot,” “Dawn Of The Dead,” “Friday The 13th,” and incredibly enough “Last House On The Left,” but for some odd reason TCSM was considered “inappropriate” for a wee, impressionable Brain Hammer. Fortunately, I had a dirtbag older brother who was all too happy to rent me a copy and sneak it into the house one night when my folks were away getting hammered. I can say without exaggeration that I was mesmerized by the film, instantly captivated and filled with dread and horror, and also giddy with anticipation of what was going to happen next. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” quickly became my new favorite movie, and a budding horror movie maniac was born. Instead of making any sort of fuss over this, my parents shrugged it off, and went about their business. Within a few short years, my mother actually bought me copies of both “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” for X-mas at my local Ames. It’s not much of a stretch to say that I “grew up” with these flicks, which is probably why I am utterly insane.

In my humble opinion, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is hands down the greatest horror film of all time. To me, it absolutely personifies madness and horror. From start to finish, this film is all out assault on the audience and their sanity. It was the first cannibal horror film with real teeth. It didn’t play nice, or try to meet the audience half way. The viewer is thrown screaming with bloodshot eyes into the mouth of madness, and the immortal tagline “who will survive and what will be left of them” could easily apply to the film’s audience as well as the cast. TCSM can be an absolute endurance test for the uninitiated. The agonizing “dinner scene” is as close to capturing genuine torture and insanity as any film is likely to ever come. And for a horror film with very little onscreen blood and guts, TCSM still easily manages to make viewers sick by reputation alone. The immortal title is enough to have the weak squirming before the opening credits finish rolling.

Much credit must be given to legendary director Tobe Hooper for coming up with the brilliant idea of a “family of Ed Geins.” Luckily for Tobe, he was able to work with another demented genius – Robert A. Burns, an art director who was able to painstakingly create the sort of macabre artwork, dead skin masks, and human furniture that a clan of necrophiles would treasure. TCSM has an unmistakably “real” and evil vibe. It’s also a beautifully shot and composed horror film. There are a number of incredibly cool moments courtesy of cinematographer Daniel Pearl, my favorite being the unbelievable tracking shot that closely follows Teri McMinn as she leaves the swing and walks toward the house. I love the way the house slowly looms larger than life and eventually swallows her. Then comes the legendary meathook impalement, which rivals even the “shower scene” in “Psycho” in terms of horror infamy.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that the entire cast is fantastic either. There are some truly incredible performances. From Paul A. Partain’s amazingly annoying, and yet sympathetic Franklin (a real MANIAC, I love how he tears up the van), the absolutely manic and terrifying Hitch Hiker brought to life by the absolutely manic and terrifying Edwin Neal, the all time horror ICON himself – Leatherface, memorably portrayed  by Gunnar Hansen, Jim Siedow’s multi-layered and amazing “Old Man” (Jim steals the fucking show in the dinner scene), and last but not least – Marilyn Burns as the eternally suffering and SCREAMING Sally! Poor Marilyn really deserves credit for all the punishment she endured making this clas-sick. Leaping out of windows, enduring hours of brutal heat and the stench of rotting meat, screaming her lungs out, and incredibly having her finger cut with a razor – for real – so that Grandpa (John Dugan) could happily suck her blood! The insanity of this scene was real, and is still infectious. “Once you stop screaming, you’ll start talking about it.”

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE still proudly reigns as one of the most profitable independent films of all time. The saw carved up $30,859,000 at the box office, and has over $14,000,000 worth of rentals in the States. There have been a few different DVD releases over the years, but I would have to give the Brain Hammer seal of approval to the steel book 2-disc Ultimate Edition released by Dark Sky Films back in 2006.This definitive collection features a pristine looking high definition transfer from the 16mm camera originals, and over 180 minutes worth of bonus materials. The highlight of the package is the fantastic “Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth” documentary, which is incredibly informative and features some truly hilarious, no-bullshit comments from Robert A. Burns. The bonus bodies also include two different commentary tracks, the “Flesh Wounds” documentary, a tour of the TCSM house with Gunnar Hansen, deleted scenes and outtakes, a blooper reel, still galleries, theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots, and more! I also really dig the original cover art from legendary madman Wes Benscoter. Just a top notch release, and exactly the sort of special treatment that the all-time horror clas-sick truly deserves! A collection without this one is truly pissworthy, because the saw is family! Buy or die!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

Madman!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2013 by Brain Hammer

Deep in the woods, lurks a hideous evil… Don’t even whisper his name!

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 both the children and the viewers. Then the resident old fat fuck of the group tells the morbid tale of Madman Marz. Marz was a dirt farmer who once lived in a house next to the camp. He was a big nasty bastard who loved pounding his 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 calmly ordered himself a beer. A lynch mob captured him and proceeded to hang him from a tree. The next morning his body had mysteriously vanished, and 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 another long winded speech wishing the kids the best of luck in the future. Everyone laughs this all 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 still alive and on the prowl. He quickly makes chop suey out of the camp’s cook “Dippy” and then starts stalking and slashing the kiddies.  The campers are spoiled rich brats, and 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 for his efforts. Then the madman 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 deathtrap that seemingly eliminates the monster once and for all. As the survivors cling to the last shreds of their sanity, they 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 failed to make much of a splash at the box office. It’s too bad more people didn’t get out to see this one, as it manages to stand out from the bunch for possessing some of the darkest atmosphere, a fantastic score, nasty death scenes, and one very impressive looking monster. Madman Marz is one of the very coolest 80′s slasher icons, and his kills are almost unparalleled in backwoods brutality. This flick contains possibly the greatest decapitations (via car hood!) and hangings of any slasher flick ever! The special 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 another good performance. 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 oversight. The opening sequence featuring the haunting ballad of Madman Marz and the telling of his horrifying legend never fails to give me chills. “Madman” has earned 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, and a must see for slasher enthusiasts.

Code Red recently released a very nice looking 30 year anniversary edition dvd of MADMAN. Just having the film back in circulation alone would have been cause for celebration, but Code Red actually went the extra mile for this special edition release. 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 brand new featurette: “The Legend Lives: 30 Years of Madman.” There’s no excuse now for not having a copy of one of the essential summer camp slashers in your dvd collection. Buy or die!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!