Tagged: 1980’s horror

RIP Steve Barkett: A True B-Movie LEGEND.

It’s just come to my attention that the highly underrated B-movie legend Steve Barkett (born in 1950) has passed away, the news via Jim Wynorski. I think it’s a sad day for anyone who knew of some his wildly entertaining movies and raw charisma as an actor. I only recently discovered his movies about 5 years ago but when I did it was a game changer. If you’re gonna start out anywhere with Steve I highly recommend Empire of the Dark his 1990 horror/action hybrid. He not only directed this movie but also starred in the leading role AND wrote the script. It’s a highly ambitious mix of horror fantasy, tuff guy action film and romantic comedy. It would make the perfect double feature with Evil Dead 2.

Yeah it’s THAT awesome and I know it’s saying a lot but I think Steve here oozes just as much charisma as Bruce Campbell in the leading role. He shines as the unlikely action hero who can somehow go “one on one” with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren.

Also for his budget he makes more than the most of just about everything in this movie from wild demonic set pieces in hell to crazy action battles. This is the one movie of his that I will watch over and over for the rest of my life.

He was a highly ambitious and incredibly inventive filmmaker, it’s a bit of a shame that his directorial output only manifested two movies, but both are awesome. 

 But don’t get me wrong he did so much more he starred in some other sweet B-movies in smaller roles like 1994’s Dinosaur Island, 1995’s Bikini Drive-In, 1993’s Dark Universe his other sole directorial post apocalyptic masterpiece The Aftermath (1982). 

I’d always hope that he’d get behind the camera and in front of the camera in larger rolls a bit more in his later years, but hes left behind a some major league gems that anyone who’s a fan of low budget genre perfection must watch!

Steve will be remembered for all of the laughs and smiles he gave to all of us fans of these crazy movies- If you’re reading this post and you’ve never heard of him do yourself a favor and check out Empire of the Dark and The Aftermath ASAP! RIP Steve….

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Wild 80s Valentine’s Day Movie Picks: Scott VALENTINE in MY DEMON LOVER!

Ok Valentine’s Day is on the horizon! What are YOU and your sweetie going to watch?! Well I’ve got the cure for all you lovers out there- if you’re looking for a cool little horror rom com that’s flown way under the radar for FAR too long that’s perfect for the occasion look no further! Scott Valentine (the perfect name for this huh?) of ‘Family Ties’ fame (where he appeared as Mallory’s boyfriend ‘Nick’) co-stars in ‘My Demon Lover’ from 1987. A perfect one of a kind romantic horror comedy ripe for Valentine’s Day viewing!

This odd little flick is a real gem, with the hunky Valentine as a troubled homeless street musician named ‘Kaz’ & co-star Michele Little as the cute as a button ‘Denny’.  When she meets him one day Denny seems to think she might’ve finally found a normal decent man with no skeletons in his closet. Oh boy, is she in for a surprise! whenever Kaz get’s aroused, which is quite often, he turns into a ferocious demon monster. However there’s much more to the story, Kaz has been cursed since he was a kid but things get worse when after his arrival into Denny’s life woman begin to  turn up dead all around the city. It appears like “Demon Kaz” may have been up to some demonic slaughter and now has his sights set directly set on Denny! Sometimes love just ain’t enuff and soon She finds herself in the middle of a bizarre love triangle-with Kaz and his horrifying demonic alter ego!

This sweet little horror comedy is jam packed with 80’s charm and so much more. There’s some really well done practical monster fx on display here for the horror lovers and to make the demon extra special, they hired iconic monster comic book artist extraordinaire Bernie Wrightson to do creature designs for Valentine’s unique looks in the film. He’s one helluva cool looking demon and it’s no wonder that Wrightson played a hand in it’s creation. Bernie also did storyboarding and to me that makes this little weirdo rom com extra special. Plus Valentine’s demonic transformation sequences pretty excellent too and the movie doesn’t skimp on pleasing horror hounds featuring some fairly intense sequences of terror for a PG-13 rated film. It really feels almost like a lost ‘Tales from the Crypt’ movie with just the right amount humor and tongue in cheek charm. There’s also a surprising amount of cool 80s vfx work here in general and it’s finale really ramps things up with an impressive showdown in a spooky inner city castle sporting neon 80s electricity and lightning a’ plenty.

I’ve gotta clarify though, it’s not all horror here. Nope! There’s a heroic dose of cheezy 80s romance complete with a sweet date montage and even a few steamy “sexy” moments as well for all the lovers out there. A big flop at the box office, likely because of it’s bizarre premise, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t aged quite nicely for modern audiences. Though some of it’s plot might make a modern movie normies squirm in their seats, if you’re willing to stick with the characters despite all of their faults you’re likely find the perfectly bizarre date flick. My Demon Lover has some cool plot twists as well and an intriguing mystery running parallel to the romance making it stand out above most 80’s rom coms and horror films.

There’s not just cornball comedy here but instead some real genuine stakes at hand for our cast of likable characters that make My Demon Lover a special treat for Valentine’s Day. I’d say it’s most definitely in desperate need of a bigger cult following today and needs a fancy blu ray upgrade in a serious way. For the moment grab it on dvd, or if you even wanna go more old school get the VHS or rent it online to stream for only $2.99! If you’re in the mood for truly strange but charming romance you really can’t go wrong with My Demon Lover!

 

 

 

Blu Review: 80s Linnea Quigley + Evil Priests Conspire in Heartland of Darkness!

I checked out the new blu ray from Visual Vengeance, the lost 80s horror thriller Heartland of Darkness. Apparently this little “smalltownsploitation” movie was never released before this and for die hards of the genre it even features Linnea Quigley too. The movie actually shot in 1989 was recently given some finishing touches and for the most part this is a pretty charming little horror tinged thriller with strong characters, plenty of intrigue, sassy dialogue and decent amount of satanic panic. 

Originally titled ‘Blood Church’ we get the story of big trouble in a small town, mainly with a wicked Catholic priest in disguise who’s secretly the head of satanic cult who’s on a killing spree (or maybe that’s just a now considered standard priest?). Too bad for him and his gang because big city journalist Paul Henson and his teen daughter move to town on a mission to start a local no B.S. newspaper. Soon he’s joined by a sexy big city reporter small town transplant who’s decided to join the paper and put the kibosh on the Cult’s wicked murderous rampage. This starts a series of bizarre events within the hierarchy of the town folk, with a massive conspiracy in play. Oh and it also inspires Linnea to of course get a bit frisky in a graveyard again!

I enjoyed the heck out of Heartland of Darkness, it’s got a cool cast of likable characters, a satanic cult, conspiracy, mystery, Linnea Quigley (looking cuter than ever) getting naked twice, a bit of romance as well as some decent gore and a bit of action to boot. It never really drags but at around an hour and forty minutes I think it could have benefited with a tighter edit. I also think Linnea could have had a bigger better role in the story but it’s pretty cool at least to just see her onscreen here in a lost 80s role.

What’s also interesting is a few sequences where you can tell it got a few “modern” edits. There’s some lightning that appears to be digitally inserted and even a scene where it’s seems clear an out of place looking digital “explosion” must have been inserted, perhaps to make better sense of the uncompleted film?  Or maybe it was just the directors dream to have it in there? I’d likely have to take a deep dive into the extensive plethora of bonus features provided here, one being a new interview with Linnea as well as the original 1990 work print of the film at that time titled “Fallen Angels”.

It also comes with stickers, liner notes and some other surprising physical goodies inside the blu. This was a real treat to watch for the first time, that being said, will I watch it again? Probably not. There’s nothing particularly memorable here that’s going to separate it from the gems of 1989 and make you salivate for a rewatch. However horror collectors and Linnea completists are going to wanna take note and grab a copy. There was clearly a LOT of love from Visual Vengeance here to make this release something truly special. It’s pretty fun package all in all. Visual Vengeance is putting out some really sweet releases. Check it out!

The MOVIE MELT Podcast Gets Educated at GHOUL SCHOOL?!

It’s finally time to go BACK to school, but not with Rodney Dangerfield, with the MOVIE MELT Podcast. You bet! I went back on to discuss the low budget 1990 horror comedy GHOUL SCHOOL! This nearly forgotten movie fetches a pretty penny on eBay for a VHS copy and is known by cult movie fanatics as a boner-fide classic. So does Ghoul School desperately need a fancy-ass blu ray release? Or should it stay forever encased in a moldy VHS tape?!

That being said how fun is it really to go back to Ghoul School? Is it as sexy as the cover might suggest? Or is it far more terrifying than you might suspect? You can really learn a lot from this one I tell ya!

Perhaps when you attend Ghoul School you actually end more stupid when you finally graduate? Here’s sweet teaser you’ve got to check out, a fundraiser for the movie from way back when that we discuss on THIS episode! Could the teaser be more satisfying than the real thing? Hmmmm….

 

Well we’ve got the scoop and all the useless details about this weird little punk rock low brow horror oddity as well as a school related battle of the bands and lots of senseless movie talk about what you might be wanting to watch if you’re a cinematic super freak! Check out the latest episode HERE!

VHS Verdict: 1990’s ‘WHEELS OF TERROR’ Goes The Distance!

I had a super sweet VHS swap at my store, Hollywood Babylon, in Portland Oregon a couple weeks ago and picked up some pretty promising picks on tape- Most notably ‘Wheels of Terror’ from 1990. A movie that luckily lives up to its sweet VHS cover!

 Originally an R rated, made for TV movie appearing on the USA Network, I admittedly didn’t have very high hopes for what would unfold on screen. As a big fan of road road horror I’m happy to report that this one really went the distance. Directed by Christopher Cain, most notably known for ‘Young Guns’ and ‘The Next Karate Kid’, I’d have never suspected he’d be capable of such a taut and effective tale of terror.  This would be a great  one to pair up with ‘The Hitcher’, ‘Duel’ or ‘Road Games’ for one helluva solid double feature.

 ‘Wheels’ pulls no damn punches and UPS the ante for some real high stakes horror!  In a nutshell it is the story of a single mother and her daughter who move to a small town in the desert. Mom’s a school bus driver, trying to get into the swing of small town life, it should be a simple adjustment right? WRONG! This small town has a BIG problem, a psychotic child predator is on the loose, abducting kids in his super fucked of sketchy demonic looking black car. Pretty messed up place to live huh? You bet!! Bad move Momma!

Well luckily the local mechanic souped up Mom’s school bus with a freakin’ race car engine, how’s that for foreshadowing?  Things get super tense real fast as the psycho driver begins to target the town zeroing in on the Mom’s daughter, arriving at their house reving his screechin’ engine in the dead of night. 

 At times it almost appears like the psycho is some sort of supernatural presence as no one seems to notice this bizarre freaky ass car driving around in broad daylight with no goddamn muffler! There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief that you might need a to really take this movie seriously but what it lacks in “grounded reality” It more than makes up for in tension. 

It would be one thing if it was simply a mass murderer driving around in a car but the fact that it’s a creepy sex offender makes the stakes shoot through the roof.  And once you get to the real meat and potatoes of the movie the final act is a goddamn balls to the wall action packed literal demolition derby thrill ride! Filled with great stunts, unexpected twists and fucking unrelenting killer road rage.

It’s lean run time of under 85 minutes also makes this one pack a powerful punch and is the perfect movie to watch with the rowdy gang of hungry cinefiles! I’d say my only real problem with ‘Wheels of Terror’ is the promise of some sort of mysterious reveal that might rear its ugly head in it’s finale that never comes sadly. Still its a bonafide lost hidden gem, full of action a’ plenty, strong characters and one wickedly terrifying villain! Hunt this little gem down and please someone give this nasty little flick a sweet blu ray release!!

 

VHS Verdict: The Hippies and Horror of ‘HIGH DESERT KILL’!’

I just recently ran across a pretty promising looking VHS tape, at least from the cover, ‘High Desert Kill’ from 1989 has all the right ingredients for one hell of a horror flick!


Marc Singer, The Beastmaster himself, rounds out the cast in this intriguing tale of terror in the deserts of New Mexico. However don’t be too dead set on blood-and-guts in this tale of survival. There’s really not a lick of gore to be found anywhere on screen for it’s entire run time.

It actually plays out like a bit of an extended episode of the X-Files (minus the Mulder and Scully type aspect) and I mean that as a compliment. I guess this was indeed a made for cable TV movie, don’t let that deter you though, cuz there’s a lot of forgotten gems in that category. We’ve got a great setting with 3 manly dudes who head out on a camping/hunting excursion deep in the desert in honor of their long lost deceased friend. There’s plenty of testosterone here going around as these sweaty often shirtless guys begin to almost immediately encounter some eerie occurrences upon arriving the first evening as well as some hot “hippie” babes (At least that’s what they seem to think they are for some reason) to liven up the party.

But things quickly go South as they start experiencing hallucinations and begin to believe they are being stalked by some unseen malevolent force. The desert of New Mexico is the perfect place for this creepy tale to unfold, it’s filled with plenty of mystery and the stunning beauty showcasing its natural surroundings..

To be honest the setting here is really the star of the show, there’s not a hell of a lot of spectacle to behold otherwise visually. No real flashy special effects or balls to the wall action sequences. However what it seems to lack in spectacle it makes up for with atmosphere, cleverly mixing a sense of dread and mystery at play with these old friends as the plot begins to slowly unfold and reveal it’s ugly details. The cover of the movie however does reveal perhaps a little more than it should with an alien spacecraft high in the sky, but don’t expect too much of that either and don’t expect too many skeletons to be rearing their ugly heads.

Despite those minor quibbles there’s plenty to love here and the cast of characters makes this weirdo trip one worth taking.  It also features a pretty interesting backstory, shrouded and Native American mythology. If you’re in the mood for a simple slowburn with a pretty satisfying twist to it ‘High Desert Kill’ will be more than sufficient watch for any fanatic of erie eighties sci fi. I also see that currently Kino Lorber has a preorder for this one on blu ray– check it out!

VHS Verdict: The Steamy Sexy Shenanigans of ‘The Invisible Maniac’!

Forget about ‘Hollow Man’ (I’m sure you probably already did) cuz ‘The Invisible Maniac’ was in town waaaay before him in 1990! Yes I had the pleasure of viewing this wild little, sexy horror comedy this week from director Adam Rifkin (The Dark Backward, Detroit Rock City, The Chase) and it really did not disappoint. That is of course if you’re in the mood for some wildly perverted antics from it’s completely deranged villain, so damn proficient at killing hes like the “Bullseye” of slashers. You’ve never seen someone killed with a submarine sandwich before huh? Well look no further because this dude indeed performs the deed!

We do get a bit of a retred on the “invisible man” storyline, but this goes some wild and wacky places and even though it’s equal parts sex comedy, it still manages to keep a certain degree of horror firmly intact. Definitely at times ‘The Invisible Maniac’ feels like a solid Jim Wynorski movie, not a total farce but something like ‘976-EVIL 2’ or ‘Chopping Mall’.

 Luckily this one does feature sweet B-movie scream queen Melissa Moore, as beautiful as ever of course and a cast of “teens” who are more than ready to misbehave. When an insane professor (who recently escaped from an asylum) & has been working on an Invisibility serum, arrives to teach her summer school class all hell breaks loose and plenty of sexy and spooky shenanigans follow.

 The Professor goes on his low profile rampage after the sexiest principal of all time makes some seriously unwanted(?) advances on this is this lil’ pervert. It left me scratching my head as to why he got so angry being such a full on “class A perv” himself? Come on maniac, that might be your only chance to get some!! 

Nobody is safe in the school as he creeps around classrooms, locker rooms and of course……the women’s showers! It’s up to the kids, who actually look more like adults in their thirties, to ban together to take this guy out before he slaughters the entire cast. One of the best things about this 1 is observing some of the most idiotic and ridiculous invisible “fist fights” as people try their best to fend off the wild transparent whack job. 

You really can’t do much better if you’re looking for a weird horror sex comedy to liven up the party. The Invisible Maniac definitely delivers some great scenes of terribly excellent acting, legit comedy, sexy babes, a few thrills as well as some ridiculous charming special effects. Hunt this down if you’re feelin’ frisky, it’s a ton of fun! 

Hunks, Babes & Ass Kickin’ in Prison: 1990’s CAGED FURY on MOVIE MELT!!

Are you ready for ass kickin’ HUNKS, sexy BABES, Prison Drama, M. Night Shyamalan style twists and Erik Estrada’s incredible on camera booger? Well then look no further because we just showcased 1990’s CAGED FURY on the latest episode of MOVIE MELT!

 Yes we decide to get deep into the corrupt prison system of Caged Fury as we follow a gang of women wrongfully locked up against their will and tormented by a bizarre team of villainous sex crazed prison guards. 

Beware when going to LA looking for fame & fortune cuz what you just might end up with is a case of Caged Fury! Don’t fret though, you might also end up meeting Eric Estrada and his crazy ass martial arts master, best friend Richie Barathy for some romance, bar hoppin’ and a hefty dose of ASS kicking! 

We get down to the nitty gritty details of this Intense action adventure film filled to the brim with twists and turns. We also give you some cool suggestions of movies you might want to check out if you dig stuff like Caged Fury as well as a “battle of the movie bands” competition! Check it all out and let your brain fill with more useless cinematic junk than you imagined humanly possible! LISTEN HERE TO THE MOVIE MELT PODCAST! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

80s Stop Motion Mayhem: Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires!

A sad fact for me to admit is that sometimes when I watch a movie at home, all by myself I’m easily tempted to be distracted by my phone while “watching”. Usually it’s a sign that the flick I’m watchin’ just ain’t cutting the damn mustard! It’s probably also a sign of phone addiction, but that’s another depressing topic in itself. So imagine how pleased I was at the first viewing of ‘Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires’, probably my favorite new movie of the last few years hands down, I never even looked at my phone ONCE the entire time!

This one was released overseas in 2018 but just this year hit streaming services. But before I get ahead of myself, a lot might wonder just what the hell is this thing? Well to put it simply it’s probably one of the greatest stop motion animation full length features I’ve ever seen. Easily one of the most unique movies stylistically. There’s literally been nothing quite like it before. It’s essentially a stop motion version of a 1980s action movie / horror/sex comedy hybrid mash up for all you fans of those midnight B-movies of yesteryear! 

Chuck Steel is a full on meat-head, numbskull cop who’s fully proficient with just three things: martial arts, big guns and his big bad attitude. A self proclaimed loner, he pretty much handles every situation with his fists or a gun, a hardened heroic dipshit, losing the only woman he ever loved to an evil ninja crime syndicate of course! 

Chuck’s pretty much able to finagle his way out of any situations with sheer brute force, until an occult menace comes to town, bringing a slew of bizarre creatures called trampires to roam the foggy night streets. He’s soon forced to adopt new buddy cop partners to work with and also teams up with a “Peter Vincent/Fright Night” type old guy vampire slayer to try the rid the city of this supernatural scourge.

Along the way of course we get a ton of insane martial arts brawls, spectacular explosions, car chases, crazy gore & a load of ferocious monsters to feast our eyes upon.

To say this movie is ambitious would be an understatement as this took years to film, building dozens of stunning miniature sets and using all practical puppets to create some of the most breathtaking stop motion animation I’ve ever witnessed.

Everything looks absolutely incredible and this is a literal cult horror b-movie fanatics dream come true! As I understand it the director, Mike Mort, had created the character when he was a teenager and & just now finally bringing the adventure to the big screen and eventually getting a funding of 20 million dollars, and boy does the effort and money show.

I’m honestly quite surprised that this movie hasn’t gotten WAY more attention. It does of course feature some very un-PC humor, nothing incredibly offensive, but definitely the kind of jokes you would hear directly in a classic, raunchy eighties comedy. The character in a nutshell emulates the same type of humor you might expect from Ash in Evil Dead or Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai. 

Perhaps that’s why this one hasn’t garnered major attention so far? I’m perplexed! Whatever the case ‘Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires’ is a true spectacle to behold and a loving tribute to everything that us weirdo movie maniacs appreciate about about the 1980s and the golden era of horror.

Check this out if you’re a fan of B-Movies that drip of over the top characters, action, monsters, martial arts, crude comedy and one liners galore!

Lost Gems of the 80s: The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents!

I’ve been delving deeply into old 1980s horror/fantasy television shows and lovin’ it, because one thing I’ve noticed is nobody does it quite like they did back then in the “golden era” of horror- Even when it comes to TV shows!

After watching the totally radical ‘Amazing Stories’ series and the Twilight Zone 80s revival I was sooo ready for more. Digging deep back into my memories of my childhood I clearly remember the obvious choice: ‘The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ that ran from ’85-1989.

I have some fond memories of this show and one episode in particular that stuck in my mind all of these years right up to today. Part of me was wondering if I’d maybe in fact dreamt up this particular episode of the show? Not the case. In fact upon watching the 1st few episodes it was clear, this was going to be a fun ride of full on nostalgia done to perfection! I imagine remembering an episode plot from well over 35 years ago is a good sign of a memorable show? I think so!

This series, at least for me. way back then was paired in a sort of “power hour” with Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’. The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents is full of twists, turns, star studded cameos and now famous directors. A mix of horror, suspense and most importantly MURDER, fuel this nearly forgotten gem. It originally aired on NBC but was canceled, later being picked up on the USA Network thankfully!

Nearly every episode has a familiar face, which really makes half of the fun here and every so often a surprise director comes comes on to the scene, like a particular episode called ‘The Jar’ which  is helmed by Tim Burton himself and drips with his signature tone and style.

There’s also some great star studded appearances featuring the likes of Mark Hamill, Mia Sara, a VERY young Joaquin Phoenix, Martin Sheen, Michael Ironside And many more.

One of my all time favorite episodes is ‘Night Creatures’ one of the only 100% supernatural fueled episodes. It plays out more like an incredible schlocky neon drenched 1980s tv pilot than a single episode. It features a punk rock goth rock star who’s secretly a bloodthirsty vampire and would be a welcome entry into any 1980s heavy metal horror anthology! 

There are so many excellent episodes here to behold, I really can’t recommend this series enough for those those eighties horror hounds in search of some memorable cheez. Of course there are some misses among the 40 plus episodes of 4 seasons.  The show covers a lot of interesting but disturbing topics too like “kids playing with guns” in one of the most unsettling episodes you’re likely to see in the series and  of course that classic episode that always stuck with me featuring a woman who’s been brutally assaulted and her husband heads off on his own to stalk the perp. The twist here is one of the most chilling of the entire series! 

Lastly Martin Sheen shines as a crazy aging actor who’s hellbent on landing a role so much so that he goes to the extremes of murder to get what he wants! His performance is so over the top and enjoyable It’s by far one of the standout performances of the series.

This elusive little series deserves a sweet blu ray release, I found a bootleg copy of the entire series on eBay which has been a truly fun ride over the past few weeks!  Luckily many of the episodes can be actually found right on YouTube. Hunt this long lost gem down and treat yourself to the golden era of mystery and horror with the new Alfred Hitchcock presents! Here’s a  great episode to start you off!