‘Tenement’ AKA ‘Game of Survival’ is the third movie from Roberta Findlay I’ve seen and so far she definitely knows how to serve up the grimy goods in true grindhouse flavor. Yeah, Roberta understood how to make a truly sleazy horror flick that’s for sure. Even though Tenement might be considered more of a low budget action/thriller, it’s got plenty of horror and gore to go around. Findlay surely didn’t give a damn if she offended anyone, even though this came out in ’85 it’s jam packed with scenes that you’d likely not see put to screen in 2019.
Playing off a bit like John Carpenter’s ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ except in a run down inner city apartment building, Tenement features a pretty diverse cast of characters who face off in a violent battle of life or death. The bad apples in this one look like they stepped right out of ‘The Warriors’ and are just about the meanest most over the top street gang put to film. These drugged out leather clad assholes are ready kill nearly anything in sight, and when one of the tenants of the apartment complex tires of them hanging around in the basement he calls the cops, all hell breaks loose. Just when the residents decide to throw a party in celebration of the gang’s arrest, they’re let loose into the night by police. Hellbent on revenge they head back to the “tenement” to get bloody revenge on each and everyone who lives within it’s sweaty spray painted walls.
The film moves at a brisk pace and it’s not afraid to get ugly quick. There’s a shocking brutal scene of rape, beatings, drug overdoses, guttings and that’s just the damn start. As crazy as this sounds at the same time the production quality is pretty low, the acting often pretty flimsy/over the top and it’s all sorta hard to actually take seriously. That all being said, for a female film maker back in the 80’s (and especially today) it’s got more bite than most films of this genre made by men. The action and gore is pretty ambitious and luckily the blood here, looking basically like red paint, tames some of the it’s sheer brutality making it a bit more consumable for genre newbies. I really dug a lot of the characters as well, though some may seem a bit stereotyped but the protagonist, a grumpy loner bad ass hero named ‘Washington’ (a cool add to black horror heroes) gets the job done once the gang begins to wreck havoc on his turf, the tenement. It’s quite glorious actually once the surviving apartment tenants decide to band together and fight back, revenge is well served here for sure and it’s quite worth sitting through the earlier nastiness for some sweet revenge. Also never ever underestimate a pregnant woman in danger!
One of the best things about this mean little movie is the actual setting itself. The run down apartment building is a dirty gritty mess of a place. The perfect place for an inner city showdown to occur, with no help of course from the local police. A lot of Roberta Findlay’s movies, at least what I’ve seen so far, have this totally sleezy city vibe going on and it she works that angle quite well. When people bring up grindhouse films this one is actually the perfect example of the genre and for what it is this one’s easily one of the best out there. Her movies feel like they were made a decade earlier as well and have much more of of 70’s feel to them in look and style. A dark yet entertaining action packed urban battle that might not be the most digestible piece of cinema in 2019, but it’s surely something you likely won’t forget anytime soon!
With the recent announcement of ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ looking to cash in on success of 80’s throwback series like ‘Stranger Things’ and Stephen King’s reboot of ‘IT’ I thought it’d be nice to give a shout out to a great flick from 1983 called ‘The House on Sorority Row’ I watched a couple days ago. ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ is going to be fully immersed in the 1980’s slasher genre. That being said here’s a pitch perfect Slasher flick I recommend they watch before releasing the new season, they likely’ll need all the help they can get by trying to convincingly tackle the genre. This mysterious little flick from 1983 deserves a helluva lot more praise than it’s gotten throughout the years. Director Mark Rosman brings one of the best to the genre!
The House on Sorority Row’s filled with a pretty tightly knit little mystery that’s full of fairly unpredictable twists and turns that never lag in it’s execution. Hitting all the slasher tropes in a pretty unique way, considering it was released back in 1983. First off we’ve got a full cast of great characters, almost entirely female as well and rather than giving us a troop of the usual moronic teenagers for the killer to prey upon, we get ones who you just might care about getting off’d. Our gang of sorority sisters here are a pleasure to see onscreen and most definitely take the plot into some fascinating territory. There’s the old seemingly mentally unstable sorority house mother who desperately wants the girls out of the house for the summer. However determined to throw one final grand graduation bash at the house, the sorority sisters get into a heated argument with her that quickly escalates to uncomfortable levels. They devise a plan to play a wicked prank on her, and in doing so set into motion a night of terror as they try and cover up their actions from the public. Deciding the show must go on they reluctantly continue with the big bash and soon find them being stalked by a ruthless slasher out to put the kebosh on their festivities.
Sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, the set up to this one is pretty awesome as the girls quickly prove they can be just as nasty and cunning as any 80’s frat boy. The acting for the most part is rock solid here too, but don’t fret, as there’s still plenty of 80’s cheez to go around. One of the highlights being the grad party and it’s totally rad live power pop band ‘4 Out of 5 Doctors’ who perform there that boost the level of fun up a few notches alone. It’s the kind of party that makes you wanna jump into a time machine to attend & get down in the 1980’s. We’ve also got a great final girl here that’s totally worth rooting for as she slowly throughout the evening puts the pieces of the bizarre mystery together while her & her friends are stalked on the spooky campus. It feels a bit like a demented Scooby Doo mystery that takes itself fully seriously in the best way possible.
It’s also not afraid to get nasty with it’s gore fx there’s plenty of inventive kills scattered about to revel in as well. The finale really ramps things up and keeps you for the most part guessing til the end about what the fuck is actually going one here. The killer is pretty awesome too and the last 5 minutes (which I wish would’ve lasted longer actually) are filled with tension, thoroughly impressive camera work & the reveal of the maniac in the flesh is pretty iconic in it’s own right. This one’s really got it all as far as slashers go, a stunning orchestral score from Richard Band, great spooky sets, sweet fx, excellent characters, a cool mystery and a pretty sweet ass slasher villain. If you’ve never seen this one and are a fan of the genre this one hits a home run!
Yesterday we heard the news of master special effects artist / director John Carl Buechler’s passing & it reminded me once again of just how amazing his work in the industry was and just how many of the movies he was involved with have been a huge part of growing up. From cult classics like Troll, Dolls & The Dungeonmaster to arguably the best installment of Friday The 13th, Part VII: The New Blood to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, his work has brought me soooo much joy throughout my life as a movie maniac.
As one of the biggest fans of monster movies, he brought some of the best to the big and small screen. It led me to comb Youtube for some choice clips of his that feature some of my favorite creations of his. They just don’t make em’ like this anymore, Mr. Buechler you will be missed but your incredible creatures will live on forever, that is for sure…
Ever wonder what the other movies the guy who directed ‘Predator 2’ & ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street: 5’ did? No?! Well I found a great little movie from Jamaican born British director Stephen Hopkins from 1987 called ‘Dangerous Game’ that I had the pleasure of watching this New Years Eve. Something even better was that throughout the movie you could see it was clearly Christmas time, making this one a neat-o flick to watch during the holiday season as well. The premise is simple, a group of rowdy college kids are targeted by a full on corrupt, mentally unhinged cop one day near their campus. Things escalate when later the same cop follows them in what ends up a high speed chase and ends up losing his job after crashing his police motorcycle near the damn police station! This sends the crazy cop into a ballistic rage and when the college kids sneak into a huge department store to spend he night (cuz that’s what people did in the 80’s!) naturally he follows them in and hunts them all down!
This one’s a true pleasure to watch, it’s got some great teenage characters, one who’s like the Aussie version of Duckie from Pretty in Pink. These aren’t really your typical throw away annoying teens, which is always good for a movie like this when you’ve got a deranged killer on the prowl. It sucks to not give a shit if characters bite the dust cuz they’re annoying or have no personality or sometimes when you want the slasher to actually catch his prey! It does a damn fine job keeping you invested in the creepy ass game of cat and mouse that’s going on onscreen. It’s also got a great location going for it, the giant dark department store is a maze of 80’s awesomeness, with tons of Christmas trees, blinking x-mas lights and Christmas decorations scattered about. There’s also some super rad scenes up on the rooftops that are pretty stunning, the cinematographer does a great job all over in this film. The killer cop is played wonderfully by Steven Grives as he’s quite convincing as an unhinged force to be reckoned with. The movie’s got sweet action sequences as well going for it, some I gotta say, over the top in a great way, like a motorcycle chase inside the department store is total crowd pleaser for sure.
This one’s a great ozploitation 80’s flick that definitely deserves to be on more people’s radar. It’s a damn near perfect horror hybrid action movie that’s a ton of fun for people who’re fans of the 1980’s slasher genre. Though there’s not a ton of gore, there’s more than enough nail biting horror and suspense going on, it’s the more superior version of a similar American cult classic slasher flick ‘Hide and Go Shriek’ that came out a year later. Track this one down if you’re looking for something to add to next years holiday horror play list or just happen to love the 1980’s as much as I do!
Well it’s that time of the year yet again and boy does time sure fly huh?! Yep another damn Christmas is comin’ and of course it’s the prime time to watch a plethora of holiday movies. One genre the “Christmas themed” horror movie, is easily one of my favorites. I’ve gotta say though it’s been a few years since I’ve actually seen anything that truly knocked my socks off ho-ho-holiday horror-wise that is.
2015 brought one of my favorites of all time, “Krampus”, which I’m sure to watch again this year and then just five years earlier another true classic “Rare Exports” dropped. So now it’s nearing the end of 2018, let’s take a quick look at what’s stirring about this year and see if there are any possible gems to watch between now and Christmas time!!
All The Creatures Were Stirring
So I watched this one last night, hoping it was going to become another holiday horror classic, sadly this just wasn’t the case. This Christmas anthology has it’s few moments but overall it’s a largely forgettable yuletide dud. It features six short Christmas themed segments, the best being one called “Dash and Away” which is kinda like a holiday themed short with a sort of Tales From The Crypt “Demon Knight” type of thingy going on. The rest features a lackluster take on a modern day Scrooge, a secret Santa office party going for a Saw type vibe, some pissed off killer reindeer which should have been awesome and the plot of others I’ve already forgotten. Also no sight of snow anywhere within these unspooky tales. If you’re really desperate this isn’t the worst thing you could watch but it’s surely no “Gremlins”. If you’re looking for a Christmas anthology check out ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ from 2015, that ones a much more ambitiously bonkers Holiday horror flick.
Anna and The Apocalypse
Here’s one lots of people are kinda ranting about lately, it’s a Christmas Zombie musical. I’m planning on checking this one out, but honestly I’m not a big fan of musicals and I’ve been steering clear of zombie movies for a while now as the whole craze at this point is just too played out for me these days. But hey I’m gonna give it a try soon regardless, why not?! here’s the synopsis: “A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy little town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.”
Yeah well here’s another one that in theory sounds like it might be a pretty sweet holiday horror, but then you watch the trailer and, well….I’ll probably pass. It looks like someone with a low budget was giving it an honest shot but the trailer does little to inspire me to seek this one out for a watch. Here’s the synopsis tho in case you’re feelin’ it with this one: “A group of college students attending a Christmas party at a sorority house that has a sinister past are all stalked by a bloodthirsty killer disguised as Mrs. Claus.’
Nope this isn’t a re-release of the 1989 classic schlock horror movie starring Dan Haggerty. This appears to be some sort of sequel to a movie called “Elf” not the awesome Will Ferrell one either, but another supremely lackluster one from maybe a year ago. Here’s the synopsis: “When a group of friends discover ancient elves locked in a cursed chest, they unknowingly unleash their wrath on the world.” Again, no snow in sight! If you’re going to make a crappy X-mas movie at least get some damn snow! Instead I recommend the Dan Haggerty flick of the same name-that one is awesomely idiotic!
Here’s yet another “killer in Santa costume” horror flick, this time all the way from Norway. To tell you the truth I’m pretty burned out on the whole “killer santa” thing, there’s great movies out there that were made in the 1980’s that do it best. But if you just can’t seem to get enuff of the genre then maybe Christmas Blood will be a must see for you! Here’s the synopsis: ” A murderer gets caught after terrorizing and killing people during Christmas night for past 13 years in Norway. After being in solitary for almost 6 years, psychopath escapes couple days before Christmas night. Police tracks next target of the psychopath to be in small village in the northernmost part of Norway. Group of friends are having reunion in the same village and unexpectedly end up being in part of Santa’s plan.” Hey at least this one takes place somewhere with snow! That being said if you’re looking for in my opinion the BEST killer Santa movie you must track down “Deadly Games” aka “Dial Code Santa” from 1989. It’s a rare french horror film that’s finally getting some attention here in the states this year, a mix of Rambo, Silent Night Deadly Night & Home alone!
I’m actually kinda excited to check out Pooka which is part of Hulu’s anthology series “Into the Dark”, It’s been referred to as Twilight Zone-ish type of horror outing and the whole concept sounds pretty interesting, I’m gonna check this one out for sure this Christmas, here’s the sysnopsis: “A struggling actor gets a holiday season job as a Christmas character in a plush suit to promote the hottest toy of the year, Pooka; he slowly develops two personalities – one when he’s in the suit and one that’s outside it.” It’s concept certainly beats another new “killer in a Santa costume” flick.
So that seems about it this year, are there any missing that I need to see or mention? Let me know!
Here’s a totally excellent comic book cover way back from 1986 done by the always awesome Brian Bolland, who in my opinion is easily one of the best cover artist of all time. This one’s a great portrayal of the legendary Elvira in House of Mystery #1!
With the Halloween season coming in mere days this one’s worth a second look and re-read. Cassandra Peterson still wows fans to this day with her iconic persona, she still looks as great as she ever did, perhaps she really is UNDEAD?!!
I recently checked out a pretty sweet little horror anthology from 1985 called ‘Night Train to Terror’ on VHS and it did indeed deliver the goods, especially in that oh so ridiculously sweet 80’s way. It’s not always easy to find a decent horror anthology but this one had a certain charm about it especially with it’s rather ambitious special fx & visuals that really made it such a damn good time.
The movie certainly kicks off with a total bang as we’re thrust into a full blown dance party on a train, with crazy 80’s fashion, a super cheezed out band rockin’ performing a totally “rad” third rate pop song. Now that’s a train I want to reserve a seat on! Anyway, soon we realize that God and Satan are also on a train that’s flying through outer space and trying to determine who will live on the party train as it’s going to crash. This is where we see the frightening tales of evil materialize on screen as it sets the stage for the stories involving some of the more questionable passengers.
So what we’ve got here are a few cool tales of terror, what’s really interesting is these stories here are all apparently edited versions of different horror films: Death Wish Club, Cataclysm and an unfinished movie project with Richard Moll (of Night Court fame) called Scream Your Head Off. Yeah and if you’re for some reason a big Richard Moll fan you’ll be pleased to know he stars in two of the segments! Also while we’re on the hot topic of Richard Moll flicks, you’ve got to check out ‘The Dungeonmaster’ from 1984, which is easily one of the most ridiculously fun horror/Sci fi flicks of the 80s. So back to the Night Train, it would seem one reason why these segments work so well is that they’ve likely trimmed out all of the excess fat from these movies and got to get straight to the damn point. So many obscure 80’s horror flicks would be bonafide cult classics if they’d trim 20 or so minutes from their run times. That’s a fact!
Yep, Night Train has got a lot to offer in it’s spooky entries, but don’t expect shit to make a heckuva lot of sense. The stories are actually kinda confusing, probably because they’ve been majorly butchered to pieces. That being said, there’s some cool shit going on, there’s one about a dude who drugs women, then kills them only to collect their organs. There’s a ton of nudity and some gore and of course Richard Moll shows up. The next segment’s about a freaky ass death club, whose members are obsessed with near death experiences, not the “out of body” stuff but like putting themselves into elaborate death traps to see if they can survive it. This one’s also pretty damn confusing, but there’s some cool ass traps and a rad killer insect that they let out of a bottle to fly around them at a dinner table..oh yeah and then some killer big hungry monster bugs! Lastly the third one was fucking fantastic, It had some weird ass Nazi guy who never ages, you guessed it…more Richard Moll, monsters a plenty and a totally excellent stop-motion animation creature sequence. This one’s story is super confusing as well, or maybe i’m just stupid, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s all 80’s gory goodness. I’d say just drink some booze and smoke a joint before watching, as it’s not there to wow anyone with a well crafted story that’s for sure!
So check this one out if you’re in the mood for a sweet 1980’s horror party flick, it delivers on all levels and you really don’t have to pay much attention to what’s going on, just sit back and enjoy the goofy ambition of it all…