Well it’s the Christmas season yet AGAIN! One of my favorite times to watch movies and every year I always try and hunt down the odd or forgotten Holiday themed horror movies to throw into the mix. Who doesn’t love a good holiday horror movie on rotation during this time of year right?! Well this season I’ve got 5 horror films I’m givin’ my stamp of Universal Dork approval for holiday viewing. That doesn’t mean that the theme of the movie is related to Christmas or the Holidays directly, but more so the events at the very least occur during this festive time of the year!
So here they are for 2019, track these down and pair ’em with some candy canes and spiked egg nog to get the damn party a started!!
The Oracle (1985)
Here’s a great 80’s supernatural horror flick from Roberta Findlay that takes place during the holiday season. It showcases a cold, snowy and mega sleezy NYC during Christmas time. There’s Christmas lights everywhere, holiday parties going on and christmas trees. It’s a pretty sweet little low budget horror movie that’s also pretty fun stylistically (it looks like it’s 1975 instead of ’85) and fully ambitious fx wise. Ouija boards during christmas is NEVER a good idea! It’s a movie it seems most holiday horror fanatics have missed out on over the years, so if you dig grimy supernatural holiday cheer, track this one down!
Dangerous Game (1988)
This awesome Aussie movie is brought to you by the director of Judgement Night, Predator 2 & Nightmare on Elm St Part 5. It takes place around Christmas time and features a gang of teenagers who decide to spend the night inside of a mall after one of them pisses off a mentally unstable psycho cop! The mall is decked out in X-mas decorations and makes for the perfect place for a tense game of cat and mouse! This one’s a ton of fun, filled with awesome action, great characters and even a healthy heroic dose of Christmas scenery, a crowd pleaser for sure!
The Day of The Beast (1995)
A Christmas Tale aka Cuento de Navidad (2005)
This is a great little Spanish Christmas horror flick from the director of ‘REC’. If you’re watching it for the first time in 2019 it might seem like it’s trying to capitalize off ‘Stranger Things’. However this one came out well before the craze of the Netflix series. It takes place during the 80’s, features a cast of kids who cruise around on their bikes who discover a woman in a Santa Suit stuck in a hole in the ground. They soon figure out she’s wanted by the police and refuse to help her out, things get interesting when voodoo magic is added to the mix and the kids find their holiday turned into a walking nightmare!! Track this one down, it’s so much fun!
Tales from the Third Dimension (1984)
So this is a rare horror anthology from 1984 that’s trying to do a Twilight Zone / ‘Tales from the Crypt’ mash up type of thing as evident by the awesome second rate “Cryptkeeper” character we meet at the start of the movie! Now I’m not going to recommend that you watch the entire movie as the first two segments really aren’t much to write home about, but the third and final 40 minute segment is definitely worth checking out. A full on Christmas themed horror story featuring two kids who stay at grandma’s house that kind of reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Visit’. But wait there’s more, as Santa himself shows up in the flesh to push the story to wild holiday extremes!! A uniquely bizarre, largely lost and forgotten Holiday horror movie….here’s the whole thing on youtube if you can’t find a physical copy!
I’ve got this new found love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from 1990 since watching it for the first time in decades! It was sooo much darker in tone than I recalled. When I saw it back in the day I was a fan of the original comic books, my older brother had a bunch of them in the 80’s along with other cool weird indie comics like ‘Radioactive Black Hamsters’ and ‘Cerebus’ so the movie at the time felt purely like kid stuff. The original comics had an even darker, bloodier and grittier tone to them something I think would be quite interesting to see brought to the big screen some day. Well one of the old TMNT covers crossed my mind from back in the day, issue #10 had bad ass one the folded, front and back. This totally tubular classic was drawn by Peter Laird way back in 1987, an era when they kicked a lot more ass and all wore the same color head bands. One of my favorite vintage Turtles comic covers for sure!
I had the stupid pleasure of checking out ‘Kick or Die’ a karate infused thriller from 1987 I found on VHS a couple nights ago and damn was it jam packed with a boatload of dumb shit to revel at. Basically what we got here is a psycho serial rapist who’s preying upon women at college campus and to solve the ongoing problem they hire a karate expert with PTSD to come to the campus and teach the women how to kick…..OR DIE! Yeah, this one also has a secondary sub plot with one of the college girls on campus trying to become a superstar pop singer, good thing that the karate expert teacher dude who she quickly falls in love with has friends in high places! Yeah he knows another big shot karate expert who owns a powerhouse record company!
Anyway I got ahead of myself, let me back up a bit, so things naturally get a bit crazy when PTSD karate guy arrives on the campus, it seems trouble follows this guy everywhere as naturally an evil punk ass motorcycle gang arrives pretty much the second he gets there to beat everyone up in the campus restaurant. So karate teacher dude steps in on the action and “kicks” their asses and in doing so pretty much demolishes the small business owners restaurant, but it’s the 80’s and people are usually fine with that! We’ve got a ton of absurdly ridiculous characters here in this one, for instance the biker gang dudes are way way over the top and of course make another appearance later coincidentally at the most inopportune moment.
The main character karate guy is really given his share of overly dramatic layers as a character as well and his sensual “chemistry’ with the pop star college girl feels fully forced in a great way. The movie at one point seems to almost abandon the whole psycho rapist plot entirely with a new side plot of the college girl’s sudden rise to fame as a potential pop superstar. But don’t fret it’s all part of Kick or Die’s bigger better plotline that’s sure to shock viewers at the film’s stunning finale….
This one also has some plot points that clearly wouldn’t be very well received in today’s climate of things, the villain of the movie is described as early on as a “black male” and mentioned again several times again in the movie that way. The psycho guy is a vile over the top filthy talkin’ monster of a man, so much so that it’s pretty hard to take any of his words or actions presented onscreen seriously. With all that being said, things take quite an interesting turn near the third act with a bonafide d-level M Night Shyamalan style twist that turns the movie upside down in a pretty ridiculous way. Actually if you stay with it to the end you’re likely to have a completely different view of the movie’s intentions as a whole. It really does make this one stand out a little more from the sheer absurdity of it. There’s some decent, dumb, over the top action & kung fu fights along the way as well, one confrontation with the college frat boys and PTSD karate teacher guy is pretty awesome to behold. For stupid movies this one’s a gem, it’s got a good fast pace to it and rarely loses steam with it’s ridiculous plot. If you’re searching for a fun, dumb movies to watch with a group of friends this one’s worth hunting down for sure. The title too, ‘Kick or Die” I must admit is pretty damn excellent as well…
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!
So Friday afternoon I checked out ‘The Predator’, the latest comedy from director Shane Black, the 5th installment to the movie franchise if you include those AVP films. I’d been pumped for this thing to drop as a big fan of the original, which back in 1987 was the first R-rated movie I saw in the theaters. It was also the first movie I’d ever snuck into. I can still remember my friend and I’s reaction to witnessing ‘Predator’ on the big screen after sneaking in, which itself was pretty exciting actually, it was a truly epic cinematic event I’ll never forget and one of those moments growing up that shaped my obsession of movies to current day. I love Predator and the best thing about the movie is that it STILL holds up as one of the best action/horror/scifi flicks of all time. So yeah, naturally when I’d heard Shane Black, who’d actually starred in the original film and Fred Dekker (Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps) was writing it, my hopes for a truly iconic return to form for the Predator franchise was indeed very high.
Well the verdict is in folks, and as a longtime fan, I’m sorry to say the movie blows. After seeing the trailers, I was certainly cautious going into this one, but still was quite certain if anyone was going to deliver the goddamn goods this time around it’d have be Shane Black. That however was certainly not the case. ‘The Predator’ is a full blown comedy and not a good one, in fact it was a bit awkward in the theater as their attempts at jokes fell quite flat most of the time to a rather quiet and unenthusiastic audience. I guess the best way to describe it is it’s attempting to be a Marvel movie version of the Predator. This seems to be the trend these days in these bloated blockbusters, interrupting any potentially serious moments in a movie with some sort of “witty” Marvel-esque attempt at a joke. I’ve gotta say I’m over it. Long gone is the horror/slasher, suspense of the original films instead we’ve got utterly bland characters entrenched in one truly moronic adventure.
I could care less about this movie’s characters, in fact at one point I was hoping for the Predator to destroy them all just so they’d stop cracking unfunny jokes. All of them are totally generic, even the little kid is just a total bore and probably had no place even being in a Predator movie, especially this one which I found out has some weird ass controversy surrounding it. I’m not going to give a play by play either, as so many people out there have already reviewed this stinker. I’ll get down to the real meat and potatoes here, the Predator at least looked good, that is until the bigger CGI Predator and his lame ass CG dogs shows up to take a big dump on that aspect of things as well. Let’s not even discuss how dumb the Predator dog subplot is here, it’s just not worth the time, lets just say it’s another example of The Predator’s piss poor writing. There’s also tons of “call back” joke lines thrown around here from previous movies in the franchise, apparently Shane thinks that shit is still really a big treat for the fans, as a fan I can truly say it’s not.
The movie is just one big dumb, poorly edited, poorly paced, boring mess of a movie. For the longest time I was hoping that Arnold would return in this film as Dutch from the 1987 classic. I wanted it so bad. After seeing 2018’s ‘The Predator’ I’m actually fully relieved that he declined the cameo Shane Black had offered him. This movie didn’t deserve to have Dutch to make an appearance. As far as ranking the films, this one just might be the worst of the batch, I actually would rather watch the two AVP movies before trudging through this thing again. I’d say after this it just might be time to retire the franchise for good. I’m still amazed Shane Black and Fred Dekker could drop the ball this badly, but alas they served us all a bonafide shit sandwich. Good riddance Predator, I’m sad to say it but I’m not gonna miss you….
I checked out a perplexing VHS tape last night, ‘The Caller’, a “thriller” from 1987 starring Malcolm Mcdowell & Madolyn Smith. Now even though I’d been told this flick had a twist ending and even on the cover it boasts “a surprise ending”, somehow I’d just had no way of predicting what was gonna go down no matter how hard I tried during. That’s a pretty difficult task especially in this day and age. M Night Shyamalan eat your heart out. Warning, this one’s got a ton o’ dialogue and then some, oh boy and then some. At it’s beginning something is most definitely off with our two main characters and immediately my mind began racing to try to figure out just what the hell it could be. Basically it’s just two actors the entire movie and is a simple story about a woman who resides in an cabin out in the woods, who one dark night has a strange creeping man, Mcdowell, appear at her front door, claiming his car broke down and needs to use a phone.
From that point on both of these characters act in truly bizarre ways, they talk to each other about how they’d get away with murdering one another and at times actually get quite physical while doing so. There’s a ton of tense talk here and overacting a ‘plenty to behold from them both. The premise though startlingly simplistic and a bit absurd does a decent enough job of keeping you curious about where the fuck this one’s going to end up. It’s not the average “stalker” movie that the cover makes it out to be either, think more of an extended episode of The Twilight Zone instead. I’ve gotta admit the interesting thing about this one is that about an hour in I was getting a bit frustrated and had some serious doubts that things were going anywhere remotely interesting. There’s a lot of weird motive flip flopping amongst the two leads & at one point it almost seemed as if it might sharply go the erotic thriller route.
The odd banter at times can become quite tiresome but as the movie ended, I appreciated it and actually consider the lengthy chatty-ness of it all to make the finale that much more effective. Being a bit of a sleuth at the movie’s beginning I’d noticed a couple things that reinforced my will to stick it through to the end the first being the legendary horror b-movie bandit Charles Band was an executive producer, Richard Band did the music and also fx wizard John Carl Beuchler who’s know for his work on Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood (which is one of my faves), Nightmare on Elm St. 4: The Dream Master & Re-Animator was behind the fx work. These three things should give you enough of a reason to check this one out, if in fact the names mean anything to you. Definitely a hidden gem, that most definitely worth one solid viewing!! It also may deserve a quick re-watch to see if there perhaps are some clues amidst all the dialogue that may have really foreshadowed the movies bizarre ending. A neat-o 80’s low budget mind bender~
I couldn’t find a trailer for this one but here’s the whole damn movie if you’re feeling frisky!
Let’s face it folks, we all love a good Rock n’ Roll horror flick, especially during the halloween season! There are a lot of good ones out there and many of them feature small cameos from rock stars BUT there’s actually not that many that actually feature them in lead or substantial roles in these “terrifying” movies. I here at Universal Dork tho, have decided to give you the top 10 rock and roll horror movies that actually star real rock stars!! So let’s not waste anytime messin’ around and get to it! Less talk more ROCK!! Here are some odd movies that famous rockers decided to risk their careers on!!!
10. Nick Knight / AKA Midnight Cop (1989)
Hey you remember ‘Jesse’s Girl’ right? Yep, easily one o’ the best pop songs of the 80’s in my opinion! Well 80’s icon Rick Springfield also had an acting career as well and when he wasn’t appearing on General Hospital he made some cheezy ass movies, one being this horror flick called ‘Nick Knight’ aka ‘Midnight Cop’! Yep Springfield stars as the hunky vampire detective on the dangerous case of his undead life, this movie was later remade into the first couple episodes of the tv series ‘Forever Knight’! Dig this stunning vampiric Rick-o-riffic movie montage!
9. Halloween Resurrection (2002)
Here’s one of the worst movies of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, it took the finale of H20 and made it into some stupid sort of ridiculous “Scooby Doo” style plot twist. However this one makes the list because we get some “rockstar action” with Busta Rhymes, one of the main characters in it who goes toe to toe with Michael Myers in the finale and fuckin’ wins! I dig that at least!
8. Monster Dog (1984)
Here’s an totally odd little Italian flick called ‘Monster Dog’ from 1984 that stars superstar rocker Alice Cooper in the lead role!! The movie honestly ain’t that good but it’s a must watch for anyone looking to see Alice in more than a freaky cameo. Monster Dog is a subpar 80’s werewolf film, it starts off pretty cool but quickly begins to feel a lot longer than it’s short 84 minute run time. It’s got a couple decent werewolf scenes, cool poster art and a totally sweet ass Cooper track called ‘Identity Crisis’ that makes this one at least worth a view! Fuck yeah!
7. Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)
Another odd 80’s movie with totally classic box art and co stars pop star Toni Basil who dominated the charts in 1982 with her mega hit song ‘Hey Mickey’. This one’s worth a watch for that alone and has a cool soundtrack “featuring” Devo. This follows some teenagers trying to remove a curse, travel to Alcatraz and get some help from a cute 80’s ghost played by Basil. The trailer below actually makes the movie look pretty rad, but it’s one of those “best of” moments trailers, so if you check it out you’ll likely be a bit disappointed with how bland the movie quickly becomes. Still worth a watch for the pure cheez factor it all and a cool dance scene by Basil!