Last nite I picked up quite an interesting new VHS release at Portland Oregon’s Tanker Tape Swap, a great event where you can have drinks a’ plenty while doing some serious rare retro movie shopping! Black Wideo, a new Portland based VHS label was there with their first release, the 1989 oddball, no budget, shot on video, long lost horror comedy ‘Executioner: The Musical’.
One thing I’ve always adored is the amazing cover art from vhs tapes of the 80’s and ‘Executioner: The Musical’ surely delivers that tradition with it’s stunning cover, bbq’d burgers and grilled eyeballs anyone? If I didn’t know better I’d have assumed this tape was released in the 80’s and someone just unearthed a big box of deadstock vhs. Anyway this morning before work I popped this sucker into my vcr (the movie’s only 25 minutes long and perfect for breakfast viewing) and now I’ve got it’s theme song stuck firmly in my brain still, hours later. What we’ve got here is a charming little slice of lost 80’s video nostalgia. The simple plot for this: there’s a weird singing hooded executioner dude on the loose and his presence in the city’s got the suburban teens undie’s in a total bundle. It’s NOT safe anymore to walk the streets and even worse the teenagers aren’t able to ‘party hardy’ like they used to. It seems the killer’s favorite time to strike, when a ‘killer’ party is going down!
One of the my favorite parts of this one is the bad boy greaser teen character, who’s down right P.O.’d that he can’t party. I mean he’s reeeeally upset about it, so damn much so that he leads the rest of his pals (who’re a bit like rejects from a ‘Breakfast Club’ audition) into a full on ridiculously awesome numbskull “pop song” about how bad they wanna throw a damn party, immediatley. Even though the music here’s pretty much a guy and his acoustic guitar (with some help from his friends at times), the songs are oddly catchy, albeit 100% idiotic. I mean that in a good way and being that the short film is from the late 80’s you get some sweet nostalgic fashion choices and fully over the top teen stereotypes on display (and for some reason spotting vintage Doritos bags in movies always seem to get me quite excited-YUM!) . Like the rich kid with his boat shoes, no socks, short shorts & English accent, the stoner druggie dude & the classic nerd with the taped glasses are all on display and ready to get sliced up and even “sing” some songs.
‘Executioner: The Musical’ may not be for everyone, but if you dig weird stuff from the 80’s and low budget oddities you’re likely to find something quite endearing about it. For horror fans there’s enough red kool-aid and corn syrupy blood to go around & a syringe to the skull as well! With such a short run time it’s hardly a commitment & it’s the perfect opener for a night of trashy retro horror movies. Check out Black Wideo for a copy, it seems they’ve got plans to release more from the director, Scott Grenke’s archive of lost films! Beware though, the film’s theme song “Friendly Killer” just might get stuck in your head for far longer than you ever thought possible!
‘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!
Here’s a pretty neat little modern throwback horror movie I took a chance on recently that turned out be quite a bit of fun. ‘Book of Monsters‘ is a low budget British creature feature that clearly makes it’s best attempt to harken back to the gory glory days of 80’s horror flicks like ‘Evil Dead 2’ & ‘Night of the Creeps’. It takes place on the main character, Sophie’s 18th birthday, when she reluctantly decides to throw a birthday party at her house. Her and her two friends are hardly the cool kids in school and aren’t even sure anyone will actually show up. To their surprise the birthday bash attracts a whole crew of unruly teens and even a few of the school bullies. Well it doesn’t take long before some weird supernatural shit goes down due to meddling with a necronomicon type of book. A full on bloodbath occurs when some creatures emerge from another dimension, invade her house and begin to slaughter the rowdy party guests. Sophie and her pals must band together to fend off the attack and protect their classmates from monster carnage.
It’s a simple story to follow and with a short run time of 84 minutes it’s a perfect party movie (literally) to watch on a Saturday nite with a gang of old school horror fans. One of it’s strongest parts is the protagonist Sophie, who’s a totally likable heroine who struggles with self esteem, teenage sexuality and the strange events of her past which tie into the supernatural events that occur. She’s also one of the only gay horror hero’s I can really recall seeing and they present this aspect of her character in a way that doesn’t feel fully forced into the narrative. Sure we got some bigoted bullies and typical teen jerks but those were always prevalent in the 80’s teen horror movies that likely inspired this one.
Now onto the horror aspect of things, though I liked the movie, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit tired of the ‘evil book/necronomicon’ angle of things, it feels pretty played out and I kind of wish they’d have used a different reasoning for the summoning of the monsters. Hardly a complaint really as once things get going here it’s pretty fun & action packed. The monster & gore effects are pretty ambitious for the most part. For the budget they had to work with they deliver a fair share of cool practical fx work avoiding for the most part cgi entirely (if my memory serves me correctly). The monster designs are pretty good too, one looks a bit like it was ripped out of M. Knight Shyamalan’s the village, one’s like a standard slasher dude and the other is kind of like a “Natasha Henstridge” Species/cenobite type-o creature. They all do a decent amount of gory, goopy damage too & it’s all executed in a fairly cartoonish way so it could easily be digested by the light weight horror fans. Oh yeah some evil garden gnomes are thrown in as well, that with a little more budget could have been far more crowd pleasing- but still an “A” for effort. There’s lots of chainsaws and general ass kicking done by the three female leads and even though most Hollywood blockbusters are trying to currently shoehorn girl power into movies ‘Book of Monsters’ does it in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like it’s blatantly pushing some agenda for brownie points.
If ‘Book of Monsters‘ had been released in 1987 it’d have been a bonafide cult classic, it’s a nice switch from all the shoddy CGI & digital blood of modern horror movies. It leaves the door open for a sequel and I think if it gets one with more cash behind it, there’s a possibility the second installment could very well end up as a modern day cult classic. For the meantime though I think the best crowd for ‘Book of Monsters’ are those who miss the glory days of 1980’s schlock, goofy gore & teen horror flicks!
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!
Halloween is upon us all and everyone is diggin’ out their copies of Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, Friday the 13th etc & storming theaters to see the brand new Halloween flick! Freddy, Michael, Jason, Chucky, Leatherface, Ghostface, It’s really no secret, these guys are some of the most iconic ‘Slashers’ to grace the silver screen, but what about the other lesser known, but still cult classic slasher villains that don’t seem to get much credit around the Halloween season for their paths of destruction?
Well, let’s take a look at 10 cool movie slashers that simply deserve more credit for their onscreen evil, mayhem and unforgettable creepy ass slasher fashion stylings!! I’ve gone deeper than say Candyman, Pinhead & Leprechaun, so this ain’t the normal gang, but these oddballs all deserve a place at the big bad boys & girls table!
IRVING WALLACE from ‘Stage Fright’ (1987)
Here’s one of my all time favorite Slashers, this weird ass maniac from Michele Soavi’s cult classic ‘Stage Fright’ has definitely got the bizarre looks and creepy skills to cause a jam packed night of mayhem! One of the weirdest looking slasher’s in cinema, wearing huge Owl mask may make it awkward when stalking people, but it’ll surely scare the shit out of each and every one of them! I highly recommend giving this one a watch as it totally delivers on all levels! This dude deserves more slasher cred for sure!
THE PROWLER (1981)
This slasher from the Prowler who we’ll just call “The Prowler” is a definite force to be reckoned with, dressed uniquely in some cool military duds from WW2, he’s formulated a good solid look for himself, because of course we know fashion sense for a memorable slasher is simply a must. This guy’s a crazed military veteran who’s out for the kill in a small California town and pulls out all sorts of nasty kills on his victims with his military skills. The movie itself is one of the best in sea of highly forgettable trashy, often boring sea of slasher movies, add in the gory FX wizardry of Tom Savini and you’re in for a real treat!
MARY LOU from ‘Prom Night 2’ (1987)
Yep, I dig ‘Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou’ better than the first installment actually. It really doesn’t have much, if anything to do with the original at all and that’s fine by me. This one though does feature the supernatural killer “Mary Lou” a prom queen who in the 1950’s is burned alive on stage after being crowned by some jackass dudes. Later in the 80’s her spirit returns and she wreaks all sorts of mayhem upon the teens of her former high school. Mary Lou has a sort of “Freddy Kruger” type thing going on as she uses lots of wicked supernatural tricks to eliminate her prey! This one’s the best of the series and a total blast of a movie as well!
MANIAC COP (1988)
Maniac Cop is indeed a supernatural psycho and should be right up there with Freddy, Michael and the rest for sure! He’s got a great iconic look too as his face is all mashed up and of course he wears the blue cop uniform which is even more frightening now in 2018. He’s also played by the late icon Robert Z’dar, who was an imposing presence even without the make up. Maniac Cop’s strong as fuck and wherever the dude goes complete mayhem follows! It spawned some awesome sequels as well and the first two movies even star the legend himself, Bruce Campbell!!
A few nights ago I checked out a pretty sweet little 80’s slasher movie by Harry Kirkpatrick & Italian director Umberto Lenzi who was also responsible for the equally fun schlock-fest ‘Ghosthouse’. ‘Welcome to Spring Break’ AKA ‘Nightmare Beach’ is most definitely worth tracking down if you’re a fan of cheezy 80’s horror and those wacky mega raging hormone teen comedies from that decade. You know, those movies that could simply never be made in 2018, this one is a prime example as it’s jam packed with nudity, crude humor and a psychotic “undead” killer on a murderous rampage. It shares a lot of similarities with movies like ‘The Horror Show’ and ‘Shocker’ as it features a serial killer who’s executed on the electric chair and seemingly re-appears to kill as many people as he can by electrocuting the shit out of them.
Yep we’ve got a full on ridiculous mystery here jam packed with moronic characters galore and then some. As you can imagine the college kids in this one have two things on their feeble minds, partying and sex! Our two main characters are pretty interesting fellows as well, one’s intent on partyin’ ’til he’s brain dead and his straight laced buddy, well I’m not sure why he even went to the damn beach for spring break. The dude turns down every scenario to get have fun, get freakin’ wasted and mingle with the ladies. He’s such a damn wholesome guy that he almost becomes more ridiculous to watch than the full on 80’s party hardy springbreakin’ sex maniancs that are combing every inch of the beach. Yep this movie is indeed more 80’s than the 1980’s. It’s the epitome of everything ridiculous from that time period, while the acting is pretty over the top, it’s still impressively played fairly straight.
The crazed maniacal killer soon sweeps upon the beach scene riding a motorcycle and dressed head toe in his biker attire never removing his helmet as the ultimate party pooper. There’s some fun kills in this one as well and a bit of a Scooby Doo style mystery at play as well to keep you “guessing” until the very in in the final “epic” confrontation. Throw in John Saxon as a corrupt cop for some street cred, a totally radical 80’s metal soundtrack and you’ve got one helluva idiotic fun as shit slasher flick at play. This 1988 horror movie is a great saturday night party jam to enjoy with a big group of rowdy friends and plenty of booze!
And of course this one has an obscure “killer” 80’s song in it from Kirsten, who plays live in the movie as well-dig IT!!
Happpppy HALLOWEEN boys, ghouls and all freaks of nature!! It’s finally here that special day where all things creepy and spooky are considered the norm amongst all other average humans!! Well today we’re going the distance and going to take a look at one of my favorite topics of all time: MONSTERS!! Duh!
So today many will be transforming themselves into creepy creatures of the night and I want to compile the top ten movie “human to monster” transformations of all time!!! Let’s get on with this shit, in no particular order, it’s time to get gross people, because who doesn’t love seeing humans morph into creepy creatures especially on Halloween!!
10. The Howling (1981)
I just NEVER get sick of this awesome werewolf transformation in the Howling! It’s one of the best human to monster transitions of all time, I just love the fact that Dee Wallace watches the whole damn thing instead of getting the fuck outta dodge!! One of the best!
9. The Beast Within (1982)
Check this shit out, one of the best most bizarre transformations for sure! This time though we witness a troubled teenage transform into some sort of bug/human hybrid! Nasty for sure!! Goddamn do I love some good practical fx!!
7. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)
What a damn fine movie, I just can’t get enuff of this one, it’s got awesome practical old school monster fx and even features Robert Englund in one of his best (maybe the best?!) post Freddy movie roles. Better yet Englund transforms into a big ass monster that look’s like Chet’s brother from “Weird Science”!!
6. The Curse 2: The Bite (1989)
Damn I love this flick, it’s a sequel only in name to the ‘Will Wheaton’ movie “The Curse” from a couple years before. It’s a fun movie with some superb extra special fx and a finale that’s worth the wait of the often meandering story. If you’ve never seen this one maybe skip watching this here and just seek out the full movie, this sequence is most of it’s awesome finale…
5. Tales From The Dark Side: The Movie (1990)
The finale story to ‘Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie’ anthology is super awesome and features a totally memorable monster movie transformation! I still feel bad for the dude who didn’t keep his promise, things were just going so damn well in their relationship! Oh well no amount of counseling could have fixed this deep inner relationship issue! It had to come out at some point!
4. The Company of Wolves (1984)
This rad and totally bizarre, sometimes forgotten gem of a werewolf movie, has several awesome transformations in it. However this one is my favorite. The snout out of the mouth is an awesome totally disgusting effect that still awes me every time. I’ve got to re-watch this one again SOON! This freaked me the fuck out as a kid…
3. The Thing (1982)
Here’s a classic! The Norris transformation sequence in The Thing is one of the best most iconic moments in monster movie history! Like it needs any real introduction-here it is again in all it’s gory glory!
2. Black Sheep (2006)
I love this horror comedy and Weta Workshop did an incredible job giving us a totally memorable transformation sequence! The movie is filled with awesome practical fx work and I love the whole “weresheep angle”, if you’ve never seen this indie gem you better check it out asap-it delivers the goods and then some!!
1.An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Considered by most to be the greatest man to monster movie transformation of all time obviously this one needed to be on the list, so here it is one last time for any of you who’ve been living in a damn cave for the majority of your life! Ohhh the pain of it all!!!
Still haven’t had enuff? Me neither-here’s a few more I totally dig!!
Oh and Luke Skywalker as he transforms into a bug in the shitty “Guyver”…still damn cool tho!
Oh and Drew Barrymore’s crazy transformation in the underrated “Doppleganger”!!
God bless Youtube, Here’s a cool one from The Spookies from 1986~!
Cool one from Waxwork II: Lost in Time!
A great one from the criminally underrated 1987 monster extravaganza ‘The Kindred’!!
….and of course this WHOLE damn movie!!