I’m back again continuing the second installment of nearly forgotten cult gems that desperately need a fancy blu ray release! Here’s one from 1985 that’s definitely ripe for the picking, a movie that I’ve owned on VHS for quite some time now that’s shockingly underrated and underseen by most cult classic cinemaniacs!
‘Fortress’ was released on HBO back in 1985 and later in 86′ it hit theaters in Australia where the movie was produced. It tells the simple story of a teacher (Rachel Ward) who’s tiny countryside shoolhouse comes under attack by shotgun wielding, masked psychos hell bent on taking her and the children captive, hiding them in a cave in the Australian outback.
All goes as planned until the seemingly mild mannered teacher decides to take matters into her own hands. The tension & level of suspense are through the damn roof as it becomes abundantly clear that their captors are no push overs and aren’t afraid to pull the trigger. We’re treated to plenty of action, suspense, some truly inspiring outback locales, creepy masked bad guys (one who dons a Santa Claus mask) and a bit of a darker Amblin “kids in danger” / coming of age style shocker here as well. It becomes an epic tale of cat & mouse survival where no one is safe and its anyone’s guess who’s going to bite the bullet.
Most notably, right around the third act the movie goes pretty off the rails when the teacher and her students become a major force to be reckoned with. Almost transforming into bloodthirsty “Lord of the Flies” territory in the shocking action packed, blood soaked finale. It’s got some excellent twists and turns that are likely to satisfy both fans of 80s action as well as horror.
The shocking end scene becomes even more perplexing and unforgettable cementing this firmly on the forgotten list of cult gems. It’s a real treat how dark this one goes. Trust me if you’re a fan of weird 80’s horror/thriller/action hybrid flicks then this one will not disappoint! There was a DVD release of this movie a while back that’s out of print now, this makes the need for Fortress to receive a special edition blu ray even more necessary. Plus with fan favorite Rachel Ward (The Final Terror/Night School/Against All Odds) as the film’s trusty heroine you get an added edge of star power.
Fortress packs a powerful punch and in many cases leaves you stunned and shocked by the roll of the credits. It’s a well executed unpredictable
Ozploitation film that more genre fans need to check out, just waiting to be someone’s new favorite cult classic!
So you’ve seen all the ‘Friday The 13th’ movies, every installment of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, Seen all four ‘Scream’ films and all of the Child’s Play/Chucky flicks-What the hell’s next? Well don’t fret because there are some awesome lesser known slasher flicks you may’ve never heard of that you’ve gotta check out this Halloween. Let’s face it too, as far as slasher movies go, there are A LOT of terribly shitty ones you really don’t want to waste your time watching! I’ll save you the boredom of trudging through a bad 80’s slasher movie. If you’re looking for quality, here are 6 awesome ones you probably haven’t checked out yet, just in time for Halloween!!
1.Strange Behavior 1981 (AKA: Dead Kids)
This cool Aussie horror movie is definitely NOT your average slasher fare, which is all the more reason to check out this gem. 1981 hailed as the golden years of the slasher hurled a ton of forgettable genre movies in our direction but ‘Strange Behavior’ in my opinion remains one that’s got a lot more going for it than what appears on it surface initially. This campy mystery mixes the slasher with elements of sci-fi and 1950’s horror. It’s also got one of the most incredible teen party dance scenes in movie history! Dig it!
2. The Prowler (1981)
Worth it alone for the special fx work of master Tom Savini, The Prowler is a ton of fun and also has a cool mystery within it’s gory plot. It even features a memorable slasher dressed head to toe in WWII army fatigues that’s hell bent on hunting down horny teens. This movie has a lot more character than most of it’s peers, has some awesome spooky settings as well as some excellent moments of extreme tension! The Prowler is top notch when it comes to classy ass slasher movies.
3. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
You see a trend here? 1981 everyone was competing to make the coolest slasher movie and ‘Happy Birthday To Me’ is considered by many to be one of the best the genre had to offer. This one’s beautifully filmed, filled with cool special fx and even stars Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie) in the movie’s lead role! For it’s rather long run time (1 hour & 51 minutes) it never becomes dull and one of the reasons this one’s so damn charming is because of the incredibly ridiculous plot twists throughout that are played totally straight and serious- Scooby Doo and his gang would feel right at home in this one!
4. The Burning (1981)
Dang! 1981 AGAIN!! Here’s hands down on of the best, most entertaining slasher movies of all time. Although feeling incredibly similar to ‘Friday the 13th’ at first, this one’s a total classic that deserves far more praise. It’s filled with awesome gory, truly inventive kills, a cool disfigured monster-y slasher & most interestingly stars Jason Alexander (Seinfeld’s George Costanza) in his first movie role! A ton of fun and filled with ridiculous 80’s nostalgia, The Burning is a great time.
5. Tourist Trap (1979)
This one’s an interesting one for sure, for a PG rated movie it sure packs a weird creepy ass punch. It’ll make you develop a serious fear of mannequins, as a gang of traveling teenagers stops at a spooky roadside attraction that’s jam packed with em! To make matters worse there’s a masked slasher on the prowl who’s got telekinetic powers in which he uses to animate the freaky mannequins. Tourist Trap is filled with ultra trippy imagery and is a truly bizarre, utterly unique installment into the genre!
6. Popcorn (1991)
Enter the 1990’s!! Popcorn is a truly underrated gem of a flick that brings a disfigured psycho into the theater during a horror movie marathon. It’s filled with some neat-o plot twists, cool fx and and a unique story that twists in and out of the schlocky horror movies our onscreen characters are watching. It also stars Jill Schoelen, who’s a total 80’s horror movie cutie icon and legend Dee Wallace Stone for some extra added horror cred. Oddly the movie was shot in Jamaica which is why the people in it are always listening to reggae. Check this one out it’s got a lot of charm for an early 90’s slasher flick.
I’m a total sucker for a cool or super damn cheezy 80’s pop/rock song & I’ve noticed through the years that there are some really awesome soundtracks featuring obscure bands from the era that are almost entirely forgotten. Well NO more! I’m going to start compiling some of my favorite 80’s underground hits that have appeared in some of the more forgotten cult movies of the genre. So let’s get to the first installment!
About a week ago I checked out a cool little obscure australian slasher flick from 1989 called “Blood Moon”. It’s pretty much everything you want from the genre, playing out like a twisted ultra cheez John Hughes wannabe movie done down under. It’s got a ton of crazy horny teens, a ridiculous slasher, cool 80’s style and a total ludicrous plot.
“Something dreadful is happening in the small town of Cooper’s Bay … something more hideous than murder. The victims, usually students, are being strangled with a particularly grisly weapon while making love. They’re then buried … and small-town life goes on.
That is, until Kevin, an outsider, falls for Mary, the daughter of a Hollywood star. Both are on the campus killer’s hit list. They’re also on biology teacher Miles (sic) Sheffield’s hate list. Miles, you see, cannot tolerate his oversexed wife’s embarrassing affairs with the students. Finally, the rage building inside Miles and the insane butchering of young men and women explode in a nightmare of heart-pounding suspense … under a BLOOD MOON.”
Yep pretty much everything that makes a bad 80’s movie a ton of fun. What we also get is some cool obscure 80’s music, more notably a sweet Aussie power pop/glam band called “Vice” who “play live” in the movie during a school dance. I’ve gotta admit the band’s got the chops along with a rad goth glam look (They were forced to sport for the horror movie vibe) and some sweet ass catchy as shit pop gems. If I make a mix of cult horror movie songs this one will probably start it off.
It looks like Vice was a band formed in Brisbane in 1984 and throughout the years supported bands like ‘The Sweet’ & ‘Stryper’ on tours. I guess they started out as more of thrash band and also had some kinda offensive album covers too. In the later 80’s the band put out more polished power pop type of stuff. I checked out the album from ’89 called “Take Me home” that their “hit” song from the movie appeared in and it’s a ton of fun. Anyway here’s the theme song from Blood Moon “Keep Holding On” in all it’s 80’s keyboard kickin’ glory: