Are you truly ready for a 1980’s “Vacation of Terror” to Mexico?!! Nope. this ain’t Cancun folks, this here is a sweet horror franchise that started in 1989, starring legendary south of the border pop star turned B-movie horror icon Pedro Fernandez. Yes the lesser known Fernandez, appears to be a sort of “Ricky Martin-type” singer, who started his music career at the tender age of seven and later in the 80’s had a string of rad horror flicks like Trampa Infernal, Panic on the Mountain & this two part creep-out, Vacation of Terror (1&2). Check out his music as a kid when he went by the name Pedrito Fernandez:
1989’s Vacation of Terror is a pretty sweet little horror flick that follows a wealthy family’s visit to the countryside to fix up a crusty old cabin in the woods. Along for the ride is teen daughter’s hot shot occult investigating BF Pedro Fernandez along with his impressive mullet! The family starts to notice a few truly strange things happening in and around the property, and their youngest daughter soon falls down into a creepy ass well. Oddly there’s no water down there, but rather what seems to be some sort of lived in cavern den, with a freaky old doll and a few other odd antiques scattered about. Of course the daughter wants the weird ass doll, so they bring it up to the cabin where it begins to have an evil mind of it’s own that starts to manipulate and possess the young girl.
Good thing Pedro is there to combat the evil forces because this doll is hell bent on destroying the family and any furniture in the way of her telekinetic powers. You’ll see this doll’s evil eyes whisk from side to side about a hundred times as she “uses her powers” and her schtick does get a bit tired by the finale, but still strangely satisfying. However it’s imperative to see this first movie to set you up for the far superior sequel, where only one cast member returns-of course Pedro Fernandez!
1990’s ‘Vacation of Terror: Diabolical Birthday’ (directed by Pedro Galindo III who also did the excellent Trampa Infernal) is one helluva good time-but oddly there’s no damn vacation going on anywhere here. But that’s ok, we’ve got a wild ass halloween themed birthday party to attend instead this time! The best thing is Pedro returns, now a single man (who maybe had enough of the family’s creepy cabin and odd shenanigans), who runs an antique shop and meets by chance a cute lady pop star, Mayra who’s played by real life Mexican pop star Tatiana who wanders in. After some chit chat she ends up inviting him to attend a party later and when she’s about to split he notices a her little sister in the back seat of her car holding the same creepy ass doll from the first movie! Naturally Pedro swings into action at the sight and has a new reason to attend other than being crushed out on his sweet date-to fight evil! Of course part of the fun is to go to the party, where it’s either taking place on Halloween or the little girl just loves horror decor. We also get a super sweet performance from Tatiana of course doing her sweet hit song “Chicos Chicos” check it!
Luckily Pedro gets there just in time to see her rock out! However there’s bigger fish to fry as he’s hot on the trail of the doll. However the there’s a wild birthday cake that just by “chance” gets some blood on it and soon the creepy living doll goes missing and eats the blood soiled cake, transforming it into human sized demon that resembles Angelica Huston’s wicked persona in “The Witches” mixed with Freddy Krueger.
From this point on the creature is out to terrorize all the party goers and it’s now up to Pedro & Tatiana to stop evil from spreading and maybe even find some romance? This one is a lot more fun then the first installment, it’s got a lot more going on, faster paced and a bit of a more playful element at it’s core . However director Pedro Galindo doesn’t skimp on the horror, there’s some great gore and colorful kills to behold as well as the setting. The decaying old deserted Mexican village they end up being chased around in is an excellent place for the spooky shenanigans to occur.
While some may say this is the Mexican “Troll 2” I just think it’s yet another super fun, campy horror movie that fans of the 80’s have got to check out. These two movies certainly need to receive a cleaned up blu ray release with some sweet special features. Otherwise horror fans will certainly miss out, these days it feels like a company like ‘Vinegar Syndrome’ releasing these unknowns gems gives them a sort of sudden street cred/seal of approval. Well you heard it here first though, before the ‘Vacation of Terror’ blu rays are suddenly all the rage-get ahead of the curve and head back to the 80’s to take your own “Vacation of Terror” to Mexico before all the tourists arrive!! You can get it on dvd as a double feature right here at World Cult Cinema!
One of the sweetest, feel good movies in recent memory, ‘Love & Monsters’ came as a totally welcome surprise! And that’s all being said as someone who’s normally pretty tough on newer horror/fantasy/sci fi movies. Love & Monsters which came out last year may not have the most original plot but it more than makes up for any shortcomings with its impressive special effects and it’s truly heartwarming adventure. I guess I’d at first glance describe this as having somewhat of a “Zombieland” type of a thing going on and it might be easily dismissed as just some wimpy copycat. On the contrary, Love and Monsters buries ‘Zombieland’ (and especially the sequel), with what I think are just plain more likable characters who embark a much more compelling and colorful adventure in general.
Roughly seven years after the Earth was subjected to a mysterious monster invasion, the rather cowardly Joel Dawson has been living underground with a small pod of people trying to avoid what lurks above. He spends his time reconnecting over the radio with his high school girlfriend, Aimee, whom he was separated from when the tragedy hit and also cooking his signature soup for his crew. When the feelings of isolation and cabin fever finally get the best him he decides to muster up the courage to head to the world above. Seeking to finally reunite with his lost love who resides 80 miles away at a coastal colony, as he surmises that there’s nothing really left for him underground anymore. As he heads out alone he soon realizes he’s hardly prepared for the dangers all around him in the outside world. Mutant monsters are hungry and lurking around nearly every corner.
One of the high points here is the inclusion of charming canine character named “Boy”. Lifting a bit from ‘A Boy and his Dog’ (minus the weird sex plot) in a much sweeter way, we get the best of both world’s here for this little apocalyptic adventure. ‘Boy’ proves to be the show stealer here imo and his bond with Joel makes dealing with the dangers a bit less frightening, all things considered. The two make an excellent team against the creatures and it’s clear that they both need each other more than they likely ever realized for piece of mind in a crazy world. He also meets a few other interesting characters, a pair of wandering scavengers, Michael Rooker along with the ruff and tumble little girl named ‘Minnow’. Joel soon learns the tricks of the trade from them and has to make a big decision on the outcome of his journey. One of the best scenes involves a strange AI intelligence, who brings even more unexpected meaning to his travels.
The whole thing is a great exercise in escapism during these real life uncertain times we all face at the moment. It also shows just how important real human (and animal) connections will hopefully always be to us here on the planet as we move forward. As we’re feeling isolated to certain degrees currently, Love and Monsters showcases some parallels to the current state of affairs. I guess we can all at least be relieved that big mutant monsters aren’t waiting to chomp us to bit when we head outside at least?
Let me get to the monsters here as well, I was half expecting some sort of chintzy fx work here to spoil the damn party. Not the case, the creatures here though mostly CGI are a treat to behold and for the most part are pretty convincing threats to our heroes. As a HUGE fan of monster movies I think it hits that sweet spot quite nicely. There’s also some cool plot twists and of course some admittedly hokey ones that otherwise might not have worked without such strong characters at the forefront. If you’re looking for “Calgon to take you away” (80’s kids you know the reference) from the worries of the real world, I can’t think of a better new fantasy adventure flick to visit than ‘Love and Monsters’, easily one of my faves of 2020!
Who knew that 1988’s Canadian cult creature feature ‘The Brain’ was actually a hidden holiday horror gem? Yep this monster movie from the opening scene has got Christmas decorations strewn all over the place and keeps up this trend for the full duration of the film. Christmas lights, trees, tinsel and Santa decorations are carefully placed in view. People every year search for those lost holiday horror gems and I’d say we can put ‘The Brain’ firmly in the “Takes place during the Christmas season” movies & if ‘Die Hard’ qualifies as a holiday film then this one certainly does as well!
Well is it worth the trouble to track down and check out this 2020 holiday season? YES! The Brain has everything I love in an 80’s horror flick. Cool likable characters, a wild giant rubbery monster, plenty of action and a ridiculous plot reminiscent of those classic 1950’s sci-fi creature features. Creepy ass Dr. Blakely (the dude from Re-Animator who loses his head-and does in The Brain too!) runs a seemingly normal TV show called “Independent Thinkers”, a popular weekly “self-help” program. However he’s not making his audience any wiser, he secretly serves an alien organism called The Brain, that brainwashes (duh!) the viewers using it’s other-worldy mind control techniques. It’s also got a hunger for human flesh & as it consumes it’s victims it also increases in size. The only one who stands to save the city and possibly the Earth is a wise crackin’ teenage practical joker and his super cute stylin’ girlfriend.
The Brain is a fun filled totally 80’s horror romp with plenty of action, cool villains and a rad slightly idiotic looking monster that’s brought to life via puppetry and animatronics. He’s kind of like giant hulking “Madball” toy from the 1980s. He attacks his victims with limited mobility as he “cruises” around on his snake-y bod. There’s also some cool kills that are unexpectedly sprinkled about the holiday landscape and rarely a dull moment to behold.
Most of the movie features our two main characters on the run and some of the settings are pretty sweet. I’m always a sucker for hiding out inside of an empty closed school all night! Easily one of my favorite places for mayhem to ensue. As I mentioned before, there’s enough holiday decor strewn about to warrant this one a watch during the Christmas season if you’re looking for something different this year. Besides that The Brain is a solid, entertaining, charming little monster movie that’s got a sweet release on blu ray from Scream Factory that looks great and has some cool little extras to give you tons of useless information on the the movies origins!
YOWZA!! What the hell did I just watch?! 1990’s ‘Erotic Ghost Story’ is exactly what you’d expect from Hong Kong director Lam Nai-Choi, responsible for the 1991 cult classic ‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky’. If you’ve ever seen that bonafide bonkers gorefest then you’ll likely want to experience his attempt at a sexy softcore! I’m not by any means a seasoned cinematic softcore fanatic, but if I was, I’d like this director to be at the helm of more of it. ‘Erotic Ghost Story’ has got it all, three ultra sexy ghostly babes, a heaping of “steamy” sex and “hunky” dude who turns into a hideous three headed monster of COURSE! It’s also manages to add some sweet action scenes, some wild magic and a solid dose of those charming 80’s fx I love so much.
It tells the story of three beautiful sex obsessed fairies who’s live in solitude out in the forest. They all take an interest in a young, handsome scholar who moves into the woods nearby in a cozy little cabin. Curiosity soon gets the best of them and each one decides to make a visit to meet this sexy studious stud in his messy book infested cottage.
All three of them find themselves oddly fantasizing about him, and each take it upon themselves to seduce him. Each believing they’ve scored the relationship of a lifetime until they discover his wicked dark secret, this seemingly innocent sex machine is actually a hideous horny three headed demon in disguise!
Things get pretty gosh darn sexy and the fairies soon discover that each of them has “gotten down and dirty” with the guy causing some hefty drama between them to go down. But their jealousy is really the least of their worries as soon they all find themselves growing thick hair on their chests! What a bummer! They seek help from a local magic priest to help cure themselves of whatever supernatural STD they managed to all catch from the guy but find that it’s up to them to face him one final time with their own special powers and try to destroy the horny beast.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one, I’d figured it was just going to be some guy getting it on with three sexy ghosts. But to my delight this one delivered that and THEN some. It’s really no wonder that Lam Nai-Choi couldn’t resist throwing some wild shenanigans and a three headed demon into the mix! There’s clearly an over abundance of sex on display as the guy gets lucky more than anyone has any real right to with three beautiful women, it’s just too bad for all involved that he was literally such a wild and crazy sex freak. I guess this softcore would be sort of a genre mash up, a wuxia (chinese fantasy), sex-filled, horror creature feature.
It gets a lot sexier than most softcore movies I’ve ever seen, but the true charm of it all is that the director took a stab at a odd choice of a genre movie and added his bizarre trademark bonkers touch to the whole damn thing. If you dig his other work like Riki-Oh , The Seventh Curse or The Cat you’re going to want to track this one down as well for sure for the sheer absurd spectacle of it all….
‘Hiruko The Goblin’ from 1990 has got to be one of the best horror movies from Japan I’ve ever seen. It hits all the right beats for me in what I personally love from the late 80’s early 90’s genre movies. Directed by the iconic Shinya Tsukamoto, most well known for his epic, bizarre cyber punk horror oddity ‘Tetsuo: the Iron Man’ he delivers another slam dunk here a couple years after with this. However, this particular movie of his has gotten a lot of criticism for being so totally different from ‘Tetsuo’. Haruko spends more time on character development, humor and over the top monsters, as well as a heavy dose of heart. For me this is a much better formula than the grimy bleak mood of most of this directors other work.
This plays out way more like ‘Evil Dead 2’ meets ‘The Ghostbusters’ then his cyberpunk Cronenbergian/ David Lynch tinged outings. The story is simple yet truly bizarre: a school has literally been built on a gate to Hell behind which hordes of demons await the moment they will be freed to wreak havoc on the physical plane. Hiruko is a powerful and cunning creature sent to Earth on a reconnaissance mission, he decapitates humans in order to assemble their heads on demonic spider like bodies and command them to do his wicked deeds. Eventually this gory predicament falls into the lap of an archaeology professor, who’s dramn to the abandoned school during summer time to investigate the supernatural shenanigans and stop this demonic onslaught.
One of my favorite aspects of this movie are the two protagonists a teenage high school student and his odd demon-lore obsessed archeologist uncle. When the boy’s father goes missing while exploring the caverns beneath the school, his eccentric uncle arrives on the scene to help him search the school armed with some nifty demon busting equiptment. From here it leads them on an epic surreal journey facing off with creatures in the creepy empty corridors of the school. It also explores family dynamics, all with a slightly light-hearted comedic edge to it amidst the mayhem.
The other big star of the show here is most definitely the special-effects showcased, if you’re a fan of 80s monster movies this one will definitely be right up your alley Hiruko and his minions are a true sight to behold and the director uses almost every 80’s style effect in the book to bring them to life. From animatronics to stop motion animation, it’s all here and the creepy aesthetics and setting of the film are the perfect place for this all to unfold. Also the movie’s got a relatively lean run time I’d less than 90 minutes, so it’s not something that’s going to put you to sleep. A true visual treat as well, with a little bit of everything for everyone. It’s ambitious horror film from what I consider the tail end of the golden age of the genre that more audiences in the U.S.A need to view. A cross between Ghostbusters, Evil Dead II, Poltergeist & The Thing done by way of Japanese brilliance. Also a perfect movie for this Halloween season that you might not have seen before! Physical copies of this can be pricey and hard to track down but I’m certain it must be streaming somewhere?! This need a deluxe blu ray release badly!!
This Halloween I’m gonna make a few obscure retro foreign horror movie recommendations that you may have missed out on from that oh so sweet era of the genre: the 1980’s! I just checked out a rad little Hong Kong Horror movie from 1987 called ‘Vampire’s Breakfast’!!
This forgotten little horror gem is a load of fun with a heapin’ dose of spooky settings, comedy, romance and action in the way that only Hong Kong cinema delivered back in the day. I really enjoyed how for the most part this one plays the horror pretty straight, keeping the all too usual Hong Kong “slapstick potty humor” out of the equation entirely. For me some of the 80’s Hong Kong stuff can be completely ruined by crappy potty humor and comedy that just plain hasn’t aged well (and keep in mind I’m not normally easily offended either). Nope, here we have a cool cast of characters and genuinely nasty “American/European” style vamp on the loose rather than the traditional Chinese hopping kind. We’ve got some funky footage of Hong Kong in the 80’s here and totally sweet fashion of the era in full swing.
The iconic Kent Cheng stars as a newspaper reporter who’s hot on the trail of a serial killer and after poking around a police crime scene begins to suspect that the killer might actually be a living breathing vampire. No one takes him seriously except a boozed up car stereo thief, who he reluctantly teams up with to track down the suspected bloodsucker. Along the way though he interviews one of the killer’s victims who barely escaped with her life, the oh soooo cute Emily Chu looking as stylee as ever.
Of course it’s love at first sight and we’re then treated to a full on 80’s style Hong Kong “John Hughs” cheezy romance, which is a total charm amidst the horror. The thing I really dig about this is movie, are the horror elements, unafraid to get nasty when it needs to as well as some action sequences that can be pretty exciting as well. No kung fu here though, which is kind of nice actually as it plants this one in a more believable horror setting, but that’s not to say the portly Kent Cheng can’t deliver the kicks, check out 1989’s ‘Vampire Buster’ to see his skills.
There’s a lot to love here if you’re looking for something different this Halloween, the vampire here is plenty fierce as well. He’s got a pretty sinister look and raises plenty of Hell on the foggy streets of Hong Kong. There’s also some unexpected moments of gore as well that ramp things up nicely in the finale. I’d say this one definitely deserves more love and most definitely a cleaned up blu ray release with more fleshed out subtitles. A colorful, creepy tale full of endearing characters and a brisk pace make this one standout viewing this Halloween for those who love uncovering hidden gems from horror’s sweet spot era of the 1980’s.
I’ve been looking around for interesting movies during the lockdown and this one definitely looks like it’s got potential if you’re into crazy gooey practical fx and supernatural slashers. ‘Skull: The Mask’ comes from Brazil and the trailer looks pretty damn promising!
We follow the story of an ancient relic in the from of a creepy ass mask that turns it’s wearer into a rampaging maniac that looks like he just had a successful audition for GWAR!
“In the year 1944, an artifact is used in a military experiment. The artifact is the Mask of Anhangá, the executioner of Tahawantinsupay, a Pre-Columbian God. The experience fails. Nowadays, the Mask arrives at Sao Paulo. The Mask possesses a body and starts to commit visceral sacrifices on vengeance for the incarnation of its God, initiating a blood bath. The policewoman Beatriz Obdias is in charge of the crimes, challenging her beliefs”
Check this one out Horror hounds it looks like a ton of fun!
I’m not real familiar with with Indonesian cinema, but last night I watched a dvd (yeah a DVD folks!!!!) I got in the mail from Netflix that’s been in my queue for well over a year. The 1984 Swords and Sorcery fantasy martial arts adventure, ‘The Devil’s Sword’ from director Ratno Timoer. I really didn’t have any expectations, in fact I was fully prepared to turn this one off after 10 minutes, however that was most definitely not the case. Nope! Instead The Devil’s Sword immediately won me over with some impressive joyfully bad choreographed magical martial arts battles taking place in a truly stunning exotic jungle location. If you’re a fan of cheezy fantasy movies from the 1980’s then this one’s gonna be right up your damn alley. It’s also alerted me to the Indonesian action star Barry Prima, maybe I’m late to the Prima party, but a quick look on Letterboxd at his filmography revealed what appears to be an overload of action, fantasy, horror hybrid gems just waiting to be leaped into.
This one has pretty much got it all, wildly stupid martial arts, sword battles, magic, monsters, babes & hunks galore! All of it 100% ridiculous, macho man Barry Prima stars as “Mandola”, basically “Rambo the barbarian” looking remarkably similar to Sly Stallone (with a smooth fully stupid dub track that seems like it might even enhance viewing pleasures). He’s also got a radical bad ass female co star, who right out of the gates lays a smackdown on a gang o’ goons & who aids the mighty Mandola in his epic quest to destroy a wicked witch, the sultry and seductive Crocodile queen! She’s indeed quite a woman and has tons of male sex servants one of them the kidnapped husband of Mandola’s female ally! She’s also got a gang of some of the worst, most idiotic looking, crocodile/human minions that really just have to be seen to be believed. Some of these fights too go on for way, way too long but in that sort of “They Live” sorta way. I mean check this out if you think I’m full of shit!
Mandola ends up on this epic quest when some of The Crocodile Queen’s assassins injure his master’s legs and he himself is forced to saw them off! The Devil’s Sword definitely doesn’t skimp on some wild gore either, limbs and heads are chopped off, accompanied by sprays of blood. There’s also a dab of indiana Jones thrown in as Mandola explores caverns filled with hordes of bats and one supremely stupid looking giant cyclops! I guess they were lucky that Indonesia is such a beautiful place, because some of the locales add a solid a layer of legitimacy to the whole experience, suddenly I’m eyeing Indonesia as a future dream vacation.
The Devil’s Sword has really energized an interest in not only the country but also in some of the wild cinema it had to offer back in the 70’s & 80’s as well as a strong curiosity in it’s main man, Barry Prima! Check this flick out, it’s the perfect watch with a case of beer and some friends to enjoy all the unintentional wackiness strewn about the screen. There’s a dvd out there that Mondo Macabro put out years ago I think you can still snatch, or hey if you’re like me just put it on the dvd by mail list from Netflix!