Tagged: grindhouse

VHS Verdict: 1985’s Female Fueled Supernatural Horror Flick ‘THE ORACLE’!!

I’d never seen a Roberta Findlay movie before up until a few days ago, but I’m pretty damn stoked to check out more of her work in the horror genre for sure! ‘The Oracle’ is a sweet yet nasty little horror film from 1985 that took me pleasantly by surprise. It really looks more like it was filmed in the late 70’s, even the clothing styles and general quality of the film has a gritty and dirty grindhouse vibe to it that certainly amplifies the charm. Taking place in the seedy areas of NYC during Christmas time (yeah a new holiday horror flick for the books) Jennifer & her asinine hubby move to a new apartment once occupied by an elderly psychic woman and soon stumble upon her creepy ass ouija board ‘The Oracle’ that she often used to communicate with the spirit world.

Jennifer, hyped on her new place, throws a swingin’ housewarming bash and with everyone witnessing, uses “the oracle” to contact a angry spirit of murdered man who demands bloody revenge upon his killers. From that point on the ghostly presence relentlessly terrorizes her & tries to manipulate her into avenging his death. Eventually she complies, but soon the murderers (the dead dude’s ex-wife & greedy biz partner) become suspicious of her snooping, and they re-hire the psycho who’d carried out the vicious killing before to try and track down Jennifer.

There’s a lot to love here with this mean ass supernatural horror romp. it’s got some truly unique characters, a cool female heroine & the killer is equally interesting being a trans/lesbian villain who’s as nasty as they come for horror movie standard of the day back then. The movie doesn’t go out of it’s way to get the point across, but in today’s landscape I doubt that you could present the character at all in the light portrayed in The Oracle. Still it was interesting deviation from the evil traditionally male killers of the 70’s & 80’s. For the obviously low budget it has it makes great use of it’s big city locales & it’s charming, ambitious special fx work. Interestingly enough this film came out a full year before 80’s cult classic ‘WITCHBOARD’.

These two actually have very similar plots and while Witchboard remains the winner here as far as quality horror there’s definitely something awesome about Findlay’s attempt. It’s nastier and carries a sort of sleezy quality that genre fans of B-movies might actually appreciate more when all is said and done. There’s plenty of subpar acting going on here and decent amount of fairly impressive gore to be found. The end of course tries to go the distance with it’s limited FX budget and in my opinion delivers the goods via a sweet little supernatural encounter.

I’m quite curious to check out more of Findlay’s movies, from what I’ve read it seems she dabbled in directing “X-rated” stuff in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s before tackling the horror genre with this movie in ’85. I’m curious about her string of movies through the 80’s, her most popular being Tenement. If you’re a fan of trashy 80’s horror you just might dig The Oracle & now you’ve got an excuse to give this underrated gem a whirl during the holiday season too!   

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VHS Verdict: 1987’s ‘Kick Or Die’ is a Great Moronic Karate Thriller!

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… 

VHS Verdict: Total Cheez 80’s Horror Roundup!!

I’ve been flying through a ton of VHS tapes lately which can be a ton of fun and also a total drag sometimes! A lot of these old 80’s horror movies have pretty impressive VHS cover art, they look like they’re gonna be a lost fucking gem, however you truly just can’t judge a book by it’s cover, or in these particular cases, a movie. Anyway it’s always a gamble and sometimes you do indeed end up with a hidden gem or at least something that’s so damn stupid that it’s a thoroughly entertaining shiny cinematic terd. So here’s the verdict on some VHS tapes I’ve scored recently! CHECK IT!!

Nightmare at Bitter Creek (1988):

Here’s a little movie that turned out to be a ton of fun, we get a psycho killer/survival flick with instead of annoying teenagers, we’re treated to a group of middle age ladies on a camping excursion with a middle aged Tom Skerritt as their hard drinkin’ tuff guy guide. Oh and he also has this rad dog named “Buster” that everyone seems to be a bit too obsessed with. Anyway, they all head of into the woods of the Sierra Mountains, sounds like fun huh? Well there’s also a crazed group of Neo-nazi killers who’re hellbent on shooting everyone in sight roaming around the woods. This one’s got some pretty decent characters (Buster included), super breathtaking locations, creepy atmosphere and for a PG-13 flick a good amount of action & violence especially in it’s final act. Not entirely a horror movie, it’s still got enough going for it to please fans of the genre, I dug it for sure! Here’s the whole damn movie via Youtube:

 

Iced (1988):

Here’s another one that was a pretty fun time as well, especially if you like cheezy 80’s ski movies and also idiotic horror. I know I do! So yeah, this one is 80’s as hell, totally over the top fashion, big hair, bad ski moves on the slopes, bad editing, idiotic characters and even a wannabe “mystery” at it’s core. It’s also basically one quarter soft core porno as well, there’s a bunch of “steamy” sex scenes strewn about Iced’s messy story. It’s all in all a really stupidly entertaining watch, directed by Jeff Kwitney who also directed “Amok Train” aka “Beyond the Door III” from 1989 which I love. ‘Iced’ turned out to be a good ridiculous party movie filled to the brim with stupid shit and an opening credits scene that looks like it was put together by a high school AV club. In this case though instead of being a total bore this one delivered enough schlocky fun to make it a fully worth while view. If you like dumb movies, this one surely delivers – and that final scene is a total treat!

 

Specters (1987):

I was pretty excited to check this “horror” flick out when I ran across it, basically it’s about some mysterious tombs that are discovered in the catacombs beneath Rome that release an evil force and also stars Donald Pleasance! Sounds like a damn good time huh? Unfortunately this one is a total bore, lots of character development and bland dialogue for uninteresting characters and lots of roaming around in dim caverns. Like lots of it. At one point I decided to watch the movie on fast forward until FINALLY something happened at the end that seemed somewhat interesting, however I’ve already forgotten what it was. This ones a real winner, if you’re having a hard time falling asleep it’ll bore you into a serious slumber. Here’s the trailer, trust me it’s not as cool as they make it out to be..

 

Invader (1992):

Here’s a sweet little movie that’s a ton of fun if you’re not expecting a heck of a lot! Invader features a dude who works at an over the top tabloid paper reporting on weird stories who gets involved in a ‘wicked’ mysterious Alien conspiracy. The dude sneaks onto an air force base and witnesses some ultra secret super powered jet being tested and ends up paired with a bad ass military Captain when he’s caught there snoopin’ around. From this point on the movie features a pretty rad “buddy style” team up with the two and really from the start it’s totally entertaining albeit dumb sci-fi romp full of pretty ridiculous action sequences as well as some pretty surprising well timed comedy. I had zero expectations so perhaps that’s why this one seemed like such a fun time? Still there totally were some impressive yet cheezy fx work at hand and the “final boss” battle features some radical old school stop motion animation to look forward to as well! Gotta love it, check this out sometime if you’re looking for a entertaining cheez-filled early 90’s sci fi adventure!

Netflix’s DVD B-Movie Mayhem: Amok Train!

Unlike a most people I’ve STILL got the dvd mailers from Netflix coming my way. Let’s face the facts folks most movies online on Netflix watch instantly kinda suck, it’s crazy how many movies I’ve started and never finished on that damn website! So I’ve been combing the DVD version of the site trying to find cool old b-movie movies they’ve got in their ample reserve. Surprisingly I’ve found some decent lil’ gems there, most of said movies have terrible reviews and super duper low star ratings. I’m going to chronicle those here, the first one I’m recommending is a movie from 1989 called “Amok Train” or as it’s also known “Beyond the Door III”. Keep in mind this movie actually has nothing to do with either of the two previous ‘Beyond The Doors’ but even the Amok Train’s title screen calls it ‘Beyond the Door III’ in the actual movie.

 

Directed by Jeff Kwitny, who only directed four movies, one was the 1988 ski horror flick “Iced” that I now need to see as well. I wasn’t expecting a god damn thing from “Amok Train” to be honest but this movie actually delivered all the glorious 80’s cheez I personally crave on all levels! From it’s start I could tell just from the odd setting alone, as it was shot in Serbia and actually features some stunning locations that it had some promise going forward. The plot follows some American college students who head off on a class trip to Yugoslavia and witness some crazy ass pagan rituals, after traveling on a creepy ferry, which were surprisingly effectively pulled off. After most of the students survive the deadly encounter from the crazed locals they frantically run off into the woods and come across a moving train that’s barreling through the countryside. Of course they are able to just barely hop aboard (most of them at least) to their “safety” and of course that’s where the rest of the flick’s craziness mostly ensues.


I totally dig the setting of “the trapped on a train with evil forces” aspect of this one. The movie moves along at relatively fast pace as well. It’s got it’s fair share of impressive but ridiculous special effects,  as well as some of the most idiotic “train out of control” sequences I’ve ever seen out on film. These scenes though, for me at least, enhance this C-level cinematic experience to higher levels of fun as the train seems to have an evil mind of it’s own. It switches course to evil paths on randomly appearing moving “possessed” train tracks. There’s some pretty cool yet cheezed out shit going on here, like the fact the train’s engine suddenly begins feeding on people rather than coal and the train is on a tight schedule to get one of the “virgin” college students on a perverted play date with the devil himself.

There’s also this cool 80’s badass soldier lady that joins the gang on the train who talks a lot of tuff guy shit and a killer scarf..yeah a killer scarf! The cast who’s got a It’s got some good gore also and stars Bo Svenson for anyone who gives a shit. For a flick I had zero expectations for it made for quite a fun evening of tokin’ and boozin’ it up a bit. If you dig obscure horror stuff that’s not on anyone’s radar then seek this out especially if you’re like me and still get pumped when you see that red and white Netflix dvd envelope in your mailbox!!

 

‘Superstition’ from 1982 = Good Ol’ Retro Scares Galore!

You ever have those movies that sit in your Netflix dvd Queue forever and then after years FINALLY arrive?! First off yeah I still got a dvd account with Netflix, the selection is totally way better and I also have the streaming too-so there. Anyway, get over it people, my point is I’ve got like 200 movies in that damn thing and most of em’ I probably will never get the time to check out. Surprisingly a movie snuck it’s way into the mix, ahh yes….’Superstition’ from 1982. I was pretty happy when it came in the mail, I’m always down for a good 80’s flick but I’ve been under the assumption these days that if I haven’t heard about a movie by now then it probably isn’t anything to write home about. Yep, I watch way too many movies, a lot of clunkers but every now and again I see something pretty damn cool that takes me by surprise.

superstition-2

‘Superstition’ (AKA “The Witch”) is one of those movies, from the opening scene it’s clear that you’re in for a bit of a treat. It’s essentially a haunted house movie, with some creepy witch business cleverly thrown in. The opening sequence has a some numb nut teenagers making out near a creepy old house in the woods, their sexy times get cut short by some meddling pranksters who give them a scare with some creepy props they’ve fastened in the trees above. After the two lovebirds flee for safety of course the pranksters can’t resist going into the house to fuck around. What follows are some impressive over the top gory kills, one of them gets thrown up into the ceiling, then winds up decapitated with his head in a microwave oven & eventually we get to see it explode. The other kid witnesses this and ends up being severed in half by a closing window. This opening sets the stage for a pretty entertaining little horror story. We have a bunch of religious nonsense as our main character is a priest who decides to fix up the property which belongs to the church readying it for a family to move into. Weird shit goes down almost instantly but you guessed it, the show goes on with little worry from anyone!

This one is definitely worth a watch, it’s only about 80 minutes long too, which I love, because one thing I’ve been noticing is there are a lot of  movies from the 1980’s that would be fucking fantastic if you just cut 20 minutes out of their run time. Superstition succeeds in bringing some cool ass scenarios to life while trimming all the usual boring 80’s B.S. plots that go nowhere out of the mix. It’s a lean mean super solid retro haunted house movie, with some cool old school 17th century possessed witch flashbacks neatly inserted to give you the scoop on just what the hells going on. It’s got a ton of ridiculous characters in the frenzy of things as well with some comedic moments sprinkled in for good measure. I also think it’s got a pretty rock solid finale where the priest runs around with a magic cross he uses to ward off evil and blast open doors. Anyway I could go on but hey if you’re looking for a good gory 80’s haunted house movie look no further Superstition has got the goods! 

 

Best of VHS Box Art: Mutant Hunt!!

Hey here we are again for the second installment of The Best of the Box where I’m listing some of the best VHS box cover art of all time! Well this time I’m showcasing Mutant Hunt, which is a pretty fucking hilariously awful movie from 1987. However they really did the right thing when hired the artist for this one. As a kid I’d alway dug this one, but it wasn’t until more recently that I actually saw the movie. Cyborgs were the shit in the 1980’s and with the success of The Terminator it seemed that everyone and their uncle was trying to cash in on  the man machine phenomena! Track this one down and watch with a rowdy group you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover in this case! 

 

Best of VHS Box Art: A Company of Wolves!!

Have you noticed the overload of retro style throwback movies that have been coming out over the last ten years or so? You surely seen all those retro style movie posters that seem to to borrow so heavily from those cult flicks of yesteryear. Well here I’m going to start a weekly post where I’m going to give you some of my personal favorite VHS box covers of all time. Most of these are ones as a kid in the 80’s I’d see when visiting the video store, some of those incredible covers will oddly always bring back great memories of being a kid. So for the first installment I picked one of the coolest from a bizarre werewolf movie from 1984 called “A Company of Wolves”. Seeing this one at Bricco’s Video Vault (I think that’s what it was called) back in Neenah Wisconsin back in the 80’s kinda freaked the shit out of me! It makes me wanna revisit this movie as it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. But here it is in all of it’s crazy glory….