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.
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).
Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.
It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.
From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!
I’m always on the lookout for forgotten movie gems!! So I revisited a little creature feature called ‘The Kindred’ I’d seen waaaay back in the late 80’s and oddly never heard a peep about since. I came across the image of it’s excellent movie poster online and decided to track it down again. This one to my surprise, is one of those movies that was for some reason only released on VHS, so finding a copy was a little challenge at first. You might be able to check it out on Youtube, but I always try and avoid that if possible because the picture usually ends up a bit more blurry & pixelated.
Well turns out that this is a flick that really deserves far more love and could benefit greatly from official “cleaned up” release on dvd as the vhs transfer is pretty dark and muddy at times. But what we’ve got here is one heckuva solid monster movie from 1987 that’s largely influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. By the time I got to watching it I was a bit stoned so the plot was slightly confusing at first. Luckily that didn’t mean shit as the movie starts out with a bang and is full of plenty of awesome gruesome visuals throughout. Swift pacing can be a big problem with a lot of horror movies from the 80’s and The Kindred luckily moves along a pretty brisk pace.
Basically it’s about a guy who discovers upon his mother’s deathbed that he’s got a long lost brother named ‘Anthony’. Only problem is Anthony is small mutant monster who’s living a secluded lab, being experimented on by mad scientists. The guy goes on a quest to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of his ol’ lost bro Anthony and he gets a lot more than he bargains for. Because of course when he finds him it’s not your average family reunion full of hugs and kisses. As the mystery cleverly unfolds it’s clear Anthony isn’t your typical sibling. Nope, things get weird quick, people transform into mutant fish human hybrids and start turning up dead. I really enjoyed how towards the last 30 minutes the movie’s tone shifts & it suddenly becomes a full on “trapped in house with a monster fight for survival”.
Yep, Anthony escapes from the lab and mutates into a giant monster. The movie has got some awesome tentacled monsters, great practical fx work & an surprisingly intriguing story at it’s core. It also moves along without ever becoming a bore and when the shit hits the fan it’s a nice gory action packed spectacle to behold. I’d really love to see a cleaned up version of this movie on dvd to really appreciate the fx work that went into it, hoping Scream Factory or some releases this in the near future, I’ll be down for another viewing! If you love great monster movies of the 1980’s this one definitely worth tracking down!
Been a movie watchin’ fiend lately & luckily most of the flicks, most of which I’d call largely forgotten cinema, have been surprisingly damn good! So listen up I’m gonna throw a bunch of short reviews for some films that are worth the trouble to track down if like me you’re looking for some lost gems! Let’s get on with this shit today we’ve got some great what I like to coin ‘John Hughes Horror’ in…
Night Life (1989)
First up let it be known this cool ass little movie was never officially released on dvd so it’s a tuff one to track down. You can hunt down a copy on vhs or like I did buy a bootleg copy of it on dvd from Ioffer.com, a great site for stuff like this. Anyway I wanna start off saying that this movie has Scott Grimes, that red headed kid from Critters 1&2 so it instantly had me there as I love those two movies. It’s essentially an 80’s teen high school bully movie with zombies. Scott Grimes or “Archie” in the movie, who channels a bit of Michael J. Fox, works at a mortuary for his jerky uncle (John Astin) and is bullied by four assholes (two preppy jock-y couples) from his school. Turns out he’s totally infatuated with one of the girls and the bullies quickly devise a plan to set him up on a “date” that ultimately destroys him teenage life. He’s also got an older lady pal, a cute local mechanic that he hangs out with all the time that he’s also crushed out on, who’s clearly put him in the friend zone. Ahh to be a teenager again…
Well one day those same four prepster bullies meet their demise in a horrible car crash, and of course Archie has to take them back to the mortuary. It seems though he’s in high school he accompanies the police to crimes scenes and is oddly in charge of the “dirty work” of dealing with the dead, I guess that shit flew back in the 80’s huh? Only problem is the four assholes become zombies when a bolt of lightning strikes the roof of the mortuary, something clearly foreshadowed earlier when a dead frog’s legs twitch when given an electrical charge by his science teacher. The nice thing here is these Zombies aren’t your mindless walkers, they’re more ruthless, cunning & have one clear driving their every move: to turn Archie into mince meat!! This begins a totally outrageous game of cat and mouse that plays out like a great extended episode of Tales From The Crypt in the best way.
The movie’s got a light hearted feel to it but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty when it needs to either. The zombie bullies use their newly acquired blood lust to carry out some pretty inventive on screen kills too. This may not be a traditional zombie apocalypse flick, but it’s one of the most unique and who needs more of the apocalypse anyway. Even in the 80’s that shit was overdone. Even way back in 89′ Tony Timpone of Fangoria praised it “the most original, off-beat & entertaining zombie films in years, a must see!”. I gotta agree it’s a ton of fun, has great stunts, cool fx, gore, rad looking zombies, sets & characters. Pretty much everything I love about the 80’s all wrapped into one. This one deserves an official release it’s definitely a lost gem. I’m pretty floored at how this movie doesn’t have more love these days, hopefully someone will clean it up and give it a proper release if you’re a fan of 80’s horror and those John Hughs-esque flick of that era you’ll find a lot here to love!! One last interesting tidbit here is that director David Acomba was one the two directors responsible for the infamously bad 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special!! But hey don’t hold that against him!!
‘Alien: Covenant’ finally dropped at theaters yesterday, and after all the hype the smoke finally cleared as I sat back for a late night viewing of the “prequel” for the legendary horror franchise. Ridley Scott returns again after the lackluster ‘Prometheus’ for purely passable installment that is Alien: Covenant. I wasn’t a huge fan of Prometheus, it’s one of those movies I can’t say I ever care about seeing again and same is the case also with ‘Covenant’. It does though fit quite nicely alongside the current trend of forgettable sequels to once amazing movie franchises of the 80’s that are cranked out these days. It’s like the ‘Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull’ of the Alien series, making the third and fourth installments of the Alien franchise suddenly feel more legit.
This doesn’t mean I hated the movie, it just means that I’m quickly growing tired of the trend of sequels that I once endlessly pined for. It pains me to see Ridley Scott now for a second time bringing us such uninspired pieces of cinema. The movies large cast of characters hasn’t got anyone in it you’re likely to give a damn about and spends it’s time focusing on the android “twin btother” characters played by Michael Fassbender instead. ‘Covenant’ simply feels like Ridley has run out of ideas and decided to start lifting major plot points from ‘Bladerunner’ simultaneously trying to re-create a “best of” compilation of scary scenarios from his first Alien movie.
So while no one from the cast gets much time to develop into much more than alien prey you might think that at the very least we’d get quite possibly the best most bad ass version of the legendary ‘Alien’ creature now that it’s 2017 and they’ve more than got the budget to do so. Quite the contrary, ‘Alien: Covenant’ can’t even get that right for fans. For a movie that’s been boasting impressive practical fx work from day one you’re likely to be disappointed by it’s incredibly cartoony looking aliens littered about the movie frantically. Heck the fx work in this movie makes the two ‘AVP’ flicks suddenly feel kinda legit as well and that’s a damn hard thing to do. Long gone is the suspense & stylized horror of the old movies, instead you’ll be treated to the same old CGI schlock you’re used to from all the huge summer blockbusters. The Alien franchise officially lost it’s heart & soul quite a long time ago and even bringing Scott aboard hasn’t resulted in finding it. Right down to final battle, this movie simply fails, proving that we ALL really miss Sigourney Weaver in a BIG way. Ridley has now truly mastered mediocrity as I honestly may’ve actually enjoyed Prometheus more than this, because at least with that one I wasn’t expecting much there from the start.
At least one thing Ridley got right were the locations & sets he used in filming this movie. It’s visually stunning in that respect. However I’m realizing I was actually quite fine with NOT knowing the backstory of the Alien and honestly liked it when we knew nothing about it’s origins when it was little more than a monstrous stow away. The mystery is gone and instead what we end up with plot wise begins to feel a bit absurd and a tad cliche. This is a classic case of “they just don’t make em’ like they used to”. It’s a bit sad but I realize not everyone can make a ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and sometimes attaching the original directors to these sequels clearly doesn’t always equal movie magic. That being said, after seeing this last night my excitement level for the upcoming sequels to Bladerunner & Predator has severely lowered. I’d say if you’re a casual fan of the Alien franchise you’ll likely have a good time at the movies with this one but if you’re looking for the magic of the first two (or heck even the third & fourth) you’re bound to feel a bit empty as you exit the theater. At least now I’ve developed a new urge to revisit the ‘AVP’ movies, I mean damn, I was way too hard on those I think…
Wow! So yesterday Mike Mignola made a stunning announcement that Hellboy will be returning to the big screen! BUT and there’s a big BUT here, without Ron Perlman & Guillermo del Toro’s involvement. This is a bit shocking to many as we’ve been waiting the third and final installment that’s been teased for years. I wish they’d have done it and I feel a bit bad for Ron Perlman as he gave the role his all and has been fighting for the fans for so long to complete the trilogy. With that being said, David Harbour, the cop from ‘Stranger Things’ will be stepping into the role of the big devil himself and he seems like an amazing choice for the role. I can already easily picture him as Hellboy just on his looks alone and the guy is a decent actor as well. So I think they’re off to a great start in terms of casting. I’m hoping that they’ll create Hellboy in the same way they did with Ron Perlman. His and the rest of the BPRD’s make up was incredible in del Toro’s movies and I’m hoping that they’re not going to simply CG Hellboy and the gang. One thing Guillermo did extremely well was the creation of incredible monsters using mainly practical fx and incorporating CGI only when truly necessary.
Also announced was director Neil Marshall, who I was immediately thrilled about, for the simple fact that he’s made easily two of the best horror movies of the last twenty years, Dog Soldiers & The Descent. Both of these movies are mind blowing-ly awesome and they’re 100% rock solid proof that this director just might bring us the best Hellboy movie possible. Heck, I go as far to put ‘Dog Soldiers’ right up there with ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and ‘The Howling’. As excited as I am at the possibility here I realized that ‘The Descent’ was released all the way back in 2005 and it got me thinking just what the hell has Neil Marshall really been up to the last twelve years? Lets find out as it may give us a better idea of exactly what we’re in store for with this new Hellboy flick.
After ‘The Descent’ Marshall went on to direct the lackluster ‘Mad Max’ influenced movie ‘Doomsday’ in 2008. The movie was a bit of a box office bomb and to me didn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table honestly in the post apocalyptic adventure genre. I guess I give him an ‘A’ for effort for giving it an honest shot but the movie was just too bland to make any real waves and has been largely forgotten for the most part.
After that he did ‘Centurion’ in 2010, with Michael Fassbender starring. It was a an ok attempt at a historical hack and slash war movie about the disappearance of the Roman empire’s ninth legion. This was also a bit of a bomb at the box office and largely went under the radar of movie goers. Once again this movie didn’t bring anything to the table that hadn’t really already been done before. One thing though I’ll say are that his movies look great and even Doomsday visually was at least effective in that area. Still ‘Centurion’ is one time viewing and it doesn’t have much to differentiate it from anything else that was being cranked out in the genre at the time.
After that Marshall disappeared from the movie scene directing 2 excellent episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ as well as episodes of ‘Black Sails’, ‘Constantine’, ‘Hannibal’, ‘Timeless’ & ‘Westworld’. In 2015 he was one of the directors in the horror anthology movie ‘Tales of Halloween’ and directed the excellent installment “Bad Seed” about the killer GMO pumpkin! Loved it…
So what we’ve got here for Marshall is a big return to the silver screen on a big budget flick. I don’t have any reason to believe that he’s going to fuck it up, in fact with a great script which I’m certain Mignola will be part of and the supposed “R” rating the movie’s rumored to get we just might see a more true to the comic version of the character. I think it’ll be much darker, bloody and quite possibly a much bigger hit this time around. I’ve always thought cinematic Hellboy was ahead of it’s time and that the strange Mignola-verse would fare far better in today’s landscape than that of 2008 to movie goers. Hellboy & The BPRD are easily my favorites of the current comic book franchises out there, so this next movie means a lot to me.
If they lift the amazing feel of the del Toro movies and add a bit darker tone (don’t lose all the comedy though) we’ll be in for one helluva Hellboy flick. I’m also hoping that the movie might make a role for Ron Perlman, Doug Jones & Selma Blair (perhaps as villains?) because we all know how badly they wanted a third film. How cool would Ron & Doug be starring as some crazy creatures? Let’s let Neil Marshall return to his true roots and give the Hellboy movies the lethal does of horror they need today. The guy is super talented and his two incredible horror movies he made are proof that Marshall is exactly where he needs to be. I’m hoping this will begin many more Mignola-verse based movies or a BPRD tv series dammit!! So don’t fret I think Hellboy’s indeed in good hands…
Do you miss amazing werewolf movies like ‘An American Werewolf in London’, ‘The Howling’ and ‘Dog Soldiers’? I sure as hell do! Well luckily there’s someone out there right now who’s funding a brand new 80’s style throwback werewolf flick that boasts no CGI at all and even additionally release it on VHS! Yep ‘Bonehill Road’ has been getting some attention lately in the horror community with it’s Indiegogo fundraising page. The project only has five short days left and has already exceeded it’s goal, but the more money they can raise the better it’s gonna be. Here’s one of the early werewolf designs below!
Director Todd Sheets has been making movies since 1985, many of which were shot on video and have an ultra low budget. However he’s got quite a unique indie style of his own and his movies definitely bring on the crazy gore while remaining a ton o’ fun. You can check out some of his crazy ass stuff on youtube. This project seems to be a bit of a labor of love and it seems Sheets is really going for a higher quality of story, effects work and full on scares this time around. Any money made from the Indiegogo page will go into one thing…the creature fx!! He’s going to really need the funds if he really wants to match the likes of movies like ‘The Howling’. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this project shapes up in the end, he’s going to release it on VHS as well which is a cool little novelty for all of us collectors of the dead media. Things get even better though, to perfectly match the vibe of the 1980’s the movie has just recently cast horror scream queen icon Linnea Quigley! how cool is that?!
This is a great way to support indie film makers with a dream who’re not cranking out the norm of PG-13 throwaway horror blockbusters for the masses. If you’re a fan of old school horror check out the Indiegogo page. We need more hand on horror like this, I really enjoyed more recent ventures like ‘Dog Soldiers’ & ‘Late Phases’ (which was a pretty brilliant old school style werewolf movie) but the fact remains that we just don’t get enough film that’s made by people who’re really truly have a passion for their projects. If you got some extra cash or have some experience in fx work check it out, Todd Sheets is looking to make his dream project into a modern monster masterpiece!