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!
With the recent announcement of ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ looking to cash in on success of 80’s throwback series like ‘Stranger Things’ and Stephen King’s reboot of ‘IT’ I thought it’d be nice to give a shout out to a great flick from 1983 called ‘The House on Sorority Row’ I watched a couple days ago. ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ is going to be fully immersed in the 1980’s slasher genre. That being said here’s a pitch perfect Slasher flick I recommend they watch before releasing the new season, they likely’ll need all the help they can get by trying to convincingly tackle the genre. This mysterious little flick from 1983 deserves a helluva lot more praise than it’s gotten throughout the years. Director Mark Rosman brings one of the best to the genre!
The House on Sorority Row’s filled with a pretty tightly knit little mystery that’s full of fairly unpredictable twists and turns that never lag in it’s execution. Hitting all the slasher tropes in a pretty unique way, considering it was released back in 1983. First off we’ve got a full cast of great characters, almost entirely female as well and rather than giving us a troop of the usual moronic teenagers for the killer to prey upon, we get ones who you just might care about getting off’d. Our gang of sorority sisters here are a pleasure to see onscreen and most definitely take the plot into some fascinating territory. There’s the old seemingly mentally unstable sorority house mother who desperately wants the girls out of the house for the summer. However determined to throw one final grand graduation bash at the house, the sorority sisters get into a heated argument with her that quickly escalates to uncomfortable levels. They devise a plan to play a wicked prank on her, and in doing so set into motion a night of terror as they try and cover up their actions from the public. Deciding the show must go on they reluctantly continue with the big bash and soon find them being stalked by a ruthless slasher out to put the kebosh on their festivities.
Sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, the set up to this one is pretty awesome as the girls quickly prove they can be just as nasty and cunning as any 80’s frat boy. The acting for the most part is rock solid here too, but don’t fret, as there’s still plenty of 80’s cheez to go around. One of the highlights being the grad party and it’s totally rad live power pop band ‘4 Out of 5 Doctors’ who perform there that boost the level of fun up a few notches alone. It’s the kind of party that makes you wanna jump into a time machine to attend & get down in the 1980’s. We’ve also got a great final girl here that’s totally worth rooting for as she slowly throughout the evening puts the pieces of the bizarre mystery together while her & her friends are stalked on the spooky campus. It feels a bit like a demented Scooby Doo mystery that takes itself fully seriously in the best way possible.
It’s also not afraid to get nasty with it’s gore fx there’s plenty of inventive kills scattered about to revel in as well. The finale really ramps things up and keeps you for the most part guessing til the end about what the fuck is actually going one here. The killer is pretty awesome too and the last 5 minutes (which I wish would’ve lasted longer actually) are filled with tension, thoroughly impressive camera work & the reveal of the maniac in the flesh is pretty iconic in it’s own right. This one’s really got it all as far as slashers go, a stunning orchestral score from Richard Band, great spooky sets, sweet fx, excellent characters, a cool mystery and a pretty sweet ass slasher villain. If you’ve never seen this one and are a fan of the genre this one hits a home run!
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…
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!!
Here’s another pretty neat little creature feature from 1991 I’ve been wanting to see for a while now, well luckily I scored a cool VHS copy of the movie at thrift shop. As I’ve said before my favorite type of horror flick’s a monster movie and that’s exactly what this here is nothing more nothing less. Though released in ’91 it feels like a full on ’80’s movie, with tons of neon, cheezy dialogue and a big savage man in suit Bigfoot type of creature running around the city offing people. Yeah and it also features one of the bad guy henchmen from ‘Die Hard’, Alexander Godunov, who’s the heroic handsome Nordic godly clockmaker monster hunter.
Anyway we’ve got a bunch of fun plot points as a mystic runestone is found in a coal mine in Pennsylvania and transported to NYC, where we all know, the excitement always seems to happen. Soon the runestone displays it’s magic powers and an archeologist becomes possessed by an evil ancient Norse spirit. Of course the dude transforms into a crazed sasquatch called Fenrir that goes on killing spree throughout New York and ends up frequenting art exhibits where over the top yuppies seem to think he’s someone’s hip new art installment. Of course he gets pissed off and wreaks “havoc” in the art community. The creature actually looks kinda cool (some decent animatronics/make up) all things considered and that’s clearly the main draw here with this one. He’s got a sweet no BS attitude and does his best to fuck shit up as much as he can. Way to rep the monsters in the 90’s dude!
That being said, there’s relatively little gore splattered about and the movie spends probably an extra 20 minutes or so too long trying to create “compelling” character development. Most of the while I just was wondering what the goddamn cranky ass creature was doing? Let’s get back to what he’s up to cuz he’s likely pissed off and freaking people out somewhere in the city! I’d have also loved a bit more of the “Die Hard” dude as well, but sadly he’s not given as much screen time as he deserves until the finale, but damn if the guy doesn’t look like a bad ass when he shows up. I dig the final act as well as the characters face off against the creature briefly entering a different dimension. This one’s often confused with Julian Sands movie ‘Warlock’ from 1989 and feeling surprisingly similar at times it’s understandable why.
There’s plenty of fun to be had here if you’re not expecting a helluva lot from ‘The Runestone’ and you dig low budget late 80’s early 90’s creature cheez. This one’s a prime example of an old school horror movie that if edited down to about 85 minutes would be a total crowd pleaser/cult fave. There’s a ton of total gems out there from the 80’s & 90’s that tried to fill their run time to a more “respectable length” adding too much filler, this one for example at 105 minutes does indeed have areas that drag somewhat, some day perhaps I’ll try and edit a few of these down. Either way there’s definitely some fun to be had regardless and it’s most definitely worth a watch if you’re down for some early 90’s monster business!
I’ve been burning through a stack of late 80’s/90’s VHS tapes lately I scored and while there’ve been a lot of stinkers in the lot there’ve been a few I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised about! I found the first five of the ‘Children of the Corn’ movies and I’d never actually watched any of the sequels so I thought what the fuck? Well the second movie was pretty much a total bore and I’d figured they’d likely just get more dull with each installment. Boy was I wrong!
Yep! ‘Children of the Corn Part 3: Urban Harvest’ is now one of my favorite sequel horror flicks! This movie’s a ton of seriously fun horror schlock. It’s premise is awesome too, we’ve got a couple weird-ass ‘Children of the Corn’ who get adopted and move from the bloody cornfields of Nebraska to the urban streets of Chicago. Their new parents are a couple of yuppies who’re stoked to have two new amish kids of their own. But little do they know one of them has some weird ass supernatural abilities and a one track mind for planting a new crop of corn right there in the city. Things quickly get awesome as their sent off on their ‘first day’ of class at a diverse inner city school and have to fend for themselves as everyone makes fun of their weird clothes and equally odd mannerisms.
Well the new setting seems to be a good one for one of the ‘Corn kids’, soon the older of the two is dressing like he’s the coolest new dude on the block and quickly discovering he’s got a fav new interest that quickly replaces corn: girls!! This new style doesn’t sit well with the younger ‘corn obsessed’ brother and soon he goes on a mission to find a vacant lot to plant some new evil corn, hell his yuppie stepdad even tries to get in on the corn action too. He find’s his stepson’s new utterly incredibly delicious crop of corn flourishing in some shitty soil in a vacant lot between two crumbling warehouses and immediately sees dollar signs! Yeah, he eagerly talks to his new kid about selling out his new breed of corn to a big corporation so it can be eaten all over the world. Naturally the evil kid’s elated and then moves on to convince the local gang bangers and school bullies to start listening to his crazy corn sermons! Soon their all hooked on his schtick and it’s up to his older, newly hipper, formerly amish brother to put and end to his evil plan.
This one never lags, it’s pretty much non stop fun and is chock full of stupid dialogue and some seriously awesome old school horror. I was totally surprised to at how bad ass the special effects are here too, come to find out Screaming Mad George (Predator/The Abyss/Curse II: The Bite) is responsible for the onscreen awesomeness. There’s a bunch of super unique kills, living killer corn, evil scarecrows, corn zombies & even an awesome giant monster at the end!! I was certain being it was ’95 we’d likely have some shitty ass CGI in the mix but instead we get George’s incredible practical fx work. Even the giant monster is a blend of animatronics and stop motion animation and the movie never stops charming the pants off of an old school horror hound. I love these surprisingly well done sequels that are many times completely overlooked by most. The ‘Urban Harvest’ is super action packed, fun filled horror flick, the kind most these days continuously try and replicate. I like how this one appears to be totally trying to play it’s ridiculous plot totally straight, It’s a true gem that’s been lost in the corn field for far too long!! Check this shit out!!
Ho ho ho! The Christmas spirit is in the air again and it’s once again time to check out some crazy holiday movies! Last night I watched a pretty ridiculous one to say the least, the final installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, part 5: ‘The Toymaker’ from 1991! Now if you’re in the mood for some totally idiotic yet entertaining holiday movie mayhem I’d say this here is definitely worth a watch this year. As with the 4th installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, this one has got absolutely zilch to do with the original, clearly a sequel only in name and I’m quite fine with that becuz really now, how many damn movies do we need with a killer in a Santa Suit?
So “The Toymaker” goes a way different direction with a totally absurd plot directed by Martin Kitrosser & co-written by horror icon Brian Yuzna (Night of the Living Dead 3, Bride of Re-Aminator, Society), which finds a little kid whose family is “terrorized” by killer presents..ahem “toys” made by a weird ass old dude toymaker named ‘Joe Petto’ played by the one and only Mickey Rooney! How the hell they got Rooney to do this flick is a bit of a wonder. First he’s clearly got the star power here, though in 1991 he must have been in dire need of acting work and even more bizarre is that Rooney wrote a protest letter against the first Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). Claiming the “scum” who made it should be “run out of town” for having fucked with the sacred holiday. Oddly then six years later he joined the damn franchise!! He must have just loved the damn script so much he couldn’t resist! The world may never know..
Anyway Rooney runs his own creepy toy shop in town called “Petto’s” which is probably the WORST name you could pick for a toy store, oh and he’s got his socially awkward son working the shop too and yeah…..his name is ‘Pino’. I recognized this kid actor Brian Bremer from Pumpkinhead as well as starring in Tobe Hooper’s Spontaneous Combustion & Yuzna’s ‘Society’. So are you catching on here to the brilliance of this story here yet? Well Joe Petto makes toys that kill people and his weirdo son who lives in the dank cellar helps him out and also gets yelled at a lot by Petto after he’s been drinkin’ on the job during shop hours.
The meat of the plot here revolves around Joe Petto’s evil toy’s stalking a single mom and her child for some “unknown reason” right around Christmas. We get some pretty ridiculous bullshit going on here when the toys viciously attack and we even got Screamin’ Mad George (Predator, Nightmare on Elm St. 3) doing his best with the budget on special fx duty. Killer toy army men, toy centipede larva, heck even some killer roller blades! The movie’s filled with crazy ass plot twists too, the kind that are so stupid you can’t help but find idioticlly endearing.
The Toymaker goes for the jugular with a “shocking” finale too, that kinda just has to be seen to be believed as it’s about as stupidly awesome things come. There’s plenty to enjoy here for the holiday as the story somehow operates nicely within the Christmas season. It’s likely the second best installment of the ‘Silent Night’ franchise and the perfect holiday party flick as it’s got a lean, just over 80 minute run time that moves at a nice brisk pace. If you want a full on holiday party flick this one’s got the goods, just make sure you’ve got your sense of humor intact, plenty of weed and boozy egg nog there to wash this one down with…you’ll be needing it!