I have a new favorite vampire flick: Return to Salem’s Lot! It’s surely no secret that Larry Cohen has made some amazing movies, ‘The Stuff’, ‘Q The Winged Serpent’, ‘God Told Me Too’ & ‘It’s Alive’ are considered among his best. However, recently I viewed his 1990 totally underrated & under-seen gem ‘The Ambulance’. It luckily inspired me to go back to check out some of his movies I might have missed out on and the sequel to ‘Salem’s Lot’ from 1987 is in my opinion is one of the best vampire movies of that decade! What took me so long to finally see it?! The only thing I can think of is that is that I’d watched the Tobe Hooper ‘Salem’s Lot’ Mini series from ’79 and found it good but also a bit slow moving. I simply figured for so long long that the sequel was yet just another mediocre TV mini series, well that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
So yet again Larry Cohen is at the top of his game in an incredibly colorful tale of ravenous small town bloodsuckers, jam packed with witty dialog, sweet 1980s special effects and of course some totally memorable heroes to cheer for as well as vampirous villains to hate! Michael Moriarty like in The Stuff, leads the cast, and after watching both of these movies basically back-to-back I came to a startling conclusion. Is it possible Michael Moriarty Is actually Bill Burr’s dad?!
The similarities are stunning! Am I the only person who’s ever thought of this? They look like father and son to me & even speak and sound like the blood relatives! Throughout the movie I couldn’t help but picture Burr in the role speaking all of the lines, in fact, even though I’m normally against remakes, if they ever do one I would love to see Burr in the role.
Hey next time YOU watch either The Stuff or Return to Salem’s Lot, make sure to Keep this in mind and you tell me if I’m crazy. I think the similarities are at the very least quite hilarious.
OK so now that I got that off my chest, I wanna at least mention how awesome the foul mouthed teen son played by Ricky Addison was, only to be rivaled by the potty mouthed pre-teen kid in the 1989 wildly unseen gem ‘The Laughing Dead’! He’s also got some great Corey Haim/Don Johnson-esque “Miami Vice” style as well, this kid is quite the spectacle I’d say.
But that’s not all, the movie’s secret weapon is the old but surprisingly spry, Jewish, Nazi hunter played by Samuel Fuller. He joins the gang, setting his sights on the wicked undead inhabitants of Salem’s Lot! He’s a cool classic horror hero that quite frankly needs a lot more love and that’s one thing Cohen really excels at is bringing memorable characters to the big screen.
Yes there is plenty to love here for eighties horror fanatics, A wildly unpredictable albeit ridiculous plot, a sweet spooky setting and some awesome vamps! Don’t believe me check this dude out!
The kind of vampires who don’t just sport the fake teeth, nope we get some bonafide monster vamps with animatronic faces to amp up the mayhem. I’m not sure what took me so long to finally check this out but I’m glad I did as it’s now become one of my favorites standing above most vampire movies of the 1980s. But most impressively featuring Bill Burr’s father?! Hey you never know right? I got it on a sweet blu ray via Shout Factory that looks beautifully bloody!
‘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!!
So I still use than damn red envelope Netflix service! Yes, it’s true, DVDs still come to my residence regularly. Yes, I may be one of the last people in the country but hey let’s be honest, the selection of DVD’s they have are far and away better than the forgettable movies & bland series they churn out onto their streaming service. Well, yesterday they delivered an interesting one to my mail box: 2003’s ‘Highwaymen’ from Robert Harmon the director of 1986’s ‘The Hitcher’, easily one of the best highway horror movies of ALL time. Well it turns out Harmon had another trick up his sleeve that he saved for the 2000’s, between his run on the Tom Selleck ‘Jesse Stone’ movies (ok that I was surprised to find out about). Hey that’s besides the point because Harmon clearly has some skills when he gets into his element of car related horror, at least I think so!
I had very, very low expectations for ‘Highwaymen’, the early 2000’s aren’t exactly my choice era for movie viewing and my discovery of his ‘Jesse Stone’ flicks didn’t exactly add to the excitement (or maybe I’m missing something? Are the Jesse Stone movies actually totally RAD?!). However from the opening of this one my interest was peaked and a weird movie that hung around in my queue for ages began to transform into somewhat of a forgotten gem before my very eyes. Jim Cavezial stars as traumatized husband who witnesses his wife murdered in broad daylight, while walking on the side of a country road from a clearly intentional hit and run. From there we skip ahead in time and it seems the same 1972 Cadillac Eldorado is back on the road and out for some more deadly “hit and run” fun, this time targeting two women driving at night on the highway. From behind the beastly car’s wheel we can see a strange man with crude prosthetic limbs aggressively shifting the gears and enjoying the roadway terror all too much.
Only one of the women survives the encounter and ends up meeting Cavezial seemingly “by chance” and the two embark on a creepy road adventure to get revenge on the maniac serial killer driver. I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining this one was and that might be because of just how absurd this one’s plot really is and how straight it’s all played. You’re going to have to suspend your disbelief for pretty much every action sequence here, as I said it’s totally absurd but in the best ways possible.
That’s not say they’re not totally enjoyable, action packed and thrilling, Harmon’s got the chops here and jam packs some crazy ass shit into a barely 80 minute run time and it’s all beautifully filmed. There’s some epic road battles here and the psycho villain (who’d probably hung out with Rutger Hauer’s character from the Hitcher back in the 80’s), simply referred to as “Fargo” is a bizarre creation as he’s essentially merged with his vintage car to cause ultimate terror on the highway. Throw in a little ridiculous backstory and you’e got a pretty unique little highway horror flick that’s pace never lets up.
If you’re looking for a quick, action packed, car based horror thriller this one is a pretty fun one that’d be perfect to pair up as the opening act for a double feature with the 1986 cult classic ‘The Hitcher’! It’s not gotten much love over the years, probably because no one’s really heard of it or given it a chance (damn you Jesse Stone!). However as far as road based horror goes I think Highwayman is on it’s way to becoming a cult classic as it’s, at least in my opinion, in my opinion aged quite well over the last 17 years! Give it a shot!
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!
I do so much second hand shopping for my vintage clothing store Hollywood Babylon here in Portland Oregon and one of the best things about it is picking up awesome(or incredibly bad) old VHS tapes which end up for sale in the shop after I get done watching them!
Well one of my most recent viewings was a 1991 flick called Body Parts starring Jeff Fahey and Brad “Chucky” Dourif and let me tell you this one is a great creepy ass little horror flick!
I realize that this one here has pretty much been forgotten for some reason but it’s a well done thrilling and gory tale. It follows Fahey’s character Bill Chrushank as he loses his arm in an auto wreck and is given a chance to receive an arm transplant as a subject of a new experimental procedure.
Sounds like a bargain huh? Well that’s what Bill thinks until his arm begins to have mind of his own turning him into an aggressive dickhead who lashes out at his family! He begins a quest to figure out where this new arm of his came from and comes to find he’s not the only one who’s got recent limb transplants.
Nope he meets Brad Dourif who also got a new arm and has become a successful bizarro painter because of it. Shit gets pretty wild as the recipients of these limbs start winding up dead! This ones got it all, a clever creepy story, decent acting, gore, great fx work, action, car chases and some impressive stunts and some rad explosions!
A true forgotten and underrated gem of flick with a bit of an X-Files-ish vibe to it, in fact it seems to me that the X-Files may have stolen a bit from this one in the ‘I Want to Believe’ 2008 movie. Anyway hunt this one down it’s worth it!
Yay it’s October and we all know what that means- Halloween is on the way! So naturally everybody is going bananas over watching some good Horror movies! So here at Universal Dork I am going to give you a bunch of horror movies this month that you need to check out. Yeah Yeah we all love Child’s Play, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Paranormal Activity ect. ect. but let’s say you’re a bit tired of the normal “classics”. Well fear no more people I’ve got a list of some movies you may want to watch instead to get the adrenaline pumpin! So today’s movie is a real nice simple little horror gem from 2007 that many people have missed out on.
“End of the Line” is a cool ass movie that will make you fear crazy ass religious fanatics more than ol’ Michael Meyers or Freddy!
It follows a group of people who end up stuck in a subway shortly after a religious takeover is launched upon the “sinners” of the world by a creepy Christian Tel-evangelist.
This unique Canadian movie is jam packed with some genuinely frightening moments that will surely make you jump from your seat. I loved the plot of this one as it brings to light just how creepy organized religious people can be. If your looking for something original this Halloween season I recommend this great little indie film to kick off the month!