Any slasher movie with it’s deranged killer donning a huge weird ass feathery owl head mask deserves a watch right?! Yeah Italian horror movie ‘Stage Fright’ (aka Deliria, Aquarius) from 1987 is a prime example of how to perfectly execute a stunning slasher flick. I’m surprised I’d never seen this movie before, I probably need to delve deeper into the 80’s Italian horror, as aside from a lot of the cult classics I think I may be missing out on some cool shit, especially when it comes director Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man) who directed this creepy gem. It’s been a long time since seeing Cemetery Man and after viewing Stage Fright it’s clear I have to check it out again asap.
Stage Fright has got it all and then some, taking place in a spooky theater where the cast of play become trapped and hunted down by a mysterious madman donning a big feathery owl mask. It’s beautifully shot, ultra creepy and has a ton of great bloody action sequences. The old theater is the perfect setting for this mystery to unfold as well and there’s plenty of that to go around as the cast during the rehearsals soon discover a crazed lunatic has escaped a nearby mental ward and trapped them all inside for the night.
The atmosphere of Stage Fright at times has an mesmerizing dream like quality to it as well that adds a unique spin to the usual slasher fare. Add in the truly bizarre looking owl headed slasher and you’ve got one of the most unique looking antagonists of the genre. There are few that are as truly memorable looking as it’s crazy killer. This alone sets it in a category of it’s own. I mean check this dude out, it’s straight out of a nightmare.
There’s also a ton of cool chase sequences and impressive gore to behold here. This one’s not afraid to get nasty eitherand the final girl’s battle is beautifully filmed as well as action packed, especially when the battle moves high above the stage on the catwalks. The exceptional cinematography adds so much to this movie as well, an excellent scene beneath the stage where feathers float all though the air while the killer looms above is truly breathtaking and adds again a surreal element to the horror. Of course there’s also some neat twists and turns in the plot that keep this one a slice above most 80’s slashers and ramps up the the tension. If you’re a fan of 80’s horror and especially the slasher/giallo genre movies this ones about as good as it gets for those who love that neon 80’s era of film!
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!
Damn! I’ve been scoring some excellent VHS tapes lately and even better is the fact that they’re movies I’ve never heard of before. Being a huge fan of 80’s creature features I was delighted to run across this total gem of a flick. Not to be confused with ‘Metamorphosis’ by George Eastman which also came out in 1990, ‘Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor’ is an inspiring special fx laden monster movie for fans of movies like The 80’s ‘Blob’, ‘The Thing’ & of course ‘The Deadly Spawn’. This movie is actually the unofficial sequel to 1983’s ‘The Deadly Spawn’ being produced by Ted Bohus who was responsible for both movies. Turns out he produced two home run horror movies as Metamorphosis is just as good if not in some ways even better than The Deadly Spawn.
The movie’s plot is quite simple, a scientist is researching some strange mutant creatures from another planet in lab and accidentally stabs one of them in the head with a syringe. The pissed off mutant bites his hand, escapes, the scientist quickly begins to metamorphosize into a slimy mass of grotesque flesh & eventually mutates into a huge creature that kills a security guard. Well it’s not long before the security guard’s two daughters and one of their geeky horny boyfriends are all up on the scene to figure out just what happened to their dear ol’ dad. They sneak into the research facility and crazy monster mayhem ensues. This one’s a ton of fun, sure it’s got some pretty bad acting, unintentionally goofy dialogue and may have about 15 minutes too much of bland character development but the whole thing is littered with crazy creatures and plenty o’ gooey gore.
The monsters are the main attraction here and they’re beautifully created via puppetry, animatronics and even a hefty dose of stop motion animation. It really is a great sequel to The Deadly Spawn and the main monster does indeed share an even enough similarity to the creatures of it’s predecessor. These two movies would make a great double feature especially for those who’re looking for an underrated gem of a monster movie and plenty of gross out schlocky gore.
The last 30 minutes of the movie definitely amps up the monster mayhem to eleven and though some of the first two acts can begin to only slightly drag with perhaps trying a bit too hard at crafting a “compelling” story once the shit truly hits the fan it’s totally worth the wait. Like ‘The Deadly Spawn’ this also one has quite a gigantic closing sequence that firmly cements ‘Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor’ into the list of the the best monster movies of the late 80’s/90s. Check it out!
I recently stumbled upon a beautiful big box VHS version of the 1983 gem ‘Raiders of Atlantis’ and it’s easily one of the most entertaining 80’s action/sci-fi genre mash up’s I’ve ever seen. Even more interesting is that we’ve got cult director Ruggero Deodato, most well known for his extreme gore flick ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ at the helm. Well, while ‘Raiders’ doesn’t feature the offensive gross-out gore of ‘Holocaust’ it does have it’s fare share of unexpectedly crazy bloody good moments and then some to spare.
As for the plot, there’s not much to it, basically two hot shot war vets (Mike, who’s a slightly past his prime playboy and his buddy, recently converted to islam, Washington, who desperately wants people to call him Mohammed) and their crew head off by boat to investigate the strange suddenly rising continent of Atlantis that emerges from the depths of the ocean covered in a transparent dome. Well pretty much as soon as our crew of trusty adventurers set foot on Atlantis’ shore they discover a creepy, fully ravaged city with dead people scattered about, leading to a particularly excellently executed chilling scene involving a skipping record. Deodato immediately sets the stage for a full on genre sandwich that’s part action/sci-fi/horror & post apocalyptic adventure.
Of course none of this can really be taken too seriously as the movie opens with Washington & Mike displaying their innate ability to kick major ass and then some within the first few minutes. However the movie shifts gears when it’s revealed that the natives of Atlantis are actually psychotic punk rock post apocalyptic warriors who’re out to kill anyone and everything in sight. Their leader even wears a ridiculous see through plastic skull mask and they all drive around freaky jacked up killer cars and motorcycles like total maniacs. The rest of the movie is really one fucking awesome action sequence after another, ridiculous hi-octane shit that never slows. Continue reading
One of the most wild & unpredictable filmmakers of all time hands down has got to be Hong Kong’s Lam Ngai Kai aka Lam Nai-choi, Most well known for his mega cult classic ‘RIKI-OH/The Story of Riki’ it’s clear this guy is, in my opinion one of the most underrated directors in the horror genre. Imagine if Sam Raimi made movies as consistently awesome as the Evil Dead trilogy, well that’s a good way to sum up this guy’s catalogue of crazy ass films. I’ve been fully surprised at how many people love ‘Riki-Oh’ yet aren’t familiar with anything else this guy’s done.
It probably doesn’t help that he completely disappeared off the movie map in 1992 for unknown reasons. Perhaps he realized he’d unlikely ever be able to top the craziness of his back catalogue of bizarre flicks. I’d love to know what he’s up to today and what I’d love even more would be his return to filmmaking. There’s however, literally zero info on why he stopped his film career and what the dude’s been up to these days. That being said let’s take a quick look at some of his coolest flicks you may not have even known existed! First if you’ve never seen Riki-Oh from 1991 it’s easily one of the wildest action/horror hybrid movies out there and totally on par with the awesomeness of Evil Dead 2. It features some of the most over the top action/gore of all time:
Next is another equally crazy ass flick from 1986 called ‘The Seventh Curse‘ which is like Indiana Jones on acid fighting monsters and exploring some truly epic locations. It features Chow Young Fat in a small role and continues with totally frantic action sequences that never slows it’s pace right to the very end. A true hidden gem of a movie that many 80’s horror fans have completely missed out on over the years. Seek this out asap as it’s more proof this guy’s got chops on par with the likes of early Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi & Don Coscarelli.
Kai’s got more under his belt too if you want another horror adventure that’s a true spectacle to behold check out ‘The Peacock King‘ from 1988. A totally unique movie that’s also a full on FX extravaganza. This one literally utilizes nearly every 80’s special fx in the book, from stop motion monsters, to animatronic creatures etc. etc. etc. you name it, this movie will take you on tour of the bizarre set to a super fun, dark yet equally light hearted adventure. Check it out: Continue reading
I do tons of hunting around town here in Portland Oregon and beyond for awesome VHS tapes for my own viewing pleasure and also for my shop Hollywood Babylon. The fun is always running across cool movies, often times I never even knew existed. This is most definitely the case when I ran across a VHS copy of ‘VIBES’ from 1988 starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum!? Yeah, at least for me this was a surprise as I’d never even heard of this one before and the unlikely pairing of Goldblum as “Nick” & 80’s pop icon Lauper as “Sylvia” kinda blew my mind. At first I thought it was simply an 80’s rom com, but upon reading the synopsis on the back I was even more excited to find that Vibes is actually a supernatural adventure flick with light elements of Indiana Jones sprinkled about it’s odd colorful plot.
Talk about a movie that sounds right up my alley? Vibes was indeed a ton of fun and it’s two unlikely leads make it a full on trip down 80’s nostalgia lane. Both Lauper and Goldblum play quirky down on their luck psychics who are hired to head off to Ecuador to find the missing son of a mysterious wealthy fortune hunter. Both seem reluctant to work together even though Sylvia who’s major bad luck with men, seems immediately enamored with Nick who’s character is as over the top Godlbum-esque here as they come. Both use their unique powers to piece together the mystery they become entrenched in, Sylvia speaks with a dead woman named Louise and Nick can see the psychic history of objects from merely by touching them.
Once the two leave the city they quickly realize there’s a supernatural element at play and their employer hasn’t been entirely honest about why they’ve been hired for the job. It’s a total pleasure to see the two leads playing off each other and it’s quite obvious from the get go it’s gonna be physically impossible for Golblum to resist the cute as a button Lauper. Cyndi shines here with her extra thick New York accent and most of all it’s the unlikely pairing of these two icons that really make this one such a treat.
The back of the VHS boasts something of a special fx extravaganza from one of the dudes from Ghostbusters which was sadly a bit misleading. There are a few neat scenes of 80’s fx at play here but ultimately the supernatural spectacle here wasn’t nearly as impressive as I’d hoped for. A few more scenes of paranormal mayhem would have made this one a full on lost 80’s classic. It does have some great sets though and the Ecuador back drop gives this a bit of a Romancing the Stone vibes at times although with less physical adventure actually going on. There’s a great dance sequence between the two as well that’s pretty darn cute as well. The main reason to seek this out is the two leads, it’s an interesting pairing and filled with a ton of fun moments despite it being a full on bonafide box office flop. One of the best parts of the movie is the closing credits song by Cyndi Lauper called “Hole In My Heart” which is one of her best and adds to the pure nostalgia of this little forgotten gem of an 80’s movie.
Dan Haggerty (RIP) most famously known for his family friendly iconic role as “Grizzly Adams” also did some major ass kicking in the 80’s & early 90’s C-list cinema. I was lucky enough to check out a VHS copy of ‘Repo Jake’ and damn did it catapult Haggerty to a whole new level of awesome. First off, a movie with the name “Repo Jake” featuring Haggerty in the lead role might sound a bit ridiculous and it turns out in this case you can totally judge a book by it’s cover. From start to finish this one is pretty much nonstop idiotic fun, though not entirely intentionally a “comedy” per say it’s the perfect action party flick from 1990 that’s got enough going for it to charm the pants off a Tommy Wiseau.
Haggerty stars as Jake Baxter an ex military dude who moves from the midwest to LA to make some quick cash as a repo man to pay off his own debts on a repossessed home in Minnesota. From the get go we know Repo Jake Baxter is a total bad ass with a big heart as he immediately helps a woman recover her stolen purse on the streets of Cali. This opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie, Jake kicks the purse snatchers ass big time an while doing so completely demolishes some poor dudes corner store. But hey at least he recovers that purse!!
From that point on it’s clear, Repo Jake has got some seriously unusual magnetic sex appeal too as pretty much every woman he runs into from that point on wants to relentlessly get down with him. Jake of course can’t help that he’s so damn sexy and in that wholesome “Haggerty way” never caves to their advances. Whatta guy I tell ya. Who knew he was such an object of desire? Well that’s not the only mischief Jake gets involved in, when he lands his job as a repo man there’s trouble around nearly every corner and his co-workers are a full on 80’s style motley crew of crazy over the top characters. Jake’s first job is fucking amazing as he heads off on his own to repo a car from a gang of drunk morons who’re cheering on their buddy as he drives in circles around Jake in a parking lot. It’s not long before Jake’s on the hood of the car for a ridiculous drunken joyride. Jake always gets the damn job done.
He gets his repo on kickin’ ass along the way, Jake even repos a fucking helicopter from a seriously persistant pilot, yeah he’s a total natural, like the Rocky Balboa of repo men. He’s got it all at this point, the money’s a’ flowing an of course he’s soon dating his sexy aspiring actor neighbor in his apartment building! Clearly twice her age it seems his rugged animal magnetism is just too damn much for any human to resist. Eventually he pisses off a “powerful” crime lord and reveals he was once a hotshot drag racer who lost the love of his life due to his passion for kick ass car racing. Of course Repo Jake gets another chance to show off his mad skills as a car racer when he’s put to the ultimate test forcing to compete against the local crime boss in a high profile high octane race and then all sorts of madness ensues in full on ridiculous final boss battle.
Haggerty totally shines in this flick, I’d say it’s one of his best and proves him to once again be an unlikely action hero. He certainly does have a degree of humbling charisma that always makes him a pleasure to watch on screen. As far as movies that fit into that “so bad that they’re great” this one is a winner and a lot of it’s charm comes from director Joseph Merhi, who knows how to push the perfect buttons with a limited budget. He’s got quite a few movies from the 80’s and 90’s (The Newlydeads, LA Heat, Epitaph) I’m looking to check out now after having such a great time with Repo Jake. Check this out on a Saturday night with a gang of rabid movie maniacs along with plenty o’ booze and it’ll surely provide all with one helluva good time!! Here’s the full movie on Youtube for a Repo Jake quick fix: