Fright Night (1985) review

Fright Night posterDirector: Tom Holland

Starring: William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys, Jonathan Stark, Dorothy Fielding

“I have just been fired because nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski masks, hacking up young virgins.” (Peter Vincent, Fright Night)

The classic Dracula films aside, my favourite vampire movies are the ones set in the present day, taking an ancient monster thats often hundreds of years old and putting them in a modern setting.

No, I’m not talking about that. You wash your mouth out.

I’m talking about stuff like The Lost Boys, Near Dark and Vampire In Brooklyn. Okay, not that last one either.

The point I’m struggling to make here is that Fright Night is great. Well, that could have gone better. Continue reading “Fright Night (1985) review”

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Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987) review

Evil Dead 2 posterDirector: Sam Raimi

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Denise Bixler, Richard Domeier

HENRIETTA: “I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul!”

ASH: (points shotgun) “Swallow this.”

When The Evil Dead was released in 1981 it completely blew away the horror film industry.

With their titchy $375,000 budget director Sam Raimi, producer Bob Tapert, actor Bruce Campbell et al created a horror classic jammed fit to bursting with effective scares, laugh-out-loud moments and gallons of gore.

Usually a success like this leads to a sequel following soon after but fans of the original had to wait six years for Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn. Continue reading “Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987) review”

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) review

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers posterDirector: Fred Olen Ray

Starring: Jay Richardson, Linnea Quigley, Gunnar Hansen, Michelle Bauer, Dawn Wildsmith

“I’d stumbled into the middle of an evil, insidious cult of chainsaw worshipping maniacs. I had to wonder if we’d let our religious freedom go too far in this country, or maybe our immigration laws were just too lax.” (Jack, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers)

Fred Olen Ray is something of a cult figure among B-movie fans. He’s been writing, directing and producing low-budget films ever since the ’70s, and what most of them lack in glitz they make up for with gusto.

More often than not, the title of a Fred Olen Ray film is a good indication of what you’re getting, as proven by other notable examples of his work including The Brain Leeches, Bad Girls From Mars, Attack Of The 60 Foot Centerfolds and Dinosaur Island.

So too is the case with Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, his twelfth outing as a director and his first starring ’80s horror ‘scream queen’ Linnea Quigley. Continue reading “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) review”

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) review

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 posterDirector: Renny Harlin

Starring: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, Andras Jones, Danny Hassel, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman

“You shouldn’t have buried me. I’m not dead.” (Freddy, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master)

When A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 was released in 1987, the character of Freddy Krueger truly took off and started to become a household name.

This was partly thanks to his character’s evolution which saw him become more of an anti-hero than an outright villain.

Whereas in the first film he was a strictly sinister creation – a child murderer stalking the dreams of those whose parents killed him – by the third movie Freddy was busting out one-liners and making people scream with laughter rather than terror.

The inevitable fourth film, knocked together in less than a year, continued this trend by offering an even more wisecracking, fun-loving Freddy… with the fright factor taking another knock as a result.

However, as a shameless Nightmare On Elm Street devotee, I’m not fussed in the slightest. Hey, if you want objectivity, visit the BBC. Continue reading “A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) review”

Critters (1986) review

critters_posterDirector: Stephen Herek

Starring: Dee Wallace Stone, M Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush, Scott Grimes, Billy Zane

CRITTER 1 – “They have weapons.”
CRITTER 2 – “So what?”
<Critter 2 is blown up>
CRITTER 2 – “Fuck!”

As I’ve explored in numerous reviews in the past, such as Bride Of Chucky and Puppet Master III, there comes a point in some horror films where it becomes clear that the killer isn’t very intimidating.

There are ways to deal with this. The Puppet Master solution was to turn its killers – the titular puppets – into the heroes and make the audience root for them.

The Bride Of Chucky solution, meanwhile, was to acknowledge that the concept of a killer doll was a daft one and therefore the best thing to do was not only make Chucky the hero but also play the film entirely for laughs.

Critters instead takes the Gremlins approach (the first one, not its sequel), which also aims for comedy but at the same time steadfastly refuses to accept that its killer creatures are anything other than nasty little bastards. And it works. Continue reading “Critters (1986) review”

Troll (1986) review

Troll posterDirector: John Carl Buechler

Starring: Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Jenny Beck, June Lockhart, Phil Fondacaro, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

“Harry, your sister isn’t an alien. She’s something much worse.” (Eunice, Troll)

You may already be aware of Troll 2, the movie some claim is the worst film ever made. I’ve already reviewed it, because that’s how cutting edge and cool and shit I am.

But what about the first Troll? What was so interesting about that film that someone decided it needed a sequel? Is it just as bad as its successor? How do they link up?

Actually, Troll has nothing to do with Troll 2. The latter was originally named Goblin until it was decided that changing the name to pretend it was a sequel to Troll would gain it extra credibility. No punchline necessary. Continue reading “Troll (1986) review”

Jason X (2001) review

Jason X posterDirector: James Isaac

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Derwin Jordan, Melyssa Ade

“Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” (Professor Lowe, Jason X)

I can just imagine the conversation that potentially took place when Jason X was originally conceived.

“We need to make another Friday The 13th movie boss, but we’re running out of ideas.”

“Running out of ideas? Are you mad? It’s a slasher movie. Put gore and tits in it and you’re good.”

“Yes sir, but Friday The 13th fans expect something more, some sort of twist. We’ve already had a 3D one, a copycat killer one, a zombie one, one shot in New York and a possession one. What now?”

“I don’t care. I couldn’t give a shit if it’s fucking Jason In Space, just get tits and gore in it and have it ready by the summer.” Continue reading “Jason X (2001) review”

Hellgate (1989) review

Hellgate posterDirector: William Levey

Starring: Ron Palillo, Abigail Wolcott, Carel Trichardt, Petrea Curran

“Take this, you zombie bitch!” (Pam, Hellgate)

Have you ever suffered from PMS? I have. No, you fool, I don’t mean that. I’m talking about Plot Missing Syndrome.

You know how it works. Sometimes you’re watching a film and you’re slightly tired. You nod off without realising it and wake up 30 minutes later, none the wiser.

Slowly you start to realise that the film isn’t making sense any more. Characters are talking about things that haven’t happened. The hero and his love interest suddenly hate each other for some reason. One guy’s missing a leg.

It eventually dawns on you that you must have fallen asleep. You rewind back to the last scene you remember and, more often than not, are stunned that you managed to miss around half an hour without noticing.

When I first watched Hellgate, I thought PMS had struck again. So I watched the film a second time from start to finish and realised, to my bewilderment, that it actually hadn’t. Continue reading “Hellgate (1989) review”

The Creeps (1997) review

The Creeps posterDirector: Charles Band

Starring: Rhonda Griffin, Justin Lauer, Bill Moynihan, Jon Simanton

“You’re history, you little pervert! No, you’re archaeology, as in old garbage!” (Anna, The Creeps)

Full Moon Pictures is one of my favourite B-movie horror studios. Established in the 1980s, it was well-known among horror fans for its cheesy low-budget efforts.

Some, like Puppet Master and Subspecies, were so popular they went on to spawn their own multi-sequel franchises. Others, like Dollman – in which an intergalactic bounty hunter crashlands on space only to realise he’s ten inches tall – weren’t.

Full Moon continues to this day, and while most of its recent output retains all of the cheese, it leaves out most of the charm. Titles like The Gingerdead Man and Dangerous Worry Dolls sound like they should be superb slices of low-budget larks (well, they do to me at least) but ultimately they end up in the TWABM Hall Of Shame.

A great example of how it used to be is The Creeps, a Full Moon pishfest that was given a DVD re-release this week. Continue reading “The Creeps (1997) review”

Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review

Please Don't Eat My Mother posterDirector: Carl Monson

Starring: Buck Kartalian, Lynn Lundgren, a load of other people shagging

HENRY – “Well, that’s murder or something!”
EVE – “Never heard of a plant getting arrested, have you?”

Henry Fudd (which is an even more appropriate name in Scotland) is a weird bastard. He spends his lunch break spying on couples having sex, then after work he goes back home, where he lives with his possessive mother, and locks himself in his room, the walls of which are covered with pages of porno magazines. Oh, and he has a plant called Eve that eats people.

Please Don’t Eat My Mother is essentially a low-budget rip-off of Little Shop Of Horrors, only (as it’s produced by “Sexploitation King” Harry Novak) with more porn and less quality. Eve starts off as a tiny sapling that Henry feeds normal plant food, but before too long she’s grown dramatically and adopted a sexy woman’s voice. The plant asks Henry to bring him increasingly larger food, starting with flies and upgrading to frogs, dogs and eventually people, including – you guessed it – Henry’s mother.

Please Don't Eat My Mother
“C’mere baby and plant one on me. Get it?! PLANT! Because you’re a… let me just unzip these jeans”

It’s a story that might have been more interesting had it been handled better (of course, it already had), but Please Don’t Eat My Mother is a bucket of pish. Buck Kartalian is a bizarre actor to watch – it’s clear the film is supposed to be a cheesy comedy he makes some truly odd facial expressions, chewing the scenery… literally, at times.

The ‘special effects’ (and I mean special in a different way than usual) are the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a school play. The plant looks like a ridiculous papier-mâché creation and its movement is so limited (its mouth moves and that’s it) that it always eats its victims off-camera (complete with over-the-top slurping sound effects and unconvincing whimpers from the victim). Continue reading “Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review”