Director: J Lee Thompson
Starring: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, Tracey Bregman
“You’d be proud of me now, mother. All the kids like me.” – Virginia, Happy Birthday To Me
After the success of Halloween, film studios went out of their way to ensure every other major calendar date was covered by a slasher film.
Graduation Day, My Bloody Valentine, Black Christmas, Friday The 13th – it’s safe to say that if Shrove Tuesday existed in America someone would have made a movie about a killer jamming poisoned shroves up hapless victims’ shitepipes.
It went without saying, then, that someone would eventually make a slasher based on birthdays. After all, everyone celebrates their birthday, so everyone can relate.
Cue Columbia Pictures with Happy Birthday To Me, a Canadian horror film that’s actually a little more left-field than you may expect. Continue reading “Happy Birthday To Me (1981) review”
Director: 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”
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Starring: Mariangela Giordano, Roberto Caporali, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Karin Well, Antonella Antinori, Simone Mattioli, Peter Bark
Also known as: Le Notti Del Terrore (The Nights Of Terror), The Zombie Dead
“Mother, this cloth smells of death.” (Michael, Burial Ground)
When you ask someone to name some old zombie movies, the usual suspects inevitably pop up.
The obvious contenders, the ones folk will almost unconsciously start with, are Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead.
Then you may get the occasional Return Of The Living Dead, or – if the person you’re asking knows their video nasty history – Zombie Flesh Eaters.
This is all perfectly understandable, mind – all five of the above are fantastic films – but there are plenty of excellent old zombie movies that, for some reason, never quite reached that same level of universal notoriety and acclaim.
One of the finest examples is Burial Ground, or The Night Of Terrors to give it its original Italian title. Continue reading “Burial Ground (1981) review”
Director: John Fasano
Starring: Jon Mikl Thor, Teresa Simpson, Jim Cirile, Jillian Peri, David Lane, Denise Dicandia, Frank Dietz, Liane Abel, Adam Fried
Also known as: The Edge Of Hell
“You killed no one, Bub. Or is it less familiar to call you Beelzebub? Or do you prefer Abaddon? Or, as the Hindus called you, Shaitan? Or, as you are known to answer to, Ahriman? Belial? Apollyon? Asmodeus? Because, you see… I do know you.” (John Triton, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare)
Well, now. Where to begin.
If you aren’t aware of Jon Mikl Thor, his Wikipedia page describes him as “a bodybuilding champion, actor, songwriter, screenwriter, historian, vocalist and musician”.
Having now watched Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, which was both written by Thor and starred him in the leading role, I’m almost tempted to edit that page and remove “actor” and “screenwriter”. Continue reading “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) review”
Director: James Fargo
Starring: Pia Zadora, Tom Nolan, Craig Sheffer, Michael Berryman, Ruth Gordon, Alison La Placa
“I still can’t believe you’re an alien. What a novelty act!” (Dee Dee, Voyage Of The Rock Aliens)
One day in the future, when I have children, there will come a day when I’m asked “dad, what were the ’80s like?”
I already know how I’ll respond. Without saying a single word I’ll gesture to the couch, insist they sit down, turn the telly on and make them watch Voyage Of The Rock Aliens. Just to fuck with them. Continue reading “Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (1984) review”
Director: 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”
It is my intention to eventually watch and review all 72 movies on the ‘video nasties’ list released by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK in 1983. In a time before videos were classified by the BBFC, each of these films were considered so shocking by the DPP that any video shop owner found to be selling or renting it could have faced prosecution. To see my other video nasty reviews so far, click here.
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé, Siegfried Rauch
“Help! Let me out! There’s an egg!” (Stella, Contamination)
I’ve got a lot of time for Italian horror from the late ’70s and early ’80s. This was a fruitful period for low-budget horror, mostly thanks to the countless Italian rip-offs that were churned out in next to no time.
No film was safe from the Italian ‘homage’: when Jaws came out, a bunch of killer shark (and piranha and whale) films were released within a matter of months. Following Dawn Of The Dead, you couldn’t move in Italy for cheapo zombie flicks.
Meanwhile, Contamination – in case you couldn’t tell from the poster – was inspired by Ridley Scott’s Alien.
Continue reading “Contamination (1980) (Video Nasty review #11)”
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins, Beatrice Straight, Zelda Rubenstein
“This house has many hearts.” (Tangina, Poltergeist)
What do you get when you combine Steven Spielberg at the height of his power – right after directing E.T. – and Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
The answer is simple: you get one of my favourite films ever.
First though, some housekeeping. It has long been debated whether Hooper had much influence during the making of the film, with many reports and actor testimonies claiming that Spielberg had most of the creative control.
You see, Spielberg had a clause in his contract that stated that while he was working on E.T. he wasn’t allowed to direct another movie. It’s claimed, then, that Hooper was brought in to take on the role of director while Spielberg pulled the strings behind the scenes. Continue reading “Poltergeist (1982) review”
Director: Ed Hunt
Starring: Lori Lethin, KC Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby, Andy Freeman
“Mommy, mommy, come quick! Daddy fell!” (Debbie, Bloody Birthday)
My birthday is coming up soon. I’ll be 32 on 8th April, thanks for asking. Feel free to send me presents.
Even if you don’t, it’s unlikely my birthday will be as grim as that of Debbie, Curtis and Steven, the three 10-year-old villains in Bloody Birthday.
That’s right, I said 10-year-old villains. Bet you’re starting to get interested now. Continue reading “Bloody Birthday (1981) review”
Director: 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”