Saturday, June 30, 2018

Junesploitation 2018 Day 30: '80s Horror!

There is no escape. Not even death!



    Philippe Mora's HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF (1985, 91 min.) on Scream Factory Blu-ray for the first time. FTM Commentary Track.

    Not since "Saturday Night Fever" led to "Staying Alive!" have I seen such a drastic drop in quality from well-regarded first movie (a Joe Dante-directed genre classic) to naked cash-grab sequel. And future "Howling" movies would dip even lower into the sinkhole, which is why part 2 is such an entertaining trainwreck. The producers still had enough money to corral some talent (Christopher Lee and Sybil Danning don't come cheap for a low-budget, shot-in-Communist-Eastern-Europe flick), but had to take it from somewhere else within their limited budget. When the filmmakers re-enact the ending of the original "Howling" with sets, props and masks from a community college AV storage room, I knew I was in for a good time. What can I say? Cocaine is a hell of a drug, and apparently so cheap in Transylvania that it keeps the local population partying like lemmings for days/nights at a time. :-D

    And look, it's "Space Mutiny's" Reb Brown as the shouts-like-a-girl hero trying to avenge the death of his sister in the first movie. How Christopher Lee didn't walk off the set on principle when paired with "Gristle McThornbody!" is beyond me. Lee talking a big game (and dressing like a punk for a few glorious seconds) and Sybil Danning removing her top (all 10,000 times, 9,999 during the closing credits) are the best two scenes in a horror movie with werewolf orgies and bats turning a priest's face inside out. How sad is that? Recommended with reservations.

    Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986, 100 min.) on Hulu. FTM Commentary Track.

    I was literally on drugs when I saw this for the first and only time back in 1991 as I awaited surgery in a hospital waiting area. Seeing it again, clear-headed and with 27 additional years of movie watching, I can appreciate what Tobe Hooper was going for even if I ultimately end up liking almost none of it. No subtleties from the original '74 here, just a loud, gory and deliberately obnoxious black comedy that would influence the likes of Rob Zombie ("Devil's Rejects," etc.). I can appreciate Caroline Williams going for broke playing a woman being put through the ringer... except that "Stretch" CHOOSES to follow Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and annoying-as-fuck "Chop-Top" (Bill Moseley) after they (a) break into her radio station, (b) nearly rape her with a chainsaw (thank God for that... bathtub full of ice?) and (b) kidnap her sexist pig of a co-worker (Lou Perryman's L.G.) after beating him into a bloody pulp with a hammer. I'm sorry, Stretch either turns into a catatonic fetal baby on the floor or calls the cops. Period!

    I know there's no second half of "TTCM2" if Stretch doesn't follow horror movie logic and chases after her would-be murderers. Which would have been fine by me because, except for Dennis Hopper dual wielding chainsaws in his duel with Leatherface (pretty wild for '86), this last third became unbearably dull. Yes, it's uncomfortable and super gory (wet face of L.G. on Stretch's face wearing a cowboy hat while tied to a wall for the exploitation unpleasantness hat trick!), but it also thinks it's being humorous enough to diffuse the tension. No, it's just horrible people being horrible dialed to 11 and, ironically, making the equally-annoying Hopper seem normal by contrast. Cool Tom Savini effects and memorable final shot (with sexy shorty shorts to match), but I'm not buying what Tobe Hooper is selling. Pass.


      What a contrast the two FTM commentary tracks for these features are. It's so nice to hear Patrick pour his heart and soul into his solo "TTCM2" track and turn it into a cathartic sharing of his love for Tobe Hooper. Unlike previous solo commentaries with too much dead silence ("Revenge of the Ninja") the man can talk non-stop when it comes from that place of genuine admiration for what he's talking about. Makes me wish I could see the things that Patrick sees in Tobe's movies, but that's why we're all individuals. Good listen.

      The Heather Wixon/Patrick track for "Howling II" is cute because Heather never actually says why she likes the movie enough to vigorously defend it. Too bad Scream Factory didn't take Patrick's advice and put Heather in charge of the bonus features, but life's full of disappointments. Too bad most of them aren't as amusing in their peculiar cheesy was as "Howling II."

      And that's it. Another Junesploitation! is in the books and I'm spent. Now if you excuse me. I'm gonna drop the mic, catch some zzzz's and watch some win-or-go-home quality World Cup soccer matches. Go Germany... I mean, oops! :-O

      PLOP! :-)


      J.M. you are clearly Michael J. Fox because your movie watching timeline makes no sense. Meaning, how do you watch 4 hours of movies at various Venus in 2 hours? Glade you watch them and you provide some of the best insight I’ve ever seen. Not only that but they’re GREAT insights and have turned me on to bunch of movies (thanks!). However, you’re not playing by the rules. Therefore all the movies you watched during junesploitaion are invalid. :) Better luck next year. :) Elephant in the room.

    3. In all fairness, I shouldn't be a to post for a couple hours.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), dir. Jack Sholder

    The bird catches fire. The gym teacher is tied up buck naked and whipped with a towel. Lisa really likes Jesse. None of these things make any sense. In unrelated news, I love this movie.

  4. STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981, dir. Michael Laughlin)

    There were a few points in Strange Behavior when I had a strong desire to turn the film off, but I like to finish a film I start.

    The trouble with the first half is that is feels completely nondescript. The teenagers are the standard early ‘80s movie teenagers, the American Midwest setting is beyond generic, and the synth score, albeit by the renowned Tangerine Dream, does not stand out from others of the period. As far as the kills go, they are staged a little clumsily and feel lethargic.

    A subplot is introduced in the second half about the conflict between the local police chief and a local university that completely alters the tone and pace of the film. Suddenly the film has a villain. Although this was a welcome change from what happened before, it is worked in without finesse. A couple conversations that amount to info dumps are required to explain everything. Overall, this section of the film does not gel together.

    BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981, dir. Ed Hunt)

    What did I watch? Is this horror, comedy, or an after-school special? It feels like all three in the same film. Three children born on the same day during a total solar eclipse go on a killing spree around their tenth birthday. Anything works for them: guns, arrows, cars, baseball bats. Yes, it is real child actors playing the murderers. A little voyeurism is thrown as well with one of the children allowing her friends to spy on her sister undressing. There is nudity elsewhere in the film. I could not believe what I was watching much of the time. The score seems like a parody of Friday the 13th.

    The question of whether this is a “good” film is difficult to answer. Even judged as a horror film, it falls short. As an unusual viewing experience, though, it rates highly. There is no doubt that Bloody Birthday would not be made today. I am amazed that it was even made at all.

    FRIGHTMARE (1983, dir. Norman Thaddeus Vane)

    Conrad Radzoff, a recently deceased horror icon, becomes the guest of a horror film society when its members steal his coffin. His spirit is not pleased at all about that, and he comes to back to life to kill the society’s members.

    Frightmare combines gothic touches and comedy with slasher tropes. Even though the film does not always mesh together or make sense, it is adequate 1980s horror. Enough scenes worked to make this a worthwhile watch.

    The highlights of the film are Radzoff, his gaudy mausoleum and an early role for Jeffrey Combs.

    With another Junesploitation coming to an end, I am little sad- my list of films to watch did not shrink by much- and also appreciative of the chance to dive deeper into the kind of films I love. Some I undoubtedly would not have seen without the structure of this month.

    Another pleasure of Junesploitation, of course, is following what others are watching. It is an educational experience; there are many titles I will be seeking out over the next year. Thanks to all of you.

  5. Santa Sangre (1990, dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky, First Time Viewing) This was not the right time to watch this crazy art movie after 30 days of exploitation. I didn't really get it, it mainly sailed right over my head. Although it did contain probably the most intense knifing scene I've seen in my life. I'll have to rewatch it again someday to try to wrap my head around it. Sorry to see the end of this month, I've had a blast watching movies and reading everyone's reviews!

  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987):

    We're the dream warriors!
    Don't want to dream no more!
    We're the dream warriors!
    Maybe tonight you'll be gone!
    We're the dream warriors!
    Ain't gonna dream no more!
    And maybe tonight!
    Maybe tonight you'll be gone!

    Happy Junesploitation, everyone!

  7. Dead Calm (1989)

    I really admire the simplicity of this movie. I'm quite sure that's the wrong word to describe anything shot on two boats in the middle of the ocean, but it's really just three characters and there are long stretches without any dialogue. The pacing is great, the stakes are there, it's shot really beautifully, and the performances are top notch (even though I have to admit a bit of a Billy Zane allergy). I wish the final minute of the film was handled differently, but it's the end of Junesploitation and I don't want to quibble. Patrick, thanks for another really great month!

  8. Alone in the Dark (1982, dir. Jack Sholder)

    Welcome back to my #Junesploitation, Martin Landau! This makes me want to revisit "Nightmre 2" and see if I have a more positive opinion about that. Also, Jack Palance was always terrifying, wasn't he? Recommended.

  9. Just Before Dawn (1981)

    From the man who brought us Blue Sunshine, this movie feels like a bit of a predecessor to Wrong Turn. It's also the fourth movie I've watched this month where identical twins are a plot point. It's a solid movie and a good one to go out with for #Junesploitation. As always I'm sorry to see it and, but also a bit relieved to have a break.

  10. KILLER NERD (1989)
    Troma! A stereotypical nerd is bullied and rejected by women, so he goes on a killing spree. This is an ugly, ugly movie, and I don’t mean the low budget shot-on-video look. I’m sure the filmmakers thought they were making a hilarious slasher parody, but this stuff is real cringe-inducing in 2018.

    The nerd strikes up a tedious romance with a female nerd, and they team up to enact revenge on her bullies. More of the same. If these movies had leaned harder into the horror/comedy thing, they might’ve been fun, but instead they’re just ugliness for the sake of ugliness.

    And that's a wrap for me on this year's #Junesploitation, with 88 new-to-me movies alongside 18 old favorites, for a grand total of 106 movies. Big, BIG thanks to Patrick and the F This Community for creating a safe space to talk about movies and tell silly jokes.

    1. The reigning champ of Junesploitation! ladies and gents, MAC McENTIRE! How about a big applause for the king? :-D

    2. Oh, stop. I'm just grateful for to have an excuse to watch lots of movies. :)

  11. Murder by Phone aka Bells aka Hell's Bells aka The Calling (1982, dir. Michael Anderson)

    It's pretty much what you'd expect with a title like that. Someone has found a way to kill people via telephone, and a college professor starts investigating the deaths when both the police and the phone company seem disinterested.

    A novel idea, but the procedural storyline slogs along predictably and the kills, while fun, are few and far between. The ending is kinda great though.

    Gremlins (1984, dir. Joe Dante) with Red Letter Media's commentary track
    Pieces (1982, dir. Juan Piquer Simón) with F This Movie!'s commentary track
    Sleepaway Camp (1983, dir. Robert Hiltzik) with F This Movie!'s commentary track

    Bringing the month to a close with fun movies narrated by people I enjoy virtually hanging out with.

  12. 2 flicks from 1989 on VHS:

    Dark Tower Dir. Ken Wiederhorn (Shock Waves, Return of the Living Dead). Replaced during filming by Freddie Francis (The Brain, The Creeping Flesh)

    A possessed skyscraper is making people go crazy killing themselves or other people. The cop brings in a psychic to straighten shit out. The premise sounds great but unfortunately it's dull, talky and doesn't really do anything interesting until the last 5 minutes. Reminded me of "The Lift" but not as fun.

    Nightwish dir. Bruce R. Cook (one of only two films he directed)

    Great way to end the month! Brian Thompson, Clayton Rohner and Elizabeth Kaitan. A group of people are involved in a study to figure out their own deaths through dream sensory (or something like that, think the tank from "Altered States") They get together at a mansion in the woods to try and make contact with a demon, all in the name of science. This movie was pretty great. It oozes with late 80's style, colors, camera angles and early computer generated effects. It gets pretty crazy as it goes along with dreams and reality being blurred and a plot point at around the 1 hour mark that comes waaaaay out of nowhere and honestly makes the movie. Kaitan gets naked also so it automatically gets bumped 1/2 a star so 4 out of 5 entity's (which is said a thousand times in the film). Only a matter of time until Scream Factory or someone puts this one out. Oh and make sure to stay for the "Nightwish" theme song during the closing credits. Yikes!

  13. Alone in the Dark (1982)

    A family end up besieged by four escapee from the local mental hospital after a citywide blackout. The mental patients are played by Jack Palance and a very menacing Martin Landau wielding an axe. The premise is simple, but executed greatly. Their psychiatrist is played by the equally great Donald Pleasence

    The effects are made by the always awesome Tom Savini, and it shows.

    I was very pleasantly surprised by the movie. It has a great eerie mood.

  14. Lifeforce (1985)

    This movie confounds me. You can tell it's not quite the film Hooper intended, the opening 10 minutes is really just a series of dissolves. At the same time, it does suffer from a serious case of British stiffness. Aside from Steve Railsback, I find every other character extremely uninteresting. Well, Captain Picard is pretty great too.

  15. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1985)

    Elvira, the horror-hostess who (according to her) puts the “boob” in “boob tube,” inherits a house in a quiet community and turns the town upside-down. It’s a lot of silliness with more double-entendres than you can shake a pair of tassels at, and it’s all very fun. Elvira seems to be having a great time, and that’s totally infectious. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Edie McClurg is the absolute best.

    As the world is currently a raging garbage fire, this is exactly the kind of movie that can help you forget about that for an hour and half and I loved it for that alone. Junesploitation has been a much-needed tonic this year, and I’m thankful to every single person who participated. The reviews and recommendations and conversations here and on the twitter machine were all great, and I love this community and everyone in it (especially you). Junesploitation forever and ever. Do for it!

  16. The Final Terror (1983)
    Pretty average slasher in the woods movie. The mystery is pretty obvious for how much it relies on not knowing who the killer is, but it’s still pretty enjoyable for wilderness horror.

  17. Brain Damage (1988 - dir Frank Henenlotter)

    Look it's an easy thing to happen, to get addicted to the blue liquid of a penis shaped parasite that sounds like a lounge singer, and has a foundess for brains. Everyone's been there.

    This is a strange little movie. And my first Henenlotter. And I really loved it and will be back for more, Henenlotter that is not blue parasite juice. I was able to kick that habbit back in the early naughts.

    Thanks again to Patrick and everyone at F This Movie for Junesploitation. It has been a blast, even if I couldn't partisapate as much as I wanted to. Everyone has been watching amazing movies, and I have, as usual, a very long list I need to work my way through.

    1. I watched Brain Damage for the first time in the spring. It is one the weirdest films I have seen in a long time, requiring two viewings to absorb. It does a lot on a tiny budget.

      The best scenes are in the hotel room with the Aylmer taunting Brian while he goes through withdrawal. Aylmer is such a smooth talker. He was voiced by a New York City horror host named Zacherley.

    2. I love Aylmer and the hotel sequence is incrediable. Growing up in New Zealand I never got the horror host experience. But it make perfect sense to use a voice like Zacherly, because it works perfectly.

  18. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

    A beautiful encapsulation of 80s horror. Great effects, tremendous ambition, and endlessly entertaining. I love this movie for so many reasons. A proper close to this beloved months celebrations.

  19. Prince of Darkness (1987)

    This is probably the most bleak and humorless of Carpenters movies, until Village of the Damned anyway, and I think that works in its favor. It's a fine mix of faith vs. logic, conscious vs. unconscious. And it's pretty fuckin scary to boot. I do feel a bit bad for the lead actor tho, as he was likely cast because the studio probably told Carpenter that Tom Atkins would NOT pass as a grad student in 1987.

    1. That's what I always think when people say Atkins should've had the role. He would have been WAY too old.

    2. I think Carpenter probably slipped Jameson Parker a headshot of Atkins and said "be this." And likely just called him Tom on set.

  20. The Stepfather (1987, dir. Ruben)

    I saw the remake when it came out, but for some reason put off checking out the original. This is just a classic tale, with a bit of mystery, building tension, and payoff. That said, it could easily be forgettable or seem uninspired if the lead performance isn't captivating (see: the remake) and Terry O'Quinn makes it all worthwhile. I thought "Who am I here?" was a great line when I saw it on the poster, and it's even creepier in context.

    I had such a blast this month. I've been following the site for a while now, but didn't involve myself enough to follow F! This Movie Fest or anything else until this this year, and I'm so excited to be in it with you guys. Scary Movie Month, let's go!

  21. Death Spa (1989)

    Got this in juuuuust under the wire. Thought I'd see this one, but apparently it was just Killer Workout, because I'd never forget what a hoot it was. Kenneth Foree is a welcome presence in any movie, and damn I wished I could wear lapels like that. Also it has killer fish and design aesthetics that are right out if a Tangerine Dream hallucination. Great little time capsule for the decade that was the 1980s.

    You're Next (2011)

    Decidee to close out Junesploitation in style with this sweet little gem from a few years ago. Alright, so it doesn't fit in with 80s Horror, BUT it stars queen of scream herself Barbara Crampton. And anything with B Cramps in it has got to be 80s, right? Anyway, aside from character faces and costumes that would literally blend in to the background, I liked it a lot, especially aome final kills. Though I'd like it more if it went full 80s synth earlier and more often. Long live the era of neon and coke, and long live Junesploitation!

  22. Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

    A final film, in the waning hours of Junesploitation. As every year, it's been a blast. I can't wait to do it all again with everyone. Scary Movie Month is only 3 hideous months away!

  23. The Blob (1988, dir. Chuck Russell)

    This movie is the best. Junesploitation is the best. Thanks to everyone for an amazing month!

  24. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987)

    There were so many places where I could’ve put this movie this past month, but it was so worth holding it off for today. I watched this movie on Shudder (the best $5 I spend every month) a few months back and had a blast with it. My Junesploitation rewatch was equally enjoyable and deepened my love for this movie. It’s a good gestalt of its influences: the prom scene from ‘Carrie’, the teenage high school vibes of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, the main character’s loss of innocence from ‘The Exorcist’, mixed with a heavy dose of 80s doo-wop nostalgia. The cast does a great job, with the ever-awesome Michael Ironside playing the haunted principle responsible for the accidental death of his high school sweetheart decades before. The effects are inventive and look great, the deaths are fairly gnarly, and the intensity ratchets up steadily over the course of the film to a final batshit crescendo. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t. Hopefully we’ll get a great Blu release in the near future.

  25. i'm cheating a little, i watched this the day after the last day of junesploitation. sorry guys.


    not knoeing much about this movie, i watched the 2018 director's version, which include an introduction by the director (too short, but interesting). there's 3 other versions of the film on the disc. i'll eventually watch the others, but if somebody could tell me which version would be the best, i'd appreciate it. as for the movie itself, well, it's very good. i bought it without knowing anything about the movie (somebody mentioned Limited Edition, that's all i needed). it's everything i expected from a low budget, sci-fi, horror flick. the Xtro from the title is very creepy and scary and the mood is unsettling. there's a bit of gore, which is always welcome in this type of film. the picture quality of the blu-ray is fantastic, they did a perfect job on it. i don't regret buying it. now i need to get through the ton of extras on the disc.

    1. i started watching the extras, and the 'somebody' i mentioned earlier was Dennis Atherton (sorry i forgot your name earlier) and now i can put a face to the name. and F This Movie is mentioned.

    2. That's so cool. I was wondering if anyone picked up the Bluray and I made sure Fthismovie gets a shout out by the Producer himself

      Strangely without knowing it you choose the worst version of Xtro as a first viewing. Its like someone took a crayon to it. Coloured it in and put strange digital effects onnit. Crazy smoke. Shadows. Cartoon effects. I called it 'Xtro on Acid'

      The other 3 versions are very different in a better way
      My favourite is the Alternate cut. The version with the new ending as choose by Bob Shaye.
      Im glad you enjoyed it though

      Please comment again once you've seen the other version.
      I am genuinly interested in your thoughts

      You just watched the George Lucas digitally alterered version

      Im glad Xtro made it this year here. Its an amazing Bluray release

    3. Are you saying the director made poor choices? How dare you :)

      I'll check out the other versions when i come back from a trip this week

  26. Yeah. He has slightly changed over the years. I told him what I thought very politely so I don't feel bad mentioning it here. He wants to make a new Xtro movie with a CGI Xtro! I think that says a lot. I am trying to bring him back to a 80s style Practical Horror movie but He will do his own thing. I told him gently but honestly that I don't think a digital Xtro movie will work. I could be wrong?

    But if the directors cut is anything to go by I don't like these cheap looking digital effects
    I told Patrick that the Producer of Xtro and also the Holy Grail is willing to come and chat on the podcast. That might happen one day hopefully

    1. Cool, Dennis. Patrick and the FTM crowd would appreciate talking and getting some fun anecdotes from "Xtro's" filmmakers. :-)

    2. Yeah he's a really nice chap. And he produced The Holy Grail too so he has some good Monty Python Stories also. And he gave Fthismovie a shout out on the new Xtro Bluray so he's in our good books for sure
      Cheers JMV