Friday, June 19, 2020

Junesploitation 2020 Day 19: '80s Horror!

You'll have a hell of a time!


    Yes, the homoerotic subtext in Mark Patton's performance as swimming-in-sweat troubled teen Jesse is obvious if you're looking for it. But it doesn't define "NOES 2" for me, it's just part of the frabric in this for-hire filmmakers' first crack at building a supernatural slasher world after Wes laid the foundation. You know, back when Freddy behaved like a feral bastard instead of a frustrated stand-up. Considering its small budget (recycled sets from the first movie, Nancy's diary as an exposition dumping tool, etc.) it's a small miracle we got an efficient Christopher Young score, still-impressive special effects (Freddy coming from within Jesse's innards scarred me!) and the "You're all my children now" pool massacre (classic!). It's not perfect (Clu Gulager's a-hole dad doesn't get his comeuppance like Coach Schneider, no chemistry between Patton and true-final-girl Kim Myers), but a school bus speeding out of control through the desert and guard dogs with human faces? Come on, people! "NOES 2" rules. 4 SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTING CANARIES (out of 5)

    ANTHROPOPHAGUS (1980, TUBI, Dan Snyder: 6/22/2019)
    Talk about a notorious movie's reputation not living up to the hype. A group of friends and tag-along stranger ("Zombie's" Tisa Farrow in her final role) go to a desolate Mediterranean Island and run into... trouble. Mayhem ensues eventually, but except for a cool opening and an epic jump scare (so good it made the video cover) director Joe D'Amato piles on the throwaway tension. George Eastman co-wrote, co-produced and eventually stars in the movie. He's fine, but screen presence is no substitute for the missing skilled filmmaking that'd give the meant-to-offend gory bits some emotional impact. 2.5 PIANO-PLAYING KITTIES (out of 5)

    THE SENDER (1982, A.Prime, Brent Petersen: 6/1/2016)
    Some pretty good talent (composer Trevor Jones, DP Roger Pratt, Zeljko Ivanek in his feature debut) contribute to this gender-reversed combination of "Carrie" and "The Entity" (with childhood abuse trauma replacing supernatural sexual assault) holding one's attention for a good long while. A suicidal John Doe (Ivanek, channeling young De Niro) can't control projecting his fears onto the minds of people he's in contact with, particularly his cares-too-much shrink (Kathryn Harrold). There's an amazing sequence involving shock therapy that made me stand up and cheer in my apartment, but that's the exception to an otherwise diminishing returns supernatural thriller that loses steam as it goes along. 'It's fine.' 3 VIOLATED-BY-RATS CORPSES (out of 5)

    NECROMANCER (1988, A.Prime, Mac McEntire: 6/24/2019)
    'Are you a good girl that was raped by a rich schoolmate, held by another and not helped by a third? Don't want your clueless boyfriend to know or share your plight with the older theater teacher you slept with but have remained friendly with? Call (213) REVENGE. For $20 we'll send a sexy version of you to seduce every man that has wronged you to meet the insides of their homes' water pipes. No refunds of exchanges available. Void Where Prohibited. Don't call now, or ever. 2.25 RECYCLED "SLITHIS" MONSTER SUITS (out of 5)

  2. FLESH EATING MOTHERS (1988, dir. James Aviles Martin) on Amazon Prime

    Yes, the film does live up to its title.

    Writing about Flesh Eating Mothers is tough because it clearly was a labor of love for Martin. It is super low-budget horror that has a homegrown quality to it. Most to the participants were probably friends or family of the director. The story rambles all over the place, and the special effects are not very special at all. It reminds me, in fact, of the shot-on-video films we were watching last June but just a tad better than those. Despite all of that, I cannot put down the film by stating it is complete junk. There is a strong sense of humor to it as well as some biting commentary on relationships between parents and children. A handful of sequences are genuinely clever.

    The version on Prime seems like it could be the version put out by Vinegar Syndrome. In any case, it looks better than it ought to. Being very familiar with that company’s catalogue, Flesh Eating Mothers fits in with the other oddities Vinegar Syndrome has made available to an unsuspecting public.

    Watch at your own risk.

  3. Nightmare Beach aka Welcome to Spring Break (1989, dir. Harry Kirkpatrick and/or Umberto Lenzi)

    I guess when the decade was about to end, they dumped all the 80's sleaze, misogyny, fashion and music they had left over into this movie. Top it off with a half-assed slasher plot, some gore and a straight-laced hero, and you've got Nightmare Beach. John Saxon plays a cop who might or might not be crooked, which isn't great this day and age. Michael Parks is way too good for this.

    From what I read, it's not entirely clear who directed this. Lenzi was originally hired, but had a falling out with the producers. According to him, he only provided "technical assistance" while screenwriter Kirkpatrick directed, but apparently that account has also been disputed by a film historian who says Lenzi directed it and later just wanted his name off it.

    1. I'm surprised Lenzi would be ashamed of this. Saw this for Slashers! and, except for the final 10 minutes, I thought it was as good as a shot-in-late-80's-America Italian slasher could be done back then. Even the lead couple (Nicolas De Toth and Sarah Buxton) are a nice and likable sympathetic young couple, a rarity for the genre. Me likey this one. :-)

  4. BLOOD TIDE (1982; dir. Richard Jefferies)

    *Great looking new blu from Arrow!

    Something's afoot in this picturesque Greek island village. A movie from '82 that is definitely living in the 70s with its plot about weird cults. But here its a sea monster/sea demon cult!

    Don't let that fact fool you into thinking this movie is silly because it takes the subject matter seriously, and casting James Earl Jones helps out tremendously with that. There are beautiful shots and thrilling excursions taking place with likable characters. A hugely entertaining (both parts mysterious and fun) adventure/horror/monster movie with enough atmosphere to go around both parts day and night. Lila Kedrova, the Oscar winner for Zorba the Greek, gives another terrific, if very different but equally stunning supporting turn here.

  5. Paperhouse (1988)

    Good lord that hit me harder than I expected. A simple drawing of a house (and its sad young occupant) becomes a conduit for a psychic connection between two kids who have never met, and the results are alternately beautiful, frightening, and moving. It may be doing this movie a disservice to call it a horror movie (though it does have quite a few jolts and an exceptionally effective aura of dread throughout) because it avoids so many of the stereotypical trappings of the genre and evolves into something less classifiable. Is it a fantasy? Is it a nightmare? Is it a fable? Yes to all, and more.

    It hasn’t always been the easiest movie to find (I believe it’s still out of print on U.S. DVD and has not yet received a U.S. blu-ray release) but it is absolutely a movie that deserves to be seen and talked about. From the fantastic production (and sound!) design to the eerie performances (I miss Glenne Headly so much) to the assured direction (by Candyman’s Bernard Rose) to everything in between this is not only the best movie I’ve seen so far this year for Junesploitation, it’s the best movie I’ve seen so far this year full stop. I can not recommend this highly enough.

    1. I've been meaning to watch this for awhile. I need to get myself organised and track down a copy.

  6. Prime Evil (1988). Satanism, boobs, hilariously bad acting, puffy 80s hair. There's a weird prologue set in the 1300s and the lead evil priest is memorably sleazy, but it's kind of a blur. Not very great overall. I think I'll try to catch someone else's recommendation before the day is over though.

    It’s the post-apocalypse, and a band of survivors in an underground facility are hunted by a monster. This is another Corman-produced Alien ripoff, complete with a super-gross chestburster. It’s a generic creature feature, lacking in atmosphere of big thrills, and I was just a little bored with it. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more if I stumbled across it on late-night cable while channel surfing, but these days it just seems like I’ve seen this type of thing too many times before.

    30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 19
    If I’m right and the real villain of the movie is not Mary Lou but some unnamed supernatural evil in the school basement manipulating Mary Lou, then why is Mary Lou’s grave such a supernatural hotspot? Characters are drawn to her grave, the grave makes a Bible burst into flame (because of course it does), and it even gets a big moment during the movie’s climax. Whatever this evil is, its motivation is simply to mess with everyone for its own amusement, so it used Mary Lou’s grave for that purpose, I suppose.

    1. I have really enjoyed reading about your endeavor as well. Now that we are nearing the homestretch, my question is: was it worth it? Would you recommend anyone watch the same movie for 30 straight days?

  8. The Thing (1982)

    This was one of my biggest blind spots, but thanks to Junesploitation, it's now taken care of. I got nothing smart or funny to say about this movie, except that it was incredible. The claustrophobic setting, the paranoia, the relentless suspense, broken by sudden bursts of violence, the chilling music, the amazing beards on the actors, the Kurt Russell of it all, and the creatures, oh my god, the creatures. What a movie.

  9. Night of the Creeps (1986, dir. Fred Dekker)

    Chris Romero, James Carpenter Hooper and Cynthia Cronenberg, students at Corman University, stumble upon an alien infestation that turns its victims into murderous zombies. On the case is veteran detective Ray Cameron, who realizes he encountered the same infestation as a rookie cop 27 years earlier, and his collagues Det. Landis and Sgt. Raimi. I have a lingering suspicion Fred Dekker might be a horror fan.

    An unusually successful mix of comedy and horror, with actually funny jokes and some scenes with real tension. The kid from European Vacation is a wet noodle in the lead role, but Tom Atkins kills as the veteran cop and Dick Miller is great (as always) in a one scene appearance.

  10. Child's Play (1988, dir Tom Holland), Netflix
    This was my first watch. I thought that I never wanted to watch a movie about a murderous doll, but I was wrong. The answer is in the title, this movie comes to play. It never takes itself too seriously. There is a sense of fun to the doll attacks. The mother's love for her son gives it stakes, but the 80's lack of cynicism keeps it fun.
    I want to give special kudos to Alex Vincent's performance as Andy Barclay. At first, I was put off by the awkwardness of his movements and line readings, but then I remembered that this would be how a real kid would react. Real kids would not be slick, but would lurch from emotion to emotion, and Alex Vincent captured that perfectly.
    Child's Play has been my most pleasant surprise of Junesploitation so far. There is nothing like being 32 years late to the party.

  11. The Ninth Configuration (1980, dir. William Peter Blatty)

    This is probably the "best" movie I've seen so far this month. A unique cinematic experience, most of the movie is a wonderful cast of character actors speaking in gibberish/poetry. Stacy Keach stands out delivering a truly masterful performance as a character trying to retain and enforce sanity/calm among a sea of insanity as a psychiatrist in an insane asylum (or is he?). Cast includes: Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Neville Brand, Robert Loggia, Joe Spinell and Tom freaking Atkins. Blatty's story/screenplay is next-level. This is pure cinema. If you want a truly unique movie-going experience I cannot recommend this highly enough.

  12. THE INCUBUS (1982, John Hough)

    A mixed bag for me. A nasty piece of sleaze that seems to go out of it's way to be ugly and misognistic. It's the kind of movie that you need a shower after. And yet, it is a nasty piece of sleaze with a John Cassavetes so angry and so contemptable toward everything, and everything time he touches someone it looks like he's going to kill them. And you still need to have a shower afterward. Especially with all the sperm talk, the amount of it, the consistancy. I'm a little surprised they didn't just burst out singing 'Every Sperm is Sacred'.

    Even with all that, Incubus is a little boring at times, just because there are a few meldramatic subplots that could have been interesting and added to the ickiness and also unforuntatly the misogyny of the whole (so maybe we didn't need to add to it), but those threads tend to hand limp like dead sperm. Seriously so much sperm talk.

  13. Day 19

    Murder by Phone (1982) aka Bells aka The Calling

    A dumb movie premise, makes itself worse by being super serious, incredibly bland, and Canadian boring. The death by phone kills are laughable but the rest of the 90 minute run time is a chore of the highest calling. Special shout out to Richard Chamberlain's beard, it was fucking fantastic.

  14. Motel Hell (1980, Kevin Connor)

    Well this was a Hoot! I had a vague idea of what was going on when I went into the movie. But those heads in the ground (especially John Ratzenberger) is an arresting image, in a movie with a lot of arresting images. It has that Texas Chainsaw Massacre quality that you are in the the Sawyers world and we are just visiters; we are fully in the Smith's world. It's their House their Rules, their jerky. This has a lot to do with Rory Calhoun's and Nancy Parson's performance which are delightful!

    Motel Hell is a movie where you see how the Sauage gets made, from farm to table. As I said it was a real Hoot.

  15. Wolfen (1981)

    While it's not a werewolf movie strictly speaking, it's maybe still a tad unfortunate it came out the same year as An American Werewolf in London and The Howling even as it's doing something largely different. While it's got a solid cast and some interesting ideas, I don't know that it entirely holds up. The bulk of the effects here are scenes shown from the wolves' points of view where everything is colored in a way to show their heightened senses and it gets old pretty quick. There's a pretty good decapitation near the end at least but the movie drags quite a bit in places before it gets there.

  16. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988, dir. Tony Randel)

    A good horror sequel, but I can't entertain the idea that it's superior to the original.

    1. Same here. 1 and 3 are my go-to "Hellraiser" pics, with "Hellbound" a distant second. Haven't seen the rest. 😈👹

  17. The Hunger (1983, dir. Tony Scott)

    First time watch for me and a welcome one. I've watched A LOT of vampire movies lately (don't ask) and this is one of my favorites so far.

  18. Ghoulies (1988, Albert Band)

    Oh no, not the tunes!

    I don't know, I had fun this dopey little movie. Ghoulies know how to make a House of Horrors.

  19. Near Dark (1987)

    Awesome, loved it. The atmosphere was great, pacing was great. Paxton cranks it up to 11 and kills it.

  20. The Dead Zone (1983)

    Another movie shame. This rules!

    Possession (1981):

    Finally watched the “real” cut after seeing the American edit a few times. It’s...a lot.

  21. The Blob (1988)

    Really loved the Blub.

  22. Dead Heat

    1988, dir. Mark Goldblatt
    Streaming on Shudder & Prime

    Great makeup effects, ridiculous premise, constant action, hand-wavey science, and loads of dad humor (thanks Piscopo) helped me have a surprisingly fun time with this one. Treat Williams is at his best and clearly having fun being able to loosen his collar a bit. Piscopo is never as funny as he thinks he is, which I guess could be worse. Worth checking out for the Chinese butcher shop scene alone.

    EDIT: Started work again this weekend and forgot to post a few days, catching up now, oops.