Monday, June 6, 2022

Junesploitation 2022 Day 6: Slashers!


  1. Sorority House Massacre (1986 – Carol Frank)
    A pretty blatant Halloween rip-off, mixed with some elements out of A Nightmare on Elm Street. There are worse movies to copy, there are better ways to do it. While only being 76 minutes short, it still manages to feel long at times. Yet, I have to lie if I would say that I didn’t enjoy some of it. Angela O’Neill's acting may come across a bit stoic, but I liked her as the final girl overall. Pamela Ross, who has done little to nothing, “stole” the movie for me, she was the best one of the cast. The killer, on the other hand, pretty meh. Just a regular madman on a mission, just without any remarkable features besides his determination.

  2. Twisted Nerve (1968)
    What a bizarre plot - and I don't mean that in a good way. The whole time I was wondering why the main character was acting the way he was. He's essentially a petulant wannabe Alex DeLarge who pretends to be 'simple minded' for reasons that are never clear and that seem to change depending on what's needed for the plot. As hard as it tries to be edgy and offensive, it's ultimately stuffy, polite and a bit of bore. Not the cult classic slasher I'd been led to believe - it doesn't really count as a slasher at all given the incredibly low body count. Sorry Tarantino, I just don't get your love of this one.

  3. The Prowler, Joseph Zito, 1981

    My favourite thing about The Prowler is that watching it I realised that only Tom Savini could have done the effects. It's a Zito/Savini special. There's a dark heart to Prowler, which explains Friday 13th Part 4. There is something really disturbing about the Soldier leaving a rose.

  4. Cherry Falls (2000)
    Brittany Murphy is great and refreshingly actually looks like a teenager! Not some 30 year old school student final girl. I love the premise but I don't think the twist actually plays into the premise very well... It's like they slapped the premise onto an otherwise generic slasher film. The motives of the killer, his methodology, the reveal of who it is... none of it really relates to the idea of killing only virgins. The bonkers final 20 minutes really sells this movie but the rest of it is a very fun time.

  5. X (2022, dir. Ti West)

    Solid, if derivative slasher. Hate to say but the terrible old-age makeup/performance really took me out of the movie. Serious question, has old-age makeup ever worked ever? Even recent attempts like Prometheus, Suspiria remake, J Edgar, etc. have been godawful.

    1. Unless the filmmakers can find old actors with physical attributes (or physically-fit older people that can be taught to act), what's the alternative? CG de-aging is still expensive for smaller films, and old age make-up worked for "Little Big Man" because Dick Smith's a genius that comes once every generation. :-(

    2. The makeup in Darkest Hour (2017)? Although Gary Oldman was "aged up" by only a decade, so not quite what you're asking. I seem to remember an aged Matt Damon, but can't think of what movie it is for the life of me.

  6. X (2022)
    D/W: Ti West
    West asks the important question: how many lives could be saved by normalizing GILF porn?

  7. Tourist Trap (1979, dir. David Schmoeller)

    Youngsters, side road, creepy house with an old man living there alone. Not the most original ingredients for a slasher, but the "telekinetic villain obsessed with mannequins" angle is pretty great and the movie does some actually creepy stuff. Which is all the more impressive given its PG rating.

    Tanya Roberts is a babe.

    Blood Rage (1987, dir. John Grissmer)

    One of those films that feel like they're written by aliens trying to approximate human behavior, and the actors (especially Louise Lasser) take that dialogue and run with it!

    Julie Gordon is a babe.

  8. Mirage (1990) dir. Bill Crain

    Digging through the dust for a possible upcoming project on desert set horror and uncovered this sun-weathered vhs gem. The budget is lower than the salton sea but they lean successfully on the stark California desert setting to provide plenty of foreboding atmosphere. The cast is not what you'd call "seasoned" but they seem to have a genuine rapport. That's especially crucial given how hangout heavy it is, especially during the first half. They definitely seem to be students of the Don't Go in the Woods Alone style of talk heavy slasher, which I enjoy, but I know other folk's mileage varies. That, and some third act reveal stuff seem to be the most divisive elements, but neither bothered me.

    The other big thing it has going for it is a pretty incredible soundtrack, seemingly sourced entirely from SST. There’s a ton of Minutemen and fiREHOUSE, and even a Dino Jr cut- I’m kind of surprised that alone hasn’t elevated it to bigger cult status, but I also wonder if that’s part of the impediment to it getting a proper release, given Greg Ginn’s less than generous reputation when it comes to intellectual property matters. Whatever’s keeping this so far out of circulation, it’s a real shame, because this is the kind of movie begging for a boutique release by Vinegar Syndrome or a similar label.

    I will say- I'm loath to reccomend going straight to Youtube for a watch, but this is seemingly impossible to find elsewhere, and there’s currently a VHS rip online that's actually does kind of a great job translating the tracking and analog residue to digital. I usually find the VHS to Youtube stuff like that more distracting than textural, even when it is authentic to the source, but here it really added to the experience!

    Hoping to do a little mini marathon today for one of my favorite genres, so I'll see y'all in a couple hours down at the knife and chainsaw show in between the mental asylum and the all-teenage-counselor summer camp!

  9. Stripped to Kill 2: Live Girls (1989)
    Katt Shea finished Dance of the Damned on a Saturday. Roger Corman asked if she could come up with a movie by Monday because he still had the strip club set for a few more days. On Monday through Friday of the next week, Shea and her crew shot topless dancing footage. Then, she and partner Andy Ruben took three weeks to write the movie around all that bump and grind.

    This would explain why the dancing scenes in the follow-up to Stripped to Kill seem to come from another universe, the place where patrons disappear and we mainly see music videos of girls doing interprative dance.

    As for the slasher part of the story, Maria Ford’s Shady has the giallo problem of passing out and waking up covered in blood. If that happened one time to you, you’d be concerned. But five times?

    Marjean Holden (Sheeva from Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), Karen Mayo-Chandler (976-Evil II), Birke Tan, Debra Lamb (who was in the first movie), Lisa Glaser (Humanoids from the Deep) and Jeannine Bisignano all appear as the dancers who are the target of the killer, whoever he or she may be.

    This movie is full of hallucinations, love scenes in the rain and a slasher plot that is really hard to follow to the point that I’m tempted to call it a giallo and figure out another slasher for my Junsploitation slasher day movie. That said, I think we all need more movies with saxophone sex dream sequences and if it takes calling this a slasher to make it happen, that’s the price we all have to pay.

    Shea has no idea why people like this movie, one she wrote as she went as Corman kept telling her to put more nude scenes into the product. Sometimes when you’re working under rough conditions, weird magic happens.

    If you're looking for a slasher to watch today, there are almost 700 with review links here:

    1. Seconded. B&S''s thorough reviews are a daily Junesploitation! highlight. :-D

  10. Seed of Chucky (2004, dir. Don Mancini)

    This one takes the characters from Bride of Chucky adds a new one. A doll child, which was the highlight of the movie. It's a innocent doll that is repulsed by all the killing, and it's facial expressions were cracking me up. It also differs from previous installments in that it gets super duper meta. I was surprised afterwards to see it has a super low IMDB rating, as I enjoyed it quite a bit. The next film, Curse of Chucky, is the only Child's Play movie I haven't' seen yet. I might watch it for DTV day.

    Scientists investigate supernatural goings-on where cultist murders happened years earlier, and yep the cultists come back for more. Turns out this is a horror spoof, like Student Bodies and Saturday the 14th in that it parodies horror tropes just before those tropes got really huge. The jokes try too hard to imitate Mel Brooks and/or the Zuckers, but a gag-a-minute comedy isn't as easy as you'd think. The good news is Vincent Price plays the villain. He goes full ham, and it's glorious. His scenes have a wild energy to them the rest of the movie doesn't.

    Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 6: STUCK ON YOU (1982)
    A divorcing couple tells their story to a judge, who in tells them tales about relationships throughout history. Here's another joke-a-minute movie that's all puns and sight gags and lowest-common-denominator sex jokes. Kaufman cranked out these raunchy comedies in hopes of making a quick profit and it worked, so maybe it's me who's become all jaded.

  12. THE TRIPPER (2006)
    D/W/P: David Arquette / W: Joe Harris
    This is one of those slightly-improved-opinion rewatches. Arquette is having a lot of fun with this & the absence of wink-n-nod-to-the-audience bullshit makes it even more fun, in my opinion. It's not brilliant, but it fixes on a premise & doesn't let go. The obvious political slant doesn't give anyone a pass, whether hippy or hick.

  13. Hatchet III (2013)

    Will the curse of Victor Crowley ever be lifted!?!??!?!

    I just really love these movies. The practical effects are great (and super gross). I feel almost....glee(?) while watching which honestly sounds terrible because a lot of people get murdered in horrible ways.


  14. Absurd (1981) dir. Joe D’Amato

    aka Monster Hunter aka Horrible aka Anthropophagus II aka Zombie 6 aka Rosso Sangue
    I’ve had this on the list for a while now, ever since seeing the excellent Anthropophagous- and I’m glad I finally got around to it, as I like this even better! Eastman and D’amato set their mercenary sites on Halloween this go around, creating a bizarro version of the classic suburban slasher that goes hard on the blood and guts and the awkwardly inserted Football references (good ol’ USA football of course- because they are definitely in America and not Italy, which is why a character goes out of their way to clarify “American football” when talking about it, because that’s a totally normal and necessary clarification here in “America”). Sure it drags a fair amount and George Eastman is less Michael Myersesque shape and more half-asleep dad looking for a misplaced midnight snack (and looking like something of a midnight snack himself TBH)- but the good bits more than made up for all the unevenness IMO.

    The score is excellent, which I’d imagine, is why it got reused a year later in Pieces, making for a little bit of a surreal watching experience for those like myself that have that particular Juan Piquer Simรณn masterpiece all but memorized, and the kill set-pieces really are special, including an endnote that could only happen in a Joe no-thing-as-too-much D’Amato joint. On to the next blood bath- I’ll see y’all down at the support group for victims of childhood pranks gone wrong, over in the backroom of the mask factory!

  15. Joohn Grissmer's NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS and BLOOD RAGE (1987, Blu-ray).

    Everyone here at F This Movie knows "Blood Rage" by heart, so recapping it its pointless. So for shits and giggles decided to simultaneously watch both "Blood Rage" and its re-edited alternate cut, "Nightmare At Shadow Woods".
    And yes, that requires having the three-disc Arrow set which is getting up there in price. I'd say 85% of the movie is identical on both cuts, but in horror even a 1 or 2% alteration can make a world of difference. In "Nightmare..." there's no Louise Lasser visiting Todd in the institute after the drive-in opening (which makes the ending a little more tragic since Maddy really wants Todd out of her life), and all the backstory is established through neighbors gossiping at the pool (which also establishes there is a pool, something that comes out of nowhere near the end of "Blood Rage"). Some cuts are puzzling, like removing the classic blood spill on pop-corn shot (boo!) but adding a couple of gratuitous nude shots. "Blood Rage" is three minutes longer and is mostly the gory money shots, so the self-censored "Nightmare At Shadow Woods" is more of a curio for hardcore fans of the film to realize it's a small miracle this demented fun Thanksgiving horror flick came together the way it did. 3.5 CRANBERRY SAUCE-COVERED TERRY SHIRTS IN THE TRASH (out of 5).

    Joe D'Amato's ABSURD (1981, Severin Blu-ray) for the first time.

    Glad that others (like J. Goose above) liked this, but I kind-of hate it on first watch. There's razor-thin attempts to connect this with "Anthropophagous" (which I liked better) and I think you need to see that "prequel" to even remotely enjoy "Absurd." George Eastman is still waiting to have his own day in the Junesploitation! calendar (make it so, No. 1!) and he makes for an imposing hulk of a killing man, but he just lumbers from one scene to the next without rhyme or reason. The generic "American" cops were more entertaining than Eastman killing innocents, and that's just wrong. The pace is glacial and the kills unimaginative (I prefer the needle kill in OG "Halloween II" better) until the very last shot, which made me cheer because it meant there would be no more sequels. I run hot and cold on D'Amato, and this is the least entertained I've been by one of his works. Will probably rewatch again for Scary Movie Month before ditching the disc. 1 LOST-IN-THE-WOODS GREEK PRIEST (out of 5).

  16. Maniac Cop (1988)

    I originally had it pencilled in for Cops! day, but since there's not one this year, I just shifted it here. One of the many great things about these Sploitation-grade flicks is how they can fit in multiple categories.

    An unruly cop who likes to shoot first and ask question later (so no different than any other 80s movie cop) meets his untimely end behind bars, but comes back from the dead to go on a murderous rampage against, well, anyone he can lay his cold, dead hands on.

    It's always cool to see Bruce Campbell on screen, and especially interesting to see him in a straight man role, devoid of his usual antics. Really enjoyed him as the flawed lead/final girl of the story. I was actually surprised at how polished and mainstream the movie felt, which is great, but I do like my slashers a little seedier and sleazier than that. Also, honestly, I could do with a bit more gore as the killing action here is rather tame. But overall, I had a really good time and I'm looking forward to the sequel which, from what I hear, is even better.

    1. "Maniac Cop" is necessary backstory watch for the main event, "Maniac Cop 2." ☺️๐Ÿ‘

  17. HITCHER IN THE DARK (1989)
    D/W: Umberto Lenzi / W: Olga Pehar
    P: Joe D'Amato / M: Carlo Maria Cordio
    I remembered that this wasn't exactly standard slasher fare, but I didn't remember that it was essentially a feature-length version of the last third of THE TOOLBOX MURDERS ('78). The ending is bleak, the music is often great menacing electronics & while they're not exactly working with Mamet, Josie Bissett & Joe Balogh carry this malignant melodrama nicely. I really like Balogh; it's a shame his career was show short. But with titles like this one & Milligan's MONSTROSITY, no one should be surprised. He's got some off-center Tom Cruise energy.
    Mostly, I was happy to watch Vinegar Syndrome's gorgeous edition. The old Media Blasters DVD got the message across, but their interlacing was off the proverbial chain.

  18. Prom Night (1980) dir. Paul Lynch

    When we're talking post-Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis vehicles that helped create the blueprint for the 80's slasher craze, I'm just more of a Terror Train fella than a Prom Night one, but that's not to say Prom Night doesn't have plenty of charm as well. I'm a sucker for Giallo/Slasher transition movies , and you can really feel that here here: The stylized (glitter!) ski-mask and black gloves combo, the oh-so chic disco soundtrack / prom theme, the Agatha Christie levels of dramatic tangents and red herring dangling, the destablizingly mean spirited opening sequence, the killer portrayed distinctly as a person, not a monster... That said, I think the thing that makes it less effective is also endemic to less successful Giallos- the aforementioned knotty plotting really takes precedent over the hang-out stuff that helps me latch on to slasher characters. They all felt more like parts of the machinations to me than they ever really felt like kids- which thankfully the machinations were good enough to justify, but I end up walking away with more appreciation than maybe straight up enjoyment.

  19. Graduation Day (1981)

    Ya know, not a great slasher. It's not as fun as some of my favorites, nor is it a well-crafted piece of cinema. It just kind of....sits there. Scenes meander, there's a long scene where
    A music teacher is seduced by a student that has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

    Guys, do I like movies anymore? I'm not sure.

  20. SCREAM 2 (1997)
    D: Wes Craven / W: Kevin Williamson
    First time rewatching since this one played theatrically & I finish with the same feeling: I'm not moved to watch subsequent films. It's not poorly made, but there's something off about the number of people who survive. In action/adventure stories, we might thrill at who made it through, no matter the odds. When I think about the classic slasher franchises of yore, there might be, besides the killer, a character or two to keep the thread going. But Jamie Lee gets swapped out, Jason has to face Tommy, but, not the same Tommy & not even the same Jason. Pinhead is summoned by the freshly desperate from various sectors & Freddy has loops of recurring characters. And yes, SCREAM 2 grinds up a fair amount of it's fresh meat, but not enough of the previous personnel is cleared away to make room for new stories & fresh faces, for both grist & heroism. I will press on into the 3rd installment, which I've never seen, but that's mostly because it's in a SCREAM 1-3 set that I bought. I'm glad folks are happy with these sequels, but they're not the peanut to my butter.

  21. I succeeded in a checkerboard day:
    a movie with a gator
    a movie with David Arquette
    a movie with a gator
    a movie with David Arquette

    I'll call that a tone poem.

  22. Nightmare Beach (1989) dir. Umberto Lenzi, James Justice

    Nightmare Beach is such an intense anesthetization of this sort of sleaze soaked hyper 80’s late cycle slasher- especially the leather clad killer whose form fitting body suit reads more fetishist than gang leader- that you could probably pass stills from the movie off as shots from a contemporary genre pastiche made for streaming on Shudder or something similar- I can hear the faux Carpenter synths sounding off in my head already. I have a hard time imagining, however, anyone today stringing together such abrupt tonal shifts and bizarre plot/dialogue choices without late 80’s quantities of cocaine coursing their veins.

    Of course your not coming to an Umberto Lenzi joint– ahem, my apologies, a James Justice joint– for the tonal concision and witty repartee. Your lookin to Lenzi for some stylish viscera, preferably of the scuzzy variety and here, despite some draggy bits, Nightmare Beach largely provides.

    1. The Kino Blu-ray transfer is stunning, a great-looking piece of trashy Italian sleaze... but made/shot in America. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿค“

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  24. Blood Rage (1987)

    Some disconnected thoughts:
    If it hadn't already been revealed in the opening scene, I'd have known Terry was the real killer the minute I saw him in that tie-with-collar-up outfit at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Mom's one-sided phone conversation deserves an Academy Award for... something. Even though they're played by the same actor, I never though Terry and Todd looked anything alike--how do people keep confusing them?!? Alcohol and its consumption is portrayed incredibly bizarrely in this movie. Because this movie is alternately titled, "Slasher," I feel like it's worth some sort of Junesploitation extra credit. Mom deserves another Oscar for pouring wine with one hand while dialing a rotary phone with the other hand. I'm not sure if putting a chopped-in-half person's body parts back together is a sign of insanity or compassionate respect. "That is not cranberry sauce" is great, but I think I like "Put on a sweater. It's cold outside. The blue one" even better. "You're gonna hurt my kitty" ain't bad either. Diving board sex seems like one of the worst ways to have sex. I had fun watching this tonight, alone, but I really should have watched it in high school with a bunch of friends.

  25. Psycho II (1983)

    Before Top Gun: Maverick, T2: Trainspotting, Independence Day: Resurgence, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Psycho II was ahead of its time, helping pay the way for Legacy Sequels, coming 23 years after the original.

    And it's a perfectly ok, even if the premise of letting Norman out of prison, and back to his old home seems a little shaky. Perkins does the job selling the character though, carrying the movie on his back.

  26. X (2022)

    I liked it well enough, but I don't really see myself revisiting it again. I don't want to say the porn filming was the draw of the movie but I did find that it became a lot less interesting to me once the killing started.

  27. "Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker" (1981)

    First Time Watch

    I don't know how I missed this one back in the day at the Theater or at least at the Video Store. It's a pretty Bonkers Flick with an Unhinged Performace from the Late Great Susan Tyrell. Definitely, a Fun Watch, and I recommend you give it a Look-See if you have not seen it yet.

    The film is also known as "Night Warning".

  28. Death Valley (1982)

    Been wanting to watch this one for a long time. Started off really really strong, but totally lost me by the end - the part where most slashers shine.

  29. Child's Play 2 (1990)

    Felt like rewatching a favorite, which I've come to terms this one is. It's really short, which helps when you're trying to squeeze a lot of movies in a month.