Saturday, January 30, 2016

X the Unknown, Scotland Beware

When Alfred Hitchcock was looking for a screenwriter for "The Birds," he interviewed Richard Matheson.  Matheson wrote lots of scifi and several "Twilight Zone" episodes during his illustrious career.  This interview, however, would be a total failure for the would-be screenwriter. Matheson explained to Hitchcock that the birds should not be shown on camera, thereby making them a more ominous horror to a mindful viewer.  Hitchock responded, "No, No." Hitchcock wanted the birds shown a lot, and "The Birds" became one of the most famous horror films of all time. Today we look at 1956's "X the Unknown." This film is one that Matheson would have loved and Hitchcock would have turned off before the second half.
While the army is testing Geiger counters in rural Scotland, an earthquake opens a fissure in a muddy field. The fissure is giving off radiation and some soldiers suffer bad radiation burns. The high radiation levels come and go, and Dr. Adam Royston (Dean Jagger) is called in. The renown nuclear scientist is baffled.  Uh oh....places where radioactive sources are kept are invaded by an unknown force and the material is stolen.  No witnesses except some poor schmucks who melted after being close to whatever stole the dangerous elements. Royston theorizes, correctly, that some weird life form is coming out of the fissure and making it's way to the nearest radiation source, then returning to the fissure.
After a few more mysterious thefts, including from Royston's own lab, the army and our good scientist are able to predict the future path of this thing.  Through most of this film we do not see the monster, but are privy to views of the victims just before their demises. In one classic scene, the beautiful Nurse Zena (Marianne Brauns), fresh from a make-out session with a doctor, gives off a blood curdling scream as she witnesses the melting of that same doctor. Zena, very sadly, is then reduced to a drooling idiot. Oh no!  Royston figures out the monster's next path will take it through Inverness, thereby killing thousands, and now he must come up with a way to stop it.
Will the good Scots of Inverness be microwaved? Does our genius Royston have a plan? Is Nurse Zena's fate a morality statement from Hammer? Made by Hammer, this low budget film is big on moody acting and a stiff British upper lip. Lots of great screaming and looks of horror fill much of the 90 minutes. Perhaps a minor horror film, but a very enjoyable one.  "X the Unknown" is available on YouTube.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Wasp Woman, Roger Corman's Anti-Aging Cream

Ahhhh, to reverse the aging process.  In film, this endeavor usually doesn't go well. If Roger Corman made the film, you are guaranteed of horrific results.  Hence 1959's "The Wasp Woman" with Susan Cabot in the title role. In 1957, Corman and Cabot dated and she signed an exclusive contract with him. By the way, she also dated King Hussein of Jordan (I knew King Hussein and Corman had a lot in common).  In the 1980s, Cabot started taking a growth hormone which was prescribed to her son, and became mentally ill. Cabot's dwarf son would later bludgeon her to death.  Her demise appears to be a morbid connection to her most famous film which we will examine today.
Janice Starlin (Cabot) runs a large cosmetic company.  Janice's face graces all of the company's advertisements.  Uh oh....Janice has hit 40, and her face isn't so youthful anymore.  Profits decrease, and Janice needs to figure out something fast. Enter Dr. Zinthrop (Michael Mark), a quack wasp scientist.  He has discovered a wasp enzyme which will reverse the aging process (...yeah, like this will go well). Janice is amazed and convinces Zinthrop to inject her...which he does.  Her secretary, Mary (Barboura Morris) and ad-man, Bill (Anthony Eisley) are suspicious of Zinthrop and spy on him and Janice. To everyone's amazement, our 40 year old CEO now looks 22 again.
 As suspicion grows around Zinthrop's lab, employees start dying. After Zinthrop is involved in a serious accident, Janice begins injecting herself...big mistake. The wasp enzymes go haywire inside Janice, and she begins changing.  As more attacks in the building occur, Bill tries to find out answers. Unfortunately for Mary, the beautiful secretary, she heads to Janice's office to warn her of the danger unaware that Janice is the danger.  Will Mary walk in on a hornet's nest of peril (eh, make that a wasp's nest)?
Campy and at times slow, "The Wasp Woman" has a very exciting ending. Cabot is terrific as the desperate, turned monstrous, cosmetic executive. The final tragic years of Cabot's life make this film a very interesting aspect of her biography.  You can see "The Wasp Woman" on YouTube. Thanks  for some of Cabot's backstory.    

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Batwoman, In this Corner...Batwoman

We journey back to Mexico for a real gem today.  Before Gail Kim and Trish Stratus plied their trade between the ropes, Mexico's favorite female wrestler cleaned Acapulco of evil.  In 1968's "Batwoman" (La Mujer Murcielago), the sultry wrestler graced Mexican movie houses.  Clad in a bikini, mask, and cape, our superheroine dominated in the ring, and rid Mexico of bad guys outside the ring.  Portrayed by the buxom Maura Monti, Batwoman will leave you drooling.
The evil Dr. Williams (Roberto Canedo) is abducting Mexican wrestlers. He then drains their pineal gland fluid.  Six wrestlers died after the operation and their bodies were found in the surf.  The Federales call in the FBI...who in turn call in Batwoman.  Batwoman, who's identity is secret, arrives in Acapulco to wrestle and also find the killer of the wrestlers.  Uh oh...the mad scientist is injecting the gland juice into fish to create a fish-man.  His ultimate plan is to engineer hundreds of them in order to rule the oceans,  Batwoman catches on and sneaks onto his yacht, The Reptilicus. A struggle ensues, she escapes, but not before she disfigures the evil genius with acid to the face.
Now Dr. Williams is ticked!  He amends his plan for world domination to include fish-women.  Seeking revenge for his disfigured face, he orders his henchmen to abduct Batwoman. Batwoman then must battle the scientist's thugs, which she does.  Double uh oh! Williams is successful in creating a gilled fish-man monster and sends it after our luscious heroine.  The two will meet up in Batwoman's bedroom as she has discarded her cape and bikini for some lingerie.  Will the gill-man successfully abduct Batwoman so Williams can make him a mate?
The fish-man is a lobster colored version of the creature from the Black Lagoon. We are treated to some nice creature vs. Batwoman battles, not only undersea, but also on the beach, on The Reptilicus, and in Batwoman's bedroom. Maria Monti, as Batwoman, is featured on camera for most of the film satisfying you exploitation film fans.  For a cheap, but fun, hybrid of "Frankenstein" and "Creature From the Black Lagoon" see "Batwoman," which is available with subtitles on YouTube.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fatal Premonition, A Horror Fable for Bosses

It is not enough that you succeed. Nope. If your friends fail, success is sweeter. We rise, and those chumps around you fail. This makes your success seem greater. So believes Landon (David Esposito) in today's review of a short horror film, "Fatal Premonition." For anyone who has been told that his/her job is to make his boss look good, this film will strike a chord. In the FBI I was told that my priority was to help my boss achieve his best possible score on his performance review. Landon, to me, is such a familiar character.
Landon is ecstatic, he received the promotion. In exuberance he dismisses an apparent drunk (Dominik Zdzioch) on the way to his car.  His gloating isn't done. In the parking lot he meets his best friend Ed (Ryan Crepack). Poor look at Landon and he knows their friendship will forever suffer. After all, when our friends become our bosses...the friendship is flushed down the toilet. After a celebration in which Landon does not treat his friends/underlings, our arrogant protagonist dozes.  Uh oh....a dream perhaps...or maybe some ominous vision    jolts his rest.
Given that our feature today is a short, just over 13 minutes, no more plot spoilers. Suffice it to say that arrogance personified will not go unchecked by fate.  Knives, psychos, blood, and some handy slasher fare help deliver a meaningful moral in which we can all benefit from. Modern leadership classes which our bosses attend implore them to tell us that they care about us.  They don't tell them to care about us...just to tell us they do. Instead of these self-serving and worthless seminars on caring, "Fatal Premonition" should be shown. Our 21st century executives need to know their "underlings" are people and should be treated with respect.  Remember, be nice to those you pass on the way up, you'll pass them again on the way down.
David Esposito and Ryan Crepack are superb actors and also masterfully directed and wrote "Fatal Premonition."  Zdzioch as the drunk/slasher is menacing and Steve LoBiondo is superb as an employee. This film will make the rounds at the Los Angeles Cine Fest, The Online Film Fest in Miami, and the Headline International Film Festival. I saw this film on Vimeo, and for further updates  click on these links Fatal Premonition on IMDB , Fatal Premonition on Twitter , and Fatal Premonition on Facebook

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Ship of Monsters, Space Babes, Cowboys, and Intergalactic Love

...and, of course, lots of monsters! In a refreshing look on old classic science fiction plot devices, 1960's "The Ship of Monsters" (La Nave de los Monstruos), is exciting, alluring, and lots of fun. Made in Mexico, this film is a much better movie than any of the "Star Wars" films, and the damsels are, of course, a lot better looking.  Unlike most films, our male protagonist is a cowboy made up of feelings and song, and our two female protagonists wield the power and might.  Oh yes, our two female leads, Ana Bertha Lepe and Lorena Velazquez, are clad in beauty pageant swimsuits and laser guns through the entire film....need I say more?
Venus' men have all died off.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  Gamma (Lepe) is paired up with a babe from Uranus (...nope...a joke here would be too easy), Beta (Velazquez), to travel the galaxy and bring back male specimens.  Our duo succeed and find male specimens from various planets.  Unfortunately, all the specimens are grotesque monsters who would rather eat our babes than procreate with them.  No matter...mission accomplished.  Not so fast.  Mechanical failures necessitate that our beauties land their ship on Earth for repairs.  As the ship crash lands, Lauriano (Eulalio Gonzalez) mistakes it for a shooting star.  He wishes on it that a woman to love will be delivered to him.
Our sultry space babes hide their monsters in a nearby cave and discover our singing cowboy. He is overjoyed and the two aliens experience a hormone rush. Unfamiliar with love, Lauriano educates them on the meaning of love through some romantic ballads.  He even demonstrates a kiss on Gamma, and she falls in love with him.  Not to be outdone, Beta plants a big one on him, and now the two gals will experience a deadly rivalry.  Sensing she will lose out to Gamma, Beta reveals her true self as she turns into a blood-sucking, flying vampire woman.  She overpowers Gamma, imprisons her, has the monsters guard her, and begins an effort to conquer the Earth...and the cowboy. Will the monsters get loose and put Earth, and our love-struck duo in more peril? Come on...that's an easy one? Will our coy, but very musical cowboy, convince Gamma to stay with him..that is if they survive?  Will we see a cat-fight between Gamma and Beta? That's another easy one.
This film never gets dull, with lots of shots of the fiends, the two space babes, and plenty of sappy love songs from Lauriano.  Even Gamma's robot, Torr, finds love in the form of a juke box. There is laser carnage, slingshot carnage, fang carnage, and alluring poses by Gamma and Beta. This film is available, subtitled, in nice quality on YouTube.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Curve, Julianne Hough Dancing with the Psycho

Julianne Hough is talented, beautiful, and the epitome of glamorous. This dancer/actress is an unlikely subject for this blog, she is!  Can our elegant actress come across as a beaten, bloodied and humiliated damsel in distress? today we look at 2015's "Curve" in which she'll turn in a most un-glamorous performance in a film with a fair amount of blood and gore...and a really seedy psycho.
Mallory (Hough) is travelling to Denver where she will wed her BF. Uh oh...she is having second thoughts, and it appears the groom-to-be is a real heel.  Giving herself time to sort things out, she takes back roads on her journey.  Her Ford Bronco then breaks down in the middle of nowhere and guess who just happens to come by? Yep....Mr. Psycho (Teddy Sears). Initially, Mallory is hot for him. You can see in her eyes she loves his abs and pecs, and might feel this man is all the man her fiance is not. I guess Mallory has never seen a slasher movie, and gives him a ride after he fixes her car.  Naturally, he soon exhibits sociopath behavioral traits, like talking dirty to our beautiful damsel. When he refuses to get out of the car, Mallory slams on the breaks which causes her Bronco to go off the road and land upside down.
Uh oh, Mr. Psycho survived the crash, but Mallory is stuck inside the Bronco upside down, with her leg pinned behind the steering wheel. Now Mallory is at the mercy of this fiend.  He torments her and forces her to talk about sex.  Unable to set herself free, Mallory must use her brain to turn the tables on this monster playing head games with her.  He leaves her to die of exposure and starvation, and now Mallory turns into a survivalist finding ingenious ways to find drink and killing...well...never mind..for food. Will Mallory be able to out psyche a psycho? If she does get free, will she turn psycho on our psycho? Is there a dance left in our put upon fiance/damsel?
Directed nicely by Iain Saftley, this is a gritty film. When the psycho gives Mallory a hack-saw to saw off her pinned leg, we gasp in horror that Julianne Hough might never dance again. However evil we believed our madman to be, this is retched up several degrees over the final 20 minutes when we find out what he is indeed capable of doing.  Available on Netflix, not for the squeamish, see "Curve."  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Anthropophagus, Italy and Greece give us a Gruesome Slasher

Just after the lovely Tisa Farrow starred in Lucio Fulci's "Zombie," she headlined 1980's "Anthropophagus" (aka "The Grim Reaper"). Not as intense as "Zombie," "Anthropophagus," at times, is as icky.  Made by Italian director, Joe D'Amato, and filmed in Greece, our film today definitely fits into the Italian Horror genre, with the films of Fulci, Bava, and Argento. In, what were probably, familiar plot devices to Ms. Farrow, this film will treat us to an insaniac who eats dead babies, and human organs. Not for the weak of stomach, let us delve into "Anthropophagus."
As our story begins, we see some gratuitous bikini shots of actress Simone Baker.  Don't get too attached to her, as she will be mangled, with her BF, in the surf of some Greek island. Next, a group of terrific looking tourists head to the island for various reasons.  Carol (Zora Kerova), has bad vibes. Her Tarot cards indicate death ( every horror film, this is reason enough to head back to the airport).  She also senses her BF is hot for Julie (Farrow).  Oh yes, Maggie (Serena Grandi) is eight months pregnant...and her will be quite yucky.  Once on the island, the place seems to be deserted.  Corpses, half eaten, are found, and all means to contact the mainland have been destroyed.  Their boat is even set adrift after Maggie is abducted.
As a psycho, with a taste for human flesh, begins to prey on our group, a blind girl is found.  This unfortunate is in shock, and isn't able to say much.  If avoiding a fiend isn't hard enough, Carol's jealousy is apparent, as she locks Julie in a cemetery.  As our group keeps finding excuses to split up (obviously they don't watch the same films we do), our cannibalistic monster thrives.  I won't say another word about Maggie and her unborn baby.....but...well never mind.
Will anyone survive our insaniac?  Who...or what is our monster?  Will Julie and Carol  engage in a cat-fight before facing the monster?  This film is quite gory, and available on YouTube in not-so-great quality.  The scenery is quite nice, and the blood curdling ending is very exciting. Enjoy "Anthropophagus."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Funeral Home, Don't Go into the Basement

"Don't go into the basement," is some sage advice that Mrs. Chalmers (Kay Hawtrey) gives her granddaughter, Heather (Lesleh Donaldson) in 1980's "Funeral Home." Filmed in Ontario, and hugely popular in Mexico (...hey, if David Hasselhoff can be big in Germany, Lesleh Donaldson and this film are allowed to be big south of the border) "Funeral Home" is a creepy slasher flick.  Made just before she did "Curtains," "Funeral Home" casts Mrs. Donaldson as a naive teen, put in much peril by the homicidal deeds occurring at her grandparents' funeral home...turned bed and breakfast.
After Mr. Chalmers has gone missing, Mrs. Chalmers has turned their funeral home into a quaint guest house.  Fortunately for Mrs. Chalmers, her granddaughter, Heather, has come to help her run the place over the summer.  What Heather does not know is that six guests have turned up missing. Each of the missing guests have put the house in some peril...including a developer who desires to move the house and adjacent cemetery to make room for a mall. Uh oh....mysterious noises and voices emanate from the cellar, and Chalmers warns Heather not to go down there.  Fortunately for Heather, she becomes sweet on Rick (Dean Garbett), a nice boy ( pre-marital sex).
As current guests go missing, Heather gets suspicious.  In one instance, Florie (Peggy Mahon) and Harry (Harvey Atkin), check into the inn in order to frolic with each other outside the marriage institution.  This of course spells their doom. Now the cops are revving up their investigations into the missing guests, and Mrs. Chalmers isn't exactly becoming forthcoming to their questions. As Heather begins snooping on her own, her boy toy, Rick, joins her.  Of course, the voices in the basement get more pronounced, and bodies begin to turn up ( room temperature).  Now Heather and Rick decide on the forbidden, and plot to enter the basement.
Directed by William Fruet, "Funeral Home" isn't the best slasher film to emerge from the 80s, but it is fun.  Lesleh Donaldson does a nice job as a good looking teen in much peril.  If the Christmas season has left you bored with it's over-rated new releases, try "Funeral Home" on YouTube.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Eden, The U.S. beats Brazil in the World Cup

...yeah right! Dream on!  In fiction, though, anything is possible.  Victors on the soccer (...or football) field will lose their innocence during our feature today.  From Malaysia, and directed by Shyam Madiraju, we look at 2014's "Eden." TEAM...Together Each Achieves More..or goes insane more..or kills more...or falls apart more... Enough of that, let us take a look at a gruesome combo of "Lord of the Flies" and "Alive"....and perhaps a dash of "Survivor" thrown in.
After beating Brazil, the U.S. team is involved in a plane crash on their way home.  15 survivors make it to a deserted island, and apparently uncharted, as well.  Thirteen players and the two hot daughters of the now deceased coach, Elena (Jessica Lowndes) and Eva (Leore Hayon) are among the castaways. Uh oh...both daughters desire pre-marital sex with athletes, but will slasher rules apply here?  Andreas (Ethan Peck), the team captain, quickly emerges as the leader.  Slim (Nate Parker), the leading goal scorer, is his right hand man...and also the sex partner of Elena.  Wait....Elena is looking for alternate sex partners...never mind that plot device for now, but it will cause some difficulties.
Water and food are scarce, and two wounded players draw Andreas' attention.  Our captain believes giving rations to the soon-to-be-dead players is a waste.  This discussion will begin a downward spiral of dissension. As some of the players steal rations, our damsels find sex partners, and sanity goes out the window, carnage comes knocking. I know, I want to know when and if our champions will resort to cannibalism.  You'll see.  As our team loses all hope of rescue, different camps are formed, which will remind us of Billy Martin's New York Yankees.
Are rescuers on their way?  Will the players on Brazil's second place team suffer a fate worse than our castaways from their own countrymen?  The acting is terrific, and the mood is grim.  "Eden" is uncomfortable at times, but stays fast paced.  Available on Netflix, see "Eden." For you soccer (...or football) fans, this may be the only chance you'll ever have of seeing the U.S. beat Brazil in the World Cup.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Meosha Bean, Talented Young Horror Film Maker

Over the past couple of weeks I have been in touch with a most talented actress and director, Meosha Bean. The horror genre has seen a nice influx of young talent, which makes me and this blog very happy. Ms. Bean was kind enough to allow me to preview a couple of her short horror films, "Miss Pepper," and "Hard Requitals." These two works are quite impressive, in that they are both horrific, but for entirely different reasons.  You can find out more about Meosha at her website, just click on this link Meosha Bean
"Miss Pepper" is a poem...not really, but the film is quite poetic.  I was reminded of Edgar Allen Poe's poem "Dreams."  Meosha also stars in this one-woman horror film.  Like the Poe work, we sense a woman has given up on life, and a transition is in the process.  In the Poe work, a beautiful woman is on her death bed, and the transition is natural.  What is eerie in "Miss Pepper" is that our protagonist is healthy and talented.  Is she really in her final days?  We like her, and as a viewer we hope not. As Ms. Bean draws us into Pepper's mental state, and back story, we are reminded of how precious life is, and how vital love is to sustain it.
 "Hard Requitals" is not poetic. Mark E. Ridley portrays Dr. Harrison.  He is enjoying a very deserved day off.  Uh oh....he is about to meet a fiend who is determined to destroy all that is good in his life. Not just destroy...but torture and pull apart, as if it were a part of a graphic slasher movie. We like Dr. Harrison and his potential; demise horrifies us.  Like "Miss Pepper," "Hard Requitals" runs 14 minutes, so any more elaboration on the plot would reveal spoilers. Unlike the subtle nuances of "Miss Pepper," Dr. Harrison's fate is headed in a jerky and violent hold on tight.
Use the link above to learn more about Meosha Bean, who undoubtedly will be a very big name in horror in the near future.  By the way, she is also a fantastic actress.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Silent Retreat, Corporate Retreat meets the Slasher

Released in the U.S. this week, "Silent Retreat" is a fantastic horror flick.  Ace Jordan made this film utilizing some great looking actors and actresses, with superb acting abilities.  Capitalizing on classic slasher plot devices, Mr. Jordan mixes them with some modern ones that will be familiar to those of you in the corporate world.  Of course, how can we go wrong with an isolated cabin in the woods, a mysterious asylum, ghosts, some good gore, and beautiful babes in much peril. Filmed at Big Bear Lake in California, the sets are beautiful.
In the not too distant past, a creepy asylum existed in the California woods.  Children were tortured, and all sorts of sordid activities involving staff and child patients caused much scandal.  Guess what. A team of six, 20 something, employees arrive at a corporate retreat at a neat lodge which just happens to be built on the grounds of the closed down asylum.  Of course, this is never good, and some really great looking characters will be put in much peril.  Our two favorite characters are Zacry (Donny Boaz) and Meigan (Rebecca Summers, aka Rebecca Pitkin).  These are the clean cut ones and their increasing attraction for each other is very cute.  Oh yes....Meigan's English accent is irresistible. Then, the sultry Lira (Devon Ogden)!  This nymphomaniac has brought her sex toy, Joel (Landon Ashworth). Lira is nude a lot, and her and Joel engage in much pre-marital sex (can you guess their fates?).
The retreat is pretty low key until Rita (Trista Robinson) is abducted...then the horror starts. We are treated to a backstory which is horrific, and it indicates that something in that old asylum has survived and is hunting our retreat participants.  But who...or what?  Perhaps a mysterious caretaker who used to work there?  Is that too easy?  Or perhaps it is a ghost which Zacry meets?  The carnage which occurred at the old place also seems to be manifesting in the present day, only the victims are not children, but our employees.
Will Zacry and Meigan's avoidance of pre-marital sex be enough to save them from the evil that lurks?  How about the cute and perky Rita?  Who abducted her and why?  The final 30 minutes of this film is packed with gory carnage and horrific plot revelations.  Ace Jordan is a fine young director, and all the actors did a sensational job, as they portrayed their characters as people that we know.  As this film has just been released, please feel free to get to know Mr. Jordan and some fine young actors and actresses by following them on social media, as follows.  Silent Retreat on Twitter Silent Retreat on Instagram Silent Retreat on Facebook YouTube Trailers Silent Retreat  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dogged, A Horror Short in a Hyundai Santa Fe

...okay okay, the Santa Fe is only in the opening seconds of Richard Rowntree's "Dogged." The BBC ran a competition to discover new horror directors.  Over 500 talented directors sent in their work, and "Dogged" came in fourth.  Made for just 300 English Pounds, and shot in one day, Richard Rowntree has shown why we will be expecting some neat horror films from him in the next few years.  Using plot devices from some of the scariest films of the past several years ("The Strangers," "You're Next," and "Kill List"), Mr. Rowntree keeps the story crisp and original to deliver a big bang scare at the four minute mark.
ANNOUNCEMENT, The "Dogged" Kickstarter Campaign is now active, just click on this link Dogged Kickstarter
Let us be brief on the plot ( a four minute short, spoilers are just too easy). Sam (Sam Saunders) is a likable young man. To his great fortune, he is making out with a pretty gal in his car when the mood is spoiled by a mysterious peeping Tom.  But wait!  Was the intruder merely a nuisance to some fore-play....or is something more ominous at work here? guessed every few seconds the ominousness of Sam's predicament gets more and more intense.
As horror film fans, we are a few steps ahead of the hormonal protagonist.  Perhaps what eventually throws us is the ambitious nature of the menace.  Richard Rowntree doesn't stop at a cute "Boo!" to end this short, though that would have been fine.  Without betraying the plot, let us just say that there is a really creepy 90 minute horror film to be birthed by this 4 four minute jewel called "Dogged."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Galaxy of Terror, To Be Raped and Humiliated by a Worm

When Roger Corman cast 1981's "Galaxy of Terror," he was presented with a major challenge.  He needed an attractive actress to agree to play Dameia.  Most actresses would run away screaming at the thought of having to endure Dameia's demise on screen.  See, the beautiful Dameia would be jumped by a giant worm, stripped naked by the worm, sprayed with the worm's sticky juices, and raped by it.  Not quite the Scarlett O'Hara role of the 1980s.  However, a tall, blonde beauty named Taaffe O'Connell displayed an open mind.  When Mr. Corman described the role to her.....she smiled. Corman had his actress!  Let us delve into "Galaxy of Terror."
The Remus, for no known reason, lands on Morganthus and is then wiped out by some attack. A ship, manned with a crew captained by Trantor (Grace Zabriskie), the only survivor of the Hesperus massacre (don't ask) is sent to rescue the Remus' survivors (...of course there are none). Immediately after touching down on this hostile planet, the crew boards the wrecked Remus and finds half eaten corpses.  Soon after that, our rescuers begin to be picked off by icky bug creatures,  Alluma (Erin Moran of "Happy Days") is the crew's psychic, but unable to shed any light on the planet's dangers. Cpt. Trantar just keeps mouthing, "They're out there," and Dameia lets us know she is afraid of worms.
What we are able to ascertain, early on, is that man's greatest fears materialize.  Hence, Dameia will meet her demise as the love toy of a giant maggot.  Uh oh, we also receive indications that our crew may be mere pawns in something much more mysterious than a rescue mission. Double uh oh, the unfortunate crew find an alien pyramid, and enter it (never a good idea). Inside this structure, they become lost in a maze of worm holes, and are hunted by....well...manifestations of their fears.  After Quuhod (Sid Haig), a mysterious crewman with magic crystal boomerangs, suffers a most gory death, the survivors realize they are in a war against an unknown nemesis.
Robert Englund of "Elm Street" fame and Ray Walston ("My Favorite Martian") also star.  All the deaths are stomach churning, and the gore factor is maximized. This is a Roger Corman classic. Taafe O'Connell did this movie fresh from her role as an unfortunate nurse in "New Year's Evil."  Available in terrific quality on YouTube, do not miss "Galaxy of Terror."

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Changeling, General Patton does Horror

Not known as a horror film actor, George C. Scott may have saved "The Exorcist" franchise with the "Legion: Exorcist 3."  In that film he played Detective Kinderman, from the original story, searching for evil in the aftermath of Washington, DC's most famous possession.  After one of the greatest performances of all time in "Patton," Scott was hard pressed to follow up that Oscar winning film.  "Day of the Dolphin" was interesting (people go both ways on that film), and in 1980 he teamed up with his wife, the lovely Trish Van Devere, to star in a creepy ghost story.  The story is ambitious and eerie.  Low on gore, very moody, and unafraid to reach into the power structure of our society, "The Changeling" deserves a look on this blog.
After losing his family in a freak snowplow accident (as if there are any other kind of those accidents), John (Scott), a pianist, moves to Seattle.  He plans on teaching at a university and finding an old house to live in.  Just his luck, he meets Claire (Van Devere) who works for the historical society. She enables John to lease an old mansion ( guessed it...with a sordid past). Immediately, weird incidents occur.  Minor stuff, at first....weird sounds, piano keys pushed without a pianist around, toys appearing  As Claire and John get close, the two research the home and find out a child died there in 1909.  Uh oh...more research hints at a potential murder....and double uh oh....more research points'll see, but it is quite evil.
As John consults paranormal investigators, the mystery surrounding his mansion slowly takes do his sightings of a child ghost.  But is the child ghost the one who died in the house?  To complicate matters, some very important people in Seattle do not want the mystery from 1909 solved. John and Claire, not to be intimidated, put on a full court press to end the haunting and bring some uncomfortable truths into the light. Unfortunately for our duo, ghosts are not going to be the worst of their worries.
Directed by Peter Medak, this is a cool ghost story.  Perhaps light on big scares, and gore, this tale will stick with you long after the end credits. George C. Scott always turns in a great performance, and Trish Van Devere is the epitome of a classy dame, and in "The Changeling" the two give us a duo which is so very enjoyable to watch.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hell Night, Linda Blair joins a Sorority

A fraternity where every guy is a hunk. A sorority where every gal is a babe. Mongoloid mutants. Decapitations! Linda Blair! Sold yet? From the greatest year for slasher films, 1981, we look at "Hell Night." Directed by TomDeSimone, the past few decades have treated this film well.  As we have seen, of late, the Greek system embarrass their universities, perhaps this film will serve as a warning to high school seniors to not pursue a fraternity or sorority...well...probably not.
Initiation night at the coolest fraternity and sorority on campus. One heck of a hell night is planned for the pledges. The presidents, Peter (Kevin Brophy) and May (Jenny Neumann)...neither one of these unfortunates will fare well, I'm afraid...will lock their freshman aspirants in the Garth Mansion. Now abandoned, the mansion is home to a gruesome past. Born deformed and insane, a murder suicide wiped this clan out many years ago.  Uh oh....legend of their demises might have been greatly exaggerated.  As Marti (Blair), Jeff (Peter Barton), Seth (Vincent Van Patten), and Denise (Suki Goodwin) begin their night of confinement, the horror commences.  Suki, looking forward to a night of pre-maritla sex with Seth, has brought in drugs, alcohol, and music.  Can you guess their fates?  Oh yes, Suki spends most of the film in some red lingerie.  Marti and Jeff, are a more clean-cut pair, and have boring conversation with their time together.  Uh oh....Peter, May, and their pal Scott (Jimmy Sturtevant) sneak back onto the grounds intending to scare the pledges.
 After May is pulled into the basement, and separated from her head, it becomes apparent not all the Garth family perished.  Dressed in ridiculous costumes, our pledges are soon made aware that they are being stalked by a monstrous mutant.  Slasher film maxims apply here, which is bad news for lingerie clad, nymphomaniac, Denise. This is very sad, as her English accent was quite alluring. Who will survive?  Will Jeff and Marti's refrain from pre-marital sex be enough to save them from the monstrous maniac?
Not critically acclaimed when it came out (....most Linda Blair films were not), this is a fantastic slasher film.  In 1981, Rex Reed, Gene Siskel, and Roger Ebert ruled the field of film criticism, and those intellectuals never cut any slasher film a break.  Campy and atmospheric, you will enjoy "Hell Night," which is available in fine quality on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Children, Annoying Parents Beware

Some might say this film crosses the line. Please!  Okay, we have children killing their parents....parents butchering their children....some bad acting....and an ending which hints at....well, you'll see.  Children of the 1980s will remember 1980's "The Children."  Those eerie kids approaching their moms, calling "Mommy," then carnage. Filmed in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and capitalizing on the Three-Mile Island scare of the 1970s, "The Children" is an eerie look at the deterioration of the nuclear a literal sense.
After a leak at a nuclear power plant, a school bus passes through a radioactive cloud.  The annoying children on board are then transformed into monsters. These fiends are zombie-like and recite two words, "Mommy" and "Daddy."  When they find their way back home, they embrace their parents and their parents then burn from the inside out.  With creepy facial expressions, and black fingernails, our little monsters also fry the town skank (Joy Glaccum).  Slowly, Sheriff Hart (Gil Rogers), and his friend, John (Martin Shakar), put two and two together.  Uh oh, John's daughter was on the bus and she is headed home to put her arms around her pregnant mother (Gale Garnett) and her little brother.
As a plethora of MILFs are deep-fried, most of the town is unaware of the horror.  Unsuspecting New Englanders are eager to embrace the lost kiddos, and they do so to their demise.  As the sheriff  realizes these kids are no longer human, he embarks on a violent campaign to tear them apart. will see children murder their parents and children being chopped up.  As we witness the carnage, we wonder what director Max Kalmanowicz has planned for the pregnant mom and her non-monster son.

Perhaps a stern warning against the uncertain consequences of nuclear power ("The China Syndrome" had just hit the theaters). Or perhaps a gratuitous horror film that crosses the line. In any case, "The Children" is very creepy and horrific, and also available on YouTube.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Graduation Day, Vanna White Screams

Before she turned letters in slinky evening gowns, Vanna White screamed through the 1981 slasher classic, "Graduation Day."  Something about the year 1981!  Princess Di and Prince Charles wed....Major League Baseball went on strike....and slasher films hit the cinema on average of one per week.  In addition to Vanna White, we also have Linnea Quigley as an amorous, sometimes topless, high school teen.  Will these two ladies survive the carnage which will befall many of their classmates?  You'll have to watch this film for that answer.
After being pushed beyond her capabilities by her sadistic coach (Christopher George), Laura (Ruth Ann Llorens) dies during a track meet.  As graduation day approaches, Laura's sister, Anne (Patch Mackenzie) arrives to attend the festivities in her sister's honor.  Anne is a sultry naval officer and looks very nice in her Ensign uniform.  Just after she arrives, Laura's track team mates begin meeting horrible demises.  Paula (Linda Shayne) has her throat cut while jogging, and Sally the gymnast (Denise Cheshire), after a gratuitous locker room scene, has a sword stuck through her neck.  Suspects?  Anne, of course...she is acting strange and the murders began upon her arrival.  The coach...he is sadistic.  Then there is a principal with a knife collection.  Of course, we may even suspect Vanna White, as Doris, as she seems to get around the school quite easily.
As the graduation ceremony approaches, more gruesome murders occur.  There is pole-vault carnage, fencing carnage, and football carnage as attractive athletes are shredded. We are also treated to some interesting music from the band "Felony" (their singing may give some hints to the killer's motive). As Anne roams around the high school and confronts the sadistic coach, we are led to believe one of these two is the psycho killer....but is that too easy?  The ending has some surprises and some weirdness which makes "Graduation Day" a gem from the Golden Era of slasher films.

Patch Mackenzie is terrific as the statuesque naval officer...who may also be a psycho.  Mostly a TV actress (E/R), she pulls off a difficult role.  Will she emerge a hero, or the killer?  Available on YouTube in good quality, enjoy "Graduation Day."  Oh yes.....I for one would like to encourage Vanna White to do another slasher film....her scream was terrific.