October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High

What a shitty movie. From Troma Entertainment, a production company well-versed in churning out b-movie fare (most famously the Toxic Avenger series of films and its spinoffs), Class of Nuke ‘Em High is self-aware schlock. From the opening scene to the end, the filmmakers never miss a chance to remind the viewer that what they are watching is not meant to be taken seriously. But the way they choose to draw attention to this fact, with overwrought characters and performances, only serves to make the film feel forced. It revels in cheapness, and this would be a good thing, if only they weren’t trying so hard. At every step of the film, Troma seeks to establish its brand, reveling in its ineptness at putting together something that is watchable. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High”

October Horrorshow: Freddy vs. Jason

Is there anything that can save a movie with subpar acting and a weak story? Yes. Yes, there is. And that thing is outlandish and cartoonish gore. In 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, the two principal antagonists of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th horror franchises, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, come together in a crossover feat of mayhem and blood. The simple prospect of having such characters duke it out in a fanboy orgy surrounded by teenage cannon fodder is enough for any casual horror fan to take a look. Quite frankly, there is nothing surprising about the film, and nothing disappointing, either. The idea behind Freddy vs. Jason is the thing, the spectacular deaths of innocent bystanders is the charm, and everything else, acting and story, is just filler. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Freddy vs. Jason”

October Horrorshow: John Carpenter’s Vampires

The year 2010 will be a treat. In this coming year, a new John Carpenter film, The Ward, will be released. It will be his first film since Ghosts of Mars, from way back in the far distant days of 2001. This has been a long layoff for the director — the longest in his career. One could easily have concluded that Carpenter had retired, maybe not completely with his own consent. The backend of Carpenter’s directorial career has been one box office bomb after another, none of the films able to capture or build upon the mastery of schlock, and horror, that he showed in his peak days three decades ago. His professional tale is one of the inevitable slide that all creative people who live long enough go through eventually. Depressing? It shouldn’t be, because even though his films have kept getting shittier and shittier, he still had the skill to crank out something like Vampires, a film that just reeks John Carpenter from start to finish. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: John Carpenter’s Vampires”

October Horrorshow: Maximum Overdrive

“Stephen King’s masterpiece of terror directed by the master himself.” That’s how Maximum Overdrive was billed, right at the top of the poster. There’s an image of a bearded King peaking through a jagged rip in the side of what looks like a horse trailer manipulating characters and events in the movie marionette-style. There they are at the end of his strings, right above the chrome and lightning bolt logo for the film, slave to his every command and victim to every twisted whimsy. The poster implies quite explicitly that every other King adaptation to make it to the big screen was shit. But never fear, the master of horror has blessed this film with his presence — total creative control — ensuring that Maximum Overdrive is the quintessential Stephen King film. Suck on that, Stanley Kubrick. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Maximum Overdrive”

October Horrorshow: Event Horizon

Mix one part huge spaceship, one part small cast, and one part gore, blend on high, and what do you get? Alien. Or one of the many Alien clones that have dotted sci-fi cinema for the last thirty years. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Formulas in film that work well are often repeated ad nauseam, and while they never quite live up to the creative spirit at work in the original, they still serve to entertain, and that is the primary purpose of film. Even Alien itself is derivative of earlier films, most notably It! The Terror from Beyond Space, including many, many other sci-fi and horror films that portray a small group of people being mercilessly slaughtered one by one. But these days, where there’s outer space and buckets of blood, there is a debt of gratitude owed to Ridley Scott and his crew from 1979. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Event Horizon”

October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Tom Savini, as with Martin Becker before you, I salute you. In a film that otherwise struggled at times to hold my attention, the exquisite onscreen deaths perpetrated by Jason Voorhees and engineered by Savini saved the day. From the morgue attendant attacked with a hacksaw and a vicious neck twist, to the harpoon crotch lift, to the young lover whose skull is crushed against a shower wall, to the most brutal machete attack put to film since Apocalypse Now, there wasn’t much that was mailed in, and I have a suspicion a good deal hit the cutting room floor to bring the film down to an ‘R’ rating. All that sweet, sweet blood, and the occasional chest shot, is really the only draw to the film. Juvenile? No doubt, yet Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is still a sight better than most films in the Friday the 13th franchise. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter”

October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th Part 3

The first two installments in the Friday the 13th franchise managed to be oddly engaging, even while being bad cinema. Friday the 13th Part 3 is just bad, what little effort at quality went into making parts 1 and 2 obviously too much for the filmmakers, who must have found themselves overly occupied with tinkering with 3-D effects. That’s right, Part 3 was filmed in glorious 3-D, part of the 1980s revival that brought the moviegoer such lasting film gems as Amityville 3-D, Jaws 3-D, and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. Like these films, Part 3 pays great homage to the 3-D monster fare of the 1950s. That is, it looks cheap, feels cheap, and lacks much more than contrived 3-D shots to keep the audience engaged. There’s no cachet, no horror show charm to this film, and therefore no reason to remember it. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th Part 3”

October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th Part 2

Why fix something if it isn’t broken? Well, that depends on one’s definition of broken. Friday the 13th was a little movie that could. Little plot, little acting, little in the way of developing much of what makes a good movie. But it had a substantial body count, and had huge returns on its little budget. So a sequel was made, but one that was less a sequel and more a remake. Friday the 13th Part 2 still had a tiny budget, but was blessed with enough funds to afford some of the finer things in moviemaking, like extras, better film stock and lenses, and better actors. Part 2 breaks out of some of the claustrophobia that was a necessary result of the shoestring the first movie was hanging by, but the plot, what little of it, remains faithful to the original: Lusty camp counselors encounter psychopathic murderer in isolated lakeside campsite. Got it? Cause that’s it. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th Part 2”

October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th

There’s bad cinema, and then there’s bad cinema. Some movies are just unwatchable, displaying a profound lack of skill on the part of the filmmakers. There is nothing to them, not even the satisfaction of shock value. Take, for example, something like Theodore Rex, a film I wrote about last year. That movie was pathetic, with no redeeming qualities at all. It was even uncomfortably racist. But, had the title lizard gone on a murderous rampage, the filmmakers may have had something. Imagine that, a film so bad that it elevates grisly murder to the level of ‘redeeming quality’. Truly, a film that must be seen to be believed. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

Along with the title of ‘Official Filmmaker of Shitty Movie Sundays,’ as mentioned in the review of Soldier, there are a few films vying for the title of King of the Shitty Movies. 1983’s Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, directed by Lamont Johnson, is a strong contender. Riding the post Star Wars wave of 80s sci-fi, Spacehunter really is a sci-fi adventure, as the film’s hero, Peter Strauss’s Wolff, is forced to confront bizarre obstacle after bizarre obstacle in his quest to complete his mission: rescuing three marooned space hotties from the clutches of the evil Overdog (Michael Ironside), a ruthless dictator exercising sadistic control over the desert planet Terra XI somewhere off in the far reaches of space. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone”