October Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)

What a classic drive-in schlockfest. From the Roger Corman stable, Piranha could have been just another cheap Jaws ripoff, à la The Last Shark. But Corman hired filmmakers with some genuine talent to write and direct. He was way too tight to give them a budget, but their skills allowed them to weave some shitty gold.

John Sayles wrote the screenplay and Joe Dante directed. This was very early in both their careers, and they have since gone on to greater things. But I wouldn’t call this a humble beginning. By 1978, when this flick was released, Corman had been in business for decades. The flicks he produces are not humble — they are just cheap. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)”

Stallone Month: Paradise Alley

Before there was Rocky, there was Paradise Alley. That might not make any sense, since Paradise Alley was made two years after Rocky. But back in the mid-1970s, when Sylvester Stallone made his pitch to Rocky producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, this was the screenplay Sly wanted to make. They passed, but according to Sly, they said they would look at any other ideas he had. He went home that night and began to write Rocky. But there was still this screenplay out there, and after the success of Rocky, Sly was able to make this film. Not only did he write the screenplay, he also directed, starred, and, God help us, sang the opening theme song, Too Close to Paradise. All of this is very Orson Wellesian, in that it’s an overindulgent exercise in filmmaking, storytelling, and acting, but it doesn’t have the benefit of being any good. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Paradise Alley”

October Horrorshow: The Toolbox Murders

There’s nothing quite like a 1970s exploitation horror flick. That’s not a compliment. Often such films can be entertaining if there’s a sick spot a viewer needs to scratch, but just as often it can leave a viewer feeling a little filthy by the time the credits roll. Such is the case with today’s film. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Toolbox Murders”

The Empty Balcony: The Wild Geese

Seriously, if you want to see this film with no spoilers, do not watch this trailer.

Two years ago, the makers of the film Drive were sued, the claimant arguing that she was deceived into paying to see the film by a misleading trailer. Movie trailers that fib a little bit about plot, and even genre, are not all that uncommon. Besides the trailer for Drive, the trailer for Dead Presidents also made the movie it represented seem like a taut action thriller, which it was not. But trailers like these at least save some surprises for the audience. The trailer for The Wild Geese, Andrew V. McLaglen’s film from 1978, is just a condensed version of the film. It contains so many spoilers that there is hardly any reason to see the movie at all. The kicker is, by so drastically paring down the film into a four-minute commercial, it’s more tense and gripping than the movie itself, which is quite a feat, as it happens. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: The Wild Geese”

October Horrorshow: Dawn of the Dead

It’s October once again. The leaves are changing, the humidity is low, and the air is full of the smell of blood. That’s right, October is the month of Halloween, and also when film buffs the world over celebrate the greatest genre of film — horror. Missile Test has joined in the celebration, dedicating the entire month of October to watching and reviewing horror films. The good. The bad. The putrid. There’s no rhyme or reason here. If it bleeds, it leads. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Dawn of the Dead”