October Horrorshow: Pieces

At first glance, Pieces, the 1982 slasher flick from shitty auteur Juan Piquer Simón, is just like every other bottom-feeding Italian film that flooded the American market in the 1980s. Except for one thing. Pieces is not an Italian flick. It’s from Spain. All the hallmarks of a Lucio Fulci or Enzo G. Castellari film are present. The cast is from all over the map. Many read their lines in their native tongue, everyone was dubbed in post, and there was a cavalier attitude towards making sure if any of it synced. The production is low rent, but there’s lots of blood, and it’s so bright one could use it to see by night. And, while it takes place in the United States, it was very clearly filmed in Europe. So, just why does this film have the appearance of cheap Italian cinema of the day? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pieces”

October Horrorshow: The Slumber Party Massacre

One part sleaze and one part slasher flick (which probably makes it all sleaze, now that I think about it), The Slumber Party Massacre works hard to tick every box when it comes to 1980s horror. Teenagers, an enraged killer, blood, etc. Instead of filling empty spots with plot, director Amy Holden Jones went with gratuitous nudity. The teenaged boy still lurking in me was thrilled. The mature, objective reviewer in me was also thrilled. When in Rome…

Released in 1982, The Slumber Party Massacre tells everything a viewer needs to know about the plot in its title. There is a slumber party, and a killer looking to massacre everyone at it. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Slumber Party Massacre”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Turkey Shoot, aka Escape 2000

At first glance, a viewer could be forgiven if they thought Turkey Shoot, also released as Escape 2000 in the US, comes to us via an Italian master of shitty cinema such as Enzo G. Castellari or Alfonso Brescia. Turkey Shoot has the same look and feel, but it hails from Australia.

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, from a screenplay by Jon George and Neill D. Hicks, Turkey Shoot takes place in a near future where an unnamed fascist regime has control over vast swathes of humanity. Like in all good totalitarian states, citizens who insist on holding onto their personal freedoms are sent to reeducation camps. Turkey Shoot follows the tribulations of the three newest detainees at Camp 47. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Turkey Shoot, aka Escape 2000″

Shitty Movie Sundays: Death Wish II

Forget for a moment that Death Wish II is one of the defining films for The Cannon Group and its producing pair of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Forget that it was this film, along with Enter the Ninja, that would come to define a style of shamelessness that has brought endless amounts of joy to both the shitty movie fan and the wider action flick audience. Forget that a film like this scratches a primal itch that high culture would like to pretend doesn’t exist. Instead, revel in the fact that Jimmy Page did the music for this flick. That’s right. Jimmy Page. From Led Zeppelin. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Death Wish II”

Giant Monstershow: Q — The Winged Serpent

Larry Cohen has had prolific involvement in cheap horror throughout his career. His credits include the screenplay for Maniac Cop and writing and directing credits for both The Stuff and It’s Alive. He was one of the directors featured in the anthology television series Masters of Horror. He also flew by the seat of his pants when it came to making movies. According to the internet, so it must be true, Cohen was fired from his job directing the Mike Hammer flick, I, the Jury, after one week of shooting because of cost overruns. Instead of sulking about losing the gig, Cohen put together a shooting script and a production for a new movie in six days. That movie, lord help us, was Q — The Winged Serpent. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Q — The Winged Serpent”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Silent Rage

Is it a slasher flick, or is it an action flick? Silent Rage, the 1982 Chuck Norris shitfest, hailing from his mustache era, is both. From director Michael Miller, Silent Rage sees Norris playing Sheriff Dan Stevens in some small Texas town. Stevens does his best to keep the town a nice, safe, and quiet place, but early on in the film tragedy strikes.

A disturbed man by the name of John Kirby (Brian Libby), suffers a psychotic break and butchers a middle-aged couple. Sheriff Stevens arrives on the scene to take Kirby down, and the fight ends with Kirby going down in a hail of gunfire. But that’s not the end of Kirby. Miraculously, he’s still breathing after being filled full of lead, and heroic efforts from Kirby’s doctors, Halman, Spires, and Vaughn (Ron Silver, 1970s and ’80s That Guy actor Steven Keats, and William Finley, respectively), save his life. Only, the good doctors cheated a bit. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Silent Rage”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Beastmaster

Filmmaker Don Coscarelli is known to horror fans as the man behind the Phantasm film series. While that series has spanned decades, all cinematic auteurs like to try new things on occasion. Sometimes, when they do, the result is shitty gold.

The Beastmaster, from 1982, is Coscarelli’s homage to the Italian sword-and-sandal flick, and also an opportunity to feed on the leavings, remora-style, of the Conan films. In fact, Coscarelli and producer Paul Pepperman took a book about a Navajo soldier who talks to genetically altered animals on an alien planet, and turned it into a Conan ripoff. There are no Native Americans and no alien planet in this flick. Instead, we get Marc Singer, in what would have been his defining role were it not for V, as Dar, a hunky tribesman who is the long-lost son of a deposed king. After Dar’s village is attacked by a horde and everyone is killed, Dar sets off on a journey, to somewhere a little vague, with something of an idea about what he’s going to do when he gets there. Focus isn’t really Dar’s strongest characteristic — wearing as little clothing as possible without being pornography is. Also, he can talk to animals. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Beastmaster”

Stallone Month: First Blood

It’s a trying time in American politics, what with the White House having fallen under the control of the Orange Menace. But, even though this Trump situation is beyond all bounds, political tension is nothing new in the United States. Without it, a film like First Blood wouldn’t exist. That’s right. The progenitor of the Rambo film franchise, films that became icons of the mad, excess-filled action film style of the 1980s, was as much a political film as it was an action film. Continue readingStallone Month: First Blood”

Stallone Month: Rocky III

It’s time to confront the truth, all you Rocky revisionists out there. Rocky Balboa was not a great fighter. He was raw and explosive, with a head hard enough to last against a champion who didn’t take him seriously. As Apollo Creed himself said to Rocky, “You fight great, but I’m a great fighter.” Also, great fighters don’t get KO’d in the 2nd round. Continue readingStallone Month: Rocky III”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Mazes and Monsters

This isn’t the trailer. This is the climax. Go ahead and watch it. You will have missed nothing of consequence in the rest of the film.

I enjoy seeing movies from the early days of a star’s career. Not all stars were fortunate enough to burst onto the scene out of nowhere, but rather had to put in the low level, unglamorous grunt work that us normal people must endure when starting out. That’s how we got such historic performances from George Clooney in Return of the Killer Tomatoes, Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th, and Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun. Watching these films, there is no indication at all that these were future stars. I can now add another film to the Shitty Movie Sundays athenaeum featuring a then-unknown star. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Mazes and Monsters”