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 reading “October 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 reading “October Horrorshow: The Slumber Party Massacre”

October Horrorshow: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

There’s a whole lot of plot in this shitty movie. Friday the 13th was a franchise tottering along towards its demise by the time Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was released in 1993. The producers must have thought that expanding the lore around Jason Vorhees would make up for older plot ideas that had gone stale. It was the wrong way to go.

Directed by Adam Marcus, from a convoluted screenplay (the victim of precipitous rewrites, apparently) by Jay Huguely and Dean Lovey, Jason Goes to Hell is one gigantic mess of a movie. A viewer could be forgiven if they thought this flick was a continuation of the previous film in the series, as characters refer to previous, unseen events to which they were witness. But the flick before this was Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. None of the characters in that shitfest are in Jason Goes to Hell. Nor are any characters from Part VII, VI, V…all down the line. This movie feels like a sequel to a movie that wasn’t made, and that’s kind of weird. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday”

October Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer

Tom Savini is a horror legend. He’s every bit as important to the history of the genre as some of its greatest auteurs. Without Savini, George Romero’s 1970s and ’80s horror work wouldn’t have the same punch. It was Savini’s expertise that allowed Joe Pilato’s torso to be pulled to pieces in Day of the Dead, and Don Keefer to be dragged into a crate and mutilated by a Tasmanian devil in Creepshow. Savini is an artist in the medium of fake blood. And while his work elevated good horror movies, it also made obscure horror flicks, like Maniac, worth watching for the effects alone. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer”

October Horrorshow: Blood Feast

Herschell Gordon Lewis was a trash filmmaker. None of his films was ever an attempt at producing art, or even quality. A Chicago ad man by trade, Lewis got into filmmaking as a way to make a quick buck. His films exploited gaps in the market to bring in high returns on a small investment. When enforcement of the Hays Code began to slacken at the start of the 1960s, Lewis filmed cheap nudie-cuties that only had the barest threads of competent filmmaking. When returns on those flicks were hurt by nudity moving into mainstream films, Lewis turned to horror. Like the good marketer he was, he found an opening in horror flicks he could exploit. That opening was gore. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Blood Feast”

October Horrorshow: The House on Sorority Row

The 1980s were THE decade for slasher flicks. The subgenre of horror really picked up steam in the ’70s, but it was in the ’80s when it matured, like a fine wine. It also, somewhat paradoxically, got less gory. But that’s a subject for another day. For now, it’s enough to know that in 1983, someone made a slasher film called The House on Sorority Row. Oh, the possibilities. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The House on Sorority Row”

October Horrorshow: Black Christmas

Filmmaker Bob Clark had an interesting career. He started out in horror, as so many others have, but then launched the mostly forgotten Porky’s comedy franchise. His legacy now lives on most memorably at Christmas time, when one of the Turner cable channels shows A Christmas Story, which he directed and helped write, for 24 straight hours. As it turns out, A Christmas Story is not Bob Clark’s first foray into holiday-themed filmmaking. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Black Christmas”

October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop

With a title like Maniac Cop, there’s no way this movie is going to be good, right? The title is simple and to the point, and instantly conveys a large amount of plot to any potential viewer that happens to pass by the marquee. But boy, oh boy, it sounds like a first draft title. If all other films had used their initial titles, we wouldn’t have Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Unforgiven. Instead we would have Star Beast, Journey Beyond the Stars, and The Cut-Whore Killings (although it would have been ballsy for Clint Eastwood and company to try that last one). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop”

October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)

Maniac[This is where a trailer for the film would normally be, but the trailer spoils a shocking moment in the film that I think is best experienced without firsthand knowledge. Seek it out elsewhere if one must see it.]

 

This is not a horror movie for those looking for traditional scares. This is a horror movie for those who have become accustomed to the sight of a specter in a mirror or a zombie just around the corner. This is a horror movie with a killer of no less eccentricity than a vampire or a werewolf, only the killer in this film blends in. He’s a next-door neighbor or a familiar face at the neighborhood grocer’s. He’s one of us. And when he’s explored he’s not shown as some unholy or supernatural freak. He is, just like the title, a maniac.

Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)”

October Horrorshow: Cold Prey

Cold Prey, the 2006 debut feature film from Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug (whose excellent film, The Wave, led to his being hired to direct the Tomb Raider reboot), is a paint-by-numbers slasher flick. From beginning to end, there isn’t a moment that won’t be familiar to fans of horror films. And that’s okay. Cold Prey is a case study of the maxim that as long as a film does old ideas well, it’s still a good film. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Cold Prey”