One thing we love here at Missile Test is spotting a former A-list star slumming it in a low-rent shitty movie. There’s nothing mean-spirited about it. We like low-rent shitty movies quite a lot, so we feel blessed when the inevitable career turn occurs, and former Oscar-winners and contenders are forced to make due in productions of lesser means and artistic intent. But, what we like even more is when a low-rent shitty movie features a future A-lister — a performer who has yet to prove they have the talent to take them out of the muck. Rookie performers such as these often do the best job in the film, and raise its overall watchability, without having too much of a negative effect on its shittiness. Preserving that je ne sais quoi is important for the shitty movie fan.
What could 135,000 bucks buy one in 1947? It could buy 79 Ford Super Deluxe automobiles at base sticker price; 11 houses at the median home value; yearly tuition for 257 students at Harvard University; or one shitty movie, filmed in glorious Cinecolor.
Scared to Death, from screenwriter Walter Abbott and director Christy Cabanne, is a poverty row flick that got picked up by Screen Guild Productions for distribution. If that name is unfamiliar to you, dear shitty movie fan and loyal reader, just know that a year after this film was released, Screen Guild changed its name to Lippert Pictures, after its founder, Robert L. Lippert. And, if that name is unfamiliar to you, then you need to watch more shitty movies.
Scared to Death is more notable as being the only starring role from Bela Lugosi filmed in color. If one could call it color.
Technicolor’s much cheaper (and also more practical) competitor, Cinecolor is like looking at the world through a pair of barely effective sunglasses. In a film as old and poorly cared for as Scared to Death, it looks as if the world is in the middle of a solar eclipse. But, bad prints of old films can add much charm to a dog of a movie. And this flick is a mangy mutt. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1947)”
There wasn’t much hope here at Missile Test for Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest. While we did enjoy the previous film in the series, barely, Urban Harvest marks a transition for the franchise, as the films moved from theatrical releases to productions made specifically for the home video market. As any shitty movie veteran can tell you, they don’t send Oscar contenders direct to video. Director James D.R. Hickox seemed to know this (thank goodness), so what viewers lose in quality, Hickox makes up for in gore. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest”
I liked Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake. I thought it was a fine modern entry in the zombie subgenre of horror, helping make the creatures scary again. The heavy lifting may have been done by 28 Days Later a few years earlier, but it can’t be denied that Snyder’s film is one of the reasons zombie films and television shows remain popular today. Dawn of the Dead was also the last Zack Snyder film I’ve enjoyed. Every subsequent film he’s made since then, from 300 to this year’s Army of the Dead, has been a joyless slog — the knock from critics, and even fans, being that Snyder makes visually interesting, even gorgeous, films, but they suffer from too much length. The consensus is that Snyder’s lack of storytelling discipline is an issue, but not one that is fatal to his vision. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Army of the Dead”
It was a bold decision by the producers of the second Children of the Corn movie to place the word “Final” in the subtitle. Most horror series defer that kind of certitude until the fourth movie, at least. Perhaps they never envisioned that their property would ramble on as a direct-to-video franchise, and this flick was supposed to be a one-shot deal. After all, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice was released in 1992, eight years after the first film. That pace is a little sluggish if one is looking to spawn a franchise of shitty horror movies. Anyway…
Final Sacrifice, despite that wide gap in release dates, takes place in the aftermath of the first film. Apparently, after the protagonists of that film made good their escape from the small town of Gatlin, Nebraska, they did the right thing and called the cops. Authorities swarming over Gatlin is how this film opens. With the baddies of the first film, Isaac and Malachai, done away with, everyone thinks that the evil influence they had on the children of Gatlin is gone, as well. The remaining children are taken into the homes of adults in nearby Hemingford, while they await permanent placement with surviving relatives, should any be found. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice”
This is a film that gave birth to ten, count them, ten, sequels and reboots? This mediocre, slapdash, and, at times, lazy film made enough money to spawn a franchise? There really is no accounting for taste.
From way back in 1984 comes the original Children of the Corn, an adaptation of a Stephen King short story. King worked up a draft for a screenplay, but producers ultimately went with a pile of pages written by George Goldsmith, with first-time director Fritz Kiersch at the helm. Kiersch was handed a budget of around $800k, and his gobbledegook somehow managed to rake in over 14 million bucks at the box office. That’s on us, folks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Children of the Corn (1984)”
Normally, I don’t like it when directors add their name to the title of a movie. John Carpenter did that all the time. Peruse this site, however, and one will find a review of John Carpenter’s Vampires listed as Vampires. The official title of the movie featured in this review is Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. That’s a different kind of conceit on the part of writer/director Wes Craven than what directors like Carpenter have done. For, that’s a literal title. In this movie, Wes Craven plays a character named Wes Craven, he is having a new nightmare, and that nightmare is causing trouble for the other characters. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, or, Dylan!!”
Some horror films live and die on spectacle. They don’t use fear of the unseen to unsettle audiences. Rather, they go all-in early. The Saw franchise went for spectacle above all else, and it worked so well for them that there are nine films in the franchise as of this writing. Aliens was another film that used spectacle. James Cameron used spectacle so well, compared to the wrought tension of Ridley Scott’s earlier film, that it’s easy to forget that an entire hour of runtime passes before audiences see the first alien. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Rawhead Rex”
I may have been slightly concussed while writing the review for A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. But, there is no confusion or fogginess in regards to this travesty of a movie. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is a terrible film. It’s quite possibly the worst movie I’ve seen this year, and that’s saying something, considering I seek out bad movies. Billed as having “Saved the Best for Last,” this was the film meant to send the character of Freddy Krueger out with a bang — a grand finale that audiences would remember for all time. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”
Have you, dear reader, ever thought about why it is a good thing that human beings are not immortal? Or, at least, that we don’t just plod along until some grievous injury does us in? From a personal perspective, the shortness of our lifespans in relation to the age of the universe is tragic, but from a cultural perspective the situation is ideal. Because all that is old becomes new again in much less time than it takes to turn over the entire human population. So, even though haunted house films have been made countless times, and have reused countless tropes and clichés, horror fans can still get a kick out of a new entry. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Funeral Home, aka La Funeria”