October Horrorshow: Brain Twisters

Brain Twisters movie posterDr. Phillip Rothman (Terry Londeree) has a problem. The electronics company backing his neurological research isn’t happy with its pace, so they’re pulling his funding. The research involves showing flashing images to people to stimulate certain areas of the brain. The idea is that the company will incorporate the fruits of this research into its videogames, to give players a mental kick while playing, or possibly to get them hooked on it. The whys of the research are less important than the fact the experiments are turning Rothman’s student test subjects into murderous lunatics.

From way back in 1991, Brain Twisters is a horror/sci-fi cheapie from writer/director Jerry Sangiuliano. Potential viewers won’t find much in his IMDb page, and that’s common for just about everyone involved in this dog. This was Londeree’s first credit, and he wasn’t in another feature film until 2004. The only member of the cast who went on to have a career is Farrah Forke, who plays Laurie Stevens, one of Rothman’s students and work-study assistants. But, just because most of the people involved in a flick are rookies, doesn’t mean it will be bad. A general lack of talent and competence is enough. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Brain Twisters”

October Horrorshow: Terror (1978)

Sometimes when watching a film, a viewer can tell that the whole project barely held together. We viewers tend to hold that film is an artistic struggle carried out by a single individual. The director has a vision and a story they want to share. This is called the auteur theory of film, and is the main reason we heap praise on directors, at the expense of everyone else involved in a production. Less acknowledged is the reality that film is a business. As anyone who ever worked in an office can tell you, folks are just hanging on by their fingernails, hoping against hope that no one notices how much of the job is just faking it until it gets done. Here is director Norman J. Warren on his 1978 film, Terror:

 

[A] search for a story [in Terror] is in vain…There is no real storyline and very little, if any, logic. We had the money for a low-budget film, but no script and no idea of what film we wanted to make…we made a list of all the scenes we’d like to see in a horror film. We handed the list to writer David McGillivray, who incorporated the ideas into a ‘sort of story.’

That’s an excellent description of this film. There is a plot, involving an ancient curse set upon the Garrick family by a witch, but the plot is just a means to get from one death scene to another. It’s those scenes, fleshed out and very atmospheric, where this film truly lives. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Terror (1978)”

October Horrorshow: Guru, the Mad Monk

There are giants in the history of shitty cinema. Roger Corman, Bert I. Gordon, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Lloyd Kaufman, Ray Dennis Steckler, amongst many others. Then there are filmmakers like Andy Milligan. Milligan was a worker, with dozens of films in his oeuvre. But he sure did make some trash. Most shitty filmmakers would make something like Guru, the Mad Monk, and then have to call it quits. Having a film this bad in one’s CV is kryptonite to investors, but Milligan managed to make shitty films for another two decades after Guru’s release. That’s dedication. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Guru, the Mad Monk”

October Horrorshow: The Wretched

The Wretched, the 2019 horror film from writing/directing team Brett and Drew T. Pierce (billed as The Pierce Brothers), is something of an aesthetic throwback to the horror films of the late 1990s and early 2000s, with a little Fright Night thrown into the mix. It relies heavily on the “you have to believe me!” trope, but that’s okay. It’s a great trick horror filmmakers use to make an audience root for the main characters. We see the same things the protagonists see, so it’s frustrating to us, as much as the characters, when authority figures in the movie fail to do anything about the scary stuff and save the town. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Wretched”

October Horrorshow: The Devil’s Hand

Rick Turner (Robert Alda), is, by all appearances, in a happy relationship with Donna Trent (Ariadne Welter). The two of them are clean-cut, 1950s wholesome, and engaged to be married. But, a mysterious, beautiful woman has been appearing to Rick in his dreams. One day, as he and Donna are walking about, Rick sees a doll in the display window of a dollmaker’s shop that has an uncanny resemblance to the woman in his dreams. He goes inside, and sets in motion a tale of evil and death.

Such is the setup to The Devil’s Hand, a kitschy 1961 horror flick from writer Jo Heims and director William J. Hole, Jr. By kitschy, I mean that this film has the look and feel of Ed Wood. I don’t mean a film directed by Ed Wood. I mean the Tim Burton biopic. I have no idea what exact sources Burton found for inspiration. Perhaps this flick was on the list. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Devil’s Hand”

October Horrorshow: The Furies (2019)

For a country that swings a heavy censorship stick, Australian filmmakers have produced some bloody horror flicks. The country that produced Wolf Creek, Wyrmwood, Boar, and others, also has a sanctimonious ‘classification’ board whose sole purpose is to make sure Aussies never read or see anything that might bother them too much. It’s okay to have rape and drugs and murder in media, but there’s a mysterious line that media must not cross, or it gets banned. That’s not to say that imaginary delineation doesn’t exist here in the US, what with the MPAA and other groups who have taken it upon themselves to censor on the behalf of everyone, but even by America’s puritan standards, Australia’s censorship is a little much. So, I think it’s refreshing when an Aussie horror flick comes along that features a face being peeled off by an axe, or arms yanked from their sockets. Give me liberty and give me death, the bloodier the better. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Furies (2019)”

October Horrorshow: Terrified

I love finding an old movie that, as of seeing it, doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. Any movie that can’t be bothered with by Wikipedia’s legion of unpaid of workers has to be shit. Terrified, the last feature from longtime director Lew Landers, is a shitty movie. It’s also quite violent for its day, and, were it not for epic cheapness and laziness with the production, might have been a halfway decent flick.

From 1963, Terrified comes from the pen of Richard Bernstein, who began his screenwriting career with From Hell It Came. That movie was spectacular cheese about a killer tree. Nothing so original in this flick. There doesn’t seem to have been a budget for a foam rubber monster, so in this film, the baddie is just a guy in an ill-fitting suit and homemade stocking mask. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Terrified”

October Horrorshow: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Is there anything creepier than a room made for the dead? Everything in a morgue or embalming room is cold, antiseptic, and hard. There isn’t a cushion in site on which to rest a corpse. Why would there be? It’s not as if the dead will complain. They’re just motionless slabs of meat and bone, gristle and organs. The difference between the living and dead is rendered stark in rooms like this, where no living person could tolerate lying on stainless steel tables, their heads resting on blocks. Everything about these rooms would cause intolerable pain in the living. But, again, the dead won’t complain. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Autopsy of Jane Doe”

October Horrorshow: Blood of Dracula’s Castle

Glen Cannon (Gene Otis Shane) is a lucky man. He has a decent career as a photographer, is about to marry and start a family with a model, Liz (Jennifer Bishop), and just inherited a castle in Arizona. That’s right. A castle. In Arizona.

There’s just one problem. The castle has been leased out to an aging couple for decades, and they don’t wish to leave. There’s actually another problem. The old couple are the Count and Countess Dracula (Alexander D’Arcy and Paula Raymond). They call themselves the Townsends now, but they are, indeed, the creature of legend and his wife. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Blood of Dracula’s Castle”

October Horrorshow: Boar

I love a bloody, gory horror flick. Especially one with a monster that oozes and drips foul disgustingness. Not every day, mind you, but no October is complete without a film that makes a mess out of its cast.

Boar, the 2017 horror flick from Australia, did very well scratching that bizarre itch. My biggest criticism is that, although it delivered the nasty goods, it was kind of a bummer. A film where half the cast is brutally killed, a bummer? Who would have thought, right? But, if horror flicks weren’t a good time, for the most part, they wouldn’t be so prevalent and so profitable. Maybe we viewers are just diseased. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Boar”