October Horrorshow: Hell of the Living Dead

What an absolute pile of trash. I loved every minute of this film. Well, almost every minute of it. I loved the exploding heads and zombies munching on guts. I loved how director Bruno Mattei slipped in some nudity and pretended it wasn’t gratuitous. I loved how wild and unrealistic were the main characters. And I loved how no one in the movie seemed to absorb, for more than a second at a time, that zombies have to be shot in the head to stop them. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hell of the Living Dead”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Octagon

Today we have a film from Chuck Norris’s moustache era. The man and his beard have been inseparable for over thirty years, now, but there was a time when Chuck was rocking the kind of facial hair that could compete with the era’s porn stars. It was not quite on the level of Tom Selleck’s scrub brush, but he wore it well.

Released in 1980, The Octagon was directed by Eric Karson from a screenplay by Leigh Chapman. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Octagon”

October Horrorshow: Inferno (1980)

Three years after horror auteur Dario Argento gave us the vibrant classic Suspiria, he waded back into brilliant color and dreamlike atmosphere by writing and directing Inferno. Described as a thematic sequel to Suspiria, Inferno is the second film of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy. Whether this film was truly intended to be related to Suspiria or if such a decision was commercial in nature is debatable. Either way, sequel or thematic cousin or whatever, Inferno is clearly an Argento film. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Inferno (1980)”

October Horrorshow: Humanoids from the Deep, aka Monster

A viewer won’t find his name in the credits, but Humanoids from the Deep, an exploitative schlockfest from 1980, was produced by Roger Corman. He didn’t direct it and he didn’t write it, either. Barbara Peeters did the directing (with reshoots handled by an uncredited Jimmy T. Murakami), and Frederick James did the writing. But Corman’s hand is all over this film. It fits his demands at the time that cheap horror should be bloody, and feature some rape. Bloody is fine. Bloody is fun. Rape is really only useful in a horror flick if the mood a filmmaker is going for is revulsion. In a stupid monster flick, it’s overkill. Still, it doesn’t ruin too much of the fun of this putrid mess. Other stuff is responsible for that. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Humanoids from the Deep, aka Monster”

October Horrorshow: City of the Living Dead

City of the Living DeadThis film has nothing to do with George Romero’s Dead films. In a bit of shameless commercialism, City of the Living Dead is another Italian film that tries to ride the coattails of a profitable American horror franchise. And it’s not a case of an American distribution company changing the name of the film. When it was released in Italy, this film was given the title Paura nella città die morti viventi, which, according to the internet, translates as Fear in the City of the Living Dead. Clear? Good. Compared to other low-budget Italian horror fare, these title shenanigans are nothing.

From writer/director Lucio Fulci, who shared screenwriting credits with Dardano Sacchetti, comes City of the Living Dead, released in 1980. The film tells the story of a cursed town in New England called Dunwich. There, the local priest, Father William Thomas (Fabrizio Jovine), hangs himself. For some reason that was either never explained or that I didn’t catch, the priest’s suicide opens a gateway to hell, allowing evil to pour forth into the world of man. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: City of the Living Dead”

October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)

ManiacThis 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.

Maniac, from 1980, was directed by William Lustig, from a screenplay by Joe Spinell and C. A. Rosenberg. Spinell also stars as the titular maniac, a loner named Frank Zito.

Potential viewers might recognize Spinell. A familiar face among New York City based tough guy actors, he had small roles in the Godfather films and a prominent role as loan shark Tony Gazzo in Rocky. There are stories all over the internet about how beloved a personality he was (Spinell died in 1989), and how his friendship with Sylvester Stallone inspired him to guide his own film project. The result is not a film about a lovable underdog, but a film about a serial killer who scalps his victims. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)”

October Horrorshow: Contamination

The 1980s must have been an interesting time to be an actor in New York City. It was a mythic age, before Law & Order began filling multiple lines in the CVs of innumerable performers in the five boroughs. Instead, the city seemed to be crawling with itinerant Italian filmmakers, drunk on dreams of ripping off the latest American sci-fi hit and making some dollars on the cheap. Fabrizio De Angelis, Enzo G. Castellari, Sergio Martino, Luigi Cozzi, and more, made The Big Apple their home away from home in the ’80s. If it wasn’t possible to make it on Broadway or on TV, there was always bottom-feeding cinema. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Contamination”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Battle Beyond the Stars

Roger Corman was absolutely shameless. There wasn’t an idea he wouldn’t steal, nor a corner he wouldn’t cut to save a buck, in any of the dozens of films in which he had a part. He is hailed as a pioneering and legendary filmmaker. He launched the careers of numerous, better filmmakers and is showered with credit for their talents. And he did all this, and more, while cranking out a relentless stream of awful films. Terrible, unwatchable, dreadful sins against the art of cinema. And sometimes, he managed to make a shitty movie that was worth a damn. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Battle Beyond the Stars”

Shitty Movie Sundays: When Time Ran Out, or, The Poseidon Volcano

Irwin Allen had been producing motion pictures for over twenty years before he wandered into the disaster genre. He had a pair of genre-defining hits with The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, but that was about all the water Allen could draw from that well before bringing up sludge. Next came The Swarm (dreadful), then Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (sickening), and finally When Time Ran Out. According to the internet, so it must be true, Paul Newman, star of When Time Ran Out, was once asked if he regretted making any film. He answered, “That volcano movie.” Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: When Time Ran Out, or, The Poseidon Volcano”

October Horrorshow: The Shining

Every single scene in The Shining, the classic horror film from Stanley Kubrick, is unsettling, sometimes deeply. From the opening montage, a series of beautiful helicopter shots of the Rockies, rendered menacing by the music of Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, to the final slow zoom before the end credits, there’s not a single moment’s respite from the tension of this film. That makes The Shining somewhat unique in comparison to other horror films. There is no lighter side of the Torrance family’s lives that is upended by the goings on at the Overlook Hotel. They were doomed regardless. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Shining”