October Horrorshow: The Beyond, aka 7 Doors of Death, aka E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà

This one’s for the gore hounds. This flick is for those who like melting faces, popped eyeballs, severed tongues, crucifixion, putrefaction, red blood, yellow ooze, brown goo, and don’t mind one bit that the plot has all the narrative consistency of getting blackout drunk. But, that’s okay. If an Italian horror flick had a plot one could follow, would it still be an Italian horror flick?

From legendary director Lucio Fulci, who also has a screenwriting credit, comes The Beyond, originally released in the States, slightly butchered, as 7 Doors of Death. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Beyond, aka 7 Doors of Death, aka E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà”

October Horrorshow: Hell Night

I wasn’t expecting much out of Hell Night. At first glance, it appears to be just another anonymous 1980s slasher flick, featuring a star who had lost her grip on A-list roles years earlier. On top of that, whatever old print had been transferred to digital had not been cared for, with many scenes featuring vertical scratch lines. This film has seen a partial restoration from Scream Factory, released on Blu-Ray, so someone thought this flick was worth preserving for the future. And they were right. Hell Night is low rent and clichéd, but it is also a good horror film. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hell Night”

Empty Balcony: Taps

Back in 2014, Missile Test held Arnold Schwarzenegger month, where I watched and wrote about every significant Arnold flick. There was no abiding reason for featuring Arnold movies for an entire month, other than I just felt like doing it. I followed that up in 2017 with a month of Sylvester Stallone reviews. Then I got the bright idea to do a month of Tom Cruise flicks, but my soul ran dry after watching Rain Man. Anyway, I’ve had ten reviews of Tom Cruise movies sitting in a folder for years, now, collecting digital dust. So, since Cruise month isn’t likely to happen, for the next couple of months I’ll be posting these old-ish reviews on Wednesdays. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Taps”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Enter the Ninja, or, The Colonials are Having a Tiff

Enter the Ninja, the 1981 karate flick from legendary producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, is just about the quintessential movie from The Cannon Group, Golan-Globus’s company. Cannon is synonymous with shitty cinema, alongside other giants as Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, American International Pictures, and Dino De Laurentiis. Like these examples, not everything Cannon made was shit, but enough was for the reputation to be deserved. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Enter the Ninja, or, The Colonials are Having a Tiff”

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 readingOctober Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer”

October Horrorshow: Ghostkeeper

GhostkeeperFrom our neighbors in the Great White North comes Ghostkeeper, a creepy little flick about a group of vacationers stranded at an old hotel in the Canadian Rockies. Released in 1981, Ghostkeeper was directed by Jim Makichuk from a screenplay by Makichuk and Doug MacLeod.

The film stars Riva Spier, Murray Ord, and Sheri McFadden as Jenny, Marty, and Chrissy. They’ve come to the Rockies as part of a group celebrating the new year at a lodge. It’s New Year’s Eve day, and before the festivities in the evening, the three decide to do some snowmobiling in the area. They find a road going up into the woods, and being curious sorts, decide to see where it goes. The snow-covered road leads to a hotel, seemingly abandoned. Meanwhile, the weather turns bad and the three decide they need to take shelter in the old hotel (played by Deer Lodge in Banff).

As night descends, they discover that while the hotel has been closed for years, it is not abandoned. It is being watched over by an old woman (Georgie Collins) and her grown son, Danny (Bill Grove). The old woman is a bit of a crone, but she is nice enough to allow the stranded would-be revelers to take a couple rooms for the night. Of course, there’s more to this hotel, and the old woman, than is at first apparent. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Ghostkeeper”

October Horrorshow: Burial Ground, aka The Nights of Terror, aka Le notti del terrore

Burial Ground movie posterWhat a gloriously shitty movie. Burial Ground, also released under a number of different titles, is an Italian horror gore-fest from 1981. Director Andrea Bianchi crafted a flick that ticks off just about all the boxes when it comes to shitty Italian cinema. The film stock is cheap, the dubbing sucks, there are numerous overlong shots used to mask a distinct lack of plot, et cetera. It really is a wonderful example of bad cinema of the era, taking its place alongside anything from Shitty Movie Sundays favorite Enzo G. Castellari. But, it also has the added benefit of being somewhat watchable.

Somewhere in Italy near an old villa (the Villa Parisi just north of Rome was the filming location), an unnamed professor (Raimondo Barbieri) is excavating an old tomb. Unfortunately for him, his digging and poking invokes an ancient curse of protection, and all the dead from olden times in the area come to life as flesh eating zombies. They’re just about the slowest zombies that have ever been put to film, but they are unique. Rosario Prestopino is credited with the special effects makeup, and he and his team did a better job than could be expected from a flick like this. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Burial Ground, aka The Nights of Terror, aka Le notti del terrore”

Stallone Month: Victory, aka Escape to Victory

The Vietnam War wreaked havoc on the United States — its sense of self-worth; its trust in leadership, both civilian and military; and its ideas of what constitute heroism. Vietnam was the first war we fought where the awful violence wasn’t hidden from us. It was also our first tick in the loss column. There are a whole host of complex emotions that war put us through. It’s no surprise, then, that war films made after the Vietnam War ended are quite different than those that came before. There were still a few holdouts, however — anachronisms from the earlier style. Continue readingStallone Month: Victory, aka Escape to Victory”

Stallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!

Nighthawks, the 1981 film from director Bruce Malmuth and screenwriter David Shaber, sets itself up as a gritty New York City crime drama. The opening features blighted locations from the city’s darkest days, there’s a strong and stupidly simple anti-drug message, and there’s even a police lieutenant with a strong temper. I was expecting a cross between Dirty Harry and The French Connection with that setup. But instead of chasing after some drug lords or a typical big city psycho, the heroes of Nighthawks, NYPD Detective Sergeants Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox (Sly and Williams), are drafted into a new unit that is after terrorists. Continue readingStallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Last Shark, aka Great White, aka L’ultimo squalo

Oh, Enzo G. Castellari, I’m so glad I found you. Shitty Movie Sundays has been further enlightened by your presence. Master of schlock, minister of exploitation, employer of flamethrowers, you can be counted among the progenitors of the mockbuster, those sad, cash grab excuses for films. It seems your only purpose as a filmmaker was to piggyback on the accomplishments of others, and prey upon an audience that didn’t realize what your producers were selling. Who would have thought that so many decades after your heyday, there would be people like me seeking out your films — not only to mock and deride, but to enjoy? Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Last Shark, aka Great White, aka L’ultimo squalo”