From Lucio Fulci’s latter days as a filmmaker comes Aenigma, an Argento-like revenge flick set at a women’s college in Boston, although principal photography took place in Sarajevo.
Written with Giorgio Mariuzzo, Aenigma takes the basic plot elements of a ‘prank gone wrong’ horror flick, combines it with a bare bones setting and bare bones surrealism, and spits out a movie with a superfluous main character, and a purposeful avoidance of exploitation.
At St. Mary’s College in Boston, Kathy (Milijana Zirojevic), daughter of the school’s cleaning lady, Mary (Dusica Zegarac), is being prepped for a big date by her roommate, Kim (Sophie d’Aulan), and her boyfriend, Tom (Dragan Bjelogrlic). They go through the usual 1980’s teen outfit montage trope, before Kathy is finally dolled up and ready to meet her date, the college’s athletics instructor, Fred (Riccardo Acerbi). But, all is not well. The girls at the school despise Kathy’s humble origins, and the date is a cruel prank, set up just so all the girls can gather and laugh at Kathy’s presumption that a hunk like Fred would actually like her. Kathy flees from her tormentors into the path of a truck, and is left in a coma at the hospital. Continue reading “Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Aenigma”
Ferrari (Piero Vida) is producing, and Peter (David Brandon) is directing the most low-rent and desperate dance theater production ever to hit off-off-off-off-off-Broadway. It’s the story of an owl-headed serial killer who preys in the slums, raping hookers and Cinderalla alike, while Marilyn Monroe serenades the scene with a saxophone from above.
Such is the setting for George Eastman and Sheila Goldberg’s (writers) and Michele Soavi’s (directing his first feature) film StageFright. The film is a classic slasher, featuring a limited cast in an isolated environment, who are chopped to bits at regular intervals, before the whole thing is wrapped up in a bow at the end. There’s not much to set this film apart from the many, many slashers that populate the horror genre. The good news for viewers is that StageFright is a good film, with a swift pace, plentiful gore, believable characters, and a setting that works. Little foibles of Italian cinema show up here and there, mostly involving the motivations of the bad guy and the unlikely coincidence that introduces said bad guy to the plot, but, whatever. This is a fun flick. Continue reading “Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: StageFright (1987), aka Deliria”
Before Michael Krueger horrified viewers by writing the execrable Amityville Curse, he wrote (with Dave Sipos and Curtis Hannum) and directed a shitty shot-on-video horror flick called Mindkiller. In the vein of a David Cronenberg film, Mindkiller follows a protagonist whose forays into psychoscience lead to a strange lovelife, followed by horrific consequences.
Warren (Joe McDonald) has a problem. He can’t get laid. He’s a thirty something with a dead end job in the basement of a library, doomed to spending his days filing meaningless reports, and his nights watching in envy as his roommate, Brad (Kevin Hart, not that one), hooks up with every hottie in sight. It’s all a personality problem. Warren is deathly shy and when he does work up the courage to talk to a woman, nothing but gibberish comes out. It’s a tale as old as flirting. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Mindkiller”
David DeCoteau might be the most prolific b-movie director of all time. As of this posting, he has 161 non-porn directing credits on his IMDb page. During his career he has treated film production as a volume business. Art? What’s that? Budget? If you can make a movie for less, we’ll match it! TV movies? Direct-to-video movies? Horror? Sci-fi? Comedy? Hallmark movies? DeCoteau will direct it. He can’t direct every movie that’s released in a year, but he can sure as hell try.
The second feature of DeCoteau’s career, Creepozoids was commission work from Charles Band’s Empire Pictures, the predecessor of his long-running house of schlock, Full Moon Features. The film was written by DeCoteau and Dave Eisenstark. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Creepozoids”
One Mad Max ripoff wasn’t enough for Filipino filmmaker Cirio H. Santiago. After the sublime experience that was Wheels of Fire, Santiago went back to the well in 1987 for Equalizer 2000. It’s a movie about a man, his leather pants, and a bitchin’ gun.
From a story by Frederick Bailey and Joe Mari Avellana (who played the bad guy in Wheels of Fire), Equalizer 2000 follows Max Rockatansky analogue Slade (Richard Norton). Slade is a member of the Ownership, a militia group that is looking to control all of the gravel quarries in the post-apocalypse. They’re the typical baddies of a Mad Max ripoff. They wear black, drive tricked out muscle cars, and are very into pillaging settlements full of honest folk. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Equalizer 2000, or, Supergun!”
All ideas in film grow weary after a while. Lack of new twists, market saturation, declining quality, and a general malaise from viewership are the death knells for once-innovative methods of storytelling. By the late 1980s, it was the slasher subgenre of horror that had grown old and dusty, after only a decade or so of prominence. The result was a film like Slaughterhouse, the 1987 flick from writer/director Rick Roessler.
Don Barnett and Joe B. Barton play deranged father and son Lester and Buddy Bacon, owners of a shuttered hog slaughterhouse in rural California. Market fluctuations and a failure to modernize facilities did in their business, but Lester blames shenanigans from prominent locals for his dire straits. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Slaughterhouse”
Before Vampire Cop, before Chainsaw Cheerleaders, and before Bigfoot Exorcist (incredible titles, all), shitty movie auteur Donald Farmer gave us Demon Queen, an SOV quickie that boiled down a simple horror story into its basest elements.
From 1987, Demon Queen tells the tale of Lucinda (Mary Fanaro), a demon, or vampire, or something, who stalks the streets of Fort Lauderdale picking up unsuspecting males and ripping their hearts out while they are in postcoital afterglow.
Her latest victim, whom she strings along for most of this movie’s short 54-minute running time, is Jesse (Dennis Stewart). Jesse is a street-level drug dealer who, in a fit of plot on the part of Farmer, owes money to local gangster Izzi (Rick Foster).
Right after Izzi and his thug, Bone (Clifton Dance), beat up Jesse for the money he owes, Lucinda swoops in to rescue Jesse, making Bone one of her victims. That’s not the last we see of Bone, as he later resurrects as a putrefying zombie for a gooey finale. That sequence alone probably ate up a huge chunk of this movie’s reported $2,000 budget. Anyway…
According to the internet, so it must be true, central New Jersey community theater fixture and video store operator Gary Cohen was dismayed that customers rented so much trashy horror when there was a wealth of film history available on the shelves. His response was not to refuse to rent horror flicks, but, with friend and writing partner Paul Kaye, to make his very own trashy horror movie. On video, of course.
If one is into SOV horror, Video Violence, from 1987, is essential viewing, as it’s a common entry on various SOV lists. It follows real-life couple Art and Jackie Neill (also longtime players in central New Jersey theater) as Steven and Rachel Emory, a pair of transplants from New York City who have settled in Frenchtown, New Jersey, looking for peace and quiet. Steven gave up his dream job of owning a movie theater to open a video rental store, while Rachel left a job at a law firm to take a position in Frenchtown’s administration. Their town is not as welcoming to the newcomers as they wished, nor is it as quiet. That’s because the residents of the town have become addicted to slasher flicks, and after being desensitized to the fake stuff, they have gotten into the habit of making their very own snuff videos. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Video Violence”
Zombies have been portrayed in every which way from here to Timbuktu. It’s not necessary for a filmmaker to have a unique take on zombies in order to make a successful zombie film. When they do bring some new quality to the old trope, it instantly makes the film better. The Video Dead, the 1987 b-horror flick from writer, director, and producer Robert Scott, doesn’t have a lot of zombies, but they all have distinct personalities, and the way they are introduced is quite fun.
Famous writer Henry Jordan (Michael St. Michaels) is minding his business at home one morning when a delivery van arrives with a crate. Inside is a ratty television that, unbeknownst to Jordan, was supposed to be delivered to the Institute for the Studies of the Occult. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Video Dead”
Pro-tip for all you aspiring amateur filmmakers out there that are contemplating shooting an independent, low-budget horror flick on your phones: don’t short your viewers on the gore.
I’m not saying that one has to make an anatomically-correct splatter fountain like Violent Shit, but the hardest of these SOV horror flicks to watch for this year’s Horrorshow have been the movies devoid of spectacle. If there’s one thing that all these films have in common so far, its problems with their pacing. Whether it’s inexperienced storytelling or a thin screenplay, it takes an experienced shitty movie viewer to not be bored to death by these movies. That makes gore an essential element of their watchability, because it’s the most reliable way to get the audience to pay attention. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Blood Lake (1987)”