October Horrorshow: Brain Damage

We horror movie fans, and we shitty movie fans, are blessed whenever a filmmaker like Frank Henenlotter comes along. A man who was practically raised by the grindhouse theaters of Times Square, Henenlotter brought that aesthetic, that sleaze, and, yes, that mystique, to the small number of films he made. His films breathe in the grit of New York City in a way only one of its true freak denizens could capture.

Henenlotter began his feature film career in 1982 with Basket Case, a tale of a parasitic relationship of incredible bizarreness. He followed that up in 1988 with Brain Damage, a tale of a parasitic relationship of incredible bizarreness. It’s almost as if Henelotter took a look at his earlier film one day and said to himself, “I can do weirder.” Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Brain Damage”

October Horrorshow: Waxwork

Not every horror film has to be deadly serious. Sometimes, it’s impossible to hide the absurdity of a horror story, so a filmmaker doesn’t bother to try. Such is the case with Waxwork, the 1988 film from writer/director Anthony Hickox.

The film tells the tale of a gaggle of pretty 20-somethings who find themselves in mortal danger inside a wax museum. Putting youth in danger is a formula as old as horror films, and a risky one for filmmakers to take. Young, pretty faces are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. What’s unique is finding the young talent who is pretty, can act, and is capable of lifting mediocre screenplays. So, choose the wrong cast, and one could end up with a stinker. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Waxwork”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Cocktail

Here’s another entry from the aborted Tom Cruise month, written back when I still lived in NYC:

What a putrid mess. Cocktail, the 1988 film from director Roger Donaldson, is about a bartender in New York City with big dreams. That’s just about every bartender in this town, at least before reality sinks its teeth in and, all of a sudden, a bartender’s 30s are looming large. I have a feeling that a large number of those involved in this flick have spent time slinging drinks. How in the world they screwed up a movie about a bartender is beyond me. But, Cocktail is only about a bartender in that the main character tends bar. It’s also a romance, and, near the end, takes a very dark dramatic turn that didn’t fit the film at all. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Cocktail”

October Horrorshow: Slugs

What a putrid mess of a movie. Slugs is one of those shitty movies New World Pictures banged out that had little to no regard for the intelligence or attention spans of its audience. It looks rushed, feels rushed, and even sounds rushed. But, it’s got a lot of blood, so it has that going for it.

From 1988, Slugs is an American/Spanish collaboration. At the time, shitty Spanish cinema was mimicking shitty Italian cinema, making this production feel like an amalgamation of bad American and Italian horror. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Slugs”

Shitty Movie Sundays: LA Crackdown

Troma alert! Troma alert! LA Crackdown, one of seven(!) films that prolific shitty filmmaker Joseph Merhi directed in 1988, went straight-to-video back when it was made, and has since found its way into the stable of the legendary shitty film company Troma. When one sees the Troma card before the title sequence, one knows that the following film will have few redeeming qualities. Troma are curators of the dark recesses of film, preserving some of the worst films America has made for future generations. LA Crackdown fits well with Troma’s stated mission of “disrupting media,” seemingly by subjecting viewers to crimes against narrative consistency, and an endless stream of dead reads. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: LA Crackdown”

October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop

With a title like Maniac Cop, there’s no way this movie is going to be good, right? The title is simple and to the point, and instantly conveys a large amount of plot to any potential viewer that happens to pass by the marquee. But boy, oh boy, it sounds like a first draft title. If all other films had used their initial titles, we wouldn’t have Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Unforgiven. Instead we would have Star Beast, Journey Beyond the Stars, and The Cut-Whore Killings (although it would have been ballsy for Clint Eastwood and company to try that last one). Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Maniac Cop”

Stallone Month: Rambo III

In the review for Rambo: First Blood Part II, I lamented that the film marked the end of a budding First Blood franchise, and the start of the Rambo franchise. Indeed, demoting, and then finally excising, the First Blood string from the title is as much a sign of the creative direction in these films as it was a marketing decision to promote the character of John Rambo, and the man who played him. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo III”

Empty Balcony: Alien Nation

There is a nasty amount of racial tension in America right now, accentuated by President-elect Trump’s impending inauguration next month. I hate that current events are affecting my perception of Alien Nation, the 1988 sci-fi film from director Graham Baker and screenwriter Rockne S. O’Bannon, but they are. Really, the filmmakers bear most of the blame, here. A huge part of the fictional universe Graham and O’Bannon crafted deals with refugees assimilating into American culture and having an effect, both positive and negative, on native demographics. Boy, I really need to find a way to flip off the politics switch in my brain when I’m watching movies. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Alien Nation”

October Horrorshow: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Clowns are creepy. But I didn’t realize this until I got older. Back when I was a kid, I remember my old man and his brother loading up our families in a van to head out to Richfield Coliseum to see Ringling Bros. We only went a couple of years — at most three in a row. Hardly a family tradition, but there are still parts of those outings I remember vividly, and clowns creeping me out is not one of them. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Killer Klowns from Outer Space”

October Horrorshow: Return of the Living Dead Part II

The Return of the Living Dead, the Dan O’Bannon film from 1985, is my favorite zombie flick. It was the product of a messy divorce between George Romero and screenwriter John A. Russo. Their creative split meant Romero went one way with his Dead films, and Russo, another. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Return of the Living Dead Part II”