This year’s Horrorshow is nearing the end, and I could not let the month pass by without adding a Roger Corman flick to this list. It’s one of his best.
A Bucket of Blood, released in 1959, had a budget of $50,000, and a five-day shooting schedule. That type of swiftness and frugality was perfect for Corman, who never met a budget that was low enough to his liking. The first of Corman’s comedic collaborations with writer Charles B. Griffith, A Bucket of Blood is satire of the highest order. Its target are beatniks, a subculture which faded away decades ago. It features all the familiar targets of beatnik mockery. Berets, black turtlenecks, coffeeshops, poetry, folk guitar, heroin, pretentiousness. It’s that last part that made the beatniks such an easy target, and, in this film, a hilarious one. A typical line in the movie said by a swelled-headed beatnik was, “One of the greatest advances in modern poetry is the elimination of clarity.” That says it all about the artistes of this movie. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: A Bucket of Blood”
A horror comedy would seem to be a contradiction in terms. However, horror fans aren’t watching horror because they like death. Well, most of us, anyway. Horror fans look for the same things from film as everyone else. Escapism. Specifically, the ability to experience places, people, and stories that we otherwise would not. Films evoke emotion, but do so in a way that exists outside of everyday life. Combining genres, especially in contradictory fashion, creates a delicacy of mixed emotions that we could never experience otherwise. In what other place than film could one experience the wonderful flavor profile of a humorous decapitation? Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Severance (2006)”
According to Lloyd Kaufman, so some of it is probably true, Pericles Lewnes and George Scott wandered into the offices of Troma one day in the late 1980s with a finished movie they wanted Troma to distribute. Kaufman and his business partner Michael Herz agreed, on the condition that Lewnes take on unpaid work at Troma to work off the money Kaufman was sure this movie would lose for the company. And, thus, Redneck Zombies was unleashed upon the world.
Directed by Lewnes from a screenplay that has to be a pseudonym for either he or Scott, Fester Smellman, Redneck Zombies is one of the more ambitious efforts, gore-wise, that has been featured in It Came from the Camcorder. In tone, it fits right into the Troma stable, as Lewnes was very much a fan of their work. As the title implies, this movie is about zombies, who happen to be rednecks. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Redneck Zombies”
From our friends and neighbors in the Great White North comes Psycho Pike, the 1992 SOV eco-horror/ black comedy flick featuring a mutated fish capable of decapitating unwary anglers.
Brought to life by writer and director Chris Poschun, Psycho Pike follows four college students who travel to remote Lake Shippagew somewhere in the wilds north of Toronto for a weekend getaway. They are: couple Tim and Dara (Wayne McNamara and Sarah Campbell) and couple Reg and Rhonda (Douglas Kidd and Dawn Kelly). To add some personal drama, Tim and Reg are best friends, and Rhonda used to be Tim’s steady girlfriend, breaking up with him so she could hook up with Reg. That drama isn’t necessary to the plot, but something had to fill the spaces between the killer fish doing its thing, and infidelity is as good a device as any other. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Psycho Pike”
Motel Hell, the 1980 horror flick from director Kevin Connor and screenwriters Robert and Steven-Charles Jaffe, is one of the creepier flicks I’ve watched for this year’s Horrorshow. Nothing is going to beat The Green Inferno for gore, or Color Out of Space for dread, but this low-budget, half-satirical take on slashers and cannibalism has some dark stuff going on underneath.
Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons star as Vincent and Ida Smith, sibling (I think) roadside motel owners in rural California (location work was done at the late Sable Ranch, which has 96 IMDb credits to its name). Vincent is a local fixture. Besides owning the motel, he is also the proprietor of Farmer Vincent’s Smoked Meats, serving a 100-mile radius for the past thirty years. Folks come from far and wide for Farmer Vincent’s products. The local sheriff, Vincent’s younger brother by many, many years, Bruce (Paul Linke), attests to its qualities, saying he was practically raised on the stuff. Vincent and Ida have been deceitful, however. The secret ingredient that makes Farmer Vincent’s meats so delish is, of course, human flesh. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Motel Hell”
Nicolas Cage is, without reservation or reflection, my favorite living actor. His days of high-brow or blockbuster Hollywood cinema are over, and this seems to be his intention. Well before he aged out of A-list roles he embraced the absurd, the strange, and the underfunded. Best of all, he always gives his all in every role he’s in. Sometimes that doesn’t work, but rarely have I ever enjoyed such consistent overacting. He’s a treasure.
This year saw the release of Willy’s Wonderland, which fits in well with Cage’s embrace of the outlandish. According to the internet, so it must be true, Cage was so enamored with the script that he chose to be one of the film’s producers, so he could have authority to prevent the story from being changed too much. As for that story… Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Willy’s Wonderland”
I’m willing to believe claims that screenwriter Dominic Muir wrote Critters before Gremlins was released in 1984, but as the franchise reached this third installment, all pretense is washed away. Critters 3 is a Gremlins ripoff — and also the launching point for one of Hollywood’s most successful actors.
No more theatrical releases for this franchise. By 1991, it was direct-to-video only. Written by David J. Schow and directed by Kristine Peterson, Critters 3 leaves the cozy confines of Grover’s Bend, Kansas, for the big city of Topeka. A family returning from a vacation — father Clifford (John Calvin), daughter Annie (Aimee Brooks), and young son Johnny (played by twins Christian and Joseph Cousins) — unknowingly pick up a critter infestation when they have to stop to change a tire. A couple of eggs are left in a wheel well, and they hatch just as the family returns to their rundown apartment building. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 3″
Most horror franchises have a seminal first film, one that grabs the attention of horror fans, and then the franchise limps its way to irrelevancy. Sequels descend in quality to the point the filmmakers are clearly in it for the cash and nothing else. The Leprechaun franchise is different from, say, the Halloween franchise or the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, because it has been shit from day one. The first flick was bad, the second flick was worse, and Leprechaun 3 feels like a last gasp before everyone went home and pretended none of this ever happened. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 3″
I am baffled, flabbergasted, dumbfounded, astonished, nonplussed. I am deep into the thesaurus when it comes to how I regard Leprechaun 2, the 1994 sequel to filmmaker Mark Jones’ magnum opus. The first flick stank. It only made a little over eight and a half million bucks at the box office, yet it spawned a film franchise that has now spanned a quarter century. I admire the fact that everyone involved keeps making these shitty flicks despite an unending wave of negative criticism. It’s just that in a country known for such ruthless capitalism, I’m surprised these turds keep finding financial backing. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 2″
There are some bad horror franchises out there. Some are intentionally bad (I’m looking at you, Sharknado). Some, like Amityville, are victim to the fact that trademarking the name of a town is tricky, so anyone with a camera and fifty bucks can make an entry. Some, like the Leprechaun franchise, were sprung from a substandard horror flick that somehow made enough money to justify sequels.