October Horrorshow: Motel Hell

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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Motel Hell”

October Horrorshow: Willy’s Wonderland

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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Willy’s Wonderland”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 3

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 readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 3″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 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 readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 3″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 2

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 readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 2″

October Horrorshow: Leprechaun

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.

From way back in 1993, Leprechaun was sprung from the mind of writer/director Mark Jones, and follows the tale of a murderous leprechaun (Warwick Davis) who is on the trail of his stolen gold. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Leprechaun”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Seed of Chucky

What a stupid movie. When I wasn’t loving it, I was hating it, but never so much that I ever stopped enjoying myself. Even when the spirit-possessed Chucky doll (Brad Dourif, as ever) runs Britney Spears (Nadia Dina Ariqat) off of the road and her car explodes in a pique pop culture moment, there was but the briefest moment of doubt before buying into this ridiculous flick once more. This isn’t a good movie, but writer/director, and series creator, Don Mancini, along with producer David Kirschner, were right to go all-in on absurdity. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Seed of Chucky”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Bride of Chucky

By the time Bride of Chucky was released, in 1998, it had been seven years since the last entry in the Child’s Play franchise. That movie, Child’s Play 3, had made a profit, and it was a better film than the first sequel, but it was clear that things were beginning to slip. Franchise fatigue was setting in. Series creator Don Mancini and producer David Kirschner must have recognized this. Their series was a contemporary of franchise slasher giants Friday the 13th, Halloween, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Surely Mancini and Kirschner saw the depths these franchises sank to in search of a cheap buck, and perhaps they decided that wasn’t for them. Whatever the thinking behind the fourth film in the Child’s Play franchise, Mancini and Kirschner did a brave thing when they decided to pivot and embrace the black comedic elements of the possessed killer doll Chucky, and make a film unlike the previous films. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Bride of Chucky”

October Horrorshow: Tammy and the T-Rex

Pop quiz, hotshot. You have access to an animatronic dinosaur for three weeks, and a million bucks burning a hole in your pocket. What do you do?!

If you’re Etka Sarlui, you call up b-movie auteur Stewart Raffill and ask him if he would like to make a movie. And if you are Stewart Raffill, you then say ‘yes,’ because one should never turn down work. A week later, Raffill, along with Gary Brockette, have a screenplay, and two weeks after that, Tammy and the T-Rex is in the can, the dinosaur is off to a theme park in Texas, amazingly undamaged, and the world has its next insane shitty movie. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Tammy and the T-Rex”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

I may have been slightly concussed while writing the review for A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. But, there is no confusion or fogginess in regards to this travesty of a movie. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is a terrible film. It’s quite possibly the worst movie I’ve seen this year, and that’s saying something, considering I seek out bad movies. Billed as having “Saved the Best for Last,” this was the film meant to send the character of Freddy Krueger out with a bang — a grand finale that audiences would remember for all time. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”