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”

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: Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes

Oh, woe is this horror franchise. First in the hands of Samuel Z. Arkoff and American International Pictures, then picked up, with a trademark dispute, by Dino De Laurentiis and his company, and now, for this fourth film, into the grasp of American network television. Has any other iconic horror franchise been treated so poorly? I can’t think of one.

Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes, from 1989, is, believe it or not, not the worst horror film I’ve ever seen. But, it’s from the time before the internet age, when network television movies were a special kind of anti-art, purposefully devoid of most sharp edges. Yes, this was the era of television movies that brought us Roots, but there was a definite ceiling to the quality of a TV movie. Film critic Leonard Maltin, in his gigantic movie guide books, would not award stars to television movies, instead rating them as ‘below average,’ ‘average,’ or ‘above average.’ That makes sense. The difference in quality between television and film in the heyday of Maltin’s books was a vast gulf compared to today. This particular television movie I would rate as average. Had it been intended for cinema, I would rate it a ‘bomb.’ Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes”

October Horrorshow: Mandy

Mandy, the 2018 magnum opus from director Panos Cosmatos, written with Aaron Stewart-Ahn, is a film that will be polarizing to an audience. Its execution is very stylized, and that, combined with its oppressive mood, will be a huge turnoff for many, while many others will find themselves carried away by it all. It’s not completely a love it or hate it kind of film, but the world is rarely so black and white. What most viewers should be able to agree on is that Cosmatos’s film is ambitious, especially in the way it is photographed. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Mandy”

October Horrorshow: Pieces

At first glance, Pieces, the 1982 slasher flick from shitty auteur Juan Piquer Simón, is just like every other bottom-feeding Italian film that flooded the American market in the 1980s. Except for one thing. Pieces is not an Italian flick. It’s from Spain. All the hallmarks of a Lucio Fulci or Enzo G. Castellari film are present. The cast is from all over the map. Many read their lines in their native tongue, everyone was dubbed in post, and there was a cavalier attitude towards making sure if any of it synced. The production is low rent, but there’s lots of blood, and it’s so bright one could use it to see by night. And, while it takes place in the United States, it was very clearly filmed in Europe. So, just why does this film have the appearance of cheap Italian cinema of the day? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pieces”

October Horrorshow: Hatchet II

Hatchet III judge sequels and remakes a bit more harshly than other films. I cannot help but compare further entries in film series to their predecessors. It would be ideal if I could judge something like Aliens or Jaws 2 on their own merits, but I find that impossible if I have seen the earlier film. The associations in my brain are just too strong to ignore. That’s not a problem today. I have not seen Hatchet, the first of writer/director Adam Green’s ongoing story of murderous freak Victor Crowley, but I did just watch Hatchet II, and now I think it is time...

Ahem!

Ladies and gentlemen, my Loyal Seven readers, I present to you Hatchet II, the official film of the 2014 Missile Test October Horrorshow. This flick represents just about everything I love in a slasher flick. There’s loads of gore and buckets of fake blood; all the killing is done in the woods; in Danielle Harris, it stars a legitimate scream queen; and it looked like it had a budget of about a nickel and a half. Oh, and best of all? It’s 85 minutes long. We love reasonable run times here at Missile Test. There’s nothing more interminable in a film than bloated length, so when I catch a movie that doesn’t hold me prisoner past the start of the eleven o’clock news, I’m thrilled. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hatchet II”

Schwarzenegger Month: The Running Man

My Loyal Seven readers know that Missile Test is a big fan of John Carpenter. In fact, he’s the unofficial official director of both the Empty Balcony and Shitty Movie Sundays. He didn’t direct The Running Man, the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle from 1987, but he should have. In style, flavor, pacing, look, feel, music, inherent mistrust of authority, and its very ’80s-ness, I have never seen a film so Carpenteresque without being directed by the man himself. It’s uncanny. But, this month is not about John Carpenter. It’s about His Arnoldness. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: The Running Man”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Doom

Sundays are usually pretty slow for me. The day and evening tend to drift by, lost in the newspaper, a book, televised sports, leisurely cooking, and the occasional shitty movie. It was late one Sunday that I came across an awful latter-day Godzilla film dubbed into Spanish (that I subsequently reviewed, along with its sequel). I usually get all heavy thinking out of the way before the sun goes down, and a mindless movie is a great complement to the relaxed nature of a Sunday evening. Paradoxically, this past Sunday’s fare, while mindless, was also frenetic and violent. But it was enough to satisfy the craving for bad cinema that I think all of us have a weak spot for. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Doom”