October Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1980)

This is the fourth evening in a row that the Horrorshow has featured a low-budget monster flick from the 1980s. I don’t know if this is a burden or a blessing upon you, dear readership. What I do know is that the combined budgets of these past four films, each adjusted for inflation, are less than the cost of a median home in the most prosperous counties of California. I’m not joking. Some quick calculating puts the total cost of these four films — Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, Creepozoids, Inseminoid, and Scared to Death — at roughly $1.3 million. That means that, should one wish to make four b-movies, it would be cheaper to do so than purchase a single median-priced home in Marin, San Francisco, or San Mateo counties. Trust me, I got my data on the internet. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1980)”

October Horrorshow: Inseminoid, aka Horrorplanet

A common theme one will find on the internet about Inseminoid is that it rips off Alien. Sure, it does. Lots of movies have. And Alien ripped off It! The Terror from Beyond Space. That shouldn’t stop one from considering the film on its own merits. It succeeds and fails all on its own, with no credit or responsibility laid at the feet of Ridley Scott or Dan O’Bannon. The similarities to Alien are many, but with a budget of £1 million versus Alien’s $11 million, there were going to be some cuts made.

Inseminoid was directed by Norman J. Warren, from a script by Nick and Gloria Maley. On a far away planet, scientists studying ruins of an alien civilization are attacked by a monster. One of them, Sandy (Judy Geeson), is inseminated by the alien, and will soon give birth to twin monstrosities. In this, Inseminoid tracks closest to Alien. The much lower budget meant that much of the atmosphere that defined Alien was not possible in this flick. The budget also affected the alien costume, which is very subpar. Warren and company made the right decision to not feature the monster that much. As a result, most of the terrorizing in this flick is done by Sandy and not the monster. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Inseminoid, aka Horrorplanet”

October Horrorshow: Creepozoids

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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Creepozoids”

October Horrorshow: Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, aka Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell

Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake movie posterWay back during the Giant Monstershow in 2018, I wrote of Bill Rebane’s Giant Spider Invasion, “Great films have been made with bad film stock, cheap lenses, and muddled sound. This ain’t one of them.” Not too long afterwards, I saw a restored print of the movie, and was reminded that often there is a big difference between a VHS transfer formatted for CRT televisions, and what was new when it actually hit theaters. The difference between the restored print and what Mike and the bots screened on MST3K is night and day. Still, restoring it was only polishing a turd.

I bring this up because this evening’s film is Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, also from Wisconsin-based auteur Bill Rebane. Like The Giant Spider Invasion print that I watched in 2018, this print looks and sounds like garbage. The picture is mud and the sound is AM radio-quality. Specs for the film are sparse on the internet, but I suspect this film has been treated with the same lack of archival care as Rebane’s earlier film. At some point, someone is going to make the bad decision to restore this film, as well. Until then, the poor quality print only adds to this film’s shitty bona fides. That, and because it was distributed by Troma. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, aka Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell”

October Horrorshow: The Lake (2022, Thailand)

There haven’t been many films from Thailand here in the Horrorshow, despite there being a nice little industry for the horror genre in that country, going back decades. Ghost and supernatural films seem to be de rigueur. Today’s film, though, is a monster flick that was done in by its storytelling and some bargain basement dubbing.

The Lake, from writer/director Lee Thongkham, tells the story of a pair of monsters that emerge from a lake and begin terrorizing the surrounding village and city.

In the opening scene of the film, audiences see some villagers out on the lake at night, and a big monster appears. It’s not kaiju-sized, but it could give a real life Tyrannosaurus fits. But, that’s not the only monster. The next day a more human-sized scaly biped emerges from the lake, and that’s the beast that wreaks the most havoc. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Lake (2022, Thailand)”

October Horrorshow: Forbidden World

Roger Corman has caught a lot of heat in these pages for being a cheapskate. The man was, and still is, ruthless in his pursuit of efficiency in his productions. This has often been a detriment to his films. As a filmmaker, Corman could make better movies if he loosened the purse strings ever so slightly, but he always seems to err on the side of budget over art. That said, the man’s contributions to cinema, and shitty movies, cannot be overstated. Forbidden World, a Corman production from 1982, encapsulates just about everything that makes a movie shitty, and is an excellent example of the Corman style. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Forbidden World”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Tentacles

One could be forgiven if, at first glance, Tentacles appears to be a spurious addition to the lineup of Italian horror flicks in this year’s October Horrorshow. The first five names in the credits are not Italian names. In fact, they are prominent names in Hollywood. The first is Samuel Z. Arkoff, who was very much an American producer. Even the director, Oliver Hellman, doesn’t seem to be of Italian extraction. But, this is all misdirection.

Arkoff and his company, American International Pictures, were not the producers of this film — they were the distributors in the States. Oliver Hellman is a pseudonym for Olivio G. Assonitis. And as for all those prominent names at the start of the film? Well, everyone in Hollywood, no matter how big, eventually slums it for an easy paycheck. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Tentacles”

October Horrorshow: Razorteeth

Regular readers of the Horrorshow and Shitty Movie Sundays will know that I have an appreciation for John and Mark Polonia, the twin brothers behind shot-on-video gems Splatter Farm and Hallucinations. Those flicks were a combination of amateurish and sublime that is hard to fathom without actually seeing it. Their relentless love of filmmaking, horror movies, and their ability to work on the cheap kept them employed in the movie business. But, actual growth as filmmakers, and in particular, storytellers, is something that is sorely missing from their oeuvre. As time marched on, the efficiency of their movies seems to have superseded all else. Almost twenty years on from Splatter Farm, 2005’s Razorteeth lacks all of the charm and intensity of the early movies, and continues a pattern of absolute bottom-feeding filmmaking. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Razorteeth”

October Horrorshow: Hellspawn

Hellspawn VHS boxThe Polonia Brothers are at it again. After sitting on a shelf for the better part of a decade, 2003 saw the DVD release of Hellspawn, one of the brothers’ more stylistically classic movies.

Hellspawn has the feel of an homage to horror films from the 1950s and ’60s. It has lingering, atmospheric shots that evoke English gothic horror and Hitchcock’s Psycho, and a soundtrack reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead. Hellspawn is clearly a movie the Polonias put a little more time and care into than something like Feeders. And yet most of it still feels mailed in.

What hurts this movie the most, and might be the reason behind its delayed release, is the sound quality. The brothers shot this movie on video, as was their wont, and it sounds like they used the built-in mic on whatever camcorder they were shooting with. The result is entire scenes with muddled or unintelligible dialogue. Without fail these issues with the sound happen during scenes with much-needed exposition. That places an undue burden on the rest of the movie. Where the brothers succeed in homage-ing, they don’t keep pace in scares or effects. For a movie with an 86-minute running time, long for the Polonias, that makes watching a slog, despite flashes of vintage Polonia. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hellspawn”

October Horrorshow: Feeders

The Polonia Brothers continue to impress, and not always in a good way. Their 1996 movie, Feeders, which they directed with Jon McBride, is a case in point. Shot over the course of a few days in 1994, the production came eight years and five movies after Hallucinations, yet one would be hard-pressed to point out where they have grown as filmmakers.

In plot, they have regressed. In their ability to direct acting talent, they have regressed. Worst of all, in special effects, they have regressed. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Feeders”