October Horrorshow: The Brain (1988)

The Brain 1988 movie posterHere’s a movie so nice I had to watch it twice; so uproarious it’s glorious; so shitty I had to go and be witty.

Hailing from the Great White North, The Brain, screenwriter Barry Pearson and director Ed Hunt’s 1988 horror flick, is shitty gold. Let’s get that out of the way, first. This is a quality shitty movie. It’s cheap schlock — outrageous, ridiculous, hilarious, and very, very watchable. It’s the rare horror flick where the creature is shown at the very beginning, but this movie suffers nothing for it. Building tension through the unseen? Nope. None of that. That takes a back seat to sharing such an absurd cinematic creation with audiences right away, and it works. It’s a gigantic brain, with a face and huge teeth, and it eats people. Let me emphasize this. The monster in this movie is a brain the size of a mastiff that eats people.

Tom Bresnahan stars as Jim Majelewski. He’s a typical rebellious Canadian teenager, in that while he may blow up toilets with pure sodium and glue teachers’ pants to chairs, he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, and gets straight A’s. But, the school has had enough of his shenanigans, and he is forced to undergo treatment at the Psychological Research Institute (exteriors were played by the Xerox Research Centre of Canada), run by the evil Dr. Blakely (David Gale) and his assistant, Verna (George Buza). Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Brain (1988)”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 4

Critters might be the first horror franchise to take its action off planet. Hellraiser took to space in 1996, Leprechaun followed a year later, and Friday the 13th sent Jason Vorhees into the black in 2001. Incredible as it seems, Critters 4 might be a groundbreaking film.

From 1992, Critters 4 was shot at the same time as Critters 3, but this isn’t a case of breaking a single film into two parts when things began to sprawl. Critters 4 was always a separate film from the third, with a different director in Rupert Harvey. Much of the production crew, including the Chiodo Brothers, remained the same. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 4″

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: Critters 2

What month of horror franchise reviews would be complete without visiting the redheaded stepchild of 1980s horror franchises? The first Critters film was released to widespread yawns and accusations of thievery from Gremlins, but I maintain that this series of films is an indelible part of the experience of 1980s horror. All of these films are cheap, bloody, nicely tongue-in-cheek, shitty, and more entertaining than they should be.

Coming to audiences in 1988, Critters 2 picks up two years after the events of Critters, and assumes, quite fancifully, that one has seen the first film. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 2″

October Horrorshow: The Devil Below

We here at Missile Test love a good monster movie. The Devil Below is not a good monster movie. But, we here at Missile Test also love bad monster movies. The Devil Below is not a bad monster movie, either. However, we here at Missile Test love mediocre monster movies, and The Devil Below is a mediocre monster movie. In fact, we love just about all monster movies here at Missile Test, mostly because it’s a subgenre of horror that is almost impossible to mess up into unwatchability.

Released this year, The Devil Below comes to us via screenwriters Eric Scherbarth and Stefan Jaworksi, and director Bradley Parker. It follows a scientific expedition that is trekking to rural Kentucky to find the lost mining town of Shookum Hills. In the late 1970s, the town was abandoned after a coal seam fire was ignited at the mine, à la Centralia, Pennsylvania. Or was it really a fire? Of course it wasn’t, or we wouldn’t have a monster movie. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Devil Below”

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: Spawn of the Slithis

Venice Beach, California, looks like it was a rough place in the late 1970s. Urban decay and homelessness abound, and everything looks brown and grey. Such is the setting for Spawn of the Slithis, the 1978 monster flick from writer/director/producer Stephen Traxler. Part Creature from the Black Lagoon and part Jaws, Slithis follows high school teacher/wannabe journalist Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard), as he investigates a series of brutal mutilations in the Venice Beach area. The first victims were dogs, but it’s not long before there are human victims. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Spawn of the Slithis”

October Horrorshow: The Wretched

The Wretched, the 2019 horror film from writing/directing team Brett and Drew T. Pierce (billed as The Pierce Brothers), is something of an aesthetic throwback to the horror films of the late 1990s and early 2000s, with a little Fright Night thrown into the mix. It relies heavily on the “you have to believe me!” trope, but that’s okay. It’s a great trick horror filmmakers use to make an audience root for the main characters. We see the same things the protagonists see, so it’s frustrating to us, as much as the characters, when authority figures in the movie fail to do anything about the scary stuff and save the town. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Wretched”

October Horrorshow: Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid

So, how does a production company follow up a financially successful creature feature that surprised audiences and critics alike with its absurd watchability? By doing it all over again, but with less than half the budget. It’s almost criminal.

Anaconda, the 1997 giant snake flick starring future superstar Jennifer Lopez, ranks very high in the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index. It was shocking how so stupid a movie ended up being so entertaining. It was also something of a surprise that it took another seven years for there to be a sequel, as Hollywood is not known for passing up free money. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid”

October Horrorshow: Squirm

Squirm is an appropriate title for the 1976 horror flick from writer/director Jeff Lieberman. This is the type of horror flick intended to make a viewer’s skin crawl. In that, Lieberman and company succeeded beyond any expectations. After all, this isn’t some mid-budget horror meant for mass theatrical release. This is a low-budget horror flick made for drive-ins and grindhouses. What I mean is, how in the world could the production afford to purchase millions of worms?

That’s right. Worms. The ugliest, slimiest, biggest, fanged (yes, FANGED), worms from the soil of these great United States. All shipped to Port Wentworth, Georgia, for use in a disgusting movie shoot. I fucking love horror flicks. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Squirm”