Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VII: Deader

Hellraiser VII: Deader began life as a spec script called Deader, from screenwriter Neal Marshall Stevens, purchased by Miramax when every production company in Hollywood was still looking for the next Seven. Like with the two previous films in the Hellraiser series, the script was reworked into a Hellraiser movie, by adding the iconic puzzle box and Pinhead (Doug Bradley, as always) to scenes here and there. It’s rarely a good sign when it is obvious to viewers that a movie is a rework. Miramax, the company that owns Hellraiser, has been a poor steward for the property, shunting it off to direct-to-video releases utilizing reworked red-headed stepchild screenplays and miniscule budgets. All atmosphere and nuance from the first film have been totally excised, leaving the series anonymous and dull. What a shame. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VII: Deader”

October Horrorshow: Night of the Demons (1988)

Night of the Demons, the 1988 film from writer/producer Joe Augustyn and director Kevin Tenney, is exactly the kind of sleazy, low-budget horror flick that I expect from the 1980s. It’s not a perfect shitty horror flick, but there are numerous reasons this not-very-good movie is regarded fondly by fans of horror.

The story follows a group of teens who attend a small Halloween costume party at an abandoned funeral home, rather than hit up the lame high school dance. The host of the party is Angela (Amelia Kinkade), a student at the school who is low on the totem pole, but promises a wild night. Her idea is to have a bunch of supernatural party games to titillate and frighten the invitees. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Night of the Demons (1988)”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 4: In Space

This is the shameless, absurd piece of shit movie that I have been waiting for this series to produce. With Leprechaun 4: In Space, the filmmakers finally said, “fuck it,” and jettisoned everything that hindered this substandard horror franchise. By that, I mean Earth. The first three flicks were somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they never lived up, or down, to their potential. This film is the turning point.

Like its predecessor, Leprechaun 4 went straight to video. That was a wise decision. The opening shot — in SPACE! — has some of the worst CGI a viewer is likely to see anywhere, and it sets the tone for the rest of the film. Realism was not within the grasp of the budget, and the result would not have been acceptable for a theatrical release. That also means director Brian Trenchard-Smith was freed from the shackles of even middling expectations. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 4: In Space”

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″

October Horrorshow: Bornless Ones

“Today is the day you pay for your consequences.”

That is the line from Bornless Ones, the magnum opus from writer/director Alexander Babaev, that I think about whenever I’m about to give this flick too much praise. It’s not as if mangled idioms aren’t commonplace in film, but it’s a useful reminder that this flick ain’t The Exorcist.

From 2016, Bornless Ones is a neat take on the cabin in the woods subgenre of horror. It’s not great, though. At times it’s not even that good. It’s one of those films that improves on a well-worn idea, but finds itself weighed down by some bad dialogue and weak reads. The second half is awash in blood and gore, so it has that going for it. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Bornless Ones”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Specialist (1975)

The Specialist, 1975 movie posterMarlene Schmidt was on top of the world after winning the Miss Universe pageant in 1961. She later married TV cowboy Ty Hardin and moved to sunny California. The marriage did not last, but sometime thereafter she got the shitty movie bug, and teamed up with her new husband, Iraqi-born auteur Howard Avedis, to produce some hilarious sleaze. We here at Missile Test salute her and Howard, both. Immigrants living the American dream. Sure, they could never break into the big time, but everyone knows the fringes of the party are the best place to be.

From 1975 comes The Specialist, a neo-noir ersatz thriller adapted from a book by Ralph B. Potts. Potts also has a screenwriting credit alongside Avedis and Schmidt.

This is Potts’s only credit on IMDb. The book the film is adapted from is called Come Now the Lawyers, and, according to Potts’s obit in the Seattle Times, is a non-fiction history of the courts of the state of Washington. Only in the world of cinema could a work of history be twisted and turned into a shitty drive-in flick, with the participation of the author. It’s like Edward Gibbon working on the screenplay for Caligula. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Specialist (1975)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Death Race 2000

I’ve been cheated! The last, and only, time I saw Death Race 2000 before this latest viewing was in the far distant days of my youth, before the World Wide Web, when all snark had to be shared with those close to us. Friends, family, enemies, casual acquaintances — all near at hand to listen to our bullshit. Now, we are in the merciless grip of the Information Age, and I can share with the world the crime to which many, not just I, were subjected. For, the print I saw on television sometime during the Reagan administration had been ruthlessly cut for television. Gone was all the gratuitous nudity (understandable), but in its place, whoever prepared the film for TV had decided to just repeat footage. A viewer would watch David Carradine or Sly Stallone plow his car through a line of extras only to see the same footage again soon after. This happened many, many times. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Death Race 2000″

Shitty Movie Sundays: Naked Angels

These old biker gang flicks are hilarious. They use as a subject one of their time’s silliest moral panics — rampaging biker gangs are coming for you! — but then make an extreme effort to avoid the use of profanity. Today’s film, Naked Angels, was released in 1969. That’s well past the time when blood, gore, and nudity had become commonplace in movies made for grownups, yet the harshest word Bruce D. Clark and Marc Siegler could muster for their screenplay was ‘bitch.’ By my count, ‘bitch’ was said five times in this film, while viewers were treated to no less than six exposed breasts. Contrast that with something like Goodfellas, which had 300 ‘fucks’ and all its derivations, plus all the other profanity, but only the briefest of glances at a single nipple. What conclusions can we draw from this? Had Naked Angel gone with 1,800 ‘fucks’ to balance out its breasts, it could have had an Oscar nomination. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Naked Angels”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Angel Town

What a gloriously stupid movie. Angel Town, the 1990 ass-kicker from director Eric Karson, has an incredible start. The film opens with a montage of the bad guy, Angel (Tony Valentine), driving through East L.A. with the theme song, written and performed by a band headed by the director’s brother, playing on top of it. Then there’s a big gang fight that ends in a shooting. And THEN, the main character, Jacques (Olivier Gruner), has sex on top of his father’s grave. I shit you not, that is how this movie begins. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Angel Town”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Pick-up

Often, it can seem as if the only b-movies that get made are throwaway attempts at a quick payday, à la something produced by George Weiss or Roger Corman. Occasionally, a shitty movie will have artistic pretensions. It will a be a filmmaker’s magnum opus or a collaborative stab at something meaningful — an earnest attempt at telling a story or making a statement. Earnestness is no sure sign of success, as today’s film would attest, but it’s also not something that can be dismissed out of hand. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Pick-up”