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)”

October Horrorshow: Fury of the Wolfman, aka La furia del Hombre Lobo

Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy starred in a dozen werewolf flicks as lycanthropy-stricken Waldemar Daninsky. What’s most amazing about this film series is not that there were a dozen entries, but that they are all unrelated in regards to plot. They are all standalone films, even though the protagonist and tragic hero has the same name in each and is played by the same man. Strange things happen in the world of low-budget filmmaking.

From 1972, Fury of the Wolfman features a screenplay from the aforementioned Naschy, and he also stars as the aforementioned Daninsky. José María Zabalza handled the directing duties.

In this flick, Daninsky is a college professor recently returned from a tragic expedition to the Himalayas. There, the expedition was attacked by a Yeti and Daninsky was the only survivor. But, he is now a wolfman. Using a Yeti as the origin of a werewolf is an idea out of left field, but Naschy and company liked it so much they used it for at least one other film in the series. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Fury of the Wolfman, aka La furia del Hombre Lobo”

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”

October Horrorshow: Death Warmed Up

There’s not a lot of plot to Death Warmed Up, the 1984 horror flick from writer Michael Heath and director David Blyth. There are hints of plot here and there, but any cohesion or sense is tossed away in service of spectacle. That’s not inherently a bad thing. Story, while necessary for most films, would just have gotten in the way of this flick’s many, many, blood-spurting wounds.

A New Zealand production, Death Warmed Up follows Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst). In the film’s intro, we see Michael come under the influence of the evil Dr. Archer Howell (Gary Day), who is conducting experiments into human resurrection and mind control. After injecting Michael with his serum, Howell sends Michael to kill Michael’s parents. Michael’s father is a professional rival who threatens Howell’s experiments. After the deed is done, Michael spends the next seven years in a psychiatric hospital. The main part of the film picks up after his release. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Death Warmed Up”

It Came from the ’50s: The Manster

With a name like The Manster, it has to be shit, right?

From 1959 (but kept on a shelf until 1962), The Manster is a shitty American monster flick that looks like a joint American/Japanese production. But, it’s not. The Manster is a 100% American production that just happened to be shot in Japan, with many Japanese actors and crew. I made a point while watching this flick to go into the tubes and find out if there was a Japanese-language version of this flick shot side-by-side with the American release, à la Dracula, but there was not. That feels like something of a missed opportunity, as Japanese shitty movie fans would enjoy this piece of trash, I’m sure. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Manster”

It Came from the ’50s: Attack of the Puppet People

I am shocked by this movie. Shocked, I tell you. Bewildered. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Not because Attack of the Puppet People is a great film. Oh, no. My surprise comes from the fact that despite this being a film from Samuel Z. Arkoff’s gristmill, American International Pictures, and despite it being produced and directed by shitty movie auteur Bert I. Gordon, this film does not suck. It’s low-rent, to be sure, and there are more than a few amateurish moments scattered throughout, but this flick is at least as good as contemporary television sci-fi. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Attack of the Puppet People”

Empty Balcony: Runaway

Tom Selleck at peak mustache, Gene Simmons, THAT Gene Simmons, playing a mad scientist who has an army of killer robots, in a science fiction film written and directed by Michael Crichton? Yes, I will watch that.

From 1984, Runaway is a look into the near future, where robots are a part of everyday life. They cook our food, wash our clothes, construct our buildings, and guard our businesses. But like all machines, they aren’t perfect. That is where the dedicated men and women of the police department’s runaway squad come in. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Runaway”

October Hammershow: Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell

This is somewhat of a melancholy review for Missile Test. Not only is this the last film of this year’s Horrorshow to be directed by Terence Fisher, it is also the last film he directed, period. He directed films for a quarter of a century, sometimes putting out three or four in a year. Before I began this Horrorshow, I had never heard of Terence Fisher, but what I discovered was a workaday director who could be counted on to helm a film with care, attention to detail, and strong pace. He was in no way innovative, and his films display the difference between craft and art. Terence Fisher was a craftsman, and his trade was directing movies to make his producers money. He was very good at that, and he was very good at keeping me entertained. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell”

October Hammershow: The Horror of Frankenstein

So long, Peter Cushing! After five films over 12 years, Hammer decided to go in a different direction with 1970’s The Horror of Frankenstein, replacing the iconic, and aging, Cushing with Ralph Bates, who was an entire generation younger. Hammer also decided not to continue the jumbled and confused continuity of the previous films, going for a complete reboot of the franchise. That phrase, ‘reboot of the franchise,’ is decidedly anachronistic when applied to a film from almost fifty years ago, but it is an accurate description of what Hammer did. It’s just a new term for a practice as old as film itself. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Horror of Frankenstein”

October Hammershow: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

The title of this film is apt. The character of Frankenstein has gone through many metamorphoses from film to film in the Hammer series. In the first two, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Revenge of Frankenstein, he was an obsessive driver, unable to see that his experiments were beyond the bounds of ethics. He wasn’t an evil man, but nor was he good. He was somewhat sociopathic, oblivious to the offenses his work caused. In The Evil of Frankenstein he was a weak copy of the Frankenstein from the Universal films, which was no coincidence, as Universal distributed the film. In Frankenstein Created Woman, Frankenstein was almost benevolent, using his experiments, though twisted, to restore life to a pair of unfortunate lovers. But in today’s film, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Frankenstein is evil to the core. He extorts, kidnaps, imprisons, murders, and rapes the poor people whom he encounters. Indeed, a person like that needs to go. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed”