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: Virus (1999)

Once upon a time, the moviegoing public wasn’t assaulted by an endless stream of comic book movies from Marvel and DC. Back in the dark days of 1999, the Batman cinematic franchise was on life support after Joel Schumacher finished with it, and Marvel’s properties had been farmed out to Sony. The only two movies of any significance based on comics that year was Mystery Men, which was a big budget flop, and Virus, which was an even bigger big budget flop. Both of these titles came from Dark Horse Entertainment, and may have a lot to do with the slow pace of further adaptations from the Dark Horse stable, when compared with what Marvel and DC are doing. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Virus (1999)”

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: Rawhead Rex

Some horror films live and die on spectacle. They don’t use fear of the unseen to unsettle audiences. Rather, they go all-in early. The Saw franchise went for spectacle above all else, and it worked so well for them that there are nine films in the franchise as of this writing. Aliens was another film that used spectacle. James Cameron used spectacle so well, compared to the wrought tension of Ridley Scott’s earlier film, that it’s easy to forget that an entire hour of runtime passes before audiences see the first alien. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Rawhead Rex”

October Horrorshow: Howl (2015)

When a filmmaker is given a budget of around a million pounds, certain ruthless decisions have to be made when it comes to the production. Where possible, things have to be kept to a minimum, and that can span all the way from sets, to the film’s plot.

Director Paul Hyett had only a million pounds to work with in making Howl, the 2015 werewolf flick from across the pond. Luckily, the screenplay from Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler is just as sparse as the budget (not surprising, as the two are also credited as associate producers — they were in a position to know they couldn’t write Gone with the Wind). Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Howl (2015)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Doom: Annihilation

The first Doom flick has the distinction of being the first film to ever carry the Shitty Movie Sundays moniker here at Missile Test. That movie was cheap as all get out, despite starring Dwayne Johnson during his first run at movie stardom, and an up-and-comer named Karl Urban. 2019’s Doom: Annihilation establishes a tradition of cheapness for the franchise. Despite that, this is a far more entertaining film than any direct-to-video sci-fi/action flick has any business being.

The first Doom film paid homage to its video game source material here and there, but it was never a faithful adaptation. That’s understandable, as that source material is kind of thin. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Doom: Annihilation”

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”