Cheap, irreverent, gory, and gloriously stupid. If there are four descriptors essential to a successful SOV horror flick, those are it. Prolific shitty movie writer/director/producer Jeff Leroy’s 2000 flick, The Screaming, has all of those, in decent proportion. Although, I don’t think it would have hurt matters any to have a bit more gratuitous nudity. But, that’s a personal preference.
The Screaming stars Vinnie Bilancio (who also has a producer and production design credit) as Bob Martin, a Marlboro enthusiast and graduate student in anthropology at an unnamed southern California university (the university was played by CSU, Long Beach). Like many graduate students, Bob is flat broke, and thus has to take the cheapest off-campus housing he can find. In this case, it’s a single room in the back of a house owned by blonde bombshell Crystal (Wendi Winburn). Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: The Screaming”
This one’s for the gore hounds. This flick is for those who like melting faces, popped eyeballs, severed tongues, crucifixion, putrefaction, red blood, yellow ooze, brown goo, and don’t mind one bit that the plot has all the narrative consistency of getting blackout drunk. But, that’s okay. If an Italian horror flick had a plot one could follow, would it still be an Italian horror flick?
There’s nothing quite like a creepy old house for atmosphere. Even better when it’s a stately pile — a relic of the gilded age whose halls were once filled with scurrying servants and aloof aristocracy. They were the engines of their own destruction, but what pleasant ruins they have left behind.
The scene of The Cellar, from writer/director Brendan Muldowney, isn’t on the scale of a Victorian-era English country home from Henry James, or the mansion from The Changeling, but it is a house with ceilings high enough for a game of pickup basketball, and wood molding everywhere. At some time in the last century, a house like this — one built with care and craftsmanship — became a place that has a sense of unease about it. Perhaps we’ve gotten too used to the plain boxes that accompanied the post-WW2 population explosion. Or, perhaps, we see a once-grand residence on its downward slope and the weight of years and events that happened there is too much to consider. So much life passed through there, and so long ago, that an old house is a reminder of death. No matter. I’d live in a place like this film’s Fetherston House in a heartbeat (interiors and exteriors were shot at a house in Roscommon, Ireland). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Cellar (2022)”
It’s tough watching a movie lose it in the final act. Whereas a film that shows little promise at the start, but then builds and builds to something special at the end, is always a pleasant surprise, a film that stumbles to the finish after a strong start can’t help but be a disappointment. Much hard work, good acting, and fine storytelling is, if not wasted by a poor ending, at least squandered somewhat. I can’t say that Jennifer Reeder and company should have just packed it all in if this was the best ending they could come up with, but I would like to see what they could have done given another chance, and maybe a couple extra bucks in the effects budget. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Night’s End”
It’s Hellraiser…in SPAAAAACE!. Sort of. Unlike the other franchises that have sent their killer antagonists into the future, Hellraiser IV: Bloodline, the 1996 entry in the Hellraiser series, only takes place partially out in the black. Most of the film takes place either in 18th century France, or contemporary New York City. It would be disappointing, as I was looking forward to watching Hellraiser turn into an Alien ripoff, but this is one ambitious shitty movie, so not all was lost.
Bloodline had a checkered path to the silver screen. There were many creative disputes, crew dismissals, and general miserableness. To add to the troubles, after the film was delivered to Miramax, reshoots were demanded, and the film’s director, Kevin Yagher, quit. When the film was finally released, Yagher didn’t want his name on it, so the film’s credited director is Alan Smithee, that wonderful DGA pseudonym for directors who went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came home. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline”
Like the previous Children of the Corn flick, this fifth entry in the series, subtitled Fields of Terror, features a future star in the cast, in Eva Mendes. But, that’s not all. There’s also a lesser Arquette and a Zappa progeny. The best part is, all this is wrapped up in a package more in tune with the ley lines of shitty cinema — more aware that bad movies survive on spectacle, and less on good intentions.
One thing we love here at Missile Test is spotting a former A-list star slumming it in a low-rent shitty movie. There’s nothing mean-spirited about it. We like low-rent shitty movies quite a lot, so we feel blessed when the inevitable career turn occurs, and former Oscar-winners and contenders are forced to make due in productions of lesser means and artistic intent. But, what we like even more is when a low-rent shitty movie features a future A-lister — a performer who has yet to prove they have the talent to take them out of the muck. Rookie performers such as these often do the best job in the film, and raise its overall watchability, without having too much of a negative effect on its shittiness. Preserving that je ne sais quoi is important for the shitty movie fan.
There wasn’t much hope here at Missile Test for Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest. While we did enjoy the previous film in the series, barely, Urban Harvest marks a transition for the franchise, as the films moved from theatrical releases to productions made specifically for the home video market. As any shitty movie veteran can tell you, they don’t send Oscar contenders direct to video. Director James D.R. Hickox seemed to know this (thank goodness), so what viewers lose in quality, Hickox makes up for in gore. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest”
It was a bold decision by the producers of the second Children of the Corn movie to place the word “Final” in the subtitle. Most horror series defer that kind of certitude until the fourth movie, at least. Perhaps they never envisioned that their property would ramble on as a direct-to-video franchise, and this flick was supposed to be a one-shot deal. After all, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice was released in 1992, eight years after the first film. That pace is a little sluggish if one is looking to spawn a franchise of shitty horror movies. Anyway…
Final Sacrifice, despite that wide gap in release dates, takes place in the aftermath of the first film. Apparently, after the protagonists of that film made good their escape from the small town of Gatlin, Nebraska, they did the right thing and called the cops. Authorities swarming over Gatlin is how this film opens. With the baddies of the first film, Isaac and Malachai, done away with, everyone thinks that the evil influence they had on the children of Gatlin is gone, as well. The remaining children are taken into the homes of adults in nearby Hemingford, while they await permanent placement with surviving relatives, should any be found. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice”
This is a film that gave birth to ten, count them, ten, sequels and reboots? This mediocre, slapdash, and, at times, lazy film made enough money to spawn a franchise? There really is no accounting for taste.
From way back in 1984 comes the original Children of the Corn, an adaptation of a Stephen King short story. King worked up a draft for a screenplay, but producers ultimately went with a pile of pages written by George Goldsmith, with first-time director Fritz Kiersch at the helm. Kiersch was handed a budget of around $800k, and his gobbledegook somehow managed to rake in over 14 million bucks at the box office. That’s on us, folks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Children of the Corn (1984)”