All ideas in film grow weary after a while. Lack of new twists, market saturation, declining quality, and a general malaise from viewership are the death knells for once-innovative methods of storytelling. By the late 1980s, it was the slasher subgenre of horror that had grown old and dusty, after only a decade or so of prominence. The result was a film like Slaughterhouse, the 1987 flick from writer/director Rick Roessler.
Don Barnett and Joe B. Barton play deranged father and son Lester and Buddy Bacon, owners of a shuttered hog slaughterhouse in rural California. Market fluctuations and a failure to modernize facilities did in their business, but Lester blames shenanigans from prominent locals for his dire straits. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Slaughterhouse”
According to the internet, so it must be true, central New Jersey community theater fixture and video store operator Gary Cohen was dismayed that customers rented so much trashy horror when there was a wealth of film history available on the shelves. His response was not to refuse to rent horror flicks, but, with friend and writing partner Paul Kaye, to make his very own trashy horror movie. On video, of course.
If one is into SOV horror, Video Violence, from 1987, is essential viewing, as it’s a common entry on various SOV lists. It follows real-life couple Art and Jackie Neill (also longtime players in central New Jersey theater) as Steven and Rachel Emory, a pair of transplants from New York City who have settled in Frenchtown, New Jersey, looking for peace and quiet. Steven gave up his dream job of owning a movie theater to open a video rental store, while Rachel left a job at a law firm to take a position in Frenchtown’s administration. Their town is not as welcoming to the newcomers as they wished, nor is it as quiet. That’s because the residents of the town have become addicted to slasher flicks, and after being desensitized to the fake stuff, they have gotten into the habit of making their very own snuff videos. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Video Violence”
How obscure is Night Ripper!, the 1986 SOV slasher flick from writer, director, and producer Jeff Hathcock? Well, it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, which is a start. More impressive, however, is the Wikipedia page of featured player Larry Thomas, famous for playing the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. The filmography section on his Wikipedia page lists every movie he’s been in with the exception of Night Ripper! Here at Missile Test, we consider that a glaring omission. Someone out there is trying to make the internet forget that he was in this dirty dog of a movie. It wasn’t Larry, as his account doesn’t list edits to his filmography. I’d add it to his page myself, but the only unpaid work I do online anymore is for this lovely website. Anyway…
Night Ripper! is not one of those SOV horror flicks that sprung from the mind of some horror fans out in flyover country. No, this is a Hollywood production, with many different departments and many different crew members. What it doesn’t have is a list of cast members in the credits alongside their corresponding character names, and only three have photos on IMDb, so I’ll be making my best guesses as to who played which role.
James Hansen (I think) plays Dave, who, along with Mitch (definitely Larry Thomas), owns a photography lab and studio. Older readers will remember this type of store, where folks could go and have their film developed, or get some glamour shots taken for their significant other. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Night Ripper!”
David A. Prior had a dream. He wanted to be a Hollywood screenwriter. According to the internet, so it must be true, Prior decided to help that dream along by making a shot-on-video horror flick that he hoped would demonstrate his potential as an employable screenwriter. And, you know what? It didn’t work! Instead, his movie was a springboard to a career as a screenwriter, AND a director, AND a producer. This was the first, and only, movie that Prior shot on videotape. After this flick, he hit the b-movie big time, shooting on 35mm film and working with production budgets in the six figures. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Sledgehammer”
Pro-tip for all you aspiring amateur filmmakers out there that are contemplating shooting an independent, low-budget horror flick on your phones: don’t short your viewers on the gore.
I’m not saying that one has to make an anatomically-correct splatter fountain like Violent Shit, but the hardest of these SOV horror flicks to watch for this year’s Horrorshow have been the movies devoid of spectacle. If there’s one thing that all these films have in common so far, its problems with their pacing. Whether it’s inexperienced storytelling or a thin screenplay, it takes an experienced shitty movie viewer to not be bored to death by these movies. That makes gore an essential element of their watchability, because it’s the most reliable way to get the audience to pay attention. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Blood Lake (1987)”
There have been some movies featured on Missile Test that have not lived up to their title, or that have had titles that are outright deceptive (I’m looking at you, Chain Gang Women). No worries with Violent Shit. The title promises violent shit, and that’s just what viewers will get. In fact, the title undersells what’s in the movie.
Hailing from West Germany, Violent Shit sprang forth from the mind of writer, director, producer, and special effects technician Andreas Schnaas. In his early twenties at the time of filming, Schnaas roped in his friends for a few weekends of shooting in and around Hamburg in 1989. The result is a bloody disgusting SOV horror flick that never would have made it past the traditional censors. The gore in this movie is not that realistic, but it contains imagery that’s nasty enough to make one’s stomach turn. For instance, one of the first victims in this film has his penis cut off in graphic fashion, and I rank that as the third-most disturbing moment in the film. One of the characters had a death that is right up there with the real-life killing of Mary Jane Kelly at the hands of Jack the Ripper. (Read the description of her post-mortem to get an idea of how this scene plays out.) Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Violent Shit”
One of the best things about these SOV horror flicks (best being a relative term) is that since these movies were never intended for theatrical release, they weren’t subject to censorship imposed by the prudes at the MPAA. Supporters of the ratings system would maintain that ratings exist merely as a guide, and it is the filmmakers themselves that alter their films in pursuit of a favorable rating. That’s the rub, though, isn’t it? The MPAA’s ratings can mean life or death for a film in theaters, as theater owners have proven reluctant to showcase films with an NC-17 rating or no rating at all, and even R-rated films are regularly cut to lower ratings in pursuit of teenaged dollars. Quite frankly, how dare any organization like the MPAA tell a filmmaker what they can and can’t have in a movie, on threat of making it financially unviable? Anyway… Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Splatter Farm”
What a splatterific, nonsensical mess of a horror flick. I loved it.
Blood Rage, the 1987 slasher flick spearheaded by producer Marianne Kanter, is exactly the kind of cheap and sleazy film horror junkies have come to expect from the era. The horror genre has had many golden eras, and it’s little films like Blood Rage, rather than the big franchises, that cement the 1980s as amongst the goldiest of the goldy.
Welcome to the 14th Annual October Horrorshow here at Missile Test, when the site is dedicated to reviewing horror films for an entire month. This year features a mix of random horror films and themed reviews. The theme this year is It Came from the Camcorder, wherein we dive into the strange world of low-budget horror flicks shot on videotape. These movies were never released theatrically, and represent some of the worst moviemaking one is likely to see. But, these movies represent a true cinematic ideal of perseverance. These auteurs and the other people that worked on these movies let nothing, not Hollywood, not money, not expectations, stand in the way of making their movies. Every finished movie represents an heroic effort, and I’m glad to play a small part in helping to spread awareness that these movies exist, and have not simply gone quietly into that good night. The first camcorder flick is a real doozy. Enjoy.
Going into this year’s Horrorshow, Missile Test was aware of how much of a slog a month’s worth of shot-on-video horror would represent. Lucky us, then, that the first SOV horror flick of the month would be so outrageous, hilarious, and watchable, despite it being a mangy mutt of a movie.
From 1987 comes Killing Spree, the fourth feature from writer/director Tim Ritter. Coming right in the middle of the era of SOV horror, Killing Spree is a fantastic benchmark through which a viewer can judge whether or not they appreciate this wild subgenre of film. It has just about everything one could expect or want from the shittiest of horror films. It has the muddled look of being shot on magnetic tape, the muddled sound of a stock microphone attachment, a script that never would have been approved for a Hollywood shoot, a cast full of amateurs, a synthesized soundtrack that could have been made on a toy Casio keyboard, special effects that are outrageous but the opposite of convincing, and no regard for the way movies are supposed to be made. This is outsider art. It may not be good art, but it’s a gigantic middle finger to big time cinema, and we here at Missile Test love nonconformity. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Killing Spree”
Forget everything one might know about the lore of the Halloween franchise. Forget the events of Halloween II, wherein it is revealed that series icon Laurie Strode is series bad guy Michael Myer’s sister. Forget that Jamie Lloyd, the child protagonist of a number of the sequels, is Laurie Strode’s daughter. Forget that Jamie Lloyd was retconned and Laurie Strode had an entirely different family in Halloween H20. Forget that Laurie Strode was killed off in the next film. And for goodness sake, forget everything about the ‘man in black’ subplots. Then, forget the Rob Zombie remakes. Forget it all, because the people behind the Halloween franchise have thrown everything out but the first film. It’s a retcon on a grand scale, erasing 39 years of bad movies so the original Halloween, John Carpenter’s master slasher flick, could get a proper sequel.
It’s forty years to the day since the tragic events depicted in Halloween. The murders of so many of her friends, and her narrow escape from Michael Myers, has left Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) something of a shattered person. Her adult life has been dominated by a combination of PTSD, paranoia, and doomsday prepping. Somewhere in there she managed to have a daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), who has a daughter of her own, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Karen and Allyson aren’t exactly estranged from Laurie, but there is a lot of tension. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Halloween (2018)”