The Wraith, the 1986 flick from writer/director Mike Marvin, is in stiff competition with Road House for the most relentlessly ’80s movie in the Watchability Index. The music, the fashion, the bright colors, the bitchin’ cars, the way the film is shot, and the raspy-voiced presence of Charlie Sheen will all transport the viewer back to the heady days of mid-1980s Tucson, Arizona.
This film is also a throwback to the teen dramas of the 1950s. The local youths are consumed by their dramas, and, like all good teen flicks, the only adult with significant presence in the film is the local sheriff. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Wraith”
Here we go again. Dimension Films, the neglectful owners of the cinematic rights to Hellraiser, waited until the last minute to renew the rights by making another Hellraiser flick. Unlike the last time, some folks involved knew it was coming, and decided to prepare.
One day back in 2010, someone at Dimension Films, the onetime craphouse subsidiary of Miramax, noticed that the rights they owned to the Hellraiser franchise would expire unless they made and released a new film very soon. In a feat of filmmaking swiftness to rival that of Stewart Raffill, once production began, the film was in the can in three weeks. This speed also meant the screenplay, from Gary J. Tunnicliffe, was reportedly in its first, and final, draft when shooting commenced. This was enough for series icon Doug Bradley to turn down reprising the role of Pinhead. Considering how awful the previous few films in the series were, Bradley must have thought this screenplay was a real dog. And he was right.
The budget was miniscule, meaning not much could go into things like sets or locations, with the majority of the film taking place in the main character’s house. The performances felt unrehearsed and rushed, as if director Victor Garcia was prodding everyone to movie it along. But, the blood and gore effects were pretty decent for such a low-rent production. That’s all the praise I have to offer. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser: Revelations”
Like the previous three films in the Hellraiser franchise, Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld, did not begin life as a Hellraiser story. Unlike the previous three, however, Hellworld was not a rewritten spec screenplay, but an adaptation of the short story Dark Can’t Breathe by Joel Soisson, with screenwriter Carl V. Dupré shoving in all the necessary Hellraiser bits, in the form of the puzzle box and Pinhead (Doug Bradley). So, even though the source material was different, the process was relatively the same. What’s most surprising about this flick, though, is that it feels much more like a natural Hellraiser story, rather than a cut and paste job, than any of the last three flicks. Nice job, Dupré. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld”
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 reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VII: Deader”
Hellraiser V: Inferno, the neo-noir psychological horror script turned into an ersatz direct-to-video Hellraiser flick, must have been a success for Miramax and Dimension Films, because they chose to squeeze blood from a stone once more.
After a four-year layoff, Bob and Harvey Weinstein wanted another Hellraiser flick. They also didn’t want to pay a lot of money for it, so they optioned a direct-to-video film. That meant no big stars, no big budget, and a script that was clearly written as a different film and reworked to insert iconic Hellraiser bad guy Pinhead (Doug Bradley) into some scenes.
From 2000, Hellraiser V: Inferno was directed by Scott Derrickson, from a screenplay by Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. Craig Sheffer stars as police detective Joseph Thorne. He’s the protagonist of this film, but he’s not that good of a guy, which he admits in the film’s narration. He has a wife and kid at home, but rather than spend his off hours with them, he can be found trolling the streets of Denver, shaking down dealers for cocaine and paying for hookers with money stolen from the wallets of murder victims. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Hellraiser V: Inferno”
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”
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 reading “October Horrorshow: Fury of the Wolfman, aka La furia del Hombre Lobo”
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 reading “October Horrorshow: Night of the Demons (1988)”