Many creative people hail from the rusted industrial corpse of Akron, Ohio. Some of them even get famous. Musicians, mostly. But, when it comes to filmmakers, there is one name, and one name, only, associated with Akron. And it’s not Jim Jarmusch, despite what the list of people from Akron on Wikipedia would suggest. This filmmaker has not only made more movies than Jarmusch (who I like as a filmmaker, by the way), but made many of them in his good ole hometown. His name is J.R. Bookwalter.
His first feature, released in 1989, is the classic low-budget, ultra-gory Dead Next Door. Produced, written, and directed by Bookwalter, production began in the summer of 1985 when Bookwalter pitched Sam Raimi on the film. Raimi, gaining an executive producer credit, agreed to pony up the cash, and shooting began in spring of 1986 after some fits and starts. More problems cropped up, as often happens in productions like this, but the majority of the film was in the can by that autumn. 1987 and 1988 were for reshoots, more tinkering, and editing. Finally, sweet release on video in November of 1989. That’s a labor of love, folks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Dead Next Door”
Could lightning strike in the same place twice? Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento must have thought so. It only took them a few months after the release of Demons to start work on a sequel, hoping to mirror the success of the first film. How did they plan on doing so? By remaking the first film.
Released just a year after Demons, in 1986, Demons 2 sees the return of Lamberto Bava in the director’s chair, working from a screenplay credited to Argento, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti, and Bava, himself. The previous film had set up a sequel at the end, where the demon-possessed zombies of the first film escaped the doomed theater and spread across the city of Berlin, and it is implied that civilization itself is collapsing. Bava and company decided not to build on this. Instead, Demons 2 takes place in an apartment building in Hamburg. The events of the first film are alluded to, but that’s about it. Continue reading “Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Demons 2, aka Dèmoni 2... l’incubo ritorna”
I praised Lucio Fulci for his storytelling in Manhattan Baby. But, truth be told, I wouldn’t mind it at all if every film I watched for The Italian Horrorshow were as wild and unhinged as Lamberto Bava’s Demons, from 1985. Bava proved with his film that it isn’t necessary to have a complex, or even coherent, plot for a horror flick to be a success. In fact, this jumble of sensory overload is one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen from one of horror’s golden ages. Continue reading “Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Demons, aka Dèmoni”
According to Lloyd Kaufman, so some of it is probably true, Pericles Lewnes and George Scott wandered into the offices of Troma one day in the late 1980s with a finished movie they wanted Troma to distribute. Kaufman and his business partner Michael Herz agreed, on the condition that Lewnes take on unpaid work at Troma to work off the money Kaufman was sure this movie would lose for the company. And, thus, Redneck Zombies was unleashed upon the world.
Directed by Lewnes from a screenplay that has to be a pseudonym for either he or Scott, Fester Smellman, Redneck Zombies is one of the more ambitious efforts, gore-wise, that has been featured in It Came from the Camcorder. In tone, it fits right into the Troma stable, as Lewnes was very much a fan of their work. As the title implies, this movie is about zombies, who happen to be rednecks. Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: Redneck Zombies”
Zombies have been portrayed in every which way from here to Timbuktu. It’s not necessary for a filmmaker to have a unique take on zombies in order to make a successful zombie film. When they do bring some new quality to the old trope, it instantly makes the film better. The Video Dead, the 1987 b-horror flick from writer, director, and producer Robert Scott, doesn’t have a lot of zombies, but they all have distinct personalities, and the way they are introduced is quite fun.
Famous writer Henry Jordan (Michael St. Michaels) is minding his business at home one morning when a delivery van arrives with a crate. Inside is a ratty television that, unbeknownst to Jordan, was supposed to be delivered to the Institute for the Studies of the Occult. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Video Dead”
What’s great about a zombie flick is that it doesn’t need much of a plot to be a success. It can just lurch from set piece to set piece until the main cast is winnowed down enough to call it a day. That makes zombies a perfect subject matter for Italian director Lucio Fulci.
Zombi 3 is the 1988 entry in a film series that requires its own Wikipedia page to make sense of. According to the internet, so it must be true, the screenplay was developed by Rossella Drudi, but it was her husband, Claudio Fragasso, who got the credit. Lucio Fulci is the only credited director, but, again according to the internet, he delivered a 70-minute cut that producer Franco Gaudenzi was not happy with. So, Gaudenzi enlisted Fragasso and Bruno Mattei to carry out reshoots, with Fragasso handling most of the work. The result is an 84-minute long film that makes up for its lack of cohesion with a boatload of blood and guts. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Zombi 3″
Sniper Corpse or Corpse Sniper…whatever this thing is called, thank goodness for the bottom feeding filmmakers that will let nothing, from lack of a good screenplay, lack of talented actors, lack of a budget, and lack of storytelling skill, keep them from making their movie. The art of film is being preserved by these creators that love movies, that see what makes the big screen, good and bad, and think to themselves, “I can do that. How hard could it be?”
From writer, director, and producer Keith R. Robinson, Sniper Corpse tells the story of Diane Keeley (Eleri Jones), an English war widow whose husband was killed in action a couple of years previously. Things got snafued, as they are wont to do in the military, and the British Army lost her husband’s corpse. It turns out they’ve lost a number of corpses of late, and Diane takes it upon herself to find out what’s going on. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Sniper Corpse, aka Corpse Sniper”
Ah, zombie flicks. So many possibilities, and so many variations. The basics are always there, with tweaks as required by the storytellers. It’s a subgenre of horror that’s so versatile that filmmakers have to truly work hard to make something that’s unwatchable. No worries, there, with 2018’s The Night Eats the World. This is a fine entry into the oeuvre of the undead.
I liked Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake. I thought it was a fine modern entry in the zombie subgenre of horror, helping make the creatures scary again. The heavy lifting may have been done by 28 Days Later a few years earlier, but it can’t be denied that Snyder’s film is one of the reasons zombie films and television shows remain popular today. Dawn of the Dead was also the last Zack Snyder film I’ve enjoyed. Every subsequent film he’s made since then, from 300 to this year’s Army of the Dead, has been a joyless slog — the knock from critics, and even fans, being that Snyder makes visually interesting, even gorgeous, films, but they suffer from too much length. The consensus is that Snyder’s lack of storytelling discipline is an issue, but not one that is fatal to his vision. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Army of the Dead”
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.