Retro horror film review

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

bloodrage

By Nick Durham

You guys want to see an 80s slasher that features an assload of gory moments, murderous twins, and a young Ted Raimi in a cameo as a dude selling condoms in a bathroom?

If your first question is what's a condom?, well...we're in the same boat. I don't know what they are either, but I do know what a Ted Raimi is. My preferred choice of birth control is what I call the Ted Raimi, where right before I'm about to blow a load I start chanting I'LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL and that's when my partner runs away screaming. No babies for me.

Anyway, Blood Rage is a cheap slasher flick that was filmed in 1983, but not officially released until 1987 in a heavily edited version that was even re-titled Nightmare at Shadow Woods for some reason. The story revolves around twins named Todd and Terry (both played by Mark Soper), of which Terry is a crazed killer that has blamed Todd for a gruesome murder when they were young. In the years that followed, Todd has been institutionalized while Terry has led a pretty nice life while being smothered by his mother (Louise Lasser). Things come to a head though when Todd escapes, and Terry goes on a blood-thirsty rampage for shits and giggles.

As I had said before, Blood Rage was heavily edited upon its eventual release, and it's easy to see why. This film is a flat out fucking bloodbath literally from its beginning to the end. Some of the effects are pretty good for their time, and some of them...well, they weren't then, and definitely aren't now. Still, there are some inventive kills, and the film walks a fine line between being tongue in cheek and ridiculously mean-spirited. The film's story is fairly predictable, but it's surprisingly well-acted for what it is.

The wonderful folks at Arrow Films have unleashed another shockingly spectacular Blu-ray release. A three disc limited edition set, the Blood Rage Blu-ray set features three (!) versions of the film that encompass its uncensored version and edited cuts, along with a shitload of commentaries and interviews as well. The film itself has been restored in 2K HD, and it looks wonderful to say the least. Arrow seriously literally overdid themselves bringing Blood Rage home.

To wrap things up, Blood Rage is a fairly entertaining and somewhat forgotten slasher that has received a brilliant Blu-ray set release from Arrow Films. The features and overall presentation of this set make Blood Rage worth picking up by itself alone. This is by and far worth your time and money, and you should probably act soon and pick it up while you can, because when Arrow calls something a limited edition, they're not fucking around. Grab this while you can.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Hand (1981)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hand (1981)

Hand-Poster

By Nick Durham

Did you know that Oliver Stone has a background in horror films? That's right, the same guy behind critical darlings like Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Natural Born Killers, and W once wrote and directed a horror film starring Michael Caine about a murderous severed hand. While that brief description that I've just given about The Hand sounds quite visceral, the film is actually much more of a psychological thriller than a typical slasher flick. Not to mention the fact that it is very well made, well acted, and generally not bad one bit either.

Caine plays a comic book artist named Jon (whose work is actually drawn by legendary Marvel and Conan penciler Barry Windsor-Smith) with a wife and child, who ends up losing his drawing hand in a freakish car accident. Eventually things go from bad to worse as Jon begins a descent into darkness as strange things start happening, and even some bodies start to pile up. Is Jon crazy? Or is his severed hand wrecking havoc on all those that come upon it? While I'm sure you can figure that out on your own, the film actually does a decent job asking the viewer if Jon's become a crazed killer, or if his severed appendage has taken on a murderous life of its own.

If there's any drawbacks or flaws with The Hand, it's that the film is fairly predictable. It follows a lot of clichés and you can pretty much guess what's going to unfold next. That being said though, this film is shockingly well made. Say whatever you want about Oliver Stone's filmography, but from a technical standpoint, his work is usually pretty damn top notch. The Hand is no different. It is well-filmed, well-shot, and very well-acted. Michael Caine is damn good...probably because he's Michael fucking Caine. There's solid performances all around (well, mostly that is), and when the film has its graphic moments, they are surprisingly nasty.

So yeah, Oliver Stone wrote and directed a horror movie once upon a time. If you've never seen, let alone heard of, The Hand before, I suggest tracking it down and checking it out. It's a shame that Stone didn't do more in the horror realm; I for one would have really liked to see what else he could do in the genre.

Rating: 3.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Eaten Alive (1980)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Eaten Alive (1980)

By Nick Durham

eaten alive

When you find a movie called Eaten Alive, there's probably two thoughts as to what kind of movie it is that pop in your head: is this a cannibal movie, or is it a fucking porno? Wait what? There is a cannibal movie called Eaten Alive? Okay, that makes sense I guess. What else is it? There's like over a hundred porno movies that have some variation of the phrase Eaten Alive in it? Okay, that makes sense too I guess. No matter what type of Eaten Alive strikes your fancy, I think you'd be better off with either the cannibal one, or any of the porno ones, than you would be with this fucking thing.

Anyway, Eaten Alive is Tobe Hooper's 1977 follow up to his landmark smash hit The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Only instead of revolving around chainsaw-wielding inbred hillbilly cannibal maniacs, this revolves around...well, inbred hillbilly maniacs and a giant fucking crocodile. The crocodile lives next door to a run down hotel owned by the mentally deranged Judd (Neville Brand), who often supplies the croc with fresh victims of those that cross his path. We get to meet a variety of people, including a fucked up couple (William Finley and Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre lead Marilyn Burns) and a dude named Buck (a pre-A Nightmare on Elm Street Robert Englund) that likes to do stuff that begins with the letter F and ends with -uck.

Okay, let's just get this out of the way: Eaten Alive is a terrible movie. I know this film has its fans, but holy fucking hell I can't stand this flick. Usually I wholeheartedly enjoy this kind of shit, but there's always been something about Eaten Alive that has rubbed me the wrong way. Whether it's the overall tone of the film to the fact that when compared to the magic Hooper made with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, this thing just can't compare. It almost comes off as being an ill-conceived parody of monster movies and backwoods living...without any laughs. Plus, it just drags on and on and on and feels like that it is NEVER going to end.

Now I could spend all day shitting on this movie, but I won't, because somehow this managed to get a wonderful Blu-ray release. Arrow Films, whom I worship day and night, has provided Eaten Alive with a fantastic physical media release here, more than this fucking movie deserves. The film's picture and sound have been remastered, a commentary by one of the film's writers and a couple actors (curiously nothing on the commentary from Tobe Hooper or Robert Englund), a new introduction from Hooper, new and vintage interviews with Hooper, Englund, and Marilyn Burns, and a featurette about the story of Joe Ball; the real-life Texas bar owner that the film is loosely based upon. Yes, Arrow has packed in a shitload of features for this fuckfest for some odd reason, don't ask me why.

To wrap things up here, I really dislike Eaten Alive something fierce. That being said, if you are a fan of this film, this Blu-ray release from Arrow Films is definitely worth picking up just for the special features alone. There's no denying that Arrow has given this film a treatment that it really doesn't deserve, but if you somehow enjoy this flick, by all means pick this release up. For the rest of us, we can keep pretending this movie never happened, just like Tobe Hooper has been pretending the past few films he's directed never happened either.

Rating: 2/5 (but the Blu-ray is super-mega-crocodile-tits)

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: Near Dark (1987)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: Near Dark (1987)

By Nick Durham

Near-Dark

One of the films that always finds its way on my TV is Near Dark. While most tend to think of The Lost Boys as an 80s vampire film classic, I, in all honesty, have never, ever liked that fucking movie. Call it blasphemy or what you will, but no, The Lost Boys doesn't mean shit to me.

Near Dark does.

Released in 1987 and directed by Kathryn Bigelow before she became an Oscar winning, Hollywood darling with films like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty (and even before she directed action favorites like Point Break and Strange Days), she directed this nasty little gem written by Eric Red (The Hitcher). Starring a variety of James Cameron vets (and Aliens stars) including Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jeanette Goldstein, Near Dark tells the story of Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) whom, in the process of chasing a girl (Jenny Wright), falls in with her group of vampires. Yeah, it sounds almost exactly like the plot of The Lost Boys, but minus the Corey duo and ups the ante on blood and nastiness...and it also has ten times the heart.

Now I keep making the Lost Boys comparisons because while that film was a massive hit, Near Dark definitely was not. It had some time on VHS before disappearing to obscurity, only to be released on DVD for the first time ever a decade or so ago by Anchor Bay, and was thus rediscovered by many. Now recognized as a cult classic and unique to the vampire genre for a number of reasons (the V-word is never said once, there's no typical vampire-lore stuff, and the blend of horror and western elements is just plain awesome), this is something I pop in every October like clockwork.

If you've never seen Near Dark, I can't recommend it enough. Granted some elements of it haven't aged all that well as the years have gone by, but this is my go-to vampire movie for the Halloween season year after year. You should make it yours too.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Jungle Holocaust (1977)

MOVIE REVIEW: Jungle Holocaust (1977)

Ultimo Mondo Cannibale

By Nick Durham

JunlgeHolocaust3
I've been on a bit of a cannibal kick lately. This is mostly because of the looming release of Eli Roth's much-maligned The Green Inferno, but in all honesty, that's beside the point. The cannibal film, much like the giallo, is a seemingly lost sub-genre of horror that experienced a boom back in the day, but has sadly been all but forgotten in recent years. Going back over the many cannibal films of years past, I came across Jungle Holocaust. Released before the more infamous Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox, Jungle Holocaust isn't remembered all that fondly. However, there's good reason that Jungle Holocaust isn't as revered as either of its more well-known brethren...

...and it's because it fucking sucks.

Directed by future Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato, Jungle Holocaust tells the story of an oil prospector named Robert Harper who, along with a couple others, lands in the middle of the jungle. Before you can say "what's cooking", Robert runs afoul of a cannibal tribe that proceeds to capture and humiliate him, which ranges from being stripped naked to having his dick fondled (seriously) to witnessing the fine delicacies of cannibalism. There're also assorted moments of rape, animal death, and hilariously dubbed voices as well. This is a cannibal movie after all, what the fuck else would you expect?

Anyway, it isn't long before a native girl frees Robert (and gives him a handjob...before he rapes her later on...which she seems totally okay with...because reasons) and they're on the run, with the cannibals on their heels. Will Robert ever make it home? Do we even care? Fuck no, because he's so fucking unsympathetic that it isn't even funny. Granted I usually wish everyone involved in these films meets a brutal and gory death, but this guy in particular? Eat him. Eat him alive. Eat him until you're all full. Fuck, I'll carve off a piece, too, if I have to. I like to participate in group activities after all.

The only thing really notable at all about Jungle Holocaust is that Ruggero Deodato made this before Cannibal Holocaust, which I already mentioned. That's pretty much it. It's a shit movie plain and simple. Even the actual cannibal action is lacking. For a movie of its type, it is nowhere near as graphic or unflinching as others of its ilk. Well, then again, it does claim to be a "true story" (seriously), so I guess that's something?

Yeah, this is a true story...and those actors aren't dubbed either. I hope the handjob that the real Robert Harper (I can't believe I just fucking typed that) received in the jungle made the whole ordeal worth the trip. So, yeah, let's just ignore that shall we?

If you're new to the cannibal genre, don't put Jungle Holocaust high on your watch list. It's notable only because Ruggero Deodato learned his lessons from this as shown in the monumental Cannibal Holocaust a few years later, and that's pretty much it. Oh, and the look on the female native's face while giving the previously mentioned handjob is unintentionally hilarious, so I guess there's that too.

Fuck this movie.

Rating: 1.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 2 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust

By Dixielord

Cannibal Apocalypse

I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of horror movies of the 70s and 80s. I'm especially fond of those low budget schlockers from the period, and even more so those films branded as a Video Nasty. I have been a fan of the zombie films of the period for a long time and have recently started searching out the Italian cannibal movies from around the same time. This search lead me to Cannibal Apocalypse.

At first I thought this was going to be just another cannibal epic set deep in the jungles of New Guinea, or the Amazon, a la Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox. However doing some research Cannibal Apocalypse turned out to be something entirely different.

Cannibal Apocalypse stars horror legend John Saxon as Gordon Hopper, a Viet Nam vet still haunted by a traumatic event during the war. In a dream we see him flash back to Viet Nam, where he is bitten by one of two captured service men, one of whom he knew from back home. He wakes up to get a call from one of the soldiers, Charlie Bukowski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) who has just been released from a mental hospital.

Bukowski wants to meet up with his war buddy for coffee. However, Hopper, disturbed by the dream, and being hit on by his (possibly underage) neighbor Mary, refuses. Bukowski feeling abandoned and betrayed again, set off on his own. After attacking a woman in a movie theater, he goes on a rampage, killing several people and biting a police officer before being subdued and carted back to the mental hospital. Meanwhile, Hopper has been experiencing a desire for raw meat. He breaks out Bukowski and two other infected, Thompson (who bit Hopper) and an infected nurse. The four fugitives then lead police in a chase across Atlanta and into the cities sewers, spreading the cannibal contagion as they go.

Cannibal Apocalypse is a strange film on many fronts. While ostensibly it belongs to the European Cannibal sub genre, it many ways it's closer to the zombie movies of the same time period. It treats cannibalism similar to the zombie virus, as it can be transferred through a bite. However, it's set mostly in the city of Atlanta where most European zombie and cannibal films of the period were set deep in the jungle.

While Cannibal Apocalypse is far from bloodless, it is relatively tame in the gore department, especially for a video nasty. Honestly, watching it I never really understood why this film would be banned, other than the fact it dealt with cannibalism. Director Antonio Margheriti isn't so much known for gore but more for gothic horror, and it's believed producers pushed him to add gore just for commercial reasons. The gore that the film has is good, the bites are deep and bloody, and there is a shot gun killing that goes on forever with bloody consequence.

The film borrows heavily in some scenes from Dawn of the Dead, which is only fitting since Dawn was the founder of the Italian gore craze of the era. There is a shoot out with a gang in a flea market. In another nod to Dawn, a large part of the second half is a group of four people on the run, a group of one black man, two white men and a white woman, the same makeup as the main group in Dawn. Even the wardrobes of Saxon and Actress May Heatherly seem eerily similar to Gaylen Ross and David Emge of Dawn. There were times that looking at May, I thought, “Damn, she really looks a lot like Gaylen.”

You could even posit that Cannibal Apocalypse is a reverse copy of Dawn. In Dawn of the Dead we follow a group of uninfected as they flee, seeking shelter from the infected undead. In Apocalypse, it's reversed with a group of infected (soldiers versus police) fleeing from those not rabid for human flesh.

Even though technically this is a European Cannibal film borrowing heavily from the zombie genre, it's more than a horror film. Beyond all this Cannibal Apocalypse is a movie about the Vietnam War and its effects on the men who fought it.

John Saxon's Hopper is a vet who outwardly seems normal and healthy, but inside he's haunted by his time in the jungle. He dreams about it at night and in the day time struggles with the blood lust (represented by cannibalism), that he needed to survive the war. Fellow vets Bukowski and Thompson aren't as lucky. After being held prisoner by the Vietcong, their minds have broken, their blood lust is uncontrollable. Coming home, they are locked away and forgotten, even by their comrade Hopper.

After Bukowski is “cured” all it takes is a war movie and an act of sexuality to fully reawaken his rage and hunger. Being in the presence of his fellow vets causes Hopper's fragile, but well maintained control to break

You could make the case that Cannibal Apocalypse is a condemnation not only of the Vietnamese War but of war in general. War, where we take young men, teach them how to kill, but when the war's over we don’t teach them how to not kill anymore. We drop them into hell and force them to adapt, then expect them to adapt easily back into normal life. Those who can't end up locked away, or more so recently, living on the streets.

While Cannibal Apocalypse might not be great, high cinema, it is certainly a better film than many of the video nasties. That's not meant as a knock to those films, many of which I truly love, but a lot of them were made for purely shock value and to make a quick buck. There's a story to Cannibal Apocalypse, and it's a damn good story worth watching and worth talking about - especially today with our country involved in wars and rumors of war, with our streets, and hospitals overcrowded with wounded vets. Today, when soldiers are dying faster by their own hands than the hands of their enemies, and there's no answer for PTSD in sight.

Cannibal Apocalypse will never have the impact of films like Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, or Born on the Fourth of July, but for a gory horror film, it's pretty damn deep.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: The Green Slime (1969)

Before The Andromeda Strain. Before Alien. Before Armageddon.
There was The Green Slime.

By Woofer McWooferson

The Green Slime movie poster

The Green Slime movie poster

Director: Kinji Fukasaku; Writers: Bill Finger (screenplay) (as William Finger), Ivan Reiner (story) , Tom Rowe (screenplay) , Charles Sinclair (screenplay); Stars: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel; Rating: G; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1969

“Nothing exciting ever happens around here.” Words that any moviegoer knows is a trigger for something exciting to happen – but not usually the kind of excitement that the characters would enjoy. In The Green Slime, the excitement comes in the form of an asteroid breaking out of orbit and hurtling toward Earth at a phenomenal rate. Earth's only hope is to blast apart the asteroid, and the only man capable of successfully heading that mission is the soon to be retired Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton). With less than ten hours to destroy the asteroid, Rankin is on his way to the space station headed up by his former partner Commander Vince Elliot (Richard Jaeckel). In an awkward love triangle that is edited out of the Japanese version, Rankin's ex is one of the station's doctors, Dr. Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi), and she is currently with Elliot. Can these two commanders overcome their rivalry and join together to save Earth?

There's more than one threat from this asteroid, though, and our hapless astronauts are unaware of the danger they face. After saving Earth from the asteroid, the crew returns to the station to undergo decontamination – three times. They have unwittingly returned with a hitchhiker, and soon the space station is under attack by the green slime that lived on the surface of the asteroid. Once again Rankin and Bass – er – Rankin and Elliot must work together to save Earth.

There is a reason that MST3K chose The Green Slime for their pilot/promo episode, and that reason is that The Green Slime has it all – major and more major threat, technical jargon, harried ground control, dashing astronauts, a doctor who wants to save the slime for SCIENCE, and the woman who loved both commanders. Not only that, The Green Slime comes with a funky theme song that has a good beat and you can dance to it.

BONUS FACT: Director Kinji Fukasaku also directed Battle Royale, Battle Royale II, and the Japanese segments of Tora! Tora! Tora!

5/10 claws – cheesy goodness for everyone! Invite your friends, but don't forget the green slime cheese topping!

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments