After seeing the trailer for The Disco Exorcist, I realized I needed to see a load of director Richard Griffin’s films. Much of it is b-movie madness that will appeal to fans of trashy, campy 70s and 80s films. I’m so in. So here’s a breakdown of some of his horror films, sort of paired by themes.
Creature from the Hillbilly Lagoon and Atomic Brain Invasion
These two campy sci-fi horror creature features have something else in common; the narrating dude at the beginning of Atomic Brain Invasion mentions man fish invaders—the very problem facing the characters in Creature from the Hillbilly Lagoon.
Hillbilly Lagoon is C.H.U.D, meets Humanoids from the Deep meets Creature from the Black Lagoon, with a little Deliverance thrown in. Someone somewhere posted in a review that the director doesn’t know the difference between a hillbilly and a redneck, and I have to say, I can relate—I didn’t know there was a difference either, Richard!
Anyway, this one has it all. Toxic waste. A fish monster. Horrific gore. Horrific boobs. Eerie green lighting complemented by fog machines. Adolescent humor. And loads of cute hillbilly/redneck hybrid guys! There’s also a young gay stud into fisting and a hillbilly/redneck hybrid who would be happy just to get his fist around another dude’s wiener.
Plus, there are catch-phrases like “dirt-fucker” and “ain’t no daughter of mine gonna be a fish-fucker,” as well as an awesome overdose of campy humor as the film moves to its conclusion.
Atomic Brain Invasion is a throwback to 50s sci-fi monster movies complete with bobby sox, leather jackets (the ginge leather boy at the beginning is SO hot), and cheesy special effects. It’s loaded with satire about the era, from social morality and race relations to political issues. A bunch of kids has to save Elvis Presley from being kidnapped by aliens with brains for heads.
The film is virtually rated-PG, so if you like your b-movies with a load of blood and nudity, you weren’t born in the right era to appreciate this one! My favorite line is when a dad tells his son: “Real men like manly things like cowboys, sweat, football players, and leather.”
Splatter Disco and The Disco Exorcist
Obviously these two are together because they both have one of my favorite words in them. I knew going into this Richard Griffin marathon that these two would be two of my top picks.
Splatter Disco is right up my alley. It’s an adult fetish club slasher with Christmas cheer, sex, leather men, gays, boobs, guys on leashes, extreme violence, musical numbers in animal costumes, an awesome new wave synthpop video, Ken Foree from the original Dawn of the Dead, mint flavored sexual lubricant wrestling, spanking, scream queen Debbie Rochon, a killer in a squirrel costume, and a wicked hot electronica title song during the closing credits.
The Disco Exorcist has a classic grindhouse vibe and is virtually a porno at times. After an opening boob and blood satanic ritual, the majority of the film is sex, drugs, and disco. It’s campy, it’s uber perverted. Our leading stud spurns an evil woman, and just as his porn career is taking off, a cult of demonic wenches comes to fuck it all up.
There are cat fights on the dance floor, disco dancing, a slippery sounding porno movie theater, perfectly mimicked bad faux-70s music, curses, hands rising from the grave, tons of sex, tons of wieners, tons of boobs, tons of butts, a funny exorcist, an Anton LeVay looking satanic leader, and finally, a bitch doing the classic demonic possession routine.
Keep your ear out for the “Tubular Bells” rip off song at the end.
Pretty Dead Things and Beyond the Dunwich Horror
I grouped these two together because, well, they came together in a 2-disc set.
Pretty Dead Things is one of my favorites. Richard let’s his gay rainbow fly; this is essentially his official gay horror film. Man-on-man sexuality is blatantly expressed and one of the lead vampires is a queertastic blood sucker! The plot involves a pizza boy who, after being the torture toy of a couple of female vamps, seeks revenge! He teams up with the local religious lunatic and mayor to take down the undesirables—which means cocksuckers and bloodsuckers.
This is midnight movie perfection. There’s wiener munching, gay sex, straight sex, vampire sex, a freaky sex bar, a porn shoot gone blood orgy, a male strip club, loads of campy puns, gorgeous hottie vampire leader Rex (who also goes shirtless), a twink doing porn (straight porn, shockingly), and the darkly flamboyant gay vampire.
Beyond the Dunwich Horror combines trippy Lovecraftian goth with Richard Griffin’s twisted brand of sex and repugnance. While there’s still humor, it’s a fairly more serious b-movie about one guy who teams with a reporter to find out what happened to his mentally ill brother in the town of Dunwich.
Loaded with flashbacks of what became of the mentally ill brother, this bizarr-o flick has a ghoulishly good soundtrack, yucky gore, super awesome neon horror lighting, straight and gay sex, maggot and worm eating, a club scene featuring an old school minimal dark synth wave song, eye worship and mutilation, satanic occult rituals, and a somber conclusion.
Feeding the Masses, Raving Maniacs, and Necroville
These three get bundled together because they’re all about flesh eaters!
Feeding the Masses was Richard’s first horror flick. It’s an extremely low-budget movie (shot on video in like fifteen days) about the media trying to get the truth of a zombie outbreak to the people while the government does everything to stop that from happening.
Very much a social commentary, Feeding the Masses relies heavily on dialogue. While there are a handful of good zombie scenes, the undead are often literally just the background, seen moseying down the street over someone’s shoulder. I’ve read comments about this film hitting you over the head with its satire as compared to the masterfully subtle Dawn of the Dead, to which I say, “Dawn of the Dead beat me to a pulp with its satire!!!”
Anyway, the film mostly lacks the dark humor and icky fun perversion that Richard brings out in his other films, but there is one scene in which a hottie gets nekkid and jerks off in a peep booth while some bimbo dances for him then gets eaten by a zombie, which then gets sliced to pieces by a dude with a chainsaw as our hottie cums. Thank you, Richard…and your actor, who should get an Oscar for his performance. I could practically smell his release.
Raving Maniacs was originally going to be titled Rave to the Grave, but then Return of the Living Dead 5 came along, so they had to rename it. But they do SAY rave to the grave in Raving Maniacs.
The plot is perfectly straightforward; a group of kids heads to a rave filled with techno, sex, and drugs…one of which turns them into flesh-hungry zombies!
It takes a while for this one to pick up, but once it does, it’s sexy good and gory gross (the drug literally makes you a horny zombie). From the moment our hunky lead dude (jerk-off boy from Feeding the Masses) sees a zombie couple fucking on a bathroom floor (the guy zombie has one hot ass), it turns into zombie heaven…including an “erotic” gut-munching scene. EW!
Necroville opens with a grave rising and grisly zombies! Now that’s how you start a zombie flick! There’s also an awesome punk theme song during the opening credits: “Nobody Likes You When You’re Dead.”
Sort of like Clerks meets Shaun of the Dead, this is about a couple of slacker video store dudes (brings back memories) who get jobs at a place called Zom-B-Gone. They spend the rest of the movie taking on zombies, werewolves, vampires, and fetish freaks (beware the baby scene!).
There are whacky trips to sex clubs with all kinds of expressions of sexuality (a Griffin trademark and I LIKE it!), oodles of gore, twisted humor, zombie chainsaw slaughter—and really, do I need to go any further after I say zombie chainsaw slaughter?
Dr. Frankenstein’s Wax Museum of the Hungry Dead
It’s another zombie movie! This is one of Richard’s tightest films, IMO. It runs only about an hour and fifteen minutes and gets straight to the point. It also has a cool 80s vibe. The opening scene, from lighting to the music, is so 80s. It also features a tour of the wax museum, where we get to see some amazing displays from movies like Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and They Live.
The movie takes place in a wax museum in Salem, Massachusetts. But first, we meet our typical teenagers in detention—as their teacher reams them out and points out their obvious stereotypes. Awesome. As a punishment, he takes them to the wax museum. No, I don’t know why that’s a punishment.
Naturally, the kids decide to sneak back in after hours to have sex. And of course, the guy who runs the wax museum is plotting something dastardly! It’s very much like Re-Animator meets House of Wax. There’s plenty of humor, plenty of gut-munching and gore, but surprisingly, no nudity! There are a couple of shirtless guys, but you have to be into the hairless, starving look.
Really notable about Dr. Frankenstein’s Wax Museum of the Hungry Dead is that there is a gay couple in it—a very gay gay couple. And they have an all-out anal sex scene! There are also plenty of campy gay jokes as well.
This one is in a category of its own. For a dark 60s horror feel, it’s shot in exquisite, moody black and white (except flashback scenes, which are presented in color). It opens with creepy visuals and an Amityville-esque singing children melody that haunts the entire film.
This is truly Richard Griffin’s art piece. It’s twisted, but not in his usual raunchy, gory, humorous style. Exhumed is a seriously eerie tale about a bizarre family trapped for reasons we don’t know inside a boardinghouse where they rent rooms to outsiders.
There are dark sexual perversions portrayed with subtle nuances this time rather than exploitative campiness. There are freaky mannequins, evil murders, and an incredibly unnerving atmosphere. This spooky unfolding mystery leads to a death scene with a hammer that made me feel as queasy as the hammer scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Wow. Disturbing. And the victim was a pretty damn beautiful man. Again, wow.
In Murder University, Richard takes us back to the 80s—which is where all good 80s slashers belong! The film is set at a college in 1983, so there’s some awesome bad 80s hair and fashions, a Donkey Kong arcade machine, and even a manic 80s-style synth score.
This one is a straight-up horror comedy slasher. And the very first twist comes in the opening scene! You’ll be like, “What just happened?” Seriously.
The killers (yep, there are several of them) wear creepy devil masks and robes for a trendy satanic worshipping cult look. After the opening kills (there are several of those, too) we get a fricking awesome “Murder U” theme song that sounds like some sort of alternative rock song from the 80s.
This dude Jamie Dufault who plays Josh, the main character, completely carries the movie. He is a fantastic comic actor, unassumingly cute, and brings so much charm to this flick, which focuses mostly on him being pursued by a group of masked killers on his college campus.
There are other characters, but they are virtually incidental and pretty much disappear by the second half of the film. There’s a detective with whom Josh teams up to solve the mystery, the detective’s daughter (with whom Josh has cute chemistry), a really sexy bully, Josh’s mom, and Josh’s horny roommate, who is keeping a sexy secret….
There’s plenty of sexy fun, including opening scene nudity (girl and man boobs), a wet T-shirt contest, a gay strip club, party sex, and Josh running around in his boxer briefs. Plus, the gore is bloody—scalpings, beheadings, and brain and gut spillage. Yet the tone of the film is so playful that all the sex and gore seem to be in good fun!
The best part is, there’s virtually nothing predictable about Murder University. It has a zany plot that goes in all kinds of directions you never expect. If you’re looking for something fresh in indie slashers, this is the way to go. I just hope Jamie Dufault stars in some more horror flix. He rox.