Just a brief mish-mosh of odd and ends from the VHS era this time around: a Fulci film, an HP Lovecraft adaptation, and a “family” horror flick.
MANHATTAN BABY (1982)
It’s hard to comprehend that Lucio Fulci followed his streak of City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, and House by the Cemetery with this snoozefest, which is simply a mashup of The Exorcist and Poltergeist if they both had all the horror sucked out of them.
An archaeologist and his family visit an Egyptian tomb. While he’s inside, his daughter gets handed some sort of amulet by a lady wearing blank white contacts.
A man is impaled on spikes in the tomb and the husband stumbles out and goes blind, so the family returns home to their New York apartment.
The daughter is apparently possessed, even though she spends most of the movie just wandering around the apartment. Fulci’s favorite child actor – the little blond boy with the Dutch Boy haircut – is back for this film playing the son. He disappears into a glowing closet at one point. He then returns after a while in a scary mask to scare his mother as if nothing happened. Some people see things like snakes and scorpions in sand inside the apartment. Some people go missing. Some dude who knows the girl is possessed takes on the “priest” role and stands vigil at her bedside while she lies there doing nothing. He has some sort of mini seizure as a result.
Seriously, the only entertaining moment in this film is a very graphic bird attack scene near the end.
THE EVIL CLERGYMAN (1988)
Back in 1988, Charles Band of Full Moon Features created an anthology film that included The Evil Clergyman short, plus short sequels to Trancers and The Dungeonmaster, but it was never released.
With a copy being found on a VHS tape, The Evil Clergyman has been restored to some extent and released on DVD…but it still looks like it’s from a 1988 VHS. Awesome. In fact, this whole short film will take you right back there.
It reunites Re-Animator cast Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, and David Gale, and throws in David Warner (The Omen, Time After Time, The Company of Wolves). It’s also based on a story by HP Lovecraft!
The nostalgia is this short film’s highlight. Crampton returns to an old castle where her former clergyman lover lived and is soon being terrorized…by a rat man creature!
It’s totally 80s camp, but the story is just too short to truly deliver a genuine late 80s horror experience.
SHADOW ZONE: THE UNDEAD EXPRESS (1996)
Shadow Zone: The Undead Express is the perfect horror flick for young teens. It appears this was going to be somewhat of a series of films as it opens with a narrating ghoul in a cemetery, and there was a follow-up called Shadow Zone: My Teacher Ate My Homework. I really want to track that one down after seeing this one.
The Undead Express is about a horror obsessed teenage boy who tells horror stories to his therapist…Wes Craven! And his mom is…the mom from the U.S. Queer as Folk! Love her.
While traveling alone on a subway, the boy meets a vampire, played perfectly by the late Ron Silver. Thing is, Ron is a vegetarian vampire, and he begins protecting the boy from a whole subway car full of bloodthirsty vamps. For a “kiddie” movie, this film has some seriously creepy vamps. I would have loved this as a teen.
But everything is not as it seems, and while the boy thinks he’s safe in the subways with his new vampire pal around, when he brings his friends down into the tunnels, the chase is on as they are preyed upon by hordes of bloodsuckers. Yeah, I definitely have to track down My Teacher Ate My Homework.