Talk to the hand…and beg it not to kill you!

I love giving a good hand blog, so I wrap my fist around three spanning two decades in this one.

THE HAND (1981)

Hard to believe Oliver Stone directed this rather forgettable 1981 horror flick that feels more like a 1970s horror flick.

I guess Bloody Knuckles may have been paying homage to this film in a way, since Michael Caine plays a comic book artist who loses his hand.

It happens in a pretty cool scene of his hand being hacked off because he has it sticking out a car window.

Hands go away, but life goes on, and there seems to be a severed hand following Caine after he gets a bionic replacement. He also starts to mess up at work, has hand delusions, and runs into marital problems. So he goes to stay in a house on his own for a while.

It’s shocking that this film runs an hour and forty-five minutes and that so little happens beyond Michael Caine falling apart and listening to Blondie’s “Union City Blues.”

 

Also of note is that the girl playing his daughter portrayed little Christina in Mommy Dearest!

It’s seriously more than an hour before the hand first attacks someone, it only attacks a couple of people, and by the end it’s implied that the killer hand was all in Caine’s head…then that it wasn’t…or was it…or did they just need a final frame jump scare? We’ll never know…or care. Because there are two better killer hand films we could be watching…

BODY PARTS (1991)

Eric Red, the director of Bad Moon, makes the predictable body part plot more interesting with a few standout scenes that ramp up the thrills.

Jeff Fahey is a criminal psychologist who gets into a kickass car accident. His fricking body and cars go flying! Now that’s how you outdo the Michael Caine crash.

He gets a new arm with a mind of its own, and pretty soon it’s doing insane shit like smacking his kid around and choking out his wife while he sleeps. Must be an unhappy closeted gay arm.

Actually, he learns the arm came from a death row convict (a plot point recycled in the anthology Body Bags in 1993). He tracks down the other dudes who scored some of the body parts to see what they’re experiencing. One of them happens to be Brad Dourif, who is perfectly weird as always.

But apparently someone is coming to reclaim the body parts! Awesome. The most unforgettable scene in this film has Fahey’s evil arm handcuffed to another car next to his as they speed down the road, each trying to reach the finish line with the arm as the trophy.

The doctor who gave him the transplant also ends up being a total highlight of the film before all is said and done.

IDLE HANDS (1999)

Rodman Flender, director of 90s flicks The Unborn and Leprechaun 2, ends the decade with the highlight of his career. Idle Hands is an absolute classic. Teen comedy, teen horror, Halloween horror, a great 90s cast—this one has it all.

The opening kill scene in a house decorated for Halloween is straight up horror, like something out of Urban Legend.

Then we meet our main burnout, played by Devon Sawa (Final Destination, The Exorcism of Molly Hartley, Devil’s Den, 388 Arletta Avenue), who soon discovers he has a possessed hand.

His buddies, Buffy alum Seth Green and Elden Henson (Daredevil’s law partner), help him remove the hand…just as he scores a date to the Halloween dance with Jessica Alba.

The hand escapes and follows them to the school to wreak havoc in a classic teen movie scenario! Little do they know that a crazed Vivica A. Fox is on the hunt, planning to stop the evil herself.

Humor, gore, a montage set to Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil”, The Offspring covering Ramones at the dance (and even getting in on the gore)…

 

Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” video…

 

…the classic Chiller Theatre clip…Idle Hands still rox my sox. Actually, my gloves.

 

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Does Nash have the nads?

And if he doesn’t, who are we to judge?

Alternating between a stream of hot man bods and Corey Feldman in drag, the trailer for Corbin Nash intrigued me…and the reviews on IMDb accusing it of homophobia and transphobia sold me on it. Those types of attacks are also the reason we can’t have nice and nasty things. So let’s see how many people I can offend with just one nice and nasty blog.

Seriously, there are approximately two lines in this movie that I’d say one could interpret as transphobic if one spends his, her, or their life determined to feel attacked and hurt at every turn. But I’ll get to that.

For me, the film’s biggest issue is that it falls into somewhat of a cycle of repetition. By the end it kind of feels like the whole movie was just an introductory “pilot” for a TV show or first installment of a movie franchise along the lines of Blade (meaning, I’ll take either).

The story’s timeline does some jumping around, but basically we have Rutger Hauer echoing his Buffy role, coming to tell our studly leading man that he’s actually the descendant of vampire slayers and it’s his destiny to be one himself. Our hero becomes hell-bent on terminating the monsters that killed his parents.

He does some investigating, which gives him a sense of the kind of erotic vampirism he’s dealing with…

But mostly he ends up prisoner in a hellish dimension…which is comprised of just some cages and a barbed wire boxing ring where he’s constantly pitted against other muscle studs he must fight to the death…or to the buffet table, in this case.

This homophobic flick sure is homoerotic.

“Come on, man. Give me the whole fist. I can take it.”

Not to mention, it might be inadvertently incestuous considering the director is the actor’s brother and ensures the camera constantly makes love to his sibling’s oiled (and bloodied) up bod. Hey, we should all be so lucky as to have a brother that looks this hot covered in blood.

Meanwhile, the even bigger highlight for me is the storyline of the vamp he seeks—played by Corey Feldman in what I would consider his ultimate role for me (after recently bestowing that title on his too minuscule role in The ‘Burbs).

Corey is absolutely delicious as a bisexual transgender drag queen diva vampire—perhaps the performance of his career. Look, don’t attack me. I didn’t cast the film, so I have no idea why they didn’t get an actual bisexual transgender drag queen diva vampire to play the role.

Anyway, Corey fucks women with her cock.

She sucks cock with her mouth.

Her home is filled with naked female slaves. She has a sexy male vampire lover.

She’s gets as wet for our hunky hero as his director brother does. And she has huge insecurities about her looks and her age. She insists her fuck friends—voluntary and involuntary—tell her she’s beautiful. She fears her male lover will leave her for the women he feeds on. And her relationship with him is better explored and demonstrated than the development of the main stud’s story—which happens to be free of a romantic interest (beyond his bromance with his prisonmate in the hellish dimension).

Corey’s confrontations and battles with the main stud absolutely kick ass. I would have preferred more of this action horror goodness than the sexy-sweaty-shirtless ultimate fighting championship sequences (I know, it shocks even me that I said that). Larger roles for Rutger and Malcolm McDowell would have been cool as well. That’s right, McDowell comes on the scene at one point in just a hint more capacity than Rutger.

So what about the homophobia/transphobia, you ask?

As an overall concern, if you’re offended by an LGBTQ character ever being the bad person in a movie, then it doesn’t get any more queerphobic than this. Personally, I consider it equal opportunity employment.

Just like that! I’m about to pop my top!

But let’s get down to specifics. There’s one line in which a cop says to a bartender he’s grilling for information, “Two guys. One’s a mean-looking bastard all in black. The other one is…you know, I don’t know what the fuck it is, but it did this.” He then points to slices on his face and brings up the occult.

Excuse me, my bar could use some tending…

Sounds to me like he’s talking about being attacked by a vampiric creature in devilishly gaudy makeup—an uncommon occurrence for him I’d imagine. Since he does refer to Feldman as a guy before calling him an “it,” I take that as him assuming he’s dealing with a male monster, not taking a derogatory jab at a transgender human. And if that isn’t the case, well, isn’t it just shocking that a hypermasculine cop doesn’t know the rules to properly gendering an individual?

And the other instance I assume could be construed as queerphobic has Feldman saying, “That is no way to talk to a lady.” The hero’s response: “There ain’t no lady here. You’re a freak!” Call me crazy, but maybe he’s not referring to Corey as a bisexual transgender drag queen diva freak, but as a bloodsucking freak. I mean, transgender woman or not, this evil bitch definitely ain’t no lady.

However, if our hero is being queerphobic, well, I’m teaching him and this movie a lesson by adding it to the homo horror movies page on my site and to the gay horror section on my horror shelf.

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A triple dose of 80s schlock treatment…

I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel of 80s flicks in my collection (aka: in existence), so this trio is the crap on tap this time around.

SHOCK TREATMENT (1981)

Director Jim Sharman returns, Richard O’Brien returns, Patricia Quinn returns…Charles Gray…Nell Campbell…Imogen Clair…everyone returning from The Rocky Horror Picture Show plays a different role in Shock Treatment, except Jeremy Newson, who reprises his role as Ralph Hapschatt. Um…I have absolutely no recollection of who that character is in Rocky considering I’ve never felt the need to see it more than a few times…like once in the movies in the 80s and once when I bought the DVD…

Janet and Brad are back…but recast with Jessica Harper and Cliff De Young. Apparently the big leads didn’t want to return for this pretty bogus sequel. Honestly, it could’ve just been a different couple in this unrelated story.

Meanwhile, as described on IMDb, this plot would have ruled as a direct sequel:

One working idea for the movie was that Frank-N-Furter was going to come back from the dead and travel to Denton to find out Janet was pregnant with his child. Brad and Dr. Scott were supposed to have become lovers, and discovered a way to revive Frank using virgin blood. When he returns to Denton, Frank attempts to convert the entire town into a new cult of Transylvanians, and Riff-Raff and Magenta were to return to kidnap the child and destroy Frank once more. The idea was dropped when Tim Curry declined to participate. 

Instead, all the subversive themes that made Rocky what it is are thrown away for this generic cult film. Brad and Janet go on a weird game show in which Janet is coerced into committing Brad to a mental institution by the host and audience.

Meanwhile, the diabolical dude behind the plot ends up luring Janet into a world of fame and fortune that totally goes to her head.

While the songs are catchy here, this mess has one thing going for it—Jessica Harper.

She rocks the songs she performs, and even delves into an early 80s new wave rocker once she hits it big.

 

This disaster even throws in a completely pointless musical number by some random testosterone head, which seems to be in place simply so Richard O’Brien can totally denounce Rocky, with the song’s final line being, “Faggots are maggots, thank God I’m a man.” Whatever. I’m glad Laverne Cox played Rocky in the TV remake and ruined his day.

Here’s a great Q&A with Jessica and Cliff about the movie:

 

MONSTROSITY (1987)

I love my 80s trash…but this gets so crappy it lost me by the end.

It starts off with a really bad gang in great tight leather pants going around killing innocent people on the street and raping women.

When some dude’s girlfriend is a victim, he decides to get revenge with a little help from his med student buddies…

They basically pull a Frankenstein, creating a monster out of various body parts. But it turns out to be a goofy monster dude and the entire film turns badly slapstick, with the monster mostly starting a relationship with some girl named Jamie Lee…for the obvious reason.

When she explains why her mom gave her that name, I couldn’t help but think that her character would have to be like 9 at the oldest based on this movie being made in 87, provided her mom named her after Ms. Curtis after seeing just Halloween in 78.

The three main guys are cute, they try to teach the monstrosity to be like Rambo and The Terminator, and everyone looks like they just stepped out of a new wave video, but the movie just gets worse and worse, with the monstrosity even getting a guardian angel that can beam in and out of his life at will. Ugh.

AENIGMA (1987)

Lucio Fulci pumped them out in the 80s, and Aenigma makes me itch for the days when foreign language films were badly dubbed and threw random horror shit in left and right, with horror music and absurdly cartoonish character topping for the cheese factor.

The film begins with a girl being dolled up for a date…which turns out to be a big prank that lands her in a coma.

Then vengeful coma chick somehow possesses some other girl who goes away to school and begins killing all the students there.

A creepy possessed face pops up now and then, a gym teacher seems to be killed by his own doppelgänger, girls roam around the school at night and run into horrific things you’d never actually run into in school, and one girl is killed in a gnarly snail smothering incident.

There’s no logic to anything…the best part of most foreign films in the 80s. The only downside is that the main chick looks like she could be Melania years before she did lesbian porn pix and married a porn star fucking scumbag cheater for citizenship.

Yeah, this chick has that total cold-hearted cunt face, making it easy to believe that she’s a killer who doesn’t care if children are being torn away from their parents and locked in cages.

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PRIME TIME BITCH: a zombie husband, grandpa, and a puppet killer…

…show up on a streaming service. The punch line? I watched all three of these oddities on Prime. Was it worth it?

ZBURBS (2017)

The fun, animated intro tells you exactly what you can expect from the tone of this zombedy.

In a quick, campy blur, we meet a husband and wife, the husband gets attacked by a neighbor, and the next morning he wakes up…different.

This isn’t your typical zombie flick. The husband is basically a human cannibal, and the wife and her best friend attempt to keep him from eating anything other than raw meat him while trying to figure out what to do about him.

Unfortunately, a turnstile of people keeps coming to the door just asking for trouble..

…the husband eating in a cyclone of Taz the Tasmanian Devil proportions every time.

It’s kind of like, well, watching an episode of Three’s Company with cannibalism.

And just like Three’s Company, it is always fun and charming, but the same exact predicament over and over makes you wonder how the series ran for 8 years.

Oh wait, we were talking about Zburbs. But, you get the picture.

LET’S KILL GRANDPA (THIS CHRISTMAS) (2017)

Brian Gianci, the director of this dark comedy, is also one of the stars and is adorable.

I mean…adorable…

He also appeared in the gay horror film Dead Serious, which has never actually seen the light of day as far as I’ve heard.

Family members come to grandpa’s house to celebrate Christmas. After they discuss the goodies he’s leaving to them in his will, one guy convinces another that he should kill grandpa so they can get the inheritance sooner.

Problem is, the guy who’s supposed to kill grandpa is a loser and a wimp, and can’t seem to get the job done right.

Part of the challenge is that while grandpa seems like a crabby asshole on the surface, he’s actually a cool dude.

Let’s Kill Grandpa is cute and funny if not as quick with the comedy as more mainstream films over the years with a similar plot. It’s also more about the characters than the killing.

Of note is that there’s a gay storyline (the reveal being one of the funniest moments in the film) and a gay kiss that, in an odd choice that I guess is supposed to be funny, is literally censored with a black “censored” band. It’s not funny, not necessary, and a slap in the gay face!

HEAD (2015)

Head is essentially Sesame Street puppets in a slasher scenario.

It only runs an hour long, has a puppet horror host intro segment, and warms us up with a short puppet zombie film before the main feature.

Head is played surprisingly straight. It’s a good move because it’s easy enough to laugh at slasher tropes played out with puppets.

Too much slapstick humor would have actually made this an annoying puppet movie (you know, like pretty much anything acted out with puppets). However, puppets are the only original aspect of the film—otherwise, this is like watching any other cliché backwoods slasher.

Puppet friends travel to the woods. They talk about sex. They have sex. The puppet guys make a lot of gay puppet jokes. They interact with the local puppet sheriff. They meet a puppet loner in the woods who seems cool, but they start to suspect him when puppet friends start turning up dead.

There are body reveals. And of course there are hillbilly psycho puppets and a psycho puppet killer with a sack on his head.

Overall, I feel like there weren’t enough kill scenes, and the puppet count was kind of low. Most of the puppets seemed to die off screen!

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PRIME TIME BITCH: when friends get together and shit falls apart

I’m always checking out the constant influx of horror flicks that hit Prime since it gets tons of new horror almost daily, unlike Netflix and Hulu. Here’s how things turned out with this latest triple feature.

FIRST HOUSE ON THE HILL (2017)

The challenge here is to not refer to this one as The Last House on the Hill or First House on the Left.

I love that First House on the Hill is a throwback to 80s Euro horror. I just feel like it doesn’t go far enough in delivering on its tone and atmosphere.

The intro credits are misleading and do a disservice to what comes next. The music sounds like something from a bad 1970s film, and the footage is just stills of the main character.

It gets better after that, with the spacey feel of Euro horror, complete with a totally 80s Euro horror soundtrack used at all the inappropriate times, just like the classics of Euro horror.

The main girl gets a special necklace from a priest before departing for a stay at a house with some friends.

Umberto Celisano from The Changing of Ben Moore steals the show as the horny comic relief, and long time scream queen Helene Udy (My Bloody Valentine, Incubus, 3 Wicked Witches) plays the mysterious woman hosting them.

There are great Euro horror camera angles, Tarot cards, a few cool death scenes, a trippy chase, some demon eye moments, and lots of Argento lighting, but the film definitely doesn’t ramp up as much as you might expect from a film mimicking classic Euro horror.

13/13/13 (2013)

 

Of all the James Cullen Bressack films I’ve seen so far, I’m still waiting for one that’s truly unique rather than leaning towards derivative. 13/13/13 is essentially The Crazies on acid, because it splits into two very different perspectives on the infection, which is actually kind of cool.

Guys at a camp (including a cutie bear) are discussing urban legends when one the sizzling hot main guy’s military watch gets stuck at 13:13.

The group heads home and the main guy’s wife crazies out.

She ends up in a hospital in room 13, which is where the plot reveals its split personality.

The friends stay at the house and begin to lose their shit, giving us a unique perspective on the typical “crazies” plot by having us stick with main characters as they turn.

Meanwhile, the main guy is stuck at the hospital where people are also losing their shit.

There’s plenty of blood and violence as he and a woman he meets try to get out of the hospital and back to the house.

Personally, I’m a big fan of a scene with a muscle stud terrorizing them in a parking garage.

As you can imagine, it’s very fatalistic when they finally reach the house…

RED FORREST (2018)

The coolest thing about Red Forrest IS the red forest, but the reason I watched was because there’s a cute bear in the trailer.

As an added bonus, it turns out the killer is also a cute bear. I’d like to see the two of them do a movie together called Red SorreAss.

When a low budget film opens in 1495, it’s inevitably going to be obvious it’s a low budget film…dudes in costume store chain mail, white Indians, a priest attacked for forcing his religion down their throat…awesome, if only that were the way history actually played out.

In the modern day, friends celebrating a birthday go up to the spot in the woods where the priest was killed.

The group pulls the usual scare pranks and talks about the legend, a trio including the birthday boy’s sister, father, and uncle follows them to make sure they’re safe, and there are flashbacks to the occult powers that got hold of the priest in 1495.

The priest finally attacks 50 minutes in, yet despite coming from 1495, he acts all snarky like Freddy Krueger.

The encounter scenes (usually in groups) are so cheesy (one looks like it’s filmed in a really cheap cabin set), but did I mention there are two cute bears in the film?

The bizarr-o dad is also a stud muffin, but you have to wait until after the closing credits start rolling to see his hotness really steam up the lens.

I know filmmakers can’t determine which performances are going to steal the show when they start making their movie, but in hindsight, if this film had featured more of the whacky dad battling the snarky priest, this would have been an instant classic.

 

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A 10-movie mish-mosh box

I specifically bought this cheapo multi movie DVD (10 movies on 2 discs) because it includes the film Summer School, which was only released previously as a DVD-R, and although I’ll buy bullshit recordable media when there’s no other option, I’d still rather have a valid pressed disc, even if it is crammed onto a single disc with 4 other films. As is often the case with these sets, a couple of the films have already been on another multipack. I blog about All God’s Creatures and Ashes here.

That leaves seven more flix I never would have watched if they hadn’t weaseled their way into my collection. So which one was my favorite?

ALL ALONE (2010)

All Alone is more of a thriller than a horror film, but it’s totally watchable in its simplicity.

Two couples go camping together in the woods. They run into a free-spirited girl who they may or may not be able to trust.

Eventually they end up turning against each other, leading to some cliché cat and mouse stuff.

It kind of reminds me of a direct-to-video thriller of the 90s, with deception, backstabbing, and a great bitch battle between the two main female characters—one of who might as well play Eddie in a reboot of Ab Fab.

As basic as it is, you still can’t help but watch to see how it’s going to turn out.

THE PURGATION (2015)

I actually find the first segment of this film to be the best part.

A bunch of young kids sneaks into an abandoned asylum to make a horror movie. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and scary, with the kids being terrorized by a demon nun!

The rest of the film focuses on one of the girls as an adult. She wants to go back into the asylum to make a documentary about what they experienced. She reconnects with her friends to talk to them about what happened, but most of them are pretty messed up.

Trippy and gory things take place, to the point that she thinks she might be going mad as well. And of course she goes back into the asylum to face the nun one more time…with a twist.

BLOODLINE (2013)

The cute leading man in this film also wrote and directed it.

It’s basically a backwoods/cabin in the woods flick with a bit of a religious twist…considering the leading man plays a priest in the making who goes away to party with his friends at a cabin In the woods, where he is tempted by sin.

Things become intriguing immediately as they hit a dog in the road, only to have it disappear…and then keep reappearing once they’re settled in at the cabin.

There are some encounters with strangers, but the creepiest scene comes rather late in the film, when one girl discovers her friend outside the cabin acting demonic weird.

Yep, it turns into one of my favorite clichés…everyone turning demon. No excessive demon makeup or anything, but still the usual fun of being terrorized by people you think you know.

They’re like fast crazies with black demon eyes. It’s just a fleeting final segment though since it takes so long to get to it.

BILLY’S CULT (2013)

It’s good to see Debbie Rochon in a leading role as a detective in this film, but the plot is of the all over the place whacky indie variety (which gives it its charm while simultaneously making it feel aimless).

Essentially, there’s a serial killer brutally slaughtering people, bringing together the lives of prostitutes, a priest, and several detectives.

There’s a lot of exposition and character development here, not that it explains much of anything.

For me, the best part is the twist involving the priest…but even with the promise of a demon subplot, Billy’s Cult just doesn’t go anywhere.

And the most gruesome part is when we find out—in gory detail—what the killer does to pregnant women.

PHOBIA (2013)

Despite the fact that it does a few things that really annoy me—it’s a period piece, the actors trying to speak like they’re from the 1800s is fricking annoying, and dialogue vacillates between English and French with subtitles for a while—the eventual cheap indie gothic feel of this one was bizarrely entertaining to me.

a young woman studying abroad undercover as a man gets sucked into a project her professor assigns to her—use his hypnosis techniques to treat a group of people with various phobias.

They hold the sessions in the mansion of an old lady who is afraid to leave her home and sleeps in a coffin. That’s convenient, because one of the other patients thinks he’s a vampire, another patient is terrified of confined spaces, etc. You know, six degrees of insanity.

Eventually weird shit begins to happen, leading to deaths, séances, and the vampiric angle of the plot, with a few twists along the way. The final act is old school hokey vampire crap—my favorite part of the film.

VANISHED (2011)

This is a nonstop action-packed kidnapping film…that I couldn’t follow in the slightest.

A couple’s son is kidnapped…oh no wait, it was their daughter…and those people must be the grandparents…oh, they’re just some people who helped the couple out…everyone in the town appears to be in on the kidnapping…now everyone hates the husband because they think he killed his kid…

Seriously, I was so getting a headache trying to stick with this one. Little clarity comes when it is finally clarified at the end that there are two different women—one who lost a son, the other a daughter. Seriously, when you make movies like this, cast one blonde and one brunette, because bitches all look alike these days.

I couldn’t even follow the entire final act, which is spent explaining everything…with adult abduction, torture, delusions (or is it ghosts?), people in masks, flashbacks, and a battle and chase scene between the two women.

I would say I should watch the movie again to try to make sense of it now that I have a better idea of where it all leads, but that is way too much time and energy needed to enjoy—and understand—a movie.

STEVIE (2008)

If you missed out on movies like Orphan and Mama—or just want more of the same—then Stevie is for you.

A couple adopts a young girl, despite no one believing the wife is ready to be a mom. The girl is very sweet, but weird stuff starts happening.

Fridge magnets spell things out, a dog reacts badly to the girl, the wife is attacked by a steamy bathroom, the girl’s dollhouse redecorates and remodels itself for Lionel Richie’s “Dancing On The Ceiling” video…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wife believes it’s the girl’s imaginary friend Stevie. The husband thinks his wife is going nuts. The wife delves into the girl’s past and…you can guess the rest based on all the other movies you’ve seen that are just like this one.

 

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They came from another planet in the middle of the 80s

They also come from my collection as I chip away at my goal of blogging about all the movies on my shelves.

ALIEN PREDATORS (1985)

In recent times, director Deran Sarafian has directed episodes of The Strain, Hemlock Grove, and The Exorcist, but back in the mid-80s he brought us this almost forgotten film that has finally been released on Blu-ray.

You never see the kind of intimate cattle slaughter scene this alien film opens with—normally it’s just some farmer finding the aftermath. Not only is the attack intense, but two dogs then come to eat the leftovers and things get worse.

Which is how our trio of friends in an RV ends up getting involved in the whole alien situation. They almost run over one of the dogs.

The super fun trio includes Dennis Christopher of Fade to Black, Martin Hewitt of Endless Love and Killer Party, and Lynn-Holly Johnson (Ice Castles, Where the Boys Are 84, Watcher in the Woods). The guys are cute and goofy and like referencing movies and TV shows. They’re also competing for the girl.

Meanwhile, there are some rogue scientists up to no good, and they eventually drag the threesome into it.

The film sticks closely to the alien trend of its time, with a sort of icky alien parasite using bodies as its host, eventually deforming the body before bursting out of them…with no CGI. Ah, those were the days.

Not scary, but action-packed with plenty of blood, this is the epitome of 80s sci-fi horror.

LIFEFORCE (1985)

It’s directed by horror master Tobe Hooper. It’s loaded with big special effects (for its time). It’s an epic sci-if/horror hybrid. It’s got some major sexual situations.

Yet I’ve never actually been a fan of Lifeforce, and these days I only relish it for how it takes me back to when I watched it on cable in the 80s. I even thought the 15-minute longer cut on Blu-ray might help me better appreciate it, but it’s more boring than before.

The big Hollywood space mission at the beginning goes on way too long. The team discovers bat-like creatures just floating in space.

Then they find three capsules with naked people in them, so they bring them home.

 

One of them, a chick with huge tits, soon rises in the lab and starts sucking face with men to steal their lifeforce.

Pretty cool, but let’s be honest. These dead dudes simply turn into the zombies from a better 1985 film…Return of the Living Dead!

Sure the other two pretty boy alien vampires who look straight out of a Jeff Stryker porn come back to life, but they never show their tits like she does.

And the movie focuses on a team trying to locate her after she escapes. Steve Railsback, who was on the mission, seems to have a telepathic connection with her, so they use him to help track her down…for the whole movie.

Highlights include Railsback sucking face with Patrick Stewart—but the editing makes sure to never really show it.

Also, one alien vampire turns into a cool bat creature.

But overall, this movie is still too overblown with no real thrills as it moves towards the big Hollywood final showdown with the female alien vamp.

INVADERS FROM MARS (1986)

What a difference a year makes. Tobe Hooper directs this remake of the 1953 film, retaining the spirit of 1950s sci-fi while capturing the essence of Spielberg’s kid-centric films of the 1980s.

A young boy—who would go on to play Bud in the unaired pilot of Married With Children—enjoys the mysteries of astronomy with his parents (Timothy Bottoms & Laraine Newman) as they star gaze one night.

But when he goes to bed, he witnesses a spaceship land outside his window. The film jumps right into it…anyone who goes over the hill comes back all Stepford Wifey. The film even feels like an early version of The Faculty for a while, with the boy realizing his teacher, Louise Fletcher, is one of “them”…and eats like the Visitors from V: The Miniseries.

He seeks help from the school nurse, Karen Black. Before long the two are deep in it, being chased around the town by converted locals…which eventually leads them to the underground lair of the goofy looking aliens and their turtle-like master.

At least this time they’re all actual monsters, not just men in costumes as in the original.

The film for me loses steam—as most do—when they go to the military for help, lead by James Karen from Return of the Living Dead. Yeah, the military invading the alien lair for the second half of the film really takes away from the nostalgic fun of the first half of the film. And the twist at the end is such a scam!

STRANGE INVADERS (1983)

The director of Strange Behavior shifted to Strange Invaders for this absolutely classic 1980s cable favorite. Hell, one of the aliens even plays a game of Defender Stargate at an arcade.

A man’s ex-wife asks him to watch their daughter while she goes back home after her father’s death. Trying to be the good ex, he heads to the small town to support her…and steps knee-deep into an alien takeover!

Louise Fletcher, who flew over the cuckoo’s nest to land smack dab in the middle of these cheesy 80s sci-fi and horror flicks, plays the authority figure who laughs off his claims. A journalist, played by Nancy Allen, also laughs off his claims.

But then a mysterious, fembot-esque woman in dark sunglasses begins chasing Nancy, and after an incident involving green blood, Nancy starts to believe.

Strange Invaders is a simple, fun ride with some awesome 80s morphing effects, since the aliens, like those in V: The Miniseries, are disguised as humans.

And just like Invaders from Mars, this is one of those sci-fi lite films of the era that has a 1950s sci-if vibe and a non-threatening conclusion.

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Getting inside these twins and realizing they’re fraternal, not identical

Almost a decade ago, the brutal French home invasion film Inside blew away horror fans (hard to believe the directors went on to make the lame Texas Chainsaw prequel Leatherface).

An American remake was released for reasons unknown, especially considering that even for those who don’t want to read subtitles, the English dubbed version of the original uses excellent voice actors, so the intensity isn’t lost in translation.

Not surprisingly, there have been some changes in the remake, leading me to watch the original again do some comparing and contrasting for a blog! Note that there aren’t any major spoilers here as long as you know the basic plot—a psycho bitch breaks into a pregnant woman’s home at Christmas time and attempts to get her baby out of her—but I do chronologically touch upon a few specific differences in each film.

Let’s start at the beginning. Both films open with a car crash.

The remake crash (aside from, um…flipping things a bit) is more involved leading up to the impact and does allow us to have more mixed feelings about each of the two women by the final scene.

In the remake, the pregnant woman’s friend is distinctly rewritten as a gay guy with a partner…so it’s no surprise he gets it in the rear.

In the original, the pregnant woman is a photographer, and it plays a role in her actions. All of that is scraped in the remake.

The pregnant woman has a cat in the original, a dog in the remake. The fate of the dog is implied off screen in the remake, in the original, the cat’s fate is horribly depicted on screen.

The original gives us a stronger sense of the baby “inside” her belly by literally showing it reacting to what’s happening to its mother periodically throughout the film. Cool concept that plays into the title, but the computer-generated baby is jarring every time it suddenly appears on screen.

It kind of reminds me of the creepy dancing baby from Ally McBeal, which doesn’t exactly make me hope for its safe birth. The pregnant woman in the original also has a bizarre dream that makes the baby seem like something parasitic out of Alien. Doesn’t happen in the remake.

The arrival of the psycho bitch outside the door is virtually identical right down to the dialogue. However, in the original, her initial terrorizing of the pregnant woman is way creepier, including an amazing moment at French doors (unfair advantage because it’s a French film?).

Overall, the actress playing the psycho bitch in the original just looks and acts so much more terrifying than in the remake, where she’s kind of prim and proper.

On a related note, the murders of the various people who show up at the house are way more brutal and heinous in the original. The remake wimps out, softening everything about the evil of the psycho bitch.

When the pregnant woman has a confrontation with her mother, the actress playing the pregnant woman in the remake has a much stronger, believable reaction to it. The actress’s response in the original is a little melodramatic.

When the cops arrive, it’s much more weird and complicated in the original, especially with one cop bringing a perp in the backseat of the squad car inside with him…on a leash. There’s also the infamous scene I still don’t understand in which one of the psycho bitch’s victims seems to come back as a zombie and attacks the pregnant woman!?!?!?!

There’s a whole scene in the original in which the psycho bitch ties the pregnant woman to a bed and gets bizarrely lesbian with her.

The vicious final battle between the two women is completely different.

The original takes place entirely in the house with the psycho bitch eventually looking like a…zombie (!!!).

The remake goes wild with a car ride, a visit to the psycho bitch’s lair and an underwater fight in a pool.

The women come to a weird kind of understanding in the remake leading to a much more positive conclusion and birth. The original remains queen of the horrific, downer ending, but at least each film does give you a somewhat different experience before all is said and done.

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I have an excuse for watching each of these four films…

Not that I need an excuse to watch cheesy horror flix, because that’s all I do, but this is a combination of director fandom and sequel…obligationom? Conveniently for my OCD, this foursome spans a perfect decade’s time, from 2007 to 2017.

BATS: HUMAN HARVEST (2007)

Bats: Human Harvest has its moments, but it’s missing the fun of the first film, which I just blogged about recently. And because it’s a made-for-SyFy film, it is just the typical template—military men on a mission encounter monsters that attack mostly in CGI form while the military men are busy trying to accomplish something else we don’t really care about, but which monopolizes most of the plot.

This time it’s the U.S. military trying to abduct a doctor from Russians. It’s just so weird to watch movies from the days when Russia was the enemy instead of running our country. It’s actually heartbreaking.

Leading the team is (always shirted) Davis Chokachi of Baywatch and horror queen Polly McIntosh in the early days of her career.

Most of the battacks look like something from a video game, with army men shooting digital blurs out of the air in bursts of digital blood.

There are rarely close-up moments with virtually motionless bats as in the first film. In the original, the bats were essentially a main character; here they’re background noise.

Some of the kills are funny, with cheap Halloween store body parts being tossed at military men (and a woman).

So to go from that to swarms of bats suddenly taking down helicopters is just absurd. At least the helicopters bring some action to this worst of the worst SyFy films.

VAMPIRE IN VEGAS (2009)

Director Jim Wynorski has been around forever making some of the best of the bad movies of horror: Chopping Mall, Not of This Earth remake, The Return of Swamp Thing, Transylvania Twist, Sorority House Massacre II, 976-Evil II, Ghoulies IV. Holy crap do I have a lot of his trash in my collection.

Unfortunately, after watching it, I can say I won’t be adding Vampire In Vegas to my Wynorski collection, although it does have its charms. You would never expect a vampire flick starring Tony Todd to look this direct-to-video rough, but it does.

If you can adjust to the cheesy feel and effects (bad vampire red eye and fast moving vamp effects), this is a watchable film. At least the blood effects are better than the effects of the vampire drinking it.

Tony is an old vampire that has a scientist working to figure out a way to stop vampires from burning in the sun. They decide their best cover is a strip club in Vegas.

Meanwhile, three cute guys head to the strip club for a bachelor party. There’s some stripper action, and then the guys are divided by three strippers…because Tony wants to turn the guys vamp so they can be lab rats in the sun experiments!

Horror hottie Paul Logan appears as his henchman/bouncer, and the main guy gets some funny fights in with the lady vamps before going up against Todd, complete with goofy flying—seriously, Tony sprouts wings.

Hey.

It’s better than Ghoulies IV.

And sexier.

LUMBER vs. JACK (2014)

Before Jack vs. Lanterns, there was Lumber vs. Jack, Yep, I went back for more Jacking having just blogged about the second film here. This is the film that started it all. It’s Jack taking on killer trees!

It’s just as cheesy as the sequel, but I definitely like the sequel better…obviously because of the Halloween vibe.

Debbie Rochon is Jack’s ex-wife and a scientist whose team runs into some trouble in the woods. So Jack comes to help out.

Before long, everyone who enters the forest is attacked by low budget, howling Evil Dead branches.

Laughable gore effects abound, and Jack has his funny moments later in the movie when taking on the killer trees, but the real stars are two girls who get attacked early on then spend the rest of the movie getting into comic situations while trying to escape the forest.

And just when you think the Jacking fun is done, we get a teaser for the killer pumpkin sequel! 

DEMON HOLE (2017)

You wave Demon Hole in front of my face, I’m gonna bite. Even better if it’s attached to the director of Salvage, one of the cherished indies in my collection. That’s why I blind bought this one.

Demon Hole does actually show its demon in the opening scene, which is kind of surprising, after which there’s a scene inside a little boy’s closet that I didn’t understand at all.

Then we meet our group of kids heading for a cabin in the woods…to do community service on a fracking site.

Oh yeah, it’s a “fuck fracking” movie. Why can’t demons come out and kill fricking frackers in real life?

The kids hang, party, and have sex, complete with a montage featuring the track “Why Can’t You Just Be” by The Gang, which I will totally be playing on my Future Flashbacks show.

 

Really weird shit starts to happen, including the kids tripping and acquiring special powers. Then it’s demon-turning time! As they slowly begin to realize there’s a demon in their midst, the black guy gets all the funny lines.

That is until they run to the fracking site for help, which is when…another black guy gets all the funny lines! It turns way too briefly into a fast-paced slasher, with some major killing. Naturally the violence, gore, and demon action intensifies, complete with a journey into the demon hole. Eek!

Fun and fast, this flick seems surprisingly restrained when all is said and done. There are some great moments of horror and sexual humor, yet the film holds back instead of giving us tons of the best it has to offer. I would have been fine with that weird closet scene being omitted for more time with the kids and the demon.

I’m also a little annoyed that now I can’t name one of my Comfort Cove novels Demon Hole

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I came to see ghouls, ghosts, and demons…

…and this triple feature didn’t let me down in those areas. But which film was the most satsifying: Gehenna, The Night Shift, or Darkness Reigns?

GEHENNA: WHERE DEATH LIVES (2016)

Gehenna shoehorns several plots you’ve seen before into a single story that didn’t quite grab me. It’s like all the horror boxes are checked and I like aspects of what I was seeing, but the results never click—and there’s just way too much going on.

Businessman Lance Henriksen sends a small band of his employees to scout a location for a new resort. Why they end up going into a creepy cave in the jungle is beyond me. And why they keep exploring when things get ominous is even more beyond me.

They find corpses. They find a nearly dead man who tries to warn them of something.

Everything quakes, lights flicker. Then each individual is terrorized by a mishmosh of demonic versions of deceased loved ones they feel guilt over losing and the people in the group who die then come back from the dead.

The movie is all over the place, riddled with orchestral stabs to make you jump, has a painfully cliché self-centered asshole, and is perhaps too well lit for a cave setting to deliver the kind of atmosphere that keeps me on edge (meanwhile, if it was all too dark I’d be bitching that I can’t see shit).

It’s also an agonizing hour and forty-five minutes. Editing it down by about twenty minutes and watering down the increasingly ineffective number of cheap scare attempts might have made it flow a bit better.

THE NIGHT SHIFT (2016)

Director Massimiliano Cerchi (Hellbilly, Carnage Road, Insane, Satan Claus) puts his low budget style to work on a general plot that has become a staple these days—a security guard left alone in a haunted location.

This short movie focuses incessantly on the guard as he walks around the house he’s been assigned to, getting scared by visions of robed figures and talking out loud, which becomes hard to take seriously after a while.

He also gets calls from the mysterious owner of the house and attempts not to fall asleep, which he’s been warned several times not to do.

Horror queen Sadie Katz eventually shows up for some sex, and the guard begins getting chased around by robed ghouls.

It’s cheesy satanic cult fun complete with a goofy demon voice that sounds like something out of an 80s movie, but I think it would work better if it were shortened and included as a story in an anthology.

DARKNESS REIGNS (2017)

Having just watched Haunting of Cellblock 11 by director Andrew P. Jones, I didn’t hesitate to check this one out as well. Jones is “kind of” giving us found footage films, but adds a little something more to break the mold.

Darkness Reigns begins with a movie director at an event, introducing his film and recalling where it all went horribly wrong…

The film is comprised of footage of a behind-the-scenes documentary that was being made while he was making a movie in a supposedly haunted hotel.

Aside from the whole cast and crew, on hand is a consultant medium dude to ensure authenticity, as well as the film’s big name star…Casper Van Dien playing himself! As a bonus, he plays with his furry cleavage while another man watches.

Smartly, after a small amount of touring the set (which also provides effective hints of ghostly happenings), the guy with the camera begins interviewing Van Dien…and the shit hits the fan! Casper’s big scene rocks, after which the entire crew is immediately attacked by an unknown force.

There’s some brief possession, flies are vomited, and demons terrorize the main characters as they try to stay alive and figure a way out.

The plot twist is definitely devilish, although you might guess parts of it before all is said and done.

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