Once again I return to the 80s with five films that have landed in my personal collection in recent months. So let’s see what goodness the worst of the 80s turned up this time.
JULES VERNE’S MYSTERY ON MONSTER ISLAND (1981)
Horror kings Peter Cushing and Paul Naschy in a movie together at last? Not quite. They are each in Mystery On Monster Island for about three minutes or less, and not in the same scene, but their joint presence was reason enough for me to add it to my collection.
The movie is about a young man who wants to travel before his upcoming marriage. So his uncle sends him to explore an island he just bought at auction, with an experienced professor as his traveling partner.
Soon the ship they are on is invaded by humanoid sea creatures! They are the only two to survive, and they end up stranded on the island.
They set up camp, and it is immediately established that the professor is the comic relief. So despite the pretty intense first scare scene with the somewhat goofy sea creatures on the ship, this is based on the writing of Jules Verne and more of a “family” movie for the most part…
See, the idea of two men stranded together on an island takes on a whole blue (boy) lagoon dimension for a young gay kid. I always loved how bare asses were okay in family movies when I was a kid as long as they were hanging out of loincloths on native tribal characters. And that’s exactly what we get here. The main guy and the professor spot cannibals about to indulge in native man they have strapped up. Yummy.
In an uncomfortably dated scene (and also oddly sexual), the two leading men save the native, he bows down to kiss their feet as thanks, he insists on being the professor’s servant, and the professor agrees to be his master to appease him. You’d never see that kind of “polite” racist shit happening in a movie these days.
The native joins their little party, and in the process immediately became a distraction for me for the rest of the film with his hot, barely covered bod.
The trio encounters a dinosaur, different humanoids from the sea, a giant caterpillar…all in the first half of the film.
The second half is much less exciting, and things begin to drag as the focus shifts totally to human enemies, plus the addition of a woman to their group. Blah.
THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY (1982)
This is an unbearable Brazilian…horror comedy? Exploitation? Soft core porn? I don’t know. Maybe something was lost in translation, but I didn’t find it to be funny, and it was a mess of spliced together, amateurish scenes. But it was in a cheap boxed set with a film I needed to complete my Paul Naschy film collection.
Feeling like it’s comprised of news footage half the time (often in black and white), this is the story of a mad scientist who finds a mummy and brings it back to life.
In flashbacks we learn this mummy was a pretty—to the point of looking kind of queer—and psychotic young prince that liked orgies and liked murdering young women during sex.
40 minutes in the mummy goes on a killing spree in what feels like a bad spoof of mummy movies.
And that’s in between raunchy sex scenes, including one involving a mouse used as foreplay and another that features actual tongue slathering over bush.
BLACK CANDLES (1982)
I’m a fan of director of Jose Ramon Larraz’s movies like Vampyres, Rest in Pieces, Edge of the Axe, and Deadly Manor. Even better, most of them are from the 80s, as is Black Candles. Therefore, I purchased the Blu-ray release without a second thought.
I guess every director is entitled to a miss. This one is it for me. Sex, depravity, and a satanic cult sound like a lot of fun, right?
Unfortunately, it’s all about the sleaze without any suspense or scares. That’s mostly because rather than try to escape the horrors that await, our main girl basically just goes with it until she is seduced to the dark side.
She comes with her boyfriend to the home of her missing brother. Little does she know that her sister-in-law has evil plans for her.
This is mostly two hours of sensual soft core sex, complete with a load of lesbian sex. Amazing how the devil always seems to be into lesbians but doesn’t have any interest in having guys bang each other at his orgies.
We get lesbian hand jobs, tit licking and squeezing, a “priest” going muff diving, boring hetero sex, and then a few heinous scenes, one in which a woman gets fucked by a goat—missionary style!—then lustfully licks its face, and one in which the cult anally impales a dude with a sword.
With so much sex going on, it’s hard to believe this film is so utterly anti-climactic.
THE POWER (1984)
I’ve finally completed my collection of Steve Carpenter horror movies, which also includes The Dorm That Dripped Blood, The Kindred, and Soul Survivors (his one dip into the new millennium), and I have to say—I do wish he had made more than three horror flicks in the 80s.
The Power is a total direct-to-video horror flick that delivers much of what I want from 80s horror, even if there is a drop in action in the center of the film and it tends to go off on tangents.
The opener rocks. A professor teaching students about an Aztec figurine is actually possessed by the figurine, leading to a wild levitation and impalement scene filled with fog machine atmosphere.
The figurine lands in the hands of students after they sneak into some building and play with a Ouija board, and then each of them begins to experience paranormal attacks in their rooms.
They also drag a female reporter into it and she begins having nightmares. But it’s her reporter boyfriend who becomes obsessed with and eventually possessed by the figurine.
The final act gets into good old skool 80s horror territory, with the kids again in some building (I had no idea what was going on at times), and the possessed reporter stalking them.
The money shot is a practical effects body mutation scene. There’s also a cheesy fun final frame ending.
THE SEVEN VAMPIRES (1986)
What a difference four years makes for the director of The Secret of the Mummy. This oddity delivers the direct-to-video nonsense we expected in the 80s, including musical performances, nudity, and even a variety of horror subgenres crammed into one plot.
It all begins with a botanist acquiring a man-eating plant from Africa.
When it does what it does best to him, his special lady becomes reclusive, gets bit by the plant, and then decides to produce a show at a club called The Dance of the Seven Vampires. Uh-oh.
As we begin to suspect the plant that we never see again has turned people into vampires, one of the detectives on a case concerning a rash of murders around town also believes vampires are on the loose.
So, if you stick with the vampire concept for a while, that eventually leads to a killer in a robe and mask!
WTF? This film ends up at a theater and suddenly feels like a slasher with a hint of The Phantom of the Opera thrown in just for the hell of it.
As we move towards the 20th anniversary of the trend of Hollywood remaking popular Asian horror films—most notably The Ring and The Grudge—I decided to do some comparing and contrasting of a few of the lower profile adaptations. So let’s get started with Shutter. You should be familiar with at least one of the films before reading this post.
I find the original Thai film to be creepier than the remake (no surprise there), but as always, I did find some changes in the U.S. version that either made sense or were more effective.
The original begins with our main male/female couple on their way home from a party at night. She’s distracted while driving and hits a young woman in the middle of the road. He convinces her to drive off.
He’s a professional photographer, and during a photo shoot at a graduation soon after, he sees a corpse of a woman standing among the students. In fact, all his photos get developed with weird streaks in them. He also begins to experience pain in his neck and shoulders that he assumes is from the accident.
Meanwhile, the girlfriend has a super creepy nightmare in a scene that so takes a page from Ringu. It involves a ghost girl climbing out of a water basin in her boyfriend’s dark room—black hair first, naturally.
And so the couple begins investigating the phenomenon of ghosts showing up in photos.
After another photo shoot at a studio, the guy experiences a visit from the ghost girl in a flashing camera light scene. Super scary and suspenseful but totally routine. He also has a nightmare in which he sees her with her eyes and mouth bleeding, but again it’s cliché.
The couple eventually learns several of his male friends have committed suicide, and he even witnesses one of them jump out a window.
Meanwhile, his girlfriend turns up a name of a young woman, and he is forced to come clean with her—he dated the girl while in school. She was weird, so he kept their relationship a secret, but eventually broke it off with her with the help of his friends.
The couple decides to go visit her to see how she’s doing, and during the ride he encounters a ghost girl again…clinging to the side of the moving car (thanks for the ride, lady!).
He also has a false alarm encounter at a rest stop in the men’s room stall with what I’m assuming is supposed to be a drag queen.
This is the really weird part of the Thai film. When they get to the girl’s house, they discover she has died and her mother has been keeping her corpse stashed away Norman Bates style. What the hell? They figure giving the dead girl a proper burial will rid them of her ghost so they throw her a funeral.
Fail! She ends up climbing into bed with them in a move right out of TheGrudge, but the chase definitely did some damage to my mind.
First the bitch walks upside down on the ceiling, and then she scoffs at that pussy Sadako for using the stairs and instead takes a fire escape ladder down. Eek!
Meanwhile, the main girl gets more photos developed that reveal the ghost girl climbing up a bookcase in the living room, so she searches it and finds more photos to develop that reveal the awful truth, which the main guy then cops to when he comes home. His friends raped the girl he wanted to dump, and when he walked in on them they made him take pictures to use as blackmail if she didn’t leave him alone. So the girl eventually couldn’t live with that and committed suicide. There was no car accident ghost girl looking for revenge. Suicide ghost girl apparently just figured out how to be a road crossing ghost girl who gets hit by a car just for attention.
The big payoff is the main guy’s battle with her when he uses his camera around his apartment to try to see her. The big zinger photo reveals that she has been sitting on his shoulders the whole time. Struggling to get her off, he falls out the window.
He ends up in a mental hospital, his girlfriend comes to visit him, and we see in a reflection that the ghost is still with him.
Naturally the U.S. remake casts two pretty people as the main couple—Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor. However, this film begins with them getting married and then flying off to Tokyo, where he lands a photography job—and so that a creepy Asian ghost girl can remain intact.
This is where I feel the U.S. remake totally fixed a whole lot just by altering one scene. Rachael is driving and hits the girl crossing the road at night. However, this time they get out and even call the cops, but there’s no body. This not only removes the stigma on both characters for driving away from the scene of a crime as established in the original, allowing us to empathize with them longer, but it also clears up that the girl crossing the road is already supernatural. In the original film, I seriously thought the girl they hit in the road was meant as a red herring to make us think that she dies and became the ghost haunting them, and the scene of her clinging on to the side of their car later on confused matters for me even more. That scene does not occur in the U.S. version, even though it is a goodie. Instead, we get a lame nightmare sequence of Rachael dreaming about the girl climbing on the front of her car, which also replaces the cool dark room nightmare scene from the original.
This film quickly Americanizes the plot, with Rachael being the one to suspect a ghost, Josh acting like she’s crazy even though he’s experiencing shit himself, and Rachael noticing some oddly suspect behaviors between Josh and his friends that clue her in to the possibility that he isn’t exactly who she thought he was.
The investigating about ghosts in photos is mostly the same, but Josh’s flashbulb ghost attack scene at the studio is a typical frenetic American take on the sequence that has about half the impact of the slow burn pace of the original scene.
When he reveals his past relationship with the dead girl, her story has changed somewhat. She isn’t painted as a pathetic girl he felt bad for. Instead, her father didn’t approve of their relationship, but then he died and she changed and became clingy. I actually like this tweak to the story, because in the original it seemed exceptionally cruel that the guy just secretly dated her out of pity and would even ignore her and mock her with his friends in public.
To up the “body count” for U.S. audiences, we see the main guy’s friends die. The first is subjected to an exploding camera attack.
The second does the window jump, happens to be Pam’s first man Roy from The Office, and takes the dive shirtless. Yay!
Next comes another major change that I much prefer. When they go visit the girl, she lives alone and they find her dead body. No mother storyline at all, a plot point I found to be just plain weird in the original. The decision to remove it here was clearly made later in the game by the filmmakers, because it is included in the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray.
The climb into bed with the couple is briefer, but it’s also less of a rip-off of The Grudge and tosses in some icky sexual elements just for the fun of it. However, the awesome hall ceiling chase and ladder scene are gone. Bummer.
Another minor change I like is that the developed photos of the ghost girl don’t simply lead to a bookshelf in the main room of the apartment; Rachael has to think a bit on it and determines that the ghost girl is leading her through a wall into the dark room. To give her a break after all that thinking, she doesn’t have to develop any film, because the photos of what happened to the girl are on an SD card in a camera.
Here the main guy is painted as much more of a vial human. He was actually in on the plans to take damning photos of the girlfriend, and the flashbacks of her being victimized are much more gut-wrenching than in the original.
The finale ramps up the battle with the ghost girl, and it is ridiculously over-the-top, with him frying himself with camera equipment in his effort to get her off his back.
And finally, the scene at the mental hospital is much more satisfying because Rachael is not there to visit his miserable ass. In a deleted scene she is present…but only to dump their wedding rings on his dinner tray before the nurse brings it in to him, which is just as satisfying.
I wish I could have covered Shutter One, the Thai sequel to the original that was released a year after the U.S. remake, but I was unable to locate it in any way shape or form to watch. Which means…my fricking collection of Shutter movies is incomplete on my shelves. Grr…argh.
A while ago I blogged about the U.S. horror flick Screamers, released in 1981, in a post about movies featuring cameos by Cameron Mitchell, in which I referenced this original 1979 version of the film, although I had never seen it. The 81 version cuts out a bunch of stuff then adds a bunch more horror-oriented stuff, yet still runs ten minutes shorter.
THE ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN (1979)
Now director Sergio Martino’s original The Island of the Fishmen has been released on Blu-ray by Full Moon. It’s definitely not as much fun as Screamers because there’s less horror and gore and it suffers from some pacing issues. Plus there’s no Cameron Mitchell, who only appears in the pretty long opener added to Screamers.
The opener here, which comes later in the 81 version, is a reminder of how good 1970s horror did water creature scenes at night. Eek! They just weren’t afraid of dark water scenes back then. I, however, am, so I lightened the screen shots a little…
The plot starts with prisoners and a doctor escaping a sinking ship on a small lifeboat. The fishmen attack the boat, and the survivors end up washing up on an island. There are more attacks during the day in some swamps, and then the few survivors meet up with Barbara Bach, who invites them into the one house on the island.
The film loses its fear factor and mystery rather quickly as effective voodoo rituals and fishmen attacks are overshadowed by the logic of science (blah), and the fact that Barbara Bach can order the fishmen around like they are her pets.
Truth is humans are being turned into fish people by a mad scientist…to excavate treasure from the lost city of Atlantis (now found). In fact, the most gruesome moment in the movie has the doctor discovering a half transformed human.
Eek! This is the one scene that is better in the original than the enhanced horror cut, which basically just makes the discovered experiment look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The big-eyed monsters are still really creepy cool in a rubber suit sort of way, but the original version of the film feels more action/sci-fi than horror.
THE FISHMEN AND THEIR QUEEN (1995)
Not so much a sequel as a reimagining, this film sees Sergio Martino creating a rewrite of the plot of The Island of the Fishmen and making a movie using loads of footage from the original film plus his 1983 film 2019: After the Fall of New York.
It’s a post-apocalyptic world, and a white kid and Black kid run with a crowd of survivors sick with radiation. When “warriors” on horses raid their warehouse, the boys get away and end up in a Mad Max car race.
Then they meet an old man who tells them about an island that they set off on a boat to find, taking the old man’s dog with them. The movie essentially goes from Mad Max to Huckleberry Finn to Dagon over the span of about 90 minutes.
On the island the boys go swimming and it’s very icky that the white kid, who may be fourteen or fifteen, is basically wearing a loincloth G-string. Then the boys meet a girl who is part of a female tribe on the island run by a “queen” that created and controls the fishmen with magic. And she is using them to excavate the lost city of Atlantis for treasure.
It’s a tween adventure film essentially, With the fishmen helping the kids defeat their evil queen (through spliced footage from the original movie).
The kids also use magic to turn a deformed Black servant dude in a mask into a handsome white prince. WTF?
And just when the film is almost over and you think it can’t be more of a mess…in comes the space ship. Sigh.
I’ve gotten to the point where I feel I have to justify to myself why I keep adding crap to my horror movie collection, so pardon me if I do so as I cover the six films of various subgenres in this post. Let’s get into them.
TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS (1973)
Why did I buy it? It has Donald Pleasence and Joan Collins, and it comes from Freddie Francis, the veteran director of many Hammer films, as well as the Amicus anthology classic Tales from the Crypt. Unfortunately, I feel he totally misses the mark with this awful anthology. Perhaps these tales would have worked as short story fiction, but they fail to deliver chills or thrills in movie format.
Donald Pleasance is a doctor in the wraparound, explaining his patients’ issues to a colleague…
1st story – a young boy has an imaginary tiger as a friend, and hates that his parents fight all the time. You can guess where this one is heading. I feel like it has been remade in another anthology movie or television show, I just can’t recall which one.
2nd story – an antiques dealer inherits a haunted bicycle and a creepy portrait. Another lackluster tale.
3rd story – leave it to Joan Collins to star in the only worthwhile short here. She plays a woman whose husband brings home a creepy as fuck female human tree sculpture and plops it right in the middle of their (hideously “modern” 1970s) living room.
Joan becomes jealous of it and the battle of the branches—I mean—bitches begins. There’s eerie tree POV and a sexual dream sequence that may have been Raimi’s inspiration for the tree attack scene in Evil Dead.
4th story – a literary agent invites her new client to her home, where he seduces her daughter to lure her into some sort of sacrificial ritual. The guy wearing tight square cut shorts is pretty much the highlight of this story.
And finally the wraparound concludes with elements of the stories inflicting themselves upon the colleague being told the stories.
THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY (1973)
Argh! The only thing that absolutely kills this movie is the 70s fucking muzak score. Why the hell did they use this shit in so many horror movies? This is the same damn year The Exorcist blew the horror genre up and used Mike Oldfield’s chilling “Tubular Bells”—not even a dedicated soundtrack composition—to great effect.
Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, The Vampires Night Orgy landed in my collection because it is on a double feature disc with one of the Paul Naschy films I covered recently. I bet you assumed I was going to say because it has the word orgy in it. Suck it, because there aren’t even any orgies in this film.
It’s about a group of domestics traveling on a bus for a chance at new employment. When their driver becomes incapacitated, they detour to a small town that seems to be void of residents. They crash at a tavern and eventually a man shows up to explain that everyone was at a funeral.
As the group tries to figure a way to get back on the road, one by one they go off on their own and encounter weird locals in scenes with tight close-ups of their faces…which I can only assume was an inspiration for the film Dead and Buried from 1981. Although this lady looks kind of like one of the body thieves from Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol…
Other terrors await as well, including a Paul Bunyan fucker with an axe who likes to hack off limbs, as well as a seductress vampire who looks like a cheap, worn out whore.
While it is a vampire flick, it also reminded me a lot of 2000 Maniacs. If it wasn’t for the shitty score, this would be a chilling little flick. I’d love to see it recut with different music.
MANSION OF THE DOOMED (1976)
Ah. The epitome of wonky 1970s horror. A mad scientist does eye transplant experiments after his grown daughter loses her sight in an accident.
It’s surprising that the U.S. title is so cryptic while the title in other countries spells it out—it was literally just called Eyes in some markets.
So this mad scientist determines he can transplant the eyes of living humans into his daughter to give her back her vision. Unfortunately, the effect doesn’t last long, soooo…he just keeps plucking eyes out of more and more victims.
It doesn’t get any more ridiculous than this, but adding to the insanity of nonstop eye replacements, he keeps the eyeless, very much alive victims locked in cages in his basement! WTF?
There is some eye gore to make us squirm, the post-op makeup effects are pretty cool, and there’s a creepy pedo-feeling scene when the doctor decides he needs to score young eyes from the park (it echoes the uncomfortable love between him and his daughter).
The highlight is, well, the final act and the zinger conclusion, which would have just as much of an impact if this were simply a 30-minute short in an anthology.
Notable is Mel from the TV show Alice as a detective, and an appearance by a young horror icon in the making…Lance Henriksen! But don’t expect to see him for long (or for him to see for long). Unfortunate considering he’s the reason I bought this one. Even so, it’s wacky 1970s horror enough for me to not regret the purchase.
THE SPELL (1977)
One of numerous Carrie rip-offs, The Spell is a made-for-TV film about an overweight girl, which is rather ironic considering the original Carrie was overweight in Stephen King’s novel. I picked this one up thanks to that damn mental condition called nostalgia—or maybe because I may have wished I had the main girl’s power when I was a chubby little kid.
This is a totally fatphobic flick, with everyone disliking the barely overweight girl, from the mean girls in the opening gym scene, to her sister Helen Hunt, to her father.
Only her mother, played by Lee Grant, seems to have some sympathy for her.
Unlike Carrie, this girl puts her powers to great use and relishes every moment of it.
If only she used the powers to get even more revenge than she does, this would be a fun movie.
Instead, short of the great and creepy performance by the main girl and one scene of a woman turning into a piece of smoking meat, this is a yawn fest until the final battle between mother and daughter, which gives the Carrie showdown a major rewrite.
How did it land in my collection? It was included as a bonus on The Town That Dreaded Sundown disc…which I just realized for the first time the other day when I was organizing my movie shelves. How long have I had this disc? I checked my Amazon order history. Eight years! Anyway, on to the film.
Occasional flashbacks in black and white (more like sepia) show a shootout between law enforcement and a family about to be evicted from their house.
Then Jessica Harper and her husband move into the house in full color. She gets slipped a snail mail note at some point telling her to “get out”, she is terrorized by some man who keeps lurking around the house, and there are a couple of creepy scenes of him chasing her in the house, including one that rips off the chase through the kitchen in Halloween.
There’s also one random kill of a guy…I guess because he’s Black.
There’s a twist at the end that explains what is really going on, but there’s also a totally missed opportunity to surprise the audience with a Norman Bates surprise.
What I’m saying is, the movie has its moments, but it could have been better.
THE DAY TIME ENDED (1979)
There’s so much bizarre shit going on in this cheesy little movie, yet I feel like a bunch of it got stolen and used in bigger movies in the 80s.
As there are reports of extraterrestrial explosions in the sky on the radio, a family reunites at the airport and then gathers at their desert ranch.
Within minutes, the daughter, played by the little girl from The Entity and The Amityville Horror, is hugging this big green glowing pyramid that appears outside. Then she sees a little alien on her bedpost. Then a little flying saucer floats outside her window.
Meanwhile, the grandparents see spaceships in the sky while they’re outside at night.
Eventually, little spaceships infiltrate the house and shoot lasers at the family.
Apparently the family is zapped into some other dimension, for when they go outside they are witness to stop motion claymation monsters fighting each other.
I can’t even begin to tell you how bad this movie is. That explains why Full Moon sent me a free full frame DVD of it when I ordered something else from them. That also explains why I then felt the need to purchase the damn widescreen Blu-ray remaster to replace it.
My latest Netflix triple feature delivered plenty of cheap thrills and gave me a horror fix for sure. Even so, they all have their issues and I’m not sure if I’d be compelled to add them to my personal horror collection. Let’s take a look.
A CLASSIC HORROR STORY (2021)
To make a cliché movie about movies being cliché and then even have a character point out that your movie is cliché only to continue being cliché is kind of unfathomable to me, yet…here we are. But, I guess it’s spelled out in the title, huh?
The purpose of A Classic Horror Story seems to be to spit in the face of all the anonymous armchair critics and horror fans online that make or break movies these days by making a movie that…checks off every box of every criticism you’re criticizing?
Tell me if you’ve heard any of this before. People in an RV get into an accident and one of them is hurt. They find a creepy cabin in the woods to shelter in.
They also find a car graveyard and freaky, blatant as hell signs of serious occult rituals and sacrifices. So…they remain in the cabin.
When they do try to leave, they can’t seem to get away from the cabin.
Every time a siren sounds as if Pyramid Head is about to show up and go Silent Hill on their asses, a cult appears looking for sacrifices.
One by one, the main characters are abducted by the cult and tortured and mutilated…without any graphic gore…which is a complaint that’s mocked in the movie. Fun.
And just when it looks like there’s a chance for escape, it becomes clear the police aren’t going to be of any help.
As you, the viewer, are mocked as the closing credits roll, take solace in the fact that you at least had fun making a list in your head of all the movies that seem to be hinted at in this film: The Wicker Man, Race with the Devil, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, every cabin in the woods movie ever, etc.
THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE (2021)
Wahoo! This is just what I needed. Another typical teen slasher with sleek and stylish kills…that I’m totally going to complain about, thereby proving the makers of the previous film nailed it in mocking me.
There’s Someone Inside Your House starts off strong, with a suspenseful and brutal opening scene in which a male is the victim. And he’s a hunky jock. Yay!
Our main group of friends consists of people of various colors, a trans character, a privileged white kid, and even a gay football player (add it to the does the gay guy die list).
I haven’t looked at any comments about the film online, but I assume the anti-woke crowd is having a field day with a hate-filled tirade against this movie.
Other than them, I can’t see fans of sleek, post-Scream slashers of the late 90s and early 2000s disliking this film. It has excellent death scenes and a creepy concept in which the killer wears masks of the faces of the victims about to be killed. Eek!
There’s a deep dive into the characters by way of a party in which everyone’s dirty little secrets are revealed.
There’s also a fricking vent scene, and eventually a trip to a cornfield maze for the final act.
And that’s the problem. For a slasher, it’s all over the place instead of focusing on one location. It should have been called There’s Someone Everywhere You Go.
In a sense, this is also like the many teen slasher TV series these days that usually deliver on the kills but are also overburdened by teenage soap opera antics and tired motivation throwing shade at the youth of today.
NOBODY SLEEPS IN THE WOODS TONIGHT 2 (2021)
It’s crazy that only a year ago I posted about the first Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight, because I don’t remember a thing about it. So I checked out my blog to discover I really liked it and there’s a gay character.
The sequel picks up with the survivor of the first film in jail. The sheriff decides to take her back to the cabin to go over the details of what happened to all the victims.
That doesn’t go very well.
And so this turns into a total sequel mess, with a bunch of cops showing up at the cabin to be slaughtered by deformed humanoids in the woods. And just for the hell of it, some white trash and a prostitute also end up in the vicinity.
I honestly do not remember the “killer” being creatures in the first film, but basically this is a backwoods splatterfest that feels like Wrong Turn meets Hatchet.
There are loads of cheap thrills as victims are slaughtered and creatures leap through the air, and then the film just goes off the rails.
A female mutant turns a male human into a mutant by skull fucking him with her tongue. I don’t remember if that happened at all in the first film.
Following that, this turns into a campy meta movie as the fall in love, have sex, and she shows him the ropes of being one of these creatures. The best part of all this nonsense is that we get to see from the perspective of the “killer” as they plot ways to terrorize victims just for the fun of it before mutilating them. It’s all definitely kind of ridiculous, but it’s also a whole lot of popcorn and cherry cola movie fun.
It’s a foursome of flicks that bring all kinds of horrors. I can say for starters that I was never bored, so let’s get into them.
DEATH VALLEY (2021)
Matthew Ninaber, who plays the monster in Psycho Goreman, also plays the creature in this film. Not to mention he directs the film and he’s hot!
This is pure typical creature feature fun that totally delivers on the action and monster makeup. Sure the plot has been done again and again, but if you’re looking for cheap thrills, you get them right from the start here, and the film is really fast-paced.
A couple of mercenaries are hired to infiltrate an underground bunker to rescue trapped scientists. After an action-packed gun battle in the forest, the guys get to the bunker, and full Monty monster attacks kick in almost immediately. Yay.
The monster design reminds me of something from the Resident Evil video games. As it should, because this even feels like a Resident Evil game, complete with infected people. Not hordes of them, but enough to get the point across.
The guys team up with one female scientist still alive in the bunker and they try to fight their way out. The highlight for me is one of the main guys, who is perfectly realistic and funny in his reaction to every monstrous situation they get themselves into (I particularly appreciate his feelings about getting into a vent).
Oh, wait. There are two highlights for me…
If you like the Resident Evil/Doom type of movie and concept, definitely check this one out.
If you love films featuring schoolgirls delving into witchcraft and the occult, like The Craft, The Woods, and 5ive Girls, then get ready for this…slasher. Not a spoiler. I’m just preparing you for what is really going on here.
Some students at an all-girl school try to summon a ghost by saying shit in a mirror, which leads to a tragic event. When a new girl shows up at the school, the same girls target her immediately. They all end up in detention, where they decide to do a séance. And then…
Suddenly there seem to be no other students in the school except for these girls, they start getting sliced and diced by a killer, they all know their friends are disappearing and they’re all scared, yet they all keep going off on their own alone at night to become the next victim.
That for me is the biggest problem with this otherwise engrossing film. Perfect example: when there are barely any girls left, one of the girls goes by herself to dance on the stage in the dark auditorium with fricking headphones on! Give me the knife. I’ll kill her myself just for being such a dumb ass.
The death scenes are suspenseful, the tone of the film brings to mind Argento’s Suspiria, the main girl is a tough brooding bitch who doesn’t take shit from the mean girls, and the final act takes an entertaining turn…followed by more turns to avoid a denouement that feels merely like a Scream copycat.
I liked it. I really liked it. But honestly, the ending is a mess of unrealistic, dangling plot points.
FUTURE FEAR (2021)
This is not what I was expecting at all, because it comes across as a sci-fi film at first. It’s actually more of an anthology film, with the wraparound focusing on an archaeologist in the future watching clips of different horrors of the past. So, we get:
a dude hires a prostitute, but a giant spider drops in—silly, but probably one of my favorite shorts in the movie
an encounter with some sort of cannibals
a science lab story
crazies chasing a dude through the woods
a crazy woman creating people in a shed
a freaky art house short of a public restroom crime scene
a young woman abducted from her house and locked away in a sleazy lair from which she tries to escape
Honestly, right from the start it seems as if there’s a glitch in the audio, because there’s no talking. At first, the hubby and I thought it was supposed to be part of a storyline. There was a group of people trying to avoid an unseen threat that we figured could hear them if they made noise. But eventually there were scenes in which lips were moving but no voices were coming out.
The most entertaining part for us was the commentary by the wraparound archaeologist in between stories. The hubby and I would look at each other like, what the hell was that, and suddenly she would pop up on screen and echo our thoughts by making comments out loud like, “I have no idea what I’m watching” and “there’s no frame of reference for this”. We laughed every time.
BEYOND WHITE SPACE (2018)
Beyond White Space is loaded with visual outer space eye candy for sci-fi horror lovers, and there is plenty of monstrous space stuff for horror lovers. There is also way too much going on.
It’s the future, and a team that scavenges in space for a living is out hunting in their space ship when they encounter what is referred to as a celestial dragon.
A female team member suggests that they should hunt the creature because there’s big money to be had in it.
That’s going to be harder done than said. They get everything thrown their way, which means so do we. Space pirates board the ship. Little alien insects crawl under human skin. Humans that get the little alien bugs under their skin turn into homicidal crazies. And watch out for that giant spider!
Is any of it related? I have no idea because nothing is really explained. The film would rather focus on action sequences and cool outer space scenes.
How do the space pirates get on board a space ship without being noticed? Why does only one person on board get infected by the little bugs? Why is there only one big space spider? Why do the men think they can leave the ship to fight a giant space centipede with nothing but space suits on? Are all these space critters of various sizes linked somehow? We’ll never know, so just watch it for the visual outer space eye candy and monstrous space stuff.
This was pretty much the perfect slasher double feature for me. Two “Last” slashers with vicious, gruesome practical effects. So what can you expect from this double feature?
THE LAST MATINEE (2020)
The Last Matinee is a Spanish film clearly inspired by Dario Argento movies (if the posters on the walls in the theater aren’t sign enough).
It’s also one of those slashers that gives no explanation for the killing spree, instead just indulging us with nasty, violent deaths and a perfectly played psycho who is all the more frightening because we know nothing about him. His presence kind of reminded me of the killer in High Tension.
The plot is simple. It’s 1993, and a young woman sends her sick father home and takes his place running the projection booth at the movie theater where he works.
Down below we meet a variety of audience members watching a horror movie, which is actually a real film directed by the guy playing the killer.
There’s a young boy who sneaks in by himself, three teens, a girl who gets stood up, a very horny woman and her man, and…well that’s mostly it.
The first kill establishes how hardcore the murder scenes will be—not to mention how Euro gory they will be. You know, just like something right out Argento.
We also get to know a little bit about each character and get an ooey-gooey jerk-off scene! Yay! Another sign of Euro horror—odd focuses on a random element, in this case an obsession with stains for a brief time.
Personally I didn’t find the film high on suspense, tension, or scares, and there are an excessive number of slow motion kill scenes, which lose their potency after a while. For me, the gory death scenes, the psychotic killer, the early 80s synth score, and all the well-orchestrated Argento-esque lighting and setup shots are most definitely the highlights.
Again, don’t expect any clarity as to why the killer kills…or why he carries eyeballs in a jar other than the fact that he snacks on them. That explains why there’s no one working the concession stand in this mysteriously empty theater.
LAST OF THE GRADS (2021)
I wasn’t even finished watching this slasher when I poked around the internet to see if it was available on disc yet, because I must own it! I haven’t been this satisfied by a slasher in ages.
I’ll admit, the two-hour runtime concerned me—and the early part of the film definitely could have been tightened up. It takes a while to get going. Also, there’s an unconventional approach—the back in 1995 opening scenes include narration. Not to mention, the characters feel a little over-the-top, so I expected the film to be really cheesy.
Instead it shifts tone in the present day. We learn of “The Coast to Coast Killer” from both news reports and a conversation between cops, including the daddy bear sheriff, played by Michael Vincent Berry, who also appears in the queer horror short Innocent Boy. Sadly, he isn’t in this film much, but he definitely makes an impression. I mean, this shot alone is titillating…
What unfolds next is a whole lot of character development as we meet all the teens going to a dance/pajama slumber party/movie night before graduating. The film has an oddly mesmerizing, chill vibe to it, with mood music, a romanticized tone during intimate conversations, and very natural performances by the actors.
It feels like watching a bunch of ordinary high school kids on an ordinary day, and it’s the first time I’ve actually liked all the characters in a slasher in ages. How I missed the days when teens in a horror movie weren’t all douche bags. In fact, even the hot douche bag here manages to not be such a douche after all in the end. It’s so fucking refreshing.
There’s a kill early on to demonstrate just how damn brutal the death scenes are going to be and to give us a preview of just how awesome the gory practical effects are going to be. And once the kids get to the dance, there are a few songs by a band called The Death of Pop. I will immediately be buying all their CDs and playing their new wave throwback songs on my Future Flashbacks show.
And finally, once we get to the dance, the kills come rapid fire. They fucking rule, from the gore to the chases—although it is a little questionable that the killer seems to have super human strength at times, like the power to squish a face with one stomp.
For a change we get a film that doesn’t blast it’s meta horror references through a megaphone. If you know your horror, you’ll be pretty convinced there are some smoothly integrated homages here.
I could be wrong, but right off the bat I would guess there are nods to Donnie Darko, the Carrie dance, and Wendy’s chase scene in Prom Night.
I think there’s even there’s an homage to the shower scene from Elm Street 2, right down to the homophobic subtext.
The final fight between the main girl and the killer is unusually trippy on its unique journey to arriving at the kind of ending we expect from a slasher.
This is one of those rare modern movies I could watch again and again. It better get a physical release, and I hope it gets more attention, especially with the Halloween franchise and the new Scream looking to reboot the slasher subgenre again.
We come to the end of my Paul Naschy marathon by moving into the new millennium for his final decade of horror films before he passed away. In the mid-2000s, Paul tapped into the cheesy direct-to-DVD market with several movies I check out here, plus the erotic horror flick Tomb of the Werewolf, which I’ve already covered in my post about his Wolfman movies.
COUNTESS DRACULA’S ORGY OF BLOOD (2004)
This one is a good companion piece to Tomb of the Werewolf if you like softcore erotic werewolf and vampire movies.
The downsides to Countess could consist of various factors, depending on what you expect to get out of it. Naschy fans will be disappointed because he essentially has nothing more than a cameo. Gay guys will be disappointed because every sex scene is girl-on-girl despite the film being about a male vampire and his sister trying to seduce the same girl. Maybe if he whipped his dick out once in a while he’d stand a chance of coming out victorious. And finally, this has an even cheaper direct-to-DVD feel than Tomb. It’s mostly just characters standing around talking to get the plot across in between lesbian sex scenes, with fake fangs occasionally flashed to remind us this is a vampire film.
We begin in the old days with a woman feeling up her tits in her coffin before the opening credits. That should tell you everything you need to know going into this. And if that didn’t do the trick, the countess pulling out her huge tits and seducing a girl right after the opening credits should clarify things.
The handsome brother of the girl she seduces goes to a priest, played by Naschy, to inform him of the vampire problem. Rather than dub Naschy’s lines in this English film, he speaks Spanish and there are subtitles. So they go down to a cave and battle a few vamps. The special effects of the vamps deteriorating gave me the hope that at least there would be some cool horror silliness in between all the clit licking. Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out that way.
In the modern day, the countess and her brother return to find the girl they wanted back in the day. The weak writing makes it unclear how this new main girl is the same girl from back then. I think perhaps she’s a lookalike descendant, because her role in the film consists of sitting on her couch looking through an old photo album between the lesbian vampire sex scenes.
There are some goofy and pointless characters, like a Redfield eating bugs and some horny female vamps. The strikingly handsome count (I’d let him be my sugar vampire any day) stays back at home and sends his sister out into the seedy city to find the girl they’ve desired for so long (hint hint: she’s on her couch). There’s lots of lesbian sex, Paul fades in like a Ben Kenobi hologram every once in a while to whisper into the count’s ear, and when the vampire siblings finally locate the woman they love…more lesbian sex. But at least there are also more withering vampire effects.
Naschy may not appear in this killer cyborg dog film much, but he’s basically the main “villain”. I don’t even know where to begin because there’s so much going on in this mess of a movie that is nonetheless highly watchable.
Prisoners are being transported in the Spain desert. A scorpion comes into play and the prisoners all escape. Our main guy is chained to one other guy, who gets attacked by the cyborg Rottweiler. The main guy gets away and continues being chased through the desert by the Rottweiler.
Throughout the film he has distracting flashbacks of how he landed in prison, and none of it makes sense until the end, when it only kind of make sense (for instance, the hubby and I still had no idea how the dog became a cyborg when all was said and done). The scorpion keeps popping up in scenes, and the hubby and I had no idea what it meant. The dog gets a cool fog machine resurrection scene. The main guy is pursued by the dog while skinny-dipping, so we get a nice sequence of him running around naked, landing this one on my stud stalking page.
He is held at gunpoint by a woman who takes him home, sends her daughter out of the room, and then jumps his bones! The Rottweiler breaks into the house to jump his bones for different reasons and the chase is on again.
There’s a major dance club attack scene, but I could not figure out where it fell in the movie’s jumping timeline or what the significance was of it.
And most importantly, there are some undeniably unintentional moments that just made us laugh out loud (think a big stuffed dog being thrown at people from off screen).
After a few brief appearances in flashbacks throughout the film, Naschy gets his juiciest scene when it comes time for the final confrontation…which turns out feeling and looking like a boss battle in a video game.
A WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON (2005)
This cheap erotic horror comedy basically adapts The Island of Dr. Moreau so that Paul can play his famous werewolf one more time without actually playing the character.
Instead, Paul is Moreau. Having been shamed into hiding by his peers in the science community, he finds an island in the Amazon where he can continue his experiments trying to create a new human/animal hybrid. But his real goal is to find a woman who can save him from his curse. Yep. Moreau is back to being a werewolf that needs the love of a woman to break the curse.
Meanwhile, a group of pretty people comes to the island to party, even bringing along a camera so that we can get a few moments that feel like a found footage film.
There’s also a slapstick scientist and detective team hunting for Moreau, further cheapening the tone of the movie.
However, Paul makes sure that Paul can still get some, for he resurrects an Amazon queen.
There’s even a bizarre musical number in the middle of the film.
This is absolutely bottom of the barrel direct-to-DVD stuff…which would explain why you can only find it crammed into a cheap boxed set of horror flicks that look like they were all sourced from VHS tapes.
THE VALDEMAR LEGACY (2010)
I’m not a fan enough of Lovecraft to know exactly which of his works are integrated into this two-part movie (which runs about 3 hours and 15 minutes long), but I did find it delivers plenty of damn good horror moments, not to mention some hot guys.
A woman who catalogs estates for a living is sent by her hot boss to follow up on a job another employee never finished. She finds out why soon after arriving at the mansion. The pretty dang terrifying scene packs more of a punch than many mainstream Hollywood horror movies do these days.
Then the movie totally shifts gears—and time periods. A detective hired to find out what happened to the now missing female is given a history lesson on the supernatural shit that went on in the house. That story becomes the bulk of the first part of the film.
A handsome man and his wife run a bogus séance business in their house, where Paul Naschy gives an understated performance as a servant.
Just when the couple’s world seems to be falling apart because the business is being exposed as a fraud, real-life occultist Aleister Crowley, who is pretty much the daddy of the devil here on earth (Daddy Warbucks of the devil, more like it), comes to the rescue.
He believes the mansion truly is a place of paranormal power and wants to perform a ritual there. The husband finally agrees, so Crowley brings along some of his real-life friends, including Dracula author Bram Stoker, female serial killer Belle Gunness, and mommy and daddy killer Lizzie Borden!
When their ritual goes horribly wrong Paul is the one who discovers just what has been unleashed from the portal in another kick ass horror scene.
And that ends part 1. Part 2 is where it as all downhill for me, but if you love Lovecraft you might like this part better, because it’s a convoluted mess just like basically every other Lovecraft adaptation I’ve ever seen. For me it just completely fell apart when the current day plot and story of the past merge.
The woman who went missing in the first half seems to keep escaping her abductors, walking around freely, and then getting recaptured. I was confused because I thought we were somehow getting flashbacks to a time before she was abducted considering she never runs to the police.
She eventually finds herself locked up with her hot boss, a coworker, and the detective. They spend the remainder of the film trying to escape, are chased by the creature, become part of an occult ritual, get to meet Cthulhu, who gives the original creature the boot from the story completely and also looks like the cheesy CGI monsters from movies like Van Helsing and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and get to meet the couple with the bogus séance business, who have entered the present day and completely made me lose any understanding I had of the plot from the first half of the movie.
This was Paul’s final film, and he directs it, co-wrote it, and stars in it. What I like about it as that Paul is not taking himself seriously, so there’s a humorous tone. On the other hand, it’s poorly paced with a weak script and feels like a very low budget project.
Paul plays a former successful actor who now mostly hangs out on a boat with a friend. He also has an interest in the occult, so when he and his friend find a severed hand on the beach and then bodies start washing up on the shore, he becomes obsessed with the idea that a legendary ancient female vampire called Empusa is responsible.
Way too much of the film features Paul and his buddy just hanging out talking about getting laid and getting old.
At the same time, there’s also a sudden and brief rash of fun and funny onscreen murders that seem to involve young people thinking they’re traveling through a fun house only to be killed by the vampire women in their lair. There’s even a funny gay couple that gets catty about whether or not one of the vampire women is scary or not, landing this film on the does the gay guy die? page. If you ask me, we should have gotten more of this earlier in the film to keep us interested.
I also don’t quite understand the plot. The corpse of one victim starts visiting Paul and tells him he has to cross into another dimension in order to take on the gaggle of female vampires in their lair. So I’m thinking the people actually strolling into their lair on the beach were also crossing into another dimension?
When Paul starts battling the vampire women by tossing knives at them, the low budget visual style of the sequence made me laugh. It feels like a total cheesy direct-to-DVD production.
My Christmas horror experience this year included creatures, the infected, and a backwoods religious experience. Let’s take a look at the only four films I could scrounge up to add to the complete holiday horror movies page during this second holiday season of COVID.
If you ask me, this a Danish 6-episode “series” on Netflix is just a single 2-hour movie divided into 20-minute episodes.
Reminiscent of the “kid befriends little critter that brings big trouble” movies of the 1980s, Elves is about a family that goes to spend Christmas at a house on an isolated island.
The locals are all a little dark and mysterious. Probably because they’ve got the forest gated off and regularly bring cows in there to leave as sacrifices.
When the young daughter finds a cute little critter and takes it home, it’s no surprise that there are bigger critters behind that gate, and they aren’t happy…
There are plenty of suspenseful moments as the critters try to figure a way out of their forest to get revenge on the humans, but despite the title, this isn’t about Santa’s elves and didn’t even need to take place at Christmas. It barely feels like it does, so don’t expect loads of holiday spirit.
For me, the best part is when the little girl cries, “this is all my fault!”, and the mean old lady who is the main gatekeeper of the critters is like, “Yes it is, and now your whole family is going to die because of you.” Heh heh.
BLACK FRIDAY (2021)
It was impossible for me to not get excited about a holiday horror zomcom starring Devon Sawa and Bruce Campbell. What could possibly go wrong?
The writing. The writing could go wrong. It just seems to have totally missed the mark here. I didn’t expect a reinventing of the wheel in a movie about a small group trapped in one location filled with infected people. But what I did expect from a formulaic, cliché plot was for the presentation to rise above those issues by bringing its own special blend of fun and funny. Unfortunately, this film just doesn’t.
Bruce is a manager at a toy store bracing for Black Friday. There are a handful of other stereotypical, predominantly unlikable, cardboard characters, but taking the cake is the Black, gay assistant manager. It is astonishing how horribly this bitch is written right from the start, and his character only proves to be easier to hate as the film progresses, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever—at which point the writing seems to try to suddenly backpedal on portraying him as so loathsome by making him comic relief. It doesn’t work because he has been painted so thoroughly as a total dick. Considering horror gays fricking love Bruce Campbell and it’s hinted at that this dude is in love with Bruce, it’s unfortunate that they didn’t go with that instead to make him a fully realized gay character. Huge missed opportunity. Even so, this still goes on the does the gay guy die? page.
As for Bruce, for most of the movie he seems like he doesn’t want to do the usual Bruce thing—which may have been a challenge anyway because the “one-liners” written for him don’t even work when Bruce Campbell delivers them. That is until about the 65-minute mark of this 85-minute movie. All of a sudden Bruce’s character actually livens up and brings desperately needed humor for a short time.
While it’s supposed to be Black Friday, the brief scene dealing with customers filling the store when the doors open makes this seem more like a going out of business sale that has gone on way too long, so there’s nothing left on the shelves and very few customers in the store. It just doesn’t feel like a toy store rush on Black Friday at all.
In the end, the infected were the highlight for me. The makeup effects look gnarly awesome, they continue to get more gruesome and monstrous, and they have an advantage over your average biting infected thanks to an extending tongue. The horrific presence of these freaks should have sparked way more energy from the cast than it does.
And finally, if you’ve seen Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive and you remember the momentous climax, the Black Friday “boss battle” is very reminiscent of that. But the way in which the main kid fights back is a perfect example of clever elements that could have and should have been packed into this film to make it more memorable.
THE ADVENT CALENDAR (2021)
This French Christmas horror flick celebrates the season using an advent calendar as a vehicle for bringing a demon into a young paraplegic woman’s life. If you’re unfamiliar with an advent calendar, it’s a 3-dimensional calendar that lets you count down the days until Christmas by opening one door a day to find some sort of surprise inside, often candy.
The main girl receives the calendar as a birthday gift from a friend and soon discovers that each day holds some kind of horror…mostly in the form of the young woman inadvertently wishing someone dead and not realizing it’s really going to happen.
There demon is definitely awesome, but there’s just a little too much going on here for what is basically a throwback to the simple, supernatural specter curse films of the early 2000s, like The Boogeyman and Darkness Falls. The main girl is dealing with losing use of her legs. Her boss at work hates her. She’s not allowed to see her sick father. She suffers from flashbacks of the tragic occurrence that led to her losing her ability to walk. She has all kinds of man issues. And to top it off, she’s now dealing with this damn Advent calendar, which vacillates between doing her bidding and doing awful things she can’t take back. Making things even more complicated (for her and us), she gets involved in some sort of stock trading thing online.
Meanwhile, the rules of how the Advent calendar works fail to remain consistent. Just how does the Advent calendar and demon within work? At times her dog seems to be inflicting the agony on people she wishes dead—for instance, he basically eats a Matchbox car that pops out of the calendar and serves the same function as a voodoo doll. At other times, the demon chooses to materialize in the real world on its own to deliver some supernatural slasher action. And at yet other times, the main girl herself has to do the dirty work.
Adding to the turmoil, a number of underdeveloped characters are introduced late in the movie and then suddenly play crucial roles. But what doesn’t play much of a role beyond the calendar is Christmas atmosphere. The film takes place in the dead of December, but it just wasn’t making me feel the Christmas spirit.
I had to dig into the vaults for this French film, another non-traditional Christmas horror film. There’s some heavy stuff going on here, much of it not even explained by the end of the film, and some of it even queer, but if you ask me, this is sort of a retelling of the life of Jesus…if there had been room at the inn.
It’s Christmas, and a traveling entertainer dodges some aggressive advances from what I guess you could consider female groupies, and then heads home.
When his van breaks down on a desolate road, a creepy dude searching for his dog in the middle of the night leads him to a nearby inn. The innkeeper has room for the singer and is very accommodating. He even offers to tow and fix the singer’s van. However, he warns the singer not to go into town.
And that’s when shit gets weird.
After witnessing some Deliverance style anal sex with a real farm animal, the singer is soon trapped in a Misery situation, the difference being that his captor is a man who puts a dress on him, ties him up, calls him Gloria, takes him to go cut down a Christmas tree, and spoons him in bed….
The film is weird and unnerving, with plenty of religious themes, an all-male dance number at a tavern with guys I would swear are not actors but actual inbred hillbillies, and a warped and chaotic shootout/home invasion/sodomy scene that is shot from a top-down view.
And yet with all the disturbing shit the singer goes through and the blatant Jesus symbolism at the very end of the film, I honestly didn’t understand what it all meant.
Having checked off all the films in Spanish horror hunk Paul Naschy’s werewolf franchise in a previous post, I now take on most of his horror flicks from the 1970s (there are just two that are not available on DVD or Blu-ray yet). After this, I have one more Naschy blog coming covering his films from the new millennium. For now, it’s back to the 70s…
THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1973)
This is basically The Hunchback of Notre Dame meets The Bride of Frankenstein done nasty 1970s horror style.
Paul Naschy is a hunchback working at a morgue where everyone despises and teases him. He’s not exactly as sympathetic as Quasimodo considering he gets a thrill out of hacking pieces off dead bodies.
But he is in love with a sick woman in the hospital, and she’s the only one who is nice to him. When she dies he goes even crazier. Eventually he enlists a few unorthodox scientists to work in a lair to try to bring her back to life. Not surprisingly, elements of this part of the film are reminiscent of the Hammer films of the 1960s.
This movie is really weird. Every time something goes wrong with the woman’s decomposing body, Paul feels the need to kill someone. There’s a rat swarm scene that apparently used real rats—and they were actually set on fire. I believe there are scenes in several of the Naschy films I’ve watched that might have harmed or killed real animals on screen, so I look away every time a struggling, squealing animal appears in one of his films.
There’s a bizarre beating scene between two female patients that is definitely going for a lesbian S&M vibe, a solution to reviving the dead woman that includes dumping her body in an acid bath (say what?), and eventually there’s…a slime monster. You want horror, you get all kinds of it with this one.
ORGY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1973)
Naschy’s role in this film is actually quite limited, which is unfortunate because it’s a nice macabre and perverted role. He’s a necro gravedigger. Yay!
This is a gothic horror mystery with some living dead sequences now and then, and it’s definitely a little too long to remain interesting, especially with Naschy disappearing early on and only showing up again at the end.
A man comes to a town to collect an inheritance and sees a woman hanging in a tree in the cemetery. He quickly becomes a suspect as he gathers with the family at his deceased uncle’s estate and detectives begin to investigate.
Of course the main man does some of his own investigating to clear his name. Shit is just weird at the estate because—wouldn’t you know it—there’s a mad scientist experimenting in the basement.
And wouldn’t you also know those experiments start leading to the dead walking around. However, this is not a full-fledged zombie film. These eerie zombies just make occasional appearances, which is part of the reason Orgy of the Living Dead is all atmosphere and no action (does that make it a living dead fuck?). One of those films given different titles in different markets, it should never have been given one with the word “orgy” in it, because that sounds like way more fun than you have here.
Also known as The Man With the Severed Head, this film seems like a cheesy, sleazy, long-winded way to simply give Paul a chance to play Frankenstein.
Paul is leader of a gang of thieves, and he gets shot in the head during a getaway. The gang forces a doctor to try to save him, but he is diagnosed as not standing a damn chance of surviving.
For whatever reason, the gang won’t accept that. So begins the passing down of the doctor torch to some mad scientist experimenting with brain transplants. And these brainiacs decide to cut off the head of the gang’s enemy and use his brain for the transplant.
While all this is going on, the gang members have some hilariously lecherous sex, bumping and grinding with absolutely no rhythm or control while slobbering all over their women with their tongues.
The operation is a disaster thanks to a mess of a doctor, and eventually Paul rises as a violent and horny man with a big bandage around his head, hunting down women to rape.
Eventually his gang members have to decide whether or not it’s worth accepting him and his new brain. These thieves might want to take into account that their competition wasn’t smart enough to prevent his brain from being stolen for insertion in Paul’s head…
COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE (1973)
I just love that Paul decided he was going to play as many classic monsters as he could, and do it Hammer style if Hammer was Euro sleaze.
It doesn’t get any better than a vampire movie starting with two dudes delivering a big mysterious crate to a basement. In this case it leads to one guy getting turned into a vampire and the other getting an axe to the head.
Next we meet several young women and a man traveling in a stagecoach that gets into an unfortunate accident. Luckily they are right near Dracula’s gothic home and he lets them stay the night.
As thunder and lightning strike outside, the girls explore the house with candles, and there’s even a cheap pussy scare! I would love to figure out what the very first movie was that gave us a cheap pussy scare.
Soon, the guy that got bit at the beginning, who is much creepier than Paul’s Dracula, delivers the first bite of a guest that leads to a chain of biting. And with this being Euro sleaze, mostly all the girls get bit by their bare boobs. There’s even a lesbian threesome boob biting scene. Personally, I preferred the man-on-man bite.
With a harem of female vamps lined up, Drac sets into motion his ultimate goal—the resurrection of a skeleton in a coffin.
Other than the fact that there’s more sleaze than Hammer Dracula films, this is just as bland.
THE DEVIL’S POSSESSED (1974)
Eh. I don’t know why this was even included in one of the Paul Naschy Blu-ray collections. I know, I know. Because Paul Naschy is in it. However, despite the title and a hint of a witchcraft element, this really isn’t a horror movie. It’s a movie about the sadistic horrors perpetrated by men in medieval times. Yawn.
Paul is an evil king who has some of his minions working on discovering the key to eternal life using witchcraft. Meanwhile, he revels in torturing his enemies…or anyone he deems lesser than him, which is everyone.
So, the bright side of this film is that we get to watch Paul smile gleefully as he stands over two different sweaty, shirtless guys screaming in pain.
Other than that, this is all sword fights and stately soap opera dramatics on the level of Shakespeare.
It’s another rip-off of The Exorcist that I didn’t even know existed until I scored a copy in one of the Paul Naschy Blu-ray collections.
After participating in a satanic ritual, a young woman gets into a car accident and isn’t quite the same. Her concerned family eventually consults a priest, played by Paul.
While the girl spends a lot of time in bed being a bitch to her family, most of the focus is on Paul the priest researching the parallels between mental health and possession while also landing on the radar of detectives due to a rash of occult related murders.
It’s not until the last fifteen minutes that we get the good dose of possessed girl action we’ve been waiting for all along. It’s satisfying, but it is just not enough of the Paul vs. possession craziness I was hoping for.
A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE (1975)
Paul gets to be a giallo detective in this rather routine but nonetheless raunchy flick that can easily offend degenerates like me.
This fucking killer assumes responsibility as the saintly slasher of sinners—drug addicts, sluts, queers, whores, transvestites. You know, anyone who actually enjoys life. Most offensive is that the killer beheads the leader of a gang of Neo-Nazis. Don’t fricking lump the rest of us in with those monsters.
The killer wears a black hoodie and plain black cloth mask and mostly uses a red axe to hack up victims, and then leaves a dragonfly as a calling card on the bodies. While this is a rather uninspired “mystery”, the repetitive slasher elements are plenty entertaining.
Even more entertaining is how a lot of the action in the second half of the film takes place at a creepy, deserted amusement park at night. Not once, but twice someone on a high up structure takes a bullet and we get to watch an obvious dummy bounce off a bunch of obstacles on the way down, which gave me two good chuckles.
More importantly though, we are treated to Paul getting a sponge bath and Paul making the gay character smile.
THE MUMMY’S REVENGE (1975)
It’s so hokey to have a narrator describing what happened back in the bad old days, but it is what it is. Pharaoh Paul Naschy was a cruel tyrant…but shirtless!
He tortured and murdered beautiful young women, and he and his lady drank their blood. Then a high priest put a stop to all that with some poison and mummification.
The mummy is discovered thousands of years later by a family in London, and bringing it into their life proves to be a huge mistake. Descendants of the mummy, including one who looks exactly like the pharaoh, hatch a plan to bring the mummy back to life eternally.
This is basically a mummy slasher, so it’s kind of fun. The only problem I had with it is that when they first resurrect the mummy, he fricking talks and orders them around, which is cheesy. It also defeats the purpose of then making him a grunting monster that lurks in the shadows for the rest of the film. You’re such a poser, dude. We know you can talk.
It begins normal enough—rich elites are invited to a party of perversion at a castle. But the debauchery is interrupted—by a nuclear explosion outside. What the hell is the point of all that white privilege if a nuclear explosion is going to ruin your orgy?
On the bright side, that must be one seriously fortified castle…
The richies venture outside (with weapons) to see the aftermath, and meet a blind man who says the nuclear fallout has left any survivors blind and they’ve all gathered together in the monastery.
Gathered might be the wrong word. More like they’ve all collided. In one of the creepiest scenes in the film, the richies witness a bunch of blind people crammed into the building and bouncing off one another in a panic.
This scene establishes the basic premise—blind crazies! The richies must remain quiet to survive. Awesome. I just wish the film were as exciting as it sounds. There are a few cool scenes, like the crazies crashing a car right through a house the richies hide in (they’re blind, so it makes sense they didn’t see the house…). The only really eerie scene in the film for me? The crazies taunt the richies by lowering a couple of dead bodies into the house through a hole in the roof. EEK!
The crazy does start affecting the richies slowly but surely, including Paul, who seems to step up as the main character briefly near the end of the film. The conclusion is a downer on a much bigger, doomsday level of disturbing than the final scene of Night of the Living Dead.
A little late in the game, but for his directorial debut, Paul decided to take on a witch trial period piece.
It’s pretty easy to write this off as a simple misogynistic exploitation flick—it has plenty of scenes of writhing, naked women being tortured—but there are a few interesting points being made here, and none of them are flattering to men.
Paul is naturally the witchfinder, and throughout the torture we see that there’s no fair trial for women—they are commanded to admit they are witches otherwise they will just keep getting tortured worse and worse. The men doing and watching the torture of these naked women get perverse joy out of it. An absolutely awful character trying to assault a woman proudly admits he loves burning the young ones and that he hates all women because he is just like any other man. And that becomes quite clear in the absolute worst torture scene in the film, when a woman’s nipple is ripped off, and then it is suggested the executioner is about to do something awful to her vagina. Luckily for her, she dies before he can.
Torture and misogyny aside, there is an actual plot, and it is loaded with witchcraft and Satanism. A young woman whose man is murdered is determined to find out who the murderer is so she can get revenge. So with the help of some witches, she participates in Satanic rituals and sells her soul to the Devil for the answer.
Wouldn’t you know the man she’s after is Paul? And he’s actually going through some stuff himself as his heinous job starts to wear on his conscience.
I must say that the conclusion makes this an incredibly unsatisfying revenge film, but the plot requires Paul to shave his head, and he looks goooood bald.
THE DEVIL INCARNATE (1979)
Not sure if anything is lost in (subtitle) translation, but this goofy little film seems to be totally tongue in cheek and not to be taken seriously.
It’s a period piece that begins with Paul playing the Devil, who has come to earth in human form. Why? To tempt individuals to sin just so he can turn around and punish them!
First he rescues a young dude from trouble and makes him into his apprentice. Together they travel on foot to various places, where Paul works his evil magic, most often seducing innocent women just so he can turn around and ruin their lives right after all the cumming is done. He also brands each woman by slicing an inverted crucifix into their derrières. At one point he even brands a dude.
The good news is Paul shows his booty in this film during the sex scenes.
He convinces a nun that sex will exorcise her convent of demons, and then he and his apprentice hit up a whorehouse.
And I’m not even joking when I tell you there’s basically a sped up Benny Hill chase sketch sequence involving everyone running around the whorehouse naked. WTF?
There’s also an icky scene in which Paul shows the young apprentice the future—which includes what I thinks is real footage of the Holocaust along with other catastrophic events.
This is the pivotal point in the whole plot, for Paul fricking sells his apprentice to a rich and powerful gay dude who wants that young ass! There’s even a rape scene in which three men hold the apprentice in place while the rich man screws him. It is an odd approach to gay themes. There’s no judgement by the Devil beyond him saying no asshole is worth what the gay dude wants to pay for it. Of course homosexuality is depicted as predatory and violent, but the Devil isn’t punishing anyone for it, so it doesn’t seem he considers it a sin. I was never confused about my sexuality before, but suddenly I’m totally confused…
The cool thing is the apprentice decides to stay with his big rich sugar daddy (not that he has a choice) and plans to get revenge on the Devil, landing this one on the does the gay guy die? page.