The gays give some Road Head to a muscle hunk…

Okay, so Road Head starts with a straight kill—a girl giving her man a BJ in their car on a dark road when they, um, come across the killer.

However, our main characters consist of a tough girl and a gay couple! The girl brings along a figment of her imagination…the boyfriend she just broke up with and loathes…so all the expressions of love are between the gay couple!

The odd setup has the trio heading to a lake getaway in their van, only to find the lake has dried up, so they’re basically driving through a desert. Within minutes they are being terrorized by the muscle hunk killer!

As fun and funny as this film is due in part to great comic performances, the most notable letdown is that there are only three main characters running around a flat expanse of nothingness, which doesn’t provide much opportunity for anything unexpected. Quite a bit of dialogue pads significant stretches of the film, an issue that could have easily been eradicated if there had been just two more friends on the trip with them. That would have allowed for nicely paced kills and a body count, which we just don’t get here.

To mix things up after a variety of chase scenes, the friends end up at a sort of junkyard. The hunky killer is part of this movie’s version of a backwoods family—in this case just a bunch of random goofy guys and a drag queen. There’s a shift in tone from standard horror comedy to a totally campy farce for a little while, so you sort of have to be prepared to go with it. The drag queen gets some funny moments but is underutilized in my opinion.

Surprising is the fact that the film doesn’t live up to the promise of its title. There was a golden opportunity to establish a modus operandi for the killer—he beheads people who give and get blowjobs in cars. Yet despite the presentation of that scenario twice, it simply couldn’t be expanded upon because of that whole issue with their being so few characters. There are also some wonky green screen moments that reveal limitations in the budget, but they also add to the indie charm.

Even without the blowjobs, the climax totally rocks. The main girl gets in some I Spit On Your Grave exploitative moments, but it’s one of the gay guys who really steps up his game to become the hero. It’s at this moment that you realize that as funny as much of the script is, it simply isn’t structured in a way that can fully take advantage of what a great gay character he is. However, he definitely takes advantage of the great material he’s given at the end and absolutely shines, making Road Head a crucial addition to the homo horror movies page.

Posted in Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Four flicks taking us from 79 through 90

More scrounging around has scored me three more flicks to add to my collection, and one I checked out thanks to a tip from a follower of my site. So let’s get into them.

THE MEATEATER (aka: Blood Theatre) (1979)

This film, which a reader of my post clued me into, is better served by the Blood Theatre title. The Meateater doesn’t apply at all unless you count a moment that shows the killer munching on a rat.

Sort of like Blood Theatre 1984, which I just blogged about, Blood Theatre 1979 is about the reopening of an abandoned movie theater. This time a family buys a theater and plans to show only family-friendly G-rated shit. Yawn.

So naturally the previous psycho owner, believed to have been run out of business for showing perverse movies (aka: the good stuff), is still lurking in the building. There’s also a stuttering weirdo who keeps coming around to warn the new owners not to reopen.

There’s plenty of suspenseful music and camerawork, but mostly nothing of significance happens for most of the film. There’s one kill early on, a corpse is found, and then there’s loads of filler as moviegoers come flocking to the new theater. One woman even mentions that her kids have nothing to do since the Donny & Marie show went off the air. Awesome timestamp. Another one is the main family singing “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener” in the car.

Seriously, there’s no body count here. The “killer”, who is pretty creepy, has a slightly deformed face, abducts one girl because she looks like a movie star, and then the family has to save her, which leads to the one super gory moment in the whole movie. That’s it, yet as bland as it is, this Blood Theatre is actually creepier than the other Blood Theatre, and so is its killer.

THE MAJORETTES (1987)

I guess this “slasher” was sorely overlooked in the eighties because it takes a detour in the final 30 minutes and becomes somewhat of a vigilante revenge flick. However, that a) makes it unique, and b) doesn’t detract from the fact that the first hour is totally awesome 80s slasher goodness.

Also totally cool is that the film is directed by horror royalty—Bill Hinzman, the very first zombie from Night of the Living Dead, who would go on to direct his own zombie movie FleshEater a year after The Majorettes.

Things start off perfect, with majorettes practicing a routine to a bad eighties pop song, and then getting photographed by a creep hiding in a vent in the locker room.

The girls are killed off in some absolutely fantastic death sequences by a big killer in camouflage, there’s a sort of religious cult subplot, there’s a white trash gang subplot, there’s an elderly old lady subplot, there’s a hairy mustached detective on the case, there’s a Rick Springfield poster sighting, there’s a sleazy strip club scene, and there’s a cute main boy determined to stop the killer.

And then comes the awesome little twist in the slasher plot.

And that is followed by the main boy arming himself with a gun to go have a shootout with the white trash gang while they’re hanging out in their trailer home.

This shit is eighties perfection.

HELL HIGH (1989)

This late 80s film really needs a proper Blu-ray release. The DVD from years ago is not anamorphic and there was a mistake in the mastering—about five minutes are missing from the film right when the plot is taking a major turn, and the company that released the disc never bothered to fix the problem. Sigh.

Anyway, this one starts perfectly for a low budget 80s horror flick. A little girl is warned by her mother not to go down to the “swamps” to play. The swamps look more like a shed in a cornfield, but we can overlook that, because a couple on a motorcycle comes to the shed to have sex, and there’s a horrible accident….

18 years later, the girl is a teacher at a high school where the kids act like the Class of 1984. A bad ass and his thugs harass a clean-cut football player until they convince him to play a prank on the teacher.

The film progresses very slowly with a lot of footage of a football game, but finally the kids show up at the teacher’s house at night wearing scary masks to terrorize her.

Things go horribly wrong, and the teacher’s PTSD from her childhood kicks in. It’s unfortunate that it takes sooooo long to get to the point of the plot, because all the horror fun is rushed.

In a way this is a revenge slasher, with the teacher going batty and killing the kids one by one. There are a few violent death scenes with some eerily effective visuals, it just all happens so fast, as does the denouement. It’s a bummer that they blew the chance to deliver some great scares and suspense, considering the scenes they pulled off totally delivered.

HAUNTING FEAR (1990)

It doesn’t get much more retro than an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation directed by Fred Olen Ray and starring Brinke Stevens. Based on the short story “The Premature Burial”, as Haunting Fear progresses, it becomes clear it should have been a short story, too. There simply isn’t enough plot to fill the near 90 minutes. Would’ve been cool if Ray had perhaps done a Poe anthology instead.

Brinke plays a woman having nightmares about being buried alive. Her husband is fucking his bombshell secretary and they totally want Brinke dead. They see her fragile mental state as their chance to bump her off.

Filling up the time is Jan-Michael Vincent in a totally pointless role as a detective (he basically sits in a car doing a stakeout for the little time he’s in the film), Michael Berryman as a creepy mortician in a dream sequence, and Karen Black as a hypnotist in another pointless role.

The best part of the film is the payoff, when hubby and ho do indeed bury Brinke alive…and she comes back looking all maniacal with a knife to get revenge. The final act and Brinke’s dedication to her performance are the highlight of the film.

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STREAM QUEEN: all kinds of bloodthirsty creatures

Plenty of monstrous mayhem in my latest marathon of horror flicks on a variety of streaming services, so let’s get into them.

PULL (2019)

Pull is a little odd, a little disjointed, a little amateur feeling at times, and runs a little too long, but I have to admit I was quite satisfied with all the horror it delivered by the time the final credits rolled.

It’s sort of a case of me liking many of its scenes better than the film as a whole, right from the very intense opener, which has a guy dragged into a hole by the chain attached to him…internally. Eek!

We then meet a small group of agents working on missing persons cases. They track down one young woman at…um…Christmas dinner, and the truth of what’s actually going on is worse than they could imagine.

Yes, this is a Christmas horror movie, with gloomy renditions of carols often playing as victims are tortured in a dungeon lair. So of course it goes on the holiday horror page.

And the “serial killer” they’re hunting is less than human…and more than one. There are some gnarly looking creatures in this hybrid horror flick, so our team of agents battles it out with a grisly gaggle of hideous horrors before the final act.

It really is a load of fun with good makeup effects and gore if you can stick with it through some of the slower sections.

SHORTCUT (2020)

If you just need a fix of teens being terrorized by a monster, Shortcut is the way to go.

The journey of a small group of kids on a bus takes an unexpected detour when a creep with a gun hijacks the bus, and one of the kids recognizes the him as “the tongue eater”. EEK!

But the hijacker is just the start of their problems. When the bus stops in a dark tunnel, the group trapped on the bus soon finds out there’s something lurking in the dark. I feared an early dream sequence might be a bad sign that the pacing was desperate for filler scares, but it wasn’t necessary at all because the film takes off once the creature action kicks in. And while this initially feels like it’s going to turn into Jeepers Creepers 2, the creators make the smart move of getting the group off the bus rather quickly…and into the maze of tunnels.

This isn’t a gory flick, so it does have more of a PG-13 suspense vibe, with a likable group of kids you can root for and a cool looking monster. It deviates oddly from its momentum at one point for a backstory totally unrelated to the cast of characters, but it gets back on track for a pretty cool final escape effort.

ARMY OF THE DEAD (2021)

Supposedly director Zack Snyder wanted to make a follow-up to the Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake (one of my faves) ages ago. If this film is any indication of his initial vision, everything that was original when he thought of it came to fruition in a myriad of zombie movies and television shows he didn’t make over the last 17 years, because there simply isn’t a moment of this film that isn’t derivative.

I can’t fathom why he thought it was worth telling this story at this point. Are even the most diehard zombie fans (I was once one of them) craving these same clichés again? Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fun zombie moments. They simply would have been better if at least 45 minutes had been cut from this bloated, 150-minute film, especially considering the most satisfying clichés are packed into the last 40 minutes.

Honestly, any zombie film aficionado could sit through Army of the Dead and literally identify which zombie movies from the last two decades each scene and plot point appears to be mimicking, from the Resident Evil series right down to the zombie tiger from the SyFy original Zombie Apocalypse with Ving Rhames.

A cool opener lets us know there are strong, fast zombies creating a zombie army, but doesn’t in any way imply that this is connected to Dawn of the Dead (sorry, not an official sequel). A cool intro credits sequence catches us up quickly on how we got where we are in the zombie apocalypse, and since much of this film features CGI footage and effects, the action has a video game look and feel.

Next we meet our main man, played by Dave Bautista. Dave was in the military. Dave had to kill his zombie wife. Dave now works in a diner. Dave is hired to go into a quarantine zone to retrieve a load of money. This is the plot of Train to Busan 2. Dave assembles a team to help him. Dave meets them one at a time to establish each character for us. This part of the film goes on forever.

There are several hot and hunky guys, all the usual character stereotypes, including a sort of gay guy never fully realized as gay so we don’t know if he’s really gay even if he does seem to be hot for a couple of the other guys, characters looking for redemption, characters with no redeeming qualities, occasional light humor, exciting but typical zombie fight sequences, and even a song choice with a title so obvious no other director ever even bothered considering it: “Zombie” by The Cranberries.

And like I said, the last forty minutes deliver all the zombie fun. Of course it is also the part that feels exactly like you’re playing a Resident Evil game straight through to the final cutscene of the escape in a helicopter as the quarantine zone is nuked.

And if you watch this film and aren’t convinced that horror needs about a twenty-year break from zombies, you’re in luck. It appears this may be the launch of a series called Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas. And shut the fuck up. Of course I’m going to watch the hell out of it.

PSYCHO GOREMAN (2020)

Director Steven Kostanski (Leprechaun Returns, Manborg, The Void, Father’s Day) of the Astron-6 team is back and brings his buddy Adam Brooks along to play the father in this film that could be a 1980s family sci-fi movie…if it wasn’t also a gory horror comedy.

A brother and sister are playing in their yard when they dig up a glowing gem. Messing around with it, they accidentally release a violent, hateful alien creature from another planet that quickly shows how brutal he is by tearing up a bunch of lowlifes in a mess of practical effects.

But there’s a catch. Because the kids have the gem, they totally control this evil creature, so he has to obey their orders despite his loathing of them, which makes for a hilarious dynamic made even better thanks to great performances by the kids and the monster.

In a way, this is like a much darker and more gruesome version of the hilarious SyFy series Resident Alien. And the great thing about director Steven Kostanski is that he doesn’t try to emulate 80s horror—he just nails it. I can only assume he grew up on films from the decade.

The highlight for me is a montage featuring the kids rockin’ out in their garage (with Psycho Goreman on drums) as clips flash by of them having fun with him all over town…including the obligatory fashion show. There’s also a funny little moment where they bring up porn and unintentionally make Psycho question his sexuality.

The final act gets a bit hokey and is where the movie really goes into “family fun” territory as the family has to pick sides when Psycho is hunted down by his enemies—which kind of steps visually into Star Wars cantina territory.

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Five flicks from two indie horror directors of the 80s

My never-ending hunt for more obscure 80s horror flicks I had yet to add to my movie collection recently resulted in the addition of five from two directors I already have in my collection: Roberta Findlay, who was also a porn director, and Rick Sloane, who spent the 90s making Vice Academy after his 80s horror output movies. As a bonus, each director delivers a movie to add to the holiday horror page!

THE ORACLE (1985)

We’ll start with Roberta Findlay, the director of Prime Evil and Tenement, who beat Kevin Tenney to the Ouija board horror flick idea by a year…but apparently she couldn’t get the rights to use the actual board from Parker Brothers, so she had to craft an automatic writer for her movie. Quite frankly, it’s a lot cooler and more mysterious than a Ouija board.

The film takes place over the Christmas and New Year holiday week and features horror happenings at parties for both holidays.

It also has a big butch lesbian as a psycho who likes to do awful things to women. Eek!

Oh yes. This one is sleazy, offensive, cheap, gory, and silly. In other words, 80s awesome!

A woman and her husband move into a new apartment. She finds an automatic writer left behind, starts using it, and unleashes a ghostly presence in her apartment along with a whole lot of eighties nonsense.

Basically, the spirit is out for revenge from beyond the grave. As the main woman tries to figure out what is going on, there are some odd and totally eighties horror moments drenched in eighties horror lighting, like some weird claymation monster that comes out of the automatic writer to attack a maintenance man, and a corpse ghost that attacks near the end of the film. That’s enough to make this one a winner for me.

BLOOD SISTERS (1987)

With Blood Sisters, Roberta Findlay manages to tick off all the right boxes for an 80s horror movie plot, and even includes plenty of scenes that provide just enough clips for a great trailer when plucked out of the full film.

However, despite the fact that this one really propels you right back to the eighties, it is oddly flat and uninspired with no real tension or scares.

The opener has a prostitute and her client shot to death in the most beautiful whorehouse I’ve ever seen.

13 years later, a bunch of sorority pledges is sent to that very house for a scavenger hunt.

But first they hang out, party, and have sex with their boyfriends…while some guys are busy at the house rigging it to mess with the girls.

A majority of this film is simply cheap scares as the girls stumble upon one prank after another.

They sit around talking about the house’s history, there’s a flashback sequence to the whorehouse days, and one girl has visions of ghostly whores roaming the halls.

58 minutes in, the first girl gets murdered.

What few kill we get are quite weak with very little blood.

The girls run around screaming a lot, and the killer reveal is pretty lame. It really is hard to believe that the perfect setup for an 80s slasher is wasted this badly.

LURKERS (1988)

With this one, Roberta Findlay basically remakes The Sentinel with a 1980s vibe and less controversy.

The opener has a young girl forced by her bitch of a mother to go outside of her apartment building to play. Creepy girls wrap a jump rope around her neck, a mysterious woman lurks nearby, and then the girl somehow ends up safely in bed at night with zombie ghosts surrounding her.

15 years later, the girl is a woman living in the city. She is about to get married, but she is still haunted by her childhood. She sees creepy little girls and has nightmares of her evil mother. She consults a psychic. She tries to get help from her hot priest brother, sporting his best George Michael facial scruff, but he wants nothing to do with her—leading her boyfriend to assume the brother is probably a queer who hates women. I can work with that.

Things really don’t pick up until the couple decides to return to her old apartment building in hopes that confronting her past will help her move forward. This is when shit gets trippy.

She’s separated from the boyfriend and is subjected to a series of creeps and crazies doing sexual and psychotic things at a party where everyone is out to get her.

Seriously, if you’ve seen the 1977 film The Sentinel, this main girl experiences the same fate as the leading lady in that film…

BLOOD THEATRE (1984)

The first horror flick from Rick Sloane, the director of Hobgoblins, Blood Theatre is a sort of supernatural slasher spoof. It has a reputation as being a bad film. However, IF a) it’s from the 80s, b) it’s a bad horror movie from the 80s, and c) it’s a bad horror movie from the 80s starring Mary Woronov, THEN it’s an awesome movie.

The owner of a movie theater buys another movie theater that has been closed since a murder there years before.

He sends half his crew to the empty rundown theater to clean it up, and that’s when the killing begins.

Movie theater themed kills, silly humor, oddball characters, some tits, cat fights, plenty of red lighting, and Mary Woronov make for a cheesy retro 80s good time, but the killer is a pretty lame old dude in a tuxedo, and I’m really not sure if he was supernatural or just a lame old dude in a tuxedo.

THE VISITANTS (1986)

The Visitants is the second horror film from the director of Hobgoblins, and this just might be my favorite film by the director of Hobgoblins.

Going for a totally old school 1950s alien sci-fi flick feel, it’s about a high school kid who believes the man and woman living next door are aliens. So he breaks into their house and steals one of their alien guns to show his science teacher.

The couple is onto him and terrorizes him to get it back…coming for him at a totally awesome Halloween party. Yes, this is a Halloween alien sci-fi flick!

Campy and kooky, the film features animated intro credits and has plenty of Halloween spirit, a likable cast of kids, an 80s vibe, a totally 80s dance scene set to a surf punk rock song, and a sequence with the kids getting taken aboard a spaceship!

But best of all is the alien couple. The pair playing the parts look like they are having a blast doing it and bring a perfect cheesy 80s tone to their performances.

Posted in In My Write Mind: News About My Writings, Living in the 80s - forever, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting murderous closet case Freddy Krueger by today’s queer horror standards

It’s a glorious time to be a queer horror fan. LGBTQ+ positive horror is being celebrated throughout numerous mediums. Queers are creating films, TV shows, fiction, comics, art, and merchandise, and have flooded the market with sites, podcasts, and film festivals devoted to queer horror. My own Comfort Cove fiction series focuses on a city strictly inhabited by gay men of all sizes, shapes, ages, colors, and belief systems who support, nurture, protect, and love each other, and indulge proudly in their erotic desires, while the threats against their existence are hideous creatures, demons, monsters, witches, ghosts, and other supernatural entities instead of the predictable repressive, hateful, and abusive hetero/conservative/religious extremist majority.

Indeed, a segment of the queer horror community that always longed for genuine queer representation and horror made for queers by queers is at last seeing that (wet) dream come true.

However, over the years since I established Boys, Bears & Scares and began writing my gay horror fiction to help fill that niche, it was a revelation to me that there are many individuals who found horror to be transformative in their lives, crucial to their sanity, or an outlet that served as a coping mechanism, allowing them to feel a sense of worth through identifying with elements of the genre as they came to terms with who they are. That’s an invaluable byproduct of horror for many queer horror fans, and it makes for a richer and more diverse community in which distinct voices with unique backgrounds have something to bring to the table.

My life in horror is splashed all over my site, but before I get into my thoughts on Freddy going gay, let me reiterate how my perspective developed. I’ve never correlated being gay with my love of horror. Horror attached itself to me when I was a kid like a parasite that found something yummy in me to feed off. I was only two years old when my family moved into a house that proved to be haunted, which I detail here. A majority of my nuclear family members were fans of the genre, so I was exposed to it from a young age, and my brothers and I passed the time in our house jumping out from around corners shouting “Boo!” to scare each other. I was a child in the 1970s, an era when everything unexplained was trendy and the existence of ghosts, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, aliens, and satanic cults was splashed across every tabloid cover in the grocery store. I was only four when The Exorcist was making audiences puke in theaters, and my mother was obsessed with the movie and the music, so she played the Tubular Bells 8-track constantly. My brother collected and crafted all the Aurora Universal Monster models, and I longed to have my own to build and paint. In 1975, the movie theater two blocks from my house saw lines for Jaws wrapping all the way around the block for the entire summer. Between 1976 and 1977, my mother was terrified that serial killer the Son of Sam might target one of my older brothers because they had long hair, and the situation hit way too close to home when he ended up shooting my babysitter. In 1979, Long Island, where I grew up, became infamous due to The Amityville Horror transitioning from book to screen. And then the 1980s hit and I was immersed in a teenage wasteland of slashers and low budget horror movies on cable and VHS…along with most other Gen Xers. I may have been a bit more obsessive about horror than your average teen, but horror didn’t make me some sort of freak—it just made me the expert peers turned to when they had a horror question. I also had a whole lot of other shit going on. I was a lover of music, television, movies, and books, and I was into singing, dancing, art, and writing. In high school, I was known just as much for leading an entire song and dance routine to “Fame” in the talent show as I was for dressing up as Freddy Krueger on senior fantasy day several years before Freddy costumes were being mass produced. That move didn’t cause classmates to look at me differently—it made me the most popular kid in school for a day for the first time ever.

My big gay boy horror experience is my own and based on a very particular history, and perhaps my outlook and appreciation of the genre is less complex than it is for others that have faced many more challenges than I have. It’s as I’ve watched the gay horror community grow and come out of its closet thanks to social media that I’ve discovered how different my horror existence is. Horror was never life-altering, cathartic, or an escape from a painful reality for me. It has always been a pure thrill ride. I love being scared. I’ve rarely identified with the monster. I usually relate to and fear for the victims. And I never got the sense that I was somehow not being represented or “seeing myself” in horror if no one was gay. For me, horror consisted of people and monsters. I was always “people”.

And therefore, there’s yet another of the numerous approaches to “queer horror” that I find odd, and that is the applying of a queer eye on just about anything and everything within the realm of horror out of a need to feel some sort of ownership over it, as if it’s not just enough to be a fan of horror—the genre must also speak to and validate queer identity at every turn. Hearing stories of the variety of ways in which horror has deeply impacted queer people is fascinating, yet at the same time, I see the trend beginning to spiral out of control. It seems to me that instead of recounting genuine instances of how and why specific horror changed their lives, many devoted lovers of the genre are going back and rewriting horror history to satisfy their queer feelings now, often deconstructing horror of the past to find queer subversion where there isn’t any or none was intended by the creator, and on the flip side, cherry-picking moments from horror without any analysis whatsoever of context in time and space just so they can say “this hurts my queer feelings and is therefore blatantly homophobic, so we must all denounce it as offensive and it needs to be banished from the horror canon.” Seems like crafting your very own self-inflicted torture porn, and I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind it, but if there are those who find it therapeutic or fulfilling in some way, or feel they are doing a service to others, more power (bottom) to them.

As for me, I’ll make note of sensitive content in films I watch and blog about on my site as a heads up to potential viewers, but I don’t take on the role of queer quality control police doing social media blasts to warn everyone away from every horror that might rub some the wrong way. I just don’t have the desire or negative energy enough to try so hard to seek out reasons to be offended by the very horror that has shaped the horror lover and creator that I’ve become. There will always be horror that upsets me, disturbs me, or makes me uncomfortable and may not be my thing for a variety of reasons, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it (literally), and quite honestly, I’ll give it props for doing what horror is supposed to do (while angrily flipping it the bird at the same time). Besides, the tag line of my site is “if you’re looking for a safe space, you’ve come to the wrong place,” and as a writer of horror myself, I consider challenging the feelings and emotions of those who consume it as crucial to ensuring it affects them. Or it could just be that because I’m the youngest of four boys, I am now getting my own revenge for being teased as a child by getting under the skin of others…

As I finally near the purpose of this post—to homo hack and sissy slash a movie to pieces myself—I shall defend the keepers of the queer horror theory gates by giving them credit for often getting the blatant shit right without killing the charm of the genre by overthinking it. On the other hand, there are also cases when the general queer horror population seems to interpret obvious shit totally wrong! And so we come to a film that has become rather infamous in queer horror discussions in recent years, even more so now that Mark Patton, the gay star, has made a documentary detailing his experience working on the film and how he feels it affected the rest of his career and life.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge has the distinction of being the only Elm Street film featuring a male protagonist. In my opinion—one I rarely try to express in my posts because I spent over a fricking decade doing critical analysis crap while working my way towards a master’s, and vowed never to not have fun reading, writing, or watching films again after that—Elm Street 2 is also the only installment with homosexual subtext that has been misconstrued as homoerotic by many gay boys excited to see a few bare male asses in a horror movie for a change. If you look past the asses and delve deeper into what’s really going on, I see it as an anti-gay film that uses Freddy as a metaphor for the evils of coming out of the closet and disrupting the heteronormativity of society.

While most films in the franchise feature Freddy using a female’s mind to lure victims into his dream world, part 2 has Freddy trapped inside of Jesse, a male lead, and using his body to come out in the waking world to destroy everyone in Jesse’s life.

In other words, Freddy is a metaphor for Jesse’s closeted, sinful homosexual desires…which always involve violence and death. Whenever Jesse lets Freddy come out to play, he does terrible things to hurt other people. Struggling to contain it, Jesse is plagued by guilt and shame.

When we first meet Jesse, he is having a nightmare in which he is a classic case of the high school outsider. He doesn’t look like his waking pretty boy self, but more like a creepy geek, sitting at the back of a bus while two girls stare at him with disdain, whisper about him, and laugh at his expense. When he wakes up screaming once Freddy attacks, the first thing said about him also references his otherness…his sister asks his mother, “Why can’t Jesse wake up like everyone else?”

Next comes the blossoming of Jesse’s bromance with male classmate Grady on the baseball field at school. They get into a very pointless, toxic male fight over sports, during which Grady pulls down Jesse’s sweats and exposes his jock strap-clad ass. Their physical and verbal interactions are attacks on each other’s masculinity, not for the sake of pleasure, and once Jesse stands up to Grady and shows he’s not just a pretty boy (code word for gay), they can become friends.

When their gym teacher breaks up the fight, he tells them to “assume the position”, which appears to refer to a punishment of holding themselves in a push-up position. However, while they’re doing that, we learn the deeper implications—Grady informs Jesse that the gym teacher hangs out at queer S&M joints and likes pretty boys…like Jesse. To squash any possibility that Grady is implying that he thinks Jesse is pretty, he immediately turns to straight guy talk, asking Jesse if he’s mounting his female friend Lisa. Later, when the gym teacher comes up in conversation again, his masculinity is mocked by the boys, who both make reference to him always having a stick up his ass.

It’s after this first male bonding that Freddy comes to Jesse with a clear-cut proposition: “I need you, Jessie. You’ve got the body, I’ve got the brain.” The first thing Jesse does when the scary, predatory man stalks him is call for his father, and Freddy informs him, “Daddy can’t help you now.” This exploration of failed connections between gay boys and their fathers, and the inability of fathers to protect their sons from the dangers of gay threats come up several times throughout the film, as we’ll see.

Jesse’s first liaison with Freddy is followed by…a science teacher lecturing in great detail about the gastrointestinal function of the human colon, almost as if reminding us that the asshole is a dirt road meant for use only as a one-way street. The boys in class make icky fart sounds and it’s all a big joke, reinforcing that real boys find butts disgusting. Seconds later, Jesse, who has fallen asleep during this important lesson, awakens with a long, thick snake winding its way all the way up his body from below, and he screams like a girl at the horror of the phallic invasion. In fact, every time Jesse wakes from one of these metaphorical dreams, he screams like a girl.

One way for Jesse to keep his “Freddy” suppressed is to focus his attention on a girl. When he slips up in private, gyrating like a go-go boy while alone in his bedroom cleaning (to the original version of “Touch Me (All Night Long)” by Wish years before Cathy Dennis had a hit with it), his new female friend Lisa intrudes just in time to give him a reset.

 

Still, the changes taking place in Jesse begin to tear apart his family. His mother feels they can’t help him and need to take him to a psychiatrist. His father is not supportive or concerned about what he’s going through or the pain he may be suffering, and insists he needs a kick in the ass—the good old tough love approach to make him a man. Jesse even sneaks into his innocent sister’s bedroom (gays bad, gays threat to children), not once, but twice. However, he resists the urge to do something awful to her.

Then there’s the big gay moment when Jesse ventures out to a queer bar under cover of the night following a fight with his dad. While he usually sleeps shirtless, now he looks much more innocent in his flannel pajamas. At the bar he is tracked down by his sadomasochistic pedophile leather man gym teacher, who is punished with a violent, sexualized death for preying on his young male student.

After bringing Jesse back to the school gym and sending him off to shower, the gym teacher digs out some jump ropes, planning to tie up and sexually abuse his underage student, but instead he gets dragged into the shower, tied up, and has his ass whipped by Freddy while Jesse watches.

It may seem gay, but gay sex, even the rough BDSM stuff, doesn’t end with one dude getting slashed to death…the fate of the gym teacher.

Finally there’s a very heterosexual social event…a pool party at which horny adolescent boys and girls get to partner off. When Jesse’s inner turmoil seems about to take over, he sneaks away with Lisa to the cabana and tells her he’s losing it and is going to be taken away due to his abnormal behavior. She insists she can help, so sex is initiated. But Jesse can’t perform because his Freddy tendencies start coming out again, including a big nasty tongue that spills out on Lisa’s breasts, bringing to mind a mouthful of vomit, as if the mere sight of her tits makes Jesse barf.

It’s interesting to note that just as Jesse and Lisa begin to get sexy together, the 1980s hi-nrg gay club track “Whisper to a Scream” by Bobby O starts playing at the party.

 

After being repelled by the female determined to convert him, Jesse runs to shirtless Grady for comfort…actually sneaking into his bedroom while he sleeps and invading his personal space.

Calling him out on being in a bedroom with another guy when he has a woman waiting for him, Grady tells Jesse to go home and take a bottle of sleeping pills! Sure he’s inferring that Jesse should get some sleep, but considering he suggests taking a bottle rather than some sleeping pills, it almost seems like he’s telling his gay friend to just go kill himself. Jesse keeps begging for help, asking to sleep there and requesting that Grady watch him while he sleeps in case he does anything weird. Grady agrees, essentially allowing himself to be seduced by his friend. As a result, Jesse’s inner urge comes out once again and kills Grady. And who does Grady scream for? His father…who is locked out on the other side of the bedroom door, listening in horror and powerless to do anything as his son is taken by another man. It’s also not lost on me that with all the more masculine 80s pop culture posters hanging on Grady’s walls, the one that is totally prominent when he dies at the hands of Freddy with sweat glistening all over his shirtless body is that of Limahl, former lead singer of U.S. one-hit wonder Kajagoogoo. Honestly, back then it would have been bizarrely queer for a straight high school guy in the U.S. to have a poster of Limahl gone solo on his wall.

So how can Jesse squash his Freddy compulsion once and for all? He has to accept the love of a woman. He runs back to Lisa, who tells him to fight the feeling inside. It’s an internal struggle that has been tearing Jesse apart.

It’s rather tragic when Lisa is coaxing Jesse to let go of the Freddy inside of him, because Freddy responds, “He’ll die with me. He’ll die with both of us.” The line speaks to the tragic truth about gay men who deny their sexuality and chose to fake a heterosexual life with a woman…they die inside and never actually get to live their life. But in Jesse’s case, Lisa’s words and a heterosexual kiss cure him of his sinful behaviors and send his big gay inner demon to hell.

And there you have it. Me going all queer theory on your ass to argue that Elm Street 2 is not homoerotic, but horribly homophobic. I also have a confession to make. When I saw it in theaters as a teen in 85, I didn’t think much about the queer stuff, but I was happy to see man butt. When I realized as an adult just how anti-gay the film is…I didn’t give a shit. To this day it remains my second favorite Freddy movie after the first.

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PRIME TIME: returning to familiar territory…

It’s a handful of films I checked out on Prime with connections to films I’ve blogged about in the past (sequels, same directors, etc.), so let’s see if it was worth coming back for more.

NAVY SEALS V DEMONS (2017)

I didn’t love Navy Seals vs. Zombies, but at least it had enough going for it to entice me to check out this companion film. Perhaps the goal was to spark a Navy Seals vs. series of horror movies, but I hope someone thought better of it after they went through with making and releasing this disaster.

Even worse, I lured the hubba hubba into watching this one with the promise of muscle hunks and demon battle action scenes.

Leading man Mikal Vega is a stud (he was also in Navy Seals vs. Zombies as a different character), but his pretty face and bod are about all this mess has going for it.

I don’t know if this film is supposed to appeal to the middle of the country, but it’s about a navy seal assigned to go to a small Bible-thumping town to stop illegal Mexicans from being killed by demons, because no one else really cares.

He assembles a small group of tough guys, they jump on motorcycles and head to the town, they get into it with some of the locals, they stop at a strip joint, our hunky lead gets a lap dance, and the stripper calls him a faggot because he doesn’t seem that into it…ugh.

A priest shows up and tells them he’s protecting the female virgins in town from the demons. The demons? We don’t see what they look like for a majority of the film because they are in motorcycle gear and helmets. WTF with this movie?

Seriously, nothing happens and the film draaaaaaaaaags.

Finally, at the end, there are some lame demon battles and the few demons there are look pretty cool for a low budget film. Seriously, if you’re going to make a movie called Navy Seals v Demons and you have some muscular dudes and some cool demon makeup, just fucking give us muscular dudes fighting demons for 90 minutes. That’s all we expected. That’s all we wanted. Well, that and Mikal Vega shirtless…especially considering I couldn’t even find a picture of him shirtless on the Internet.

DEAD VOICES (2020)

You’d think coming from the director of Demonic Toys 2 and Gingerdead Man 3 it would at least be stupid fun. Instead, this is a found footage film that does all the same boring as fuck things found footage films have been doing since The Blair Witch Project created all the most boring fucking things a found footage film can do.

Two sisters are making a documentary on psychic mediums, because one of the sisters dumped her boyfriend right before he went to war in Iraq, where he was reported dead. She wants to know what happened to him, so they put and ad in the paper, meet a medium, and take him to a cabin in the woods to find answers. Because a cabin in the woods in The U.S. is exactly where you would find answers to what happened to your boyfriend who died in Iraq.

I mean, why even bother going on? They run around the cabin a lot, they run around the woods a lot, they find evidence of satanic worship, the medium acts weird, one of the sisters stars acting weird.

Find footage clichés include someone panning over a sleeping character with the camera, the camera dropping to the ground and someone being dragged off screen, and someone standing in a corner with their back to the camera. I guess the big reveal of what happened to the boyfriend is at least different if not absurd.

BAD NUN 2: DEADLY VOWS (2019)

Director Scott Jeffrey keeps pumping them out, and I keep coming back for more. The Bad Nun was perhaps one of my faves of his, so I was psyched for this sequel that he co-directs with Rebecca Matthews (The Candy Witch, Pet Graveyard), which captures the spirit of the first film perfectly.

The main girl from the original even comes back for the opening scene (yay!), which is awesome and suspenseful.

Then we meet a new, all-female family that moves into an isolated house in a small town…and immediately gets visited by the nun. Once again she comes at night, knocking on the door, asking to come in…and leaves a nasty housewarming gift. Ew!

The ladies of the house (one of them even a lesbian) delve into the story of the nun, which gives us some good backstory, and you have to love the all-female household parallels to a nunnery.

Along with a more embellished plot, the horror atmosphere is quite creepy, with the nun essentially giving the family The Strangers treatment. I would definitely come back for more if the bad nun comes back for a third film.

HELLKAT (2021)

The Bad Nun 2 directing team joins forces again for a redemption martial arts monster movie about a former female fighter who has hit rock bottom and decides to get into the ring to prove her worthiness.

After an initial demonic creature surprise, the film does tend to wallow in the main woman’s self-pity for quite a while as she hangs with and fends off a bunch of lowlifes before finally accepting the offer to fight from a deliciously devious villain.

Naturally, everything is not as simple as it seems for her, but as her story unfolds in the second half of the film, this becomes more of an action horror flick drenched in red light as men, women, and monsters fight it out like something out of a 1990s Mortal Kombat video game. These types of movies have become a bit of a thing in the last few years, and some cool monsters aside, they’re not my thing personally.

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PRIME TIME: the queers and creatures of director Bruce Wemple

It is so rare for filmmakers to truly think outside of the box these days, so when I checked out The Retreat from director Bruce Wemple despite negative reviews on Amazon and discovered it had not only creatures but some queer content, I had to see what else he had going on. And that led me to Monstrous, which again had negative reviews, creatures, and queer content. As someone who has watched horror for five decades and welcomes an occasional break from the horror trends and clichés of the day, I’m happy to have flipped the haters the bird instead of missing out on these two. So let’s get into them.

THE RETREAT (2020)

From the very beginning of this film about two buddies that go hiking in the woods, which Wemple also wrote, I thought, “Something about this feels kind of gay.” By the end of the film, something about it was indeed kind of gay.

When they reach their 2-man bachelor party getaway, the buddies hang with a couple of other men at the timeshare cabin, where talk turns to the legend of the Wendigo, how it can possess people and even has cannibalistic tendencies.

Once the guys are out in the woods and set up camp, there’s some bonding time and they explore their feelings. Surprisingly, there’s a damn good monster attack early on that goes for a found footage vibe, complete with some effective jump scares.

The next morning, one guy wakes up to find himself alone. The film begins to explore his mental state as he tries to cope with his predicament and piece together what actually happened. Pretty soon we don’t know what’s real and what’s in his head as guilt begins to eat away at him.

As he dives deeper into remembering what occurred the night his friend disappeared, the monster action ramps up, and it is quite satisfying.

While the creature isn’t meant to be the focus of the film, which is more about the man’s own inner turmoil and relationship with his buddy, I think The Retreat does a much better job of delivering on standard horror elements (aka: frightening monster moments) than most psychological horror.

MONSTROUS (2020)

This is an oddly unique hybrid horror film that is also in essence a lesbian horror flick. The credit for that goes to Anna Shields, who is the writer and star. It gets bashed online for not delivering so much on its Bigfoot promise, but I actually found Monstrous quite clever in that Bigfoot is just incidental to a much more calculated threat in the woods. Should Bigfoot have been featured so prominently on the promo art? Perhaps not. But we do get to see a good shot of him before all is said and done, and he looks dang scary. He reminded somewhat of the creature from Exists, one of my favorite Bigfoot films of all time, as did some of the Bigfoot plot elements.

Meanwhile, the film also gets attacked for “shoving woke PC lesbian agenda shit down our throats”. When the fuck did horror fans become such a bunch of….dare I say it? Yes I dare. PUSSIES. Not to mention, when did straight dudes start hating lesbian sex scenes?

The opener is a short, suspenseful Bigfoot scene that lets us know there is most definitely a Bigfoot lurking in the woods.

Then we meet a guy (the leading man from The Retreat) who is not only into reports of Bigfoot attacks, but is concerned about a friend who disappeared after a planned trip into the Adirondacks. He asks a female friend to join him in trying to track her down, but then bails at the last minute, leaving the female friend to do it herself. She soon meets another girl, and they immediately pull a major lesbian stereotype move, shacking up together…in a cabin in the woods! But as she’s busy getting romantic with the stranger, the main girl is quietly searching for any signs of her missing friend. Soon, tension builds between the girls as trust issues come into play.

And that is the meat of this movie’s slow burn. There’s a creature lurking outside, but is there also something sinister going on inside? The dark truth comes out in the end, and Bigfoot, after making only some minor appearances throughout the course of the film, comes out to play in the final act, complicating matters even more for the girls and offering a pretty gnarly climax that is loaded with pretty wild twists.

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90s horror crawling onto Blu-ray

The indie movie companies keep digging up the obscurities and bringing them to high def, so let’s see what has been brought back from the 90s in recent months.

FATAL EXAM (1990)

This one has that totally 80s shot-on-video look…because it was actually shot in 1985, and the dude who directed it went on to co-write Bad Grandmas with Florence Henderson and Pam Grier!

2 hours is an inexcusable length for such a messy movie, but in between the excessive filler, there’s some fun to be had here.

A parapsychology teacher invites his students to a secluded haunted house with a dark history…a family was killed there by someone wielding an ancient weapon.

As soon as they got to the house, I was getting total Dead Dudes in the House vibes. This film is in no way as good as that classic, but the atmosphere is very similar.

They discuss the murders, explore the house, set up a tape recorder and cameras to capture ghostly action, find a dollhouse, find a portrait of the killer, deal with blinking lights, etc.


The closest thing to a sex scene in the whole movie…and I’ll take it.

It’s pretty typical stuff and it all drags on longer than it needs to, but the horror music is pretty darn good for a low budget film.

It’s when they finally find a hole in the basement that the horror really kicks in. There are some bloody murders, someone running around dressed like the grim reaper, and a cheap looking cult dungeon. Unfortunately, it begins to feel more and more amateur as the film progresses.

My absolute favorite part (aside from the guys in tight mid-80s clothes) is this one dude who sees a head in a coffee table while everyone is sleeping, and makes that his argument for getting out of the house for the rest of the film. “There’s a head in the coffee table!” Too funny.

ALL-AMERICAN MURDER (1991)

I cannot believe that Potsie from Happy Days directed an early 90s trash thriller starring Christopher Walken, yet here we are. And trash it is, until the final half hour. However, it is sooooo early 90s video rental, which makes it high on nostalgia feels.

The kid from 80s teen flick 18 Again! and the short-lived Ferris Bueller series stars as a college kid with a rich dad, troubling reputation, and a pet snake, because it’s an early 90s movie, so why not?

What I don’t get is why all the montage songs in this early 90s movie sound like Christopher Cross songs right out of 1980.

At first it feels like a bad late 80s teen romance. He starts at a new college, courts a girl he likes…but then she dies in a gruesome way and he becomes the main suspect!

Christopher Walken is the detective, introduced in a silly hostage standoff scene to show us how unconventional he is. Then he mostly just has meetings with the kid, who ends up doing all the investigative work trying to prove he didn’t do it.

This shit is boooooring.

Finally, an hour in, there’s a creepy scene when the kid enters what looks like the lair of a killer, complete with some jump scares. Soon after, people finally start getting killed off, and some of the deaths are nice and gruesome. If only the whole film had been that way.

WINTERBEAST (1992)

I don’t even know where to start with this movie, so I guess I’ll go right for the positive—it was actually shot in the late 80s. So…yay.

It’s only 76 minutes long, the main cop is hot in a gay 80s way, and we are thrust right into a totally bizarre and gory nightmare sequence. Then again, the whole movie seems like a bizarr-o dream.

He and a ranger hang out looking at nude pix of women as they worry about people going missing in their town.

There’s a totem pole that’s supposedly the Indian gateway to hell, zombie Native Americans, a totally queer lodge owner….and stop motion claymation monsters!

The claymation is so bad, and quite honestly, if they had rethought all that and removed those segments of the film, this could have been a rather creepy low budget indie.

The final act even has the guys fighting it out with a giant stop motion chicken. Sigh.

All the goofy claymation monster weirdness aside, as the movie wanders aimlessly, there’s a scene with the freaky queer lodge owner that should have had a whole separate movie built around it, because that movie would have become a cult classic on the level of Tourist Trap.

LAST GASP (1995)

The title of this silly erotic slasher thriller exemplifies exactly what it is—a last gasp at direct-to-video rental nostalgia. It’s sure to bring memories flooding back of Friday nights browsing the dusty shelves at the video store up the block and coming home with a bag of movies in hard plastic cases and a box of microwave popcorn then gathering around the VCR for the evening. And if you actually saw this film back then, you’ll probably remember more about that first part of the night you watched it than the actually movie.

T2 Robert Patrick stars as a real estate man who kills a bunch of Mexican tribal members after they leave some dead bodies at the construction site of a new hotel he’s building. Of course there’s a curse, so he’s possessed by the spirit of one of them.

Meanwhile, a woman is investigating her missing husband, who worked for Patrick. There’s even a bad 90s love song montage of her having sex with her pretty boy.

Before long, Patrick is running around in a loincloth and face paint hacking away at people’s Achilles heels as tribal drums beat in the background.

It’s really an absurd movie with a weak plot, but it all leads to a cat and mouse chase between tribal Robert Patrick and the leading lady. If you’ve seen the famous Zuni doll installment of Trilogy of Terror, you know exactly how this one is going to end.

Patrick getting a sex scene is the highlight, and keep an eye out for mean old Mrs. Claxton from The Golden Girls.

 

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DIRECT TO STREAMING: slashing and slaying with Louisa Warren

I’ve already covered several films from director Louisa Warren because I like her brand of low budget horror, which has a definite retro VHS days feel to it, but she’s so prolific that I suddenly had a bunch of catching up to do—5 films in total!

THE LEPRECHAUN’S GAME (2020)

If you need another movie about a killer leprechaun to fill up your St. Patrick’s Day, The Leprechaun’s Game clones the basics of the iconic series for this low budget slasher, so it lands on the holiday horror page.

Several people that really need money take a job from a rich guy who collects unusual things. This time around he wants a leprechaun’s gold.

Amazingly, the group finds it fairly quickly in the woods. They decide they’re better off keeping the gold than collecting a reward. Big mistake.

Here’s where things get disappointing. The leprechaun is a tall dude in a mask with a deep voice, so I don’t quite get a leprechaun vibe from him. You have to watch this more as a typical slasher film than a leprechaun film.

He systematically goes through the process of hunting down and killing the thieves in a variety of ways, often using magical powers presented with 1980s level computer special effects, so there’s that.

VIRTUAL DEATH MATCH (2020)

Movies in which a group of people is trapped in a controlled environment and has to take on a series of familiar psychos have become a subgenre of their own in the past decade or so, to the point that even Rob Zombie jumped on the bandwagon with his film 31.

This hack ‘n’ slash type horror is good for cheap thrills and delivers plenty of chaos, gore, and gritty grindhouse filters, but it’s just not one of my go-to subgenres because it simply doesn’t deliver on scares, atmosphere, or surprises.

Usually, there isn’t even much in the way of character development, but Louisa Warren tries to address that. This film is all about the characters—a group of individuals desperate for money for a variety of personal reasons. They are lured into a “virtual reality” horror game that turns out to not be virtual at all; die in the game and you die in real life. Delving into the feelings of each and every character actually makes the film too long, and it clocks in at about 110 minutes. Eek!

Even so, there is still plenty of running, screaming, and slashing, as the “players” face off against staples of the genre—scarecrow, evil nuns, clowns—and kudos to Warren for making one of the bad ass clowns a woman!

Much of the film takes place in daylight, and there’s a lot of CGI blood splash, but that tends to be standard for this type of film.

SCARECROW’S REVENGE (2019)

Despite already having a couple of modern day scarecrow films under her belt (Bride of Scarecrow, Curse of the Scarecrow), Warren decided to make another one with a title that sounds totally like a sequel for a movie that totally is not.

Scarecrow’s Revenge is a period piece—blech—about a man who does horrible things to a woman in a Viking town, is banished, then goes to a witch for help in seeking revenge. In exchange for his soul, she makes him into a killer scarecrow.

And so…this turns into a killer scarecrow slasher in a Viking town. That’s really all there is to it. If you like killer scarecrow movies and can cope with all the Viking drama, there’s a scarecrow and there are kills.

The film takes place entirely during daylight in the woods, so it’s not big on spooky atmosphere, and the witch is perhaps a little less witchy than I prefer, but she does ignite with some magical special effects right out of 80s horror.

THE MERMAID’S CURSE (2019)

Before going into this one, you have to come to terms with the fact that the title and promotional art are misleading. There are no mermaids. This is about sirens that roam the beach, singing their seductive songs to lure young men to their deaths.

For a low budget flick, it’s still pretty satisfying, with blood, plenty of kills, sex, and nudity. The opening kill even features a dude with a hot bod getting it.

The sirens have some gnarly face makeup, but they aren’t exceptionally creepy. However, they do essentially bite their victims like vampires.

The main character is a young man doing a story about the rash of male deaths on the beach. He comes upon a wounded siren, assumes she’s just an injured woman, and brings her home, inviting some major trouble into his life.

What was disappointing to me was that his relationship with his roommate is so intense that they really should have been gay together. That also would have given him more motivation for wanting to know why young men are being targeted and would have complicated matters for the siren.

A cool element of the film is that it gives a backstory to the existence of the sirens and ties it into women being accused of and treated as witches back in the day.

TOOTH FAIRY 2: THE ROOT OF EVIL (2020)

This sequel to Tooth Fairy takes place 15 years later.

The opening is a reminder of why I keep coming back for more Louisa Warren horror, with tight camera shots and eerie shadows and horror lighting as the tooth fairy makes her first appearance.

Then we meet our main guy, who was a kid in the first movie and now suffers some serious PTSD. He gets invited to a reunion with friends at a cabin in the woods, where he begins having flashbacks to the first movie and hears the tooth fairy calling to him.

Making matters worse, a couple of the guys really hate him, so they decide to fuck with him by having a séance to summon the tooth fairy. Needless to say…

The tooth fairy is back and just as creepy as the first time. But as the bodies pile up, the group begins to think their weird, delusional friend is behind the murders. It’s a pretty basic supernatural slasher that uses plenty of clichés, even moving much of the action to a cornfield, but as always, Warren makes the best of her limited budget and delivers on the retro vibes, so I had fun with this one.

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Time for a four course meal of my favorite comfort food…80s horror

I will devour 80s horror forever, but was this foursome filling enough? Let’s take a look.

BEYOND DREAMS DOOR (1989)

Clearly inspired by the huge popularity of the Elm Street series, this low budget direct-to-video movie is mostly a nonstop chain of bad dreams.

A college professor and her teacher’s assistant, who looks like he should be the teacher, try to help one of their students, a guy having recurring nightmares about being attacked by a hideous red monster.

That’s pretty much it—suburban nightmare horror taken to the extreme.

The main characters just weave in and out of trippy dream sequences drenched in 80s horror lighting for the entire film, often encountering the monster, and eventually ending up in…you’re never going to believe this…a boiler room.

BEYOND TERROR (1980)

The title Beyond Terror works in a weird way, because there’s absolutely no terror to be had here. This is like the worst of Euro horror of this era.

A small group of thieves on motorcycles robs a diner, shoots mostly everyone in it, and takes one couple hostage to make their escape.

They end up at a house with an old lady and a kid in it, rough up the old lady, kill her dog (not a pleasant scene), then burn the house down.

Next, they move to some sort of abandoned church.

The abducted woman has sex with one of the thieves

Another thief masturbates while mocking God. What a turn on.

Then they go to some little building.

Then they go back to the church.

Everyone keeps calling each other faggot.

This movie sucks.

Every once in a while they see the dog or kid that they killed back at the first house.

75 minutes into the movie, some skeletal corpses in a basement come to life for a few seconds. Also, one character’s head blows up when the old lady appears. That’s about all the horror you get in this shitty waste of time.

GRAVE SECRETS (1989)

For those of us who grew up on HBO in the 80s, actor Paul Le Mat is one of the staples of that horror era, appearing in Strange Invaders, Death Valley, Puppet Master, an episode of the HBO anthology series The Hitchhiker, and this one.

Grave Secrets begins with Amityville style theme music with children’s voices. Talk about high hopes.

Paul plays a college professor who covers supernatural phenomena. A woman comes to him for help because her B&B is haunted, so he goes to stay there.

For the first hour, the scariest things that happen are…an egg levitates and an axe goes kamikaze. Finally, a medium, played by David Warner, another 80s HBO horror king (Time After Time, The Company of Wolves, Waxwork, My Best Friend is a Vampire) shows up to hold a séance.

So does the college professor’s bubbly, totally 80s assistant, who should have been in the whole movie because she saves it temporarily.

The séance unleashes a ghost, momentary possession of the medium, and a silly apparition re-enactment of why the B&B is haunted, complete with a ghoulish corpse that should have joined the bubbly assistant in saving the film much earlier.

TRANSMUTATIONS (aka: Underworld) (1985)

This film was released to video under the title Transmutations during my days working at the video store in the 80s, but it’s also known as Underworld. Like Rawhead Rex, it’s another film by director George Pavlou with a screenplay by Clive Barker…that turned out to be a movie Barker hated.

Unlike Rawhead Rex, which is an 80s fave for me, I couldn’t even remember anything about this one, and now I see why. It really is horribly boring, a poor excuse for a horror movie, and is sort of like Barker dabbling in his own Nightbreed concept.

A crazy doctor has created a drug that turns humans into humanoids that now live underground. Turns out the key to reversing the damage lies with a hooker, so she’s kidnapped by the mutants.

Her ex-boyfriend is hired to rescue her and spends most of the movie trying to track her down while drenched in 80s horror lighting.

My favorite part is the sort of queer new wave dance number in a club.

The mutants are mostly as goofy as the ones in Nightbreed—but if you think that movie is a masterpiece like many do, you might just like this one.

The final sign for me that this is a pitiful excuse for a horror movie is the major gun battle at the end. Yawn.

 

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