Four from the 90 through 93 now on Blu-ray

Three out of four of these films reminded me that there actually was some watchable 90s horror—you just had to dig really deep to find it. So let’s look at which of these Blu-rays is worth adding to your collection.

NIGHT KILLER (1990)

Director Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2) and Bruno Mattei (The Other Hell), who was brought in to add gore (thankfully) even though Claudio hated that he did, deliver an awful slice of Euro horror no matter how you cut it.

Night Killer is an absolute must-own for 80s horror fans. Although it was released in 1990, I would swear this film was made in 1982. It begins with an aerobics class set to awful 80s muzak. We get boobs and killer POV, then the killer punch fucks his victim to death through the stomach. I don’t know how, because he’s just a guy in a mask that looks like late 80s Jason face sans hockey mask. The killer also wears matching monster gloves.

While every single kill has him punch fucking stomachs, occasionally he adds something original to the mix, like when he dunks a victim in what looks like a big bucket of cum. Not that I have any idea what a big bucket of cum looks like.

Meanwhile, between kills there’s the story of one victim who got away but can’t remember. Tara Buckman (Silent Night, Deadly Night, Xtro II, Never Too Young To Die) plays the part so awfully melodramatic that she’s perfect. She even whips out her tits and feels them up in a mirror just so that there’s a scene of her whipping out her tits and feeling them up.

So much for being the one that got away. A psycho abducts her and keeps taunting her, not wanting to kill her until she finally remembers the attack. Their scenes together are so bad it’s laughable as he teases her by eating chicken and stuff like that.

However I had no problem when she temporarily has the upper hand and makes him strip down to his Speedo.

I can’t decide which is worse: the twist or the final frame.

I would suggest you buy this one at all costs if you’re a fan of 80s horror.

STRAYS (1991)

Cats have been pitted against humans in horror since the beginning of horror time, and Strays just completely goes for it with no explanation as to why. A family moves into a house inhabited by a pack of killer strays living in the basement. This despite the fact that the mom and daughter treat the damn things like pets!

Timothy Busfield of 30 Something is the dad, who isn’t too happy that the cats are hanging around…especially after they brutalize the family dog. Although it’s not shown as it happens, the aftermath scene did not sit well with me.

There aren’t loads of kills, although there are a few simple casualties that mostly get subjected to kitty POV and confused cats being thrown at them from off screen.

But what makes this otherwise typical killer animals movie sort of kick ass is the super long battle between the cats and the mom, played by Kathleen Quinlan. It’s fast-paced, brutal, and takes us straight through to the end of the film, complete with thunder, lightning, and the house getting totally trashed.

And you have to love the evil looking cat that looks like it just crawled out of the pet sematary.

HELLMASTER (1992)

Douglas Schulz, the director of Mimesis and Dark Fields has only done a handful of movies in his career over the past three decades, but I do want to see the others I haven’t seen yet, because I’ve like most of his that I’ve already seen. 

I, the hater of so many 90s horror films, love this one, which seems to get a lot of hate from everyone else. The only thing that ruins it for me is the role of John Saxon, who plays the Hellmaster. He uses this fucked up, multi-needle syringe to inject people and turn them into these sort of infected zombie/demons. They are fricking freaky. Him not so much.

There are some creepy as hell scenes of these things—which come in the form of a nun, a child, a schoolgirl that could have been the inspiration for The Grudge—chasing and terrorizing various victims. They even speak with demonic voices, and by the time they’ve got the core group of college students trapped in an old building, this feels reminiscent of Night of the Demons.

As a bonus, David Emge of the original Dawn of the Dead appears as a crossbow wielding hero. The first scene with him actually reminded me of Dawn of the Dead, at least in the theatrical cut. There is an alternate opener on the shorter director’s recut on the Blu-ray.

Despite the plot being rather messy and characters roaming around like chickens with their heads cut off, the tone is quite eerie, from the music to the always effective use of Argento red lighting, and there’s also plenty of icky stuff like blood and puss.

It really is John Saxon as the dark, brooding (more like bored) Hellmaster in black leather—which would normally turn me on—who feels completely out of place, coming across as a failed attempt to make a 90s horror icon. He walks around treating the creeps he’s created as his bitches, and unfortunately, he takes over as the main baddie for the final battle. In other words, Hellmaster starts off much better then it concludes.

THE CHILL FACTOR (1993)

This one never came up on my radar back in the 90s, but the description sounded awesome, so I blind purchased the Blu-ray.

What a disaster. And not in the usual sense that most 90s horror films are. This one feels like the worst of direct-to-video 1980s horror. Even the music used during snowmobile riding montages sounds like crappy synth score from action TV shows circa 1985. And I can’t imagine what they were thinking having voiceovers of the characters talking about their lives and relationships. Not to mention the weird need to point out several times that one relationship is interracial.

A group of friends goes snowmobiling in the wilderness, one guy smashes his head into a tree during a race, they find a cabin with a crucifix on the roof to crash in over night, and then…mostly nothing happens for most of the movie.

I can’t even process how astoundingly bad this is. They find and use a Ouija board, but nothing continues to happen.

Some couples have sex. One girl gets killed by a shadow puppet of a hooded demon.

A guy gets an icicle to the eye, which is the only good moment in the whole film.

Then a final girl gets chased by…nothing. I’m not quite sure what she was running from.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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