The 90s: when most horror was direct-to-video

I once again struggled my way through a bunch of 90s crap I’d never seen, and I actually found a couple that had their charms—one of which was a total winner for me.


There’s a good idea here, but I feel it fails to deliver on any scares at all.

It begins in colonial times, with a woman being buried alive as a witch by colonial wingnuts.

In modern day 1990, a young woman comes to a town after the death of her sister to identify the body. Grizzly Adams makes a brief appearance as the man who performed the autopsy.

The main girl then stays in her sister’s rental home, which is owned by her sister’s boyfriend. The pair spends a lot of time together as they try to determine what really happened to the sister, and in an odd moment he tells her everyone thinks he’s gay. Okay…

Little hints are dropped of something ominous. A guy who warns them someone died in the house ends up dead. The main girl thinks the house is haunted. The boyfriend tells a tale of a church burning and Indians that were accused of the deed and then massacred.

Does any of it come together? No. Is there anything scary? Not at all. They knock a hole in a wall, enter an underground cavern, find the coffin with the dead witch’s corpse in it, a hairy horned man comes and makes love to the woman…I had no idea what the hell I was watching, but at least there was a hairy horned man.


Ah. 1991. Still kind of giving off a late 80s vibe because the new decade hadn’t totally found its footing yet, but already veering into weird territory to satisfy horror fans while trying not to be the same as 80s horror. And so we get a movie like Steel and Lace, which is really just…a rape/revenge Robocop?

Opening with a trial that shows quick cuts of a gang of guys sexually assaulting the female lead, this film in no way exploits the rape part. The situation is all implied and very brief.

However, the guys are set free. They decide to start a business screwing over vulnerable people while the rape victim takes a dive off a building. Her devastated scientist brother, played by veteran actor Bruce Davison, bring her back to life as a cyborg that is a master of disguises!

So robochick goes around disguising herself as other hot women to seduce each guy, and then rips off the fake face and uses her powerful body parts to tear these dudes to shreds. At one point she even spooks a guy by disguising herself as a dude, making some oddly intimate suggestions and then unbuttoning her shirt. Talk about moobs.

It’s a cheesy 90s direct-to-video time killer, and we ate them up back then. It helped that they were always loaded with familiar faces of my generation. Here we get the geeky lead kid from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the hot guy who starred in the short-lived late 80s TV show Werewolf, the guy who played Ian the new waver in the last season of Fame, Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley, and always adorable David Naughton. I so want to be the bear in that bed.


This fun popcorn flick horror anthology makes all three stories ooey, gooey, drippy, and oozy, and the wraparound focuses on H.P. Lovecraft getting the inspiration for his stories from the Necromonicon.

Jeffrey Combs stars as the horror author, and he has been so coated in makeup in an effort to make him resemble the actual man that he ends up looking like a cross between Bruce Campbell and the evil dude from Stephen King’s Storm of the Century.

He visits a building where monks guard the infamous book so that he can page through it for ideas, which kicks off three tales that are an extravaganza of practical special effects.

1st story – a man inherits a hotel.

While he reads letters from an ancestor, we get a story of a fishy monster encounter, which carries over into the man’s story as he faces off against a fish woman and then a giant sea creature.

Guess who. Totally awesome.

2nd story – the most lackluster of the tales, this is about a young woman who rents a room in a house, has an affair with a doctor trying to defeat death, and eventually joins him in his experiments.

3rd story – this is how you end an anthology.

We’re taken on a nightmarish Lovecraftian journey as a pregnant cop considering an abortion is dragged through a hellish experience that is as perfectly horrific as the 90s gets.

Only a few cheesy bat creature computer effects taint the freaky visual pleasure this icky story delivers.

Not to be overshadowed in the horror department, Combs gets into some horrific predicaments of his own as the wraparound concludes.

This anthology passed me by back in the 90s, so I’m thrilled to have found it on Blu-ray to add to me collection.


I’ve read so much about how sleazy and depraved this Asian film is, but honestly, I’ve seen far worse in a variety of Lloyd Kaufman Troma productions.

What bothered me most about Ebola Syndrome (I’ll get to why else I didn’t like it after) is that I was totally not expecting animal mutilation—especially of the real kind. A warning to those who haven’t seen this, you will be subjected to a sudden, gruesome, way too long clip of a dude hacking the legs off live frogs in a restaurant. Later there is a scene of voodoo rituals, and after seeing the frog scene, I wouldn’t be surprised if the chickens that get their heads ripped off were really live chickens.

As if that weren’t enough for me to hate this movie, there’s everything else. It focuses on a totally worthless dude who makes a habit out of fucking his bosses’ wives and then killing both the boss and the wife. If only the guy in the pic below were him…

We follow him as he does that and then goes to Africa, where he contracts, carries, and spreads Ebola back home. See, he works at a restaurant and does nasty things like fucking and jizzing in the meat, spitting in the food, and feeding his dead bosses and their wives to patrons.

You’d think this would be some sort of zombie or infected movie, but nope. The disease doesn’t really start to spread until the final third of the film.

At that point the focus turns to guys in hazmat suits pursuing the main guy, who gets even worse when he’s feeling trapped.

There is really nothing worth seeing here if you ask me.

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
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