The rest of Robert Englund

At this point I’ve covered and own just about every horror movie in which icon Robert Englund starred, short of the Elm Street films (except part 2, which I took on recently). That list includes:

Eaten Alive

Dead & Buried

Galaxy of Terror

The Phantom of the Opera

Night Terrors

The Mangler

Killer Tongue

Wishmaster

Urban Legend

Strangeland

2001 Maniacs

Hatchet

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

Zombie Strippers!

The Moleman of Belmont Avenue

Inkubus

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter

The Last Showing

Fear Clinic

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda

The Funhouse Massacre

The Midnight Man

Nightworld: Door of Hell

And now onto the seven remaining films I didn’t yet have in my collection…until now.

DANCE MACABRE (1992)

The director of Wacko, Without Warning, and Satan’s Cheerleaders definitely has a diverse horror filmography.

Here he enlists Robert Englund to sort of reprise his The Phantom of the Opera role in drag in a giallo-inspired flick reminiscent of Suspiria that takes place at a ballet school.

After an artsy/eerie opener at a ballet performance, Englund welcomes a bunch of American girls to a Russian ballet school. We meet our main girl, who reminded me of a blonde Betsy Russell. She’s somewhat of a rebel and way more into injecting ballet into modern pop music, which means we get a couple of cheesy dance sequences inspired by music videos of the time. I was in heaven.

As she’s busy trying to impress the wheelchair bound woman who runs the school—who looks an awful lot like Robert Englund in drag—fellow students are being killed off in tame but stylish ways while drenched in Argento lighting.

There are no surprises considering we know exactly where this is all heading and who the killer is going to be, but it is a fun, cheesy mashup of Euro horror and 80s slasher for the early 90s.

PYTHON (2000)

Python is like the Sharknado of 20 years ago. SyFy loaded this film with tons of familiar faces…and a horrendous CGI snake, of course.

It all starts with a snake off a plane. That’s right. A huge python is being transported on a plane and pops right out the side, conveniently causing the plane to crash near two lesbians eating out in the woods before becoming the first to be eaten.

Them we get hit by one fun cast member after another. The deputy is Johnny from The Karate Kid/Cobra Kai. Robert Englund is a scientist. Casper Van Dien is a special agent with a horrible mustache and worse fake accent.

We get Jenny McCarthy as a horny bitch screwing a real estate agent, as well as appearances by Roach from The People Under the Stairs and Isaac from Children of the Corn.

Even Wil Wheaton appears with purple hair and a nipple ring.

The cast, the silliness, and the hot leading boy save the film, because it’s kind of slow, plus the snake is awful.

At times it looks like a cartoon, at others it looks like they inserted overblown footage of a snake into a scene.

And some of the situations are absurd, like the snake seemingly scaring a girl out of the shower at night, chasing her from the house in her towel, then pursuing her as she races away in her pickup truck until morning comes.

Having said that, the kills are a blast, and when the snake spits its cartoon acid on victims, the aftermath is gory good. Plus, if this is really what it looks like after two guys get into a fistfight, now I get why guys get into fistfights…

BLACK SWARM (2007)

Sure, it has very pretty CGI wasps, but Black Swarm is a movie about killer wasps turning people into zombies and stars Robert Englund. That’s enough for me. The rest is just the usual dumb SyFy original drama, and man does it make me nostalgic for the 00s, when life and horror were just simpler.

A widowed woman comes back to her small hometown with her daughter to serve as the new sheriff. Of course she has a past, of course it’s a hot guy, and of course she’ll have to team up with him to get the horror under control, considering he’s an exterminator.

Meanwhile, Robert Englund is a mysterious beekeeper who befriends the little daughter when she’s not being babysat by a blind lady.

Locals slowly turning a bit gnarly with wasp stings as they stroll through town is definitely a highlight of this simple little film, and the zombie makeup is icky good.

There are a few cool wasp attacks, but they take a back seat to the aftermath of those they’ve stung. However, there is a nice big hive scene at the end.

SINNER (2009)

Damn. This movie goes in hard with a gruesome torture and murder scene opening that announces quite clearly that this is an Italian horror flick.

It then turns into what felt to me very much like a story inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca. The main character is even fricking named Rebecca.

She’s an insurance agent who comes to evaluate the contents of an estate. The maid oversees the house and keeps the family secrets.

The butcher is domineering and sleazy. The twenty-something son is socially stunted and doesn’t speak.

The main girl reads journals that begin to unravel the details of what happened to the lady of the house (in flashbacks). 35 minutes in, Robert Englund shows up as the master of the house, and the craziness begins to spin out of control.

There’s murder and mayhem, and the backstory gets a bit complicated, but if you stick with it, there are some good twists, and the gory horror finally returns for an encore.

STRIPPERS VS. WEREWOLVES (2012)

Strippers vs. any kind of monsters has the opportunity to be a trashy piece of fun, and there have been plenty of tries since Zombie Strippers. Strippers vs. Werewolves even enlisted Robert Englund once again. So where does it go wrong?

A club exploding to “Hungry Like the Wolf” is a good way to start. A stripper killing a guy who turns into a werewolf during a lap dance next is a good follow-up. A dude being eaten by a pack of werewolves after that is a third bright side.

Of course, these are hokey Wolfman type werewolves, so don’t go into this expecting to see bodacious naked babes battling The Howling. However, the goofy werewolves work with the campy tone this film deserves but barely ever delivers.

It’s kind of boring with way too much talk. The people at the strip club try to hide the body of the dead patron. The werewolf pack wants to kill the strippers for killing one of their own. One of the girls starts a romance with a cute guy. And Robert Englund appears for less than five minutes an hour into the movie in a pointless role as a werewolf the pack has locked away in a cage. You also get an extra few seconds of him in a tag after the closing credits.

One punk werewolf is a hottie before his transformation (and hairy cute after), the girls don’t really flash much T&A in this stripper flick, and the final battle in the strip club is disappointingly low key. Just go watch Zombie Strippers! again.

SANITARIUM (2013)

Well, it’s an anthology about the horrors of being mentally ill, so that should tell you right away if you want to see a horror movie that dwells on the topic.

Malcolm McDowell is the narrating doctor serving as the wraparound at a mental institution as he discusses three cases…

1st story – John Glover plays an insane artist who takes direction from his creepy dolls…and of course they end up directing him to kill.

Robert Englund is the curator at the art gallery, and there’s a pretty boy buddy (sadly straight), plus an unexpected turn of events.

2nd story – This is creepy and disturbing. A young boy being molested on a regular basis begins to imagine his abuser as a frightening monster.

Or is there an actual monster? His concerned teacher, played by Lacey Chabert, is determined to find out.

3rd story – Naturally the most abstract story in the bunch had to be the longest. Lou Diamond Phillips plays a man convinced that aliens are out there…and coming for him.

Slowly but surely, he begins to remember what drove him to the insane asylum. Lou’s performance is excellent, the story, not so much. The tag scene after the credits doesn’t even help clarify it.

KANTEMIR (aka: Transylvania Curse) (2015)

 

Perhaps it’s just trying too hard to be a sophisticated horror film, but Kantemir doesn’t quite deliver considering all the goodness it has swirling around it.

There’s a lot I liked about this film. For starters, Robert Englund is teamed up once again with Diane Cary, who played human Harmony to his alien Willie in the original 80s classic miniseries V.

They’re a divorced couple of thespians that ends up at a secluded mansion where a mysterious director has gathered a small group of actors together to rehearse a play.

As a perfect balance to the older couple, the younger cast members bring a more mainstream horror vibe to the film, and include a traditional good girl, a total bitch, an overbearing goofball guy, and a creepy guy.

The rural setting is stunning, and the autumn surroundings establish a perfect tone for an eerie horror movie. So…do we get one?

Because Englund’s character is the only actor there with any clout, the director character challenges him and taunts him for always playing the bad guy (awesome). He uses Englund’s failings—namely a drinking problem—against him, particularly when Englund witnesses a murder but no one believes him.

Englund is soon convinced the director is somehow mesmerizing everyone and that they are becoming the characters in the play. This leaves the audience wondering if it’s all in Englund’s head as the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred.

It’s a cool concept and there are a few gothic horror moments, but it’s ultimately underwhelming, with little in the way of scares or suspense before there’s suddenly a burst of violence in the final act. Even plot points feel disjointed and irrelevant, from a notable mention of numerous missing dogs at the beginning to a mysterious book that keeps coming into play. And the twist at the end isn’t much of a twist considering it was pretty inevitable what the outcome was going to be.

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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