Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Vicious Vignettes - Aisles of Doom

Another great bit of late 80's kitsch.  This time from the demented mind of Alex "Bill S. Preston, Esquire" Winter!  This is another perfect example of the kind of late night esoteric shenanigans that would play across my television screen like some kind of warped fever dream in my youth.

I've recently become re-obsessed (as you may or may not have noticed) with the cult TV show Night Flight that aired on the USA Network back in the 80's.   I've been on a relentless quest to hunt down such forgotten
gems and resurrect them for my fellow cinephiles, and I shall not stop until I uncover the buried treasures that lie in the mist of decades past!

Okay, now that I'm done waxing poetic, let's get down to it, shall we?  Just what is Aisles of Doom about?  Well see there's this little shop, see....it's called The Plaza Discount Center.  This shop is full of comics, candy and toys of all kind.  This Elysian Field of trinkets, novelties and sweetmeats however is lorded over by the evil Grendel T.W. Ulcerous.  An evil being that some say may be a demon....or even The Devil

Ulcerous torments the children who come into his shop in a variety of ways.  One poor boy is run out of the store at gunpoint while innocently perusing a Tales From The Crypt comic book.  "The library is down the street" says Ulcerous.  This pales in comparison to what happens to a young lad who enters the store trying to return a shrunken head.  One day, a stranger in a yellow rain slicker comes to town and confronts the evil shopkeeper.  What will happen?  Will evil prevail?  I guess you'll just have to watch the short for yourself and find out!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vicious Vignettes - The Thing What Lurked In The Tub

Back in the 80's and 90's late night TV wasn't the desolated wasteland of COPS reruns, infomercials and CSI: Miami reruns.  Back then you never knew what you were going to come across while channel surfing the ominous waves of cable TV.  There were still insomnia curing shows and reruns a plenty, but sprinkled in between those snore inducing broadcasts was programming wondrous and bizarre.
TNT's MonsterVision and USA's Up All Night were hugely influential in my formative years and beyond.  I can recall many a night hunkered down in my bedroom watching a myriad of bizarre flicks all thanks to the likes of Joe Bob Briggs, Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried.  I could go on and on about these shows (and I just may in future postings!) but the point is that one of the greatest of these late night oddities was the incredible Night Flight.  

A four hour block of music videos, short films, cartoons, documentaries, stand-up comedy and everything in between.  Night Flight's original run was from 1981 to 1988...later being syndicated in 1990 and episodes popping up in shorter, condensed format well in to the later half of the 90's.  It was in the mid 90's that I was finally exposed to the show.  By that time it was on a random schedule so it was luck of the draw when it came to getting to see it.  

It was during one of my nocturnal channel surfing excursions on a Friday or Saturday night in high school that I first came upon The Thing What Lurked In The Tub.  I was instantly obsessed with the short.  It was everything that I loved in a B-Movie crammed into a two minute cartoon.  As time went by it slowly faded from memory until it showed up in a random rerun of MTV's Liquid Television.  

The entire short takes place in the bathroom of a loathsome fellow named Lugmeyer.  We get some exposition from a news report on the radio about toxic chemicals being dumped into the city reservoir and the "possibly related" story of three separate bathroom mutilations.  While we're listening to the chipper newscaster, we get our first glimpse of the gooey octopus-like Thing itself as it bubbles up in the tub.
Lugmeyer enters the bathroom hungover and moaning about his aching head.  Standing in front of the sink, he coughs up a pair of red panties.  Why are there panties in his throat?  How did he even get those there without choking?  Why the hell is The Girl From Ipanema playing on the radio?

Anyway, ol' Lugmeyer searches the medicine cabinet looking for some aspirin to combat his headache.  The Thing closes in behind him ready to strike and devour.  That's when things go sour for our poor lovable toxic monster.  A rather amusing ending to an amusing short.  I live for stuff like this.  It's the litting things you know?  It makes me happy knowing that there are little slices of fun such as The Thing What Lurked In The Tub in the world.

In searching the wide and vast internet, I've never seen an in depth review of the short.  This isn't exactly what I'd call an in depth review, either.  It's not like I'm presenting an academic dissertation on the ramifications of introducing toxic substances into public reservoirs and getting all Freudian on it.  Hell no!  BUT, as far as I know, I am the first person to dedicate an entire post to it.  We're topping 500 words here people!  FIVE HUNDRED!  All for two minutes and eighteen seconds of animated lunacy!  If that isn't love and devotion, then I don't know what is!

So by this point, I would imagine that you'd love to see this cartoon.  Well, you're in luck because you can watch it right here!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Unexpected Horrors Part III

It's time again to take a look at places where terror can rear it's head rather unexpectedly.  This time we take a look at some of Jim Henson's freakiest creations, one of the most unsettling cartoon characters that I've seen and a fusion of ink and flesh that is nothing short of nightmare fuel.

So let's jump right in!

Labyrith - The Fireys

Oh man, where to start with these guys!  Apparently everything on them is detachable.  Arms, legs, head, torso...everything.  Even weirder they can combine their body parts together to form all sorts of weird shit.  Like Muppet versions of Modulok from the old He-Man cartoons.  The thing that freaked out the most was the fact that the were actively trying to decapitate Sarah and weren't going to take no for an answer!  Dark stuff, man!

The Secret of NIMH - Nicodemus

The Secret of NIMH....ooooh...that sounds mysterious!  NIMH, in case you didn't know stands for National Institute of Mental Health.  This film is about some anthropomorphic rats and mice that were once test animals at NIMH and ended up with super intelligence.  The mystical leader of the rats is a disturbing old rat with glowing yellow eyes named Nicodemus.  He's a good guy, but damn did he scare the shit out of me as a kid.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - Judge Doom

I don't think that this really needs explanation, does it?  Doc Brown's got crazy eyes!
What really packed a punch with Judge Doom was a) Christopher Lloyds disturbing performance
and b) the fact that it's not revealed that Doom is himself a toon until the end of the film and when he takes his goggles off and we see those crazy eyes, it's a pants-shitting moment!  Seriously!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Midnight Matinee - Late Night Slasher

Midnight Matinee
Directed by Richard Martin
Written by Richard Martin
Starring  Ron White, Gillian Barber & Jeff Schultz

British Columbia Film
D Slayer Productions
Image Organization
Malofilm Communications Inc.
Odyssey Pictures
Summit Entertainment
Thomas Howe Releasing
Téléfilm Canada

Not Rated (TV Movie)  -  Approx  93 Minutes.

 - Every mystery has a beginning

Alternate Titles:
La séance de minuit  (The Midnight Screening)  Canada
Keskiyön arvoitus  (The Midnight Mystery)    Finland

Bei Vorstellung Mord   (In Notion Murder)   West Germany

"Enjoy the film.  Get the shit scared out of yourselves."
                                                                             -Heath Harris

There's a killer loose in the movie theater.  Ah yes, that old chestnut.  While Midnight Matinee is not the first and certainly not the last film to use the plot device, it is the only one that I know of that features William "The Cigarette Smoking Man" B. Davis as a horror film producer!  I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though so let's start from the beginning shall we?

At the first annual horror film fest, in the sleepy little town of Holsten, B.C.,  a teen is murdered in the theater.  The killer is never caught.  Two years later, another horror film fest is being put together and many of the locals are not happy.  The police station is flooded with angry letters of protest.  Among the letters are mysterious type written letters.

Police detective Al Jason has transferred here from the city, hoping to find some peace and quiet.  Bad luck for him! Marilyn is the projectionist at the theater is the mother of the girl whose boyfriend was murdered two years earlier.  Her other daughter, Sherri is the popcorn girl.  Her estranged husband, Heath Harris, is the aforementioned William B. Davis who will be on hand to unleash his latest horror opus on the rowdy crowd of teens.  Detective Jason is sort of dating Marilyn. Sherri is dating a guy named Lawrence that everyone hates.  Bobby is another theater worker who is a complete asshole punk and also has the hots for Sherri.  How's that for a set of red herrings?  Not enough?  Okay...then let's throw in the trashy newspaper reporter, Warren who has an extended history with Detective Jason.  Also let's throw in Geoff, the extremely eccentric theater employee.  Whew!   I'm sure that was almost as exhausting to read as it was to write.  Still with me?  Groovy.

As you may have well guessed when the film fest gets underway, so do the murders.  Everyone one is suspect and I was surprisingly unable to figure out for myself who the killer was until about 10 minutes before the reveal.  I don't know if that's a credit to the film or if I was a bit drowsy and not fully paying attention....but my guess is the latter.  For a slasher film, this is quite talky....even for a TV movie slasher film.  That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it....but even at about 90 minutes it could have been about 20 minutes shorter.  Having said all that, I did enjoy some of the cinematography quite a bit and there were some interesting cuts and transitions used.  My favorite bits (as is usually the case with these type of films) were the film-within-film bits.  It always amuses me to no end watching the film's creator's idea of a cheesy horror flick.  I can't tell you how many times I've wished that these faux films were real.  The ones included here are no different.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  Five.  I suppose that's not bad for a TV Movie.....but there was an AWFUL lot of talk (and time) between kills.

Nude-O-Meter:  We get one pair 'o boobs in the very beginning and a naked butt.  Something tells me that was added later for video release....being a TV Movie and all.  Interestingly, the scene which this takes place in is one of the film-within-films and it's pretty much a shot for shot remake of Kevin Bacon's death scene in the original Friday the 13th!

Things That Go Bump In The Night: In addition to our killer, we are treated to a couple different killers in the films the audience is watching at the film fest, which is a nice little bonus.

Favorite Death
I've gotta give this one to the Friday the 13th copycat scene!

Final Thoughts
This little slice of Canadian horror is completely new for me.  I ran across it on Netflix and being a sucker for Killer at the Movies flix, I had to watch it.  Like I said before, it could have been a bit shorter, but there are certainly worse ways to spend your time.  This one feels right for a rainy night when there's nothing else on.

Final Rating
Two out of Five Pizza Rolls

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Outing - A Night at the Museum of Horrors

 The Outing
Directed by Tom Daley
Written by Warren Chaney
Starring  Deborah Winters, James Huston & Andra St. Ivanyi

H.I.T. Films
Skouras Pictures
TMS Pictures

Rated R - Approx 87 Min

 - They're not coming back.
 - You'll Wish You Were Dead!
 - Don't say see you later... say goodbye.
 - It's no picnic.

 - Make a wish... if you dare.

Alternative Titles:
A Guardiã da Lâmpada Maldita (The Guardiant Lamp Curse)  Brazil
Lampa  (Lamp) Czech Republic
La lampara (The Lamp)   Spain
Το λυχναρι του δαιμονα  (The Lamp of Demons)   Greece
La lámpara    (The Lamp)   Peru

A Lâmpada do Terror  (The Lamp of Terror)   Portugal

"I never said I was a wizard with toast and coffee."
                                                           - Dr. Wallace

Most of the time when I review of a film, it's something that I am aware of already.  If nothing else I know a loose synopsis and have a general idea of what I might be in for.  Not so this time.  The Outing came as part of a four pack of horror movies from Shout Factory (The other three films being The Vagrant, What's the Matter with Helen? and The Godsend) and while I'm sure I may have heard the title once or twice, I had no idea what I was getting into.  Sure I could have read the synopsis on the back but I was feeling nostalgic for the old days.  So I watched it based solely on it's cover art.  Just like I used to do in the 80's.

Going to rob a house and only one guy brings any tools?

Ah, the lamp.  

The Outing may be more familiar to some of you under it's other moniker:  The Lamp.  After three thieves kill an old gypsy woman and steal a lamp that was hidden in a trunk in a wall, they are all killed off by the evil genie that resides inside.  The lamp is then moved to a museum and under the care of Dr. Wallace, the museums curator.  His daughter, Alex comes to visit and she finds an old bracelet that also belonged to the old woman and puts it on.  Unfortunately it binds her to the lamp and the genie and she can't get it off.

Possessed Alex sends the rest of the students on their way

Looks cozy, don't it?

The genie then possesses the girl and has her convince her friends to spend the night in the museum....which of course they do.  Much death ensues!  I've gotta say I had a lot of fun with this one.  For the price of admission you get reanimated corpses, flying spears, reanimated snakes and of course the evil genie himself.  The film doesn't skimp on the nudity either, giving a few scenes in which to ogle some nubile female flesh.

You know 90% of all household accidents occur in the bathroom....

.....yeah I've got nothing.

The characters are (as usual in this type of film) quite stereotypical but there are a few standouts, including the opera singing security guard and the two thugs that are also stalking our intrepid group of teens in the museum.  The thugs, one of which is Alex's ex-boyfriend and he's got a serious chip on his shoulder about the breakup.  Early in the film he tries to run her and her new beau off the road, then later slams her up against a locker, pulls a knife and throws racial slurs at the school principle.  Makes me wonder what the hell she was doing with him to begin with!

You ain't NEVER had a friend like me!

Midnight Cinephile Round-Up

Death Toll:  13!  Not too shabby!

Nude-O-Meter:  You flesh fiends will have some ogling to do on this flick!  Three pairs of breasts and a quick glimpse of some 80's bush!

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  Well, we've got the evil genie causing all kinda mayhem here.  We've also go undead gypsies, snakes and a re-animated mummified corpse.

Favorite Death
In this case I've got a tie between the recently murdered gypsy (she got a double sided ax to the head) pulling down the thief and slicing his head on the other end of the ax that's still stuck in her head, and the re-animated mummified corpse who sits up and bites a dudes throat.  Both are pretty awesome death scenes!
Talk about evil dead!

Final Thoughts
Like I had said before, I went into this one with no preconceived notions of what the movies was going to be.  It was quite fun to go into this completely blind and enjoy the ride and I may try to start doing that more often.  As you can see from the final tally, there's much to like here for the horror fan and the Three B's (Blood, Boobs & Beasts) are well covered!  If you're in the mood for a campy, slightly sleazy flick with some decent bloodshed, then check out The Outing!  Apparently in the UK release (which goes under The Lamp moniker) there is a different opening sequence that was cut out of subsequent releases.

Final Rating
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Evil - Auld Lang Sayonara!

New Year's Evil
Directed by Emmett Alston
Written by  Leonard Neubauer & Emmett Alston
Starring  Roz Kelly, Kip Niven & Grant Cramer

The Cannon Group
Rated R - Approx. 90 Min.

 - A celebration of the macabre.

 - This New Year's, you're invited to a killer party...
 - Don't dare make New Year's resolutions..unless you plan to live!

Alternative Titles:
Reveillon Maldito  (New Year's Eve Cursed)  Brazil
Teuflisches Neujahr (Develish New Year's)  Switzerland
Fin de año maldito (End of Fucking Year)  Spain
Dodici rintocchi di terrore (Twelve Strokes of Terror)  Italy

Rocknacht des Grauens (Rock Night of Horror)  West Germany

"I can hear your heartbeat.........I don't like that"

It may be cliched and a bit trite, but how could I NOT start the New Year with a review of this little gem?  New Year's Evil is another one of those films that I would always see at the video store but somehow never get around the renting.  Something else would always catch my eye instead.  But now, thanks to the miracle of Netflix, I've had a chance to watch this fun little slasher flick.

What we've got here is some New Wave Punk Clown Car Action!

Diane (aka Blaze) starts the New Year's Evil party off with a neon bang!

First of all it's got one of my favorite 80's camp actors in it:  Grant Cramer.  You know Grant from such classics as Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Hardbodies and Auntie Lee's Meat Pies!  He plays Derek, son of a Diane Sullivan (a celebrity hosting a punk/new wave New Year's Eve party).  As the televised party gets underway, Diane receives a call from a man using a voice processor to change his voice.  He calls himself Evil.  He tells Diane that at the stroke of midnight, Easter Standard Time, he will commit murder.  He will then commit another murder as the new year rings in across the time zones culminating in her death in L.A. where she is hosting the show.

....and the clock struck twelve

She clearly wanted to get.....wait for it.....ahead in show business!

Sure enough at 9pm Pacific time (midnight on the east coast) he calls and informs Diane that he is right on schedule and has committed his first murder.  He then plays an audio recording he made of the murder and tells her exactly where police can find the first victim's body.  The manhunt is on and we watch as the killer dons different disguises as he makes his way through the city killing innocent women edging ever closer to the stroke of midnight.

I had a lot of fun with this one.  There's a great vibe to it and it's got a pretty sweet 80's soundtrack that includes the New Year's Evil theme song!  There's plenty of musical interludes as we watch two bands, Shadow and Made In Japan perform live for a group of new wave punk rockers.  The new wave punks crack me the hell up as they mull around like zombies.  Their idea of dancing is pretty much flailing around like they're having a seizure and bouncing off one another.  It's even better when a band plays a song with a slower tempo!  Pure hilarity watching these kids sway around in a drug fueled stupor.

Ah....the drive-in's!

Evil lurks in the bathroom apparently....

Midnight Cinephile Totals:

Death Toll:  Not a high body count in this film.  We get six deaths total.

Nude-O-Meter:  Two pair.  A quick flash in the beginning and then another set in the final third of the flick.

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  As is often the case, the monster here is quite human.  Charismatic and fun to watch as he changes disguise and personality for each murder.

Best Death:
Best Death goes to a ditsy blonde who gets suffocated by a bag of weed!!!!!  You just can't make that shit up!
They say drugs will kill ya, but this is ridiculous!

Final Thoughts:
As I said before, I had a lot of fun with this one.  The characters for the most part are pretty one dimensional, but honestly are you looking for depth in your cannon fodder?  No, I didn't think so.  The Killer is easily the best part of the film besides the music.  If you're into early 80's New Wave Punk then you would more than likely enjoy the soundtrack which was released on LP and cassette from Cannon Records and Tapes!

Final Rating:
Three Out Of Five Pizza Rolls!