Archive for the Grindhouse Goodies Category

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: THE EXTERMINATOR (1980)

Posted in 1980s Movies, 2013, Action Movies, Crime Films, Cult Movies, Detectives, Exploitation Films, Gangsters!, Grindhouse Goodies, Nick Cato Reviews, Revenge!, Suburban Grindhouse Memories, Tough Guys!, Vengeance!, Vigilantes, VIOLENCE! with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2013 by knifefighter

Suburban Grindhouse Memories No. 64:
Flamethrowers, Meat Grinders, and State Senators…
By Nick Cato

 

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 Released six years after DEATH WISH (1974) but two years before FIRST BLOOD (1982), 1980’s THE EXTERMINATOR is a combo of these two classics with a dash of TAXI DRIVER (1976) thrown in. I recently revisited this on DVD, but in the fall of 1980 (when I was in the 6th grade), me and a buddy managed to get into this violent R-rated flick one Saturday afternoon at the always reliable (and now defunct) Amboy Twin Cinema, Staten Island’s best bet of being admitted when you were underage.

After an opening flashback scene set in Vietnam (which features a grisly, non-CGI decapitation courtesy of FX whiz Stan (ALIENS) Winston), we flash forward to 1980 New York City. John Eastmand (played by popular TV star Robert Ginty) works at a meat packing plant along with his best friend Michael, who had saved his life in Vietnam. When they bust a group of thugs robbing beer from an adjacent warehouse, Michael again comes to John’s aid, but the gang follows Michael home and throws him a severe beating that leaves him paralyzed. Fueled by this event, and fed up with the state of the city’s crime rate in general, John goes on a mission first to get the guys who crippled his buddy, then wage all-out war against the mob, pimps, and all kinds of low lives.

John transforms into a vigilante a bit too quickly (in the scene immediately after he visits Michael in the hospital, John already has a gang member tied up and threatens him with a flame thrower). But this is a sleazy action flick, so subtly and character build-up be damned! His arsenal includes a .44 magnum with custom, poison-tipped bullets, an AK-47, and a foot locker full of military-issued hand grenades and knives.

Minutes later, John goes to the gang’s hideout (one is played by THE WARRIORS’ (1979) Irwin Keyes), tells the girls to leave, and then proceeds to shoot one thug and take two others hostage. But his partial-heart leads to one guy surviving, and one of the hookers he let go is interrogated by Detective James Dalton (played by Christopher George), who is on the trail of the vigilante the news has labeled “The Exterminator.” Former ABC-TV news anchor Roger Grimsby appears as himself during a newscast, giving the film a real-time feel (at least if you lived in NY at the time).

With the gang taken care of, John sets his eyes on a mob boss who has been shaking his employer down for years. He does some stake-out work and manages to drug him and drag him to an isolated warehouse, where he chains him from the rafters and dangles him over a huge meat grinder, then proceeds to shake him down for money to support his fallen friends’ family. After he gets the mobster’s keys, safe-lock combination, and a promise that there are no surprises at his house, John goes out to his NJ home and is attacked by a guard dog the gangster “forgot” to tell him about. Now severely ticked, John returns to the warehouse and lowers the Don into the meat grinder, and while nothing is shown (besides shadows and chop meat coming out of the bottom), the scene is still quite disturbing. It also received the loudest cheers from the evidently blood-thirsty (or justice-thirsty?) audience I was with.

In the second most memorable sequence, John visits a hooker (ala TAXI DRIVER) who gives him info on an underground operation that exploits young boys. John shows up at the illegal brothel and quickly destroys the place by burning the owner and shooting a freaky-looking pedophile in the groin (said pedophile is played by FRANKENHOOKER’s (1990) scene-stealing freak David Lipman). The pedophile also turns out to be the State Senator from New Jersey!

In-between investigating the vigilante killings, Detective James manages to find the time to date a doctor (played by Samantha Eggar). In one scene they meet for a late-night shag session in an empty hospital room, but as things heat up they’re interrupted by an alarm: it seems Michael’s ventilator has gone off, and little do the detective or doctor realize John had come by to help his buddy pull the plug on himself. This John’s a real angel of mercy I tell ya…

With plenty of shoot-outs, a motorcycle vs. car chase scene, a goofy side-plot involving the CIA that leads to a partially head-scratching finale, a poor old-woman getting a beat-down, and a nasty scene of the aforementioned State Senator burning/raping a hooker with a red-hot soldering iron, THE EXTERMINATOR is a trashy revenge/vigilante film that has developed quite a cult following over the years. And like most NY-lensed genre films from this time, there are plenty of shots of Times Square back in all its sordid glory, complete with pimps, hookers, and glorious theater marquees that will have cinema-philes hitting the pause button to read the film titles (of course we couldn’t do this in the theater so it was nice finally seeing what was playing!).

This is a genuine blast of old-school, politically incorrect action film-fare that has almost no conscience whatsoever, and it manages to work despite its ho-hum performances from most of the actors. Too bad the sequel, 1984’s THE EXTERMINATOR 2, failed to deliver the goods.

© Copyright 2013 by Nick Cato

John (Robert Ginty) about to make mince-meat out of a local mob boss in THE EXTERMINATOR.

John (Robert Ginty) about to make mincemeat out of a local mob boss in THE EXTERMINATOR.

 

 

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: SPRING BREAK (1983)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2013, 80s Movies, Comedies, Drive-in Movies, Grindhouse Goodies, Nick Cato Reviews, Sex Comedies, Suburban Grindhouse Memories, Teen Sex Comedies with tags , , , , on January 10, 2013 by knifefighter

Suburban Grindhouse Memories No. 59:
The ULTIMATE Party Flick
By Nick Cato

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March, 1983. President Reagan refers to the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire.” A transit strike cuts off train service for 70,000 New Jersey commuters. Pope John Paul II begins an eight-day, eight-nation tour of Central America. And here on Staten Island, my friends and I went to the opening night premiere of SPRING BREAK, a FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH / PORKY’S-like teen comedy that features more beer-guzzling, wet T-shirt contests, and bad jokes than any other film in existence. We may not have been politically conscience at the time, but at least we had our priorities straight.

Directed by Sean (FRIDAY THE 13th) Cunningham, SPRING BREAK was another in a long line of early 80s teen comedies, and while it’s not all too funny, it is remarkably entertaining (at least if you’re a high school freshman, as I was upon this initial viewing).

Nerdy buddies Adam and Nelson rent a room in a party-motel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But just as they’re settling in, two cool dudes (Stu and O.T.) show up and claim they had already booked the same room. Figuring it’d be easier to score chicks with two cool guys as roommates, Adam and Nelson agree to let them crash there. The first time we see O.T., he enters the motel and chugs a large bottle of Miller like it’s spring water as bikini-clad babes run around looking for their rooms. He’s a big, shirtless dude with a goofy headband, on a mission to party like it’s the end of the world…and along with Stu, his mission is accomplished less than twenty minutes into the film.

During the first night with their new roommates, Adam and Nelson watch from the corner of the bedroom as Stu and O.T. shag two Playboy model-looking girls. It’s a private lesson neither one of them will ever forget, and their spring break is off to a rockin’ start.

BUT (cue villain music)…not wanting his stepson to have any freedom (or give his political career a bad name), Nelson’s stepdad shows up to try and stop the fun. His right-hand doofus henchman, Eddie (played by legendary character actor Richard B. Shull) is also some kind of building inspector who attempts to shut the motel down, but of course is thwarted every step of the way by Stu and O.T. via cases of Miller beer and inflatable sharks(!).

SPRING BREAK is a silly film that was created for no other reason than to make money off teenage boys (::raises hand::). It suffers from some lame acting, a terrible script, and basically exists to show off some of the hottest bikini babes the producers could find (they did quite good). Among them is a fictional all-girl “rock” band called HOT DATE that performs a song unsubtly titled “I Wanna Do It To You.” O.T. even falls head-over-heels in love with their singer (played by gorgeous former Penthouse Pet of the Year Corinne Alphen) and doesn’t care if he has to let his coolness factor down to try and get her. Also on hand (besides the fantasy girls) is the cute, all-American girl next door Susie (played by ‘Seventeen’ magazine cover model and then-future TV star Jayne Modean) who eventually hooks up with Nelson and “turns him into a man.”

In one scene (to show how these two-pairs of unlikely friends are all now true buds), the four of them take a drunken leak into the toilet at the same time. It’s more heartwarming than you’d expect! Another is when the foursome goes to buy pot off some older freaky Latino hippie who lives in a van. It’s probably the funniest scene in the film (although that’s not saying much).

I’m pretty sure Miller Beer had something to do with the production: not only is it chugged and product-placed all over the screen, but it’s used to wet down the participants of countless wet T-shirt contests and poured over everyone else’s head (apparently in Ft. Lauderdale you’re supposed to wear your beer before you drink it). At least this is what I took away from the film, besides the idea that having cooler guys than yourself as roommates can get you laid easier.

The soundtrack features Cheap Trick and .38 Special’s hit song ‘Caught up in You,’ which is used during a rather frustrating sequence (Nelson gets lost after he attempts to get back to Susie’s room after he runs out to grab a can of Coke!). And even though Hot Date’s song is terrible, the band is easy on the eyes, so we’ll let their lack of musical ability slide…

Perhaps this film was the inspiration for those GIRLS GONE WILD videos that ruled late night infomercials in the early 2000s? Or maybe even a vehicle to try and popularize the infamous sport of belly-dive competitions? Or maybe SPRING BREAK issimplya standard to the coming-of-age, nerds-lose-virginity, party-animal films of the 80s done the right way. Sure, it’s a mindless exploitation film, but the characters are a lot of fun (especially the motel’s manager Geri, who will remind you of your cool elderly aunt) and it’s a great way to forget both the dreary winter months and adulthood: use it to get away to a much more fun time and place, even if it’s for just 90 minutes.

Judging by the laughs and applause from the crowd I watched this with, everyone had a blast. SPRING BREAK is probably the best way to vicariously enjoy spring break if you’ve never made it down there or can’t afford to do so.

An extras-free DVD was finally released in 2009, so if you’re curious, check your brain at the door, kick back, crack open a Miller, and enjoy the fun. You also might want to have a towel handy to dry all that beer off your head.

(BEST SCENE: O.T. doing a drunken belly-flop from the top of a tall palm tree as an equally drunken crowd cheers him on!)

© Copyright 2013 by Nick Cato

Our four party animals (Nelson, O.T., Stu, and Adam) in a publicity shot for SPRING BREAK.

Our four party animals (Nelson, O.T., Stu, and Adam) in a publicity shot for SPRING BREAK.

Meals for Monsters (Christmas Edition): SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1972)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, 70s Horror, B-Movies, Evil Santas, Family Secrets, Grindhouse Goodies, HOLIDAY CHEER, Jenny Orosel Columns, Low Budget Movies, Meals for Monsters, Psycho killer with tags , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2012 by knifefighter

MEALS FOR MONSTERS: SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1972)
Special Christmas Review and recipes by Jenny Orosel

SilentNightBloodyNight1974USposterThere are a ton of Christmas horror movies to liven up the season. For every disgustingly sweet animated special with singing toys and perky reindeer, there is a psychopath in a Santa suit screaming about “garbage day,” or a homicidal, wise-cracking snowman. But a truly scary horror film, those are harder to come by. Recently, though, I discovered SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1972), and it saved my sanity from the season’s twentieth bad cover of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”.

Something happened in the Butler mansion on Christmas Eve, 1935. Little is known, other than the mansion had been converted into an asylum in order to provide treatment for Wilfred Butler’s teenage daughter. Neither of them survived, and the asylum was shut down. Fast forward three decades and Butler’s grandson is trying to sell the old house. The city’s elite want it destroyed. And people connected to the house are dying at the hands of a masked killer. Who is it, why are they massacring the town one by one, and what does it have to do with that fateful Christmas Eve?

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT could have easily been a horrible movie. Let’s face it, a psychotic killer and a mental hospital setting are hardly original. Yet somehow writer/director Theodore Gershuny manages to make it as realistic as it can be, consistently suspenseful, and rather unpredictable. The performances were pretty good as well, especially from genre favorites John Carradine and Mary Woronov. There wasn’t much of a budget, but BLOODY NIGHT didn’t need it. The scares came from the great pacing not fancy special effects, so I rarely noticed. It might be that I expected so little going into it but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had with BLOODY NIGHT.  So much fun, in fact, that I made it the Christmas Meals for Monsters column.

The Christmas Eve of 1935 included a huge feast with champagne flowing freely. In honor of one of the stars, I’ve named the cocktail:

THE GINGER WORONOV:

drink1 part ginger ale
4 parts sparkling wine
1 splash bitters
serve cold

You can’t have a feast–especially a Christmas Eve feast–without a roast. The traditional beef rib roast or Chateaubriand can get pricey VERY fast, and would hardly fit the budget of BLOODY NIGHT. An eye of round is a relatively inexpensive beef roast, and can still be delicious if done right.

CHRISTMAS EVE ROAST BEEF:

dinner3-pound eye of round roast
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Soak the herbs in water while the oven heats. When the oven is ready, put the herbs in the roasting pan underneath the rack. Salt and pepper to taste. Put the roast in the hot oven for a half hour. Turn off the oven but DO NOT open the door. Leave the roast in the oven for an hour and a half. This will make it medium doneness. If you prefer your beef more cooked through, increase the initial cooking time. Serve sliced thin.

The Christmas Eve scene included a cameo by Candy Darling, one of my favorite “superstars” from Andy Warhol’s stable of actors. Her role was small and added very little to the overall plot, but she was memorable and a nice little addition to the flick. As a nod to her and her inclusion:

CHRISTMAS CANDY DARLING (aka Peppermint Bark)

dessert1 pound dark chocolate (NOT chips)
1 pound white chocolate (not chips, either)
6 candy canes

Smash the unwrapped candy canes until well pulverized. Line a 9×9 square cake pan with wax paper. In the microwave, heat the dark chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each, until completely melted (you will be tempted to heat it for longer increments. DON’T DO IT! Trust me.) Pour melted chocolate into the pan, spread evenly, and refrigerate until solid. Heat the white chocolate in the same manner. Pour over the cooled dark chocolate and, before setting in the fridge, sprinkle evenly with the candy cane pieces. Once the candy has hardened, break apart into wedges. Will stay good for weeks, as long as it isn’t stored on a radiator.

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is in the public domain and easy to get a hold of. Getting a hold of a decent copy, though, is much more difficult. The copy I watched was from Alpha Video and, while grainy, was not unwatchable. And there’s something fun about it, amid the Martha Stewart level of neatness and precision abounding during the holidays, to watch something with flaws and scratches. So relax, let your hair down, and blow off all that holiday season steam with some good, old-fashioned lunatics.

© Copyright 2012 by Jenny Orosel

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Transmissions to Earth: FIEND (1980)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1980s Horror, 2012, Bad Acting, Drive-in Movies, Evil Spirits, Grindhouse Goodies, LL Soares Reviews, Low Budget Movies, Reanimated Corpses, Trasmissions to Earth with tags , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2012 by knifefighter

TRANSMISSIONS TO EARTH:
FIEND (1980)
By L.L. Soares

About a year ago, Nick Cato reviewed this one from memory for his “Suburban Grindhouse Memories” column, and it sounded interesting to me, so I figured I’d check it out. A big part of why was the “monster” —Dan Leifert in zombie makeup—which I’d seen stills of all over the place, but had never actually seen the movie (or even knew what it was called). Despite the fact that Nick didn’t remember it being very good, I have to admit, I really enjoyed this one more than I expected to.

Made by low-budget Baltimore filmmaker Don Dohler, FIEND (1980) is one of those movies that defies logic, and will have you laughing your ass off at certain scenes. The scenes that work are actually pretty good, the ones that don’t are just plain funny. But, despite its lack of funds, it’s a decent little flick, tells a coherent story, and features some entertaining acting, especially from Leifert as the pompous violin teacher (and part-time reanimated corpse) Eric Longfellow.

It begins with a spirit of some kind—it glows bright red and is hard to make out—entering a graveyard at night. How’s that for a spooky beginning! The spirit flies around until it stops at the grave of someone named Dorian and then it plunges down into the ground. Not long afterwards, the corpse rises from its resting place—an ugly deteriorating zombie. The spirit has reanimated him! Soon afterwards, he strangles  a young woman, and his hands glow red. After she dies, he no longer looks like a walking corpse—he looks like a normal man! He wanders into a neighborhood where his distant cousin is selling a house (I guess they’re not there). He pulls up the “For Sale” sign and makes the place his home. So that’s how a zombie gets a place to live!

The soul energy that revives him only lasts so long, so Mr. Longfellow (as the creature now calls himself) has to strangle more women now and then to keep himself fresh.  We’ve seen creatures like this in dozens of other horror movies, but somehow it works pretty well here. Every time he kills someone, he glows red (it’s a cheapo effect that gets used a lot). Somehow, in between murders, he is able to open his own music school and is considered a respectable member of society. How? Where did he get the money to fund a school (much less handle the expenses of a house—like gas and electricity—where he’s obviously a squatter). It doesn’t matter. He even has a faithful employee named Dennis Frye (the great George Stover, veteran of several of John Waters’ movies and probably a local hero in Baltimore—Stover also produced the movie). Frye is clearly afraid of his boss and is always saying “Yes, sir, yes sir,” when Longfellow verbally abuses him.

The “creepy red glow” – a cheapo effect that gets used a lot in FIEND.

Longfellow has a good cover, so no one finds him suspicious. No one, that is, except his next-door neighbor Gary Kender (Richard Nelson). Kender first starts complaining to his wife Marsha (Elaine White, one of the better actors in this movie) because Longfellow has students come to his home for violin lessons, and the noise is irritating him, but he eventually learns that that’s the least of the troubles Mr. Longfellow has brought to town. The murders of young women seem to be happening closer and closer to where they live, and when a little girl in the neighborhood named Kristy Michaels (played by Dohler’s daughter, Kim) is found murdered in the woods behind their houses, her neck broken, Kender starts to notice the weird comings and goings of Mr. Longfellow. When he finds out that Longfellow told the police he didn’t hear anything because he was listening to music with his employee Frye on headphones (how do two people listen on headphones to reel-t0-reel tape player?), he really thinks there’s something up.

Gary goes over to Longfellow’s house to ask him questions. He learns that Longfellow doesn’t live in the upper part of the house, but down in the basement, where it’s darker and damp. When Kender asks him why he lives like this, Longfellow says he likes it that way. When Longfellow goes to get them some wine, Gary snoops around and finds a room hidden behind a black curtain, where Longfellow has skulls and books on black magic! That’s a sure sign this guy is up to no good!

Kender does some investigating on Longfellow’s background and finds out some odd things about him. Meanwhile, a kid in the neighborhood named Scotty (Dohler’s son Greg) follows Longfellow through the woods and sees him meet Frye in a secluded place and kill him. Scotty runs to tell Kender, but Marsha at first tells the boy he’s sleeping and to come back later. When Gary finds out the boy had come by, he is eager to know what Scotty saw, so he goes to his house. Scotty is reluctant to tell his story at first, but then he spills the beans, and Kender is even more sure that Longfellow is the local serial killer.

Mr. Longfellow decides to silence his employee Dennis Frye (George Stover) for good, in FIEND.

Armed with all the facts he has dug up, Kender is about to call the police, when he notices his wife is gone. Longfellow called her up and asked her to bring over some aspirin, because he had a horrible headache. She tells him she doesn’t have anything at first, then decides the neighborly thing to do is to help the guy out, so she goes over. Longfellow told her over the phone that he would leave the door open for her, since he’s in too much pain to come over himself.

Marsha goes into the house, but Longfellow is nowhere to be found. Anyone with half a brain would have just left the bottle on a table and gone home, but she wanders around the house calling out Longfellow’s name. Eventually she goes down into the basement, and you know she’s in trouble then!

Kender figures out where Marsha went and goes over to save her. Which leads to the big showdown between Kender and Longfellow. Will the damsel be saved? Will good prevail over evil? You’ll have to see the movie to find out.

FIEND is actually a pretty enjoyable flick, if you’re into this kind of low-budget drive-in fare. Director Don Dohler also made other goofy horror flicks like THE ALIEN FACTOR (1978), NIGHTBEAST (1982), THE GALAXY INVADER (1985) and BLOOD MASSACRE (1991). His movies are exactly the kind of stuff you’d find in abundance at Mom and Pop video stores in the 80s.

The cast may not be made up of the best actors in the world, but I enjoyed the performances. Richard Nelson is kind of stiff at times as Gary Kender, but as the movie progresses, he gets better in the role, and makes a decent hero. Elaine White is actually very likable as his wife, Marsha. George Stover, not the best actor you’ll ever see in a movie, is actually pretty entertaining as the milquetoast employee Frye, and Don Leifert is terrific as Eric Longfellow, who acts like a pompous ass when he’s not out strangling people. I thought Leifert’s performance was pretty funny at times, and FIEND seems like one of those grindhouse gems you find once in a while after wading through a lot of garbage.

This one is only for fans of low-budget, trashy movies. But if you’re into this kind of stuff, I think you’ll have a fun time with FIEND. If this one isn’t a cult movie yet, it should be.

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

The DVD box cover for FIEND.

Suburban Grindhouse Memories – Double Feature of MOTHER’S DAY (1980) and NIGHTMARE (1981)

Posted in 1980s Horror, 2012, Bad Situations, Disturbing Cinema, Gore!, Grindhouse Goodies, Indie Horror, Intense Movies, Killers, Murder!, Nick Cato Reviews, Nightmares, Slasher Movies, Suburban Grindhouse Memories, VIOLENCE! with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2012 by knifefighter

SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES:
“If You Survive the Day, Will You Survive the Night?”
By Nick Cato

Sometime in 1983 (despite racking my brain, I can’t recall if it was March or October), a double feature hit the NY/NJ area that turned out to be one of the most brutal experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater. Someone had decided to re-release 1980’s MOTHER’S DAY and 1981’s NIGHTMARE (a.k.a. NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN) on the same bill, and this young gorehound couldn’t have been happier as I had missed each one upon their initial release. I couldn’t find the actual newspaper ad, so I attempted to recreate one (see above), only a tag line placed above the twin posters said “If You Survive the Day, Will You Survive the Night?” And by the time the second feature ended, I saw that a few people almost didn’t!

MOTHER’S DAY ran a wicked late night TV ad campaign when released in 1980; horror fans thirsted at its promises of Drano and electric knife attacks (YouTube it if you don’t believe me) and in my case, my parents had said “Who the hell do they make these movies for?” I silently said “ME!!!” Needless to say, I was psyched when I entered the (now defunct) Fox Twin Cinema and the first feature began to unreel.

If you haven’t seen it, MOTHER’S DAY is not exactly a pleasant film, despite its few instances of dark humor and the three entertaining antagonists (two murdering/rapist sons and their slightly unbalanced mother).  The plot is pure exploitation: Three girlfriends go for a weekend get-away camping trip and become victims to the crazed clan. After the two sons (named Ike and Addley) kidnap the girls by making their sleeping bags escape-proof , they dump them in the back yard of their isolated two-story home and proceed to rape them under the moonlight…as their spooky-looking, elderly Mother cheers them on and takes pictures. The audience, which was made up of mostly high school-aged patrons, remained silent throughout this uncomfortable sequence. To this day I list this as one of the top ten most disturbing scenes of all time, mainly due to the mother’s gleeful facial expressions during such a horrific attack.

The film does build some fine tension; after being raped and severely beaten (one of the girls is even killed), the two survivors plan their revenge, and this is where MOTHER’S DAY becomes more than a standard rape/revenge film: it turns into a slasher/revenge hybrid and features the aforementioned scenes of Drano being poured down one brother’s throat, a TV being smashed over another brother’s head, a plugged-in electric carving knife put to good use, plus an antenna shoved into one brother’s throat, and more mayhem than you can shake an amputated arm at. AND…just when our ladies think they’re safe (SPOILER ALERT!), a mutated sibling of the brothers named Queenie hops over some hedges to extract her own revenge in a genuine shock ending.

Brothers Ike and Addley are ready for total mayhem in MOTHER’S DAY (1980).

There’s a lot of goofs in this one (even during the infamous opening decapitation scene, where blood splashes across a woman’s face even before her boyfriend’s head is hacked into!), but its flaws still don’t hurt its overall intensity factor. MOTHER’S DAY is one of the most brutal R-rated horror films I’ve ever seen, evidenced by the audiences’ complete silence throughout the film.

Next up was 1981’s NIGHTMARE (known more commonly as NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN), a film I remembered seeing TV commercials for, but never paying it much mind. By the time it was over, I had become a head-over-heels fan, and have written extensively about it over the years on top of showing it to countless people on both VHS and DVD. And the odd thing is, NIGHTMARE is a standard, by-the-numbers, “psycho released too early from a mental institution” film, complete with bad acting and a couple of tedious stretches. But for some reason, it WORKS in ways few other slasher films do.

George Tatum is released from an institution after being placed on experimental medication (which is barely explained in the film). He travels from somewhere north of New York down to Florida to murder his family, wasting innocent bystanders along the way. Unlike most films of its kind, NIGHTMARE’s graphic gore sequences are actually scary and hard to watch, especially the infamous double-homicide finale where George flashes back to the time when, as a child, he murdered his dad and his mistress with an axe…a scene that’s shown in quick hints throughout the film, making it nearly impossible to handle once it’s finally shown in full. It was the first time I actually SWEATED watching a horror film, and afterwards, I saw about six people standing outside the theatre, leaning against the wall, actually collecting themselves over the insane images they had just seen. How many FRIDAY THE 13th or HALLOWEEN sequels ever did that to someone?

You better hope George Tatum isn’t calling YOU! From 1981’s NIGHTMARE!

This grueling double feature was unique from all of my other grindhouse experiences due to the fact both films kept the crowd in submission: both were serious doses of hardcore horror that—at the time—no one was expecting, other than those who had seen them a couple years earlier. My friends and I agreed we felt like someone had punched us in the face for the past three hours, and with a very few exceptions, we had not gone through a single or double feature quite this barbaric since.

Both of these films hold up well today, although they may not be as intense to hardcore horror fans in light of some of the ultra-graphic splatter films that have come after them. But it’s not just the gore FX that made MOTHER’S DAY and NIGHTMARE so gruesome and horrific: each film was a rebellious work of no-holds-barred anarchy that’s seldom seen in the theater today, in any genre. They’re films today’s multiplex crowds just won’t get to behold.

(MOTHER’S DAY will be released on blu-ray in a deluxe edition in September, 2012, and NIGHTMARE finally came to DVD the summer of 2011 and quickly sold out. Today it can be found on the second hand market for as high as $99.00).

© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato

Mama just loves her boys! From MOTHER’S DAY (1980)

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: GALACTIC GIGOLO and SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-A-RAMA (both 1988)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, 80s Movies, Aliens, Campy Movies, Demons, Grindhouse Goodies, Nick Cato Reviews, Scream Queens, Sexy Stars, Suburban Grindhouse Memories with tags , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by knifefighter

SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES
Nerds, Babes, Baritone Imps and Intergalactic Broccoli
(Or, SGM returns to Times Square!)
By Nick Cato

Just a few months after the first Urban Classics double feature hit New York City (covered in the 17th edition of this column right here). I returned to Times Square to see another double bill of exploitation insanity. On a mild January afternoon in 1988, I took a solo trip to Manhattan to see one film that featured the three (at the time) reigning scream queens, while the opening feature was made by those responsible for one of my all-time favorite horror comedies, PSYCHOS IN LOVE (1986).

GALACTIC GIGOLO (1988) is a wonderfully funny sci-fi comedy, starring the amazing Carmine Capobianco as an alien who—after winning a game show on a planet where all the inhabitants are vegetables—wins a trip to Connecticut where he proceeds to chase women and drink bourbon, all the while being chased by a bunch of brain-dead gangsters. In his new human form (if you don’t know what Carmine looks like, Google him), he drives the ladies crazy and turns into a total party animal. On his home planet, he’s a 6-foot tall stalk of broccoli! It’s goofy and stupid but MAN did I laugh myself into tears, even among a noisier than usual Times Square crowd. Fans of PSYCHOS IN LOVE who might have missed this should do themselves a favor and get the DVD, as most of the PSYCHOS came back for this one under the direction of PSYCHOS’s Gorman Bechard (who has since become a semi-successful author and pop / art film director).

In classic NYC style, the main feature was delayed, I’m assuming due to projector trouble. But once SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-A-RAMA (1988) began (after continuous screaming and snack-throwing that lasted a few minutes into the feature), the mostly teenaged / early 20s crowd sat transfixed as sleaze director David DeCoteau unreeled his latest celluloid abomination to his thirsting fans.

Brinke Stevens and Michele Bauer (here credited as Michelle McClellan) are two sorority pledges being stalked by a trio of super-nerdy frat boys. When the boys are caught spying on a secret hazing/spanking ritual (that goes on for WAY too long), the house mother catches them and forces them to join Stevens and Bauer on the only mission that will allow them into the sorority: they must break into a local bowling alley and steal something to prove they were there. Okay, so the plot is lame, but the opening scenes of Stevens and Bauer running around in g-strings and showering butt-nekkid had the place cheering and drooling like typical degenerates that go to a Times Square double feature like this in the first place. (Wait…did I just insult myself?).

The bowling alley is located inside a shopping mall, and shortly after our group arrives, they meet up with a tough biker-chick named Spider, played by the legendary Linnea Quigly, who uses the F word more than Joe Pesci did two years later in GOODFELLAS (1990). Instead of grabbing a bowling pin or a pair of silly-looking shoes, our group decides to take a trophy, which is quickly dropped and unleashes a small demonic imp who speaks like Bo Diddley (I stood around for the closing credits to make sure it wasn’t him. It wasn’t) and looks about as threatening as a toy from a crane game. The imp begins to grant everyone personal wishes, but of course doesn’t answer them they way anyone had hoped. Chaos ensues, including our sorority girls becoming possessed and Spider kicking both nerd and imp ass, each time sending the crowd into a screaming frenzy.

The late Robin Stille (of 1982’s THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE fame) shows up (apparently EVERYONE decided to break into the joint on the same night) and has a less-than exciting cat fight with Spider before becoming imp fodder, but the few of us who recognized her from her classic duel with the driller killer let our satisfaction be known (mine in the form of a loud “ARRR-YEAH BABY!”).

Back to the imp: I found out its voice was done by Dukey Flyswatter, who sang for horror-punk band HAUNTED GARAGE (if you can find their double 7” with the 3-D cover, you’re in for a real rockin’ treat).

As far as double features go, this second (and I believe final) offering from Urban Classics was a real hoot. In the long run I enjoyed GALACTIC GIGOLO a bit more, as I’m a huge fan of the cast and crew, but SORORITY had its moments, the best being Michelle Bauer showcasing her flawless rack for about three-quarters of the film’s running time, and thinking back this is one of the more memorable characters in Linnea Quigley’s arsenal. What hurts SORORITY is its nearly impossible to decipher plot and/or point, whereas GIGOLO is a solid spoof of sci-fi and sex-comedy cinema.

Both films are now available on DVD, but I doubt either is as fun without a proper grindhouse crowd behind them.

© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato

SORORITY’s infamous deep-talking Imp doesn’t play games!

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: THE LOCH NESS HORROR (1981)

Posted in 1980s Horror, 2012, Bad Acting, Campy Movies, Giant Monsters, Grindhouse Goodies, Monsters, Nick Cato Reviews, Suburban Grindhouse Memories with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2012 by knifefighter

SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES
A VERY Messy Nessie…
By Nick Cato

If there’s anything special to point out about 1981’s THE LOCH NESS HORROR, it’s  the fact that it’s a PG-rated monster movie, yet still qualifies as a grindhouse film (you’ll see why as this column unfolds).  And while I had just started to get into R-rated films in 1981, my life-long obsession with monsters, coupled with the AMAZING poster for this flick, caused me to hit the (now defunct) Amboy Twin theater one Saturday afternoon for a solo viewing, fully aware there’d be little violence and a 99.9% chance of nothing too objectionable.

In an attempt at a scary opening, a man (in 1940) is watching a plane through his telescope when it takes a dive toward a lake.  The man follows the plane down, but instead of seeing it hit the water, the Loch Ness Monster’s head pops into the viewfinder.  It’s an un-dramatic sequence but sets us up for the events to come, which take place forty years later.

A couple of dopey-looking scientists are floating on Loch Ness in a rubber raft with cheap-looking equipment when Nessie sticks her head out of the water.  (NOTE: While the film slows down, I have to give the director credit for these two well-paced opening segments).  Not scared—because, y’know, scientists just don’t scare easily—our heroes decide to dive into the loch and see if they can locate the creature.  What they find are the remains of the forty-year old plane (featuring two pilots whose bodies look like as good as new!) as well as a large egg that we assume belongs to Nessie (it does).  One of the guys is eaten, but the other manages to make it to shore with the egg, where an old man in a mobile camper is waiting.

When they go to sleep that night, Nessie comes out of the water and drags the egg-stealer back into the lake as he screams in his sleeping bag (!), leaving the old man to look on in (poorly acted) horror.  Laughs erupted around the decently-crowded afternoon screening.

After this, THE LOCH NESS HORROR becomes an orgy of incoherence.  I’m assuming the screenwriters only wanted to show off their cheap-looking Nessie costume (that no one told them looked about as menacing as a Muppet), as they bring in several college age-looking characters, for no other reason than to become monster chow.  And for some reason no film critic in the world will ever be able to explain, the old guy in the camper kidnaps one of the college girls.

At this point it should be noted that it’s PAINFULLY OBVIOUS this film was not shot in Scotland, and the actors were most likely friends of the filmmakers who weren’t taught how to speak like Scotsmen and women.  The kidnapped girl has one of the worst Scottish accents you’ll ever hear—but apparently Nessie liked her—because the monster ends up eating the old bag that kidnapped her, picking him up by consuming his whole head (a great little scene that had us all cheering!).

WHEN the crowd cheers for the monster, you know you’ve entered GRINDHOUSEVILLE.  There are several fun monster-eating scenes, and while not graphic, they each brought a satisfied grin to my seventh-grade face.

BACK to the incoherence: we find out the plane that crashed in the beginning was a Nazi craft, and Scotland’s military has been trying to cover up something it was involved with (but again, WHY we’re never told).  NOTHING is ever explained, and thanks to the Nessie-feeding sequences we eventually just go with it and learn not to care.

We DO learn (about halfway through this mess) that Nessie ONLY kills those with low moral standards.  Why?  Who knows!?  Perhaps she’s a Jehovah’s Witness, or an underground Mormon?  Or maybe some bizarre cult financed half the film and wanted this obscure fact thrown in there?

If there’s ONE reason to see THE LOCH NESS HORROR, it’s for a sequence where Nessie’s trying to hide from some soldiers.  She hops out of the lake and hides behind a tree (remember, this is NESSIE, who must be 50-70 feet long) and the soldiers walk right by her without noticing anything!  This is UNBELIEVABLE stupidity at its finest.

There’s also a silly axe murder (don’t ask), a few scenes of Nessie stalking the van holding its egg from behind the bushes (it’s amazing how this huge creature hides behind tiny vegetation while on land) and plenty of Scottish stereotypes (one guy even wears a kilt through the whole film), enough that I’d love to know what Scottish folks thought of this.

This disaster of a film concludes (SPOILER ALERT!) when a bomb planted in the aforementioned Nazi plane goes off, taking out Nessie and the guy who planted it.  One of the college students then drops the Nessie egg into the lake, and the HORROR ends as we hear the baby-Nessie heart beat, promising the Loch Ness Monster will live on (but thankfully there was never a sequel).

Director Larry Buchanan has delivered some real gems in his day (including 1967’s MARS NEEDS WOMEN and 1966’s ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS) but this one has to be in the Top 5 of his worst offerings.

Recommended for hardcore Nessie completists and those who may be on a mission to see every single cheap monster movie ever made.  Everyone else, run away like your pants are on fire…

© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato

You simply DON’T steal Nessie’s eggs—and cute college girls—and live to tell about it!