Biohazard (1985)

You know, there’s lots to love in this goofy little movie, from Angelique Pettyjohn being a psychic used to bring objects out of another dimension to a monster played by director Fred Olen Ray’s seven-year-old son Christopher to Aldo Ray playing a general and songs by Johnny Legend. It’s a rubber suit monster romp that really has no interest in being anything else which you have to respect.

This was released as Space Gremlins in other countries and I love that name.

Psychic Materialization, drugs, monsters, busty psychics, the military industrial complex, bad computer graphics, a comedy relief hobo in love with the E.T. poster he’s found and a shock ending that mixes blood, boobs and beasts all at once — you know that Biohazard isn’t good for you but have you ever huffed paint? Let me tell you, it’s cheap and it hurts your head for days and you know that you’ll be slowed down for a few minutes, probably unable to stand and then you realize that you’re doing way more than smoking or drinking, you’re messing with your brain for life because that rag or bottle you’re sneaking smells out of makes you forget things, sometimes for so long that you never remember them again.

Inferno (1997)

Over four decades, Don “The Dragon” Wilson won eleven world titles that included the IKF, WKA, KICK, ISKA, STAR and the PKO titles, defeating some of the most famous names in the sport of kickboxing, including Branko Cikatic, James Warring, Dennis Alexio and Maurice Smith. He turned that fame into a career in the kind of direct to video movies that exist in the lower rungs of the action hero world. This isn’t a knock on Wilson; I just break action heroes up accordingly and in order:

God tier: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone

Challenging for God tier: Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Dam

VHS — and coincidentally often Cannon Films — stars: Michael Dudikoff, Sho Kosugi, Dolph Lundgren

Not exclusively action, yet makes great action: Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Patrick Swayze

Asian superstars: Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and his clones

And, as always, Charles Bronson.

Wilson comes in at the tier of guys trying to break into the upper echelons, like Reb Brown, Brent Huff, Lorenzo Lamas, Ron Marchini, Billy Blanks and…The Dragon.

It’s interesting that this film combines Bollywood locations and actors with Wilson’s kicking style. He plays Interpol agent Kyle Connors, a man who travels the whole way to Istanpol to track down the killer of his partner.

The first American film to be made in India, this was also released as Operation Cobra and in Telugu as Secret Agent 786. R. Madhavan, who played Ravi, has gone on to be a huge star in seven different languages, which his big breakthrough being the romance movie Alaipayuthey.

If you pay attention to the guns in this movie, you’ll notice that most of them are wooden or plastic. That’s because of India’s tight gun control laws. When guns are shot, that effect was made by wiring each gun with miniature explosives.

Rick Hill, who is one of the bad guys in this, was also a direct to video action star, appearing in Class of 1999 II: The SubstituteDune WarriorsThe Devastator and as the Deathstalker in Deathstalker IV: Match of Titans. And wow — Jillian Kesner from two of my favorite weirdo karate movies ever — Raw Force and Firecracker — is in this too!

Don is pretty much James Bond in this — thanks to The Video Vacuum — with “a kingpin with a wild child daughter who falls for the hero (like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), the hero performing a fake-out assassination (like The Living Daylights), the hero’s best friend faking his own death and becoming the main villain (like GoldenEye), and big fight scenes that take place in Indian marketplaces (like Octopussy).”

Check out that site — I’ve learned a lot from reading it.

If anything, watch this movie to see Ray, his wife and Gary Graver all have minor roles. And if you don’t love this movie after The Dragon finds a snake in his bed, these movies aren’t for you.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Miss Con-Genie-Ality (2004)

Also known as Genie in a String Bikini and The Erotic Dreams of Jeannie, this is the movie you’d assume it is: a sexy I Dream of Jeannie with Nicole Sheridan as Barbara Eden, basically.

I mean, it’s literally the exact same set-up as the first episodes of the show but the story is told by the same crew Fred Olen Ray used for his mid-2000s softcore films, folks like Evan Stone, Voodoo, Beverly Lynne, Danielle Petty and Dolorian.

The genie does not wear a bikini.

I’m astounded that this movie came out in a time when the internet was around and actual porn was not hard to find. I mean, you could watch actual sex instead of the lead-up and frottage that this movie gives you.

Perhaps there’s a bigger audience for an I Dream of Jeannie parody than I could ever imagine.

You can watch this on Tubi with most of the lovemaking edited out.

Cyclone (1987)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

I had forgotten there was once a time in America’s film and TV history where filmmakers loved to use songs that sounded like “In the Air Tonight.” The 1980s. Era of big hair and New Wave music where everyone’s life revolved around working out at the gym and/or the degree of coolness of one’s mode of transportation. Cyclone brought me back to those days instantly. Ahhh…smell that Aqua Net! Fresh off The Fall Guy, Heather Thomas stars as tough L.A. motorcycle chick Teri Marshall, who against all the known laws of physics, is NOT dating a heavy metal musician. Her boyfriend Rick (Jeffrey Combs) is a scientist in the midst of developing a special, new motorcycle – The Cyclone – that, once fitted with a “transformer” can shoot lasers and small rockets and run without a re-fill for years. Best of all, it comes with a matching laser gun helmet.  Gnarly. After Rick is assassinated at a nightclub, it’s up to Teri to keep the Cyclone and the transformer from falling into the wrong hands. 

This film is what I refer to as a “middler.” Among films of its type, I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse films. Where it excels is in the casting. Although director Fred Olen Ray originally had Linda Blair in mind for the lead, Thomas carries the film well, spewing out lines like “Up your ass!” and “You’re as plastic as your tits!” with verve. The supporting cast includes a pre-Oscar-winning Martin Landau, Martine Beswicke, and Robert Quarry as agents, although in the final twist, it’s not necessarily America they’re working for. Stuntman/actor Dar Robinson (who sadly died on his very next film) and Dawn Wildsmith (Ray’s wife at the time) make convincing assassins and Troy Donahue, Russ Tamblyn and The Bowery Boys’ Huntz Hall appear in extended cameos. Everyone does a good job.  

There are some pretty nifty car chases and stunts, too including the shearing off of the top of a station wagon, turning it into a convertible that continues the pursuit of Teri on the bike. Although the pace drags in spots, the idea, double-crosses and plot twists are good enough to bring the film to a satisfying conclusion. Overall, it’s one of the slickest of Ray’s films from this era firmly rooted in the time it was made. 

FOLK HORROR IS IN THE DIA DOUBLE FEATURE THIS WEEKEND!

This week Sean Mitus joins Bill and me to watch two folk horror movies on the Groovy Doom Facebook and YouTube pages. It all starts at 8 PM this Saturday!

Up first — The Wicker Man, which you can find on the Internet Archive.

Every week on the show, we discuss the films, show an ad gallery of how they were released and have a drink with a themed cocktail. Here’s this week’s first drink:

The Landlord’s Daughter

  • 2 oz. gin
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. Grand Marnier
  • .25 oz. simple syrup
  • Sparkling water
  • Raspberries
  1. Place gin, lemon juice, Grand Marnier and simple syrup in a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and pour into a glass. Top with a float of sparkling water and add some raspberries to your glass.

Our second movie is The Blood On Satan’s Claw! You can watch it on Tubi.

Here’s the second drink:

Blood of Satan

  • 1 oz. Jägermeister
  • 1 oz. Goldschlager
  • 1 oz. Irish whiskey
  • 1 oz. Jack Daniels whiskey
  1. Layer ingredients in this order: Jägermeister, Goldschlager, Irish whiskey and Jack Daniels, watch your hands for fur and drink.

Hey — why not have a second drink?

Devil’s Blood

  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. Jägermeister
  • 1 oz. Kraken rum
  • 1 oz. Sour apple schnapps
  • Dash of grenadine
  1. Shake up everything in your shaker with ice.
  2. Strain into a glass and add a cherry, if you have one, you little devil.

See you Saturday!

Haunting Fear (1990)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Premature Burial, Haunting Fear stars Brinke Stevens as Victoria, a wealthy woman haunted by recurring dreams of being buried alive following the death of her beloved father. Her slimy husband Terry, played by Ray regular John Henry (née) Jay Richardson, pretends to be supportive while banging his hot secretary Lisa (Delia Sheppard) behind Vicki’s back. It’s not the only secret he’s keeping. Terry owes mob boss Visconti (Robert Quarry) 80 large in gambling debt. Visconti sends bent Detective James Trent (Jan-Michael Vincent) to watch the couple’s house to make sure Terry doesn’t make a break for it. Sweet as she is, it isn’t long before Trent develops an affinity toward Victoria, while at the same time Terry and Lisa are cooking up a scheme to kill Vicki, re-mortgage the house and pay back Visconti before the deadline. 

Rounding out the cast is Robert Clarke as Vicki’s doctor, who may or may not have murdered her father for a slice of the inheritance, and Michael Berryman, who makes a single-scene appearance in a nightmare sequence set in a morgue. 

Shot in six days for $140,000 at an old mansion later used in Ray’s Mind Twister (1994) and Witch Academy (1995), Haunting Fear is part horror movie, part erotic, blurring the lines between Vicki’s nightmares and waking life effectively through the use of editing and noir lighting courtesy of DP Gary Graver. The soundtrack, devoid of an overabundance of ambient sound save for a subdued synth score, adds further to the film’s quiet but steady pace to the final act. 

 It’s here where the film finally dives fully into horror territory. Instead of dying, Victoria breaks free of the wooden box into which Terry and Lisa have sealed her, and goes full tilt crazy, stalking her tormenters with a knife in a giggling frenzy from the shadows. While the first half focuses more on the scheming of Lisa and Terry, the finale is Stevens’ show. Cited as her favorite performance from this golden era of “Scream Queens,” it is Brinke’s meatiest role to date, having been written for her while she and Ray were a couple. Even when she’s going berserk, there’s something in her coffee-colored eyes that elicits sympathy. 

A film buff himself from childhood, Ray’s script pays homage to several classics. The image of Stevens sitting on the floor of the corner of her kitchen, vacantly lost in her own insanity, tapping a large knife tip onto the tile floor is straight out of the Dan Curtis classic Trilogy of Terror (1975.) Further, the scene where Vicki is put under hypnosis and made to recall her past life traumas by Trilogy’s Karen Black is reminiscent of Corman’s lesser-seen The Undead (1957) wherein the protagonist travels back in time in her mind to recall her past lives. If Allison Hayes had survived past the age of 47, it’s a sure bet Ray would have hired her.

True to most of the director’s output from this period, there’s plenty of sex and nudity go around, although sadly, we never get to see Richardson bare all. Come on, Fred! How about a little something for the ladies? There’s even some Basic Instinct-style rough stuff (played for laughs), almost two years before that film hit the scene. Is Haunting Fear true to the source material? No. Then again, no Poe adaptation ever has been. Haunting Fear is therefore best viewed in the spirit with which it was made. A nice little thriller meant to satisfy the 1990s video market. 

Circle of Fear episode 21: The Ghost of Potter’s Field

The next to last episode of Circle of Fear, “The Ghost of Potter’s Field” was directed by Don McDougall (the TV movies that made up Farewell to the Planet of the ApesForgotten City of the Planet of the ApesSpider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge and two Kolchak episodes, “The Youth Killer” and “Legacy of Terror” and written by Bill S. Ballinger (The Strangler and episodes of Mike Hammer and Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and Richard Matheson.

While researching a story at Potter’s Field cemetery, Bob Herrick (Tab Hunter) sees his own ghost, which follows him home. The only person that believes him is his girlfriend Nisa King (Louise Sorel) as the demonic doppelganger begins to cut him off from his friends and life.

While Ghost Story/Circle of Fear only had one season, it somehow had two doppelganger episodes, the other one being “Alter-Ego,” which is a much stronger story (and that episode also boasted Helen Hayes). At least the guest stars here include Pat Harrington Jr. (Schnieder from One Day at a Time), Gary Conway (who would go on to write Over the Top and American Ninja 2 and 3), Robert Mandan (Chester Tate from Soap), ventriloquist and voice of Tigger Paul Winchell, Myron Healey (The Incredible Melting Man) and Darwin Joston (The FogAssault on Precinct 13).

I’m kind of sad to see this series end. Come back next week for the last episode.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

There’s a moment in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood where Eddie, while watching the debut of Plan 9 from Outer Space thinks “This is the one I’ll be remembered for.” It’s almost certain Ed never had that thought. Similarly, Fred Olen Ray probably never thought his little horror comedy shot over 5 days on a series of weekends using equipment rented for another film would be “the one.” If you’ve never seen a Fred Olen Ray film, or you’re about to induct a new virgin into your own basement B-movie cult, this is the one to watch. Often imitated but never duplicated, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is Ray’s self-professed “message film” about the dangers of heading to a hotel with a lady of the night. “Because they might be a chainsaw-wielding maniac!” 

Here, the hookers in question are members of a chainsaw-worshipping cult who dismember their clients in service of their gods and master Gunnar Hansen of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame. Elvis-loving Mercedes (Michelle Bauer) delivers the most memorable kill totally nude in a shower cap while bloody Halloween shop rubber prop body parts fly around.

Although the dismembered body parts were fake, the chainsaws were real. Even when the chains were removed, Ray insisted on extreme caution from everyone on the slippery, blood-soaked set because “Anybody who is not scared shitless of a moving chainsaw blade is a fool.” 

Jay Richardson plays film noir prototype private detective Jack Chandler who stumbles upon the cult while searching for a missing runaway named Samantha (Linnea Quigley) amongst the dive bars and strip clubs of 1980s pre-“cleaned up” Hollywood. In the end, Sam and Jack defeat the cult while chaos in the temple erupts around them, while every single crew member runs through the frame screaming.

The film is silly and fun and utterly harmless despite what the British Board of Film Censors would have you believe. Yes, they banned both the poster and the film itself for a time during the “Video Nasties” panic. Here we are, 35 years later, and police have arrested not a single British prostitute for involvement with an underground chainsaw cult. Come to think of it, that brothel I lived next door to for a while in London was pretty suspicious…

You can watch this on Tubi.

Glass Trap (2005)

It’s not enough to be a skyscraper in danger movie or an ants go berserk movie.

This is radioactive ants gone mad inside a skyscraper movie.

Fred Olen Ray has somehow talked C. Thomas Howell, Andrew Prine, Stella Stevens and Martin Kove, as well as several of his regulars and some newcomers to be in a movie where they crawl through air ducts and avoid ants the size of my chihuahua.

So yes, it’s also Die Hard with some Empire of the Ants.

Is it a coincidence that Huff’s character is a tech thief with a teenage daughter, which is pretty much Ant-Man, in a movie about ants?

The ants were made this way thanks to smuggled Iraqui plutonium and I wonder if some of that same radioactive material once sent a boy thirty years back in time. Are all movies in the same universe?

I wonder how badly Ray wanted to make the rooftop lingerie photoshoot somewhat sleazier.

I just wonder, are people looking for giant ant or disaster movies? Or was this shot in the office building that Ray once had that also may or may not have had entire families living apartment style in some of the offices? If you have the location, you’re already saving money.

I wonder if Stella Stevens said anything like, “You know, when I did The Poseidon Adventure…”

You can watch this on Tubi.

Ghost of the Pirate Queen (2006)

The Full Moon cut down version of Bikini Pirates, this Fred Olen Ray movie has Evan Stone in its cast and I think he just took his outfit from the adult movie Pirates and no one said anything.

 

Jill (Nicole Sheridan) and Dustin (Voodoo) have found a doubloon necklace and the diary of the pirate queen Morganna (Rebecca Love), so they get their friends Susan (Beverly Lynn) and Joe (Randy Spears!) to undergo a seance and that brings both Morganna and Captain Tygus (Stone) back to the land of the living and everyone races to find the treasure.

Also known as Harlots of the Caribbean, this movie has both a cabin in the woods and Morganna’s book looks like the Necronomicon. Except instead of blood coating the walls, people have sex in the shower.

I feel like my time on Earth is short and yet here I am, watching a softcore movie about pirate ghosts.

You can watch this on Tubi.