SLASHER MONTH: Prom Night (2008)

Why do I do this to myself? Like I should know that it’s a lot of pressure to try and top a hundred some slashers in a month last year, but here I am again, hunting down more bloodletting and writing about it and oh hey — let’s hope against hope that 2008’s Prom Night is decent.

And then I realized that Prom Night is not really any good and it’s only the sequels that are worth remembering (Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou is in my top ten slashers, in case you care).

For some reason, Nelson McCormick remade this and The Stepfather in the mid 2000s and you can use the law of inverted milk to determine freshness: the closer a slasher has been made to the day it is right now, the worse it stinks.

We didn’t need these reimaginings — one could also argue we didn’t need the original Prom Night — and yet here they are, stories that make it difficult to determine the motives, the reasons, the why and anything else that would make the killer in this film remotely interesting. You know that Black Christmas remake from 2006? The one with all the crushed black color, the modern rock and the hospital scenes? This is like that but way worse and missing the swing for the fences yellow killer.

I’d like to think that writer J. S. Cardone knew better, I mean, he made the baffling weird The Slayer, which holds up better than this, as well as Thunder Alley and 8mm2 and…alright maybe The Slayer was a fluke.

Allow me to be the cautionary tale. Don’t watch PG-13 rated slashers.

SLASHER MONTH: I Must Fall (2018)

I’ve always wondered what happens after a slasher murders their victim and the crime scene cleanup guys show up. What must it be like to show up to clean all the blood, eyeballs, gristle and gore? I Must Fall (originally One Must Fall) is the first film from Antonio Pantoja and it answers that question.

When Sarah — joined by her best friend and roommate Alton — quits her job rather than sleep with her boss, she ends up working cleanup after a gory series of murders. But has the killer left the building? We wouldn’t have a movie if they did.

While the film calls up all of the slasher moments that we know and love, I really enjoyed how the killer (Barry Piacente) sees what he is doing as a holy mission, even allowing a character to pray to God to have someone rescue him, giving fate the opportunity to turn things around.

This is also a movie that does not skimp on the gore or on the damage to its leads. I was shocked by some of what happens in this movie and — spoiler — cheered on the close, as Sarah returns to get revenge on the boss who caused so much of her trauma.

Most modern slashers are quite frankly worthless. I found a fair deal to enjoy here, which is high praise.

You can watch this on Tubi.

2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 16: Remote Control (1988)

16. VIDEO STORE DAY: This is the big one. Watch something physically rented or bought from an actual video store. If you don’t have access to one of these sacred archival treasures then watch a movie with a video store scene in it at least. #vivaphysicalmedia

When a video store clerk (Kevin Dillon) has learned a horrible secret. His store is renting a black and white 50s science fiction movie that is brand new, was created by aliens and leads to people being brainwashed. Sure, that could happen.

In the hands of anyone other than director and writer Jeff Lieberman (SquirmBlue Sunshine), this would be a trifle, but this movie gets to the bottom of one of my major issues: sitting in a room all day and watching movies until I can’t stay awake any longer, then watching more movies.

I mean, I wish that Village Video was real, a place where women like Belinda Watson (Deborah Goodrich, April Fool’s Day) would stroll through hoping to find Truffant’s Stolen Kisses and I guess the only place that would come close is Scarecrow Video, whose challenge this month inspired hunting down this old VHS chestnut that only got a physical release on DVD and blu ray when Liberman got the rights himself and DIY-distributed it.

Man, Kevin Dillon was getting into all kinds of 50s and 60s throwback shenigans in the 80s, huh? Beyond the fake science fiction alien movie populated by all asian extraterrestrials, he was also in The Blob remake and Heaven Help Us.

So yeah, it’s not all that great — Lieberman claims that the producers ruined it — but any movie that has a murder-causing VHS tape and Jennifer Tilly in it can’t be all that bad.

Slasher Month: Stones of Death, aka Kadaicha (1988)

Sam the Bossman assigned me this movie for our October 2021 “Slasher Month.” He knows the Aussie accent irradiates me to tears (you frackin’ bastard). Initially, I clipped Marty DiBergi’s Spinal Tap documentary and typed: “Vegemite Shit Sandwich.” Then, I came to my critical sense and typed: “Poltergeist meets A Nightmare on Elm Street.” I added a theatrical one sheet and a trailer. Hit send. Done. Next review.

Then Sam sent me a “WTF” text and he gave me shite about “word count.” Okay, then. Here we go. You want words, you got ’em: “Remember how cool Eyes of Fire was? Well, Stone of Death is the shitty version of that movie. Aka this one as Stones of Bore.”

Still not enough words? Damn. Okay, here we go. . . .

Actually being stoned — by rock, not by joint — would be better.

The teenaged residents of a housing development on the suburban outskirts find themselves in trouble upon discovering their real estate tract was built on top of a sacred aboriginal graveyard* — where lurks the spirit of an aboriginal witch doctor, aka a Kadaicha Man, who placed a curse on said lands.

As with Mr. Krueger: the Kadaicha Man comes to them in their dreams, and leaves them in the possession of the ancient trinkets of the title. The crystal stone, of course (Kadaicha are aborigine stones, if you care; don’t worry, the trailer will educate with the correct pronunciation), marks them for death — demises that arrive in a series of explainable “accidents,” à la James Wong’s later and pretty fine, Final Destination.

So, yeah, a mash-up of A Nightmare on Elm Street** and Poltergeist . . . are you lovin’ or hatin’?

Well, the kills are low-budget minimal, which means lots of cutaways . . . then seeing what happened after said cutaway. The effects are cheap, the acting is questionable, the plot is troped and full of holes. However, the spiders let loose in the library for one of the from-beyond-kills is pretty decent. But one good scene does not a decent film make. So dump this supernatural slasher in the outback and let the crocodiles gnaw on it.

And don’t you dare pay a dime to stream Stones of Death. Watch it for free on You Tube.

So goes another “Slasher Month” for this October 2021 at B&S About Movies. Goo’ day, mate!

* There’s more folksy burial ground tomfoolery with Night of Horror (1981), which gives us Confederate Civil War ghosts, as does Armand Mastroianni’s borefest, The Supernaturals (1986), and Ghostriders (1987) with its western ghosts deep in the heart of Texas (a well made, but a boring, VHS eject). An honorable mention goes to William Grefe’s awful but fun drive-in nostalgia romp Death Curse of Tartu (1966) with its burial ground Indians.

** More ripoffs are afoot with our “Ten Movies That Totally Ripoff A Nightmare on Elm Street” featurette that never fails in receiving a lot of hits this time of the year. So thanks for that, ye surfers.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

SLASHER MONTH: Igor and the Lunatics (1986)

You know, some great Mad Max-style poster art was enough to get me into this movie, despite the nauseating strains of the Troma opening, which has been enough to get me to shut off numerous films.

The funny thing is the real leader of the cult of lunatics is Paul, but Paul and the Lunatics just doesn’t have the same zing I guess. So Igor got pushed to the front despite just being a foot soldier in this army of goofballs who like to use giant saws to cut women in half.

Anyways, the gang all goes to jail and somehow gets probation fifteen years later because I guess you can atone for using a giant saw to slide a woman in half. And then we get to see it twice, because hey, this movie is barely edited.

The bulk of this movie was directed by Billy Parolini and then years later, Thomas Doran and Brendan Faulkner would go back and direct the horror, action and suspense sequences.

This movie is, charitably, a mess and is saved by the really great posters. I mean, Tom — the former gang member gone legit — has come back to town just in time for Paul to get out of jail, which leads to that maniac ripping out a woman’s heart and killing Paul’s old girl — now a prostitute because this town is pretty much where I grew up — and making a tape recording of it. And oh yeah — Tom has a kid who has been raised by a Native American who lives in the woods.

If the names Thomas Doran and Brendan Faulkner are familiar to you, that’s because they made part of Spookies. Just like that movie, this has numerous continuity issues, plus even more weirdness like characters suddenly getting new names.

It’s an interesting watch. Not a good one. But hey, you have to do the work if you want to find the good ones.

SLASHER MONTH: Death Wish Club (1984)

Also known as The Dark Side to Love.

Also known as Gretta.

Also known as Erskine Caldwell’s Gretta.

Also known as Carnival of Fools.

Also known as “The Case of Gretta Connors,” which is part of…Night Train to Terror.

Of the three stories within that film, The Nightmare Never Ends and this one were actually fully complete movies* that may be better in their chopped down form, but let me tell you, this movie is completely beyond insane for so many reasons that don’t make it into Night Train.

It’s also based on Erskine Caldwell’s book Gretta, but when I say loosely, I mean loosely.

Pre-med student Glen Marshall falls for Gretta (Meridith Haze, who is great in this movie and I wished had done more than just this role) the first time that he sees her in an adult film. He starts to hunt her down, not knowing that she’s a woman kept by George Youngmeyer**, her Hollywood producer sugar daddy pimp husband after he bought her back when she was selling popcorn at the carnival.

Well, Glen gets her. She thinks that she’s a mermaid and won’t leave the bathtub, so Youngmeyer asks Glen to visit, make love to her in front of him and then he’s allowed to take her home.

But Glen gets more than he bargained for as Gretta is a sexual beast that is only happy when a man is making love to her. Otherwise, she’s selling your TV set, bringing in a piano and parading in front of your mother naked. She is not the kind of girl you take home as they used to say. She’s a fantasy woman for Glen but removed from the fantasy male gaze of pornography she remains the fantasy male gaze pornography object which is perfect in ten-minute onanistic blasts — pun intended — but potentially exhausting in real life.

Other than her sex addiction, Greta is only turned on by the adrenaline that comes from putting herself in near-death situations, along with a club of others who have survived death. This coterie has some real maniacs, including Federico Libuse, Contessa Pacelli and Prince Flubutu, who we are led to believe is Jimi Hendrix.

After surviving the deadly sting of a claymation Tanzanian winged beetle, Glen decides that no sex is worth all of this. He tries to get back with his normal former girl and back to his normal life but she tells him that there’s no way that he can ever be free from Gretta.

I mean, Youngmeyer did warn him that Gretta lives “in the fourth dimension.”

There’s a new problem, though. Gretta has overdosed and Youngmeyer takes him to her funeral. Lost, he makes his way back to the club where he first saw her playing piano and it turns out that Gretta is still there, but now she has become a he, the piano playing noir tough guy Charlie White. She hasn’t left the suicide club either, as now Glen has to survive a homemade electric chair and is forced at gunpoint to get in a sleeping bag and be in the path of a deadly multi-ton wrecking ball.

So can our protagonist get the man he’s in love with to be the woman he’s alternatively afraid of and sexually attracted to again? Will he have to break into her wedding The Graduate style and do some kung fu? Why is Gretta glad that Chopin is dead?

There’s even an ending that speaks to Yordan’s theories on love. Or whatever he saw it as.

Death Wish Club is an astounding piece of moviemaking. It’s very David Lynch without trying to be, which is the best kind of film, a movie that’s near occult-level weird because the people making it were all very damaged or just had no clue how humanity behaves because they came here from a parallel planet where this is how men meet women.

This is the kind of movie that I love.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*Scream Your Head Off was unfinished, but later was put together as Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars and man, it’s crazy as it gets.

**I love the theory that The Bloody Pit of Horror advances that this character is pretty much writer Phillip Yordan, who may have never fallen out of love with Cat People actress Simone Simon and just treated the rest of his wives like Youngmeyer, who believes that “one-sided love is the only emotion.” Yordan was quoted as saying that he married his first three wives “…and supported them in a lifestyle none of them experienced before they met me. That’s all I had to offer.” For more about Yordan, check out our piece on another of his absolutely bonkers films, Savage Journey.

2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 15: The Vindicator (1986)

15. KILLED BY TECHNOLOGY: The gadgets will getcha (<-autocorrect that one, phone).

A modern-day retelling of the classic Frankenstein story set in the 80s — I mean, the movie is also known as Frankenstein 2000 as Frankenstein 80 was already taken and Joe D’Amato didn’t make Frankenstein 2000: Return from Death until 1992 and he wouldn’t care if he stole a movie title — The Vindicator was made in Canada and directed by Jean-Claude Lord (who also directed Visiting Hours as well as Toby McTeague the very same year).

The ARC corporation is trying to make the spacesuit of the future which will have a rage mode that takes over the wearer’s mind when they need to survive a dangerous situation, going pretty much full-on rage mode. Why this would be part of the machine is something that I leave up to you, dear viewer. That’s the same question that scientist Carl Lehman has, particularly after some monkeys die when one of the bosses, Alex Whyte, cranks them monkeys up to eleven and lets God or whatever machine logic that runs our simulation play dice. Dead monkeys lead to dead scientist which leads to Project Frankenstein, which is sort of RoboCop a year early.

I kind of like how filmmakers say they’re doing a modern Frankenstein and instead of being somewhat coy and naming the robot Project Prometheus or Project Shelley, they sledgehammer the point home and just say, “Hey smart guy, it’s just called Project Frankenstein, OK?”

If you wonder, “Will something go wrong, sending monkeys in a rage and burning Carl’s new skin off and him going on a quest to find his wife, who is played by the actress who would be Jill Bennett on Knot’s Landing?,” then the answer is, of course, yes.

But hey — this also has Pam Grier as Hunter, a hitman who needs a challenge and that usually involves liquidating anyone who knows or sees or even thinks about Carl in the suit. He’s never called the Vindicator, but hey I know one other Canadian scientist who got burned alive inside his cyborg suit and that’d be Weapon Alpha or the Guardian or Vindicator from John Byrne’s Alpha Flight and Canadians may be too polite to vindicate but I do not believe they are so polite as not to steal a movie title.

Anyways, there are some cyborg zombie battles and Carl’s colleague Burt trying to cuck him from beyond the grave and umbilical tubes being used to drown people and much like the cover of the VHS, I’m making this all sound way more exciting than it is. But isn’t that what renting movies used to be all about? You see a title like The Vindicator and a flaming cyborg — much less one designed by Stan Winston — and you say, “Gimme that.” Maybe a few hours later you regret your decision, but it was only a 93 minute and $2 investment, so life used to be a lot simpler.

Slasher Month: Blood Relations (1988)

“Some men want you for your body . . . some your brain.”
— from the Sony VHS

Andreas Wells, a brilliant, neurosurgeon patriarch (a very good Jan Rubes; you know him from D2: The Mighty Ducks), gathers his dysfunctional family at a remote, snowy estate for an erotic battle over the fortunes of Charles MacLoed, his own, eccentric, dying father (by an ever better Ray Walston* who works the “dirty old man” angle with aplomb; yes, he was “Mr. Hand” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High).

The greed brings Thomas Wells (a good Kevin Hicks in his second film; you might remember him as “Sir D” in Cool as Ice), the two-years estranged son, to the estate with his fiance Marie (Gulp! Eye-popping redhead of crystal-blue eyes, Lydie Denier, of Paramedics; she was Nicole Bernard in the U.S.-imported series, Acapulco H.E.A.T). The soon-to-wed couple plan, once grandpa dies, to kill his father for the family’s estate. However, the tables turn as Marie finds herself the unwilling victim of the elder Wells’s sex kinks as well as their immortality experiments (in a basement lab, natch) to reanimate their cryogenically suspended wife/daughter-in-law — and Marie’s doped up along the way to bring on the hallucinations, and even screwier dreams, to muck up reality.

Blood Relations is one of the better Canuxploitation splatter joints. What begins as a 19th century-influenced, Lovecraftian erotic thriller (but set in the present day), soon delves into a Gialloeque mystery, only to become a sickly twisted, bizarre-gore set piece: a Gialloesque-cum-film noir with a brain-prodding serial doctor.

Writer Stephen Saylor (who never wrote another film?) and director Graeme Campbell (still at it, with five Hallmark Channel holidays flicks) start it off purposeful and slow, but be patient: this Amicus-styled film with Full Moon ’80s overtones has a wicked payoff that ranks alongside the twisted ’80s rentals The Brain and Severed Ties. The set design is attractive and expertly captured in the lens, while the red herring support actors of Lynee Adams, as Dr. Wells’s mistress Sharon, and Sam Malkin, as the ubiquitous, odd-ball groundskeeper Yuri, in the sexy-horror shenanigans, are excellent.

When it comes to brain transplant movies — with gratuitous nudity and capped brains poked with needles — this is the prefect watch for a month of October Halloween watching. Do it! Do it as a stream on the Internet Archive.org and enjoy this off-the-radar gem (the upload isn’t great, but the flipping and tracking static adds to the rental nostalgia).

* Ray Walston, who also appeared in Paramedics, gets the B&S About Movies love thanks to his creepy work in Blood Salvage, Galaxy of Terror, and Popcorn.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

SLASHER MONTH: The Resurrection of Michael Myers Part 2 (1989)

One night at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, the nurses and doctors throw a party, but you just know that that dude with the darkest eyes, the devil’s eyes, is going to show up, right?

But what if Jason Vorhees showed up?

And what if Leatherface came over?

Then a zombie looking for a copy of the original film in this series?

Sure.

It’s wild, because these guys seem absolutely unhinged compared to the ways they’ve killed before. Leatherface saws off a woman’s leg and beats her to death with it. Jason pours acid in a guy’s face. And then Michael does everything from scissor stabbing to shoving a broken bottle in a woman’s face. He saves his best or grossest or most creative kill when his BM gets ruined when a victim wonders in, so The Shape drowns the guy in the brownest of water.

Then everyone raps.

There’s no way this movie isn’t better than Halloween Kills.

You can watch this on YouTube.

SLASHER MONTH: The Resurrection of Michael Myers (1987)

Look at that featured image and bask in the blobby look of a fifth-generation video and know that the people who made this — Mike Beck (who was also the chief editor of the Swedish edition of Hustler and had suspected Olof Palme-killer Christer Petterson pose naked in an issue), Richard Holm (who directs TV today) and Henrik Wadling — had a great time.

As an audience watches Halloween, a killer awakens in an office building and begins killing everyone in his path before one of the victims comes back from the dead, Freddy shows up, a karate fight gets started and everyone decides to just give up and dance to “I’m Your Boogeyman” years before Rob Zombie started playing that song.

Depending on your love of SOV movies, you’re either going to be absolutely in love with this or see it as amateur hour junk. Not only is there a sequel, but the VHS tapes of this movie appear in that movie, which is the kind of meta that Scream would like you to believe that it invented.

You can watch this on YouTube.