In Dreams (1999)

Neil Jordan has flirted with horror throughout his career, with movies like High SpiritsInterview With a Vampire and The Company of Wolves. This film is closer to psychological horror, with a mother feeling a psychic connection to a serial killer of young children. If it had more fashion in it, it could very nearly be a giallo.

Claire Cooper (Annette Benning) is an illustrator and mother who keeps dreaming if an underwater city and the murder of a young girl, which just might be a premonition of the sudden disappearance and death of her daughter Rebecca. The police won’t listen when she starts to grow mentally closer to the man she believes has killer her girl, Vivian Thompson (Robert Downey Jr.).

This movie is based on the book Doll’s Eyes by Bari Wood. The same author also wrote Twins, the book that David Cronenberg adapted as Dead Ringers.

I love the underwater city parts of this movie — shot in the same tank as Titanic — and the total downer of an ending. The difference between an artist like Jordan or a maniac like Martino or Lenzi means that I would love if this movie had been shot in 1975 with Mimsy Farmer in it way more than the actual movie, but that’s my “in dreams.”

Virgin Suicides (1999)

This was the directing debut of Sofia Coppola, who also wrote the script, which was based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s also the start of the creative relationship between Coppola and Kirsten Dunst.

I’d listened to the Air soundtrack numerous times, but never watched the movie. Thanks to quarantine, I’ve given in to my wife’s movie picks, which is how just about every movie this week has ended up on the site.

In the late 70’s, specifically in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the Lisbon sisters rules the hearts and minds of teenage boys. These unapproachable goddesses — Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux and Cecilia — won’t survive the summer.

I really wanted to like this more than I did. I often fight the urge to tell my wife how much I dislike the films she picks. However, if given my choice, she’d be stuck watching something like Starcrash. Despite the sheer despair of this film — not what I really wanted to see while dealing with a plague just outside our door — it also made me realize how lucky I am to have such a wonderful person in my life.

I still dislike this movie.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Don’t Open the Door (1974)

Don’t Open the Door! was originally released regionally in Texas under the title Don’t Hang Up in May 1974. It was then acquired by Capital Films Corporation, who re-released it in 1979.

Director S.F. Brownrigg made this movie with producer Martin Jurow (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), using a cast mainly made up of actors from Dallas-based actors.

The story is simple: young girl returns home to care for her sick grandmother and encounters weirdness at every turn. It’s Brownrigg’s skill that makes this movie unique.

Despite the lurid feel of this movie, it still has a PG rating. Life was cheaper in 1974.

Susan Bracken plays Amanda Post, who begins the film assured and cocky before returning to Allerton, the Texas town where she watched her mother get killed as a child. This would be the only theatrical film Bracken would do and it’s a shame because she’s great in this.

We live in a world of caller ID that renders so much of this movie a moot point, such as the reveal that the calls are coming from within the house. While that trope replays itself in so many 70’s horror films, I always find it so delightful.

Larry O’Dwyer, who plays the sinister Claude, was done with acting after this movie too. Again, a shame.

If you were born later than me, you may find this movie slow moving and not as filled with terror as you hope, particularly with the sinister VHS cover image that I attached to this review. Not all movies need to have a killing every two minutes and have geysers of gore. This movie does so much more with less.

If you want to know more about this movie and where it was filmed, watch my friend J.H. Rood’s film Don’t on the Internet Archive.

BONUS: You can listen to Bill Van Ryn, J.H. and me discuss this movie on the second week of our streaming web show, Drive-In Asylum Double Feature.

Brain Damage (1988)

Beyond being a historian of exploitation films, Frank Henenlotter has made some outright insane movies like Frankenhooker and Basket Case. What other kind of mad genius would hire horror host Zacherle to be a worm named Aylmer, who creates drug-like relationships with his hosts while demanding to eat the brains of everyone they love?

That blue phallic worm secretes a highly addictive hallucinogen directly into the brain, forcing Brian to leave behind his life, his girlfriend and any hope of normalcy, all while being pursued by the old couple that had imprisoned the parasite and who know way too much of his history, leading to some of the longest and most hilarious expository dialogue I’ve seen in a film.

During the fellatio scene — yes, a woman puts Aylmer inside her mouth — the crew walked out, refusing to work on the scene.

There’s a great moment where Duane and Belail from Basket Case meet Brian on a train before he ends up killing his girlfriend. I realize that’s a spoiler, but nothing can prepare you for this movie. It’s truly one of a kind.

You can watch this on Tubi or on Shudder with and without commentary by Joe Bob Briggs.

The Firm (1993)

Jonathan Grisham had two books turned into movies in 1993, with the other being The Pelican Brief. This one is directed by Sydney Pollack and has a pretty big cast between Tom Cruise, Holly Hunter, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Paul Sorvino, Gary Busey and Hal Holbrook.

Mitch McDeere (Cruise) is ready to graduate from Harvard when he gets an offer from small Memphis attorneys Bendini, Lambert & Locke. They ask for strict loyalty and confidentiality. They charge their clients high fees, which Mitch loves, because he gets an amazing house, a new car and his student loans all paid off.

He learns the secret that not all of their clients are legal, so Wilfred Brimley gets him laid and uses the photos to keep him in line. Cruise’s character, however, can’t deal with it all and decides to go to the feds, who are just as shady as the criminals.

In the original script, Mitch is killed. Once Cruise signed on, the ending changed. That’s how things work in Hollywood.

Richard Jewell (2019)

Paul Walter Hauser got known for playing Shawn Eckhardt in I, Tanya. Here, he’s playing another real life media story, the character this movie is named for, Richard Jewell.

This is directed by Clint Eastwood, who does one take for every scene and people love him for it. Yes, the same reason these same people made fun of Ed Wood.

As much as this movie presents the media killing the life of Jewell, it does the very same thing to reporter Kathy Scruggs, who died of a prescription drug overdose in 2001.

There’s a scene where she offers sex to Jon Hamm’s FBI agent in exchange for information, a moment that the editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated was “entirely false and malicious.” Employees of the newspaper went even further, claiming that the movie should have a disclaimer that “some events were imagined for dramatic purposes and artistic license.”

Olivia Wilde defended the film and wondered why no one held Hamm’s character to the same standard. That’s probably because his character, Tom Shaw, is a composite based on many people and not an actual person who lived and breathed and left behind people that cared for her.

That makes it hard to believe in this film’s defense of Jewell when it commits the very same attacks on Scruggs. That said, Hauser is good and I always enjoy seeing Sam Rockwell show up.

Hook (1991)

Sure, Steven Spielberg directed this movie, but it was developed by James V. Hart (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and the man who hoped that he would direct it, Nick Castle. Yes, the same person who played Michael Meyers. Instead of this movie, he’d direct Dennis the Menace and get a story credit.

Seriously, let me blow your mind. Nick Castle also directed Major Payne and Mr. Wrong, a movie all about Ellen DeGeneres having bad luck dating men.

I’m the wrong person to discuss this movie, as I’ve never enjoyed it. My hatred for Robin Williams is pretty well known. Julia Roberts being involved makes this a double threat to my sanity.

But Sam, Phil Collins is in it, I hear you say. What, no one said that? Am I hearing voices again?

Spielberg has mentioned several times how much he dislikes this movie, feeling that he had no real feel for the story beyond the start of the story and that he just made the movie bigger and more colorful to make up for his insecurity with making the film. He was happy that he made it, because it allowed him to become friends with Williams.

Becca absolutely loves this movie, remembering exactly where she saw it as a kid and how many times she rented it. I don’t say anything when we watch it, because it makes her happy and really, that’s what being in a relationship is all about.

Blood and Lace (1971)

If you’re wondering, “How did a movie about a teenage girl whose prostitute mother was killed with a hammer and now lives in an orphanage where people getting their hands cut off get a PG rating,” you’re not alone. This is one of the roughest, scummiest movies I’ve watched, no matter the rating.

Ellie (Melody Patterson, F Troop) is that girl, now stuck in the orphanage of Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame), which she runs like a sweatshop with the help of the sweaty, swarthy Kredge (Len Lesser, Uncle Leo from Seinfeld).

Beyond that trauma, they’re also keeping dead kids in a giant freezer along with Mrs. Deere’s husband, who she refuses to believe is deceased. There’s also a dirty cop named Carruthers (Vic Tayback) who pursues Ellie in a way that it’s obvious that he has no good intentions in mind.

The only innocent seems to be Pete (Dennis Christopher), but once he falls for another girl named Bunch, Ellie has no one. Well, no one but that killer who keeps showing up staring at her while she sleeps as he clutches a hammer.

Stick around. Things get even sicker from there between those two, as if that were possible.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Girls Just Want to Have Blood (2020)

When Jessica, a wayward trailer park teen with a drunk n’ abusive momma, is accepted by a trio of “party all night” female vamps, she enters a nocturnal world of murder and mayhem. As they stalk clubs and bars for victims—and avoid a notorious vampire hunter—Jessica comes find her inner “girl power.”

Based on its original title of Teenage Bloodsuckin’ Bimbos, and the John Carpenter-esque keyboard noodling, Z-grade ‘80s-styled metal, and its VHS-styled opening titles and end credits sequence, you know what you’re getting into: a campy send-up of ‘80s Troma-style gore films. And there’s bonus points for dredging up our vinyl memories of the Canadian joke-metal band Piledriver by including “Metal Inquisition” on the soundtrack.

Girls Just Want to Have Blood made its world premiere at last year’s New Jersey Film Festival and found distribution with Red Eye Releasing with a DVD and VOD release on May 26th.

Disclaimer: This was sent to us by the film’s PR company.

Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

Evil LaughAmerican Drive-In. Hard Rock Zombies. These are the legacy of producer/director Krishna Shah. This movie is…well, there’s never been a movie exactly like this. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that’s a good or bad thing.

Jessie, Tommy, Chuck and Bobby are Holy Moses and in order to impress a music business bigwig, they decide to go to a town that has outlawed rock and roll. Of course, these towns were everywhere in the wake of Footloose because they saw how well that went.

The town they pick — Grand Guignol is the name, which is only slightly more subtle than Nilbog — has not only outlawed music, but it’s also full of evil dwarves, sex perverts and not just Nazis, but Hitler and Eva Braun who has become a knife-carrying werewolf who lets other men have sex with her while she cucks Der Fuhrer.

The band gets killed, but thanks to the fact that their new song was based on an occult prayer, they come back to life and bring the town’s dead back from the choir invisible to kill everyone else.

Jessie is also in love with a young fan named Cassie, who is all of 12. So there’s that. And he’s the good guy.

This movie was supposed to be only twenty minutes long and appear as the movie within a movie for American Drive-In. Someone decided to spend a little more cash and finish the film.

How much do we love this movie? We also reviewed it as part of our weekly Drive-In Friday feature for a “Heavy Metal Horror Night” alongside the likes of Monster Dog, Blood Tracks, Terror on Tour, and Rocktober Blood.

You can watch Hard Rock Zombies on YouTube: