DAY 13 — THE RUBY ANNIVERSARY: Watch something that came out in 1981.
Editor’s Note: Okay, we’re are cheating, here. But this film rolled out in the worldwide video marketplace from 1980 to 1984, so . . . well, it’s our site, after all.
Lost somewhere between Bill Van Ryn’s love of Herb Freed’s second film, Haunts (1976), and Sam “Bossman” Panico’s love for Herb’s fourth film, Graduation Day (1981), and the mutual Ryn-Panico-Francis love for Freed’s Tomboy (1985), is my love for this third film in the Freed canons that stars the one-two B-movie bunch of John Saxon* and Lynda Day George. Now, please keep in mind that the use of “love” in this first paragraph is subjective and, in the B&S vernacular, is applied to bad movies so bad, they worm themselves into your ventricles to deposit a VHS tape worm your colon shall never pass.
Such a film is . . .
Look, a film that rips the stop motion and plate effects from Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (watch the “Ending” clip embedded below to see what we mean), touts itself as the next Amityville Horror** (in some of its alternate slip box copy), spins a Pino Donaggio score, and has an evil entity sportin’ long, green-optical effect fingernails and a matching set of eyes — how can you not love it?
You still need more reasons to show Herb Freed the love?
Then how about this ’80s Combat-cum-Shrapnel (Megaforce covers were better, but not by much) indie-metal styled cover we dug up? No way. For when a shitty film is ensconced in even shittier, ’80s metal-inspired album artwork, well, that’s an instant rental.
Just wow. There’s nothing “Raimi” or “Amityville” or “Nicolas Roeg” or “Brian De Palma” (whose films Pino Donaggio scored) about this darkly-shot film, although it wants to be. Nothing. And the continuous POV-shots of the spiral stairway is in no way transforming this into a faux-Dario Argento joint. So, please, for the love of ol’ Scratch, just stop with the Hitchcockian spirals, for the Italian Giallos you’re ripping are so much better at it. For not only do I want to break out my old art school kit to start marker comping a new cover to send to Vipco and Media Home Entertainment: I also want to run screaming onto the set with a haul of flashlights from Home Depot (because Lowe’s sucks) to see what the hell is going on . . . in the head of John Saxon. (And don’t get us started on the film’s sound issues.)
Why, John, why? Lynda Day George (Pieces), I get. But the money was that tight that you had to take this movie?
Yeah, yeah, I know, the plot: John Saxon’s architect Larry Andrews got himself a gig for a new condo development on a remote island in the Philippines. And who got him the job? His old pal, Del — who just so happens to be the ex-husband of his new wife, Barbara, played by Linda Day George.
Yeah, John’s, uh, Larry’s, buckin’ for a demon taunt, here . . . and Babs’s ex-hub isn’t playing his cards close to the vest when he rents out Casa Fortuna, a spacious Colonial mansion on the island, for the Andrews to bunk down while Larry designs the condos. Or something like that. For the lighting and sound is so bad throughout, and the effects suck so much ass, that I just don’t know, or care, what Babs and Del’s past is about, and that Larry’s a dick for shackin’ with his best-friend’s wife and was probably having an affair prior to, or the house’s past for that matter. Just bring on The Exorcist ripoff shenanigans, already, so William Friedkin can sue Milano Films International.
Sure enough, this is one of those islands rife with native folk who dare not go near the house. Eh, so what if the place is haunted by the 100-year-old Alma Martin (the divine U.S. daytime TV star Janice Lynde*˟ in an array of bad wigs) who returned from the grave to murder Estaban, her carousing husband, who murdered her. And now, well, Lynda Day’s body will do just fine to allow Alma to twist off Larry’s old noggin and stick it on backwards — so he can spend eternity looking at his own ass. Why? Because all men suck and Alma is doin’ ol’ Babs a favor with Larry’s cranial remodel.
Look, if the artwork, along with the trailer, and a clip of the epic ending doesn’t inspire you to embrace the evil, then I don’t know what will. Just turn in your B&S About Movies membership card, for I know ye not.
Many thanks, once again, to Paul Z. over at VHS Collector.com for the clean images. Be sure to check out his reviews of the DVD and Blu-ray reissues of the lost VHS classics of the ’80s on his Analog Archivist You Tube portal.
* Check out our “Exploring: John Saxon” featurette.
** Check out or “Exploring: Amityville” featurette.
*˟ In addition to her work on Another World, One Life to Live, and The Young and the Restless, Janice Lynde was part of Don Kirshner’s stable of artists in his failed TV Movie pilot, Roxy Page. She also guested on U.S. TV nighttime series, such as Barnaby Jones, Mannix, Medical Center, and Quincy, M.D. Later on, in the ’80s, you’ve seen Janice on Baywatch, Night Court, Sledge Hammer!, and Who’s the Boss. Lost Janice Lynde TV movies — both series pilots — that we need to seek out: Quinn Martin’s Escapades (1978) and Bernard L. Kolawski’s Nightside (1980), oh, and Irwin’s Shaw’s drama-cheeze fest, Top of the Hill (1980).