“At the time I didn’t think anyone but the people involved were going to see [Cannibal Campout] and when it was actually picked up for distribution I was shocked. The fact that it’s achieved any kind of cult status is totally amazing to me. Even after Cannibal [Campout] was distributed I thought only a handful of people had seen it and it would disappear into video heaven. It wasn’t until the Internet craze took off that I started to hear from tons of people who had seen the movie and even own it! I was incredulous. I still am. It’s all a bit overwhelming.”
— Actor, producer, writer and director, Jon McBride with Mike Haberfeiner of Search My Trash
Hey, after paying tribute to Brett Piper with a “Drive-In Friday” featurette and reviewing a half dozen Mark and John Polonia flicks*, it was time to show micro-budgeted SOV auteur Jon McBride the love. Look, the dude has that Dennis Devine jam that we love (and gave a “Drive-In Friday” tribute). Did you know that, in addition to his SOV exploits, Jon’s appeared in national commercials for AT&T, Fanta Soda, and Mars Candy? That he acted in roles on the U.S. daytime dramas Days of Our Lives and Young and the Restless? That his absence from the SOV-doms from 1988 to 1996 was result of his producing music videos for MCA Records? True stories, all.
Let’s go exploring across Jon McBride’s twelve directing efforts.
Cannibal Campout (1988)
It was Rudyard Kipling who said, “The twain shall never meet, but Top Gun and Nail Gun Massacre, so shall.” So, after one too many showing of Top Gun (1986) and the motorcycle-helmeted slashing featured in Nail Gun Massacre (1985) — .”
“The motorcycle-helmeted killer concept dates to the Italian giallos What Have They Done to Your Daughters (1974) and Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975), as well as the American slasher knockoffs Night School (1981) and Nightmare Beach (1988). So one of those might have influenced Jon. Just sayin’.”
In this Jon McBride guilty pleasure debut, four teenagers on a wooded outing are menaced — with cheap, but excessive over-the-top gore — by three mutant cannibals of the Mother’s Day (1980) variety: Joe, of which, likes his flight helmet.
There’s a copy on Daily Motion.
Woodchipper Massacre (1988)
In 1986 Newtown, Connecticut, Richard Crafts dispatched of his wife, Helle Crafts, by the gardening implement of the title. However, before the Coen Brothers pinched the idea, some kid in Connecticut pulled together 400 bucks and weaved an SOV-slasher about three dysfunctional siblings on a murder spree with a woodchipper. Yeah, mom should have let junior have the “Rambo” knife of his dreams . . . and dad shouldn’t have left them latchkeyed over the weekend with a crabby, bible-bangin’ aunt.
Sure, it’s cheap and awful . . . to most eyes, but not ours. This is — as with Nigel the Psychopath — widely entertaining, which is the whole SOV-point-of-it all. And this “murder-method” has been tried more than one: check out the You Tube documentary-short “Three Horrifying Woodchipper Murders” and “Three Terrifying Teams of Killer Kids.”
The Amazon Prime stream comes and goes: and is gone, again; however, there’s a You Tube upload or the Internet Archive.
After an almost ten-decade break — again, McBride was working for MCA Records — he’s back with his third SOV’er. And it quickly became Blockbuster Video’s #1 independent rental of the year.
After an acting stint in Blades (1989) by New Jersey SOV’er John P. Finnegan of Girl School Screamers fame, Jon McBride makes his first collaboration with the Polonia Brothers — as a co-director and lead actor. This time: the budget ante ups a hundred bucks to $500.
If the video sleeve and title doesn’t give it away: Two photographers on assignment in Pennsylvania pick up two female hitchhikers — then stumble into some very hungry and vampiric, little grey aliens. The extra hundred must have been for the Macintosh’ed UFO effects . . . and the aliens cloning humans.
Believe it not: All of those camcorder shakes and childish special effects were successful enough as a Blockbuster Video Rental Exclusive that it spawned a sequel: Feeders 2: Slay Bells. And yes: Santa and his elves battle the aliens in the winter’s wood. Yes. Feeders 3: The Final Meal is coming in 2021 though Wild Eye Releasing via Team Polonia.
Courtesy of the Blockbuster connection, both have ended up as free-with-ads steam on Tubi. Now, how can you say “No” to streaming it? It’s friggin’ free, you cheap bastard.
Watch Feeders and Feeders 2 on Tubi.
Update: April 2022: The fine folks at Grindhouse Releasing have officially released the long-gestating sequel, Feeders 3. Thanks to frequent Mark Polonia actor Jeff Kirkendall for the heads up. You can follow the latest with Jeff’s films on his Facebook fan page.
Terror House (1998)
This VHS-shot delight — that also made the distribution rounds as The House That Screamed — was done in one, continuous 16-hour shoot as it plays as an early take on Saw (2004).
Three college students, one who is blind, take up the offer to stay in a house haunted-by-murder for a $25,000 reward. Once there, they’re drugged. When they awake: they discover they’re bricked-up in the house . . . and they’re stalked by a mask-adorned, deformed freak of the Michael Myers variety.
No Amazon streams, but they have the DVDs.
Blood Red Planet (2000)
My favorite theatrical one-sheet trope of disembodied floating heads — and they’re both human and alien! — above a moon base model that gives Gerry Anderson pause. Dude, I’m all in.
A rogue planetoid in orbit around Mars causes global storms, so the Omega 1 is sent to investigate. When they fail to return, the crew of the Omega 2 discovers an alien force has not only killed the crew of Omega 1, but everyone on the neighboring lunar base.
I really liked this one — in all of its COVID-style masks and tool shed safety goggles glory. Paired with a ’50s-styled Roger Corman monster, it takes me back to Brett Piper’s early ’80s Star Wars-wannbes Mysterious Planet, Galaxy Destroyer, and Mutant War. And that’s not a bad thing: evoking a little bit o’ Piper.
There is an age-restricted sign-in uploaded on You Tube.
While it’s not a sequel, we are back in those same woods as Feeders. Three bank robbers — portrayed by Jon and the Polonia Brothers — hide out in the woods: the same woods where a hungry alien has landed.
This Predator rip has it all: cut-and-paste outer space battles, dopey astronomers, and inept bank robbers who took a wrong turn at the border and bypassed Tarantino’s vamp-strewn The Twitty Twister.
Look, it’s an SOV shot in one long weekend for a cost a total of $50 — and it’s made its budget back many, many, many-fold. So let’s keep the naysaying to a minimum, shall we?
There’s an upload on You Tube.
Hellgate: The House That Screamed 2 (2001)
Poltergeist is the model as a team of parapsychologists investigate the six-months passed disappearance of Marty Beck at the mysterious Wingate Road house, in this sequel to the Polonia Brothers-released (without McBride) The House That Screamed (2000).
Is Jon McBride’s Terror House (1998), which was also known as The House That Screamed, a prequel or a repacked/recycled tweak of the 2000 version? Don’t known: I haven’t seen any of them to sort it all out. Apparently, there is a Phantasm “Lady in Lavender” twist with a beautiful woman bringing on the evil manifestations.
Sorry, no streams freebie or with-ads, but Amazon has the DVDs.
Gorilla Warfare: Battle of the Apes (2002)
Apes now rule the galaxy as two warring Simian factions battle for the spoils of the others human cargo. When one of the ships is thrown off course by an errant wormhole (I hate when that happens), two males and one female human escape when their slaveship crash lands. Yes. It’s the Planet of the Apes meets The Most Dangerous Game. Yes. I want to see this, but can’t?
There’s no DVDs or streams as it’s not yet been released. So, we’re hedging our bets anything shot for this ape epic was recycled as the Polonia;s Empire of the Apes (2013), and it’s sequel, Revolt of the Planet of the Apes (2017). Ah, but the actual story, according to Jon McBride with Search My Trash: Gorilla Warfare was shot specifically for the 3D market. Sadly, distribution issues have led to a company owning the masters and they’ve yet to release the film.
Night Thrist (2002)
The sole reason this Jon McBride tribute came into being was result of the Ukrainian model on the cover of this film’s Euro-DVD sleeve: Maria Konstantynova. Who? Go to the Night Thrist review to learn more about ALL of the films her image, adorns.
As for Jon McBride: he ups the budget once more, but not by much, to take on ’70s Hammer and Amicus anthology flicks. He plays a tow truck driver stranded in the remote countryside. Finding refuge in a home, its occupant weaves four scary tales.
Night Thrist (actually, it is officially stylized as NightThrist and NighThrist) is one of the many French and German-issued DVDs that used the oft Euro-repeated image of Shutterstock modeling-star Maria Konstantynova. Yes, having her on the cover is the film’s highlight. And do click through to read reviews on ALL of the films featuring Maria on the cover. It’s a hootenanny-and-a-half!
Among Us (2004)
Just the cover alone is giving me a warm n’ fuzzy Don Dohler vibe of the Alien Factor (1978) and Nightbeast (1982) variety.
I ain’t hatin’ this $20,000-shot story about washed-up B-movie director Billy D’Amato who, after making Bigfoot and killer alien movies, and, well, the same type of movies Dohler, the Polonia brothers, and Jon McBride have made over the years: Billy D. comes face-to-face with a real Sasquatch while location scouting his latest feature. Inspired, he decides to head back into the deep woods to make retro-’70s-styled documentary about his encounter — and instead ends up with a modern-day The Blair Bigfoot Project.
No streams to share. Oh, and this is the writing debut of another modern-day streamer burning the SOV ’80s flame, John Oak Dalton, who is still at it with the bonkers-we-love-it Noah’s Shark (2021).
Holla If I Kill You (2004)
When Blockbuster Video needs an urban-based horror comedy, team Polonia calls up Def Jam and Comedy Central stars “Brooklyn” Mike Yard, Will Sylvince, Arnold Acevedo, Brad Lowery and Jay Philips. (I’ve heard of Brooklyn Mike; sorry to the rest of you. No offense.)
Once the hottest African-American comic in America, Hollaback, is now a has-been. No one will book him and when he does get a booking, he’s booed off stage. That is until a mysterious figure appears — and begins killing those whose dis ol’ Holla.
Scoff if you will, but the McBride and the Polonia brothers work those contacts and put product on the shelves. In fact, I’ve seen this on the shelves at Walmart. So, there you go.
No streams to share. but the DVDs are on Amazon.
Black Mass (2005)
Micheal Mann’s The Keep is the model as four American GIs, caught behind enemy lines, seek refuge in an old church, deep in the secluded woods. The parish’s old priest tells of the supernatural occurrences in within its walls . . . and that the Nazi have been using such against the Americans. Now, our GIs must defeat the evil to save the Allied Forces.
After looking over the stills from the film featuring the impressive era-correct costuming, as well as an effectively-dressed church set and graveyard, you can see Jon McBride went all-in with money. Shot in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, it was penned by the prolific John Oak Dalton, who has penned most of the Polonia Brothers’ output — and, if you did more than just skim my hard work, you know that John also wrote Among Us, reviewed above. Later known as the cash-in Da Vinci’s Curse in some quarters (know your Tom Hanks Oscar bait) and Dead Night in others, this ended up as Army of Wolves in Japan — each butchered with scenes taken out and stuff added in from other films, so be sure you get the Black Mass original for your maximum McBride pleasures of the 3/4″ flesh.
Nope. No streams to share. Yeah, I need to see this. And John Oak Dalton, who wrote this, tells me he doesn’t have a copy, either. So, there you have it.
“I think people are going to be surprised how good it is when they see it. We hit a plateau with that movie on so many levels that I almost wonder if we can top it. I’m so anxious for people to see it. It’s definitely our stand out film.”
— Jon McBride, in 2008 with Search My Trash
Multi-pack DVDs featuring Jon McBride’s films:
Jon McBride showed a lot promise with Black Mass, but it became his last directing effort, to date. He’s since settled into composing soundtracks for the Polonia Brothers’ Razor Teeth (2005), Spatter Beach (2007), Wildcat (2007), and Halloween Night (2009). Considering Jon left film for a decade after his late ’80s, two-fer output of Woodchipper Massacre and Cannibal Campout to pursue interests in music videos, rest assure: he’s still out there, creating.
I want to say I’d like to see him return for one more, but there’s scant information online as to his whereabouts. Someone updated his Wikipedia page in January 2020 — with no indication to believe the now 60-something Jon McBride is no longer with us. The only — and last — interview he’s done was in October 2008 with Search My Trash. But in talking with John Oak Dalton, Jon still walks among us and is doing fine.
“I’m just really thankful that people have enjoyed some of my stuff. To be honest I’m still amazed at the number of people who have seen some of my movies and it’s a little overwhelming at times. I never thought that some of them would get the attention they did and I’m grateful for that. Even if I never get to make another movie I’m happy that I was able to make a minuscule offering to the genre [horror and SOV] I’ve loved for so long.”
— Jon McBride with Search My Trash
There’s more insights to be had with all of these films by way of the two-part documentary short Mark Polonia: A Life of Monsters, Mayhem, and Movies. You can also remember the late John Polonia (1968 — 2008) with this tribute video. You can also pick up a copy of the recently published biography, Monstervision: The Films of John and Mark Polonia, from Amazon.
* We’ve reviewed the Polonia Brothers Entertainment’s Empire of the Apes (2013), Amityville Death House (2015), Amityville Exorcism (2017), Revolt of the Empire of the Apes (2017), Amityville Island (2020), Camp Blood 8 (2020), Return to Splatter Farm (2020), Shark Encounters of the Third Kind (2020), and Jurassic Shark 2: Aquapocalypse (2021).
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
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