EXPLORING: The Future Worlds of Dardano Sacchetti

EDITOR’S NOTE: The crew at the new magazine It Came From Hollywood asked if we’d be interested in running an interview with Dardano Sacchetti and my answer was, “Why are you even asking this question?” Thanks for sending this!

The name Dardano Sacchetti needs little introduction to fans of the 80’s post-apocalyptic movies that followed in the wake of Mad Max (1980) and Escape from New York (1981). In a very short time, Sacchetti wrote a number of action pictures set in a not-so-distant future rife with nuclear fallout, demented overlords, and bands of mutated survivors. 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982) is probably the one fans are most familiar with, featuring such genre luminaries as Fred Williamson, Vic Morrow, Luigi Montefiori (better known as George Eastman) and Christopher Connelly as well as serving as the first film appearance for fan-favorite Marco di Gregorio (Mark Gregory). 

With the launch of the magazine It Came From Hollywood, Sacchetti agreed to an epic, two-part interview. Rather than rehashing the titles he has talked about in various print and screen interviews, It Came from Hollywood explores how he worked all those years in the world of Italian cinema, quickly learning that on-screen credits aren’t always correct, and then diving into a number of films for which he has rarely commented. What follows is an excerpt from our interview, covering the less than bright future of our world as created from Sacchetti’s typewriter.

Releasing in Spring 2021, It Came From Hollywood will be available from Amazon in print and digital editions. You can keep up with the mag’s Facebook page and website.

Without further ado, the future worlds of Dardano Sacchetti.

1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)

Although the film was partially shot in New York City, do you know how much of it was shot in Rome?

Producer Fabrizio De Angelis’s technique was simple: shoot a week in America with a very small crew. Sometimes it was only the director, the camera operator, and an actor. There was a lot of material to steal, that is, to shoot without permits. (The famous scene of the zombies on the bridge in Zombie was shot at four in the morning with the bridge closed.) Then the film was completed in Italy, paying close attention to the locations and the costumes. Usually there was always a baseball bat, a university or fan cap, some posters, etc. The rest was all an illusion, but it worked.

Did you have much contact with director Enzo G. Castellari after you delivered the script for any rewrites?

Whenever Italian directors ask for changes or rewrites on set while filming, it is because they either have little ideas to add or they take suggestions from the actors for a few lines, but more often it is for production problems. It happened that you came in the morning to shoot a scene with a horse, and you found yourself without a horse.

Did Fabrizio De Angelis give you guidelines for the movie he wanted, or did he just ask you to write about gangs in a future New York City?

For horror films, of which he didn’t understand anything, he gave me maximum freedom. He just invented the titles that were in fashion. For all other films he told me, “Dardano, make it like Rambo, or something like that.”

Actor Marco di Gregorio’s (Mark Gregory) career was made up mainly of appearances in films you wrote. To this day he is a mystery to fans. Did you ever have the opportunity to meet him?

Marco di Gregorio was a boy who belonged to the same gym as Castellari, who noticed him and used him first in 1990: The Bronx Warriors. He was a good guy, unable to act and with a serious defect in that he did not know how to run. He had agility. He had a nice physique, a nice face and he cost nothing. I think I met him once in production just to say hello, but I don’t think he even understood who I was or what I was doing.

Fred Williamson is another actor who has starred in many films that you have written. Have you ever met him?

Never met, but we became friends on Facebook a few years ago.

Why didn’t you have anything to do with the sequel, Escape from the Bronx (1983)? 

There was a quarrel with De Angelis and Castellari. I couldn’t tolerate them.

Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983)

How did you meet the producer Camillo Teti?

You know, I don’t remember, but maybe Dario Argento has something to do with it because I think he was a producer of a couple of Argento’s films, and he looked for me.

How did Exterminators of the Year 3000 come about?

The film was born as a catastrophe and it was a catastrophe because of Teti, director Giuliano Carnimeo, and me too.  It simply shouldn’t have been made.

The biggest surprise was when Tommy’s secret was revealed. Was that always the challenge with these films, inventing new surprises to keep the audience entertained?

I always try to include surprises in all my scripts. In my scriptwriting courses I explain that every scene is a small film. It must have a beginning, an end, and a central idea. I have never written transition scenes. There was a director, Giorgio Capitani, who said, and he was right, that my scripts were a series of crucial scenes, and it is true.

The heroine’s name is Trash, the same name as the hero in 1990: The Bronx Warriors. Was it just a coincidence or at any point was this script conceived as a possible third installment of the Bronx films?

I always reused names in my scripts. It is a little cunning way to prove, if anyone would like to steal, that I am the creator of the character.

2073, Rome AD: New Gladiators (1984)

With 2073, Rome AD: New Gladiators, it appears that you are commenting on how large corporations only seek profits and ratings, at the expense of their workforce, as well as a comment on the situation at the time of the collapse of the Italian film industry when television took over?

It was a great movie, which Americans later copied with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Running Man (1987). It was very anticipatory of the future, but Fulci made it a mess. He had signed two contracts for two different productions, Blastfighter and this one, The New Gladiators. He was convinced he could fool the producers by doing one after the other. Fulci had to give up Blastfighter, but when it came to making The New Gladiators, the atmosphere had turned negative. Fulci’s name at that moment was no longer sought by foreign buyers. The budget was cut in half and the story was about the future fight against the domination of TV. The film’s advertising partially transformed the film into a mediocre thriller, losing sight of the central nucleus of the idea. But I was already pissed off because without any fault I had lost a contract and the good relationship I had with a producer. There was the clamorous quarrel between me and Fulci, that led to ten years of coldness between us.

Blastfighter (1984)

Was this script an original script you wrote or was it a job of doctoring an existing script?

It was an original story of mine that Fulci wanted to make. Blastfighter was the only apocalyptic movie I wrote that I liked a lot, but Fulci made a mess of it and it was diverted to Lamberto Bava. Then the story changed completely. There was no longer anything similar to my original story, but the title remained because the film had been sold with that title.

There is a lot of speculation that the original script was a science fiction story similar to Mad Max but set in the woods.

That is a mistake. The location was a desert covered in a huge cloud of sand and fog. There were two cities that were a cluster of car carcasses piled on top of one another, that moved slowly in the desert. The car-city was like a sort of western village and in the center there was a saloon. The most valuable thing were the batteries because there was more energy.

So, Blastfighter ‘s original concept was a post-apocalyptic desert world, and cities were literally made up of thousands of cars stacked on top of each other, with an entire city inside, and these gigantic traveling cities moved slowly across the desert. This is a fantastic concept!

Exactly. In my opinion it was a spectacular idea, a very strong one that maybe I will take up again. The only one who came close to capturing a similar spirit of the film is the Canadian director David Cronenberg with Crash (1997). I say that meaning, Crash has absolutely nothing to do with my original story to Blastfighter, but the overall atmosphere of “a place of death where life is remembered” is the same, even if developed with different visions.

You were credited as Frank Costa on the finished film, but in the print of the movie I saw, that credit doesn’t appear. 

Frankly, I don’t know. Frank Costa was a pseudonym invented by producer Amati. Another time he made me say I was John Gould or something, for Cannibal Apocalypse (1980). They were little cheats, like when they gave Italian actors American names to fool both Italian viewers and U.S. buyers.

Hands of Steel (1986)

Was Hands of Steel a script revision or original screenplay?

It was a script revision born to become something else.

Was this the only time you and Elisa wrote under the name of Elisabeth Parker, Jr.?

No, we used it other times too.

The poster for the film gives away the film’s biggest surprise.

The director did not believe in the film, which was written in a completely different way.

In a video interview, Luigi Montefiori has condemned the senseless helicopter accident that killed co-star Claudio Cassinelli during filming. Do you recall this tragedy?

I don’t know what Montefiori said, but it’s the truth that Cassinelli didn’t need to be on board.

EXPLORING: What’s On Shudder for April 2021

Shudder — who didn’t put us up to this — is a great deal for horror movies fans. Instead of searching through Netflix and wondering why you keep seeing the same old, same old, this service offers tons of movies, including several that aren’t even available on DVD in the U.S.

Here’s our deep dive into what’s on this month!

APRIL 1

Creepshow Season 3Honestly, I’ve found this return to be underwhelming at best, but I’m willing to give it another chance. Much like the CBS streaming revival of The Twilight Zone, all every episode has done, so far, is given me a reason to go back to the original. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Train to Busan Presents: PeninsulaIf you’re like me, you’re getting tired of modern zombie films. That said, Train to Busan stands out in a crowded genre and from the looks of this trailer, this looks to be an action-packed reinvigoration of a moribund type of film. Looking forward to watching this!

The Haunting of Julia: Speaking of movies that are hard to find, this film has popped in and out of Shudder’s library. Consider it another round of Mia Farrow versus the supernatural. This is also known as Full Circle. To read more, click the movie link, as we watched this a few years back from a convention bootleg.

Night of the Lepus: There aren’t all that many Easter-ready horror films. There is this movie, based on the even-better titled book The Year of the Angry Rabbit.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: A giant middle finger to expectations, Chainsaw 2 lives in rarified slasher air, a movie that rewards fans of the original while subverting what they want the film to be. Tobe Hooper, unlike everyone in the world, thought the original was a comedy too. An absolute favorite, buoyed by Tom Savini at his most creative.

APRIL 2

Val Lewton collectionWe love Lewton around here — just check out this piece on the documentary of his life — and the fact that Shudder is dropping some of the best-regarded films by this producer (but more really showrunner and creative force) is one of the best reasons to pay your membership fee this month. They’re showing The Body SnatcherCat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat PeopleI Walked With a ZombieIsle of the DeadThe Leopard Man and The Seventh Victim.

While these are all wonderful films, Curse is a movie that — with a different title — should be regarded as an all-time classic film. That’s right, not just a great genre movie. And The Seventh Victim is on the list of The Church of Satan’s Satanic film list with good reason. It’s a dark, tense and death-obsessed piece of occult noir that more people need to see.

APRIL 5

Don’t Panic: Chances are, if you’ve talked to me about movies in-person or online for more than 5 minutes, I’ve brought up this blast of insanity. I’m thrilled that Shudder is putting it on their service and can’t wait until it melts brains. Grab your dinosaur pajamas and get ready. You can also get this from Vinegar Syndrome.

The DroneWell, just from the imdb write-up — “A newlywed couple is terrorized by a consumer drone that has become sentient with the consciousness of a deranged serial killer.” — I’m into this.

The Fog: Another classic film that should be in your library and, if it isn’t, Shudder has you covered. John Carpenter followed up Halloween with this ghost story that’s full of shocks and Jamie Lee hooking up with Tom Atkins.

House of 1000 Corpses: For all the vitrol I’ve launched at Rob Zombies movies, this is one of his better efforts, released before he started endless trying to remake Eaten Alive.

Lake Mungo:When a girl drowns, the supernatural takes over a small town.

Zombie for Sale: A pharmaceutical company’s illegal experiments inadvertently create a zombie that a family attempts to make money from in this South Korean film.

APRIL 5

The DentistThis film was one of the brightest spots in this year’s October Slasher Month, with Corbin Bernsen going unhinged and ruining going to get your teeth fixed for years to come. Shudder is also streaming the sequel, which has the best title for a dental damaging flick: The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself.

APRIL 8

The Power: Not the 80’s Aztec doll movie but a UK horror film — there are plenty debuting this month — this Shudder exclusive is about a young nurse forced to work the night shift in a crumbling hospital that has a dark prescence in its walls.

APRIL 12

Day of the Beast and Perdita Durango: Álex de la Iglesia is a madman and these two films are the best examples of why I say that. The first is a heavy metal odyssey into the end of all things while the second is an occult ritual crime mindtwister. They’re both great and you can get Day and Perdita from Severin to own, too.

The McPhearson TapeAGFA and Bleeding Skull released this $6,000 budget found footage alien abduction film, made a decade before The Blair Witch and one that also convinced many that it was true.

APRIL 15

The BanishingThe story of the most haunted house in England, The Banishing has been said to be a mannered and slow-building tale of a religious man and his family moving in to a house of horrors. I can’t wait to check it out!

APRIL 16

Joe Bob is back!: That’s right, The Last Drive-In is back for another season. Here’s hoping for more movies that push buttons and Joe Bob being, well, Joe Bob and Darcy having to deal with it.

APRIL 18

The Chainsaw Awards: Shudder is airing Fangoria’s Chainsaw Awards, which is a perfect blend of two horror culture forces.

APRIL 19

The Conspiracy: Christopher McBride, who wrote and directed 2020s Flashback, created this mockumentary about filmmakers discovering more truth than they wanted to when it comes to an ancient and dangerous secret society.

HouseboundWhen a young woman is forced to return to her childhood home as part of house arrest, she feels like something evil is there. I’ve been waiting to watch this movie and it being on Shudder gives me the perfect chance to do exactly that.

Mother’s DayProbably the only thing Lloyd Kaufman has ever touched that I like, this slasher in the woods movie is delciously and perfectly off. If you haven’t seen it, share it with your mom on May 9!

The StepfatherAnother slasher with a family theme, this 1987 film Terry O’Quinn starring film somehow made it to two sequels and a remake. Go for this one, the most pure distillation of white suburban dad rage.

Thale: Two men find Thale, a beautiful young woman who communciates only by singing, in the woods. They seek to protect her, which won’t be easy.

APRIL 22

Boys from County HellA Shudder exclusive, this is the story of a crew of hardy road workers who accidentally awaken an ancient Irish vampire.

APRIL 26

In Search of Darkness Part IIIf you didn’t participate in the crowd funding for this talking head horror doc all about 80’s movies, you can catch it this month on Shudder.

Attack of the Demons: Can an animated movie work as a horror film? We thought so. It’s pretty exciting that Shudder has picked this up, another challenging film that we’re excited to see reactions to.

The Diabolical: This imdb description sounds good, because we love The Entity and this sounds like a modern version: “A single mother, and her children, are awoken nightly by an intense presence. She asks her scientist boyfriend to destroy the violent spirit, that paranormal experts are too frightened to take on.”

The Similars: Isaac Ezban takes a moment in Mexican history, adds some Twilight Zone and emerges with a completely out there story about a bus station where everybody becomes the exact same person.

APRIL 29

Deadhouse DarkA Shudder exclusive, this is a six-episode series about a woman who receives a mystery box filled with secrets from the dark web.

April looks to be an exciting month from Shudder. Did this guide help you? Should we keep doing these? What are you watching on Shudder? Let us know!

You can find out more about joining Shudder on their official site.

Exploring: Lost Kaiju Movies

For all the many, many movies that we’ve talked about in the last few days, there are some that we may never get to see. Here are three — beyond the two King Kong films we already talked about earlier, King Kong Appears in Edo and Wasei King Kong.

Space Monster WangmagwiMade in South Korea in 1967, it’s all about aliens attacking our planet with UFOs who also have a giant monster named Wang Ma Gwi. It was thought lost until the early 2000s and as of now, is still being restored. Either that or the rumor goes that the copyright holder does not want to release this lost kaiju film to home video.

Release the same year as Yonggary, Wangmagwi has a crazy look with claws for hands and a gigantic jewel in his head and plenty of fur. This movie also featured a cast of literally thousands, as 157,000 extras were used for some of the scenes of kaiju destruction.

Speaking of South Korea, the original Yonggary — not the AIP version — has lost half of its original footage while the 1962 Bulgasari, which inspired the 1985 movie Pulgasari has also been lost.

GogolaOther than the script and soundtrack, this 1966 Indian film is also lost. It tells the story of Gogola rising from the sea to eat the tourists on the beaches of Mumbai. Much like Jaws, the authorities refuse to admit that this gigantic creature exists — he’s hard to hide — until he begins flooding the entire city. The military, as always, is called in but they can’t defeat the monster until the very end of this film.

Gorgo looks like the child of Godzilla and Gorgo. His costume took two different men inside it to operate, which is unique.

Tokyo 1960: Released in 1957, this movie was part of a Philippines-created series of atomic monster movies, which also include Tanong Pukik, Tuko sa Madre Kawaw and Anak ng Bulkan.

If you’re any kind of Philippines film geek, you probably wondered, “Does Cirio Santiago have something to do with this?” He sure does, he was the executive producer.

Much like how Godzilla, King of the Monsters! localized the original Japanese movie for American audiences, this does the same, adding in local actors and dialogue.

Due to the high heat and humidity of this country, few of its old films have survived. Tokyo 1960 seems to be one of the many that didn’t make it.

Wolfman vs. BaragonShizuo Nakajima — who would go on to work at Toho — created this short fan film that featured a new kaiju that was just as inspired by Hammer films as Toho’s movies. Basically, the werewolf appears in the trees and starts fighting Baragon, who first appeared in 1965’s Frankenstein vs. Baragon.

Legendary Giant Beast Wolfman vs. Godzilla: During his time as a production assistant at Toho, director Shizuo Nakajima — yes, he’s the same person who came up with the other werewolf film on out list — dreamt up this mash-up of Godzilla with Hammer’s The Curse of the Werewolf (however, the werewolf in the first version is more Oliver Reed than this one). His production team, made up of other past Toho employees, even purchased materials directly from Toho to create the miniature cities and to make a replica of the 1964 Godzilla costume. Shot throughout the 80’s, this was never formally released. It’s also an unauthorized Godzilla film, which Toho would not be happy about. That said, the footage that does exist is incredible!

John Belushi Godzilla vs. Megalon bumpers: A seminal moment of my childhood, NBC aired Godzilla vs. Megalon in prime time in 1977. This was the only time that a major American network played one of the classic Godzilla films in this way and SNL star Belushi — who had already played the big green guy in a sketch where he was interviewed by Barbara Walters as shown above — introduced each segment dressed in the costume before destroying the set. These bumpers were only shown during the original broadcast and have never been seen again.

Gamera 4: TruthAnother fan-made film, this time by Shinpei Hayashiya (who made his own kaiju series starting with Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters), this movie made this list because not only does it look like a real film in the series, it also features Yukijiro Hotaru as Tsutomu Osako and takes place directly after the events of Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, which ended on a cliffhanger that had an injured Gamera being attacked by multiple Gyaos.

Hayashiya told Godzilla Movies that “I wanted to make a continuation of the last film Gamera 3. But since it was not produced, I thought I had to make it myself and requested permission from Daiei, but if there was no money transfer, I replied it was okay.”

When asked what Shusuke Kaneki, the director of the Gamera Trilogy, thought of the film, Hayashi replied, “(he) said that if he were to make Gamera 4, it would have the same beginnings of my Gamera 4.

It has been rarely shown since a series of free screenings in 2003 due to copyright laws.

Know any missing or lost kaiju movies we missed? Let us know! We’ll be happy to add it to this article and give you credit!

Exploring: Did Gamera ever fight Godzilla?

As we get ready for this week’s Godzilla vs. Kong, we started wondering if there were ever any plans to have Gamera, the Friend of All Children and the Guardian of the Universe, battle Godzilla, the King of Monsters.

While Godzilla has appeared in thirty-three movies as of this writing, Gamera has only been in twelve. However, the giant space turtle was ahead of the curve when it came to becoming a good guy and befriending children.

While many of the Gamera films were commercially successful in Japan — even getting close to the money that Godzilla made at the box office in the 60’s — they were always seen as weak in quality. However, the 1985 film Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was well-reviewed and made more money than Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, which was in theaters at the same time.

But let’s answer that big question: Did they ever meet and fight?

Well, yes. And no.

Awesome Monster Battle Godzilla vs. Gamera was a one-act stage show co-created by Toho and Daiei — which is quite frankly astonishing — that took place in March of 1970 during the Children Festival at the Osaka World’s Fair.

Comedian Kon Omura (Cornjob from Gamera vs. Guiron) was the MC and Toho even sent Godzilla’s original suit actor, Haruo Nakajima, to the event to do three performances a day. The show was so complicated that the live performances were eventually dropped to one per day for ten days. That and the fact that the actors were overheated after five minutes straight of action.

As posted on Wikizilla, Godzilla, Gorosaurus, Minilla, Gamera, Space Gyaos and Jiger all appeared and engaged in a titanic battle before dancing together. I can only imagine how incredible this was.

You can see a few brief moments of footage in the link and see an article and a somewhat blurry photo of one of the ten shows.

Art created by Nightmare1398 https://www.deviantart.com/nightmare1398

Godzilla vs. Gamera (2002): Kadokawa approached Toho and offered to produce a Godzilla and Gamera crossover film. Sadly, the offer was turned down. Toho did release the last two Millennium Gamera films, while four years later Kadokawa released Gamera the Brave to celebrate the big green turtle’s fortieth anniversary.

2017’s Kyoei Toshi is a spiritual sequel to the Disaster Report games and even has some of the characters from them in it. However, it has something those games didn’t: characters from Godzilla, Ultraman, Gamera, Patlabor and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The name of this game translates as City of Giant Shadows and those shadows are the robots and kaiju destroying everything in their path. Godzilla’s universe has the big guy himself, as well as King Ghidorah, Mothra, Battra and MFS-3 Kiryu AKA Mechagodzilla. The Gamera characters come from the modern films and include Gamera, Gyaos, Legion Plant and Soldier Legion.

There you have it. Perhaps someday, we will all see our dream of Godzilla vs. Gamera, but it seems far away now.

ART NOTES: The art for the cover image comes from Bob Eggleton and originaly was a cover for Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Exploring: Dickie Goodman’s Kong

When I was five years old, no record was played more in my home than the Shock Records 45 of Dickie Goodman’s “Kong.” I had no idea that Goodman had an entire lifetime of records like this, I just knew that I had never heard anything that combined my love of music, trivia and monster movies.

Goodman was the inventor of the “break-in” record, which predates the sampling that helped define hip hop. These records ask a question and the answer comes from an actual record that was popular at the time.

For example, in Kong, a reporter asks, “We’re here on Skull Island, where a forty-foot gorilla has just kidnapped Dwan, a young actress. Hey Kong, what did you tell her?”

The answer comes from Rod Stewart singing “Tonight’s the night.”

It’s pretty simple, but when you’re a kid, it’s amazingly effective.

Goodman’s first record, “The Flying Saucer Parts 1 & II,” was co-written with Bill Buchanan and told the story of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. This led to a lawsuit for copyright infringement before Goodman won, with the judge saying that the song was an original work of parody. The song made it to number three on Billboard, the highest Goodman would ever reach.

Operating out of a pharmacy’s telephone booth, the duo faced even more lawsuits as they released five more songs to diminishing returns, such as “Buchanan and Goodman on Trial,” “Banana Boat Song,”, “The Creature (From a Science Fiction Movie),” “Santa and the Satellite (Parts I & II)” and “Flying Saucer the 2nd,” which reached number eighteen.

The team broke up, both trying their own “break-in” records, but Goodman was the ore successful, despite Buchanan teaming up with “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” and “Love Will Keep Us Together” songwriter Howard Greenfield.

Goodman tried to release original parody songs and even did an album of adult material and dirty versions of TV theme songs called Skrewy T.V., but when those albums wouldn’t chart*, he could always fall back on the “break-in” parodies. From The Untouchables to Ben Casey, campus protests to man on the moon, every popular program and news event was something for Goodman to mine for a new “break-in.”

Words

*Goodman even created a band called The Glass Bottle that promoted glass bottles over the plastic that soda pop bottlers had just started to use. One of their songs, “I Ain’t Got Time Anymore,” even reached number thirty-six on the charts.

Goodman’s biggest seller, however, was yet to come. “Mr. Jaws” took the blockbuster movie and applied the tried and true format that Dickie had been doing for decades.

For example: “Mr. Jaws, before you swim out to sea, have you anything else to say?”

WAR: “Why can’t we be friends?”

In September 1975, “Mr. Jaws” was certified gold and even had a special version created just for Chicago’s WLS. Dickie followed by, of course, making songs for any movie that came out.

The first of his records I ever heard was the last that would ever chart. “Kong” reached forty-eight and Dickie would spend the next twelve years trying to make another novelty hit before killing himself.

Altogether, he had seventeen charting songs and numerous other releases that became regional hits. Among them are “Frankenstein of ’59” / “Frankenstein Returns,” “My Baby Loves Monster Movies / Theme from a Whodunit,” “Frankenstein Meets the Beatles / Dracula Drag,” “Energy Crisis ’74 / The Mistake,” “Star Warts / The Boys’ Tune,” “Mrs. Jaws / Chomp Chomp,” “Superman / Chomp Chomp,” an entire record of horror songs called The Monster Album, “Hey, E.T. / Get a Job,” “The Return of the Jedi Returns” and many more.

He also ran a record label called Luniverse, so-called because after making his first 20,000 singles that there was already a label called Universe, so he handwrote an L in front of every copy of “The Flying Saucer.” The label only released ten singles, with even by Buchanan & Goodman, one by Buddy Lucas, another by the Casual Three and one by the Del Vikings (along with several bootlegs of their work).

Bootlegs? Yeah, the only full album — thanks to the Luniverse Album Discography — on the label was a nine-song acapella demo of the Pittsburgh doo wop group that was recorded by Steel City DJ Barry Kay, who cashed in on their success by dubbing in instruments and selling the results. The small Pittsburgh label Fee Bee had been leasing the Del Vikings recordings to Dot records and when they learned that another label was selling them and sued. Dickie was probably used to being in court by that point, but the Luniverse Del-Vikings Come Go with the Del Vikings release is still a high-priced find.

The artist’s son Jon is in charge of his estate and released The King of Novelty, a book all about his father’s career. Which is good, because he deserves to be remembed.

Goodman’s songs have always amazed me, because I’m certain that at the time that many felt that he was a hack. Yet the very same sampling — “break-in” — that Dickie used as his trademark would become an integral part of a very American art form by the eighties and nineties. Seeing as how even on his last song “Safe Sex Report / Safety First” Goodman was still mining whatever trends were in the news, it’s a lock that he would have done a rap song at some point, completing the circle.

EXPLORING: Pittsburgh giallo

The other night, while we were watching The Majorettes on the Groovy Doom Drive-In Double Feature, I was struck by a strange idea.

“Do you think this is a giallo,” my co-host Bill asked me. This is a regular occurrence, as I often see the yellow-tinged edges of the traditionally Italian psychosexual film genre — inspired by English writers like Ellery Queen and Edgar Wallace and German krimini films — that got its start in the early sixties thanks to films by Mario Bava, Massimo Dallamano and Umberto Lenzi amongst others before finding its true bloody heart in 1970 with Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

As I continued watching the film, a low budget slasher-era flick written by Night of the Living Dead co-writer John Russo, that question kept knocking around in my head. If I were born anywhere other than Western Pennsylvania, so much of the film would just seem like just any old movie. But the movie’s theme of someone being obsessed with the innocence of young women and feeling the need to kill them to preserve it definitely is right in line with classic giallo like Don’t Torture A Duckling — Fulci in the provinces dealing with religion — and The Blood Stained Shadow, which has the fascinating alternate title Solamente Nero(Only Blackness).

By the end of the evening, I came to admit that yes, this pretty much was a giallo and that there are at least four other films that I would classify in my newly created genre of yinzer giallo.

If you’re not from Pittsburgh, the word yinzer is “historically used to identify the typical blue-collar people from the Pittsburgh region who often spoke with a heavy Pittsburghese accent. The term stems from the word yinz, a second-person plural pronoun, brought to the area by early Scots-Irish immigrants.”

Pittsburghers — yinzers — speak with a certain patois that transforms simple words like downtown to dahntahn and ideas like being a busy body and snooping to simple junkdrawer catchall phrases like the word nebby. I’ll use it in a sentence for the benefit of anyone that hasn’t been within a hundred miles of The Strip District: “Why yinz being nebby? Mind your own business.”

I love Pittsburgh — a Rick Sebak doc will move me to tears in seconds — and I adore giallo. So together? Well, that’s like putting fries on a salad, which is pretty much Allegheny County’s major contribution to the world of cuisine.

So what is yinzer giallo?

I have some rules as to what is and what is not a giallo. As you’ll notice, yinzer giallo breaks from some of these traditions, but let’s review:

  • There’s a murder, generally by someone with black gloves and we see several of the kills from their point of view.
  • The lead character is often impacted by the killings or accused of them; they are often a fish out of water, a foreigner in a new place who is confronted by shocking violence.
  • If the movie isn’t about murder, it’s a psychosexual freakout where the lead character undergoes a drug-like or drug-filled odyssey through a permissive time period or thinks they may have killed someone and can’t really remember all the details.
  • There should be an exploration of religious guilt, if possible. This makes sense as most giallo was made in Italy, a country that has the Roman Catholic Church’s own country smack dab in the middle of one of its largest cities. Not so coincidentally, the large number of Italian immigrants to Western Pennsylvania also makes Catholicism and its morals central to growing up yinzer.
  • Artistically, there should be high fashion, beautiful people, abundant nudity, red herrings, nonsensical plotlines and you should care about discovering who is the killer more than the kills themselves. To wit: if the movie at any point makes you believe the killer or the final girl is the most important element of its story, you’re watching a slasher, the cheap American cousin of the giallo.

To be a Pittsburgh giallo, the film must accomplish all of the above — when possible — and also:

  • Be true to its Pittsburgh roots, meaning that the movie must be filmed here while speaking directly to the experience of growing up in the city.
  • If it’s filmed here, it must reference Pittsburgh and not have the city stand-in for another town.
  • It must feel authentic, which helps several films on this list as they are movies with moments that only make sense when you’re a life-long Pittsburgher.
  • Bonus points for featuring Pittsburgh landmarks, Steelers jerseys and local brands. Trust me, seeing a can or bottle of Iron City in a yinzer giallo is like a J&B bottle in a traditional example.

Without further ado — I already used seven-hundred words to get here — here are the first few films that I’d label as yinzer giallo.

Season of the Witch (1973, directed by George Romero): Sure, there have been plenty of movies made in the Steel City. There is one that is the most important, however.

I subscribe to the notions of Joe Bob Briggs, who opined that modern horror has its roots right here with the release of 1969’s Night of the Living Dead, a movie that ferociously broke with the Universal monster and b-movie science fiction tropes and presented our neighbors and family members as a cannibalistic threat that was out to get us, as well as the people outside our doors ready to destroy the hero because — yeah, my hometown is complicated — black people are just as much of a threat as flesh-eating ghouls.

After Night, Romero kept working in TV commercials and seeking other films to direct. His first follow-up was the comedy There’s Always Vanilla, which makes me think of this Edgar Wright quote about Romero: “…there was always the sense that George had interests in film that stretched beyond the realm of horror.” It’s a romantic comedy but to be honest, it doesn’t work as well as it should.

Romero’s second commercial failure was this film, originally released as Jack’s Back and re-released as Hungry Wives with sex scenes added in by its distributor and then re-issued as Season of the Witch after the success of Dawn of the Dead.

This film neatly fits into the giallo mold of films that are less about murder and more about women awakening to feminism or sexuality at the dawn of the 1970s. It fits neatly in alongside films like A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin and All the Colors of the Dark (ironically released in the U.S. as a Night-ripoff with the title They’re Coming to Get You that truncates the original film’s denouncement), movies that show how the supernatural, drugs and sex can take a woman away from the boring life of committed servitude to uncaring husbands into a world that is at once more interesting, darker and often deadly. Often, these films are trying to take Rosemary’s Baby and make it work within the constraints of the giallo.

Joan Mitchell is the Jack’s wife of the title, a woman with a daughter leaving the nest for college and a husband who is often gone and when he is around, continually mutters about the need to “kick some ass,” which more often than not is hers. Soon, she learns that there’s a coven of witches in her suburban neighborhood — somewhere in the North Hills — and that by joining them, she can have the men her daughter sleeps with fall for her while discovering a violent solution to her marital woes. Of course, she also has to deal with terrifying visions of a devil-masked man attacking her.

Season of the Witch is not a traditional giallo, but definitely fits into the genre, a feminist movie made by a man trying to understand the massive and sweeping changes that 1973 would witness.

Martin (1978, directed by George Romero): I consider Martin to be Romero’s greatest film and the one that so perfectly encapsulates Pittsburgh, casting it as one of the movie’s main characters, a dangerous place that may have lost its fangs but one that can still claim young lives.

I’ve often said that the more supernatural a film is — Suspiria, for example — the less giallo it is. Yet Martin, a film about a vampire, is on my list of yinzer giallo. The answer is simple: Martin believes that he is a bloodsucker in the mold of classic films, a romanticized ideal, when the truth is that he’s a boy with a dark dream that must be aided and abetted by drugs and a razor blade. And while I also stated above that if you care more about the killer the movie is a slasher, the real monster in this movie is its setting, which has lost the vital blood of the young men that once worked its mills and mines and kept it alive, and the old men left behind like Martin’s uncle Tateh Cuda, who will not break from tradition and remains trapped in the days when the word of men and church was not just respected, but feared. Martin may believe that he’s a vampire, but Tateh is dead sure of it and equally certain that he will be the one to destroy him.

With its thrilling stalking sequence on a train — juxtaposed by the sad reality of what is really happening — Martin has moments of bloodletting that bring it into the giallo while flirting with the supernatural, yet never going far from its hardscrabble Braddock roots.

Effects (1980, directed by Dusty Nelson): Little known outside of Pittsburgh until Synapse released it on DVD in 1985 and then later, when AGFA re-released it in 2017, this film often gains the label of a slasher when it mines much deeper territory.

While the movie starts as a story about a team of coked-up horror movie-making maniacs descending on the quiet town of Ligonier to make a film about coked-up psychopaths making a snuff film in the woods, the meta nature of this movie — made decades before that kind of exploration was accepted — creates a world where the violence the crew is lensing is more real than the murder they expected.

In essence, everyone in the film becomes that stranger in a strange land that the giallo form seeks as a hero, all unsure as to whether they are just a character or another victim for the hands of the killer.

Again, this is not a well-known film and it’s time that changed.

The Majorettes (1987, directed by S. William Hinzman): Released in the UK as One by One, this claims to be a slasher but really fits into the giallo mold for several reasons. One, the plot is in no way as straightforward as a slasher, constantly shifting who the hero or heroine is, setting up mutiple plots and red herrings and using the central conceit of a killer needing to preserve the innocence of young girls as his or her reason for needing to slay them.

Russo had already directed 1982’s Midnight, a film that I’ve referred to as “the movie that Rob Zombie keeps trying to make” and The Pittsburgh Press film critic Jim Davidson savaged, saying that the film was “grave and heavy-handed. Russo isn’t doing Grand Guignol; he isn’t spoofing Satanism or catering to an audience that enjoys silliness and artificiality of horror movies.” So basically, the guy hated the movie because it played its brutality straight. Cool.

The Majorettes is a shambling mess, but as stated at the beginning of this article, this is a film that becomes a yinzer giallo because of the cultural touchstones lost by those far from our city. VFWs that double as seedy strip clubs (look for multiple Iron City bottles all over the place and several Steelers jerseys), an aboveground pool as a quick reference to the affluence of one of the girls (that only makes sense if you’re from here, trust me) and the fact that every one of these girls has the hairspray enabled hair claw that was the style of my teen years. People had big hair in the eighties, I know. Girls in Pittsburgh strove to be the one personally responsible for tearing a hole in the ozone layer.

The film also does what giallo always does and what makes it so uncomfortable to watch for some in a modern frame of mind: sex is presented at once as exhilarating and then as a sin that causes destruction. Except that this isn’t a faceless maniac in the woods. This is an authority figure out of control; the first of many in this film, as the only person able to truly have agency in this film becomes a murderer himself and succumbs to the shock of what he’s done. Priests, nurses, cops — every one of them are all horrible people and the only innocent in the film is an old woman in a wheelchair who can’t even communicate any longer.

Lady Beware (1987, directed by Karen Arthur): Arthur also made The Mafu Cage, an oddball movie about two incestuous sisters — one an astronomer, the other primate-obsessed maniac prone to violent outbursts fading away in a decrepit Hollywood Hills mansion — that sounds absolutely perfect.

Her contribution to yinzer giallo has been selected because Diane Lane’s character has the dream job of nearly every young Pittsburgh girl in the 1980’s: she’s a window-dresser for Horne’s department store, a venerable downtown institution that is sadly long gone (another burst of yinzer speak: when you tell someone to mind their own business, you reference another downtown retailer and say, “Does Kaufmann’s tell Horne’s their business?”).

She’s also decorated her mannequins — another giallo trope! — in kinky poses clad in lingerie. That’s pretty much enough to qualify this film, but it goes even further to have Lane be stalked by a married psychopath.

Striking Distance (1993, directed by Rowdy Herrington): In any other city, Striking Distance is not a movie that is remembered. In Pittsburgh, this is a film that is recalled with the same intensity other locales afford to Herrington’s more famous film, Road House.

This was Herrington’s return to the city of his birth, was originally called Three Rivers and was due to start Robert Deniro (to learn that story and how the named changed, check out part three of our interview with Rowdy). Things didn’t quite work out, but despite the issues Herrington had making the movie, it’s still beloved, perhaps most of all for a car chase that illogically combines Pittsburgh neighborhoods miles and miles away from one another, leading to a line constantly referenced in Pittsburgh traffic: “Take Bigelow!”

It has a stranger in a stranger land. Bruce Willis’ homicide cop Thomas Hardy is now off the force and on the River Rescue Squad, his life destroyed by his claim that the Polish Hill Strangler is a fellow cop. And that killer hasn’t stopped murdering people. Beyond killing Thomas’ father, he’s now murdering every woman that Tommy dated (which ends up being plenty of ladies) and calling the ex-cop to play “Little Red Riding Hood” while taunting our hero.

There’s also the black gloves of the Polish Hill Strangler, plenty of red herrings, interfamily secrets and perhaps the best the Steel City has ever looked on film. The fact that there isn’t a River Rescue Squad for real is one of the saddest things I’ve ever learned in my life. In fact, it’s worse than that Santa myth.

Movies shot in Pittsburgh that have giallo elements that are not giallo

Whispers In the Dark is about a sadomasochistic sexually obsessed patient who confesses his fantasies to his Manhattan psychiatrist, who soon begins sleeping with him. However, a series of murders begins which seem to echo the stories that he tells her. Beyond being closer to the erotic cable thriller genre — yes, an off-shoot of the giallo — the other fact that disqualifies this film is that it only uses Pittsburgh as a double for the true setting of the film, Manhattan.

Flashdance is by no means a giallo, but has dance numbers and direction that would seemingly fit right in, as well as a theme song entitled “Maniac” that was supposedly inspired by Michael Sembello watching Joe Spinell in Maniac.

Innocent Blood was filmed in Pittsburgh as well, but it does not make it into the yinzer giallo list. It’s a vampire movie with cop and gangster elements.

The Silence of the Lambs definitely has enough elements — a musical number, psychosexual identity issues in the killer’s modus operati, a strong female character in the strange male-dominated land, being a sequel to the definite American giallo Manhunter — that I could make an argument for it being a giallo. However, it is yet another film that only uses Western Pennsylvania locations and claims that they are somewhere else.

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh is more slasher than giallo, a film all about a chainsaw killer loose in Polish Hill. That said, it’s the only movie I can think of where Mr. Rogers’ friend Chef Don Brockett co-stars with Veronica Hart.

Two Evil Eyes united Romero and Argento — the producer of Dawn of the Dead — to retell two Edgar Allan Poe stories. While not directly referencing the city, these stories are well-told and hey — Argento once walked our streets, along with Luigi Cozzi!

The Dark Half has George Romero in the director’s chair and a story about a split personality. It was shot in Edgewood and at Washington & Jefferson College. But it’s based on a Stephen King story and is missing many of the elements of the giallo.

Diabolique, the 1996 version, takes place in Pittsburgh and features Western PA native Sharon Stone. I’m going to disqualify this one because the original film that it is remaking — Les Diaboliques — was made in 1955 and predates the first accepted giallo, Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

Stigmata is a film that aspires to be a religious themed giallo, one in which a non-believer hairdresser played by Patricia Arquette learns that she has stigmata, which is blood coming out of her body in the same places as the wounds of Christ.  What keeps the movie off this list — beyond the fact that it’s a boring mess — is the worst sin of all against being a yinzer giallo: only using the Pittsburgh setting for establishing shots, then making the rest of the movie in Los Angeles. There’s a goth club in this that Pittsburgh horror fans and goth kids have made fun of for years. Why? Because there is absolutely no way that we’d have something that cool in Pittsburgh. Come on.

Desperate Measures had an interesting premise: a serial killer played by local favorite Michael Keaton has the bone marrow that a cop needs for his dying son. That said, the killings are never seen and the cat and mice game between manaic and detective are the real story here.

Riddle is a movie about a stranger in a strange land — a college student looking for her missing brother in the small town of Riddle, PA — and coming against the town’s mysterious past, reinforced by Val Kilmer as a lawman and William Sadler as one of the town’s leaders. The issue? Well, this was shot in Brownsville and Pittsburgh, but never set there. After all, there’s no such town as Riddle.

What do you think?

The beauty of films are that you can see them in any way that you wish. Your rules as to what makes a movie a slasher or a giallo or just a normal film are all up to you. But as you can see, I love discussing it.

You can also read the Letterboxd list here.

Does your town have its own giallo form? Can you think of another one from Pittsburgh? Let us know!

Exploring: Eddie Van Halen on Film

February 10, 1978: a day that changed hard rock music forever with the release Van Halen’s self-titled debut album.

Fueled by the FM radio hits of “Eruption,” “You Really Got Me,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love,” “Running with the Devil,” and “Jamie’s Cryin'” the album eventually broke the U.S Billboard Album Top 20 to peak at #19 and sell more than a Diamond-certification of 10 million copies in the U.S. Not bad for an album that had its start as a three-track demo in 1976 financed by Gene Simmons of Kiss. The album was eventually recorded by ex-Harpers Bizarre guitarist and Doobie Brothers producer Ted Templeman in three weeks in October of 1977 at a cost of $40,000. And we’re grateful that Gene was unable to shanghai Eddie into Kiss (to replace Ace Frehley). And that Eddie convinced Ted that replacing Dave with Sammy Hagar and grafting Eddie into a Montrose reboot wasn’t going to happen.

The Pasadena rock scene where Van Halen developed their sound was hungry and competitive. Not every band that got a major-label deal “made it” to the top of the charts: most ended up in the cut out bins.

One of the bands sharing stages with the various incarnations of Van Halen — as Wolfgang and Mammoth, and then, Van Halen — was fellow Pasadena rockers Rockits. Led by guitarist and vocalist Brian Naughton, he was knockin’ around the L.A. rock scene since his first deal on MGM Records in 1970 with his Montrose-Van Halen precursor Rock Candy, along with tenures in the line-ups of hippie-rockers the Peanut Butter Conspiracy and Top 40 darlings the Grass Roots.

Sadly, unlike Van Halen’s deal with Warner Bros., the later known Rockicks’* deal with Robert Stigwood’s RSO Records (yes, home of the Bee Gees) failed to send their album, 1977’s Outside, up the charts. Also on that same local L.A. rock scene was a band that — unlike Van Halen and Rockicks — couldn’t get a deal (and when they did, it was in Japan). It was a band that featured a young ax slinger by the name of Randy Rhodes; a band that shared management and rehearsal space with Rockicks: Quiet Riot. And how can we forget Sorcery, who ended up in the films — as actors and soundtrack contributors — Stunt Rock and Rocktober Blood.

Image Left: Van Halen gig from December 1976, courtesy of The Roth Army Facebook/Image Right: Quiet Riot and Rockicks feature articles in a 1977 issue of L.A. rag Raw Power, courtesy of Scott Stephens.com.

And it wasn’t long after that little ol’ band from Pasadena starting out at the Whisky a Go Go and the Starwood was opening shows for Journey, Montrose (discovered and produced by Templeman, the band once featured Van Halen’s next lead singer), and Black Sabbath. Of course, the uppity critics at Rolling Stone and Village Voice hated Van Halen. But the fans loved them. And soon, the TV and film studios came-a-callin’. Between TV series and films — with lots of song repeats (“Jump,” “Panama,” and “Hot for Teacher” mostly) — Eddie amassed 100-plus credits.

Here’s the Top 10 highlights.


WKRP in Cincinnati “Hold Up” (1978)
“Atomic Punk”

Before MTV went on the air to break bands, record companies went to MTM Productions to have their bands spun on the faux-airwaves of a little ‘ol AM rocker in Cincinnati.

It’s hard to believe a network TV series could break bands, but this CBS-TV series did. Songs were, in fact, not just incidental, atmospheric pieces, but often tied into the plot of the episode with the DJs announcing the tunes. The Boyzz, which had their debut release out on CBS-affiliated Cleveland Int’l Records, were spun by Dr. Johnny Fever. Capitol’s Durocks had their poster/album featured on the show. Detective (signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label) led by Michael Des Barres, had three songs featured on the show. And the show’s use of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” is credited with breaking the band in the U.S. In a show of appreciation, the band’s label, Chrysalis, presented the show’s producers with a gold album that was used as a set piece in the sales bullpen during the second, third, and forth seasons.

Another band “broke” — in the fifth episode of the first season, “Hold Up” (the inept Herb Tarlek makes a mess of a Dr. Johnny Fever remote at Del’s Stereo Shop) — was Van Halen with “Atomic Punk” from their debut album.

Sadly, our opportunity to revisit “Atomic Punk” — as well as most other songs featured on the show — is forever lost due to music licensing issues. MTM Productions’ song licenses expired in the mid-1990s and it proved too expensive to renew, so today’s syndicated and DVD home video versions now have those songs replaced with stock music. Your only hope is to find grey market VHS (now DVDs) box sets of the series taped-from-TV during the series’ initial network and pre-’90s syndication runs to watch-hear the series in its original state. (The Shout Factory DVD box set was able to reproduce most of Season One with 80 percent of the original music intact.)

Series producer Hugh Wilson explains the music licensing issues on You Tube, while superfan Mike Hernandez created an episode-by-episode Google Spreadsheet of every band and song featured on the series. He also created Google Graphs showing a song’s chart performance before and after its appearance on the series. (Be sure to check out our review proper of the movie FM with more about the relationship between that film and the series.)

Van Halen “live off the board” at their last show at the Pasadena Civic Center with “Atomic Punk” before the release of their debut album.


Over the Edge (1979)
“You Really Got Me”

The digital content managers at the IMDb fell asleep at the data entry terminal by not including this film in Eddie’s soundtrack credits; for this second film from Orion Pictures (their first was the Diane Lane-starring A Little Romance) served as Van Halen’s big screen debut. You’ll remember Van Halen’s cover of the Kinks’ classic playing in the background of the house party scene where Carl only has eyes for Corey — who’s making out on the couch with Mark.

Sadly, the film’s eight-city test run was scuttled by negative publicity surrounding youth gang films such as The Warriors, Boulevard Nights, and Defiance — where actual violence broke out in the theaters between the gang rivals in the audience. The film, of course, found a cult audience on HBO and introduced the “new” sounds of not only Van Halen, but the Cars, the Ramones, and Cheap Trick to us youngins. And, since the film was scuttled, so was the soundtrack: us wee lads n’ lassies picked it up in the $1.00 cut out bins — and rocked.

And Kurt Cobain was one of us back then.

  • We go a deeper into the backstory of Over the Edge in our review of its sister film, River’s Edge.

The Wild Life (1984) and Back to the Future (1985)
“Donut City” and “Out the Window”

No one remember Cameron Crowe’s follow up to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which served as Eddie’s first film score. (Yes, he’s done others!) Recorded around the time of Van Halen’s sixth album, 1984, it features all new, instrumental tunes. A true solo effort, Eddie scored the entire film playing guitar along with an electronic drum machine.

Sadly, while many pieces of his music are in the film, only “Donut City” appears on the official motion picture soundtrack (Discogs). And thanks to those pesky licensing issues, the soundtrack has never been released on CD. You can, however, enjoy Eddie’s work from the soundtrack courtesy of a playlist on the official Van Halen Vault You Tube page.

Astute Van Halenites will recognize three musical vignettes from The Wild Life became the basis for three, later Van Halen songs: “Good Enough” from 1986’s 5150, “Right Now” from 1991’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and “Blood and Fire” from their final album, 2012’s A Different Kind Of Truth. The fourth, “Out the Window,” was later recycled in Back to Future. You’ll remember when Marty McFly — in a yellow hazmat suit as “Darth Vadar from Vulcan” — played the song to a headphoned George McFly.

  • Be sure to check out our full review of The Wild Life, coming soon, as result of its upcoming Kino restoration reissue.

The Seduction of Gina (1984)
Soundtrack Composer

Closing out her sitcom career with One Day at Time in 1984, and while the “Big Three” networks were still making TV movies, Valerie Bertinelli produced this CBS telefilm that deals with a newly-married and bored housewife who develops a gambling addiction. And Val brought on her husband to compose the soundtrack.

At the time of producing this film, Bertinelli was also in the running for Lori Singer’s role in 1984’s Footloose. Imagine Kevin Bacon boppin’ around to a score by Eddie Van Halen — Eddie Rabbit be damned. Or was that Kenny Loggins? I always get two confused.

Eddie would go onto compose the theme music to Valerie’s next CBS-TV series, 1990’s short-lived Sydney. The show used “Finished What You Started” from OU812 and it’s said that Eddie also composed uncredited instrumentals throughout the series’ thirteen episodes.

Sigh . . . there was a You Tube clip — the only clip — of the film’s opening titles featuring Eddie’s music. It was posted for a few years . . . and right before we went press, the film’s copyright holder scrubbed the clip from You Tube. So we found this Nicki Swift report on Eddie and Val’s divorce to watch.


Better Off Dead (1985)
“Everybody Wants Some”

Then Eddie became a hamburger . . . in this mostly autobiographical film by Savage Steve Holland. According to Holland, he really was suicidal when his high school girlfriend left him for the captain of the ski team. Also, he really did have a paperboy who’d harass him for two dollars. And, when the film came out, his ex-girlfriend contacted him to apologize.

And the biographical continues . . . as the film’s infamous claymation hamburger scene was inspired by Holland’s first job working at McDonald’s. And while John Cusack went on record as hating this movie and chewed out Holland for it, Eddie VH’s “big scene” was the highest testing scene when the film was screened by audiences. The burger, of course, plays “Everybody Wants Some” from Van Halen’s third album, 1980’s Women and Children First. The burger also plays a guitar resembling the type played by Eddie during his early career.

Regardless of “Claymation Eddie” being the only part of the movie we remember, “Everybody Wants Some” does not appear on the soundtrack (Discogs). The soundtrack does, however, feature two tunes from co-star E.G Daily (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) and one from Terri Nunn of Berlin. And we wished Eddie wrote the entire soundtrack instead of Fixx producer Rubert Hine. And we thank Richard Linklater for using the song in his 2000 film named after the song.


Airheads (1994)
“I’m the One”

Why did they use the super annoying cover from the super annoying, didn’t-even-deserve-their-one hit wonder 4-Non Blondes instead of the Van Halen original? What gives Ian the Shark? KMPX is an Active Rock station, right? Wouldn’t Van Halen be on the station’s “Gold” rotation? Why not add the friggin’ Spin Doctors and Crash Test Dummies to the playlist while you’re at it? And we love Anthrax . . . but not when they’re covering the Smiths. Or friggin’ Joe Jackson. Where’s “Metal Trashin’ Mad” when you need it to spin?

Well . . . at least we got a get very cool dig at Sammy Hagar, which exposed Harold Ramis as a cop-cum-bogus record executive.

  • Be sure to check out our review proper of Airheads.

Twister (1996)
“Humans Being” and “Respect the Wind”

Could you imagine the above scene from Airheads ripping Patty Smyth of Scandal or Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates? Well, before Sammy Hagar joined, Eddie approached both singers — who turned down the offer. Yikes, talk about “thinking outside of the box,” right?

And could you imagine a world where Micheal Crichton became a “Yoko Ono” and broke up Van Hagar — and gifted us with Van Cherone? Well, it happened.

After completing their support slot on Bon Jovi’s European Summer stadium tour — which served to promote 1995’s Balance, VH’s then tenth album overall and fourth studio album with Sammy Hagar — Van Halen was contractually obligated to record two original songs for the Twister soundtrack. Hagar, who was against the Warner Bros. project to start with, wanted time off with his family, as he was expecting the birth of a child. And Eddie read him the riot act about what it means to be in a group. And Hagar ranted that being in a group sucks and he’d rather be a solo artist (no wonder the mighty Montrose — the Hagar version we cared about — fell apart after two albums). (Montrose bassist-keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald, who ended up in Night Ranger, served as VH’s off-stage/touring keyboardist from the early ’90s until the early 2000s.)

But Hagar, reluctantly, wrote and recorded “Humans Being.” And Eddie, unhappy with Sammy’s lyrics and halfhearted attempt, re-wrote the melody and re-titled the song, originally known as “Shine On.” And Eddie turned the song into, what is practically, an instrumental. And it sounds exactly like the shitty Van Halen B-Side not-suitable-for-a-studio-album outtake that it is.

Hagar was pissed.

And when it came time to record the second song, Hagar split for Hawaii. So the Van Halen brothers, with Alex on keyboards, alone recorded the instrumental “Respect the Wind,” which got dumped onto the film’s end credits. Is it the best end credits song ever? Yes. But surely Warner Bros. Pictures was expecting something more from Van Halen.


Mission to Mars (2000)
“Dance the Night Away”

What can you say about a movie that features astronauts spouting cheesy lines such as, “Okay, we’re ready to light this candle,” playing with M&M’s in zero gravity, product-placing astro-bags of Coca-Cola to seal hull breeches, and eventually gets turned into a Walt Disney theme park attraction?

Only that it gets worse: Gary Sinise wears eye liner throughout the film. The alien is CGI-hokey. And the crew dances in the ship’s zero gravity hub to a tune from Van Halen II. Where’s that copy of Hammer Films’ Moon Zero Two from 1969 when you need it?

Man, you just want to puke. And that’s not the zero-gravity sickness talking.


Sacred Sin (2006)
“Rise” and “Catherine”

After three lead singers and almost thirty years across eleven studio albums — the last being 1998’s critical and chart-flopping Van Halen III featuring ex-Extreme singer Gary Cherone — Eddie moved into the world of adult films.

If you go into this “Gothic ghost tale” expecting “Eruption” from Van Halen I or “Saturday Afternoon in the Park,” which served as the dark, instrumental opening to “One Foot Out the Door,” the closing track from Van Halen’s fourth album, Fair Warning, you’ll be disappointed. Don’t expect the heavy darkness of “Intruder,” the instrumental opening to “Pretty Woman” from Van Halen’s fifth album, 1982’s Diver Down; expect the lighter “Cathedral” from that same album. These two tracks, written for Eddie’s longtime friend, Micheal Ninn, are closer to “Baluchitherium” from Balance and “Respect the Wind” from the Twister soundtrack.

According to Eddie, in speaking to industry website AVN, his working on a porn film was no big deal. He was simply working with and helping a friend with his film, whose work he respected. In addition to the songs, Eddie, who also served as the film’s executive producer, provides a series of atmospheric piano interludes throughout the film.


Eddie the Actor
Frazier, Cafe Americain, and Two and a Half Men

Eddie was one of the many celebrity callers — as was the schtick of the series — as Hank on “Call Me Irresponsible,” a 1993 season one episode of Frazier. Of course, that voice-guest part was result of Eddie being on the Warners Bros. lot for the shooting of his wife Valerie Bertinelli’s failed, one-season series Cafe Americain, where he played a “Street Musician” in the series’ seventh episode, “Home Alone.” For his only on-camera speaking role, he performed “Two Burritos and a Root Beer Float” on “818-jklpuzo,” the first episode of the seventh season from CBS-TV’s Two and a Half Men.

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen
January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020

We’ll never look at or hear the guitar the same way again.
You were our Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach.

“What time is it?”

“7:14”

“Quaalude, Quaalude.”

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

* You can learn more about the career of Brian Naughton and L.A.’s Rockicks with the Medium article “Sometimes you’re Kiss . . . and sometimes you’re Rockicks: Phantoms from the Rock ’n’ Roll Oblivion.”

The Birth of the Slasher Film and the Influential Slashers That Have Kept Them Alive

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Freese contributes regularly to Videoscope, Drive-in Asylum, Grindhouse Purgatoryand the Italian language genre magazine Nocturno, as well as the Lunchmeat VHS blog. His interview with Italian screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti and his creation of the slasher film was the featured article for Rue Morgue’s 23rd Anniversary Halloween Issue. Earlier in the year he wrote about a science-fiction movie Mario Bava almost made with Roger Corman for the Videoscope website. He also contributes blogs about films and fiction for the library system he works for, as well as co-hosts the podcast, Two Librarians Walk into a Shelf, which kicked off October chatting with best-selling horror author Grady Hendrix.

Much like the creeping lunatics that stalk their prey in the films we’re about to discuss, the slasher genre seems to have no end. The maniacs continue to kill in creative fashion year after year, with new fans going back to learn their slasher history and unearth the films that are now considered classic examples of the genre. 

Where did it begin? We all have our own theory, fans of the slice-and-dice. As a fan, as someone who enjoys the history of cinema in general and horror cinema specifically, I have my own theory on where these lowly regarded but much-loved films experienced their birth. The slasher film is a beast of many fathers.

There’s no doubt that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960 is the granddaddy of bloody knife pictures. All the trappings are there: disturbed young man next door, woman in shower, knife, mummified mom in the root cellar. It is a crime story, a mystery, thriller, that is clearly comfortable being described as “horror,” but is it a slasher? I say no, and not because Hitchcock produced it or because it was a studio picture. Let’s be honest, the studio executives didn’t care for the story and couldn’t be bothered to give Hitch enough money to shoot it in color. It was a B-movie from the start, until they saw it and hyped it as an A-movie. Fundamentally, it has the ingredients of a slasher film, but I cannot justify placing it within the slasher canon. 

In Italy, Mario Bava was using his camera like an artist uses a paintbrush to produce the wonderful mystery thrillers that became known as giallo, so referred because they recalled a popular series of Italian mystery paperbacks easily identified by their “yellow” covers. (Giallo is the Italian word for yellow.)

Bava delivered what many consider the first giallo with La ragazza che sapeva troppo / The Girl Who Knew Too Much in 1963. Then in 1964 came his 6 donne per l’assassino / Blood and Black Lace, another influential giallo that highlighted the exaggerated death scenes of the fashion models targeted for extermination. The influence of the Italian giallo cannot be discounted when tracing back the ancestry of the slasher film.

Herschel Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast in 1963 certainly displayed the kind of gore the slasher genre associated itself with, as well as some bare flesh. Other Lewis titles like Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) and Color Me Blood Red (1964), although closer to what I consider a slasher than Psycho, helped steer the slasher in the right direction, but they can take little more credit than that. (In my mind, these are “gore” movies, similar but different enough not to qualify classification as “slasher.”)

Throughout the remainder of the decade, many “knife-kill” pictures were released, all trying to cash in on that sweet, sweet box office green Psycho earned earlier. (In fact, the influence of Psycho can be seen all the way up to 1980s, with a film like Silent Scream, that was kind of a “slasher-lite” but still a solid shocker in the Psycho mold.)

By early 1970, Dario Argento’s L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo / The Bird with the Crystal Plumage re-invigorated the giallo and Argento was hailed as the new “Hitchcock.” The basic skeleton of the slasher film was there, but still this is not what I consider when I hear the word “slasher.”

Ecologia del delitto/Bay of Blood (1971)

Then in 1971, Mario Bava embarked on another giallo. Working with young screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti, they devised an ever-twisting plot and planned thirteen exaggerated murder sequences to push the boundaries of what had been done before. The film was Ecologia del delitto / Chain Reaction, as it was called during the plotting and then Bay of Blood, the title it is most commonly known by today. Bava and Sacchetti worked not so much on the plot, but on the individual murder set pieces, with the director explaining in detail to his writer what he wanted to accomplish with the scene, how he wanted to utilize the camera and lighting to shoot it. He encouraged Sacchetti to keep pushing, to go big, always with the intention on scaring the audience and exaggerating the violence. It was released in Italy in ’71 and then the United States in ’72, where the film went out under various titles, for numerous releases and re-releases over the years. 

The story revolves around an idyllic piece of lake front property and a number of people trying to attain it after the owner, Countess Federica Donati, is violently murdered by her husband. This is no spoiler, as it happens within the opening moments of the film. 

Murder runs wild in this secluded piece of paradise and the bodies pile up, literally. This is certainly a thriller that you will not get ahead of, as the plot continues to twist and turn right up to its grim finale.

What Bay of Blood has that no other film had up to this time to make me consider it the starting point of the “slasher film movement” is the inclusion of young people, young adults, teenagers. For the first time, right in the middle of a mystery story, two couples show up to do nothing more than get drunk, get high, get laid and get murdered. That, in my opinion is what makes this a true contender for “birth of the slasher film” honors, the inclusion of these young interlopers. 

The giallo almost exclusively revolved around an adult, usually a male, becoming involved with a mystery plot and following clues to solve the mystery. Yes, they involved teens, especially schoolgirls as hapless victims, but the fact these young people show up to “party,” puts it squarely in line with what I consider a slasher film today.

To me, the moment at the beginning when the Countess is killed, and her murder takes off his black gloves (an obvious trope of the giallo) and is revealed to be her husband, this is where I feel Bava and Sacchetti are saying, “Okay, everything you know about the giallo is meaningless. This is not a giallo. This is something different.” Once the black gloves are off, the rules of the giallo no longer apply.

Sacchetti has assured me that that was never the intention. It was just one more way to keep the audience off guard, keep them restless to better hit them with the shocks and frights to come. He warns me time and again that, “journalists and scholars often do reconstructions of pure fantasy.” Meaning, we attribute our own meanings to what we see, whether the filmmakers intended them or not.

To be fair, whatever the intention of the filmmakers, once their film is released, it now belongs to the audience that sits down to watch it. If you’re a fan of the film, and I am, I think it is acceptable to draw such conclusions. I have watched and re-watched it many times over the years, so I feel it belongs to me to a certain degree, as much as it does the people who made it. I am invested in it and pieces of it will have meaning for me that maybe don’t have meaning to other fans, or necessarily was ever the intention of the people who created it. 

Further probing of Bay of Blood reveals that many of the tropes we connect with the slasher film are present here. The film introduces the idea of the anniversary of a past traumatic event resulting in reckless slaughter, partying young people, bare teen flesh, the killer’s Point-of-View, a cast of quirky characters, the oddball groundskeeper/custodian, graphic and spectacular kill scenes, thirteen murders in total, the finding of hidden bodies, multiple red herrings, murderous parental units and a twist ending. These are all standard features of most slasher films.

The earliest American slasher film influenced by Chain Reaction is easily Friday the 13th. In fact, the first five Friday the 13th films take a lot of “inspiration” from this template and go as far as copying most of the on-screen slaughter. (Friday the 13th Part 2, in fact, copies both the snaring of two young  people in bed with a spear murder and combines the idea of snuffing a victim in a wheelchair with the machete-to-the-face murder of another, among others.) To go one step further, if we assume the on-screen drama is playing out within the year it was released, 1971, it is a diary entry from the year previous, made on February 13, that inspires the following year’s massacre. February 13, 1970 was a Friday. Once it was picked up for distribution in North America, Bay of Blood was released numerous times, appearing on screens in the U.S. as late as 1980 and on screens in Canada as late as 1983, under a variety of different titles. Its first U.S. distributor, Hallmark Releasing, released it to theaters in 1972 under the title Last House on the Left, Part II, selling it as a sequel to their 1970 Sean Cunningham, Wes Craven hit Last House on the Left. (It was also released with promotional vomit bags under the title Carnage.) Just considering how long it continued to appear in theatrical re-release, regardless of how wide, all the way into the ‘80s, is testament to how influential it really was to the livelihood of slasher films. (It was then released on home video, where it became available, being re-released onto each new home video format, to be watched and discovered ever since, under the titles Bay of Blood and my personal favorite, Twitch of the Death Nerve.) It is also worth noting that it will be appearing soon on a drive-in screen in Indiana for a Halloween weekend slash-o-rama, so it is still appearing on big screens today.

The film that had the most influence on Bay of Blood is Dario Argento’s Cat O’Nine Tails, but not how you would expect. Cat is a straightforward giallo involving a newspaper reporter and a retired blind reporter following clues left by a murderer. It has few of the aspects of what anyone would consider even remotely related to slasher films, but it is safe to say that if this film had not been made, Bay of Blood may never have been made.

The storyline for Cat O’Nine Tails was written by Dardano Sacchetti. After he and friend Luigi Collo had a chance meeting with Argento, the three became fast friends and began writing a story similar to the then-popular hit Easy Rider. After Bird with a Crystal Plumage became a success, they changed gears and tried to devise another giallo. At some point Argento went away for a vacation and restless that nothing was happening, Sacchetti wrote the scenario for Cat. Upon his return, Argento liked the scenario and Sacchetti began writing the script.

In-house friction concerning how the actual writing credits would be attributed on-screen created ill feelings among the men and all went their separate ways. After the film was released, Argento relayed in a newspaper interview that the plot of Cat came to him in a dream while on vacation. Rightly enraged, Sacchetti contacted the newspaper to dispute Argento’s claim. Sacchetti’s comments caught the attention of producer Giuseppe Zaccariello, who then contacted Sacchetti and that lead to him working with Bava. Cat afforded Sacchetti his first screen credit and although he had more interest in being a poet than a screenwriter, the money was good, and he enjoyed the work. 

It’s worth noting at this point the strange fate of Luigi Collo. Collo befriended Sacchetti and it was Luigi who wanted to meet Argento to discuss with him the world of cinema. Although he loved cinema and desired nothing more than to create films, he is all but forgotten today.

As I communicated with Sacchetti, I kept referring to Luigi Collo as Luigi Cozzi, to the point of Sacchetti asking me why I kept referring to Cozzi, who he didn’t meet until the late 1970s. I explained that everything on-line pointed to Cozzi when you searched information about Collo, suggesting that Collo and Cozzi were the same person.  Sacchetti had no idea and confirmed the same confused information from his own internet searches for Luigi Collo.

When I contacted Luigi Cozzi about this, he confirmed that it has been widely accepted that he and Luigi Collo are the same person, due directly to lazy film reporting. He assures that he and Luigi Collo are not the same person, and he did not work with Argento until Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Forget what the Internet says, it is incorrect. 

Sacchetti commented that Collo had a life of bad breaks and bad decisions that never resulted in a career of making movies. Collo’s love of cinema, however, did result in his participation with at least one feature that has stood the test of time. Nearly fifty years later, Cat O’Nine Tails is still available for fans to discover. Collo’s association with that well-known film, unfortunately, through an unforeseen twist of fate, has seemingly erased his participation from the production, at least as far as the Internet is concerned.

Sacchetti offered one final thought on his memories of Luigi Collo. “He could make movies, but he preferred to live his destiny.”

After Bay of Blood, films about murderers and madmen continued to be made, but most continued to be made in the mold of Psycho. (Slight exceptions would be William Girdler’s 1972 Three on a Meathook, a grisly take on the Psycho template, and Sergio Martino’s I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale / Torso in 1973, which foreshadows as an Italian version of the later Roger Corman produced Slumber Party Massacre from 1982.) All that changed Christmas 1974.

Black Christmas (1974)

For many fans, Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (aka Silent Night, Evil Night and Stranger in the House) is the first of the modern slasher film and the origin of the slasher. It is easy to see why, as many of what became cliches of the genre seem to be used for the first time here. If you are unaware of the slasher film’s Italian heritage, this would have been one of the earliest films to use these tropes.

We have a group of All-American (or All-Canadian) young women in a sorority house stalked by an unseen killer in the attic. He stalks the girls one-by-one, eluding capture while possible suspects are constantly introduced. Half of the cast runs around never knowing what the other half is doing or even knowing their location. 

It is a masterful game of cat-and-mouse, both with the killer and his intended victims, and the director and his intended audience. It’s an edge of the seat shocker that includes heavy breathing, madman’s Point-of-View, horny co-eds, creative (but not necessarily bloody- less is more) murders, quirky adult characters, an open-ending and the blood-freezing gimmick of “the lunatic is calling from inside the house!” (1979’s A Stranger is Watching made that gimmick famous, but to be fair, 1973’s The Severed Arm used it first when the killer stalks a radio DJ and calls his late-night program from within the studio.) 

Repeat viewings over time do not diminish the effectiveness of this shocker, and it benefits from Clark’s sense of humor, which helps elevate the horror momentarily before the next scare hits you. Clark’s typical dark humor sees that the film’s first victim, Clare Harrison (played by the wonderful Lynne Griffin) is never found, not even after police arrive on the scene. Her body remains in the attic window as the most twisted Christmas decoration on the block. (I do wonder if anyone ever sets a dummy up in their attic window, dresses it with a plastic bag, lights, and a fake Claude as a Christmas decoration?)

It is worth noting Dario Argento’s 1976 giallo Profondo Rosso / Deep Red, if only because the film’s extreme violence served as obvious inspiration to the glut of 80’s slasher films, particularly Halloween II (1981), which copies its scalding bath water murder.

Halloween (1978)

In 1978 John Carpenter and Debra Hill created the film that really started it all for most of us with their classic horror tale of The Night eE Came Home, Halloween. Although it wasn’t an immediate hit, it built a reputation and a following that is still going strong more than 40 years later. 

In 1963, little Michael Myers chops up his teen sister Judith and then, fifteen years later, breaks out of the asylum and returns home. When he does, he sees teenager Laurie Strode, who must remind him of his sister Judith, because he spends the rest of the day stalking her. Myers’ doctor, Dr. Sam Loomis, arrives in Haddonfield in time to assure the sheriff that “Death has come to your little town!”

It is a simple story, inspired, obviously, by Hitchcock’s Psycho, that came during a turbulent time in the 70’s and gave its audience, mostly teens, something to scream about. 

Halloween is now considered one of the true classics of not only slasher or horror cinema, but just of cinema in general. The opening scene of little Michael killing his sister Judith was as shocking as Janet Leigh’s murder in Psycho eighteen years prior and is now considered just as iconic. It spawned a long running series that continues to this day. It is one of the few slasher films, or “dead teenager movies” as they referred to them, that both critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert enjoyed. It was scary. It is still scary. As I write these words, it is about to be re-released to drive-ins for a whole new generation of fans to scream at. 

Friday the 13th (1980)

While Halloween is always given the credit of starting the slasher trend, I think it is more realistic to say that Friday the 13th in 1980 really started the slasher trend, especially for what most fans consider a slasher film. It was made to do two things, make teens scream and make money. It did both.

Friday the 13th tried to capitalize on the success of Halloween by adding the one thing Halloween didn’t really have, graphic mayhem. Tom Savini’s bloody “magic tricks” splatter the screen and opened the floodgates for every gory slasher that was made after. Kids flocked to the theaters for each new installment and every time a new one came out, Siskel and Ebert complained that it was trash and not nearly as well made or entertaining as Halloween. Be that as it may, as one of the teenagers flocking to the theater to see each new installment, I was there for the cheap thrill of bare boobs and bloody mayhem. Never once did I purchase a ticket for a Friday the 13th film hoping I would learn something meaningful about the human condition or glimpse into the true heart of darkness. Nope. I just wanted 90 minutes of cheap thrills with my friends and they delivered nearly every time.

Slasher movies hit a peak in 1981, with a new one opening up nearly every weekend of the year, some weekends seeing more than one new one released. They were everywhere and every kind of killer you could think of, including killers from beyond the grave, beyond the stars and from supernatural origins. But it was mostly a parade of jilted lovers and obsessed psychopaths that filled the big screens over the following years.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

In 1984, the slasher film got an upgrade from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. This was the first new idea in slasher films in years, as Craven introduced a killer who stalked the dreamscape of his victims! When you can’t even hide in your head, nowhere is safe. This one kicked off a spate of rubber-reality dream killers, but none worked as well Craven’s prototype and Fred-heads came back for more time and again for a long running series that finally crossed paths with Friday the 13th decades later.

Scream (1996)

The slasher film had a dry spell for the next couple of years. They still made them, and some where pretty good, but nothing really blew up again until Craven returned in 1996 with the self-referential Scream, a smart slasher that turned slashers on their ear and used all that knowledge film nerds learned from watching them.

This was a modern twist on the genre, as the killer knew very well the tropes of the slasher movies of years before and used them to his advantage. Also, modern times made it easier for killers to be more productive and destructive and the cell phone made it easier to call from anywhere in the world.

The film was a hit and I remember the opening night and a packed house screaming at the top of their lungs during the film’s final moments. It helped to kick off a new cycle of slasher films that were hipper and more self-aware than those that came before. I think I saw nearly all of them in the theater and it was a fun way to say goodbye not only to the decade, but to the twentieth century. (Craven directed the entire series, with Scream 4 appearing in 2011. After, an MTV series followed for two seasons and as of this writing, Scream 5 is moving forward.)

Slasher films proliferated in the early 2000’s but now filmmakers were using CGI for gore, which was a bore. It wasn’t long before many went back to practical effects for more of the “old-school” feel. Some use computer trickery to make them look like old, battered films with cuts and missing scenes. Fun as they may be, they really don’t compare to a 35mm viewing of an old film that has played numerous theaters over the years and is full of genuine splices, missing scenes, and tinted red from wear.

Halloween (2018)

The slasher film to make the biggest impact so far in our brave new world of the twenty-first century has been 2018’s Halloween. Love it or hate it, it delivered a fun slasher vibe and even though it is more remake than sequel, it did well enough to rake in a quarter of a billion dollars in ticket sales worldwide (impressive indeed on a ten million dollar budget), solidifying the slasher film as a reliable money maker. It ensured two more films in the new storyline it created. Not only does its success ensure the slasher is here to stay, American Horror Story dedicated it’s 9th Season 1984, to the beloved slasher films of yore, and delivered some of the freshest retro slash-thrills in a long time. 

Because of the pandemic and the shutdown of indoor theaters, slasher films returned to the drive-ins in 2020 with a vengeance, along with every other horror movie from the past. Families, couples, and friends who just wanted a night out returned to the giant outdoor screens where all variety of classic 70’s and 80’s horror films, slasher and otherwise, returned to live again where they were intended. It does make you ask, “Why do people want to sit in their cars, outside, and watch an old film they could watch streaming anytime they wanted?” 

While more films are consumed through more ways than ever before, especially through countless streaming services, and fewer and fewer are being released theatrically, it seems like there are more slasher films now to choose from than ever before. I continue to watch them, hoping to find the next big thing, as the 15-year-old slasher fan that will always live within me is always hoping for the next big slasher thrill.

These seven films satisfy all the components of what I expect, require from a slasher film, and they all have had some major influence on the genre within the time they were released. Some films that have similar aspects that I don’t consider “slasher” would be The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Carrie (1976). Although similar in content, they lack some of the fundamentals required to be considered slashers, and while they come close- Carrie White’s prom night body count alone would make Jason or Freddy blush with envy- they just don’t invoke the same spirit. 

I don’t know, but when I hear someone lump those in with slasher movies, I probably transform into a bit of a “slasher-snob.” I have to remember that these films belong to all of us, and not all of us see them exactly the same way.

Exploring: Movies Based on Songs

Growing up, I always loved story songs instead of ditties that were just verse/chorus/verse. Many of these songs ended up becoming so popular that they transcended just being something you heard on the radio and inspired movies that may or may not have been successful. Here are but a few of the many movies that are based on all manner of songs, particularly story songs.

Please keep in mind that movies that simply take their titles from songs, like Can’t Hardly Wait and Sweet Home Alabama, are not eligible. We want to know what the song is really about!

Also, while some songs come after the movie and become a big deal, like 9 tp 5, we’re looking for movies where the song came first.

We’re also answering a very important question: Does the artist show up in this? After all, don’t we want to see the person who sang the song in the film?

Did we miss any? Let us know!

exploresongs

Take This Job and Shove It (Gus Trikonis, 1981): Written by David Allan Coe and sung by Johnny Paycheck, this country song found even greater success when it became a film directed by the man who brought us Nashville Girl. It’s all about a man (Robert Hayes) trying to keep a brewery alive in his hometown after a major corporation buys it. This has a great early 80’s cast, including Barbara Hershey, Art Carney, Tim Thomerson, Martin Mull, Royal Dano and James Karen.

Does the artist show up? Yes, Paycheck plays “man with hamburger” and Coe is Mooney, who is married to country singer Lacy J. Dalton. Charlie Rich is also in this, if you’re looking for country artists.

Convoy (Sam Peckinpah (James Coburn uncredited), 1978): This C.W. McCall song came on the radio the other day and Becca said, “I bet you love this stupid song.” I sure do. And I love the fact that this movie is somehow the most financially successful of Peckinpah’s long career as well as the reason why Ali McGraw quit cocaine.

Does the artist show up? No.

Big Bad John (Burt Kennedy, 1990): Jimmy Dean’s last film was based on his 1961 song about a couple of kids who elopes to escape the girl’s evil stepfather.

Does the artist show up? He sure does.

The Indian Runner (Sean Penn, 1991): Produced by Steve Bannon — yes, that guy — and written and directed by Sean Penn, this was based on the Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman.” It has a hell of a cast, with a late in his career Charles Bronson showing up.

Does the artist show up? No.

The Legend of Tom Dooley (Ted Post, 1959): Based on the folk song that was recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1958, this movie follows the lyrics of that song more closely than the actual murder case that inspired it. Starring Michael Landon, this was directed by the same man who brought us The Baby.

Does the artist show up? No, as the original murder ballad was written in the previous century.

Alice’s Restaurant (Arthur Penn, 1969): Based on the folk song 1967 folk song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, written and sung by Arlo Guthrie, who also stars in this comedic retelling.

Does the artist show up? Not only is Guthrie in the movie, the real Alice Brock is on hand, as are Stockbridge police chief William Obanhein and Judge James E. Hannon. As to why the cop playing a role that made him look dumb, he told Newsweek that if anyone was going to make him look like a fool, it would be himself.

Born In East L.A. (Cheech Marin, 1987): After the break-up of his comedic team with Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin was invited by executive Frank Price to make his own film. Price was fired because of Howard the Duck, but this was a great decision, as the film based on Cheech and Chong’s Bruce Springsteen parody would be a major success. Marin wrote, directed and…

Does the artist show up? Seguro que lo hace.

Ode to Billy Joe (Max Baer Jr., 1976): You read that correctly. This movie was produced and directed by the former Jethro Bodine. Working with Herman Raucher (who also wrote Summer of ’42), songwriter Bobbie Gentry expanded the story of the song.

Does the artist appear? While this was shot near Gentry’s hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi, she does not appear in the movie.

The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia (Ronald F. Maxwell, 1981): How strange is this? While this was based on the Vicki Lawrence song, it has a new version of the song in the film, with Tanya Tucker singing, and has changed the words to fit the plot of the movie, which has nothing to do with the song that inspired the film other than the chorus.

Does the artist appear? No, but Mark Hamill does.

Harper Valley P.T.A. (Richard Bennett and Ralph Senensky, 1978): “The song was scandalous. The movie is hilarious!” Jeannie C. Riley was the first woman to have a song top both the country and pop charts — one week apart, but still, quite a feat — at the same time (Dolly Parton would also do this with 9 to 5).

The song comes from singer Margie Singleton had asked Tom T. Hall to write her a song similar to “Ode to Billie Joe.” Hall went so far as to pretty much copy the melody and write new lyrics. There was a rush to get this song out, as Singleton and Billie Jo Spears had already recorded it, but Riley — working as a secretary for songwriter Jerry Chesnut, rushed it out on Plantation Records. That’s the version that stuck with the public.

This Barbara Eden-starring film was so popular that it led to its own TV series.

As for Riley, she found God and went into gospel. She even recorded a sequel to this song, “Return to Harper Valley,” in which Mrs. Johnson goes to a school dance and ends up praying for everyone while revealing what happened to several of the characters. It did not chart, despite being written by Hall and mentioning the Stray Cats.

Does the artist appear? No.

Chattanooga Choo Choo (Bruce Bilson, 1984): As if one song becoming a movie starring Barbara Eden wasn’t enough, here’s another! Based on the 1941 Glenn Miller song, ads promised “The song that kept America chuggin’ along is this summer’s funniest movie!”

Even stranger, both movies were produced by George Edwards, perhaps better known for producing the Curtis Harrington films FrogsQueen of BloodHow Awful About Allan and What’s the Matter with Helen?

Does the artist appear? No, Miller disappeared during World War II and his death remains unsolved.

Copacabana (Waris Hussein, 1985): Dick Clark asked Barry Manilow and the hit song’s co-writers Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman to make a musical film. They got James Lipton — yes, the same man who hosted Inside the Actor’s Studio — to write this movie, which originally aired on CBS on December 3, 1985. This is one of the most depressing movies a 13-year-old Sam had seen outside of Bud and Lou, so yes, you really did learn who shot who at the Copa, Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana.

Does the artist appear? He sure does. Don’t fall in love (at the Copa…Copacabaaaaana).

Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, Robert Balser, Jack Stokes, Dennis Abey, Al Brodax, 1968): One of the fondest memories of my childhood was getting to stay up past the end of Chiller Theater — which was showing King Kong Escapes — research points this date to be Saturday, September 2, 1978 — and until the sun rose to watch this as my father and grandfather valiantly battled to fix the furnace. This animated version of the Beatles was everything to me as a kid and it took more than 200 artists 11 months of hard work to craft it.

Does the artist appear? While the real Beatles — minus Paul, who of course is dead — show up at the end, their voices were actually John Clive as John, Geoffrey Hughes as Paul, Peter Batten as George and Paul Angelis as Ringo and George.

Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007): This jukebox musical features 33 Beatles songs to tell the story of two lovers, Jude and Lucy. It had a rough editing process, as Taymor wanted a much longer cut than the studio. She won out and the film won over Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and George Harrison’s widow Olivia. No word on what Ringo thinks.

Does the artist appear? No.

Coward of the County (Dick Lowry, 1981): Kenny Rogers was a massive crossover success in the late 70’s and early 80’s, which led him to turn his song all about the fact that “sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man” into an actual film.

Does the artist appear? Not only does he sing the song in the movie, but Kenny plays a fighting holy man who helps the titular character beat the unholy heck out of the Gatlin boys.

The Gambler (Dick Lowry, 1980): The Lowry/Rogers team started adapting his songs a year before Coward of the County with this made-for-TV movie, which told the story of Brady Hawkes, the gambler from the song. While the song has the gambler dying — or at least I always felt that way — the character lived through four sequels, all directed by Lowry except for the last entry, Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, which was directed by Jack Bender (The Midnight HourChild’s Play 3) and written by Frank Q. Dobbs (Enter the Devil).

Does the artist appear? Kenny is in every single one of these films, which you could have enjoyed along with a bucket of his Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken, which is still available in Malaysia. Strangely, while everyone associates Rogers with this song, he wasn’t the first to release it. There were versions by songwriter Don Schlitz, Bobby Bare and Johnny Cash released before Rogers recorded the song. Also — there was one more Rogers song turned into a movie, 1990’s Christmas In America.

Speaking of Christmas, the following songs all inspired movies:

The Christmas Shoes (Andy Wolk, 2002): If you ever wonder what song I hate the most, this movie will give you the answer. Based on both the song by NewSong and the book by Donna VanLiere, this movie gets played in my house every holiday season, making me into the worst Grinch you’ve ever met. This film is pure pain.

Does the artist appear? No.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Phil Roman, 2000): You know, it seems like there are no new Christmas songs, but if you go by this film and the one before it, perhaps that’s a good thing. This Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire song played incessantly in 1979 and every year thereafter, it comes back kind of like herpes. After Elmo and Patsy divorced — they originally handmade their own cassettes of the song — Dr. Elmo re-recorded it.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Elmo is grandpa and the narrator in the animated version of this story.

Frosty the Snowman (Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, 1969): Based on the Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson song — first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys and re-recorded for this movie by Jimmy Durante — this was the second of Autry’s seasonal songs to be turned into a film. The first one? It’s coming up next).

Does the artist appear? Yes, Durante — who recorded the song for the first time in 1950 — also plays the narrator. Who plays Frosty? Comedian Jackie Vernon, who is also in Microwave Massacre.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Larry Roemer and Kizo Nagashima1964): The longest continuously running Christmas special, Rudolph is based on the Johnny Marks song. Marks also wrote “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “Run Rudolph Run.” He wrote most of the music in this special, as well. What’s interesting to me are all the changes this has undergone over the years, from the Peppermint Mine being deleted (rendering the reason why Yukon Cornelius really tastes his axe throughout meaningless), number shortened for length to allow for more commercials and a new sequence being added to show Santa fulfilling his promise to the misfit toys. Even crazier, the original puppets used to make this were given away after it was filmed, with most of them being destroyed.

Does the artist appear? While Gene Autry, who is most associated with this song, does not appear, Burl Ives — who plays Sam the Snowman — did sing the theme and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” which became seasonal favorites.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, 1970): Rankin and Bass further dominated the holidays with yet another addition in 1970, this time based on a song that Eddie Cantor first sang in 1939. Featuring Fred Astaire as a mailman, Mickey Rooney as Santa, Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock, Robie Lester (who was the voice of the Disneyland Story Reader albums), voiceover actress Joan Gardner (who wrote The Beach Girls and the Monster) and Paul Frees are all in this.

Does the artist appear? No.

The Little Drummer Boy (Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, 1968): First recorded by the Trapp Family Singers in 1951, this song ended uo inspiring another Rankin-Bass special. Man, these guys had enough to run one every day for the entire month of December. 23 of them were written by Romeo Miller, who also wrote the Tolkein animated movies, Strawberry Shortcake and  the Puff the Magic Dragon cartoons, which, you guessed it, were also based on the song by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Does the artist appear? No.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (John Shepphird, 2001): If you have the Freeform channel, this is one of the many holiday specials that you can watch over and over all December long. It’s based on the song that was originally recorded by Jimmy Boyd in 1952, which was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston because it mixed kissing with the religious holiday.

Does the artist appear? No.

Last Christmas (Paul Feig, 2019): The latest film from Feig, whose Ghostbusters angered male-centric film lovers and was a bad movie that people felt somehow compelled to defend in the face of chauvinism, this movie combines The Sixth Sense with schmaltz, all set to the Wham! song that becomes inescapable by November. In fact, I play a game with several of my friends to see who survives the longest not hearing this song.

Does the artist appear? While George Michael has sadly left us, Andrew Ridgely shows up.

The Happy Elf (John Rice, 2005): Based on the Harry Connick Jr. song, this animated story is all about Eubie the Elf bringing joy to Bluesville.

Does the artist appear? Yes, he provides the voice of Lil’ Farley.

Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors (Stephen Herek, 2015): The Dolly Parton song about how her childhood jacket — made from the baby quilt of a brother who died prematurely — is an inspiring tale. Interestingly enough, director Stephen Herek also was behind CrittersBill and Ted’s Excellent AdventureThe Mighty Ducks, Mr. Holland’s Opus and more.

Does the artist appear?  Nearly everyone from this project would return for 2016’s Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, including Parton herself, who plays the Painted Lady, a prostitute who befriends the young movie version of herself.

Jolene (Dan Ireland, 2008): Based on the short story “Jolene: A Life” by E. L. Doctorow and inspired by Dolly Parton’s song, this movie was the debut of Jessica Chastain.

Does the artist appear? No.

Purple People Eater (Linda Shayne, 1988): Linda Shayne was in Out of BoundsNo Man’s LandGraduation Day and Humanoids from the Deep before writing ScrewballsCrystal Heart and this film. Oh this film. Neil Patrick Harris plays a young lad able to manifest the Purple People Eater whenever he plays that song, which he does quite often, mostly to save the home of Ned Beatty and Shelley Winters from an evil landlord. This is a movie that has those on the way up and those on the way down and no one in-between, such as a young Dustin Diamond, Thora Birch, Ned Beatty, Shelley Winters, Peggy Lipton, Little Richard and Chubby Checker. I’ll leave it up to you to determine the career trajectory of each. Perhaps most astounding is that the titular creature was made by the Chiodo Brothers, who made Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Does the artist appear? Yes, he’s the aforementioned evil landlord.

Mamma Mia (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008): Yeah, I’ll admit it. I love ABBA. Even as such, I’ve successfully avoided this jukebox musical that uses 21 of their songs, as well as the 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which has 18 more songs and 7 instrumental versions of ABBA songs.

Does the artist appear? Yes. Benny Andersson shows up as a piano player on “Dancing Queen” and Björn Ulvaeus plays a Greek god. The premiere of the film in Sweden was the first time that all four members of ABBA had been photographed together since 1986.

Beer for My Horses (Michael Salomon, 2008): Starring and co-produced by country music singer Toby Keith, this movie is based on his duet with Willie Nelson. Rodney Carrington (who also stars in the film) co-wrote this comedy, this movie posits a world where Claire Forlani and Gina Gershon can both fall for Toby, as well as a place where Ted Nugent is a police officer. In short, it is Hell.

Does the artist appear? Yes, along with Keith appearing, Nelson shows up as Charlie, a circus employee.

Pretty In Pink (Howard Deutch, 1986): “Pretty in Pink” was first released on the Psychedelic Furs second album “Talk Talk Talk.” Molly Ringwald told movie-maker John Hughes about the song, which inspired the story and title of this film. The Furs re-recorded the song for this soundtrack, making it their second-biggest U.S. hit after “Heartbreak Beat.” This year, frontman Richard Butler — as reported by NME — said that Hughes got the song wrong. “God rest his soul, he kind of got the wrong end of the stick with that song. He made it to be literally about a girl that was wearing a pink dress and it wasn’t about that at all. It was about a rather unfortunate girl. Me saying “pretty in pink” meant somebody who is naked. It was a metaphor…given that, the movie did us a lot of good.

Does the artist appear? No, but the soundtrack to this film is a true time capsule of the nascent alternative scene of 1986, with Echo & the Bunnymen, The Smiths, OMD, New Order, Suzanna Vega and others showing up.

Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, 1977): Based on a 1976 New York magazine article (“Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”) by British writer Nik Cohn*, this was group to write a song with the title Saturday Night, but as the band had already written a song called “Night Fever,” they told him to change the title. The rest is a cultural juggernaut. According to keyboard player Blue Weaver, the song itself is a sped-up disco version of the theme from 1959’s A Summer Place. The brothers Gibb would rule the charts when this was released, becoming the first band since The Beatles to have six #1 singles in a row. Here’s how much they dominated: “Night Fever” replaced Andy Gibb’s “Love Is Thicker Than Water” at number one and would be replaced by Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You,” which was also written and produced by the Gibbs. The song would be the #2 song of 1978, behind Andy’s “Shadow Dancing.”

The album from this movie was on the charts for 120 weeks, an amazing record, and generated six singles.

Pretty amazing for a movie that didn’t even have the Bee Gees used for the filming. Instead Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs songs were used until Columbia Records refused to allow Scaggs’ music to be used.

*At some point in the mid-1990s, Cohn acknowledged that he made the entire story up. He couldn’t get a handle on disco, so he based Tony on an English mod he grew up with.

Does the artist appear? No.

The Hitcher (Robert Harmon, 1986): Writer Eric Red had made a cross-country drive from New York City to Austin, Texas, during which he listened to The Doors song “Riders on the Storm”. He said that the “elements of the song — a killer on the road in a storm plus the cinematic feel of the music — would make a terrific opening for a film.” He would develop the script while in Austin for seven months, working as a cab driver. He also based the role of the Hitcher — Rutger Hauer is absolutely perfect — as Keith Richards.

Does the artist appear? No.

Peggy Sue Got Married (Francis Ford Coppola, 1986): The song “Peggy Sue Got Married” is one of the first sequels in music, as Buddy Holly explores what happened to a past lover and the subject of his big hit “Peggy Sue.” This film, inspired somewhat by the song, allows Peggy Sue to go back in time and relive what led her life down the path it has, 25 years after high school. It’s worth noting that Kathleen Turner hated nearly every choice that Nicolas Cage made in this movie, from the nasal voice that he based on Gumby’s horse Pokey to the false teeth he wore. She would even claim that he was arrested for drunk driving and stealing a chihuahua during filming, facts that he successfully sued to prove were not facts at all.

Does the artist appear? No.

Road Less Traveled (Blair Hayes, 2017): Based on the Lauren Alaina — and starring the singer — the story of the actual song (Alaina was dealing with the divorce of her parents and wanted to record a tune to help others going through painful life-changing moments) seems more interesting than this movie.

Does the artist appear? Yes, she plays the lead.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (Guy Vasilovich, 2016): There’s a B in the B&S About Movies and that would be Becca, who loves Mariah Carey with the same devotion that I love Lucio Fulci. Therefore, this movie — based on a Mariah song — plays quite often over the holidays. Glitter, sadly, plays all year long.

Does the artist appear? Yes. We also have the book.

St. Louis Blues (Allen Reisner, 1958): Based on the life of W.C. Handy — the “Father of the Blues” — this movie is positively packed with talent, including Nat “King” Cole, Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald (who would adopt the titular song almost as her own), Eartha Kitt, and Barney Bigard, Mahalia Jackson and Ruby Dee. It also features ten of Handy’s songs.

Does the artist appear? No. He sadly died the year it was made.

I Can Only Imagine (Erwin Brothers, 2018): Man, there must be a cottage industry translating Christian and Country music artists’ songs for the screen. Here’s another, based on the Mercy Me song. Well this one made back 12 times its budget, but it is based on the highest selling faith song of all time.

Does the artist appear? No.

Detroit Rock City (Adam Rifkin, 1999): A KISS cover band tries to meet their idol in the movie that uses the title of one of the band’s songs. The craziest thing of this whole movie is that all of the original members of KISS show up, as this was one of those times that the stars aligned and Peter, Paul, Gene and Ace were all getting along.

Does the artist appear? Yes. After all, this is all about the city that Paul said of, “”There is one city in America that opened up your arms and opened up your legs to us.”

The Elder (Seb Hunter, unknown): The first album with drummer Eric Carr and the last to feature Ace Frehley, Music from The Elder was the ninth KISS album and their first concept record. It was a return to rock for the band and also a chance to work with The Wall (and Destroyer) producer Bob Ezrin. The band was embarrassed by the results, never touring and only playing the songs — at the time — live on Fridays (“A World Without Heroes”, “I,” and “The Oath”), Solid Gold (“A World Without Heroes” and “I”), and a strange trio performance of “I” without Ace — who’d left, frustrated that the album was not straight-ahead rock as promised — lip-synced live from Studio 54. Ezrin would blame cocaine. Stanley and Simmons say they were delusional. Ace would say the whole thing wasn’t a good idea. PS: Lou Reed wrote one of the lyrics on the album: “a world without heroes is like a world without sun,” which sounds weird being covered by Cher.

Oh yeah — the movie! It’s been in production since 2011 without the assistance of KISS, so who knows what’s happening with it!

Does the artist appear? No way in hot, hot, hotter than hell.

The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (Stephen Roberts, 1935): This British music hall song was popularized by singer and comedian Charles Coborn. This film also led to Francis, Day and Hunter Ltd. vs. Twentieth Century Fox Corp., a landmark copyright case that fought to prove that even though Fred Gilbert’s song had been copywritten under the Copyright Act of 1842, they had failed to acquire the parallel performing right under the Copyright (Musical Compositions) Act of 1882, which allowed 20th Century Fox to make this movie with the name of his song for free. PS: The studio won, but it took years. The song also appears in Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons.

Does the artist appear? No.

A Piece of My Heart (Edward af Sillén, 2019): This Swedish jukebox musical — there’s that term again, which refers to a musical film where the majority of the numbers are well-known pop songs — based on Tomas Ledin’s song “En Del av Mitt Hjärta.” It also features Malin Åkerman in her first Swedish-language film.

Does the artist appear? No, but he wrote several new songs for the movie.

Ten Cents a Dance (Lionel Barrymore, 1931): Inspired by the song of the same name, this movie features Barbara Stanwyck as a married taxi dancer — yes, like the private dancer of a Tina Turner song — who falls for one of her customers.

Does the artist appear? No. However, a Spanish version was shot at the same time and René Cardona — yes, the director of Santa ClausNight of the Bloody Apes and Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy — is in it.

Monster Mash (Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, 1995): Before Cohen and Sokolow wrote Toy Story, they directed this adaption of Bobby Pickett and Sheldon Allman’s musical I’m Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have to Spend the Night. Pickett is probably best known for the song “Monster Mash,” so that was added to this film, which features Full House star Candace Cameron, Jimmi “Dynomite” Walker, Sarah “Ursa” Douglas, John “Crypt Keeper” Kassir, Deron McBee (who was Malibu on American Gladiators and played Montaro in Mortal Kombat Annihilation), Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba and, of all people, Mink Stole as the wolfman’s mother.

Does the artist appear? Yes, “Boris” Pickett plays Dr. Frankenstein.

Love Me Tender (Robert D. Webb and Stanley Hough, 1956): Originally titled The Reno Brothers, advanced sales of Presley’s “Love Me Tender” single — the first song to sell more than a million albums — changed the title. This is Elvis’ first of 33 films (31 narrative movies and 2 concert films), which usually had a song featured within the film that gives the movie its name. This is the exception to the rule, which is why it is featured on this list.

Does the artist appear? Elvis wanted to be a serious actor that didn’t sing in his films. He even wanted to attend The Actor’s Studio. While he would tell interviewers that The Rainmaker would be his debut, but this was his first film and yes, he does sing.

Bad Romance (François Chang, 2011): Based on the Lady Gaga song, this movie has a major French influence and is titled Les Mauvais Romans, while the English title refers to the song that inspired its story.

Does the artist appear? No.

Ricochet Romance (Charles Lamont, 1954): With the tagline “That Ma Kettle girl’s got a brand new fella,” this didn’t even come at the end of the ten film Kettles series, as Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki, The Kettles in the Ozarks and The Kettles on Old MacDonald’s Farm would all come after this movie. Director Charles Lamont made five of those movies with the star of this movie, Marjorie Main.

Does the artist appear? Teressa Brewer sang the version that came out a year before this and she does not appear, although the song does.

Riders In the Sky (John English, 1949): Selected as the greatest Western song of all time by the Western Writers of America, this was originally a hit song for Vaughn Monroe. The songwriter, Stan Jones, also recorded a version, as did Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, The Sons of the Pioneers, Spike Jones, Scatman Crothers, The Ventures, Dick Dale, Tom Jones, Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi and Bunnys, Elvis Presley, Roy Clark, Johnny Cash, The Shadows, Outlaws, Disneyland After Dark, The Blues Brothers, Christopher Lee and so many more. This is the movie of the song, of course.

Does the artist appear? Gene Autry does, so I guess that qualifies.

Love Potion No. 9 (Dale Launer, 1992): Based on The Searcher’s 1959 hit, this romantic comedy has Tate Donovan and Sandra Bullock as co-workers who magically fall in love.

Does the artist appear? No.

Piange… il telefono (Lucio De Caro, 1975): The Domenico Modungo song that this movie is based on was inspired by based on Claude Francois’s 1974 hit “Le Téléphone Pleure.”

Does the artist appear? Yes, Modungo is the star of the film.

Mr. Unbelievable (Ong Kuo Sin, 2015): Eric Kwek Hock Seng (Chen Tianwen) was originally a character on a TV show called Spouse House whose song “Unbelievable” ended up becoming a viral hit in real life. This is the movie that tells the entire story of how he ended up adding English words to traditional Chinese songs with comedic effect.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Chen is the main actor in this.

Earth Girls Are Easy (Julien Temple, 1984): Based on a song on Julie Brown’s 1984 album Goddess in Progress, this musical also features another song from that album, “‘Cause I’m a Blonde.” Another song, “I Like ‘Em Big and Stupid” was cut from the film, which had numerous production issues due to director Temple’s obsession with details. That said, it’s a blast to watch even today.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Brown plays Candy Pink, the hairstylist who gives the aliens a full-body makeover.

God Bless the Broken Road (Harold Cronk, 2018): Loosely based on the song “Bless the Broken Road,” which has been recorded by everyone from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and songwriter Marcus Hummond to — most famously — Rascal Flatts, this is a tale of a young mother who loses her husband and gains a race car driver while staying true to her faith. In short, exactly the kind of movies we watch on this site.

Does the artist appear? No, but the song is sung in the movie.

Humanap Ka ng Panget (Ben Feleo, 1990): Andrew E.’s debut song led to this film, which tells the story of three junk scrapping brothers who want to be rich.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Andrew E. plays one of the brothers.

Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod (Rolf Schübel, 1999): Taken from the novel of the same name by Nick Barkow, this movie tells the story of “Gloomy Sunday,” also known as the “Hungarian Suicide Song.” Best known in the U.S. thanks to the 1941 Billie Holiday cover, an urban legend claims that more people have killed themselves while listening to this song than any other. And here you thought it was “The Christmas Shoes.”

Does the artist appear? No.

Shuì zài wǒ shàng pù de xiōngdì (Stephen Zhang, 2016): Who Sleeps My Bro? is a Chinese coming of age tale based on a famous song.

Does the artist appear? No.

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Karn Evil 9 (Michael Napoliello and Maria Frisk, producers 202?):  The 30-minute futuristic rock suite featured on British prog-rock legends Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery — about man’s loss of humanity to technology — is in the process of being adapted into a feature film by Daniel H. Wilson of the best seller Robopocalypse.

Does the artist appear? No. Drummer Carl Palmer is the only surviving member.

Whew! Did we miss anything? Let us know!

Exploring : Paul Naschy and El Hombre Lobo

Born during the Spanish Civil War as Jacinto Molina Alvarez, the man who would one day be known as Paul Naschy didn’t write his first werewolf film — much less plan on starring in it — until he was 34 years old. He had plans of being an architect but moved between acting, writing and professional weightlifting.

However, he wrote The Mark of the Wolfman, a script about Polish werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky and talked Maxper Producciones Cinematograficas into financing the film. Naschy wasn’t going to be in the movie, but when the producers failed to find the right actor for the part — and the 62-years-old Lon Chaney Jr. said he was too ill to travel for the movie — Alvarez became Naschy, named after Pope Paul VI and Imre Nagy, one of his weightlifting heroes.

By 1972, Naschy wrote and starred in seven horror films and was working with the biggest directors in European horror, such as León Klimovsky (his favorite director), Carlos Aured, Javier Aguirre, José Luis Madrid, Juan Piquer Simón, Francisco Lara Polop and José Luis Merino.

Eclipsing even Chaney Sr., Naschy is the only actor to play Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, Fu Manchu, the Hunchback, Rasputin, a warlock, a zombie, a medieval Inquisitor, a serial killer and — sixteen times — a werewolf, mostly the aforementioned Daninsky.

Counting La Casa del Terror and an appearance on Route 66, Lon Chaney Jr. only played a werewolf seven times. Naschy played El Hombre Lobo twelve times, as well as two unconnected werewolves. Let’s dive in and explore the furry magic, film fans!

Also — if you read through these and wonder why they don’t seem connected at all — you are starting to understand the awesomeness of these films. Even if they had all come out in America, they would have all been released out of order and perhaps been even more confusing.

The Mark of the Wolfman (1968): This is where it all starts. Whether you see it under its original title or as Hell’s Creatures: Dracula and the Werewolf, The Nights of Satan or Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror — the version I saw — this is an astounding 3D blast of weirdness. Count Waldemar Daninsky is attacked by a female werewolf and asks for help from two doctors, who end up being vampires and resurrecting that female werewolf all over again for a final battle. Blame Sam Sherman for this movie’s American title, which was needed to pad a double bill with Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein.

Las Noches del Hombre Lobo (1968):  This lost movie hasn’t even been seen by Naschy, who claimed that he went to Paris for a week to shoot the movie for Rene Govar, who apparently only directed this one film). Govar was said to have died in a car accident in Paris a week after the filming was completed and the film was thrown away from the lab when it was not paid. Some Naschy scholars believe that the movie was actually canceled and the script used to make the fourth Daninsky movie, La Furia del Hombre Lobo.

Assignment Terror (1970): This is another multi-named Naschy effort, boasting titles like The Monsters of Terror, Dracula vs FrankensteinDracula and the Wolf Man vs. Frankenstein, Operation Terror and Reincarnator. An alien scientist — played by The Day The Earth Stood Still star Michael Rennie — is trying to destroy humans so his alien race can move in. How would he do that? By using vampires, werewolves and mummies, that’s how!

The Fury of the Wolfman (1970): After multiple Daninsky movies, now his origin changes. He has now become a werewolf thanks to a yeti bite and dies after killing his cheating wife and the man who cuckolded him. Then, a mad scientist brings him back to kill even more, as well as his now furry ex-wife. There’s also a Swedish movie of this with longer sex scenes called Wolfman Never Sleeps.

Art by Zornow Must Be Destroyed. Check out his site at https://zmbd.storenvy.com/

The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman (1971): Naschy’s most successful movie is also known as The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman, Shadow of the Werewolf, Night of the VampireNight of the Bloody Witches, The Black Mass of Countess Dracula, Werewolf’s Shadow, Fury of the Vampires and Night of the Werewolves, this one finds El Hombre Lobo revived when doctors remove the silver bullets from his heart. He later bleeds on the corpse of Countess Wandessa de Nadasdy, who ends up becoming his nemesis. Some Naschy fans like to think of this as a direct sequel to The Mark of the Wolfman. This was directed by León Klimovsky.

Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf (1971): Naschy was inspired by the Universal monsters and the way they would crossover into one another’s films. That’s why in this Klimovsky-directed installment, El Hombre Lobo attempts to be cured by the grandson of Dr. Jekyll, who may have some sinister plans.

The Return of Walpurgis (1973): How many names can one movie have? How about seven? In addition to the Walpurgis title, this is also called Curse of the DevilNight of the Fiendish Orgy, Death Grip of the Cruel Wolves, Night of the Killer, The Mark of Dracula and Return of the Werewolf. This starts off with a Daninsky relative killing a witch and moves forward to the modern day Daninsky being bitten by a wolf skull after being seduced by a gypsy girl!

Curse of the Beast (1975): I saw this under the title The Werewolf and the Yeti, but you may know it as Night of the Howling Beast or Hall of the Mountain King. You’d think that another yeti would transform our hero into El Hombre Lobo, but Naschy is cunning and somehow creates a story not only one, but two vampire women, bite him and turn him into the werewolf. Well done.

Return of the Wolf Man (1980): Basically a remake of Walpurgis Night, this was released in the U.S. as The Craving. Naschy has gone on record saying that this was his favorite Hombre Lobo film and it was also the last one to play the U.S. In this one, he battles Elizabeth Bathory.

The Beast and the Magic Sword (1983): This movie is absolutely, positively, magically insane. Imagine — and then see that it’s true — Naschy making a period Japanese feudal movie mixed with werewolves. Sometimes when I’m sad, I think how lucky I am to live in a world that made this film.

Licantropo: the Full Moon Killer (1996): Yeah, there was no American release. And yeah, the budget sucks. But even a bad Naschy movie is better than 98% of any other werewolf movie you’ve ever seen. Daninsky versus a serial killer? Sure, I’ll watch that.

Tomb of the Werewolf (2004): A relative of Daninsky inherits his castle and as soon as he gets there, Elizabeth Bathory (Michelle Bauer!) gets him to pull the silver dagger from El Hombre Lobo’s corpse! Oh man — directed by Fred Olen Ray and shot by Gary Graver, it would be the last Daninsky movie made.

There are also some other films where Naschy played a werewolf, including the child film Good Night, Mr. Monster; the monster-filled comedy It Smells Like Death Here (Well, It Wasn’t Me) and A Werewolf in The Amazon.

Howl of the Devil (1987): A movie where Naschy plays just about every monster ever wouldn’t be complete without a brief cameo by our friend Waldemar. Also, Caroline Munro is in this, which should be enough to get you tracking it down.

As you may already have realized, we love Paul Naschy. We’ve also watched him in Horror Rises from the Tomb, Panic Beats, and The People Who Own the DarkThe Killer Is One of 13Blue Eyes of the Broken DollSeven Murders for Scotland Yard, The Devil’s Possessed and Count Dracula’s Great Love.

They’re all awesome. But not as awesome as werewolves fighting yetis.

Looking to own these films? We can help. Click the links and get something awesome for yourself.

Night of the Werewolf (the 1980 Return of the Wolfman) is on Shout! Factory’s The Paul Naschy Collection and The Werewolf and the Yeti is on their second volume.

Ronin Flix has Assignment Terror and Fury of the Wolfman.

Mondo Macabro has The Beast and the Magic Sword.

For even more Naschy — and everything else awesome in strange films — turn to Diabolik DVD.

If you want to see every werewolf movie we’re watched so far, check out this Letterboxd list!