First off, the fact that one of the posters for this film rips off Night School‘s art makes me love it before I’ve even seen one second of footage.
Second, when I did watch it, it so shamelessly takes from other slashers that you’d very nearly be convinced that it was made in Italy.
Originally released as The Scaremaker, this was shot over the weekend at New Jersey’s Upsala College. That means that most of the scenes were shot in two takes or less.
After Dickie Cavanaugh kills his girlfriend in a jealous rage, gets committed and then hangs himself, all hell breaks loose. The men trying to bury him are killed and the school’s all-night scavenger hunt could not come at a worse time. Yes, I had no idea that when your college basketball team wins the big game that everyone has to engage in just such a contest.
There’s a killer on the loose wearing the school’s bear costume, using serrated knives as if they were bear claws. There are lots of POV shots as if you’re being attacked by the bear and I always enjoy being the participant in a bear battle.
For a movie made on a shoestring, they got some big names. Hal Holbrook is on hand! Julia Montgomery from Revenge of the Nerds and Stewardess School (yes, she’s a star in my world)! Lauren-Marie Taylor (Vickie from the second Friday the 13th)! Page Mosely (who is something of a scream queen, with appearances in Open House, Edge of the Axe and this movie)! And most importantly Rutanya Alda, who makes this film all hers in the last few minutes, despite the fact that this movie rips off Mrs. Vorhees’ motivation, as all lower level slashers must. I love Rutanya, who claims that she still hasn’t been paid her $5,000 fee for this movie.She should get way more than that, as the close is literally made so much better because of her commitment to more than one role.
If you’ve seen the trailers or poster for this, you may wonder, “Where are the girls in the artwork? Who is this girl in the trailer?” You are right to question these things, as the sales material was made reverse-Corman, in that it was created years after the film was complete.
Dr. Hugo Arranz (Paul Naschy!) celebrates his fiftieth anniversary with his wife and daughter before he finds himself cosplaying as Paul Kersey fromDeath Wish after they are both assaulted and killed while his tongue is cut from his mouth.
He survives. And he learns to work out. No, really.
Within minutes of running time, Hugo has emerged as a force of death, ready to wipe out everyone in his path. Despite this being shot in 1989, it didn’t get released until some time between 1992 and 1999. And to tell the truth, it may as well have been made in 1974.
This is one of the few times you’ll hear Naschy’s real voice in a film and the only time you’ll see him battle a final boss in an S&M mask. So there’s that, right? Right!
“Songs about sadomasochism and masturbation can’t be on the radio. The children! Protect the children!” — the battle cry of the PMRC’s membership
Courtesy of the Divinyls’ MTV’s patronage—and the conservative right’s “outrage” over the songs “Pleasure and Pain” from their second album, What a Life! (1983), and “I Touch Myself” from their fourth album, Divinyls (1991)—Sydney, Australia’s doppelganger to Akron, Ohio-by-way-of-London the Pretenders (with a little AC/DC raunch and punky Blondie in the woofers), rose up the U.S. charts.
There’s nothing quite like a little Tipper Gore-mock controversy to inject a floundering career. . . .
I remember my ex-Operations Director, with her endless stream of inane memos and made-up-week-by-week-as-you-go-along “station policies” that she’d spring on us; she loved her “write-ups” and warnings. The memo I especially remember—in the context of this film review—is the one advising us that, while it’s a “real toe-tapper” (Her words, I kid you not. Who works in radio and vocabulary-holsters “toe tapper”?), “I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls will not be added to our rotation. Forget the fact we were an alt-rock station that specialized in indie-artists and unsigned locals in the midst of a grunge wave and if a mainstream Madonna-lite copy was put into rotation, it would have be accidently-on-purpose scratched-beyond-airplay or “misfiled” into the 40-pound hallway receptacle—then buried under more trash. “Toe tapper,” indeed. But, once again, I digress. . . .
Anywhoo . . . we say “floundering” because, unlike MTV turning around the then floundering career of Duran Duran (with those bane-of-my-existence Sonny Crockett-on-a-yacht videos), the audience response (due to MTV’s low rotation) to the Divinyl’s debut American single-video “Boys in Town”—was indifference. (That song, in addition to “Elsie” and “Only Lonely” from the soundtrack, were reissued on their international debut, Desperate.) But the late Christina Amphlett had black bangs (!), looked cute on the album cover, and she’d swing a neon-bluelight mic-stand like no other. And the song was like a chick-fronted version of AC/DC; even Blondie-heavy (before that band started meandering with disco-rap hybrids and faux-reggae tunes like a pre-Crash Test Dummies annoyance). So I bought the album. It was a hell of a lot better than Men at Work. And that Men Without Hats cacophony. Oh, wait. They’re from Canada. Never mind.
And if you’re creating a Divinyls-list for the .mp3 files: don’t forget their (minor) hit cover of the Syndicate of Sounds’ ‘60s garage classic “Hey Little Girl” (changed to boy, natch) on their third Chrysalis album, 1988’s Temperamental (which my old station did play, because it fit the format). And it if all sounds like Blondie, that’s because that band’s producer, Mike Chapman (Suzi Q), is behind the boards. And if you hear of a dash of Madonna erotica in the grooves, that’s because “I Touch Myself” was written by the team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, who wrote “Like a Virgin.”
Ack! Get back to the movie!
Anyway, before the bogusversy and before MTV, there was Christina Amphlett’s AACTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Monkey Grip (and she never acted again). Amphlett got her part by way of the Divinyls’ rise on the Melbourne local scene—and the film called for a band whose female lead singer is the gal-pal for the film’s domestically-troubled lead character. And instead of casting actors in a lip-sync faux-band, the producers cast a real band—in a rock flick doppelganger to Nina Hagen’s Cha-Cha and Nena’s Hangin’ Out (and, in a male perspective: Michael Hutchence of INXS co-starring in the punk chronicle Dogs in Space)—the Divinyls.
Based on the best-selling Australian cult novel by Helen Graham and fueled by a six-song EP soundtrack by the Divinyls, the story follows Nora, a single-mother in her thirties scratching out a living on the outskirts of Melbourne’s alternative music scene-business. In addition to struggling to raise her thirteen year-old daughter, she has to deal with her own mental and physical abuse at the hands of her heroin-addicted lover, Javo, a mostly-unemployed theatre actor. As result of the financial and domestic instability, she squats in a number of households with other single parents in Melbourne’s local art community (the suburbs of Calton and Fitzroy; think of New York’s Greenwich Village and Los Angeles’ Silver Lake communities) of musicians, actors, and writers. Nora, as with her likeminded contemporaries, refuses to play by the rules of conventionality, torn by their competing desires for freedom and stability that’s exacerbated by their artistic endeavors.
There’s no freebie online rips. But we found this 10-minute clip of scenes to sample and a VOD stream on Vimeo. You can learn more about the influential novel behind the film with its extensive Wikipage.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
Journalist Stephen Maclean was raised by his mother as she worked in a Melbourne pub and had an early career as a child actor. He wanted to make an Australian musical and ended up working with Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, the 1994 version of Little Women) and production designer Brian Thomson (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment).
Despite being rated NRC (Not Recommended for Children) in its native Australia, the Jo Kennedy song “Body and Soul” (written by Tim Finn of Split Enz) went to #5 on the Australian charts.
Jackie Mullens (Kennedy) dreams of being a star while working in her mother’s pub. Her young cousin Angus fancies himself her manager, so he gets her in front of The Wombats, a local band, and gets them on the road to appearing on The Wow! Show. That said, he promises that Jackie will walk a tight rope nude to get on, which ends up getting her sent to jail for the day.
Despite dating guitarist Robbie, she soon falls for the show’s host and works on changing her sound to be more commercial. It fails, just as her deadbeat dad comes home and steals what little money her family has left.
Starstruck comes at an interesting time in the Australian movie industry, as three musicals — also including The Pirate Movie and The Return of Captain Invincible — were made between 1982 and 1983.
While this movie pretty much disappeared upon release in the U.S., it had a rental and cable audience that has kept it alive. If you’d like to join that cult, you can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.
Allow me to present Canada’s 1982 entry to the strange symphony, Big Meat Eater.
Director Chris Windsor co-wrote, co-edited and co-wrote the soundtrack along with producer Laurence Keane (who would go on to make Samuel Lount with the third member of the writing team, Phil Savath; Savath also wrote Fast Company for David Cronenberg and the Jello Biafra sci-fi’er Terminal City Ricochet) while in film school. It’s the story of Abdullah (played by Clarence “Bull” Miller, who was a Kansas City blues shouter so loud he didn’t need a microphone; racial tensions led him to travel the world and finally settle in Edmonton), a butcher (which has to be a pro wrestling reference) who kills the mayor of town and stashes the body at his new job, working for Bob the Butcher, who lives by the motto “Pleased to meet you, meat to please you.”
That would all be strange enough if there weren’t aliens floating above town, obsessed by the large deposits of Bolonium beneath the butcher shop, reanimating the dead mayor to do their bidding. Meanwhile, everyone sings, dalmatians get turned into spotted beef and mutations abound. Oh yeah, and Bob has invented a new language for the town’s future-forward theme park.
What a magical time 1982 was, when a film like this could come out and find just the right people in the right video store to send the right wavelength to. Sure, we can find things easily now, but we can’t get as invested, right?
There was a sequel planned, Teenage Mounties from Outer Space, that never happened. We’re all the poorer for this.
When you see the name John Llewellyn Moxey on the credits of a movie, you know you’re getting into something awesome. Just look at The House That Would Not Die, A Taste of Evil, The Night Stalker, Nightmare In Badham County, Deadly Deception and, well, just about everything he did. I didn’t even mention The City of the Dead and Psycho-Circus!
Originally called I, Desire and airing November 15, 1982 on ABC, who knew this little vampire film would be amongst the best ones I’d find for our vampire week? There’s a great cast — David Naughton from An American Werewolf In London makes for a fine lead, as well as Brad Dourif as a priest, Barbara Stock as the bewitching vampire, Dorian Harewood (he was in Sudden Death!) as a cop, Marilyn Jones as Naughton’s fiancee and even an appearance from Not Necessarily The News‘ Anne Bloom (or Frosty Kimelman in that long-lost HBO program). Oh yeah — and Marc Silver, who was the guitarist in Ivan and the Terribles, the ill-fated band in Motel Hell.
There are some great twists and turns in this one, as well as an incredible vampiric apartment at the end that I wish that I could live in. I’ll assume it’s just a studio set so that I don’t get sad that I can never go back in time and see it for myself.
You can watch this on YouTube and feel the same way.
New Hampshire’s Brett Piper is a self-made screenwriter, director, and special effects artist who shoots most of his films in Pennsylvania, most notably in the western and northwestern counties of Cambria and Tioga County. He’s also a self-professed purveyor of “schlock” who eschews modern CGI for “old school” special effects, such as matte paintings, miniatures, and stop-motion animation.
And we, the staff of B&S About Movies, love Piper for it: For if Piper had been around during the regional era of Drive-in exploitation, we’d be warmed by the crackle of a speaker hanging on our car window. We’d rent every one of his VHS ditties from the ‘80s home video shelves, warmed by the cathode ray tube’s glow.
Piper’s resume is extensive, there’s a lot to watch: he’s directed 18 films, wrote 19, and created special effects for 22 films—for his own films as well as the films of his frequent brothers-in-arms collaborators, Mark and John Polonia (Empire of the Apes).
So if you’re nostalgic for the works of Ray Harryhausen, but burnt out on repeat viewings of that stop-motion master’s works; if you’re burnt out on today’s green-motion tracking and After Effects computer-animated extravaganzas; if you want aliens cast well-made masks and full-body suits and actors emoting alongside in-camera effects, then the films of Brett Piper are just what the VOD streaming doctor ordered.
Ice up that Orange Crush and defoil that burger . . . five, four, three, two, one!
Movie 1: Queen Crab (2015)
We’ll start off our Friday Brett Piper festival with my favorite of his films: one with best character development, acting, and special effects—and one that we have not yet reviewed at B&S About Movies. While there’s a soupçon of Ray Harryhausen in the crab pot (ugh, sorry!), this is a full-on Bert I. Gordon homage to his (very loose) 1976 H.G Wells adaptation of Food of the Gods (with an honorable mention to the Robert Lansing-starring Island Claw from 1980).
What causes the crab to go “gigantic”? A little girl brings home Pee-wee, a baby pet crab from the lake behind her house—and feeds it grapes infused with her daddy-scientist’s plant growth hormone. After her parents die in a freak lab explosion and she’s adopted by her uncle-sheriff, Melissa grows up into a tough-as-nails teenager, aka Queen Crab, who serves as protector to Pee-wee and her clan of babies—complete with a psychic link. Shotguns n’ rednecks, tanks n’ planes (well, one of each) ensues as the misunderstood crustacean who, like King Kong before her, didn’t ask for any of this sci-fi ruckus.
And speaking of misunderstood: There’s poor little Melissa, stuck in the middle of the sticks of Crabbe County with no friends and parents that constantly bicker and ignore her. She’s practically a latchkey kid with only a crab as her friend. So, do we root for the crab? Damn straight. Kick ass, Pee-wee, for Melissa is Queen in this neck of the Pennsylvanian countryside.
When a TV producer’s (Piper acting-mainstay, ‘80s metal drummer-cum-actor Steve Diasparra; also of Amityville Death House, Amityville Exorcism, and Amityville Island*) career disintegrates on live TV when his report on a legendary backwoods demon haunting Pennsylvania’s Pine Creek Gorge is exposed as a fraud, he’s hell bent on redemption. When he convinces a cable TV mogul to back his quest, Mickey O’Hara heads back into the swamps with a sexy TV personality. Only, this time, there’s no need to “fake it” as the gooey, tentacled Muckman shows up—and he’s not only got the love jones for film crew member Billie Mulligan, Mucky’s brought along a tentacle sidekick of the Queen Crab variety.
Just a good ‘ol fashioned, campy monster romp from the analog days of old.
You can watch this as a free-with-ads stream on TubiTV.
The snack bar is open . . .Intermission!
Thank you, Vinegar Syndrome for honoring the works of Brett Piper! Now back to the show!
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Bert I. Gordon produced a Ray Harryhausen-directed mockbuster of Independence Day? Well, wonder no more with Brett Piper’s most recent, eighteenth and best-produced film of his resume. And, bonus: we also get a throwback to all of our beloved ‘80s Italian apocalypse flicks** in the bargin!
Blake is the resident Trash-cum-Parsifal (known your ‘80s apoc heroes!) who teams with Kay, a radiant, supermodel bow-hunter, to help a crusty elder scientist discover the key to save the Earth from the invading alien hoards and their otherworldly “hunting dogs” in the form of giant, stout lizards.
A fun, something fresh and new watch filled with the nostalgia that we love in our films.
You can watch Outpost Earth as a with-ads-stream on You Tube.
We confessed our perpetual love for this debut feature film from Brett Piper during our two-week December Star Wars blowout*ˣ in commemoration of the release of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.
Pipers’s Star Wars-inspired take-off of Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island—by way of Ray Harryhausen’s classic 1961 film of the same name—concerns a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” band of mercenaries crash landing on an uncharted planet after a space battle. Adopting a jungle girl into their fold, they battle prehistoric snails and dragons as they make their way into a final showdown with the planet’s ancient ruler: a super-intelligent computer ˣ*.
The bottom line: Brett Piper overflows with that same Tommy Wiseau-heart (The Room) and John Howard-tenacity (Spine) as he gives us a special, endearing quality with his films that’s absent from most—if not all—major studio offerings.
So strap on the popcorn bucket and ice up the Dr. Pepper and Doc Brown back to the Drive-In ‘70s with one of the greats of the retro-cinema. Keep ’em coming, Brett. We love ’em!
* We went nuts on Amityville and all of its sequels, rip-offs, and sidequels, etc. back in February with our “Exploring: Amityville” featurette. Uh, Sam? You’re the resident Amityville authority in this neck of Allegheny County. Time to get crackin’ on the newest, latest entry in the series: Amityville Island . . . and Amityville Hex, Witches of Amityville Academy, Amityville 1974, and Amityville Vibrator.
** Be sure to join us for our two-part September blowout as we explored the Italian and Philippine apocalypse of the ‘80s with our “Atomic Dust Bin” featurettes.
Producer Milton Subotsky — all hail Amicus! — bought the rights to Cat People from RKO and began developing a remake, with the rights going to Universal eventually. Roger Vadim was going to be the director with Alan Ormsby and Bob Clark — all hail Children Shouldn’t Play With Death Things — working on several versions of the script.
Paul Schrader ended up making this, making a movie that is way more sexual — man, understatement of the year — than the film that inspired it.
Irena (Nastassja Kinski) and Paul (Malcolm McDowell) Gallier have been separated since their parents died. He’s now involved in a church in New Orleans and lives with his housekeeper Female (Ruby Dee), but has gone missing.
Of course, panther attacks start happening — look out Lynn Lowry (I Drink Your Blood, The Crazies) — and zoologists Oliver Yates (John Heard), Alice Perrin (Annette O’Toole) and Joe Creigh (Ed Begley Jr.) are on the case. They capture the panther, who Irena finds herself attracted to. If you think that this is the end of the animal and human sexual attraction in this film, well, stay tuned.
Joe ends up getting mauled by the panther, which disappears just as Paul reappears to make a Flowers In the Attic move on his sister. Oh yeah — that’s when we find out that his basement is filled with the remains of people, so everyone thinks the big cat belongs to him.
Oh man — where do we go now? We find out that in the mythology of this movie, any time one of these catpeople do the horizontal mambo with a human they turn into a cat and can only become human again by killing another person. Mama and papa Gallies were siblings because werecats are ancestrally incestuous and — oh yeah — only aardvarking between two catpeople doesn’t cause a transformation. So Paul tries to get with his sister again, just in time for Oliver to save her and her to shoot her brother.
This movie ends in perhaps the most insane way possible. Irena begs to be with her kind, so Paul ties her up and dips the stinger in the honey, as it were, until she transforms back into a panther, at which point he donates her to the zoo.
Holy cow, movies were absolutely insane in 1982. Wow and the soundtrack! Bowie and Giorgio Moroder? You can not get more absolutely 80’s than that. Oh yeah — and another RKO movie was remade in 1982. The Thing. Both failed at the box office, but only one is remembered quite so fondly.
Man, talk about a movie that is out to assault its audience. The poster for this says, “The shocking nature of the subject matter prohibits revealing the frightening transformation that occurs in this film.”
They aren’t kidding.
This is one of those legendary HBO movies that kids breathlessly described in my grade school classes, daring one another to watch and others claiming that it was so frightening that they kept seeing the monster from the movie in their windows.
Yeah. I can see why.
Directed by future Howling sequel maker Philippe Mora, written by Tom Holland and based on Edward Levy’s 1981 novel, Eli (Ronny Cox, RoboCop) and Caroline MacCleary (Bibi Besch, Meteor, Who’s That Girl) get stuck out on an abandoned road just as some kind of inhuman monster tries to break free. It escapes, brutalizes Caroline and gets shot.
Seventeen years later, whatever it was has a son. And he’s slowly growing sicker.
Before you can debate a woman’s right to choose, their son Michael is eating and murdering everyone he can get close to. That’s because he’s now possessed by Billy Connors, the man who is really his father, a cannibal who has left behind an entire mass grave of gnawed up bones.
This movie is basically an excuse for that aforementioned transformation scene, which is amongst the most pus-ridden and disgusting moments of filmmaking the world has ever seen. In short, it’s awesome and worth watching the rest of this movie just to witness its power.
There are also some awesome foreign titles for this movie. In France, it’s known as Les Entrailles de l’enfer (The Entrails of Hell), while in Germany it’s called The Angel Face: Three Nights of Horror.
A great cast of supporting players has been assembled, including R.G. Armstrong (Pruneface from Dick Tracy), Don Gordon (The Towering Inferno), L.Q. Jones (yes, the director of A Boy and His Dog) and a young Meshach “Hollywood” Taylor as a deputy. Paul Clemens, who plays the monstrous child of the MacCleary’s, was also in the Sybil Danning movie They’re Playing With Fire.
I can say one more nice thing: the poster for this movie is beyond great. It’s still striking and makes me want to watch this movie again nearly forty years after it was designed.
A formula, if you will: Clash of the Titans X made in the Philippines X werewolves + witches + a cyclops + vampires = Boy God, one of the strangest films I’ve seen (and just think what that entails).
Long story short: A young boy who has superpowers and is immortal battles to free his parents from the limbo where they are doing penance for their sins.
See, his parents got gunned down the night he was born and now, he’s super strong and can roll as a ball, except when he gets wet. Got it? He battles Dr. Meagele, then some werewolf witches — yes the same people — who want to cook him like a pig before a giant vampire bat attacks him and he meets the god Vulcan.
I also forgot that the Stone Boy/Boy God was of divine birth, but it feels more like The Entity than the Good News. Also: This is a kid movie.
Why Mondo Macabro hasn’t released this yet astounds me. I love those guys, but they gotta get on it. It’s the best movie I’ve ever seen where werewolf women baste a small boy while discussing how they can’t wait to eat him.