2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 21: House of Traps (1982)

21. TRAPS: To lay or be laid, that is the question.

Based on Shi Yukun’s The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants, this Shaw Brothers movie has the Venom Mob and a house of, well, traps. Not a trap house. That’s different.

Directed by Chang Cheh, this is the last Venom Mob movie. Lo Meng is already gone. Only Kuo Choi and Lu Feng get to fight. It seems odd. But then again, there is the house full of traps, which seems to be the main selling point.

Butterfly Chua (Lu Feng) has taken a priceless jade statue and hidden it inside his — do I have to say the title of this movie again? — which has spikes everywhere, steps that rip off feet, steel nets and archers ready to kill anyone who makes it close to the treasure.

Inspector Yuan (Lung Tien-Hsiang) is the person who will challenge the house, because that jade statue — and the other art treasures hidden within — have some great importance to the government. Both Yuan and Butterfly Chua end up employing entire armies of martial artists ready to kick, punch and brutalize one another.

The good guys are called the Rat Gang, which wouldn’t happen in America. There’s also a killer umbrella and some wild costumes. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it doesn’t have to. That’s why I love these movies, I can just put them on and they fill my eyes with so many images, my brain was so many visions and my heart with so much joy.

SLASHER MONTH: Death Valley (1982)

Wilfred Brimley was two years young than me when he made this movie and that’s kind of screwing me up right now.

Paul Stanton (Edward Herrman) has sent his son Billy (Peter Billingsly) into going to California to meet up with his mother Sally (Catherine Hicks) and her boyfriend Mike (Paul Le Mat) who are on the way to Arizona. As things usually occur, Billy accidentally walks across the crime scene of a serial killer, takes a turtle necklace and unleashes unwitting hell.

Directed by Dick Richards and written by Richard Rothstein, this movie puts a young child into the claws of a serial killer, which is scary now but had to be even worse in 1982 when we hadn’t really come to understand the evil around us.

A year later, Peter Billingsly would be in A Christmas Story in which he’d also dress like a cowboy and bring up Black Bart. What are the odds, I ask you?

Also: Wilfred Brimley was a bodyguard for Howard Hughes.

Also also: This is part of that most wonderful of horror genres, the RV movie.

If I saw this as a kid, I would have made sure that my parents never took us on vacation.


16. A Horror Film Featuring Caroline Munro.

The Last Horror Movie reunites those wacky lovebirds Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro from Starcrash and Maniac and makes another appearance for Joe on the video nasty section 3 list.

Director David Winters was one of the few stage actors and dancers in West Side Story to be in the film version. He then became a choreographer and was the first to choreograph the Watusi as well as the originator of the Freddie and helped Elvis and Ann-Margaret dance in Viva Las Vegas. His first directorial effort was the Alice Cooper film Welcome to My Nightmare and he produced everything from Linda Lovelace for President to Young Lady ChatterleyKiller Workout and owned Action International Pictures. He also dated Lovelace after she divorced Chuck Traynor. She credited him for introducing her to culture. The guy did so much! He directed Racquet, did the choreography for Roller Boogie, made Mission Kill with Robert Ginty and oh yeah, also directed Thrashin’!

Anyways, both Spinell and Munro are two people who make me love life the moment I see them. The blonde highlights in her hair in this movie got me through the rest of a very hard week. This film is very 1982 and therefore, it is very good.

Spinell is Vinny, a cab driver who lives with his mother (Filomena Spagnuolo, Spinell’s real mother, who ends the movie by asking if she can take a hit off his joint; that’s also Spinell’s real apartment) but dreams of making a horror movie with scream queen Jana Bates (Munro), who is going to be at Cannes to promote her latest film Scream along with her manager and ex-husband Bret Bates (Glenn Jacobson) and producer and current boyfriend Alan Cunningham (Judd Hamilton). She gets a note that says, “You’ve made your last horror film. Goodbye.” and finds Bret murdered, but the body disappears when the police come to investigate. This turns into more of a whodunnit than a slasher, but I mean, Spinell still gets to chainsaw someone to death.

Just like the movie within this movie, this was shot with no permits at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. If you think it’s not realistic for an actress in a horror movie to win an award, that very year Isabelle Adjani won the Best Actress award for Possession

PS: In no way am I as obsession with Munro as Vinny was with Jana.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 14: The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)

14. THE RUBY ANNI-VHS-ARY: Watch something that came out in 1982. #onlyonVHS!

Based on the novel by James Hardiman and directed by Kevin Connor (From Beyond the Grave), this movie starts with a samurai committing murder-suicide when he catches his wife with another man. The house, as you can pick up from the title, is haunted and that’s the nightmare world that the Fletchers — Ted (Edward Albert), Laura (Susan George) and Amy (Amy Barrett) — end up living at.

The spirits of the house possess Laura and she ends up having an affair with Ted’s friend Alex (Doug McClure), which seems like the kind of excuse guys use to get away with getting caught. Seriously, a samurai and the dead spirits of his wife and her secret lover made me do it. They also turned into spider crabs and pushed our little girl out of a tree! Why don’t you believe me?

Connor related a story about one of the lovemaking scenes in this movie: “The interesting story about this is that the producers wanted a more graphic sex scene, which wasn’t in the script. So Edward Albert and Susan George agreed to do it on their terms which was that Susan would wear her panties because of an experience she had had on Straw Dogs where somebody at the lab (allegedly) had copied some of the revealing out-takes from her nude scenes – so she certainly wasn’t going to let that happen again. You can imagine how difficult it was to shoot a nude scene with both your leads wearing underwear, but it worked out very well.”

Between ninjas and ghost samurai, Susan George’s early 80s really were something.

Xin xi you ji (1982)

New Pilgrims to the West is based on the Chinese 16th century book Journey to the West, which is about the legendary pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang. In spite of great danger, he traveled to the Central Asia to discover the Buddhist sacred texts. A combination of Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology, Confucianism, Taoist and Buddhist theology, the lessons in this book are still being meditated on today.

The main characters are Sun Wukong the Monkey King, Tang Sanzang, Zhu “Pigsy” Bajie and Sha Wujing. Perhaps you’ve seen The Forbidden Kingdom, in which Jet Li plays Sun Wukong, Stephen Chow playing the role in A Chinese Odyssey or the 1960s series of Shaw Brothers movies that include Monkey Goes West, Princess Iron FanCave of the Silken Web and The Land of Many Perfumes.

It’s low budget, yes, but director Chun-Liang Chen also made the incredible Child of Peach and the unofficial movie Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins, so there’s still some magic to be found in this story of Sun Wukong and Pigsy as they journey to the west.

I am of the belief that props don’t have to be expensive, sets don’t have to be perfect and even the quality of the print that I see decades later doesn’t have to be 4K quality. Magic can be found anywhere.

You can watch this on YouTube.


Jin fen you long (1982)

Released under so many names — Matching Escort, Fury of the Silver Fox, Wolf-Devil Woman 2Wolfen Ninja, Venus the Cavalier, Venus the Ninja and Venus: Wolf Ninja — some of those are due to director, producer and star Pearl Chang, who was also the auteur who made Wolf Devil Woman even if this was made a year before. Chang is amazing because she was making her own kung fu movies in Taiwan and as a woman in the early 80s and that’d be a big feat even now. To add to the odd charms of this movie, it was written by the man who would unleash a hundred or more ninja clones, Godfrey Ho.

Wronged by the warlord who killed her family — and seventy-four other leaders — Chang is a princess who trains in an underground cave filled with neon-hued colors and homemade skeletons prepping for the final battle with that very same final boss, a man who has a Nintendo Power Glove seven years before the rest of the world and knows how to use it to break swords and shoot out on a long metal coil. He also has on a sparkling costume that looks like Frank Brunner drew it.

Pearl Chang’s movies probably won’t be getting a high end blu ray release anytime soon — the fact that I missed out on the Gold Ninja Video microrelease kills me — so the ultrabright colors and hyperkinetic wirework is lost in multiple transfers as this movie moved from the East to the West.

Here’s just one reason why this movie is so great: as a child, the princess had to wear concrete boots. That way, when she grew up, she’d be used to be weighed down and as an adult, she can run so fast that she can walk on water.

The final battle is filled with spraying blood every few seconds before the good guys take out the eyes of the evil warlord. It’s super graphic and very fake at the same time, which is actually perfect when you think about it. Sometimes, people get stabbed so well that blood sprays ten feet directly upward.

Movies have never been more magical.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Sun Wu Kong dai zhan fei ren kuo (1982)

Monkey Wars is a sequel or at least connected to New Pilgrims to the West and has Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy coming up against some Taoists and their ally a spider-woman who has created a base within the caves.

Director Chun-Liang Chen also made Child of PeachSpell of Magic and Magic Warriors, so you know the kind of lunacy that this will soon deliver to you. What you may not be prepared for is the final part of this movie which has the taoists joining up with bat people, some of whom use hang glider wings and others that are humanoid bats and there’s a battle in the sky. Truly, this is exactly what I was looking for.

Seriously: this movie has a human monkey fighting flying bat people when he isn’t growing so large that he can walk to Heaven and urinate all over his enemies. Can you imagine a movie that while being made, the filmmakers said, “Human spider people just aren’t enough. What else can we do?”

This movie cost less than what some Hollywood movies spend on plastic sporks at craft services. Yet somehow it has a wealth of ideas that you won’t get to experience anywhere else in the universe.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Ngû yaks (1982)

Golden Buddha Against the Snake Phantom AKA King Kong vs. the Snake Phantom is a Thai movie with just this description to go by: “A tribe of snake-men are out to wreak havoc on a Miao minority group. Old Chang is not only the witch-doctor of the Miao people, but he and his two sons also help defend them against the intruders.”

A woman gets impregnated by a snake at one point and Buddha himself strikes her down. There are also fire-breathing snakes that destroy a village. Monks can teleport, bad guys can turn into snakes, Buddha grows gigantic and has a battle with an equally huge snake man.

Director Chih Chen was in Bruce Lee’s The Big Boss and also was an assistant director on that film. I wouldn’t look for anything from that movie to influence this one. What you will notice is a lot of distorted voices and a fuzzed out soundtrack that got me into the movie drugs space that I love so much.

There is no King Kong.

The filmmakers also needed gold snakes so they either have a rubber one painted that color or, as I suspect, they straight up painted some real snakes gold. Also some chickens get killed by snakes, so I should probably warn you about that.

Watch this on YouTube and see if you can understand as much as I did.

CANNON MONTH 2: Superman 3 (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Superman 3 was not produced by Cannon, but they did release it in Germany on the Cannon Screen Entertainment label.

I always wonder, what was the exact moment where people went from thinking The Great Train Robbery was some kind of black magic and the train was going to kill everyone in the theater to watching a movie and saying, “That was boring.”

For ten-year-old Sam, it may have been this movie.

Just four years earlier, I laid on my stomach in the back of my parent’s station wagon and pretended I was flying the whole way home from Superman.

So what happened?

This movie sucks is what happened.

Sure, it’s written again by husband and wife team David and Leslie Newman and Richard Lester, who took over from a movie nearly already shot by Richard Donner in Superman II, directed. But I have no idea why this movie is about what it’s about. I was a hardcore Superman reader as a kid and I kept thinking, “Will Brainiac be in this? The Parasite? The Atomic Skull? Would Dudley Moore play Mister Mxyzptlk?”

How about Richard Pryor?

Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder were said to have been angry with the way the Salkinds treated Donner, with Hackman retaliating by refusing to reprise the role of Lex Luthor. This is a rumor and Hackman has denied it, but he definitely refused to return for the Lester shot scenes in the second film. And when Kidder gave interviews about how the Salkinds treated Donner, she was written out of this movie for the most part — the cover story was that the Lois and Clark relationship had been “played out” in the first two film — and was replaced with Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole).

The other big bad is the rich Ross “Bubba” Webster (Robert Vaughn). He keeps trying to take over the world’s supply of needed elements, like coffee and oil. Superman keeps getting the best of him and he finds that August “Gus” Gorman (Pryor) is good with stealing money through complicated computer systems — Office Space was inspired by his big plan — and uses him to destroy Superman.


Superman ends up getting seduced by Lorelei Ambrosia (Pamela Stephenson) who somehow gets him to destroy an oil tanker and then Ross’ sister Vera Webster (Annie Ross) ends up being a cyborg and oh yeah, Superman ends up splitting into two halves after a nervous breakdown with one side being a dark Superman and a good Clark Kent. They fight in a junkyard and Superman comes back, only for a supercomputer to learn how to make kryptonite and man, I hate this movie.

I absolutely hate this movie.

You know when Marvel fans complain about so much comedy and She-Hulk twerking and the Snyder cut? Let them have this movie. Ten-year-old Sam was beyond mad, the kind of mad that doesn’t go away. Ever. In my lifetime. I mean, a rumor that Tony Danza was going to take over shows that this movie could have been even worse.

This is a movie where evil Superman rights the Leaning Tower of Pisa and blows out the Olympic flame.

Oh no, Superman. How will we recover?

Then again, Brad Wilson, the rival of Superman for the affections of Lana, is Gavin O’Herlihy and just three years later, Charles Bronson would shoot him with a rocket launcher.

CANNON MONTH 2: Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amityville II: The Possession was not produced by Cannon but was released on VHS in Germany by Cannon Screen Entertainment. Want to know more about every Amityville sequel? Click here for that exploration into the possessed world of 112 Ocean Avenue.

It doesn’t matter to me whether or not The Amityville Horror is truth or fiction. The truth is that the original film isn’t all that exciting. But the sequel? Holy shit — the sequel is pretty much everything you want in a movie — if you love movies filled with horrifyingly sick moments of glee.

Damiano Damiani, whose 1960’s and 1970’s western and crime output were marked by a streak of social criticism, directed this film from a screenplay by Tommy Lee Wallace (who not only played Michael Myers in the original Halloween, but would go on to direct Halloween III: Season of the Witch and the original version of It).

The film is actually a prequel, telling the story of the Montellis, who are based upon the DeFeo family. Anthony (Burt Young from Rocky) is the father of this brood. He’s rude, ill-tempered and ready to abuse everyone at a moment’s notice. If you’re looking for any family values — in fact, any values at all — you’re watching the wrong film.

He’s married to Dolores (Rutanya Alda, Carol Ann from Mommie Dearest), his long-suffering and very Catholic wife. They have four kids — Sonny, Patricia (Diane Franklin, Monique from Better Off Dead, as well as TerrorVision and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Mark and Jan. Even from the very beginning of the film, the family is on edge. Every single interaction between them is marked by weirdness before we even get into the occult portion of this film.

Things get worse — much worse — after a tunnel is found in the basement. This leads to doors knocking all night long and demonic messages showing up in the youngest kids’ room. Turning to the Church, Dolores tries to have Father Frank Adamsky bless the house. That lasts for all of ten seconds before Anthony flips out and throws the priest out.

When he gets to his car, the door is open and his Bible is torn apart. Clearly — all is not well. Again — the family is a mess before the Devil even gets involved. Dad is overly strict and abuse, mom clings to the Church and Sonny and Patricia yearn to have sex with one another (seriously, their first interactions define the word creeptastic).

While everyone else goes to church, Sonny stays behind and is taken over by a demonic force. The film nearly descends into body horror as we see the creature take root inside him. Soon, he’s playing fashion photographer with his sister, a game that quickly turns into sex. Instead of her being upset, Patricia instead tells him that she loved it. Keep in mind these are pretty much the two main protagonists of the story, so the tale takes a very Flowers in the Attic turn.

As Sonny becomes more demonic, Patricia decides to confess to Father Adamsky, but breaks down before she can. At Sonny’s birthday party — a scene where this film layers on the insanity — he goes full demon as she freely tries to give herself to him. She decides to call the priest and confess everything, but Father Tom (Simon himself from Simon, King of the Witchesas well as the original version of The Town that Dreaded Sundown) takes the phone off the hook so the priests can go skiing (!!!).

That night, Sonny fully becomes possessed and murders his entire family with shotgun blasts as a voice tells him to “kill them all.” Father Adamsky blames himself and even after the church refuses to allow him to exorcise the demon, he still makes an attempt. The demon goes from Sonny into his soul and the Amityville House is put up for sale…setting up part one.

If you think this is a rough little movie — and trust me, it is — it was even worse in its original cut. Test audiences were assaulted by scenes where Anthony anally rapes his wife Dolores and where the incest is on graphic display (versus being hinted at with an “after the loving” quick cut). Damiano stated that he wanted to really upset viewers. Well, he succeeded, with those scenes going the way of the dodo. A very depraved dodo.

Originally, this film was to be based on John G. Jones’ book The Amityville Horror Part II, but producer Dino De Laurentiis, in conjunction with American International Pictures, decided to be inspired Hans Holzer’s book Murder in Amityville. George Lutz, whose family’s 28-day residency at the haunted house led to the original film, sued and got a disclaimer on the posters for the film stating “This film has no affiliation with George and Kathy Lutz”.”

Even better — Ed and Lorraine Warren, the demonologists who are the basis for The Conjuring series of films — served as the demonology advisors. One only wonders how they felt about the tremendous amount of blasphemy on display here.

This is a film where no traditional structure can save anyone. The family unit is a joke. The Catholic Church does not care. And the police only exist to pick up the pieces at the end. It’s a grimy, gory, gross little film that has more in common with the grindhouse than its major studio origins would suggest.

Long story made short: I love this fucking movie.