SLASHER MONTH: Cut and Run (1985)

Cut and Run was originally going to be directed by Wes Craven with the working title Marimba, with Tim McIntire, Dirk Benedict and Christopher Mitchum as the cast. However, when money never showed up, they turned to Ruggero Deodato, who got a script from Cesare Frugoni and Dardano Sacchetti and ended up making Inferno in diretta.

There was a softer R-rated American version and then another one for places that were used to the madness that is Deodato in the jungle.

This one is simple, but the best exploitation movies always are. Reporter Fran Hudson (Lisa Blount, Prince of Darkness) is investigating a war in the jungles of South America between drug cartels and the army of Colonel Brian Horne (Richard Lynch). Yes, that’s right. Richard Lynch in the jungle commanding a cult of maniacs, including Michael Berryman.

Does that sell you? What if I told you that Willie Aames is in it? And he wears a Mickey Mouse shirt throughout?

Man, this movie has an Italian star for every Italian. Eriq La Salle from ER? I’ll give you Laura Gemser’s husband, Gabriele Tinti. Karen Black? I’ll raise you Barbara Magnolfi. Plus, you also get Italian Western actor Leonard Mann, John Steiner, Valentina Forte (from Blastfighter!) and Richard Bright.

Seeing as how this is a Deodato movie, there’s all manner of lunacy, like people being ripped in half and crucified. Instead of making another Cannibal Holocaust, he decided to make his own Apocalpyse Now, but with the kind of cast I’d choose to be in my version of that movie, with a chaser of Flavor Aid from Jonestown.

Claudio Simonetti did the score, which is really all you need to know. This movie is complete junk food, but the best kind of junk food that melts in your hands, your mouth, all over your face and ruins your new shirt, too. It’s filled with massive amounts of sleaze and gore and strangely enough, was filmed with actual English instead of the typical Tower of Babylon shooting style that Italian films usually use.

You can watch this on Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: Terror on Tape (1985)

I often joke that John Carradine and Donald Pleasence never said no to a movie, but the films they refused were probably asked of Cameron Mitchell, who absolutely, positively would never ever turn down a role. He’s in the movie — released at the absolute peak of VHS rental mania — as the owner of a video store of the beyond, renting out all manner of sleazy films to an increasingly more bizarre cast of characters, including scream queen Michelle Bauer (Reform School GirlsSorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-RamaEvil Toons) before she became so well-known.

Much like Terror In the AislesZombiethon and Famous T&A, this is a compilation tape of horror films. But until the high class by comparison Pleasence and Nancy Allen-starring Terror In the Aisles, this is a bottom of the barrel — and that’s where we like it, thank you — scraping collection of clips from the Continental Video catalogue.

As Mitchell holds forth at the Shoppe of Horrors Video Store, one-and-done director Robert A. Worms III throws every film the label has at you. And while many reviewers have mentioned how bad these movies are, guess what? They’re the bread and butter of what we talk about here. And this bread may be soggy, but it tastes delicious.

For many, this was their first exposure to the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis, as clips of Blood FeastTwo Thousand Maniacs! and Color Me Blood Red are in this. Plus, there’s a whole mess of wonderful occult oddities like Enter the Devil (truly the peak or valley, depending on your point of view, for bad taste Satanic shockers), Suicide CultTo the Devil A DaughterRuby and — spectacularly and incredibly grainily — Cathy’s Curse.

74’s Ghost StoryFrozen ScreamNight CreatureVampire HookersThe Kidnapping of the President, the absotuely insane PreyNightmareBloodtideScalpsThe SlayerThe Deadly SpawnNightmare City — was the video store in this movie really the B&S About Movies living room?

Continental Video would also release plenty more great junk in the years to come, such as WitchboardThrashin’ (which was the hardest movie to get in the days of Prime Time Video), Eaten Alive!Daughters of DarknessHollywood Vice SquadMary Mary Bloody MaryThe RedeemerManiac Mansion, El Castillo de los Monstruos, two Fred Olen Ray Sleazemania compilations and the Bubba Smith exercise video Bubba Until It Hurts.

I have a free idea for Vinegar Syndrome or Severin. Remake this and throw in clips of all your new releases. After all, you have fans like me who pretty much buy everything you do. And buy it again. And again.

You can watch this on YouTube.

2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 1: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

DAY 1. FAMILY TIME: Tired of seeing the same faces every day? Look at a movie instead! Rated PG or less. Ease in to it!

In the days before the internet, we could build our own cults. Amongst my family, we were obsessed with Pee-Wee Herman. Just imagine, in a time that could only be predicted by TV Guide, Pee-Wee would randomly show up in movies like Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie and Nice Dreams, where he was only known as “The Hamburger Guy.” As the 80’s began, Pee-Wee started by performing five months of the live The Pee-wee Herman Show at the Roxy Theater in LA and getting a taped special on HBO.

That special dominated my eight-year-old mind, presenting a world that at once childlike and at the other end, strangely sinister and adult. I watched it so many times that I could recite every single word and still can. The end, where Pee-Wee finally learns to fly, can often reduce me to tears.

In the five years between that special and this movie, Paul Reubens pretty much became Pee-Wee, even asking his parents to go by the names Honey and Herman Herman. His David Letterman appearances — major surprises, as we stated before — were riotous bursts of anarchy on a show that was already breaking nearly every rule of television. So when a Pee-Wee movie was announced, we lost our collective minds.

Somehow, Pee-Wee Herman is the rarest of cases of someone who became famous without losing a single ounce of his weirdness. And much like the HBO show that came before, I can still recite every word of this movie, quote it at will throughout the day and get misty-eyed just thinking of moments within it.

The story is incredibly simple: Pee-Wee’s most prized possession — his bike — has been taken by Francis. Now, he must get it back. A psychic tells our hero that his bike is in the basement of the Alamo, so we’re off to adventure.

That’s it. It’s that easy.

From wrestler Silo Sam chasing Pee-Wee around dinosaurs to his speech to Dottie (I actually gave this exact same “I’m a rebel, a loner” speech to a date once and was convinced she was going to slap me; she cried and told me it was the saddest thing she’d ever heard, somehow never seeing this movie before), dancing to “Tequilla” at a biker bar while Satan’s Helpers (look for Elvira) look on and so much more, there are so many moments in this film that simply listing them would take on the feel of Chris Farley talking to Paul McCartney.

I mean, without this film, you may not have Danny Elfman and Tim Burton making big budget movies.

To write the film, Reubens, Phil Hartman and Michael Varhol purchased the book Syd Field’s Screenplay and were as literal as possible. “It’s a 90-minute film, it’s a 90-page script,” said Ruebens. “On page 30 I lose my bike, on page 60 I find it. It’s literally exactly what they said to do in the book.” In my crazed mind, I also wish that Ruebens had followed through with his plan to remake Pollyanna with Pee-Wee in the lead.

There are so many easter eggs in this film, like the magic shop owned being named after Mario Bava, the Chiodo Brothers animating Large Marge, the Aleister Crowley head in the aforementioned magic shop, James Brolin playing Pee-Wee, the start of my crush on E.G. Daily, Professor Toru Tanaka as Francis’ butler and even the first acting role for Darla the dog, who was Queenie in The ‘Burbs and Precious in The Silence of the Lambs.

There are so many lines in this, too. I leave you with my favorite:

Simone: Do you have any dreams?

Pee-Wee Herman: Yeah, I’m all alone. I’m rolling a big doughnut and this snake wearing a vest…

PS: I have just one more ridiculous Pee-Wee story to tell. In 1989, Pee-Wee exchanged fake marriage vows with Chandi Heffner — the adopted daughter of Doris Duke, the richest little girl in the world. Chandi was a Hare Krishna devotee and sister of the third wife of billionaire Nelson Peltz and all of 35-years-old when she was adopted, as Duke believed that she was the reincarnation of her only biological child Arden, who died days after being born. Chandra and Pee-Wee were “married” by Imelda Marcos at Duke’s Honolulu mansion Shangri-La. If you think the world is not amazing and special, you’re a fool.

REPOST: Cementerio del Terror (1985)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We couldn’t be more excited that Vinegar Syndrome is releasing this astounding blast of Mexican VHS horror on blu ray. If you love Fulci-esque blood-splattered movies that leap genre and feel through their running time, you need to see this movie. This article originally ran in Drive-In Asylum #19, which you can buy on their etsy store

I was hunting for the perfect movie for this issue of Drive-In Asylum. My goal with each thing I write for this twisted tome is to discover something new. A film that perhaps people have missed. And certainly one that no one is talking about.

Cementerio del Terror is the perfect movie to answer all of those needs and more.

Directed by Rubén Galindo Jr., who also helmed the utterly baffling Don’t Panic! and Grave Robbers, this película de terror combines so many influences and films that it feels like the best DJ mix you’ve never heard of Evil Dead, Halloween and a children’s film while still boasting all of the grisly rojo gore that you crave.

Set in Texas, filmed in Spanish and utterly unconcerned with things like good taste or common sense, this movie appeals to every level of what I demand in cinema. Let me set it all up for you, muchacho: Dr. Cardan (Hugo Stiglitz, whose half-century movie career has led to roles in beloved junk like Tintorera…Killer SharkGuyana: Cult of the Damned and Nightmare City) has left behind the scientific method to become a religious maniac determined to stop Satan himself from resurrecting the dead.

Then there’s Devlon, who has just killed seventeen people and his parents before being stopped by the police. Dr. Cardan knows that this is the exact body that El Diablo needs to begin his nefarious scheme, screaming “He’s not a man like you and me – he’s a demon!” as if he’s the Loomis to Devlon’s Miguel Myers.

If only six hard-partying teenagers armed with a book of spells didn’t steal the body of said serial killer. If only they hadn’t taken it to la casa junto al cementerio. If only they hadn’t accidentally raised the living dead.

This is the leap in logic this movie demands that you make: These sexy ladies were promised a rock ‘n roll concert by these moronic men and they make due with the body of a dead convict and rituals in a graveyard. These women were promised a rock concert and a jet set party and are instead rewarded with a bearded zombie who uses his fingernails to massacre every single one of them.

Everyone dies in the most bloody fashion possible, but only after they drink and dance to some of the worst disco you’ve ever heard, which makes this movie even better.

Just when you say to yourself, “The entire cast of this movie is dead!” a bunch of kids, led by one in a Michael Jackson tour jacket, enter the house and comically discover the disemboweled bodies of every one of the Satanic teens before they face off mano y mano with Devlon himself.

Throats are slashed. Blood is sprayed. Axes find their way into faces. Entire rooms get possessed. Kids goof around and hide behind tombstones as the film wildly shifts tone and becomes the goriest episode of Scooby-Doo ever.

Cementerio del Terror is unbridled joy, made by someone who it feels like got to play with all the toys that he always dreamed of owning. It shamelessly steals from so many films that it makes you throw up your hands and enjoy the ride. I mean, how many movies start off with buckets of crimson viscera and end with little kids saving the day before tossing in a shock ending?

There is no cynicism here, no winks to the camera that horror needs to be elevated and escaped from. That’s why I seek out stuff like this. These kind of flicks are a drug that I try and mainline into my veins at any opportunity. I suggest you do the same.

You can watch this movie on Daily Motion:

Kara Simsek (1985)

As you may know by now, I love the Rocky films. And after this week, you may not understand, but know my love for Turkish cinema. Now someone got pizza sauce in my Kuzu Tandır with this combo plate, written and directed by the always dependable Çetin Inanç and starring Serdar Kebapçilar. The two would also make Korkusuz (Rampage), which is the second ripoff of Rambo: First Blood Part II that Inanç would direct.

Translated as Black Lightning, this movie tells the tale of the Serdar, who must step into the shoes of his brother Baba, who has been killed in the ring by an Italian boxer. He also struggles to connect with his father Osman, who has been working in Germany for fifteen years, but really just cheating, drinking and living it up while his wife and children struggle in the slums.

If you wonder, why is this called Black Lightning, well the answer — thanks to Neon Harbor — is that the title was the name of the TV series Knight Rider when it played on Turkish television. If that level of copyright infringement gives you pause, perhaps you would do best not knowing that the themes from both Rocky and Love Story are used with no royalties paid.

This is the most normal of all the Inanç films I’ve watched. That doesn’t make it bad, but just don’t expect zombies to show up out of nowhere.

Legend of the Stardust Brothers (1985)

1985. Japan. Macoto Tezka (son of “The God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka) meets musician Haruo Chicada, who has already made a soundtrack to a movie that does not exist. Inspired by The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Phantom of the Paradise, along with the chance to work with some of Japan’s hottest bands, Tezka and Chicada would join up with a creative team that also included Lupin the 3rd creator Monkey Punch and directors Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Daihachi Yoshida.

They harnessed lighting and put it in a bottle that was lost at sea, as nobody really spoke of this movie for around thirty years, both in Japan and here in America.

We were missing out.

Punk rock rebel Kan and new-wave crooner Shingo are already broken up when we met them, former members of The Stardust Brothers, the greatest band of all time. What came between them? A girl? Their manager? Or are they making their lyrics the sad truth to their real lives? “Once you reach No. 1, you just go down.”

Look, any movie that has a cameo by UWF founder Akira Maeda and is dedicated to the memory of Winslow Leach is going to be a film that I’m going to proclaim to the heavens.

As is often the case with the movies that I love, the press savaged this movie. Tezka told Japan Times, “People are watching it with fresh eyes now, and I’ve had lots of positive comments. But I wonder about how I could have taken those ideas further, and all the films I might have made, if people had responded like that at the time.”

This is a movie in love with film, with music, with being young and being incredibly strange. Idol culture is fascinating and never more so when it is shown in this movie, which I urge you — yes, you reading this! — to watch right now. After all, this is “a movie that has traveled light years to find you.”

There was a 2016 sequel to this — Hoshikuzu Kyôdai no Aratana Densetsu — that I have to now track down. As for this film, it’s available to buy on Vimeo.

Commando (1985)

Do you remember that feeling where you wanted to be a character in a movie? As we grow up, that feeling goes away. Well let me tell you, I can still feel the yearning to be John Matrix that I felt as a 13-year-old. Sure, Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator made many take notice of Arnold. This is the movie that — to me — put him over the top.

Director Mark Lester told Empire, “It’s the granddaddy of action films as we know them today. And Arnold was the reason it got made.”

Who knew that it was originally a movie all about a soldier turning his back on violence? Well, that wasn’t what ended up on the screen. Instead, we have Arnold gleefully getting revenge on all manner of soldiers, thugs, mercs and habitual linesteppers for around 90 minutes of rip-roaring fun.

Yet when the movie starts, John Matrix is happy. He’s in the woods, feeding deer by hand, hanging out with his daughter Alyssa Milano and carrying trees around by himself. Then, after turning down an offer to come back in, a bunch of no-goodniks come on in and take his daughter. Even worse, his old best friend Bennett (Vernon Wells!) is their leader.

Also: Bennett dresses like, well, no one who has ever lived on this earth before. A chain mail sleeveless shirt would be enough, but then he has leather pants and fingerless gloves. It’s as if the entire design staff of Capcom, Data East, Konami and SNK all looked at the screen and said, “This is the blueprint for every fighting game we will ever make.”

Wells is legitimately unhinged in this movie. In that same Empire article, he said “.. I was so hyped to be in the movie, they could have asked me to jump off the Empire State Building and I probably would have. Making Commando was better than anything you could have smoked.”

Wings Hauser was going to play Bennett, which probably would have been awesome too.

This is a movie where Arnold murders between 81-102 people in twenty minutes. There’s a rocket launcher scene that sends me into a fit of hysteria. The hanging dudes off cliffs by their feet. All the wonderous one-liners. And oh yeah, “Let off some steam, Bennett!” You have no clue how many times that scene was rewound while we all screamed the line to one another.

Arnold made two films at Sherman Oaks and that place should have a gold statue of him that we can all genuflect in front of. This movie is a piece of cinema that no one would have the audacity to make today.

Look, when Dan Heyada is the big bad of your film, you’re doing it right.

Terror y Encajes Negros (1985)

Why did I watch this? Is it my OCD-fuelled need to get overwhelmed by any film genre the more I study it? Or is it because its title — translated in English as Terror and Black Lace — references one of my favorite films of all time, Mario Bava’s seminal Blood and Black Lace?

The answer is ambas, mi amigos.

Isabel is a good wife, one who stays at home and patiently waits for her abusive husband to come home and knock her around. She thinks that the next door neighbor is the polite and kind man of her dreams, but this being a Mexican exploitation movie from 1985, we all know that he’s going to be a maniac as well.

As she sits and waits for hubby — clad in black lingerie, so there’s the reason for the title — she watches said neighbor dispose of a body in a kind of La Ventana Trasera situation. The neighbor is played by Claudio Obregon, who is no relation to noted Andy Sidaris villain Rodrigo Obregon.

Actually, I was too rough by lumping this film into the exploitation world. It’s lead actress Maribel Guardia was nominated for an Ariel Award for this movie. So maybe if you come in expecting a giallo, instead you’re getting drama. Which probably isn’t what you want with a title like this, hmm?

You can watch this on YouTube.

 

Cementerio del Terror (1985)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article originally ran in Drive-In Asylum #19, which you can buy on this etsy store. I’m so excited to share this movie with you.

I was hunting for the perfect movie for this issue of Drive-In Asylum. My goal with each thing I write for this twisted tome is to discover something new. A film that perhaps people have missed. And certainly one that no one is talking about. 

Cementerio del Terror is the perfect movie to answer all of those needs and more.

Directed by Rubén Galindo Jr., who also helmed the utterly baffling Don’t Panic! and Grave Robbers, this película de terror combines so many influences and films that it feels like the best DJ mix you’ve never heard of Evil Dead, Halloween and a children’s film while still boasting all of the grisly rojo gore that you crave.

Set in Texas, filmed in Spanish and utterly unconcerned with things like good taste or common sense, this movie appeals to every level of what I demand in cinema. Let me set it all up for you, muchacho: Dr. Cardan (Hugo Stiglitz, whose half-century movie career has led to roles in beloved junk like Tintorera…Killer SharkGuyana: Cult of the Damned and Nightmare City) has left behind the scientific method to become a religious maniac determined to stop Satan himself from resurrecting the dead. 

Then there’s Devlon, who has just killed seventeen people and his parents before being stopped by the police. Dr. Cardan knows that this is the exact body that El Diablo needs to begin his nefarious scheme, screaming “He’s not a man like you and me – he’s a demon!” as if he’s the Loomis to Devlon’s Miguel Myers. 

If only six hard-partying teenagers armed with a book of spells didn’t steal the body of said serial killer. If only they hadn’t taken it to la casa junto al cementerio. If only they hadn’t accidentally raised the living dead.

This is the leap in logic this movie demands that you make: These sexy ladies were promised a rock ‘n roll concert by these moronic men and they make due with the body of a dead convict and rituals in a graveyard. These women were promised a rock concert and a jet set party and are instead rewarded with a bearded zombie who uses his fingernails to massacre every single one of them.

Everyone dies in the most bloody fashion possible, but only after they drink and dance to some of the worst disco you’ve ever heard, which makes this movie even better. 

Just when you say to yourself, “The entire cast of this movie is dead!” a bunch of kids, led by one in a Michael Jackson tour jacket, enter the house and comically discover the disemboweled bodies of every one of the Satanic teens before they face off mano y mano with Devlon himself.

Throats are slashed. Blood is sprayed. Axes find their way into faces. Entire rooms get possessed. Kids goof around and hide behind tombstones as the film wildly shifts tone and becomes the goriest episode of Scooby-Doo ever. 

Cementerio del Terror is unbridled joy, made by someone who it feels like got to play with all the toys that he always dreamed of owning. It shamelessly steals from so many films that it makes you throw up your hands and enjoy the ride. I mean, how many movies start off with buckets of crimson viscera and end with little kids saving the day before tossing in a shock ending? 

There is no cynicism here, no winks to the camera that horror needs to be elevated and escaped from. That’s why I seek out stuff like this. These kind of flicks are a drug that I try and mainline into my veins at any opportunity. I suggest you do the same.

You can watch this movie on Daily Motion:

 

Nothing Underneath (1985)

I really like 1988’s Too Beautiful to Die, a movie that was sold as a sequel to this movie. Perhaps it’s better that I watched that first, because while I like the premise of this movie, the execution leaves something to be desired. That’s a shame, because it really sets up something great.

A serial killer roams the city of Milan, dispatching gorgeous models with the flash of his scissors. Meanwhile, Yellowstone Park ranger Bob Crane senses that his sister needs him, so he flies across the world to interact with the rich and famous. Can he save her? Will he be targeted by the killer? Will Donald Pleasence ever say no to a movie?

As I set up before, this didn’t live up to my hopes. The mid-80’s are a wasteland for giallo, with so many movies being set in the fashion industry yet having no real feel for the fashion or any pretension to art.