Gor (1987)

John Norman is a professor of philosophy and the creator of the Gor series of books, which are basically male-dominated bondage science fiction fantasies that also feature critiques of modern society and the exploration of philosophical themes from a Nietzschean view. And you thought Incels were a brand new thing, huh?

The series began in 1966 with Tarnsman of Gor — which this movie is based on — and was put on hold when DAW refused to publish the twenty-fifth installment, Magicians of Gor in 1988. The series returned in 2001 with Witness of Gor. There’s also an entire subculture called Gorean flourishes online, as you can only imagine that it would.

So yeah. Somehow, this got made. And so did a sequel, Outlaw of Gor.

Professor of physics Tarl Cabot (Urbano Barberini, DemonsOpera) is pretty much a loser with the ladies until he gets a magical ring that sends him to the world of Gor. Think Den from Heavy Metal and you have the picture.

He also comes into conflict with Oliver Reed, playing the priest-king known as Sarm, who is looking for the Home Stone to create more paths to Earth. Our hero accidentally kills Sarm’s son before he’s knocked out and left for the buzzards. Luckily, he’s saved by Talena (Playboy Playmate of the Month for June 1986 Rebecca Ferratti, who is also in Cheerleader Camp and Embrace of the Vampire), the barbarian princess of Ko-ro-ba.

Of course, while Cabot strikes out at home, he somehow scores with this vision of womanhood because on Gor, men are the rulers. But he’s still a moron and activates the Home Stone, sending him home to, one assumes, spill his seed, hack the carrot and sail the seas of mayonnaise all by himself.

Gor at least has some great character actors like Jack Palance, Paul Smith (Bluto from Popeye and the landscaper in Pieces) and a young Arnold Vosloo.

Norman almost didn’t get the movie made, as his publisher wanted nothing to do with it. He told the fanzine The Gorean Voice, “Ballantine Books refused to do movie tie-ins to either film; they failed even to answer my letters. My attorney finessed his way around Ballantine’s rights department and contacted the legal department at Random House. The movies were made by going over the heads of the censors.”

It was produced by Harry Alan Towers (who you may remember ran a vice ring that implicated the United Nations, JFK, Peter Lawford and several others when he wasn’t producing Jess Franco movies) and action film impresario Avi Lerner. Direction was provided by Fritz Kiersch, who also brought us Children of the Corn and Tuff Turf.

If you ever played lots of D&D and wondered why the popular girls liked jerks and figured, “I’m going to treat them badly, too!” Good news. You are the target audience for this movie.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Blood Hook (1987)

Originally known as Muskie Madness, Troma insisted the title change to Blood Hook before they’d distribute it.

Probably the most interesting thing about the movie is that its director Jim Mallon and lyricist/key group Kevin Murphy worked on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Murphy is, of course, Tom Servo.

Years ago, Peter’s grandfather went missing under mysterious circumstances. Now, he’s brought his friends back to the lake house for the Muskie Madness competition. Soon, people are getting killed and Peter is facing off with a killer that has a gigantic fishing hook.

You can get this from — who else — Vinegar Syndrome, who have really cornered the market on upscale releases of movies that I was once laughed at for renting in 1987. This version was never released and has all of the uncut gore that you were probably hankering for.

Blood Hook is also available on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Demons 2 (1987)

Let’s just assume that the events of Demons actually happened, as this movie does. Released just seven months after the original, this movie opens with the residents of a high-rise apartment building watching a movie dramatization of the events that took place in that film. They watch as several teenagers trespass into the closed-off city that was destroyed after the demonic outbreak. Finding the dead body of a demon, one of the teens accidentally drips blood in its mouth and the whole thing starts all over again.

Sally Day (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Mother of TearsOpera) is upset that her boyfriend hasn’t come to her sweet sixteen party — or as they say in Italy, dolce sedici anni — and she decides to watch the movie. So, you know, as these things happen, a demon crawls out of her television set and infects her. She kills nearly everyone at her party and turns them into more demons, who begin to infect the entire apartment building. Little kids, dogs, cops, bodybuilders, pregnant women — no one is safe from these demons.

George and Hannah (David Edwin Knight and Nancy Brilli, who was also in Body Count) spend most of the movie trying to escape Sally so that they can have their child. She’s nearly unstoppable, plus she has a flying demon on her side.

Italian movie fans should keep their eyes open for Asia Argento, who debuted in this film as Ingrid. Plus, Bobby Rhodes (from the original, as well as Hercules and War Bus Commando), Virginia Bryant (who is also in the unrelated sequel Demons 3: The Ogre), Lino Salemme (Ripper from the first film), Davide Marotta (who played a child alien in a very famous series of Italian Kodak commercials and was also the monstrous boy in Phenomena) and Michele Mirabella (Dancing Crow from Thunder).

Originally, Hannah’s baby would become a demon inside her and claw its way out of her stomach. This scene was taken out when Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento decided they wanted a happier ending. Which is nice, I guess.

After all, this movie is more about jump scares and less about freaking you out with the sheer amount of gore that it features. Is it any wonder that it has less of a metal soundtrack and instead features new wave bands like The Smiths, The Cult, Fields of the Nephilim, Dead Can Dance, Peter Murphy, Love and Rockets, Gene Loves Jezebel and The Producers?

You can watch this on Shudder.

Angel Heart (1987)

Following the publication of his 1978 novel Falling Angel, William Hjortsberg began working on turning it into a film. His friend, production designer Richard Sylbert (Dick TracyThe Cotton Club) took the book to Robert Evans, who was running Paramount and was ready to make the film with John Frankenheimer set to direct and Dustin Hoffman in the lead.

That option expired, as did another attempt to get the movie made with Robert Redford. Years later, producer Elliott Kastner met with Alan Parker (Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, FamePink Floyd: The WallThe Commitments) to discuss him writing the screenplay. Parker also helped get the movie funded by Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna as part of Carolco Pictures, as long as he was given creative control.

Parker made several changes from the novel, retitling the story Angel Heart, including moving the second half of the tale to New Orleans and moving the time forward four years to 1955, so the story feels like it belongs more to the 40’s than the coming 60’s. He also worked toward making Harry Angel more sympathetic and Louis Cyphre more realistic.

Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a New York City private investigator who has been hired by Louis Cyphre (Robert DeNiro) to track down a singer named Johnny Favorite, who has been dealing with PTSD from World War II. Even the upstate hospital where Favorite was staying can’t find him, as his release was facilitated by two mysterious people and a doctor was convinced to change his records.

Cyphre offers Angel a large sum of money to continue hunting for Favorite. The trail leads him to Favorite’s fiancee Margaret Krusemark (Charlotte Rampling) and the discovery that he had sired a daughter named Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet) with an ex-lover.

Everyone that gives Angel info — guitarist Toots Suite (blues musician Brownie McGhee), Margaret, the doctor — dies horribly. This causes Margaret’s father to demand that he leave town, but of course, he goes back to his hotel room and has rough sex with Epiphany while visions of blood drip down the walls.

So — follow me on this — Margaret and her dad were the ones who took Favorite out of the hospital. And the former singer was a sorcerer who sold his soul to the Devil to be famous, but tried to get out of the deal by kidnapping a soldier in Times Square and eating his heart to take the boy’s soul. Now in that soldier’s body, he went overseas and suffering facial injuries and amnesia during some fighting.

If you haven’t realized it yet, our protagonist and Johnny Favorite are the same people and the none-so-cleverly named Louis Cypher is the devil himself. And everyone dead in the movie? Yeah, our so-called hero killed them all and then had sex with his granddaughter. Gulp.

Although initially supportive of Bonet’s decision to make this movie, America’s one-time dad Bill Cosby dismissed the results as “a movie made by white America that cast a black girl, gave her voodoo things to do and have sex”. How did that all work out?

De Niro’s performance as Louis Cyphere is supposed to be based on his friend and frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese. For what it’s worth, it so unnerved Parker that he avoided him during his scenes and let him direct himself.

You know, before The Wrestler, so many people forgot just how good Mickey Rourke can be. You should discover that for yourself by going back and watching this for yourself.

RoboCop (1987)

RoboCop was written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, inspired by a poster for the Blade Runner. Neumeier asked a friend what the film was about and was told, “It’s about a cop hunting robots.”

Neumeier was stranded at an airport with a high-ranking film exec and was able to sell him on the project, which took half a decade or more to reach the screen. The first draft, in 1981, was about a robot cop who slowly became human. That script got rejected.

In 1984, Neumeier and Miner met. Miner had been working on a script that he called SuperCop, about a police officer who has been seriously injured and becomes a donor for an experiment to create a cybernetic police officer.

Paul Verhoeven had already made his first American movie, Flesh & Blood, in 1985. The first time he read the script, he threw it away. His wife saved it from the garbage and told him it could be so much more. Other directors who showed interest included Repo Man director Alex Cox and Kenneth Johnson, creator of the television series V.

The character of RoboCop itself was inspired by — let’s try and not say directly lifted from —  British comic book hero Judge Dredd, as well as the Japanese series Space Sheriff Gavan and the Marvel Comics toy-based superhero Rom the Spaceknight, whose comic shows up throughout the film.

UPDATE: Shout out to Ed Piskor, who reminded me just how much this movie is influenced by Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!

Honestly, this film is a great mix of individuals who all needed to come together to create something that could only exist by the combination of their strengths. In anyone else’s hands other than Verhoeven, it could have been just an action film. With any other actor other than Peter Weller playing the lead, it wouldn’t have the drama that it evokes. With any other artists than Rob Bottin, The Chiodo Brothers, Craig Hayes and Phil Tippett, the look of the film would be basic.

Its a perfect action movie, though one that’s also an indictment on fascism and the growing disparity between the rich and the lower castes in the United States. In fact, much like Starship Troopers, it’s satire is often lost on some audiences, who believe that it has to be absolutely serious.

RoboCop was rated X eleven different times. That’s how brutal the original versions were. Keep that in mind — the movie remains one of the most anarchic of 1987 and hell, I couldn’t see half this stuff being shown in a movie in 2020.

Detroit is worse in the future than it was in the past, if that’s possible. The cops want to strike. Omni Consumer Products (OCP) runs Detroit’s police department in exchange for letting the company rebuild run-down sections of the city into a high-end utopia. Now, they want to replace flesh and blood cops with robotic peace operatives, like ED-209, which ends up killing nearly everyone in the board room in his initial test.

That’s when the RoboCop plan comes in. It’s going to take a real cop’s brain and put it in a near-indestructible body to protect the city. That cop ends up being Alex Murphy (Weller), who gets killed on pretty much his first few days on the job by Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang, leaving his partner Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) alone again.

Soon, Murphy’s brains have been retrofitted into a sleek mechanical shell ready to dispense justice by any means necessary, including shooting muggers right in the meat. Before long, he’s recovered his humanity and realizes that OCP, the company that saved him, may have more in common with the criminals that he busts than the public he’s programmed to protect.

It’s a pretty basic tale, enlivened by the way and style in which it is told. Plus, you get some great actors — beyond Weller, Allen and Smith, who are all at the top of their game here. There’s Dan O’Herlihy as the OCP chairman known as only “The Old Man;” Miguel Ferrer as Bob Morton, the exec who gets RoboCop funded before Boddicker offs him during a coke binge (perhaps the most quoted scene in the film); and a gang of baddies that include Ray Wise (Leland Palmer from Twin Peaks), Paul McCrane (Guard Trout from The Shawshank Redemption) and Jesse Goins (Up the Creek). And wow, as always, Ronny Cox plays the best of bad guys, here as OCP exec Dick Jones.

Perhaps the best parts of this movie are the video screens and fake commercials that break it all up. Leeza Gibbons and Mario Machado appear as anchorpeople who take us through the news of the day, allowing for fast exposition and recaps. This technique feels right out of Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. Plus, the “I’d but that for a dollar” guy is perfect.

In 2013, Neumeier reflected on the fact that his script was quite prophetic, saying “We are now living in the world that I was proposing in RoboCop…how big corporations will take care of us and…how they won’t.”

For what it’s worth, Verhoeven and Bottin fought throughout the production over harsh light revealing too much of the makeup on screen. Once Verhoeven won the argument, the two didn’t speak until the premiere, where they were so impressed by how the film turned out that they forgave one another. Despite vowing to never again work with the director, Bottin worked on the very next film Verhoeven made, Total Recall.

My favorite story about the film is that when he was in full costume, Weller would remain in character between takes, only responding to Verhoeven’s instructions when properly addressed as “Robo.” Verhoeven never took this seriously and refused to do so after just a few weeks. That’s second only to the fact that the producers paid President Richard Nixon $25,000 to promote the VHS release of RoboCop.

We should never forget that RoboCop once saved Sting from the Four Horsemen at WCW Capital Combat.

Arrow Video’s new release of RoboCop is packed with so many features. There’s the Director’s Cut and Theatrical Cut of the film on two 1080p blu ray discs, complete with archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for the Theatrical Cut and re-edited in 2014 for the Director’s Cut). Plus, you get two new commentary tracks, one by film historian Paul M. Sammon and the other by fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen.

Like all Arrow releases, this set is packed with documentaries, like The Future of Law Enforcement: Creating RoboCop, a newly filmed interview with co-writer Michael Miner and RoboTalk, a newly filmed conversation between co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke (writer of Elle) and Nick McCarthy (director of Orion Pictures’ The Prodigy), as well as interviews with Nancy Allen, casting director Julie Selzer and second unit director Mark Goldblatt.

Plus, there’s also a tribute to composer Basil Poledouris featuring film music experts Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, Daniel Schweiger and Robert Townson, a tour of Julien Dumont’s collection of original props and memorabilia, three archive features from the 2007 release and a 2012 Q&A with the cast and crew.

Plus there’s even more — four deleted scenes, trailers, TV spots, Director’s Cut production footage and raw dailies, and even an Easter Egg! And wait — there’s more! There’s also an edited-for-television version of the film, featuring alternate dubs, takes and edits of several scenes, a compilation of these alternate scenes and a split-screen comparison of the Theatrical and Director’s Cuts. Whew!

You can get the limited edition blu ray and steelbook of this movie from Arrow Video.

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

So many people use Jaws: The Revenge as an instantly recognizable reference point for bad movies. If you watch any of those top ten worst films lists on YouTube, inevitably it’s right there on the top of every one of them. But can it really be that bad of a movie? 

It’s certainly made by people with talent. Producer/director Joseph Sargent won four Emmys throughout his storied career, as well as helming such well-thought of movies like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Night That Panicked America, Nightmares, MacArthur and Colossus: The Forbin Project. He even won his the Directors Guild of America Award for The Marcus-Nelson Murders, the TV movie pilot for Kojak. In fact, he still leads all DGA members for most nominations for the TV movie category.

Sir Michael Caine is certainly a talented actor. He’s been nominated for an Academy Award in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s, winning two for Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules, with his performance in Educating Rita earning him the BAFTA and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. 

So what happened? How can a movie — that one assumes was made with good intentions — turn out to be the touchstone for what constitutes a bomb?

In interviews before the film was even released, Sargent referred to it as “a ticking bomb waiting to go off” and noting that MCA Inc. President — and husband of star Lorraine Gary — Sid Sheinberg “expects a miracle.” There was no script when Sargent was asked to direct. Years later, he’d say that the movie was made out of desperation and that he tried a mystical take in an attempt to give audiences “something interesting enough to sit through.”

Even though this film was to center on Gray’s Ellen Brody character, Roy Scheider was offered a cameo where his Martin Brody character, rather than Sean Brody, would have been killed by the shark in the beginning. This was a wise choice to avoid this opening — murdering the center of the first two films would have put such a bad taste in audiences’ mouths that they may have hated this movie even more than they already did. To his credit, Scheider said, “”Satan himself could not get me to do Jaws Part 4.

Lee Fierro also returned as Mrs. Kintner, the mother of Alex in Jaws, along with Amity Town Council member Mrs. Taft, who is again played by Fritzi Jane Courtney. Amity Selectman Mr. Posner (Cyprian R. Dube) is now the mayor, probably because the actor who played Larry Vaughan (Murray Hamilton) is dead.

Otherwise, forget all you knew about Jaws and the previous sequels. Mike no longer works for SeaWorld and he’s no longer played by Dennis Quaid. Instead, Halloween 2 hunk Lance Guest fills in. Following the heart attack death of her husband and great white murder of her son Sean — to the strains of holiday carols no less — Ellen Brody forgets all that she knew as well and leaves for the Bahamas. 

There, she falls for Hoagie (Caine), who is a degenerate gambler by night and a pilot by day, but we all know that he runs cocaine. It’s just never said, but we can read between the lines that he’s done some shady things. In fact, scenes involving him being a smuggler were shot, then deleted during post-production, because it took away from the shark scenes.

Right now, Hoagie is having a September September romance with Ellen, trying to get her to forget the past — keep in my her husband died a few months ago and her son a few days hence — with some airplane riding, slow dancing and carnival attending.

Some moments of the film definitely make me understand why people dislike it so — the sepia toned callbacks to the first film, Mario Van Peebles’ forced accent, a shark that is somehow able to swim from an island in New York to the Bahamas in three days, which means he’d had to swim at nearly its full speed of 25 mph non-stop to make it. I mean, sharks never sleep, but that’s ridiculous. 

Also, when you watch the ending, you may notice that the shark roars. Underwater, no less. The sound effects guy thought that this was so stupid that he used a sound effect from a Tom and Jerry cartoon. 

Speaking of the ending, the one that gets aired on TV and home video isn’t the original. When the film was first released, it ended with JJakebeing devoured, Ellen ramming the shark with Mike’s boat and the shark’s death throes nearly killing everyone. Audiences hated that, so the ending with her stabbing the shark with the bow of the ship was added. Because they didn’t have much budget left, the film ends with the footage of the dying shark from the original.

These reshoots kept Caine from accepting his Oscar. Imagine that.

It could have been much worse. Or better, if you’re someone like me that loves movies packed with inanity and insanity in equal measure. 

That’s because in the novelization of the film by Hank Searls, Hoagie is a government agent transporting laundered money. Jake is killed by the shark. And the reason for all this mayhem is because a voodoo witch doctor has a score to settle with the Brody family — which also explains, I guess, why Ellen and the shark have a psychic connection. 

While the movie ignores the third film, the book combines all the movies with the Peter Benchley novel, making a reference to Ellen’s affair with Matt Hooper that is eliminated from the Spielberg-directed original film. 

In truth, I like this movie. It’s an interesting take on how years of dealing with shark-related mayhem takes its toll on the various characters’ lives. And I really enjoyed how Michael and Carla’s marriage is depicted; she initiates lovemaking as much as him and it just seems honest and real. 

Let’s face it. I’ve seen plenty of worse movies than this one. If there’s any tragedy to this movie, it’s that the actress who played Thea — Judith Barsi — died not long after it was released, as she and her mother were the victims of a murder/suicide at the hands of her father. Lance Guest served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

Perhaps the best review of the film comes from Sir Michael Caine himself, who said, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific. Won an Oscar, built a house, and had a great holiday. Not bad for a flop movie.”

This article originally appeared in Drive-In Asylum Special Issue #4, which you can buy here.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

Remember Silent Night, Deadly Night? Well, that movie was a big deal before it was pulled from theaters and then became an even bigger deal on home video. A sequel was demanded and it was delivered, but it was made on a shoestring, with director Lee Harry trying to make something other than a greatest hits reel of the first film. Seriously, though, this movie is nearly the entire first film with a couple of new scenes.

Ricky Caldwell, the 18-year-old brother of Billy from the first movie, is in a mental hospital after a series of murders. He’s being interviewed by psychiatrist Dr. Henry Bloom, which allows us to watch pretty much the entire first film before Ricky goes off on his own rampage.

Ricky did have a chance once, because he fell in love with Jennifer Statson (Elizabeth Kaitan, Savage DawnFriday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and several of the Vice Academy films). However, her ex-lover Chip sends Ricky over the edge, which ends with Ricky hooking his head up to some jumper cables and then him killing his girlfriend just because. Then he goes even crazier, causing cars to nearly hit him (an incredible stunt) and then yells, “Garbage Day!” and wipes out everyone.

Ricky is captured by the police, but now we flash forward (or back) to the beginning of this film, where he kills the doctor and goes after Mother Superior, whose face now looks like Catholic school lunch pizza. Billy gets stopped, but he isn’t dead. And why should he be? After all, it’s Christmas.

You have so many options to watch this movie with. You can see it for free on Tubi or Amazon Prime. Or watch it with or without commentary from Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder. Finally, you can get the collectors set from Shout Factory, complete with an action figure.

ANOTHER TAKE ON: Flowers In the Attic (1987)

I can hear you now — we already covered the 1987 version of this story. We covered the 2014 remake, as well as the three sequels that came out of it, Petals on the WindIf There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday. What else could I posibly have to say about VC Andrews and the Dollanganger family?

Oh you know me. Plenty.

After years of dealing with a DVD that had quite literally no extras — barely even a DVD menu, to be honest, as it came out so many eons ago — it’s awesome to have a 1080p blu ray release of this sitting on our shelf.

Originally published in 1979, VC Andrews’ novel Flowers in the Attic was a monster sensation, with multiple sequels and even a cottage industry of books from the author that continued to be written after the passing of the author, thanks to the miracle of ghost writers like Andrew Neiderman.

Blood Beach and Nightmares director Jeffrey Bloom ended up in charge of this film after Wes Craven’s script struck producers as too dark. This would be the first of many clashes between creative and producers, ending with, well, an ending that no one was happy with. More on that later.

After the sudden death of their father, the Dollanganger’s — Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie along with their mother Corrine — go to live with her parents, the same people who disowned her years ago once they learned of her incestuous relationship that spawned the children.

Corinne makes a bargain — both with her childen and her mother. They will stay in the attic — get the title now? — and never be seen or heard from, while she will work to get back into the good graces of her terminally ill father. The goal is for them to have the money they need to live their lives, but that payoff seems further and further away as the family is pretty much left to rot.

What follows is pure mania — a rat becomes a pet, pastries are poisoned, brothers bathe sisters, moms get whipped — and I couldn’t be happier. This is the kind of movie that you’re kind of amazed ever got made.

Because after all, this movie is a nearly impossible film to get right, as how can you make everyone happy? Those that have never read the books are going to be shocked by the incest. And the fans of the book are going to want more of it. There’s no way to make one of these groups of people happy without angering the other. The Lifetime remakes just went all in and were less worried, but they were also made nearly thirty years later.

You can see VC Andrews in the film briefly, as she plays a maid cleaning the windows. I always thought that was kind of cool, except that I spend much of the movie looking for her and never paying attention. Kristy Swanson, who plays Cathy, has said that Andrews told her she looked exactly as she pictured the character when she was writing the book. Andrews died before the film was released.

Castle Hill in Ipswich, Massachusetts was the shooting location for this movie, with reshoots done at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. These are the same two locations where The Witches of Eastwick was also made.

The new Arrow Video release is packed with extras, which is why I’ve sought it out even though I’ve bought this film more than once. It has new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine, as well as interviews with cinematographer Frank Byers, production designer John Muto, actor Jeb Stuart Adams and composer Christopher Young, as well as the original trailer and a production gallery of behind-the-scenes images, illustrations and storyboards.

The real reason to grab this is because it features the original studio-vetoed ending, which I’ve never had the opportunity to see before. It’s been kind of a holy grail after loving this movie so much and it’s awesome to finally have that pay off. Plus, you get the revised ending with commentary by replacement director Tony Kayden, which gives plenty of insight into this troubled production. 

You can watch this on Tubi, but for the best possible experience, grab the new blu ray release from Arrow Video. You can also get it from Diabolik DVD.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by Arrow Video, but that doesn’t impact our review.

Revenge of the Living Dead Girls (1987)

Zombies. First recorded in an 1819 history of Brazil by the poet Robert Southey and then introduced to the West in W.B. Seabrook’s 1929 novel The Magic Island, then used as a monster by Hollywood in all manner of films until perfected in Pittsburgh in 1968. Since then, I’ve seen how every nation and generation treats zombies. I’ve thrilled to their Italian cousins, awash in splatter and excess. Cataloged all the forms, from Return of the Living Dead’s punk rock undead and Tarman to Burial Ground’s incestual walkers. I’ve seen zombies created by voodoo, by ultrasonic radiation meant to destroy insects, by Venus probes and government chemical warfare and even when Hell became full. And I’ve grown old enough to become angry at their 20th century running and mainstream progeny. 

But I’ve never seen a French zombie. Not until now.

La Revanche des Mortes Vivantes — or Revenge of the Living Dead Girls — was promoted as the first French gore movie. Even better — or worse — it comes in two versions. There are two versions: a horror version and an erotic version which has a different ending and is much longer, nudge nudge wink wink. Here, the living dead girls aren’t zombies, but instead just dressed up to commit their crimes. Those scenes are all missing in the horror version, which makes the movie that much more difficult to understand.

The film makes an attempt to be about the environment, but this is a film as subtle as someone dropping a car on your foot. Long story short: the CEO of a chemical company and his secretary take some shortcuts to get rid of chemical waste and somehow, it gets into milk. French girls love milk. French girls drink milk. French girls die. Then, the rest of the toxic waste is poured into the graveyard, which is never a good idea. French girls become French zombies. 

Anyone that made milk better look out. These girls mean business. And if that means they have to bite off someone’s tallywhacker or shove a sword into someone’s panty hamster, they will. And they do.

Some say that Jean Rollin made this under the Pierre B. Reinhard pseudonym. If so, he was ripping his own Living Dead Girl off. I think that’s also wishful thinking, because I don’t know if Rollin could make a film this inept. Don’t take that the wrong way. So many critics of this film savage its acting, special effects and pacing. But they probably watched this alone when it demands to be viewed with a gang of inebriated, like-minded folks who don’t question why the zombie women suddenly decide to have a four-way lesbian makeout with one of their victims. Of course that happens. Why wouldn’t it? Instead, they throw around terms like gratuitous nudity, shameless trash and pointless drivel. 

Obviously, if you’re reading Drive-In Asylum, you’ve either seen this or now I’ve pretty much talked you into it. I didn’t even get to the undead fetus in the bathtub, either, which has died because his father had a zombified hand and fooled around with his wife. Yep. It’s that kind of sick.

Also, to add to the open of this article, I now know that French zombies can think, plan and create traps. They also like to make out and play the pipe organ in churches, if you’re making a list at home. Because you should be. You never know when one of les morts ambulants is going to shamble in and try to make graveyard love to you. 

You can get this from https://severin-films.com/shop/rotldg-2blu/Severin, who just put it out on blu ray.

This article originally ran in Drive-In Asylum #16, which you can buy right here.

Bloody New Year (1987)

Also known as Time Warp Terror, this movie was inspired by 1950’s horror films. On this island where the kids get trapped, it’s always 1959. It also has the band Cry No More all over it, lending it the perfect bit of 1980’s cheese that you may be looking for. Imagine The Beyond, but for kids. That’s pretty much what this is.

The final feature film directed by legendary British horror filmmaker Norman J. Warren (a long-time resident of the video nasty list), Bloody New Year is about a bunch of kids named Rick, Janet, Lesley, Spud and Tom, who save American tourist Carol from the bouncers and a ride operator of an amusement park. They end up stealing a boat and making their way to an island which has The Grand Island Hotel, a place where its always been New Year’s Eve 1959.

There’s even a movie theater that’s showing Fiend Without a Face, which plays before Spud gets offed. Actually, just like Shakespeare, everyone dies, becomes a zombie and all end up back at the New Year’s Eve party. Such is life and death in the resort areas of the U.K., I guess.

You can get this from Vinegar Syndrome.