THANKSGIVING TERROR: Blood Harvest (1987)

Herbert Buckingham Khaury was better known as Tiny Tim. To most of the general public, he’s been forgotten. But at one point, he was the hottest celebrity in the country.

He started his stage career under a series of names like Texarkana Tex, Judas K. Foxglove, Vernon Castle and Emmett Swink, growing out his hair and wearing pale face paint. His mother thought he was insane and nearly committed him Bellevue Hospital.

He persevered, becoming Larry Love, the Singing Canary at the also now forgotten Hubert’s Museum and Live Flea Circus in New York City’s Times Square. He was soon playing six nights a week throughout Greenwich Village as Darry Dover and finally settled on the stage name Sir Timothy Timms.

After an appearance in Jack Smith’s Normal Love and on the ultra hip show Laugh-In (by his third appearance he would arrive and depart surrounded by a procession of hangers-on), Tim began making appearances on The Tonight Show. On December 17, 1969, he married his first wife Miss Vicki on a set decorated with 10,000 tulips from Holland, with 40 million people as guests watching on television. This event was second to only the moon landing when it comes to TV ratings in the 1960’s.

So what was it that made the public fall in love with a strange man who sang old standards with a high falsetto while playing a ukelele? Maybe he just hit the pop conscious at the right time, seemingly aware and unaware of the joke.

The only movie that Tiny Tim ever starred in was 1987’s Blood Harvest. To say that this is an incredibly odd film should surprise no one.

Jill Robinson, returns to her peaceful hometown to discover her childhood home defaced, her parents missing and every single person hating her father, whose bank has foreclosed on all of their farms. Only one man — Marvelous Mervo the Clown (yes, Tiny Tim) — is happy to see her. Almost too happy.

Why is Mervo a clown all the time? Why does his clown suit have a plaid dress shirt as part of it? Why do people allow this to happen?

Mervo’s brother tries to win back Jennifer as everyone around her is killed in the barn, turned upside down and allowed to bleed out like animals. Who is the man with the stocking on his head, killing everyone? I mean, this movie starts out with a silly clown and ends up as brutal and demented as any giallo, including a scene where someone who we believe could be the hero gets fully naked and just stares at the final girl while she sleeps. There’s also way more nudity than you’d expect. And this is a slasher. So you expect plenty.

Unlike most slashers, this movie feels like real maniacs made it. It feels you’re a voyeur even watching it. And having Tiny Tim comment on the action by having scenes where he tearfully sings songs that seem to comment on the action only push this further into true art. Why is this movie not more celebrated? Where is the high end blu ray re-release?

Keep in mind that this isn’t post-modern goofiness or Troma look how silly this all is strangeness. This movie is the kind of strange that makes you wonder if people were really murdered as it was created. That’s high praise.

How did Tiny Tim get into this? Well, at a personal appearance at a beer carnival in Lincoln County, Wisconsin, he met local filmmaker Bill Rebane. Rebane had an idea for a film, wanted to know if Tim wanted to be in it and that’s how this got made.

Rebane was also responsible for films like Monster a Go-GoThe Giant Spider InvasionThe Alpha Incident and Demons of Ludlow. All of those films are strange and worth exploring, but they can’t hold a candle to the pure bonkers nature of this one.

Sadly, Tiny Tim would have a heart attack on stage while performing his most famous song, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Today, people know it as the scary song from Insidious. But once, it meant so much more.

SYNAPSE BLU RAY RELEASE: The Kindred (1987)

Directed by Jeffrey Obrow (The Dorm That Dripped BloodThe Power) and Stephen Carpenter, who wrote the script along with John Penney (who wrote and directed Zyzzyx Road), Joseph Stefano (Psycho) and Earl Ghaffari, this movie starts with Amanda (Kim Hunter) giving her son John (David Allen Brooks) a dying request to destroy all of the notes from her lab. And oh yeah — he had a brother. And also, PS PS, that brother has tentacles.

The Kindred has a great cast — Amanda Pays, Rod Steiger, Talia Balsam — and even better effects. It might not have the best story, but look, in 1987, this was a very solid five for five rental. And today, in 2022, it’s a great reissue blu ray that looks way better than it ever has before. I mean, it has Steiger get dumped with KY jelly and he did that stunt himself. A true pro as always.

Practical effects forever. Seriously, if I saw this when I was 15, I would probably be even more into it than I was and that’s the mark of a worthwhile film.

The Synapse blu ray release of The Kindred has an all-new 4K high-definition remaster of the unrated version of the film, along with audio commentary with directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter, moderated by horror journalist Steve Barton, an all-new documentary on the film, never-before-seen behind the scenes effects experiments, a still gallery, storyboards, theater and video trailer, and TV ads. You can get it from MVD.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 28: The Hidden (1987)

Day 28. SPACE ODDITIES: Aliens that imitate humans or take over a human body.

Jack Sholder made two unappreciated horror films, Alone In the Dark and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge before this and it ended up becoming his move from that genre into action.

I remember renting this and had that feeling afterward that I wanted the characters to be real people. I wanted to get to know them better and spend more time with them, which is a little odd as one of the leads is an alien.

Detective Thomas Beck (Michael Nouri) is an LAPD cop. He’s definitely from our world or more likely, the universe of action filmmaking. FBI Special Agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan) is potentially something else. Together, they’re hunting a being that goes from body to body, starting with Jack DeVries (Chris Mulkey), once an ordinary person who has gone on a crime spree and who also takes hundreds of bullets and a car crash to slow down. The slug-like alien inside that man leaps into a nearly dead man, then into an exotic dancer (Claudia Christian), a dog and then even tries to get inside a politician.

Along the way, you get alien weapons, sports car mayhem, flamethrowers and even an emotional ending to this story. It kind of transcends simple science fiction ridiculousness while also having tons of it; it’s just a special movie to me.

Jim Kouf — using the name Bob Hunt — also wrote The Boogens before this. He’d later write StakeoutRush Hour and National Treasure.

This was called L’Alieno (The Alien) in Italy because they don’t care about spoilers.

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE DAY 27: Near Dark (1987)

27. A Horror Film by a Director who made more than three movies but only made one horror film. (Not THE SHINING. You can be more creative than that!)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I honestly couldn’t think of any that I haven’t written about before, so I had to post this, which was first on the site on September 8, 2020.

Two vampire movies came out in 1987.* One became a celebrated big-budget film that launched the careers of the Coreys and Kiefer Sutherland, with songs that people still sing, shirtless saxophonists and quotable dialogue about why there’s no need for a TV when you have TV Guide. The other movie was in and out of theaters in the time it took to read the last sentence and has stuck in my mind forever since.

Kathryn Bigelow had never directed a movie before. She was given five days to succeed or be replaced. She wanted to make a Western, but they weren’t popular. So she combined the vampire genre — the word is never mentioned — and hired three of the actors from her future husband James Cameron’s recently completed Aliens, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein.

Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) falls for the mysterious Mae (Jenny Wright, who is another beyond cult horror film that few discuss, I, Madman) but then learns her family — Severen (Paxton), Jesse Hooker (Henriksen), Diamondback (Goldstein) and Homer (Joshua John Miller) — are a roving band of RV driving maniacs given to acts of merciless terror.

The only problem that I’ve ever had with this film is that I have always seen the normal people in the world as the real monsters, despite the hints that Jesse and Severen set the Great Chicago Fire. The blood transfusions that save the beautiful people seem way too easy of a way out of the hell that the gang promises.

Biglow would go on to make the equally well-made Blue Steel. Most of the cast went on to fame, at least in the circles of people who read our site. And if you look close enough, there’s a picture of a torn-apart Severen on my fridge.

If you’d like to learn more about the films scored by the band who gave this movie its unique soundtrack, check out our article Exploring: 10 Tangerine Dream Soundtracks.

*We know that A Return to Salem’s Lot and My Best Friend Is a Vampire also came out in 1987. For the sake of poetic license, we hope you understand why we juxtaposed these two films. Ironically, both movies have a son of The Exorcist star Jason Miller in their casts, with Joshua John Miller is in Near Dark and his half-brother Jason Patric in The Lost Boys.

BONUS: You can hear Becca and Sam discuss this movie on our podcast.

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE 10: The Pink Chiquitas (1987)

10. A Horror Film Scored by Paul Zaza.

Frank Stallone as Tony Mareda Jr., a former Olympic athelete and now a detective who fights with the mob the whole way to a drive-in located in Beamsville that soon has a meteor crash down and transform all of the women in sex-obsessed maniacs. Soon, Tony and news anchor Bruce Pirrie are trying to save the men of the town from Mary Anne Kowalski (Elizabeth Edwards) and her literal army of women. And their pink tank, too.

The meteor has the voice of Earth Kitt. Along with Stallone, she performs the Paul Zaza-written songs.

Why do I keep doing this to myself? Don’t I need sleep?

This is the only full-length movie that Tony Currie directed and wrote, but he also worked on sound for Prom NightNaked Lunch and Eastern Promises.

But seriously, this movie doesn’t have much to say. I was hoping that this would be some kind of secret classic — I mean, look at the poster art — but I struggled throughout. In a world where Invasion of the Bee Girls and Voyage of the Rock Aliens are already made, why did this even happen? What new could it say?

The filmmakers did, however, get all they could out of Art of Noise’s “Peter Gunn theme.”

Ninja Commandments (1987)

According to Taiwan Black Movies in Variety, this genre of films was “Known at the time by the polite description “social-realist crime films,” the genre was a broad church, combining over-the-top sexual and physical violence with stories involving either political or economic gangsterism.”

I’m telling you this because IFD Films usually involved filmmakers like Godfrey Ho taking multiple ninja movies and surgically fusing them together into one never all that conhesive narrative. This one claims to be directed by Joseph La with Ho as story developer, yet nearly the entire movie come from the Taiwan black movie Ma! Don’t Die On My Back!

The Ninja Master (Louis Roth) of the Silver Ninja Empire tells his students that Rodney and Janet — the characters from Ma! Don’t Die On My Back! — have broken the first law of being a ninja: no premarital sex. They have been exiled and oh yeah, Gordon (Richard Harrison), needs to go get the Sword of Valour.

Rodney (Chun Hsiung Ko) and Janet (Elsa Yeung) aren’t having a good time of things after being ninjas. He’s gambling all over their money, she works scrubbing floors despite being pregnant. When he wins a big game of dice, a gang sets him up and he goes to prison, leaving Janet as a single mother and to make things worse, an accident burns her face.

As their son Danny grows up, she’s too ashamed to tell him that she’s his mother and says that she’s just his maid. It takes him growing up and searching for his birth parents to realize that he’s always known his mother. She’s now dying and he puts her on his back to run to find his father, who has hung himself under a bridge. Yeah, this movie gets dark and you thought you were getting brightly colored ninjas.

Well, they’re still here. As the master sent away Gordon, he has denied Stuart (Dave Wheeler) from being his successor. Stuart responds by killing him but somehow, he keeps breaking into the movie to tell us the ninja commandments, living up to this film’s title. And then Gordon uses a ninja umbrella and defeats every other ninja and we’re just supposed to forget that we watched all these ruined lives.

Seriously, this is one of the strangest and most oddly perfect mixes of two movies that don’t belong together.

Basically, if you’re a ninja, get married before you make love.

Rage of Honor (1987)

Sho Tanaka (Sho Kosugi), Ray Jones (Richard Wiley) and Dick Coleman (Gerry Gibson) are trying to catch drug dealers when someone betrays them. Ray is killed and Tanaka follows the leader Havlock (Lewis Van Bergen, who played the lead on the TV adaption of the comic book Jon Sable, Freelance) to Argentina.

Director Gordon Hessler made this with Kosugi after Pray for Death, which I feel is a much better and more consistent movie. This one was written by Wallace C. Bennett (The Silent ScreamThe Philadelphia Experiment) and Robert Short (Scared to Death).

If this had any other actor than Sho — and his self-made weapons — it wouldn’t be as much fun. By this point in Sho’s films, he plays a cop who is just a ninja on the side versus a ninja, which feels like a step back from where he’s been. That said, he also has a throwing star that blows up on impact.

 

Severin releases the Mattei Mayhem Bundle

In case you never read the site, you may not know how much I love Bruno Mattei. Well, Severin seemingly feels the same as they’re releasing a bundle of three of the Italian maniac’s movies!

These blu rays will have the best-looking versions of these movies yet along with bonus features from Claudio Fragauso and Rossella Drudi. You can get each movie by itself or in a big fancy bundle.

Born to Fight (1989): The third time Brent Huff would work with Bruno Mattei — there’s also Strike Commando 2 and Cop Game — this time finds the actor playing Sam Wood, a survivor of a vicious Vietnamese prison camp who is talked into going back into hell with reporter Maryline Kane (Mary Stavin, the 1977 Miss World who is also in Mattei’s Born to Fight, as well as Open HouseHouseOctopussyA View to a KillCaddyshack IITop Line and Howling V: The Rebirth, proving that I have seen many of her movies), who really just wants our hero to help her free her father from the prison camp.

Things get more complicated when Wood learns that Duan Loc (Werner Pochath, Colonel Magnum from Thunder 3) is still in charge. Yet instead of being a film that explores the root causes and treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso give everyone watching what they really want: violence, glorious violence.

The beauty of this film is that Mattei references Casablanca while featuring a hero who is so bored with life that he mixes snake venom into the beer he drinks all day long to escape the pain of his past.

Made pretty much hours after pretty much the same crew finished Strike Commando 2Born to FIght has everything I look for in a Mattei Philippines war movie, which is totally a genre, thank you for asking. There’s nothing quite like a slow-motion Brent Huff unloading millions of rounds of ammunition into bamboo huts while screaming and repeatedly saying his catchphrase, “It can be done.” Maybe he was a Bud Spencer fan?

As for Ms. Stavin, she also dated Manchester United football hero George Best, who was voted the sixth for the FIFA Player of the Century and one of GQ’s fifty most stylish men of the last fifty years in 2007. One of the first celebrity football players, he was nicknamed El Beatle and owned restaurants, fashion boutiques and a nightclub called Slack Alice. Of his life, he said, “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars – the rest I just squandered.”

Between 1982 and 1984, the fitness craze swept the UK. Lifestyle Records released a series of celebrity albums in which different somewhat famous folks sang cover songs and discussed what working out meant to them. The first two albums, which featured Felicity Kendal and Angela Rippon, sold well. Later releases, well…not so much. Beyond Isla St. Clair, Suzanne Danielle, Christina Brookes, Jay Aston, Suzanna Dando and Patti Boulaye, Stavin and Best released their album, which even had their cover of “It Takes Two” cut as a single. They also covered The Eurythmics’ “Love Is a Stranger!”

Cop Game (1988): An elite group of commando assassins — Cobra Squad! — are murdering high-ranking U.S. soldiers in the closing days of Vietnam. To stop them, Morgan (Brent Huff, GwendolineNine Deaths of the Ninja) and Hawk (Max Laurel, who played Zuma in two films and Quang in Robowar) must have one another’s back against a massive conspiracy.

Yes, Bruno Mattei — Bob Hunter! — has united with Rossella Drudi and Claudio Fragrasso, headed to the Philippines and made a movie that makes little to no sense whatsoever. I don’t say this as an insult. Few of the man’s movies have anything approaching a coherent plot. Yet every single one of them wants to entertain you to the point that you are rolling on the floor in incredulity and laughter. They are everything you want them to be.

This is the kind of movie with dialogue like “When you go home, you will forget about me. But I will still be here, drowning in a sea of shit.” and “Ah, Jesus Christ, cocksucker motherfucking sonofabitch.”  Nearly every line is screamed as loudly as possible, as if a twelve-year-old boy has just been allowed to stay home by himself while his parents go out and he takes advantage of the freedom by repeatedly saying combinations of swear words and never getting tired of using them until he’s hoarse by the time mom and dad come back.

It’s also the kind of film that says that it takes place in 1975 Vietnam but also has plenty of Miami Vice and 80’s buddy cop vibes, along with stolen footage from The Ark of the Sun God, both Strike Commando movies and Double Target. I guess since Mattei made most of those, he’s really just cutting and pasting. You can’t steal from yourself, right? This isn’t a John Fogerty getting sued because his song “The Old Man Down the Road” sounds exactly like a Creedence Clearwater Revival situation!

Cop Game also has an all-star cast and by that, I mean actors that ony I care about like Romano Puppo (Trash’s dad in Escape from the Bronx), Candice Daly (After Death), Werner Pochath (Colonel Magnum in Thunder III), Robert Marius (Mad Warrior), Massimo Vanni (Robowar), Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (who is the “We are going to eat you” undead face on the poster for Zombie), Roberto Dell’Acqua (Nightmare City), Jim Gaines (Zombies: The Beginning) and a Brett Halsey cameo.

Mattei made movies in nearly every junk film genre. I can honestly say that I have loved every single one of them and if you want to hear me ramble on about something, ask me about them.

Double Target (1987): You know, if John Rambo hadn’t gone back to Vietnam and gotten the chance to win that time, we wouldn’t be blessed with an entire video store section of films from around the world. Rambosploitation?

My mother told me that after he came home from working late in the mill, my grandfather would watch war movies at ear-shattering volumes, loudly laughing and enjoying himself while the entire family would be awakened by the cinematic combat echoing through the paper-thin walls.

Forty or so years later, I realize that I have inherited his vice.

After several American and British military personnel are killed in suicide attacks throughout southeast Asia, the U.S. government starts thinking that perhaps — just perhaps — the Vietnamese government isn’t the ally they thought they were.

There’s only one man to call when you need the truth.

Bob Ross.

No, not that Bob Ross. I’m talking Miles O’Keefe, the very same man who was Ator, now transplanted to the ninth circle of Southeast Asia, seeking the son he has never known, going up against the most sinister of all Russians and backed up by exactly no one.

Seeing as how this is a Bruno Mattei film, you just know that all manner of absolute celluloid cutting and pasting is going to happen. Well, it goes both ways, because Mr. Mattei was an early adopter of recycling, doing his part to keep his scummy cinema carbon footprint small. That shark that shows up? Yep, it’s taken directly from The Last Shark. And since he went to the trouble to lens all this jungle footage, it also shows up in Cop GameRobowar and Shocking Dark, while the musical score ends up coming back in Interzone.

This movie unites so many of my film favorites, like Donald Pleasence as the incredibly named Senator Blaster, a man who is either coughing or screaming at everyone around him. And look! There’s Bo Svenson as the nasty Russian Colonel Galckin, a man so evil that he puts a gun into Ross’ son’s hands and explains to him exactly how to blow his dad’s brains out.

Kristine Erlandson kind of made a name for herself — well, with video store weirdos — by being in movies like this, Trident ForceSaigon CommandosVengeance SquadWarriors of the Apocalypse and American Commando. She’s joined by Ottaviano Dell’Acqua*, the rotting zombie from the infamous “We are going to eat you!” Zombi poster, Massimo Vanni** from Zombi 3 and Luciano Pigozzi*** (Pag from Yor Hunter from the Future).

Man, this movie tugs at the heartstrings. Ross had a kid over in ‘Nam and never knew his wife, who was taken into a re-education camp, where she died and his kid ended up hating him. Or course, this was filmed in the Philippines, but let’s not argue.

Mattei used his Vincent Dawn name on this one and co-conspirator and potential co-director Claudio Fragasso went as Clyde Anderson in the credits. Speaking of American names for Italians, let’s answer those little footnotes:

*Richard Raymond

** Alex McBride

***Alan Collins

You know, this movie entertained me beyond belief, but I’m beyond a Mattei apologist. If he was still alive and needed a place to live, I would move him into my basement and cook every meal for him.

CANNON MONTH 2: Flodder (1987)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Flodder was not produced by Cannon but was released by Cannon Screen Entertainment on video in the Netherlands. 

I know Dick Maas from his movies like The LiftAmsterdamnedSint and Prey, so watching a comedy by him is an interesting experience. He also directed the sequels Flodder in America and Flodder 3. The series also produced a TV series that ran for five years and a comic book.

The Flodder family has been moved from their state-owned home on a toxic waste dump to an upper class neighborhood, which works out about as well as you would imagine. That said, Johnny Flodder (Huub Stapel, who has been in several of movies for Maas) ends up falling in love with rich girl Yolanda Kruisman (fashion model Apollonia van Ravenstein).

There was some controversy about how this movie portrayed welfare recipients, but it was popular that eventually people just stopped listening. It’s cute, kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies with lots more sex and  property damage.

 

CANNON MONTH 2: Wild Thing (1987)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie was not produced by Cannon, but was released on video in the Netherlands by Cannon Screen Entertainment.

For some strange reason, I’ve never seen this despite wanting to watch it for decades. Wild Thing (Robert Knepper) lost his parents to a drug deal and was raised by a homeless woman (Berry Buckley) who taught him how to be a protector for the weak of the city. He’s pretty much an urban Tarzan and even has a social worker love interest named Jane (Kathleen Quinlan). His sidekick is a cat! Come on! That’s incredible.

I kind of loved what I watched and that’s probably because John Sayles (PiranhaBattle Beyond the Stars) wrote it along with Larry Stamper, whose other career highlight is writing the dialogue for Scarecrows. Director Max Reid didn’t do much else outside of some shorts and documentaries, but I really liked a lot of the ways he put this together.

Robert Davi and Maury Chaykin play the drug dealer Chopper and the cop Trask who killed Wild Thing’s parents and they stayed in power long enough for him to grow up and get revenge. I wish more people would watch this movie and I’m glad that I finally got to sit down and check it out.