SLASHER MONTH: Video Violence (1987)

Writer and director Gary Cohen was working in a video store and noticed that no one was renting any of the classic films that he loved. They were all renting slashers.

One day, a mother asked him if I Dismember Mama had any sex in it. He told her that it didn’t, but it had plenty of graphic violence. She told him that if it didn’t have sex, it was find for her kids. This scene is in the movie, except they are discussing the movie Blood Cult.

Steve and Rachel have just moved to a new town, setting up a mom and pop rental shop that seems to exclusively rent out slashers. One of their customers — probably Howard and Eli, whose sports store seems to be a front for mayhem — accidentally returns a video tape of one of their murders, which soon reveals that everyone in this sleepy little SOV town is a killer.

If you look closely on this box, it has J.R. Bob Dobbs of the Church of the Subgenius on it, claiming that he has approved this movie. Your tolerance for SOV horror will determine how much you like this yourself.

SLASHER MONTH: The Majorettes (1987)

Written and produced by John A. Russo, which he adapted from his own novel, this is yet another weird trip to Western Pennsylvania by the man who brought us the scripts for Night of the Living Dead and Midnight. Trust me, I live here, and I could tell instantly that this film emanated from my home base (Coraopolis and the Fox Chapel Yacht Club, in this case).

It’s directed by Bill Hinzman, who was the first zombie that we see in Night of the Living Dead. He also made Flesheater, which is one of the absolute worst films I’ve ever seen, which really says something.

The astounding thing here is that this movie sets you up for a slasher where majorette squad members are getting offed one after the other, but then switches the plot numerous times to bring in police corruption, elder abuse, Satanic bikers and vigilante justice.

The end of this movie is pretty much as dark as it gets, but then again, this is also a movie that has someone who is not the slasher kills its final girl off nearly thirty minutes before the credits. You have to respect that level of disrespect for the more disrespectful of all genres.

You can watch this on Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: Blood Lake (1987)

All hail AGFA — and Bleeding Skull — for seeking out the forgotten slasher and making the unknown known. A movie about a beer and drug-besotten vacation made by people on just such a vacation, shot on video so it looks like 1987 because, well, it is 1987. It’s almost shocking that this movie doesn’t document the real murders of some teens and wasn’t sold as some piece of metafiction.

It also has long and repeated shots of people sleeping.

A supernatural slasher in cowboy boots and a rose-decorated shirt — Joe Bob, is that you? — is on the prowl, but all these kids want to do is shotgun cans of Busch and awkwardly paw at one another when they’re not racing waverunners all over some crappy lake in Oklahoma.

I read someone’s review that mentioned “problematic dialogue.” Please consider, before you watch this, that when you were drunk as fuck in 1987 and named Lil’ Tony that the last thing on your brain — all the blood was certainly in the other head — was conforming to the morals of 33 years into a far-flung hellscape of a future.

Director Tim Boggs would go on to do sound design on all manner of movies and TV shows. He’s still working to this day. Doug Barry, who wrote, produced and played Mike, would sadly never make another movie (he did act in 2004’s Street Creatures). As for the band Voyager, who is featured on the soundtrack, I can’t really think of a better artist to go with this, kind of like tomato juice with all that crappy beer.

You can watch this on Tubi or get the AGFA release from Diabolik DVD.

SLASHER MONTH: The Video Dead (1987)

Yeah, I know it’s not a slasher. But it has enough references to them that I’ve decided to bend the rules a bit. It starts with a TV set — mistakenly not sent to the Institute for Paranormal Research — that ends up in a writer’s house. Even when not plugged in, it only plays Zombie Blood Nightmare, a movie that comes to life and kills everyone that watches it. Like that writer. And like pretty much everyone else in this movie.

Despite a kid telling someone that he’s seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre hundreds of times — hence me including this movie in this month of slashers — it won’t save his life. In fact, the only way to fight the zombies is to not fight them, but making them docile instead. What a weird stance for a movie to have.

Writer/director Robert Scott also was the second unit director on Dracula: Dead and Loving It, as well as plenty of TV like House and Heroes. He was set to make a sequel to this. but refused to do it for the same budget as this movie.

Each of the zombies had their own backstories that were only known to the actors playing the roles. Jimmy D. was a star athlete who drowned, yet he misses all the action he got from the ladies. Jack died in a car crash. Ironhead was a serial strangler. And The Bride was murdered on her wedding day. She’s played by Jennifer Miro, who was a member of the punk/new wave/goth band The Nuns. She’s also in the David A. Prior movie Jungle Assault, the No Wave film Red Italy and the Stephen Sayadian/Jerry Stahl (you may know Sayadian better as 80’s adult director Rinse Dream, who made stuff like Party Doll A Go-Go!, Cafe Flesh and Nightdreams, all films that if they didn’t have penetration would be legitimate movies; Stahl has written for ALF, Thirtysomething and Moonlighting as well as the more scummy episodes of CSI; he also wrote Cafe Flesh and Nightdreams) movie Dr. Caligari, a movie that looks like a porn but is really an art film starring Debra De Liso (Slumber Party Massacre), Madeleine Reynal (Jennera  from Space Mutiny), Fox Harris (Forbidden World) and Randall William Cook (the effects artist who was also the villain in I, Madman). It does have its roots in adult, as the Mrs. Van Houten character was originally played by Dorothy LeMay in Nightdreams.

SLASHER MONTH: Berserker (1987)

We’ve had every holiday and nearly every kind of killer by 1987, so why not bring a Norseman in to wipe out campers? It can happen, right? They say it’s a wild bear, but we all know it’s the Berserker, right? The kind of killer that can never rest, that can only subsist on human flesh and will never die. Yeah. Berserker!

Just like all the finest slashers, a wizened elder — in this case, Pappy Nyquist (George “Buck’”Flowers) — tries to warn these kids. Yet before you can say Ragnarok, they’re all ransacking one another in the woods and that can never go well.

You have to love the gumption of the film’s producers to just outright steal the art from Pink Floyd’s The Wall to sell this.

This is a movie that really demands more Vikings and doesn’t deliver. It’s close — so close — to giving you the unholy face painted body destroying epic that you want it to be. It’s oh-so-close and fun at times, but what it could be overshadows what it is.

You can get this from Vinegar Syndrome or watch it on Tubi.

Border Radio (1987)

Was it worth waiting a few years before finding a copy of this poorly-distributed VHS in a cut-out bin at an old Sound Warehouse?

Oh, yeah.

Fans of the cult film existentialism of Easy Rider, Vanishing Point, and Two-Lane Blacktop — or any art film that finds a reissue on the Criterion Collection — will enjoy this grim, black and white film noir homage (shot on Super 16mm) to the French new-wave films of old; to that end, the film employs a disjointed, non-linear narrative. Do you enjoy the films of Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), and Mystery Train (1989)? Did you enjoy the later Clerks (1994) by Kevin Smith? Do the “mood pieces” of Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni — such as 1975’s The Passenger — appeal to you?

Then you’ll enjoy Border Radio — although this UCLA student film by Allison Anders and Kurt Voss (Down and Out with the Dolls) doesn’t possess the “slickness” of those films, as you can see from the trailer.

Border Radio is a noirish tale of three southern California punk rockers — two musicians and a roadie (Chris D. and John Doe) — who decided a club stiffed them on a gig, so they rob the club. Chris D. subsequently abandons his rock journalist wife and crosses the border into Mexico with his split of the caper, leaving her holding the bag in repaying the debt of their robbery; she sends John Doe into Mexico to find him.

The caveat of Border Radio: this is not a punk film.

U.S.-issued VHS by Michael Nesmith’s Pacific Arts Video courtesy of 112 Video/Paul Zamarelli of VHS

There are punk rockers cast in the film as actors, but the music and punk aesthetic is void from its frames. The film’s stars, Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters and the Divine Horsemen, and John Doe of X, do not perform any of their music in the film. At the time Allison Anders (1992’s Gas Food Lodging, 1999’s Sugar Town, 2001’s Things Behind the Sun) completed the four-years-shot film begun in 1983, L.A.’s punk scene — with the musicians she cast as actors — was over.

The Flesh Eaters disbanded and the Divine Horsemen (lead singer Julie Christensen stars in the film) were set to release their first recordings; Billy Zoom left X; Phil and Dave Alvin (Dave co-stars in the film) disbanded the Blasters, and Texacala Jones (who also appears in du-Beat-eo) split from Tex and the Horseheads. Green on Red (they appear on stage at the Hong Kong Cafe), who got their start on Slash Records with Gravity Talks (1983) and wrote the soundtrack for Anders’s Gas Food Lodging (1985), also folded up the tents after their three, pre-grunge albums for Mercury: The Killer Inside Me (1987), Here Come the Snakes (1988), and This Time Around (1989) failed to expand beyond college rock airplay and connect with the burgeoning, commercial alternative rock scene. The film’s theme song, “Border Radio,” is performed by The Tonys, aka L.A.’s the Dils, aka Rank n’ File, led by Chip and Tony Kinman; by the time of the film’s release, they formed the synth-based Blackbird project.

You can learn more about the out-of–print Enigma Records soundtrack — never released on compact disc — on The film is not currently available on PPV and VOD platforms, but DVDs can be purchased direct from Criterion.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Hey, you want to write for us? We have a “John Doe Week” coming up in December. You can get all the deets, HERE.

Eat the Rich (1987)

Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister
December 24, 1945 – December 28, 2015

If you’re not a fan of the late Lemmy Kilminster and Motorhead, you’ll hate this movie. If you’re a fan the late Lemmy Kilminster and Motorhead, you’ll hate this movie.

Yes, I love Motorhead. And I hate this movie.

Image of U.S.-issued VHS courtesy of Videonut324/Paul Zamarelli of VHS

Why? You love all of this f’up, obscure stuff, R.D.

The MTV video for the film’s title song, “Eat the Rich,” from Motorhead’s ninth studio album, 1987’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, was in heavy rotation (complete with “BEEPS”), with featured clips from the film that led us to believe Lemmy starred in the film. Yep, you guessed right: we ended up with very little Lemmy — who we rented to see — and a whole lot of British comedian-comedienne-cum-drag queen Al Pellay, aka Lanah Pellay — who we didn’t rent to see. And while the MTV video put focus on the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and the Beatles’ Paul McCartney to the forefront (Hugh Cornwell from the Stranglers and Jools Holland of Squeeze show up), they’re in the film less than Lemmy.

Again, as with A Matter of Degrees and The Runnin’ Kind, the distribution on this was nil; I didn’t see the film until the mid-90s, when a Blockbuster Video-absorbed Sound Warehouse — all which were converting into Blockbuster Music outlets (remember those shiny, commercialized shiteholes?) — dumped their VHS inventory ($2.00 bucks: sold, along with John Doe of X in Border Radio, $2.00: sold).

I was over the moon. Then the moon crashed.

Yeah, I hated this movie. I watched it once, bulked it, and copied a behind-the-green curtain Jenna Jameson porn over it. In fact, skip this movie. Watch the Motorhead video instead — and call it a day. Then find a Jenna Jameson porn online. You’ll thank me later.

In fact, don’t even finish reading this review of this movie that you shouldn’t watch and just read Lemmy’s sexual innuendo word smithin’, for his lyrics are more entertaining than the actual script that served as his lyrical inspiration.

They say music is the food of love
Let’s see if you’re hungry enough
Take a bite, take another
Just like a good boy would
Get a sweet thing on the side
Home cooking, homicide
Side order, could be your daughter
Finger licking good

Come on baby, eat the rich
Put the bite on the son of a (BEEP)
Don’t mess up, don’t you give me no switch
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on baby, and eat the rich

Sitting down in a restaurant
Tell the waiter just what you want
Is that the meat you wanted to eat?
How would you ever know?

Hash browns and bacon strips
I love the way that you lick your lips
No fooling, I can see you drooling
Feel the hunger grow

Come on baby, eat the rich
Put the bite on the son of a (BEEP)
Don’t mess up, don’t you give me no switch
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on honey, here’s your supper
Come on baby, bite that sucker

I’ll eat you, baby, you eat me
Eat two, baby get one free
Shetland pony, extra pepperoni
Just pick up the phone
Eat Greek or eat Chinese
Eat salad or scarf up grease
You’re on the shelf, you eat yourself
Come on and bite my bone

Come on baby, eat the rich
Bite down on the son of a (BEEP)
Don’t mess around, don’t you give me no switch
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Sitting here in a hired tuxedo
You wanna see my bacon torpedo
Eat it baby, eat the rich

Lemmy. Friggin’ genius. And MTV is stupid. A song that talks about “bacon torpedoes” and implores listeners to “bite the bone,” and you’re worried about the word “bitch” tainting young ears? And we haven’t even got to the lyrics of “Orgasmatron,” which also appears in the film.

The film’s genesis was in the writing room of The Comic Strip, a Saturday Night Live-styled ensemble of British comedians that hosted a successful series The Comic Strip Presents . . . on the BBC’s Channel Four. After five years of ratings success since the show’s 1982 inception — with a cast featuring Adrian Edmonson, Rik Mayall, and Nigel Planer (of MTV’s The Young Ones), along with Dawn French (of The Vicar of Dibley) and Jennifer Saunders (of the French and Saunders comedy team and Absolutely Fabulous) — it was decided the time was right to do a “racier,” feature film — one with a message about Britain’s Thatcherism welfare state and the nationalism of the U.K.’s tightly-regulated economy.

Yeah, this is going to be comedic gold.

Eat the Rich was written and directed by Peter Richardson (aka Spider Webb of the very funny, late ’80s metal parody band/TV series Bad News with Rik Mayall) as a follow up to the comedy troupe’s feature film debut, The Supergrass (1985). Richardson set his Pythonesque, black comedy in a future, fascist London concerning a terrorist faction looking to derail the upcoming Prime Minister elections and overthrow the Conservative Party.

Involved in the political intrigue is Alex (Pillay) a fired, disgruntled server at Bastards, an exclusive restaurant. Finding refuge in the Party, Alex strikes back at the cultural elite with a ragtag group of Robin Hood-styled anarchists who return to the restaurant and kill the clientele and staff — and serves up the bodies of those dead Yuppies to Yuppies, as the rechristened Eat the Rich becomes the talk of London. (For those who care: Lemmy is Spider, the sidekick of a Russian double agent, who learns of the eatery’s secret menu and plans to stop the Conservative-cannibal carnage.)

Yeah, this is going to be comedic gold. Not.

However, in the film’s defense, the politically uncorrect religious, political, and social classes humor is totally British — and even my own personal, steady dozes of U.S. Public Television-broadcasted Brit-coms, such as Doctor in the House, The Goodies, Are You Being Served, Keeping Up Appearances, and The Young Ones wasn’t enough to prime my inner joke box. Sure, the story’s literal take of Conservatives “eating” the non-Conservatives for their own person gain is an interesting approach — but it’s just not funny. Reflect back on some of the SNL-bred movies of the ’80s: Corky Romano, Night at the Roxbury, Superstar. Yeah, it’s like that: a well-made, affably-acted effort that, never the less, falls flat. BURP!

Why New Line Cinema opted to bring the film to U.S. shores for a theatrical release is anyone’s guess (surely not for the Motorhead connection; did they think they had the next RuPaul on their hands with Lanah Pellay?). But after pulling in just over $200,000 on four screens in Los Angeles and New York, the film was pulled and dumped onto the home video market via RCA/Columbia. Again, British humor works, for U.S. audiences, in a half-hour format on public television — not in an hour and a half film.

And it didn’t work in Britain either: Eat the Rich is rated as one of that country’s “50 Greatest Cinematic Flops.” Channel Four subsequently kiboshed plans for The Comic Strip’s third feature film, Five Go To Hell. And there hasn’t been a film since. The troop folded up the tents in 2000, reactivating from 2005–2016.

But it’s not all awful, for there are a few magical moments . . . when the Motorhead kicks in, natch: A DHSS office is stormed and robbed to the beat of “Nothing Up My Sleeve”; Lemmy, aka Spider, and his Russian boss ride their cycles through the British countryside while the title track from Motorhead’s seventh studio album, 1986’s Orgasmatron, plays in the background; at a dinner party, Motorhead takes to the stage and plays another cut from Orgasmatron, “Doctor Rock.” (“Built for Speed” and a live version of “On the Road” also appears in the film). Pillay’s cabaret-parody, which hit the British Top 100 and Australia Top 20, “Pistol In My Pocket,” also appears.

In the wake of revisiting this film all these years later — an after reviewing the Sex Pistols in 1980’s The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle this week as part of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week II” — perhaps if Eat the Rich was made during punk’s heyday, with Johnny Rotten in Al/Lanah Pellay’s disgruntled waiter role recruited by a political terrorist group . . . and with, say, Adam Ant instead of Lemmy, and a couple guys from the Clash — with them beating up Billy Idol as the Prime Minister to-run (as an in-joke for selling out to American radio) — we could have had ourselves a twisted, politi-punk version of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, instead of an unfunny, dead-in-water Rock ‘N’ Roll Hotel.

Where’s Roger Corman when you really need him?

Lemmy followed up his acting debut in Eat the Rich with a role as an aquatic taxi driver in Hardware (1990), as an ex-school newspaper reporter in Airheads (1994), as the narrator in Lloyd Kaufman’s Tromeo and Juliet, and as Joe in Down and Out with the Dolls (2001).

You can readily stream Eat the Rich on Amazon Prime and You Tube Movies. You can roll the full albums of Orgasmatron and Rock ‘n’ Roll on You Tube, as well. Clips from the film abound on the platform as well.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Back to the Beach (1987)

Meta didn’t seem to be a think when Back to the Beach came out. And while on the surface this seems to be a simple parody of beach party movies — it even uses the same character names from many of them — it has a heart of weirdness that makes it rise above what it could be, like the very best beach movies always do.

Director Lyndall Hobbs should have done more than this one film — she also worked in television — because I had such a blast watching this.

Frankie and Annette live far from the beach in Ohio, far from when he was the Big Kahuna and their love burned hot. Now he struggles to sell cars and she deals with her pain by charging shopping sprees and their son Bobby is in open rebellion.

On the way to a vacation in Hawaii, they stop to visit their daughter Sandi (Lori Laughlin, always ready to be the love interest in quasi-sport films like this and Rad) who is in love with a surfer. Hijinks, as I always say, ensue, leading to one last big beach movie.

Somehow, this is a movie that can have O.J. Simpson and Stevie Ray Vaughn in it, most of the Cleaver family from Leave It to Beaver along with Fishbone (who were in seemingly every late 80’s movie that needed a band that the Chili Peppers turned down*). I mean, Fishbone sings with Annette!

Plus, you get appearances from Don Adams, Dick Dale, Connie Stevens, Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Edd Byrnes and Pee-Wee Herman, who sings “Surfin’ Bird.”

Sadly, this would be Annette’s last film, as she was diagnosed with MS while making the movie. She asked that no one be told and completed her work.

*Fishbone is in TapeheadsI’m Gonna Git You SuckaThe Mask and The Tripper, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in Tough Guys, but man, it seemed like they were everywhere in 1986.

Homoti (1987)

Leave it to Turkish filmmakers to not only completely rip off E.T., but also make the alien gay and lost in 70’s Turkey.

Written, directed and starring Müjdat Gezen, this is the second Turkish Xerox of that Spielberg blockbuster that I know. The other, Badi, has an alien that is frightening instead of loveable. The movie poster also features the USS Enterprise, which is not in the movie*. Such is the country for which we have been exploring all week.

I love that someone spent the time to write a research paper on this movie. I guess if you’re going to spend the time and energy to make a movie where a big butt alien comes down to our planet and helps us explore the ways that LGBT people dealt with the opression of 1970’s Turkey, as well as exploring tabloid culture, this would be the movie to write about.

This is why when people at work ask, “What movies has everyone been watching?” I hope that someone else answers, because then I have to explain that one, there’s a Turkish version of E.T., two that it has a gay alien and three that it had no subtitles and therefore I was forced to watch it and make up the dialogue inside my own head.

*The makers of Evils of the Night, which features a hot pants wearing teen being menaced by zombie hands while the Millenium Falcon zooms overhead, had to have been paying attention.

Near Dark (1987)

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.