It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)

This movie has an all-star cast and by that I mean an all-star cast for me. Michael Moriarty? Gerrit Graham? Laurene Landon? Karen Black?

Stephen Jarvis (Moriarty) and Ellen Jarvis (Black) had a mutant child that she wants to forget and society wants to exile on an island, where the drug company who caused all this sends soldiers to kill the children. Of course, the kids kill and eat everyone, because these babies are nature’s most amazing predators.

Somehow, another journey to the island ends exactly the same way, with Jarvis surviving because one of the mutants is his son and also because they have a supply of human bodies to eat and need him alive. He ends up in Cuba, where he’s treated way better than he is in the United States, and when he gets back to Florida, the children have sought out Ellen to raise one of their children.

Also, a giant baby wipes out cop after cop after cop.

Larry Cohen’s third movie in the series, this came about after Warner Brothers wanted him to remake House of Wax. Instead, he made this film and A Return to Salem’s Lot.

If the beginning of this movie seems familiar, it was also used in the Dirty Harry movie The Dead Pool. But hey, Larry Cohen was all about recycling. He used footage from The Old Man and the Sea for the sharks and ocean shots from The Sea Chase.

You know, people have made fun of this movie when they tell me about it and they were wrong. Sure, the effects are somewhat dated, but so what? You have Michael Moriarty being as insane as he always is, going off in every single scene, and mutant children with mental powers eating human beings. That’s the kind of movie that I choose to watch over almost anything else.

Evil Town (1987)

This movie is a mess and I love it. A glorious four director thrown together junkfest that started filming in 1984, as well as containing footage coming from an unfinished Dean Jagger movie made a decade before, God Bless Dr. Shagetz. Then, to spice things up, Gary Graver’s wife — and Fonzie’s girlfriend Lorraine — Jillian Kesner-Graver and Playboy Playmate of the Month for June 1982, Lynda Wiesmeier, show up for the “foreign sales.”

A group of four friends end up in a small town where young people just happen to disappear, all because there are some old folks using young folks to become young folks again.

One of the directors of this movie, Mardi Rustam, liked the idea so much that he made his own take on it and that would be Evils of the Night, which may be the better movie and definitely came out two years before this one finally got completed. That said, how many movies have an evil Hope Summers from The Andy Griffith Show?

You can get this from Vinegar Syndrome.

The Soultangler (1987)

Dr. Anton Lupesky has developed a drug named Anphorium, which allows the soul to leave the body and enters any corpse with eyes. Of course, the drawback is that sometimes, the fatal hallucinations that result make the drug’s users into raving lunatics. Shot for $8,000 in seven days in Long Island, starring friends and relatives of director Pat Bishow, this is a regional delight.

The original version of this movie was 62 minutes and that’s really all it needs to be. It does not need any of the filler that was added, because we’re here to see people get killed and have cerebellum destroying drug trips.

There’s going to be a whole Shot on Video (SOV) week coming up on our site and this is a good first course. It’s filled with everything the best films in this genre — media? — have: acting so strange that it feels like aliens are in the cast, synth music that is shockingly awesome, monstrous levels of gore, dream sequences that are actually frightening and the feeling that you just might be watching a cursed videotape.

This is the kind of movie that normal people rented at the video store and talked about for years, saying stuff like, “What was the name of that weird horror movie that we rented back in 1988 that we hated so much?” Screw those people. This movie always finds its audience. It may find you. I hope so.

Tales from the QuadeaD Zone (1987)

Shirley Latanya Jones (Black Devil Doll from Hell) is the star of this Shot On Video (SOV) anthology — can two stories be an anthology? — as she reads to her dead son from a book called Tales from the QuadeaD Zone.

The first one, “Food for ?” is all about a redneck family getting killed because they can’t afford enough food for everyone. Then, “The Brothers” has an evil zombie clown from Hell, so it has that going for it. You know, if you hate a sibling and then they die, maybe don’t paint them up like a clown.

Then, Shirley kills her boyfriend.

Hand drawn titles, barely competent cinematography and tons of gore. What’s not to enjoy?

Director Chester Novell Turner worked in home remodeling and wrote horror stories on the side before making this movie and Black Devil Doll From Hell. He was unhappy with how Hollywood Home Video sold his first movie, so he distributed this one himself. There were about a hundred copies of this movie sold in Chicago and that was it. After all, there was a rumor that Turner had died in a 1996 car accident. Happily, Louis Justin of Massacre Video found him in order to get the rights to release this movie on DVD.

This isn’t a good movie. But you have to give it to Turner. He had a dream and he took his shot.

Blood Sisters (1987)

You know, I find myself loving the films of Roberta Findlay more and more. They never have a great budget. They rarely have anything even approaching bad acting. And yet every time, I stick with them because she knows how to make a cheap exploitation movie. Isn’t that what it should all be about?

This movie has a Pieces style opening, as a young boy is called a pervert because he doesn’t have a dad. What he does have is a prostitute for a mother who lives in a big mansion with plenty of other ladies of ill repute. Moments after we process that, our friend the little boy walks in on his mom making money-assisted love to one of her johns before they both get shotgun blasted and we fast-forward ten years and change.

I’m in. You did it again, Roberta.

Now, that very same house is supposedly haunted and the girls of an Edmonson College sorority must enter it as part of a scavenger hunt. This is when, you guessed it, people start dying.

Before that, it takes a long time to get there, but Findlay pulls off that rare trick of making us learn and believe in these characters instead of rushing them into the gaping maw of death, you know? Pretty neat for a movie she made just to pay her taxes.

Amy Brentano, who plays one of the girls named Linda, also shows up in Findlay’s even better Prime Evil. Shannon McMahon*, who is Alice, is also in Screwballs and Pledge Night. McMahon would go on to direct her own film, 2016’s Waking the Wild Colonial, which had Brentano in the cast.

Speaking of filmmakers, Larry is played by John Fasano, the man that made two of the most metal movies ever, Black Roses and Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare.

Of all the lessons that Findlay can teach us of how to make a great small time horror film. perhaps the best is that she certainly knows how to hire the right poster artist.

Hollywood Uncensored (1987)

With scenes from Party GirlBaby FaceI’m No AngelThe DentistPolly Tix In WashingtonLove Life of a GorllaKing KongSex MadnessThe OutlawGentlemen Prefer BlondesBus StopHigh School Confidential!The Girl Can’t Help ItPromises…..Promises!Baby DollBlood FeastPeeping TomEasy RiderCarnal KnowledgeSilent Night Deadly Night and more, this James Forsher-directed film starts with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and then brings in Peter Fonda to discuss the history of censorship in Hollywood.

I was most excited to see Eli Wallach and Carroll Baker appear to discuss Baby Doll, but there are also appearances by Sheree North, Mamie Van Doren, Hal Roach and Jane Russell. There’s also an awesome segment where Martin Scorsese talks about how Peeping Tom played art theaters and late night horror at the same time.

Sure, it’s dated and the movies may not be as shocking any more, but if you’re a film fan like me, this is essential. Before the internet, tracking down Hayes Code-era films — even clips, really — was impossible, so this viewing brought multiple smiles to my face. Who doesn’t love to see The Dentist and realize how upset people were made by it?

You can watch it on Tubi.

The Excellent Eighties: Blunt, aka The Fourth Man (1987)

Here’s another Mill Creeker that Sam, the boss at B&S, and myself never heard of and would have passed on — if not for it being on a Mill Creek box set. And you probably never heard of it either, as it is a British TV movie, part of the 165-episode run of BBC-TV’s 1985 – 2002 series Screen Two. According to the digital content managers at the IMDb, the Screen Two project was the brainchild of producer Kenith Trodd, who headed a team to create a programming block for the BBC to compete with Channel Four’s efforts in making movies for television and theatrical release. The series plan was to break the BBC away from their studio-made stage play format (know your old PBS-TV rebroadcasts of Doctor Who) to create “live,” non-stage programming. Known as The Fourth Man during its TV run, it carried the title of Blunt for its VHS and overseas theatrical releases.

Of course, it helps that we have Sir Anthony Hopkins heading the cast to inspire us to sit down and review the title for our Mill Creek blowout of their 50-film Excellent Eighties box set.

So, what’s it all about?

VHS image courtesy of ijcm3/eBay.

Hopkins is Blunt, Anthony Blunt (bad Bond joke), a British art historian and professor who became the infamous “fourth man” in the Cambridge Five, a notorious group of spies comprised of rogue MI5 agents (Britain’s CIA equivalent) working for the Soviet Union from the 1930s up through the early 1950s. Once a Sir of the Royal Victorian Knighthood, Blunt was stripped of the honor in 1979 when his activities came to public light.

While the production values exceed the TV stage play-style they were attempting to update, this is — even with Hopkins to hold our interest — still pretty dry and pretty boring and the production values really haven’t improved much: this isn’t an action drama, but (still) a stagey, psychological drama that attempts to get inside the heads of the men and asks “why” Blunt did it. While Blunt and the Cambridge Five’s exploits are certainly intriguing and appealing to spy aficionados, the way this story is told, it just isn’t as engaging as the exploits of Ashaf Marwan, an Egyptian billionaire who worked for Mossad, the State of Israel’s intelligence agency to became the world’s first true “super spy” during the 1973 Yom Kippur War/Arab-Israeli War. His exploits are chronicled in the much better spy film The Angel (2018) and its accompanying documentary, The Spy Who Fell to Earth (2018).

You can watch Blunt: The Fourth Man on Tubi as a free-with-ads stream.

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

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Hazard of Hearts (1987)

Yes, along with The Lady and the Highwayman, this Mill Creek has not one but two John Hough made for TV movies. Hough is an interesting director who made perhaps my favorite late model Hammer movie (Twins of Evil), one of the best car movies of all time (Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry), several fun Disney movies (the Witch Mountain films, The Watcher In the Woods), some out there slashers (American Gothic and Incubus), a few sequels (The Triumphs of a Man Called Horse and Howling IV: The Original Nightmare) and even executive produced a really insightful wrestling documentary (The Backyard).

This bodice ripper, based on the book by Barbara Cartland, starts with Sir Giles Staverley (Christopher Plummer) being tricked into gambling away not only his home but his daughter to Lord Harry Wrotham (Edward Fox, M in Never Say Never Again). He becomes so distraught over what he has done to his daughter Serena (Helena Bonham Carter in one of her first big movies) he kills himself.

However, Lord Justin Vulcan (Marcus Gilbery, who is also in Hough’s Biggles) wins everything from Wrotham yet has no idea what to do with the house and the girl. His mother, Lady Harriet Vulcan (Diana Rigg!) wants her far away from her son and their ancestral home of Mandrake, so all manner of upper crust intrigue follows.

Originally airing on December 27, 1987 on CBS, there are also roles here for Stewart Granger (The Wild Geese), Fiona Fullerton (A View to a Kill), Neil Dickson (who was also in Biggles, an HBO afternoon movie that I really need to get to), Anna Massey (Peeping Tom), Eileen Atkins (Sister Albana from I Don’t Want to Be Born), Gareth Hunt (who is in Hough’s Lady and the Highwayman) and Robert Addie (Mordred in Excalibur).

Eurospy fans will be pleased that two Bond girls (Fullerton and Rigg) show up here, while noting that both Rigg and Hunt played roles on The Avengers (she was, of course, Emma Peel while he played Mike Gambit on The New Avengers).

You can watch this on YouTube.

The Excellent Eighties: Hunk (1987)

Leave it to Mill Creek — with their B-Movie Blast set — to carry the entire, two-film career of director Lawrence Bassoff on one disc. And Hunk also reappears on their Excellent Eighties set, which we’re also unpacking this month . . . but not with Weekend Pass, again? Is not Weekend Pass, also from the ’80s, “excellent” as well? What gives, Mill Creek? As you can see, we took it upon ourselves to review Hunk, not only once, but twice, with two different takes, as we love this movie. Now, that’s not to say that Hunk — as well as Weekend Pass – isn’t a bitch to sit through, because they will make you want to Red Ryder your eyes out.

We also made an effort to find the WORST artwork used for the film. It’s pure 10th grade art class. Again, get the BB gun: for it’s a celluloid Christmas. Oh, guess who got his start as a background extra in this: Brad Pitt. True story.

Did you see Bedazzled (1967) with Peter Cooke as the devil and Dudley Moore as the dope who accepts the ‘Bubs seven wishes for his soul? More likely: Did you see the Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser’s 2000 remake? Well, it is that same old Faustian tale, only with comedian-actor James Coco in the Cooke role. And only the budget is so low, the production could only afford one wish. And that “wish,” if the poster didn’t give it away, is to be a “hunk.”

Not only is this review a round-up of Lawrence Bassoff’s career, but actor Steve Levitt’s as well, as we also reviewed his work role in Last Resort. Sure, Levitt did other things, more than two things — mostly TV series, which we don’t review — but unless Mill Creek boxes those “other things” up, we probably won’t review those films. Hey, the dude is serviceable and was Tiger Blood tryin’, but after 10 years in the biz, he just wasn’t winning. He bailed on the biz after his first starring role-TV series The Boys (1988) failed, and the TV movie Danger Team (1991), which was series pilot, didn’t go to series. Again, Mill Creek, hook us up with Danger Team to give us a Steve Levitt trifecta for the site.

So . . . Levitt is Bradley Brinkman, a computer programming geek whose fiancee ditched him for her aerobics instructor — and I feel for Bradley: My “dumping” experience was by a woman who pursued me . . . then traded up . . . when our mutual friend hit the family inheritance jackpot. Why be with an up-and-coming radio jock who used to draw floor plans for a living when you can live in a two-story mansion on the Palm Beach-skirting Intercoastal? They’re divorced this days, but she cleaned up (which was her scam, I believe) and financed her to-Los Angeles relocation. She was ga-ga for Hollywood, even when we dated.

But I digress, again.

So Bradley is losing his mind over finishing a computer program, so he drops the ol’ “I’d sell my soul to finish this” trope. He comes to move next door to Chachka (Cynthia Szigeti, a member of the influential The Grounding comedy troupe). At least she’s sweet on him, but the rest of the upscale greedy professional types hate him because Cha is sweet on him. But there’s another “hottie” on the way.

Coco’s devil dispatches O’Rourke (Deborah Shelton, a Miss USA 1970 and runner-up to Miss Universe that year; she was on Dallas and in Bloodtide, as well as DePalma’s Body Double) to finish the computer program for Bradley — and gives him a new, hunky body for the some. So, actually, he gets “two” wishes. Ugh, don’t over think the plot.

And, with that . . . that’s a wrap on Steve Levitt. Call John Allen Nelson (the Deathstalker from Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell and Dave in Killer Klowns from Outer Space), as Hunk Golden: the ultimate martial arts he-man that can bed any woman he wants. Remember Den, the John Candy-voiced geek in Heavy Metal that the Loc-Nar geek-to-hunked? It’s like that. Only Den, like Hunk Golden, won’t end up in hell.

PLOT TWIST!

Does anyone remember Rebecca Bush, who played Florence Henderson in Growing Up Brady? Well, she’s really actress Deborah Shelton, aka O’Reilly, aka Dr. Sunny Graves, the head shrink that Brad’s been seeing. Huh, people “become” other “people” in this movie. Was all of this identity-switching in the original script or did actors quit and creative scripting filled out the story? Who knows. (What a f’ing mess this is, but we will plow forward.)

PLOT TWIST!

Now, we are time traveling, as Bradley-Hunk meets Ivan the Terrible, Jack the Ripper and Benito Mussolini, as his job is to recruit “demons” for hell, which are in short supply. And something about Coco-Devil wanting to start WW III. (What a f’ing mess this is, but we will plow onward.)

PLOT TWIST!

Bradley-Hunk becomes a nation celebrity when he saves Garrison Gaylord, a national, but drunken, television host (Robert Morse, who you know as Bertram Cooper on Mad Men) from being hit by a car — with his brute strength. Like the Hulk. Only he’s not green and he’s Hunk. And O’Brien who is Dr. Graves, who is the devil’s agent, is really a 10th Century princess who sold her sold to avoid an arranged marriage. (What a f’ing mess this is, but we will plow forward.)

Does the presence of Avery Schreiber, aka Dr. Cornelius Butt from Galaxina (also on the B-Movie Blast set), as well as Airport ’79 and Silent Scream, help? Does the presence of Hilary Shepherd, who was in the band American Girls and appeared in Weekend PassScanner CopRadioactive Dreams and Theodore Rex, help?

Nope.

If you’re a B&S About Movies geeker of the obscure actor variety, you’ll see Melanie Vincz (The Lost Empire), Page Mosely (Edge of the Axe), John Barrett (Gymkata and Steel Dawn) and Andrea Patrick, who plays a mermaid here; she was a beauty queen that was married to Fabian Forte — and you know we show the Fabian film love ’round ‘ere.

If only Fabian starred in this as the Devil. No, we’d never wish that devilish punishment on Fabian. Don’t believe us? Punish yourself on You Tube — Brad is called out at the 17:25 mark in the upload. So there’s that click bait incentive.

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

B-Movie Blast: Deathrow Gameshow (1987)

We’ve been jammin’ on this movie at B&S About Movies for quite some time, as we included it on August 19, 2019, as part of our “Deadly Game Shows Week” of film reviews. Leave it to the fine film folks at Mill Creek to finally give it a slot on a Mill Creek box set. And it’s a part of their B-Movie Blast 50-film box set. And guess what? As is par for the Mill Creek course, it’s coming at us again on Mill Creek’s Excellent Eighties 50-film set — which guest writer Sean Mittus covered for us (on February 28, 2021).

Yes. The poster is better than the movie.

Well, Sam, even though he knows I hate Troma movies more so than him, he asked me to give this another take, so as to keep the site fresh and repeat free. Whatever, boss.

Lord help me. I guess I’ll be sharing some of Sam pissy hate-mails love for not liking Troma movies. But I pride myself on my “delusional hipster” and “edgy commentary” skill sets. Look, I just don’t like movies that are bad on purpose. Well, scratch that. Writer and director Eric Eichelberger, of the comedic horror Ghoul Scout Zombie Massacre, purposely made his movie “bad.” But it’s not bad from incompetence or campy due to lack of skill (as is the case, here), for it is a well-produced and shot film and acted film (by skilled actors that understand their material) that is in homage to the ’80s SOV films before it.

That same can’t be said for this . . . celluloid thing. It’s exists. That’s the nicest thing I can say. It’s not a real movie, like Ghoul Scout Zombie Massacre. I know, I know. It’s “over my head” and this . . . thing . . . and Redneck Zombies has fans. I am not one of them. Maybe The Toxic Adventure and Surf Nazis Must Die — and that’s only because of the nostalgic USA Network Friday-Saturday weekend connection. Yeah, yeah. I know this isn’t a Troma movie. But it dumps #2s — among other things — like one.

There, now that’s two rips on Troma. Deal with it, dear reader-cum-troll.

Yeah, this movie is more “deadly” that you realize. Where’s Ralphie’s Red Rider?

So, in an f’d up Los Angeles communications outlet of the KLST variety of the Zoo Radio variety (only that’s radio; this is TV) and just down the dial from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Channel 62 in UHF, is the bottom-of-the-barrel KSIK — with the top-rated show hosted by John McCafferty: Live or Die. And McCafferty (played by Chuck Toedan) ain’t no Damon Killan. Now, do you remember when Chuck Barris went meta with The Gong Show Movie? That’s how you do a game show parody: Deathrow Gameshow is a “how to” on how not do to them.

Now, before you start with the “hypocrite” love: Yes, I liked Mark Pirro’s My Mom’s a Werewolf. But he only wrote that and didn’t direct it: the great Michael Fischa, did. And Fischa had John Saxon and Susan Blakely to carry the film. And McCafferty and his co-star, Robin Blythe ain’t no Saxon or Blakely.

So, if you haven’t figured it out: Condemned death row prisoners are given one last chance to entertain the masses before they get executed, as well as the chance to win prizes for their families. What you don’t know, in the “plot” of it all: It all goes off the rails when the Spumoni family’s boss is executed playing the game — by electro-shocked wires on his penis as a stripper dances before him. Comedy. You gotta love it.

Now the family send Luigi Pappalardo to kill the host. And this is where I am allowed by B&S About Movies’ hipster and edgy editorial policy to use the word “ensues” because to say more is a lesson in QWERTY futility. Okay, I’ll say this:

This is a film that thinks naming the love interest damsel-in-distress Gloria Sternvirgin, a member of Woman Against Anything Men Are For organization, is funny. It’s not. This is a film that can’t pull of its too-ambitious over talent and budget mock-parody TV commercials and promos for other shows at the station. Again, “Weird Al” does it so much better in UHF. This is a cheap, talentless crap bag that’s an insult to crap bags the world over that also served as a waste of my hand muscles. Do not do this to me again, Sam, or I’ll scrape up my couch coins and Auntie and Gram’s X-Mas and Birthday money and send a hitman to kill you — which is greater than the budget wasted on this “existing” crap bag that stinks to Troma high heaven.

I can’t recommend this. You’ll have to find your own freebie streams and online shopping links for DVDs.

R.D out. See you in the comments box.

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