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.

Vampire at Midnight (1987)

If Harry Hope, who combined disco and hicksploitation in Smokey and the Judge were here, he’d say” “So why not Spaghetti Westerns and R&B. I can see the tagline now: ‘The first R&B Western . . . Blazing Saddles with a beat to move your feet.’”

“Oh, yeah? Not if I produce it first, Hopie.”

“Harry Tampa? Hey, at least I use my real last name as a screen credit, ‘Mr. Hurwitz.’ Whaddya gonna do, another disco-vampire flick with Nai Bonet?”

“Yeah, Nocturna, Granddaughter of Dracula is the last discoploitation bloodletter I’ve ever do. But I was thinking. . . .”

“A Hope-Tampa Production?”

“Well, more like Tampa-Hope.”

“We’ll compromise: A Double H-Production.”

“Okay, so, what’s the pitch?”

“Dirty Harry Meets Count Dracula.”

“I like it. Sorta like the old Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV movies-series — only with a cop instead of a reporter.”

“You call Christopher Lee. I’ll give Eastwood’s people a ring.”

“You think they’ll do it?

“Tampy, baby. You roped John Carradine into Nocturna. Never give up hope.”

Shame on you, Mr. Distributor! “Adapted to a ‘Stephen King’ style,” indeed.

Okay, so Harry Hope and Harry Tampa didn’t co-produce this Magnum n’ Fangs romp. But Jason Williams did.

Yes. That Jason Williams: Flesh Gordon himself.

Flesh Gordon, their sexploitation, sci-fi porno spoof of Universal Pictures’ 1930 serials, was the first of four films Williams starred in for producer Bill Osco, he the king of the “erotic art film” (aka, porn) that launched the “Golden Age of Porn” and unleashed the likes of Linda Lovelace in Deep Throat and Marilyn “Rabid” Chambers in Behind the Green Door. Together, team Osco-Williams also made Alice in Wonderland (1976; a porn-musical), Cop Killers (1977; Williams as a hippie serial killer), and the drive-in T&A romp, Cheerleaders Wild Weekend (1979, aka the less offensive aka The Great American Girl Robbery).

Here, Williams went it alone, with Tom Friedman (who produced the Williams writing-directing efforts Flush, Time Walker (the best-distributed; with Ben Murphy), The Danger Zone, and Zone’s sequels). For their director — in his debut — the Friedman-Williams celluloid collective chose experienced producer Gregory McClatchy (most noted for the 1984 horror documentary Terror in the Aisles) — who didn’t sit behind the lens again until the 2008 TV movie Soccer Mom for, of all networks, The Disney Channel.

As with any grizzled cop romp, Vampire at Midnight is set in Los Angeles as nine victims, over the course of several months, have turned up with the blood drained from their bodies. Of course, the “it bleeds it leads” press have dubbed the vic as “The Vampire Killer.” On the case is our not-so-Dirty Harry: Homicide Detective Roger Sutter (Jason Williams). Clues come by the way of his attractive neighbor-squeeze (natch) Jenny Carleton (Lesley Milne, who quit the business after), a concert pianist under the care of self-help guru-cum-hypnotherapist Victor Radikoff (who worked his way up to guest starring roles on TV’s Murder, She Wrote; then back down again to Texas Vampire Massacre). Is Radikoff a real Transylvania vamp or just a creepy shrink with a blood fetish who, sans fangs, hypnotizes his victims, then slices and drains them?

Is this dull to the point of yawn. Yeah, sorry to say that it is.

Jason Williams isn’t a bad actor. And Gregory McClatchy isn’t a bad director. And Daniel Yarussi (Christopher George’s Graduation Day and Betsy Russell’s (!) Tomboy) isn’t a bad cinematographer. However, when compared against Dirty Harry’s pursuit of “Scorpio” or Charles Bronson’s Leo Kessler’s pursuit of his office equipment repairman-serial killer in 1983’s 10 to Midnight (or, dare I say, Stallone’s pursuit of The Night Slasher in 1986’s Cobra), this vamp feast is lost somewhere in the between the Moon and New York City. Perhaps if Cannon Films produced it and J. Lee Thompson directed it, and Eastwood (okay, not Clint, but Michael Dudikoff or Oliver Gruner) and Christopher Lee starred . . . and let’s face it: Lee was already doing junk like Howling II, Honeymoon Academy, Gremlins 2, Curse III, and A Feast at Midnight, so playing a hypnotherapist with a blood jones isn’t exactly a step down for Sire Chris.

Hey . . . you know who would have classed this up: Klaus Kinski as Radikoff. That’s my “Devil’s Advocate” remake of Vampire at Midnight: Michael Dudikoff and Klaus Kinski. Now, THAT’S a vampire vs. copy flick. That would have banked. What? Kinski said go “F” ourselves? Okay, call Angus Scrimm.

What the . . . how can there be NO freebie online rips? You Tube, TubiTv, and The Internet . . . have you let us down? VHS copies (on Fox’s Key Video imprint) are hard to find and the DVDs look like grey market rips to these analog-sloshed eyeballs. What? This isn’t in the public domain either, Mill Creek? Denied! So, if you want a copy, look for the DVDs issued by Code Red Releasing under the “Maria’s B-Movie Mayhem” banner, so at least you know that it’s sourced from the master and not some cheap-jack VHS rip. The bonus with the Code Red-version: it offers a commentary track with Jason Williams and Greg McClatchy. The negative: your stuck with WWE star (and singer and actress) Maria Kanellis in wraparound segments as a cut-rate Elvira in Wonder Woman-spandex fitted with a set of plastic fangs.

There’s a couple of VHS-washed out excerpts HERE and HERE to revisit Vampire at Midnight, just another one of those “what might have beens” from the VHS dung heaps lost somewhere beyond the midnight horizons.

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 Howling III (1987)

This is the last Howling movie to play in U.S. theaters. Gary Brandner, author of the Howling novels, approved director Philippe Mora’s purchase of the rights to his novels. The credits even claim that this is based on his book The Howling III: Echoes. But in truth, it has a different setting and really only has werewolves as sympathetic characters.

Professor Harry Beckmeyer is an Australian anthropologist who has found footage of aborigines sacrificing a wolf creature in 1905. After hearing that a werewolf has killed a man in Siberia, he tries — and fails — to warn the President of the U.S. about the potential of lycan assaults.

Meanwhile, an abused girl who just might so happen to be a werewolf is running away from home. Her name is Jerboa and after meeting a young American named Donny Martin, she gets a role in the horror film, Shape Shifters Part 8. She gets into horror movies and after watching a werewolf film with Donny, she reveals that transformations don’t happen that way. He asks her how she knows, she goes full furry beast and he responds as we all would, by engaging her in some interspecies aardvarking.

As the movie wraps, strobe lights cause Jerboa to transform. She runs into the night and is hit by a car. When the doctors try to save her, they notice that she is with child and has a marsupial-like pouch on her belly. Holy cow, this movie! I can’t believe that I watched that, much less typed it out for you to read.

There’s also a Russian ballerina that happens to be a werewolf, because I guess if you bark at the moon you have really wonderful artistic abilities as a bonus secondary mutation.

Suffice to say that you should stick with this movie, if only to see Dame Edna out of drag as  Barry Humphries and a pack of werewolves go wild at the cheapest looking Academy Awards outside of The Lonely Lady.

Phillipe Mora has made some out there movies, like The Beast WithinThe Howling IIThe Return of Captain InvinciblePterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills and many more. His films aren’t always great, but they’re never boring.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi. Shout! Factory has also released this on blu ray.

Django Strikes Again (1987)

After waiting two decades for a sequel, in 1987 Franco Nero and director Nello Rossati (Alien Terminator) finally delivered the sequel that Italian Western fans had been craving (and had kind of received with thirty unofficial sequels).

Where was Sergio Corbucci, the director of the original, who had co-written the sequel and had initially agreed to direct it? Well, Django Strikes Again was dreamed up and produced in parallel with Duccio Tessari’s Tex and the Lord of the Deep. The hope was that this would lead to a revival of the Western in Italy. But when Ted failed, Corbucci bowed out, possibly not wanting to soil the legacy of what is probably his best-loved film.

Nero had already entered in El Topo territory in Keoma. This feels like a similar tone — at least at first — as Django has left behind the life of the gunfighter — indeed, the movie starts by mentioning all of the cowboys that are dead (that’s William Berger in a cameo) — to become a monk. Yet when he learns from an old lover that he has a daughter that he has never met and that she has become a prisoner of El Diablo Orlowsky (Christopher Connelly in his last role), he has to pick up his guns one more time.

I’ll be blunt. This movie is a pale shadow of the original. That said, there are moments of greatness here, like El Diablo’s butterfly obsession, Django burying his machinegun in a grave with his name on it, Rodrigo Obregón from the Andy Sidaris movies as a henchman, a small role for Donald Pleasence and Nero acting like Stallone as he single-handledly blazes away an entire army with that gigantic gun.

Oh well. At least the ending, where Connelly is ripped to shreds by the slaves he’s treated so wrong rise up and tear him apart as if they were zombies, is pretty great.

How weird is it that I can point to at least two fake Django films that are way better than this, though?