Masacre en Río Grande (1988)

Mario and Fernando Almada are back at war with one another in the sequel to 1984’s La Muerte del Chacal. Yet while that movie was a giallo ala Mexico, this one is content to be a slasher, placing victim after victim in the path of its killer.

Drills to the head, three women stabbed in the same room while one of the victims tries to hide behind a coat hanger, a sobbing mother who wonders where she went wrong and more strippers than you can handle — actually, I have faith that you can handle it — and this movie takes the somewhat restrained — well, as restrained as 1980’s Mexican murder movies get — first installment and goes completely wild, even setting up a third movie that sadly never came.

I mean, it’s not enough for the killer to murder every dancer backstage. No, he has to start riddling the audience with bullets. This is a man who loves his work. Sadly, his brother has to start cleaning up the mess or more people are goign to pay.

I feel as if I completed a quest, both finding this film — thanks to BobyBoy on Letterboxd — and it being the last film of my several week odyssey of hunting down and watching some of the roughest films Mexico had to offer. I feel that I am a much better and more well-rounded person for the journey. And I have an even greater suspicion that I will be down this road again soon.

Drive-In Friday: USA’s Night Flight . . . Night!

If you’ve spent any amount of time at B&S About Movies, you’re sick of our waxing nostalgic for USA Network’s “Night Flight” weekend, four-hour programming block that ran on Friday and Saturday nights . . . it’s what got us through middle school and high school, and even college, from 1981 to 1988. But what more can we say about the visual-arts magazine and variety program that hasn’t already been said? Just drop “USA Night Flight” into Google or You Tube or Letterbox’d and you’ll have a good night’s nostalgic reading n’ watch.

The great news is that “Night Flight” is back as an online subscription service, Night Flight Plus, and as an entertainment news and information site at Night Flight.com. The greatest aspect of the new online version of “Night Flight” is their programming of a whole new batch of quirky, underground programming — such as I’m Now: The Story of Mudhoney, American Hardcore, and L7: Pretend We’re Dead — in addition to streaming all of the ’80s classics we know and love: such as the films on tonight’s Drive-In roster: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, Liquid Sky, The Brain, and Kentucky Fried Movie.

So strap on the popcorn bucket and lite up that cathode ray tube. Let’s rock!

Movie 1: Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

Sam, the chief cook and bottlewasher at B&S About Movies (I just clean the grease pits, scub the grills, and mop up around here the best I can), loves this movie (as do I). And we’re both gobsmacked as to how acclaimed screenwriter Nancy Dowd made her debut with, of all things, the raunchy Paul Newman-starring sports comedy Slap Shot, moved onto the Oscar-winning war drama Coming Home and the acclaimed Straight Time with Dustin Hoffman, then one of the best football flicks of all time, North Dallas Forty, and then a second Oscar winner with family drama, Ordinary People, only to end up with a movie that was only seen by a mass audience courtesy of USA’s “Night Flight” overnight-weekend hodgepodge sandwiched between rock videos and film shorts.

How?

Well, it’s because Nancy Dowd met music impresario Lou Adler. And we met her “Rob Morton” nom de plume as result. And her rock-centric statement on female empowerment — that could have ranked alongside Times Sqaure as the greatest female empowerment rock flick of all time — became, as we look back on the film all these years later, as a slightly creepy titillation fest. Could you imagine Tim Curry’s DJ Johnny LaGuardia leering endlessly at Pammy and Nicky with the same camera-lingering “male gaze” as on Corrine, Jessica, and Tracy?

True, Adler had the rock-centric Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke under his director’s belt, and it was a huge hit for a first-time director. But that feature film debut for the stoner comedy-duo was not so much a narrative-movie, but a series of dope-inspired skits masquerading as a movie (as is the case with our fourth flick on tonight’s program). And sure, Adler produced The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and it was a huge midnight movie. But it was also huge a box office boondoggle during its initial release. In the end, as with the equally successful film composer and arranger Richard Baskin (Nashville, Welcome to L.A., Honeysuckle Rose) taking his first step behind the camera with the disaster that was 1983’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Hotel, Alder probably should have stuck to his forte as a record producer and music svengali and shouldn’t have been directing a movie in the first place.

In then end, while our big brothers and sisters were out hitting the rock clubs and going to concerts, we, the wee-lads haunting the middle school halls and shopping malls, fell in love with Diane Lane courtesy of Nancy Dowd’s well-intentioned rock flick airing on the USA Network. It’s what geeky, socially maladjusted kids did back then. And besides: where else can you get a punk-supergroup comprised of Paul Simonon from the Clash on bass and the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook on guitar and drums (and journeyman Brit-actor Ray Winstone from the Who’s Quadrophenia) as The Looters?

Factoid: The Looters were actually . . . the Professionals, Jones and Cook’s first post-Sex Pistols band (rounded out by guitarist Ray McVeigh and bassist Paul Myers). You can listen to their one and only album, 1981’s I Didn’t See It Coming released on Virgin Records, on You Tube. “Join the Professionals” from the film eventually ended up on the 2001 CD reissue. The Professionals, sans Jones, is back in business since 2017 and you can visit them on Facebook.

Movie 2: Liquid Sky (1982)

It goes without saying that we, the wee-lads spending our Friday and Saturday nights by a cathode ray tube’s glow, watched an edited version (as with the Mike Ness and Social Distortion-starring Another State of Mind) of this . . . well, as Sam pointed out in his review . . . we’re not really sure.

It’s a dizzying kaleidoscope of colors, music, and fashion about New York’s City’s night-life denizens falling victim to endorphin-addicted aliens extracting the “Liquid Sky” chemical from human brains during sexual orgasms — and when the human’s die happy, the aliens suck up all of that energy as well. And to what end, who knows? And who cares: it was on Variety’s top-grossing film chart for over half a year.

Star Anne Carlisle, who played both male and female roles in the film, also starred in Susan Sidelman’s (Smithereens) Desperately Seeking Susan and appeared as the transvestite Gwendoline in Crocodile Dundee (You Tube). Oh, you’ll remember that “Sheila.”

The snack bar will be open in five minutes . . . and we don’t pee in the popcorn (you’ll get the “joke,” soon)!

INTERMISSION: The shorts Hardware Wars (1977) and Recorded Live (1975)

And now . . . back to the show!

Movie 3: The Brain (1988)

Ah . . . more sinfully-quenching brain fluids courtesy of “Night Flight.”

What more can we say about this Canuxploitation shocker from writer-director Ed Hunt? If he can’t go “all in,” he just doesn’t make a movie at all: you never get run-of-the-mill storytelling with Eddie-boy. And to that not-run-of-the-mill end: you’ll root for the evil alien (we think it’s “alien”) Brain and not the dick-whiny high school hero and his screechy girlfriend. That’ll never happen in a mainstream movie and that’s what made The Brain perfect, gooey fodder for us, the wee-tween denizens of the “Night Flight” hoards.

What’s it all about? Hallucinations of inward-pressing walls, come-live teddy bears bleeding from the eyes, demon hands tearing through walls, and monster tentacles punching out of TV sets. It’s about mind control of the Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome variety. It’s about Dr. Carl Hill from Re-Animator as a self-help guru of wayward teens. It’s about a giant-brain-with-teeth that munches on nosey lab assistants, it’s . . . oh, just watch it!!

Movie 4: Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

“The popcorn you’ve just been eating has been pissed in. Film at 11.”

And with that “classic” line, disconnect your brain and just roll with the childish insanity of John Landis, Jerry and David Zucker, and Jim Abrahams — before they unleashed the likes of National Lampoon’s Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Airplane!, and The Naked Gun upon us, the wee triplex hoards (with our older ‘rents or brothers and sisters in support). This quartet of box office-bonanza writer-directors had to start somewhere . . . and Kentucky Fried Movie is it . . . and we love them for this beautiful mess of a “movie” that we watched on USA’s “Night Flight” and taped-from-cable via HBO.

Back in the day, the ‘rents let us watch Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and NBC-TV’s The Midnight Special. But under no circumstances were we allowed to watch Saturday Night Live. It was “inappropriate” for us. It was “for the adults.” But thanks to HBO and USA, this “film” comprised of non-narrative sketches and parodies of popular films and TV commercials got by our parental guidance sensors.

This cleaned up at the Drive-Ins during its initial release, and yes, that was a night where you were stuck with a babysitter, as mom and dad went for a “night out” — without you. As I watch this all these years later — as with Midnight Cowboy with Dustin Hoffman, Shampoo with Warren Beatty, and Patty Duke in Valley of the Dolls — I fail to see what all the fuss was about.

Yeah, Kentucky Fried Movie is all about “the times” and a case of “you had to be there.” And to that end: if you’re watching this for the first time in 2020, you’ll either love it for its nostalgia, or dismissed it — the same way we then kids dismissed our elder’s variety TV series from the 1940’s and 1950’s — as “dorky.”

Be sure to join us for “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week” coming Sunday, June 19 and running until Saturday, June 25, as we’ll be reviewing a few more of the films we enjoyed as part of The USA Network’s “Night Flight” weekend programming block.

Do you want to write a “Drive-In Friday” featurette for the site? Hit us up on our Feedback form. We’d love to hear what movies you’d feature.

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

El Violador Infernal (1988)

Yes, every once in a while, I wonder — after watching movies like The New York RipperCannibal HolocaustLast House on Dead End Street and on and on — do I have the capacity to be shocked and upset any longer?

Happily, a steady diet of Mexican 1980’s VHS era films has proved that I still have the capacity to be upset by movies.

1988’s El Violador Infernal (The Infernal Rapist) is the kind of movie that saw Fulci’s roughest film and said, “Yeah, but what if the killer was the main character and he sniffed coke and we ripped off Shocker?”

Carlos (Noe Murayama, who came from Japan to Mexico with his dentist father and ended up being a character actor in tons of movies) is the main character, who is about to die in the electric chair when Satan herself (Ana Luisa Peluffo, who was in Vagabundo en la Lluvia and one of the first mainstream Mexican stars to appear nude in films; her career stretches from 1948 to 2014 and here, she was already sixty years old), who is a fabulous older woman dressed and shot in the way that only telenovela characters and the finest drag queens dream of being filmed.

She tells him that if he wants to live, he must sexually assault people, kill them and then carve 666 into their bodies. She seals the deal by firing laser beams out of her eyes and blasting his brain into the body of a drug dealer. These are the kinds of scenes that I keep rewinding and watching before sending them in the middle of the night to Bill from Groovy Doom like some kind of insomniac zombie fiend.

I mean, she promises him quite literally “all the drugs.”

His first kill is the drug dealer’s best friend, who he first overdoses on a bad batch of heroin, then, just when you’re thinking, “I hope he doesn’t have sex with that guy’s dead body,” that’s exactly what he does before repeatedly stabbing the man and carving the number of the beast into his freshly defiled ass. Seeing as how this is shot with wacky synths and with a lead who it’s difficult to tell if this scene is making him laugh, cry or come, this movie starts in a bewildering fashion and does not let up.

For some reason, the cops can’t catch a criminal who has come back from the dead, uses his real name and tells people what he is about to do and basically goes after every woman who works at the same beauty salon. He’s able to make them float, surround them in fog and kill them one by one, yet none of them say, “Girl, don’t go out with Carlos El Gato. He’s bad news.”

Eventually, El Gato screws up and doesn’t carve seis seis seis into an asscheek quick enough, which leads to Satan flinging him off a roof after he shrugs off numerous cops shooting him.

Wow. Obviously, Mexican films of this era had no budget to go with their utter lack of morality. It’s amazing to me that this movie even exists. I learned of it by wanting to see what other films that Princess Lea, who is also in Intrepidos Punks and La Vangaza de los Punks, was in. I can only imagine what other indignities she would suffer in her other films after this one.

Note: Just because I wrote about the Herschell Gordon Lewis goes to Mexico direct to video sleazefest doesn’t mean that I condone sexual violence toward men and women. Obviously, if you know me or have read any of my writing, you know where I stand on these issues. Yet in today’s society, I feel like I have to make some form of disclaimer to let you know that I find the behavior in this film — as well as others I’ve mentioned — abhorrent. Now let’s all treat each other with respect and empathy while loving really bad movies.

REPOST: Don’t Panic (1988)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was posted way back on October 30, 2019 and ignited my love of late 80’s Mexican horror. Please check this out and join me in bugging every horror DVD label about releasing this. 

It appears like director and screenwriter Ruben Galindo Jr. wanted to make his own version of A Nightmare On Elm Street but somewhere along the way he decided to he’d like to make a Mexican version of an American teen sitcom, too. Honestly, if you told me Ruben came from another dimension, I’d believe you just as much. This is one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen — I’ve watched it three times just to try and get my thoughts together — and if you take a look through the films on our site, you can see that that is no idle boast.

Our hero Michael is going through some stuff. His parents are fighting so much that his dad sends him and his mom to Mexico City, where his mother decides to drink herself into oblivion. While trying to fit into his new school, he turns seventeen and his frien Tony gives him a Ouija board.

Now, unbeknowst to us, the viewers, Michael and Tony had a past session go wrong with a Ouija board, so this really was a bad idea. Virgil — what a name for a slasher villain — is released and begins killing people.

Now, up until this point in the film, this has felt like a teen coming of age movie, filtered through the lens of a Mexican filmmaker trying to create a movie that would make sense for American audiences. But just like how huge chunks of The Last American Virgin seem to make no sense to Western eyes, this movie also feels like it was beamed down directly from space.

How else do you explain the fact that our hero — who appears to be in his late 20’s playing a high schooler — wears dinosaur pajamas for nearly the entire film? This isn’t some Troma movie trying to play it all for laughs. This is a serious movie with such lunacy inside it that you can’t take it seriously.

It does, however, have awesome special effects courtesy of Screaming Mad George, including a face that emerges from a TV years before The Ring and huge chunks of gore, like a person stabbing through the chin and the blade emerging inside their mouth.

This film was a total surprise and delight to me. I’m shocked that Mondo Macabro or Severin hasn’t picked this up yet, because this is the kind of movie that would sell for them. I found it heartwarming just how insane and inane and odd this all was. Now pardon me, I’m about to watch this movie for the fourth time.

Dream Demon (1988)

I love that we live in a time when the movies we once watched on fuzzy VHS rentals that were scored with wear and tear are now available on pristine blu rays from boutique labels. For example, 1988’s Dream Demon is now in my hands and instead of a tape that might fall apart in my battered VCR, I have a director’s cut blu ray that’s been lovingly restored from the original camera negative.

Diana (Jemma Redgrave) is about to marry the man of her dreams, a war hero named Oliver, freshly home from the Falklands. Yet as she moves into a huge new home near London, she starts to experience terrifying and gore-strewn dreams where she’s beaten, abused and tormented. She’s also being stalked by two journalists (Timothy Spall and Jimmy Nail, who were on the show Auf Wenderstein, Pet) who are determined to dig some dirt up about her future husband. Things get even stranger when an American named Jenny (Kathleen Wilhoite, WitchboardFire in the Sky) shows up not only in her waking life, but in the dream world as well.

Director/co-writer Harley Cokeliss made the first filmed version of J.G. Ballard’s Crash, as well as working second unit on The Empire Strikes Back before he made films like Battletruck and Black Moon Rising.

Here, he shows a deft hand for telling a dream logic story that is packed with practical effects and so much of the goopy red stuff. Not all of it makes sense, but you can pretend that it’s the late 80’s, you’re in a video rental store and this looks pretty great from the box cover. It lives up to that promise.

Like all Arrow releases, this movie is absolutely loaded with features, including interviews with nearly everyone involved, two cuts of the film, a making of feature and commentary by Cokeliss and producer Paul Webster.

You can get this from Arrow Video, who were nice enough to send us a copy.

Domino (1988)

Let me tell you, when I read about this movie — about Brigitte Nielsen playing a music video director who is obsessed with finding love and making a movie about Billie Holiday while taking care of her jewel-covered turtle — I knew I had to track it down.

It’s running on our site during giallo week and it’s not particularly a giallo. But I honestly have no idea what kind of movie this is. That said, it does have Tomas Arana (The Church), David Warbeck (The Beyond) and Geretta Geretta (Demons) in it, so there’s that.

To top that off, writer and director Ivana Massetti was pretty much the same person as the lead character in this film, a female director in a time where that was quite rare. She had the idea to experiment here and make a film with hardly any dialogue. Or story, to be honest.

Domino wants love, so when she gets a phone call that promises her that romance is possible and that love can be real, she starts to see the world with much different eyes. She can certainly do better than having a mannequin for a lover, right? But what if that voice on the other end of the phone is a lie?

I guess it has some giallo feel as she’s being stalked by a man and wants to turn the tables on him. There’s also a dream where she speaks to the ghost of Holiday. Honestly, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether this movie is art or pretension, because I tend to love things that make no sense and any time I recommend them to people, I get the strangest looks.

Shh — I loved this insane, gorgeous and yet completely inane film. You can watch it on YouTube and decide for yourself.

Mondo New York (1988)

Mondo Cane kept influencing movies a quarter a decade after it was released, as this film uses its all over the place format — in this case, a girl explores New York City — to showcase a variety of performance artists and give you an idea of what was happening in the late 80’s art scene. It was produced by Night Flight creator Stuart S. Shapiro.

This movie includes performances by Charlie Barnett (who was nearly selected for Saturday Night Live; Eddie Murphy was picked instead. He’s also Tyrone in D.C. Cab), drag star Joey Arias (Big Top Pee-Wee), Rick Aviles (who in addition to hosting It’s Showtime at the Apollo, also killed Swayze in Ghost), Phoebe Legere (the Toxic Avenger’s girlfriend), poet Karen Finley, Robert Mapplethorpe collaborator Veronica Vera, no wave star Lydia Lunch, shaman artist Frank Moore, performance artist Ann Magnuson and Joe Coleman, who eats mice heads and nearly blows himself up.

Director Harvey Keith also was the creator of the Fat Boys’ video for “Are You Ready for Freddy,” which is just one of the many pieces of art he’d created.

Big Top Pee-wee (1988)

Everyone talks about Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, but nobody talks about this movie. I mean, it has Susan Tyrell — yes, from Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker and Forbidden Zone — as a miniature woman who is married to Kris Kristofferson. Why is nobody talking about this?

It’s also directed by Randal Kleiser (GreaseThe Blue Lagoon) and produced by Debra Hill, two people who I would also never think would have anything to do with a Pee Wee Herman movie. Sadly, this was the second and last of what could have been an entire series of these films.

It’s also the debut of Benicio Del Toro, so why should any of these people make sense?

The idea of the film was that Pee Wee had become famous, due to the James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild film made from his last movie and now he is a Frank Sinatra-esque singer. Then, fame became a cruel beast and Pee Wee went away to live as a farmer. This is never explained other than an odd dream sequence, which is, I assume, all that remains.

Pee Wee and Vance the Pig (played by Wayne White, who helped with Pee-wee’s Playhouse and art directed the videos for Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight) were once content to make giant plants and romance a schoolteacher (Penelope Ann Miller) before the storm brings a carnival led by Mace Montana (Kristofferson).

Soon, our man — or boy — has fallen for Gina Piccolapupula (Valeria Golino), a trapeze artist who inspires him to be in the circus. When the town says no, Pee Wee uses a hot dog tree to turn them into children and…well, that’s the whole movie.

The montage when Pee Wee and Gina finally make love is something that still makes me laugh to this day. This is so much stranger than the first film while seeming normal, yet it has less of the whimsy of Tim Burton, so that hurts it.

Lynne Marie Stewart — Ms. Yvonne! — is a bearded lady, the one-time Henry and Predator Kevin Peter Hall shows up as a tall man (what else could he be?), Matthias Hues is a lion tamer, former Bozo Vance Colvig is a clown (and he was also in Mortuary Academy), Terrence Mann (Ug from Critters) is another clown, Franco Columbu (Arnold’s best man when he married Maria Shriver) is a strongman, Michu Meszaros (Hans from Waxwork and the man who played ALF) is a small person, Jay Robinson (Dr. Shrinker!) plays Cook, Kenneth Tobey (who shows up in plenty of Joe Dante films) is the sheriff, Leo Gordon (the Evil One in Saturday the 14th Strikes Back) plays the blacksmith, Frances Bay (Happy Gilmore‘s grandmother, plus Aunt Barbara in Blue Velvet) is Mrs. Haynes and former movie and kid host Jack Murdock is Otis.

You have to love that Pee Wee followed up his biggest career success with a movie about the circus filled with character actors. Of course, this made nowhere near its budget and that brings us back to today. No one ever talks about this movie. They should.

Brain Damage (1988)

Beyond being a historian of exploitation films, Frank Henenlotter has made some outright insane movies like Frankenhooker and Basket Case. What other kind of mad genius would hire horror host Zacherle to be a worm named Aylmer, who creates drug-like relationships with his hosts while demanding to eat the brains of everyone they love?

That blue phallic worm secretes a highly addictive hallucinogen directly into the brain, forcing Brian to leave behind his life, his girlfriend and any hope of normalcy, all while being pursued by the old couple that had imprisoned the parasite and who know way too much of his history, leading to some of the longest and most hilarious expository dialogue I’ve seen in a film.

During the fellatio scene — yes, a woman puts Aylmer inside her mouth — the crew walked out, refusing to work on the scene.

There’s a great moment where Duane and Belail from Basket Case meet Brian on a train before he ends up killing his girlfriend. I realize that’s a spoiler, but nothing can prepare you for this movie. It’s truly one of a kind.

You can watch this on Tubi or on Shudder with and without commentary by Joe Bob Briggs.

Unholy Matrimony (1988)

Here’s how you can tell there’s a big age difference between my wife and me. I know Patrick Duffy as the Man from Atlantis and Bobby Ewing. She knows him as the dad from Step by Step.

Here. he plays John Dillman, the real-life investigator who continually pursued a doctor (Michael O’Keefe) and a minister (Charles Durning, great in this) who have been killing massage girls.

Lisa Blount from Prince of Darkness is in this, as is Jacqueline Brooks (The Good Son), actor/politician Fred Dalton Thompson, Michael C. Gwynne (who played the Duke of Rock in Private Parts) and Richard Cox (Cruising).

This is directed by Jerrold Freedman. who made the Bronson film Borderline and Kansas City Bomber with Racquel Welch. That’s what we in the busines refer to as quality.

You can watch this early true crime entry on YouTube: