For my money, Cyndi Lauper was way ahead of Madonna before she took some time off. But such is the fickle world of pop music. One day, you’re she bopping with The Goonies and a few months later, you’re struggling for relevance. That said, judging by the crowds on the last tour Cyndi did — remember tours — she did just fine.
Between Follow That Bird, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Dunston Checks In, director Ken Kwapis has done pretty well for himself too. Here, he places Lauper — thanks to a script by Babaloo Mandell and Lowell Ganz — into Romancing the Stone territory by way of ESP. She plays Sylvia Pickel, whose spirit guide Louise has guided her since falling off a ladder at the age of twelve.
Her opposite number is Jeff Goldblum’s Nick Deezy, who can tell the history of objects by touching them. They get along like oil and water at first, but come on. This is a 1988 movie that will surely have some romantic sparks before it’s all over.
This has Julian Sands as a potentially evil doctor, ancient aliens stealing psychic power, Peter Falk as the man who pays for the adventure and great character actors like Steve Buscemi and Van Dyke Parks in small roles.
Originally described as Romancing the Ghostbusters in the Temple of Doom, Vibes was going to originally pair Lauper with Dan Aykroyd. Now that I would have liked to have seen.
Despite starting her career starring in erotic films, Maria da Graça Xuxa Meneghel became known as Xuxa, the Queen of Children. With messages like “Want, Power and Reach!”, “Believe in Dreams” and “Drugs do Bad,” Xuxa has left a mark on the hearts and minds of kids all over the world in the same way that her Xuxa Kiss left lipstick on their faces. Her American-produced Xuxa show seems like the most action-packed, frenzied show of all time and sadly only lasted 65 episodes on The Family Channel. I’ve watched nearly all of them on YouTube and am thrilled that I was able to find this movie. Xuxa may not be well-known here, but in Brazil — and worldwide — she’s more than a star.
This movie is, to be perfectly honest, pure drugs.
Xuxa has angered the villain Baixo Astral — or Satan or the Bad Mood — by asking children to color the world. Working with his henchman Titica and Morcegão, he kidnapped her dog Xuxa, who yes, is really a puppet.
Xuxa, with the helmet of a turtle, a pink dolphin and a caterpillar, crosses through the River of Delusion, the Tree of Knowledge and all manner of traps to win the day, even if she’s tempted to the dark side.
As Xuxa would say, “I want to know if stars don’t fall from the sky, if somebody can answer what there is to fear?” If that makes sense to you, you’re going to love this movie as much as I do.
If Labyrinth wasn’t weird enough for you, perhaps this will be.
Translated as Someone’s Watching Me, this movie is better known in the U.S. as the Turkish version of The Shining. A writer brings his wife and daughter to a remote island hotel — instead of the Overlook — to inspire his writing. Of course, the last writer who stayed there killed his whole family, so things don’t look like they’re going to go all that well.
While Stanley Kubrick spent $15 million on his film, Ömer Uğur spent around $15. What does that get you? Handwritten credits on cardboard, that’s what it gets you. It also gets you Tarick Tarkan as Hulki, which I guess is Turkish for Jack Torrance and Selin Dilmen as Leman, who was a model and probably too attractive to be the Shelley Duvall Wendy analog, but let’s be nice. Their child is named Ufuk and yes, he does wear a sweater and no, it does not have an Apollo rocket on it.
Shout out to Murat Tolga Şen and his site Öteki Sinema, which is a great resource for all things Turkish film. He suffered through this as much as I did, so don’t expect this to be a great inspired film on the order of Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam.
Okay. I know I’m stretching the “Vampire Week” theme with this SOV ghoul bash, but after reviewing the fellow SOV, “legit” vampire flicks Jugular Wine (1994) Tainted (1998) . . . for me, these three films just go together, as result of them appearing alongside each other on the shelves of my local 10,001 Monster Video—the one regional mini-chain brave enough to carry Larry Buchanan’s Doors boondoggle Down on Us, the GG Allin document Hated, and the entire line of ’80s SOVs.
Say what you will about the production values and thespin’ skills of those shot-on and edited-on 3/4-inch video ditties of the ’80s, but dear lord, my analog nostalgia for those lo-res n’ audio-buzzing, Big Box/SOV celluloid tragedies—from Boarding House (1982) to Sledgehammer (1983), from Truth or Dare and Spine (1986) to 555 (1988), from Things (1989) to Gorgasm (1990)—and the granddaddy of the first SOV distributed exclusively via home video shelves (in lieu of mail order, as were the other SOVs noted), Blood Cult (1985)—is unbound. Oh, and we can’t forget Blődaren (1983), Copperhead (1983), and Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984). What’s that? Yeah, we have reviews coming up in October for Evil in the Woods (1986), Dead Girls (1989) and Snuff Kill (1997). Yeah, one day we’ll get to Addicted to Murder (1995), Bloodletting (1997), and The Vicious Sweet (1997). No, we already did Spookies (1986), as you will read, below.
Love them! So, yeah. We are throwin’ the B&S About Movies management binder into the office alley dumpster out back. Screw you, Sam, and your Sheldon Cooper-clauses and subsections tomfoolery. I hear ye dub these graveyard ghouls—vampires! So let’s load up Curse of the Blue Lights.
Over the years SOV fans have dropped the word “Lovecraftian,” and there’s surely a Cthulhuian vibe in these analog proceedings. But don’t mistake this third and final directing effort by John Henry Johnson and the lone writing effort for Bryan Sisson for the premier H.P. Lovecraft “adaptations” by Stewart Gordon of Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986). And, more accurately, in relation to Curse of the Blue Lights, Gordon’s Dagon (2001)—if you know your Lovecraft flicks, you’ll pick up on that critical analogy.
I’ve had discussions with fellow VHS-heads who draw a throughline from Blue Lights to Eugenie Joseph’s 1986 tale about a sorcerer sacrificing young travels to sustain his dead wife, Spookies. In a past discussion with Sam about this movie, he mentioned one of his personal favs, Neon Maniacs (1986). And while I don’t totally disagree with either assessment, I still say that Spookies, while a weaker (but a fun film), is of a higher quality—and Neon Maniacs even higher than Spookies.
Me? In terms of filmmaking quality, I liken Blue Lights to Ed Wood’s surreal Orgy of the Dead (1965), with its horror-erotica tale about a young couple stranded-trapped in a ghoul-infected cemetery after a car accident. My analog cortex also loads up VHS-cells of León Klimovsky’s dripping-with-atmosphere The Vampires Night Orgy (1972), concerned with a busload of Spanish tourists stranded in an off-the-map, churchless town. But again, Paul Naschy protégé Klimovsky is by far the superior film.
Now, the Lovecraft is certainly there, but did Ed Wood’s or Klimovsky’s tales inspire John Henry Johnson and Bryan Sisson, as well? I’ll say yes, because, it’s obvious team Johnson-Sisson is cut from the same spindle of 3/4-inch tape as you and I: they known their horror films. I see traces of One Dark Night (1982) in the living dead-zoms, and Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead courtesy of all the face n’ head meltings. And there’s a definite attempt at a some Dan O’Bannon celluloid stank of the Return of the Living Dead variety.
But something is missing. It doesn’t have that Raimi spark or Don Coscarelli charm. Why did Phantasm, itself a self-financed film employing amateurs and aspiring professionals, rage across the duplexs in the summer of 1979 to gross $12 million on a $300,000 budget, while Curse of the Blue Lights, with the same self-financing and employment ethics, floundered into home video obscurity? If Coscarelli helmed it . . . if Clu Gulager and James Karen were there to help The Mystery Machine gang . . . would this story—complete with Michael Spatola’s snazzy SFXs still in place. . . .
What if, indeed.
Instead we have a higher-budgeted Al Adamson flick (think 1967’s Blood of Dracula’s Castle) crossed with Bob Clark’s pre-Porky’s, pretty fun Romero-knockoff, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. And that’s not a bad thing.
So . . . the glow of “blue light” is discovered in the wooded distance near the “Blue Light” necking point on the outskirts of podunk Dudley (not another road sign with a cow skull, ugh) by a group of (annoying) teens (who deserve to be squeezed into ghoul juice for being pains in my VHS-viewing ass). Oh, and the lights and something called the Muldoon Man are part of the town’s local color, because, well, all towns in Hicksville, U.S.A. need to have a local legend for adolescent scoffing.
The light leads our Ed Woodian 90210-brats to a (shot in Pueblo) Colorado cemetery where underground-dwelling ghouls are pullin’ a Tall Man and Phantasm-robbing the graves above in a plot to create a serum (see, they need “fluids” like vampires!) that will resurrect the Muldoon Man, a giant lizard-man missing link (a very impressive, full-suited in-camera effect). Resurrected scarecrows (the best part of film, as if it was spliced in from another film), disappearing body-statues, disembodied-petrified hands, hysterical-histrionic thespin’, cursed trinket medallions, sheriffs that don’t act like proper law enforcment officers, overacting-folklore Blair witches, time-lasped melting candles, Al Adamson-chained-to-wall crypt chickees, sword vs. axe battles, lots of backgroud-zoms tearin’ up the joint, and (lots) of melting ghouls, ensues.
Are the Gothic sets of the Spirit Halloween variety? Would Konstantin Stanislavski pull a Karl Raymarseivich Raymar (know your acting history and One Dark Night trivia, buddy) and slaughter the cast for soiling the art form he invented? Are the up-against-the-budget special effects (by Michael Spatola; his later credits include HBO’s Tales from the Crypt, Stargate, and Terminator 2: JudgmentDay; his earlier work was featured in Hunter’s Blood) impressive? Is the film too long at an hour and a half? (An 80-minute appropiate, home-video cut would have helped making this a bit more zippy and palpable.)
Yes, to all questions.
But, as long as you keep in mind this is a self-financed backyarder of the fun Don Dohler variety (Nightbeast) (well, actully better than a Dohler flick) and appreciate that everyone behind and, especially, in front of the camera is trying, you’ll have fun with this lesser-known ballers in the SOV-’80s cannons. (Yeah, we know it was shot on 16 mm, but it feels oh-so-SOV . . . and we love it. But, if it was shot on 35 mm . . . oh, shut the hell up, Devil’s Advocate.)
You can watch a pretty clean rip on You Tube . . . and not a VHS rip, but a DVD one. Which brings us to—
The Curse of the Digital Caveats: For those who want this in their physical media collection, take note. The original VHS tapes are the uncut R-version. The Magnum-Code Red DVDs, while a HiDef master created from the original 16mm film elements (that includes an audio commentary track with director John Henry Johnson and actor Brett Ritter), the DVD is not the “original uncensored version.” The DVD is the cut R-rated version missing about three-minutes (a graphic scene where the Muldoon betrays and crushes the demon-snake lord’s face, in particular). The overall quality is grainy (but that’s how original film was shot-processed), but the digital transfer is clearer than the VHS original. (Besides, the occassional emulsion scratch lends to the film’s early ’70s drive-in charm). But, to see the uncut film, you’ll need to watch the VHS. Got it?
However, in any form, do watch this: it’s a nostalgic-retro monster mash. (We found the Polish-Hungarian version on You Tube—which retains some of the Muldoon head squeezing. Geeze. In the midst of all the head meltings, what’s the problem with the head crushing and cutting that particular scene from the film, Mr. Distributors?)
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
John Hough has some great movies on his directoral history, including Twins of Evil, The Legend of Hell House, The Watcher in the Woods, The Incubus, American Gothic, Escape to Witch Mountain, Return to Witch Mountain and Biggles. Thats a great run. He also made this movie, which attempts to bring The Howling series back to something closer to the first film.
Author Marie Adams keeps having visions of nuns and werewolves attacking her from a fire. It seems like the same imagination that helps her write books is also helping her go crazy. Her husband takes her to a small village of Drago, where a small cottage will be the place that she plans on resting and relaxing away all the terror that she is going through. That would work if she didn’t keep hearing howling in the woods.
Much like the first film, her man can’t stay faithful. The small town is also rife with werewolves, ghosts and visions of the nun. The whole thing ends in a burning church and yes, that same werewolf leaping through the fire.
Well, if anything, this is the only werewolf movie I’ve seen that has a theme song by the lead singer of the Moody Blues. So there’s that.
That said, this is a more faithful version of the book than The Howling. Yet it’s not as good of a movie. Writer and co-producer of the film Clive Turner was originally going o direct, but when the financiers pulled out he had to get Hough on board.
That’s one story. The other is the one that Hough told Fangoria. The script was written by someone named Freddie Rowe and he would also receive notes and messages from him as well as additional pages of the script while making the movie. However, when the director asked for Rowe’s contact information, he was never given it, leading him to suspect Rowe of actually being Clive Turner, who really wanted to be the director of the movie. Seeing as how Rowe only wrote one other movie — Howling V: The Rebirth, which Turner also wrote — that may or may not be true.
Making that story sound even more true is the fact that Turner recut and re-edited the film, adding scenes like the one where the evil werewolf queen Eleanor went bobbing for hot dogs with Marie’s husband.
You can watch this for yourself on Tubi and try and make better sense of it than I did.
Despite being 54 years old and already surviving one heart attack, Paul Naschy took on the heavy burden of playing multiple monsters in this film, as he appears as Frankenstein’s Monster, Mr. Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, Quasimodo, The Devil and the humans Hector and Alex Doriani. Oh yes — and Waldemar Daninsky, El Hombre Lobo!
For a long time, this movie was never officially released. Before the death of one of its producers, it was to have a lavish budget. It’s better than Naschy usually got, which gives him ample time to get into makeup and play multiple roles. It also got better talent, including Howard Vernon (Dr. Orloff!) and Caroline Munro (Starcrash).
Mostly, Naschy plays Hector, a horror actor devoted to living a carnal life that he compares to de Sade, Gilles de Rais, Vlad Tepes and Jack the Ripper. Each night, Vernon brings him a new prostitute and he dresses up in complicated horror makeup. As you do.
Meanwhile, he’s raising his brother’s son Alex (or Adrian, depending on the translation, played by Naschy’s son Sergio Molina) ever since his sibling killed himself. He may have been helped by the fact that his wife was cheating on him with his own brother. And since he overdosed on heroin, Alex is with Hector, yet lost in his own world of monsters, which is where we get to see Daninsky.
Oh and meanwhile again, there’s a priest in love with a servant girl (Munro) who left him in the past. He pays a homeless man to spy on her and bring him back under penalty of her death. And while all that’s going on, a giallo-style killer is offing people on the grounds of Hector’s estate. And beyond all that — so much is happening! — Alex is trying to bring his father back from the dead.
Imagine Godzilla’s Revenge about Universal Monsters but with the budget and insanity of a Naschy movie and you’ll see why I loved this so much.
The end of this movie — I don’t want to give anything away — somehow has an actor known for Jess Franco movies getting treated like a Lucio Fulci character in a conclusion that somehow makes this an Omen ripoff by way of The Beyond‘s running to nowhere conclusion. It is truly the Dagwood sandwich of sleazy horror scum and I — pun intended — wolfed down every bite.
As a 16-year-old in 1988, I have to tell you that this was probably the most important movie of my life — all the short time I had spent on Earth — and it made me dream about heading off to the Sunset Strip and taking my singing abilities in the service of bands like Jetboy and the Sea Hags.
And here we are, as I write about this on my couch while working all day on a Sunday afternoon, writing marketing materials for a college somewhere in New York.
If you watched this movie at 16 and didn’t want to be Chris Holmes, what was wrong with you? It’s funny, because as we watched this, my wife asked, “When did he die?” He’s still, improbably, alive.
Before reality TV decimated the Satanic edge of metal, seeing artists like Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Mustaine, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley discuss their careers rarely happened. I love that each of them gets a background that relates to them — Joe Perry and Steven Tyler are just chilling on a couch while Ozzy is in a bathrobe making eggs and Stanley is covered in models as he talks about the life he leads. By the way, him spilling orange juice never happened and that’s not even his kitchen.
That said, W.A.S.P. bassist Holmes steals the show, mumbling throughout and providing the films one sobering — if totally drunk — take on the fakeness of it all. Just witness the band Odin, who is surrounded by models in a hot tub, discussing how they’ll be bigger than Led Zeppelin or The Doors or commit suicide. Or nightclub owner Bill Gazzarri, who just seems like a character straight out of the hell of a Dark Brothers film.
I kind of love that Lemmy was shot from a distance and asked questions in the hopes that he’d give dumb replies. Lemmy being Lemmy, he seems above it all, despite spending just about every night at the Rainbow, right in the heart of all of 1988’s hairspray.
Detroit band Seduce was added to fill the loss of Guns ‘n Roses, whose management kept them out of this movie. Several have pointed to the excesses in this film as killing off the era of glam and hair metal. If that’s so, bands like Steel Panther have seen this as a map to the world they wish still exists.
Spheeris told Louder Sound, “In a way, you can look at Decline II as the research and then Wayne’s World as the final product.”
The funny thing is, despite Ronnie O’s claims that he’d kill himself — like GG Allin without the punk heart or body covered in feces and gore — the band had already broken up before the film came out, with guitarist Jeff Duncan joining Armored Saint, a band that he’s still in.
Anyways, I’m 47 now. And I can tell you that most of what Chris Holmes was drinking was water. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t dream of 1988 a lot and wonder what it was like to play the Whiskey or the Cathouse.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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)
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 Phantasmand 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!!
“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.
Yes, every once in a while, I wonder — after watching movies like The New York Ripper, Cannibal Holocaust, Last 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 fromGroovy 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.