Box Office Failures Week: The Punisher (1989)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Brown is probably the only person to write for our site that has an IMDB page. That alone gives him the credit to tell us all about one of the first Marvel movies to hit the screen.

Jake Berkowitz (Louis Gossett, Jr.) is a big city police detective trying to take down the mob while also trying to stop the Punisher, a mysterious vigilante with a body count in the triple digits, who he believes to be Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren), his former partner that had seemingly died in a car bombing that took the lives of Castle’s entire family.

In an effort to eliminate the Punisher once and for all, Gianni Franco (Jeroen Krabbe), the most powerful organized crime boss in the city, attempts to unite all of the crime families, which draws the attention of not only the Punisher, but the Japanese Yakuza, led by the treacherous Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori). She offers Franco a deal, which would essentially make HER the top crime boss in the city, which he rejects, leading to the kidnapping of all of the children of Franco and his men.

The Punisher’s mostly successful rescue attempt of the innocent children from the clutches of the Yakuza leads to his capture by the police, which brings him face to face with Berkowitz, confirming the detective’s worst fears, that this scourge of the underworld is a very changed Frank Castle. As he’s being taken to another facility, the police transport is ambushed by Franco’s men, who take Castle and force him into an uneasy partnership with the man responsible for the death of his family to bring back the mobster’s son, Tommy, who had been left behind on the previous raid.

Together, Castle and Franco storm the Yakuza headquarters and defeat Tanaka, saving Tommy in the process. Once again at the top of the criminal food chain, Franco attempts to kill his reluctant partner, the only remaining obstacle in his path, but the critically injured vigilante still manages to get the best of him after a brief struggle, finally avenging the death of his family. The Punisher tells a grieving Tommy to not grow up to be like his father, because he’ll be watching and waiting. With that warning, he disappears just as Berkowitz and his men arrive on the scene.

I loved this movie as a teenager, as it was very similar to many of the shoot-em-ups of the eighties and nineties that I grew up on. It was fun, fast-paced, action-packed, and starred the guy who played Rocky Balboa’s greatest nemesis just a few years earlier, and I feel like it’s actually improved as I’ve gotten older.

In the nearly three decades or so since I first watched this movie, I’ve definitely become more of a fan of the Punisher, having seen him pass through the hands of many creators and become more of a fleshed-out character with some pretty bizarre detours along the way, including becoming a mob hitman himself and a LITERAL angel of death at his lowest point. That’s not to say that he wasn’t a strong character before, but at the time of the movie, he had only just graduated to his own solo book (he’d soon have three) after popping up as a villain of the week or guest star for over a decade in the pages of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Daredevil. There wasn’t too much to go on as far as backstory that didn’t involve other Marvel characters, so they kept it pretty simple in the film with him being a one-man army against organized crime. In fact, he’s almost a side character in his own movie, which actually plays to the strength of the film’s cast.

Academy Award winner Louis Gossett, Jr. (Iron Eagle, HBO’s Watchmen), does much of the dramatic heavy lifting in this film, portraying the grizzled older cop that wants to solve the mystery behind the apparent death of his partner once and for all while also suspecting the worst, that his former friend is just as much of a criminal as the men they once tried to bring to justice. Through him, we also learn much of Castle’s backstory. In an early cut of the film, there was an entire first act that showed the two in better days, but here, we only see a Frank Castle that’s too far gone.

In the title role, Dolph Lundgren is completely believable as a killing machine, which is helped by his real-life background as a champion martial artist (and also his previous roles playing killing machines). He had also earned a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering before deciding to pursue modeling and acting as a career. In this film, he mostly only speaks when he has to, when he’s spoken to, or when he’s trying to get information, and even then, it’s mostly to intimidate his prey or to tell his captors to fuck off. He’s a bit wooden, but the character as we see him is meant to be pretty one-note, which breaks a little when we see him reflect on his past life or when he makes the decision to rescue the children of the criminals he’s sworn to kill. At times, we hear his inner monologue, where his craziness and dedication to his mission really comes through. Coincidentally, his illustrated counterpart would soon go on to communicate with readers in a similar way, through the pages of his “war journal”.

The main villain in the story, who soon becomes the lesser of two evils, is Gianni Franco, who is portrayed by Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbe (The Living Daylights, The Fugitive). Like Berkowitz, he also wants to bring an end to the Punisher’s reign of terror, but for completely different reasons. In the comic, Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) had been the chief organized crime figure in the Marvel universe, but Krabbe’s Franco is a fine enough stand-in, even if his accent slips from time to time and he isn’t the least bit believable at being Italian, which is further exacerbated by the over-the-top cartoonish “It’s a-me! Mar-io!” performances of many of his short-lived henchman. He’s a great actor, though, which is one of the ways in which this movie overachieves.

The cast is rounded out by Kim Miyori (The Grudge 2, TV’s St. Elsewhere) as the ruthless Yakuza boss, Lady Tanaka, who always seems to be multiple steps ahead of the competition, Nancy Everhard (Deepstar Six) as Berkowitz’s new partner that also believes his Castle theory, and Barry Otto (Strictly Ballroom, The Howling III) as the perpetually drunk, rhyme-spewing stage actor/informant that gets Punisher his intel.

The movie, originally slated to film in the US, was filmed in Australia for monetary reasons, but still carried a decent enough budget of about nine million dollars. Director Mark Goldblatt had only helmed one film previously, the horror action comedy Dead Heat, and would never direct another feature film. However, he was already well-established behind the scenes as an editor, where he had a hand in putting together some of the most iconic action films of all time, which already included The Terminator, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Commando, and would go on to include Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Starship Troopers and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The film was written by Boaz Yakin, who was just starting out, but would go on to write Prince of Persia and Now You See Me, while also directing such films as Fresh (which he also wrote), Jason Statham’s Safe, and one of Denzel Washington’s biggest hits, Remember the Titans”  Robert Mark Kamen, the film’s producer, helped punch up the script and had already established himself on the action scene, having written the Karate Kid films. He would go on to write Lethal Weapon 3, The Fifth ElementThe TransporterTaken and the recent Gerard Butler hit Angel Has Fallen.

The film was shot in 1988, but due to financial difficulties on the part of the production company (Roger Corman’s New World Pictures) and the lack of interest on the part of the new owners, the film languished. It received only a limited theatrical release overseas and screened at some comic conventions before eventually being sold to Live Entertainment (now Lionsgate, who would go on to produce 2004’s The Punisher and 2008’s Punisher: War Zone) and released on home video in the United States in June of 1991. I would probably rent it a good half a dozen times by the end of the year.

“The Punisher” isn’t just a good early representation of the comic book movie genre, but a good late-eighties action film in general that just happened to have an unusually great pedigree for a film with its reputation. I don’t necessarily think it would have been an enormous hit if it was given a fair shake, but it certainly would have done better than Marvel’s other big screen attempt at the time, the live action Captain America, which was a complete miss all around and featured Steve Rogers using the “Can you pull the car over, I think I’m going to be sick” excuse to get out of a jam TWICE. Frank Castle’s origin may have changed in the film, making him an ex-cop instead of a former Marine, but at least he didn’t threaten to shit himself in Ned Beatty’s car.

True Believer (1989)

True Believer is loosely based on a series of articles written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist K. W. Lee that was all about the conviction of immigrant Chol Soo Lee for a 1973 San Francisco Chinatown gangland murder. His articles to a new trial, as well as the eventual acquittal and release of Soo Lee from San Quentin’s Death Row.

Screenwriter Wesley Strick, who wrote the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street as well as DoomCape FearBatman Returns and Arachnophobia, based James Woods’ character Eddie Dodd on real-life Bay Area defense attorney Tony Serra. Check out the ponytail on Woods!

Dodd is burned out, having left behind civil rights and idealism to defend drug dealers. His law clerk, Roger Baron (Robert Downey Jr.), urges him to take on the case of Shu Kai Kim (Yuji Okumoto, who played the best bad guy of all time, Chozen Toguchi in The Karate Kid Part II), a young Korean who is in jail for a gang-related murder and has already killed another inmate in self-defense. This being an older movie, the dialogue speaks about Shu Kai Kim’s distinctive Korean features, yet Okumoto is Japanese-American.

Dodd and Baron’s investigation leads to a conspiracy that has the district attorney, a police informant and several police officers behind it all.

Kurtwood Smith (RoboCop) plays one of the prosecutors. Character actor Kurt Fuller shows up as well — you’ll recognize him as soon as you see him. Plus, there’s an early role for Luis Guzman.

True Believer is directed by Joseph Ruben. whose history includes Sleeping with the EnemyThe StepfatherGorp and The Good Son.

There was a TV spin off from the film, Eddie Dodd, with Treat Williams in the lead, that lasted for six episodes in 1991.

Mill Creek Entertainment has just re-released this film on blu ray, complete with 80’s retro look packaging. You can order it here.

DISCLAIMER: This film was sent to us by Mill Creek.

Demons 6 De Profundis (1989)

Oh man, where do I even begin in trying to make sense of this movie?

It’s not a sequel to Demons, no matter what the title tells you.

It was called Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat in America, when it most assuredly has nothing to do with that film.

And somehow, it was nearly called De Profundis (From The Deep) and is also sometimes referred to as Demons 6: Armageddon, which makes sense because it’s filled with scenes of space and planets randomly throughout the movie.

It’s also — sit down for this one — an unofficial sequel to Suspiria and Inferno, made back when Argento hadn’t yet decided to close off that cycle of movies with Mother of Tears. Yes, the script to this movie was adapted from Daria Nicolodi’s (Argento’s ex-wife and creator of The Three Mothers trilogy) script for what was going to be an official Argento Three Mothers film that never saw the light of day. And who better than Luigi Cozzi — who in addition to making Starcrash and the Ferrigno Hercules films, runs Argento’s store Profondo Rosso store — to direct this?

Are you confused yet? I am and I haven’t even started watching the movie yet!

Here — watch the whole thing yourself and see if you can make any sense of it.

This one is all about Marc (Urbano Barberini, who was actually in Demons), a horror film director, is making a movie called Suspiria De Profundis that is a sequel to Suspiria and based on Thomas De Quincey’s story Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow. There’s even a sequence where the characters discuss just how good of a director Argento is as they reveal what the Mother of Madness looks like, dripping with worms and gore.

Marc casts his actress wife, Anne (Florence Guerin, Too Beautiful to Die) in the lead, along with Nora (Caroline Munro, who I should not have to tell you anything about other than the fact that her being in this movie makes me overjoyed). Things seem to go pretty well for all involved until Levana, who it turns out is a real person, objects to how she’s portrayed in the movie and goes wild, blowing up food in refrigerators and people’s chests. 

Levana — the Mother of Tears — may be the lead villain, but there’s also an evil film producer in a wheelchair named Leonard Levin (Brett Halsey, DemoniaThe Devil’s Honey) who hints at wanting to take Marc’s soul. And Nora has designs on Marc, so there’s that. Also — a refrigrator that sprays food everywhere and Michele Soavi in a cameo as a director.

This movie is also packed with mid-80’s hair metal, featuring Bang Tango and White Lion all over the soundtrack.

Charitably, this movie is a mess, but I completely loved every single minute of it. There’s enough bile and blood and breasts and beasts to satisfy just about any horror movie lover. I’m in for Demons 7 if these guys want to make it.

Demons 5: The Devil’s Veil (1989)

Oh Lamberto Bava…here we go again.

A group of skiers on the Swiss Alps fall into a chasm opened during an avalanche, which kills one of them named Bebo, played by Michel Soavi, who can’t seem to get away from any movies in the Demons series. Soon, they find a metal mask — whoops, this happens so often in Demons movies — and discover a body buried between the ice. Digging around, it causes them to get buried deeper in the snow, so deep that they discover an underground city where a witch was executed. And that witch? Well, she decides that this group of skiers would make the perfect instruments of her revenge.

Lamberto decided that if he was going to make another movie in the Demons saga, why not also remake his father’s Black Sunday while he was at it?

That movie was filmed because the elder Bava was a big fan of Nikolay Gogol’s short story Viy, often reading it to his children. When he was allowed to choose the storyline for a movie he wanted to direct, he chose Gogol’s story, which also inspired the 1967 Russian film.

Sadly, Lamberto is no Mario. He tries, he really does. And this film is pretty entertaining. But Black Sunday is the kind of film that’s going to live forever.

Davide is the de facto leader of this group and his girlfriend Sabina (Debora Caprioglio, using the last name of her fiancee Klaus Kinski here) breaks her leg and it’s instantly healed. Is it any wonder that she’s soon possessed by the dead witch Anibas, who has the same name as her only reversed? What kind of coincidence is that?

There’s also a blind priest that everyone adores making fun, which makes you wish for the entire cast to be killed. Well, you get what you want, trust me. Mary Sellers from Stagefright is in this, as is Eva Grimaldi from Ratman as the demonic form of Anibas.

Man, what a demonic form it is. After she begins seducing our hero, her young breasts instantly transform into withered old tears and her feet and hands are replaced with chicken claws while she spits white fluid all over him. Oh yeah — she also has the facial scars that Barbara Steele wore in Mario’s vastly superior film.

I don’t want to make Lamberto feel bad. He has some fun visuals and effects here, plenty of gore and some great music from Simon Boswell and gooey effects from Sergio Stivaletti, who directed The Wax Mask and did the effects for DemonsHands of SteelDemons 2The ChurchThe Sect and Cemetery Man.

It even has the same title as Black Sunday in Italy: La Maschera del Demonio. There’s also plenty of nudity and a scene where the witch’s tongue comes so far out of her mouth that she starts choking Davide and he’s like, well, alright, I guess I’ll have sex with her now.

Demons III: The Ogre (1989)

Following the success of the film Demons and Demons 2, Reiteitalia would announce a series entitled Brivido a Series Giallo, which would be five made-for-TV movies by Lamberto Bava. Of the announced five, only The OgreGraveyard DisturbanceUntil Death and Dinner With a Vampire were made.

The script, written by Dardano Sacchetti, is pretty much the original script for The House By the Cemetery before Lucio Fulci added to the tale. Seeing as how it was a TV movie, there was some self-censorship, as Bava said that were this a real movie, the ogre would have eaten children.

Cheryl (Virginia Bryant, Demons 2The Barbarians) is a sexually confused American writer of horror novels who traves to Italy with her husband Tom (Paolo Malco, The New York RipperThunder) and son Bobby — yep, little Bob, but not Giovanni Frezza — to work on her next book.

She begins to have nightmares of childhood memories of being stalked by an ogre and becomes convinced that the house has a curse on it that is bringing her past memories into our reality.

Alex Serra, who was the blind man from the original Demons, also shows up. Speaking of Demons, this movie was released outside of Italy as the third film in that series. As you’ll soon learn from the Demoni sequels, it has nothing to do with the first two films. Even more confusing, this was released on DVD in Germany as Ghosthouse II, the sequel to the Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse/La Casa 3. That movie is confusing, too, as it’s the third movie in the La Casa series, which translates to house in Italian, but has nothing to do with the movie House. Instead, Evil Dead is known as La Casa in Italy.

I’ve learned one thing from this movie. If you want to kill an ogre, run it over numerous times with a truck. Then it will just disappear.

Beyond the Door III (1989)

Much like the second Beyond the Door — which we’d rather call Shock — this movie has nothing to do with the original Beyond the Door. It comes to us from Jeff Kwitny, who also directed Iced. But what makes this movie sing is that the writing comes from Sheila Goldberg, who wrote the screenplay for Body Count, as well as the dialogue for Stage FrightZombi 5: Killing BirdsGhosthouse and Eleven Days, Eleven Nights Part 2. None of these movies are known for their dialogue or coherence, so that means that I’m going to love every single moment of this film.

What takes it into the stratosphere of mania for me is the producer. Yes, Ovidio G. Assonitis, that magical Egyptian-born Greek man who crafted such wonderous objets d’art such as the original Beyond the DoorTentaclesMadhouse and Piranha II: The Spawning. He also produced movies like Iron WarriorWho Saw Her Die?Forever Emmanuelle and the magical treat that is The Visitor. Somehow and someway, Disney hired him to produce their TV movie Sabrina Goes to Rome. What — Joe D’Amoto was busy?

Shy American college coed Beverly Putnic is on her way to a class trip in Yogoslavia to see an ancient cultural rite (you know, kinda like Midsommar but much more interesting). But she doesn’t realize that she’s due to become a bride of the devil! Blame Professor Andromolek (Bo Svenson!) for that!

This movie is also known as Amok Train, which makes much better sense as a title, because after the students escape the village where they’re all nailed shut in their rooms, they board a possessed train that is driven to kill every single one of them. This train is crazy, it can separate itself into single cars, it can jump the tracks and run over people when they hide in a swamp and it can crash into another train and just keep on going.

So where is the train going?

It turns out that Beverly has been selected as Satan’s bride since she was a baby. Luckily, she’s found an 11th-century monk on the train to take her virginity — I bet he does it in the missionary position — which makes her a non-virgin and unfit for the bride of Satan. Um, wouldn’t Satan want a promiscuous woman for a wife?

Anyways, Marius disappears and gives Beverly a book from her mother. She then returns home, looking much older than when she left. There’s a Carrie shock ending where the devil tries to kill her on the plane, but that’s just a dream.

This is the kind of movie that I love, where little to nothing makes sense, where moms drop you off at the airport and are soon beheaded, where everyone dies horrible and trains have personalities and are given to killing college students. It also looks gorgeous with actual thought and art behind each frame, something lost in the glut of direct to streaming films of today.

Who else but Vinegar Syndrome could put this out on blu ray? You should grab this right away.

Paganini Horror (1989)

Luigi Cozzi, welcome back to B & S About Movies! We’re so happy to have you back and so pleased that you’ve gifted us with movies like Hercules and Starcrash. I’m so pleased with the magic that you’ve brought us today, a near last gasp of Italian horror at the tail end of the 80’s.

At La Casa di Sol, an ancient Venezian home of various composers, a young violinist (Cozzi’s daughter Giada) practices a Paganini song before she then decides to electrocutes her mother by throwing a hair dryer into the bathtub. We haven’t even started the movie yet and it’s already deranged!

A female rock band is told by their manager that they should find a new song. The drummer travels to a secluded location to meet Mr. Pickett (Donald Pleasence!) to buy an unpublished score by Paganini called “Paganini Horror.” The manager, the drummer and lead singer Kate (Jasmine Maimone, Nancy from Demons) agree to record the song and head to La Casa di Sol to make a music video with horror director Mark Singer (Pietro Genuardi, Cemetery Man).

So who owns La Casa? Sylvia (Daria Nicolodi, who beyond writing and appearing in this, wrote Suspiria), who is the young girl from the beginning all grown up.

Oh man, this movie. From the fungus found on the logs used to make Stradivarius violins killing people to invisible walls wiping out most of the audience, this movie is bonkers in the best of ways. There’s also Paganini himself, stabbing people and sealing them up in giant bass cases before setting them on fire, before daylight streams through the window and turns him into ash in the shape of a treble clef.

In the original cut, which was eight minutes longer with scenes of planets, galaxies and parallel dimensions that were supposed to give the movie a stronger science fiction touch, as well as a scene in which Pleasence’s character put on Paganini’s mask and clothes. Cozzi cut these scenes as producer Fabrizio De Angelis wanted a simpler horror movie.

The rules of why people are trapped in the house and whether or not its Hell are never really explained, but this is Italian cinema. There’s going to be plenty of bright red blood, lots of screaming, some 1980’s looking music video scenes and a masked Pleasence stabbing people. It’s a funhouse ride that is well worth taking.

You can get this on blu ray from the awesome people at Severin. I’ve only had a bootleg of this film for years, so I’m happy to finally add it to my collection.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)

Monte Hellman started his career by directing Roger Corman’s Beast from Haunted Cave before working with Jack Nicholson on the westerns The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind, as well as creating the films Two-Lane Blacktop and Cockfighter. He also shot second unit on RoboCop and executive produced Reservoir Dogs.

The original script was thrown out and rewritten in one week, with that rejected version becoming the fourth film in the series. Shooting was completed by the next month and then editing was complete two months after that. This is a down and direct VHS rental film, but it isn’t without its charms.

After being shot by police at the end of the previous film — cue the stock footage from Silent Night, Deadly Night — Ricky Caldwell has been in a coma for six years. Now, he has a transparent dome covering his damaged skull and the blood sloshes all around inside his brainpan.

Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer, Ben Horne from Twin Peaks) is an eccentric doctor who wants to reach Ricky (now played by Bill Moseley!)  by using a blind clairvoyant named Laura Anderson (Samantha Scully, Best of the Best).

Laura hates the experience and decides to quit. She goes home for the holidays to visit her grandmother (Elizabeth Hoffman, Fear No Evil) with her brother (Eric Da Re, Leo Johnson from Twin Peaks) and his girlfriend Jerri (Laura Harring, who played Rita and Camilla Rhodes in Mulholland Drive, as well as being the first hispanic Miss USA).

Meanwhile, a drunk hospital employee dressed as Santa taunts a comatose Ricky, who wakes up and kills the guy. Soon, he’s on a trail of bloody murder all over again, tracked by Newbury and Lieutenant Connely (Robert Culp).

Ricky can see into the mind of our heroine — and vice versa — which means she can tell that he’s probably already taken out grandmother and that her brother, his girl and she are next.

Honestly, this is my favorite of the series so far — I haven’t gotten to 4 and 5 yet — because it’s sheer madness punctuated by people who have acted in David Lynch movies. I wonder if he used this as an example of who to cast?

You can watch this for free — with ads — on Vudu.

Prancer (1989)

I love my wife, but man, when she gets control of the remote, we end up watching movies like Prancer when all I want to watch is Cannibal Holocaust again. I’m joking — I know it’s Christmas, but c’mon.

Here’s the demented thing about this movie: it has the same director as Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, John D. Hancock. I swear to Santa.

This movie is all about nine-year-old Jessica Riggs (Rebecca Harrell Tickell, who left acting to become a clean Earth activist), who is being raised by her widower father John (Sam Elliot). He can handle raising her brother Steve, but feels that she’d be better of being raised by his sister-in-law Sarah (Rutanya Alda from Mommie Dearest and Amityville II: The Possession).

Eventually, her obsession with Santa’s reindeer Prancer pays off and she gets to nurse him back to health. But man, is this a dark movie. The eighties are packed with dead moms in movies and this is yet another holiday film where everything is beyond somber.

Michael Constantine from the Greek Wedding movies is a Santa in this, plus you get Cloris Leachman, Abe Vigoda, a young Johnny Galecki and Ariana Richards from Jurassic Park.

You know how dark this one is?

Director John D. Hancock insists that Prancer’s fate — either he rejoins Santa or leaps off the cliff to his death — should be left open to interpretation.


I’m not always a fan of studio notes, but I get why they wanted a more definitive answer. Originally, Hancock decided on an elaborate special-effects sequence showing Prancer’s journey to Santa’s sleigh, but they couldn’t afford that.

When asked, Hancock claims that the shot of Prancer rejoining Santa is all in Jessica’s mind.

So the reindeer is dead.

Merry Christmas from John D. Hancock.

Please don’t tell my wife, but there’s also a direct-to-video sequel, Prancer Returns. I pray that it’s not on Amazon Prime.

ANOTHER TAKE ON: My Mom’s A Werewolf (1989)

You may have asked, “Did the director of Death Spa make anything else?” I’m here to answer that affirmatively, because today we’re going back to the Mill Creek Pure Terror box set with My Mom’s A Werewolf, an oddity that somehow unites some of my favorite disparate stars and plops them into a late 80’s comedy. This movie is ridiculous, yet it got me right from the beginning, thanks to plenty of cheesy synth and MTV era rock — I have a weakness for bands that only got their songs into one movie no one has ever heard of — as well as its loving depiction of a horror movie convention.

Leslie Shaber (Susan Blakely, who between CaponeThe Lords of FlatbushThe Concorde … Airport ’79 and Over the Top is all over our site; she’s also Cherry Diamond in Dream a Little Dream) is a suburban mom who has a boring life and a husband named Howard (John Schuck, forever Sgt. Charles Enright from McMillan & Wife, as well as the 80’s version of Herman Munster, the robotic cop from short-lived 70’s series Homes & Yoyo and the Klingon Kamarag, one of the few Star Trek characters to appear in more than one more of the films).

Her daughter Jennifer (Tina Caspary, who makes appearances in tons of 80’s favorites like Can’t Buy Me LoveTeen WitchMac and Me and Annie) worries that her parents will get divorced, but she continually gets sidetracked by her horror movie loving friend Stacey (Diana Barrows, who would end up in a horror movie herself, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood). I mean, this girl loves movies so much that she has Prime EvilDeathrow Gameshow and Galaxina posters up in her room. In fact, this movie mentions Galaxina more than anyone ever has.

They meet a fortune teller (Ruth Buzzi, of course), who tells Jennifer that she has the mark of the pentagram on her face and that soon, she’ll fight an unholy evil.

After being ignored by her husband while he watches football, Leslie goes shopping for a flea collar. The owner of the story, Harry Thropen (John Saxon, who is perhaps my favorite actor of all time) offers her a free flea collar while he eats a mouse. Seriously, he has the dirtiest and scariest pet store you’ve ever seen. So, of course, she falls for him and he ends up biting one of her toes, changing her.

This movie strangely treats the powers of werewolves like vampires, but hey, if you wanted to see Saxon shirtless, this movie is all for you.

This movie turns into sight gag city, with Jewish deli jokes, singing werewolves, a riff on the dentist scene from Little Shop of Horrors (the dentist is Geno Silva, who was the silent killer The Skull in Scarface) and the wolfen mom seeing John Saxon everywhere she goes.

It ends up being daughter against werewolf lord, complete with knowledge straight out of Fangoria. Oh yeah — Solid Gold host Marilyn McCoo and Marcia Wallace, who was the secretary on the original The Bob Newhart Show and Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons also is in here. Keep an eye out for Kimmy Robertson, who was Lucy on Twin Peaks too.

If you go into this expecting nothing to be serious and John Saxon quite literally chewing everything he can, than you’ll enjoy this as much as I did. The PURE TERROR set continually surprises me with the all of the place nature of its contents. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.