Drive-In Friday: Dennis Devine Night

We’ve already taken a look at Double D’s best-promoted and best-known film — via the back of pulpy, ’80s monster mags — Dead Girls, and his latest, 30th film, Camp Blood 8 — each part of our respective “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week II” and our October “All Slasher Month” tributes. And, the best part, Dennis is a D-Town brother: yep, the land of Jim Morrison’s doppelganger from 1974, that wizard of “the D,” The Phantom of the Divine Comedy fame (no pun intended). Devine was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Eastern Michigan University before heading to Los Angeles, graduating from Loyola Marymount University’s film school, and forming DJD Productions.

So, for this Drive-In Friday, lets load the projector with four more of Dennis Devine films. And not all of them are the horror films you expect them to be.

Movie 1: Fatal Images (1989)

Next to Dear Girls, this debut feature — produced for $10,000 and shot-on-Beta with Dead Girls’ Steve Jarvis — is my favorite of the Devine cannons and the Cinematrix imprint.

Starring Kay Schaber, Angela Eads, and Brian Chin from the later Dead Girls, they’re three of several people victimized by a Satanist-worshipping photographer-cum-serial killer who — instead of sealing his body in a doll, ala Chucky in Child’s Play (1988; 2019), Devine’s writing cohort, Mike Bowler (Hell Spa, Things, Things II, Club Dead, Amazon Warrior, Chain of Souls, Haunted), who spins an inventive change-up to the spiritual hocus pocus — commits suicide before the police can catch him, and seals his body inside a camera.

Years later, Amy Stuart (Lane Coyle who, in typical Devine fashion, never appeared in another film), an aspiring photographer who works for the town’s newspaper, purchases the vintage camera from a pawn shop staffed with a creepy, ulterior motive shopkeep — and everyone she photographs is tracked down and murdered by the killer’s spirit.

What helps this along is the effects that come courtesy of the iconic Gabe Bartalos, who worked on Dead Girls, as well as Frankenhooker, Spookies, Brain Damage, and the Fright Night, Basket Case, Leprechaun, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Gremlins and Watchers series. And don’t forget: Gabe’s in the directing business with Skinned Deep (2004) and Saint Bernard (2013).

You can watch Fatal Images as a free stream on You Tube. Do you need a more expansive, second look? Then check out Sam’s review of Fatal Images. It’s true! We love this film and Mr. Devine.

Movie 2: Things (1993)

“A horrific and sexy romp in the dark.”
— Joe Bob Briggs

Now, if that tag from the guru of Drive-In fodder on the VHS “big-box” doesn’t make you want to mail order this third effort from Dennis Devine, then nothing will. And yes . . . multiple titles alert . . . here are two movies carrying the “Things” title: the first is the infamous Canuxploitation-North of the Border Horror, Things (1989). And the three sequels from 1998 and 2017 to Devine’s film have nothing to do with the Canux one — or with each other — for that matter.

This “Things” is an anthology-portmanteau film in three parts: “The Box” directed and written by Devine,” “Thing in a Jar” written by Steve Jarvis and directed by Jay Woelfel, and the wrap-around/linking segment written by Mike Bowler and directed by Eugene James. All are film school friends and DJD cohorts, natch.

The segments come together as a woman kidnaps her husband’s mistress and tells the mistress two horror stories involving “evil things” — that’s all converged in a related, twist ending. And unlike the classic Amicus and Hammer omnibus flicks it homages, Things dispenses with the atmospheric-gothic angle of its Brit forefathers and goes straight for — the bountiful — guts n’ gore. The first tale concerns hookers who meet their fate to a cursed creature kept in a box; the second is about a woman haunted by is-it-real-or-nightmares “things” concerning her abusive husband.

You can watch Things on TubiTV. There’s no online copies of 2 or 3 (aka Deadly Tales, aka, Old Things) currently streaming online, but you can watch Things 4 on TubiTV. And again, DO NOT confuse this with the “North of the Border Horror” Things from 1989 . . . as that is a whole other “thing” to watch.

INTERMISSION: Short Film Time!

The Things about Things Sidebar: Battlestar Galactica fans know Jay Woelfel as the director of Richard Hatch’s failed 1999 BSG theatrical reboot with the short “pitch film” Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming that Universal rejected in lieu of the eventual SyFy Channel series. You can watch Hatch and Woelfel’s vision on You Tube. As you’ll see the, concept of “evolved Cylons” and the new Raiders design for the series was pinched from this version — and the most popular characters and actors returned.

And back to the show . . .

Movie 3: Curse of Pirate Death (2006)

It’s more goofy, ne’er-do-well college kids of the Scooby Doo variety heading off — not into the Norwegian Slasher Wood (as in Camp Blood 8) — but the ocean, Pirate’s Point in particular, as they research the myth of a centuries old killer, Abraham LeVoy, aka Pirate Death. And if they find his legendary treasure along the way, all the better for Shaggy and the Mystery Machine gang.

You’ve got — even though some are cut-a-ways or off-camera (ugh, damn budget) — a high kill count and lots of zombie-ghost pirate fighting that reminds of the great Amando de Ossorio’s third entry in his “Blind Dead” series, The Ghost Galleon (1974; the one with the living corpses of the Satan-worshiping Knights Templar hunting for human victims trapped on a 16th century galleon), but it’s definitely not as good as a de Ossorio flick (and what film is). Yeah, this one’s suffering from its ultra-low-budget that lends to sketchy cinematography and strained acting in places, but this has the usual Devine heart n’ soul with a mix of dark humor and horror that lends to its fun, snappy pace. Bottom line: If you want to see porn-provocateur Ron Jeremy (Boondock Saints/Overnight; also of Devine’s Night of the Dead from 2012) get a (cut-a-way) sword in the gut, this is your movie. If you want to see girls dressed as a sexy cop and German Beer Wench (Get that Bud Light chick outta ‘ere, I want a St. Pauli Girl!) stranded on an island dispatched by a dead pirate with guacamole smeared on his face, this is you movie.

One of the few Devine movies available through the service, you can rental-stream Curse of Pirate Death for a $1.99 on Amazon Prime. The DVD has a director-actor commentary track, along with a making of, gag reel, and meet the cast vignettes. The Amazon Prime stream offers a clip sample and You Tube offers a trailer via the film’s distributor, Brain Damage Films.

Movie 4: Get the Girl (2009)

Dennis Devine makes the jump from the pulpy lands of back-of-a-monster magazine-mail order SOVs to the streaming world of Netflix in this pretty obvious Judd Apatow-influencer. It concerns a geek (Adam Salandra of Devine’s Don’t Look in the Cellar) who masters Guitar Master (aka a chintzy Guitar Hero knock-off) to impress a sexy-brainless co-worker, much to the chagrin of his dowdy, co-worker gal pal. Guess which girl he gets. (Yeah, I’d want to “get the girl” with the ponytail and eye glasses, too.)

You can watch Get the Girl as a free-with-ads stream on TubiTV. Other films in the Devine comedy cannons include Kid Racer (2010; yep, go-carts), Dewitt & Maria (2010; a rom-com), Fat Planet (2013; aliens into food), and Baker & Dunn (2017; that also works as mystery thriller).

For you Devineites (Or is that Devineheads?) check out his TubiTV page to watch the horrors Don’t Look in the Cellar (2008), The Haunting of La Llorona (2019), and the comedy Fat Planet (2013).

We wanted to do Devine’s Vampires of Sorority Row (1999), Vampires on Sorority Row II (2000), and his campy-vamp comedy Vamps in the City (2010) for our recent “Vampire Week,” but were unable to locate online streaming copies for you to enjoy — free or otherwise. The same goes for the Reggie “Phantasm” Bannister-starring Sawblade (2010) for our “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week II,” about an extreme-metal band a trapped-in-a-haunted house-for-a-video shoot tale (i.e., Blood Tracks and Monster Dog).

You need more Dennis Devine? Check out this Spotify podcast (that streams on all apps, and browser PCs and Laps) courtesy of Inside Movies Galore in promotion of Devine’s latest film, Camp Blood 8. You can also catch the podcast on streaming provider, Anchor.

Write your own Drive-In Friday Feature! Contact us!

From the Shameless Plugs Department: Yeah, I wrote a couple of books about the 1974 mystery of the ghost of Jim Morrison, The Phantom. If you follow up with the You Tube page, you’ll find lots of rare, live and studio tracks from the Phantom’s Detroit-based band Walpurgis and Pendragon.

Is it Jim or just record company tomfoolery?

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

Drive-In Friday: Tibor Takács Night

Primarily known as a talent manager, studio producer and engineer, Hungarian born director Tibor Takács worked behind the boards for the Canadian bands the Viletones and the Cardboard Brains before he became a director. His first feature film project was the self-produced Metal Messiah (1978), a long-form rock opera/video which starred two bands from his stable: Kickback and the Cardboard Brains.

Best known for the internationally-distributed “No False Metal” classic, The Gate (1987), he made his feature film debut with the 1978-shot-and-1982 released CBC-TV movie 984: Prisoner of the Future, which has long since fallen into the public domain and is easily found on a wide variety of bargin-basement sci-fi DVD sets. After the cult VHS and cable status of The Gate, he was poised to direct A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, but passed on the project . . . and he gave us The Gate 2: The Trespassers and the pilot movie for the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

These days, he’s churning out the mockbuster hoards of Ice Spiders, Mega Snake, and Destruction: Los Angeles, as well as other films concerning all manner of meteors, tornadoes, mosquitoes, black holes, and rats for the SyFy Channel . . . and he got into the Hallmark Christmas movie business alongside our equally beloved Fred Olen Ray and David DeCoteau.

Oh, and Hallmark romance flicks.

Did Sam and I watch The Secret Ingredient for its February 2020 premiere — making our significant others cringe in the process — as we chomped on our popcorn and gulped our A&W Root Beers with glee? Damn right, we did. And you know how B&S About Movies is about our Christmas movies . . . so yes, we did binge the Takacs X-Mas oeuvre of Once Upon A Christmas (2000), Twice Upon a Christmas (2001), Rocky Mountain Christmas (2017), It’s Christmas, Eve (2018), Memories of Christmas (2018), and A Christmas Miracle (2019). And when Tibor finishes off his currently-in-production Lifetime damsel-in-distress thriller Roadkill — his 48th directing effort — we’ll watch that one, as well.

But what we really want to know: Tibor, when in the hell are you and Eric Roberts going to do a movie together? It’s de rigueur for guys like you, Olen Ray, and DeCoteau. Make it happen, Tibor! Remember when you wrote and directed Redline, aka Deathline, that bionic-man-out-for-revenge actioner back in 1997 with Rutger Hauer and Mark Dacascos? Or Bad Blood, aka Viper, from 1994 with Lorenzo Lamas as a bad-ass trucker taking down the mob? Something like those flicks . . . just cut Eric Roberts loose to kick mercenary and mobster ass as an “aging action hero” thespin’ his little heart out . . . as a rogue C.I.A black-ops agent, like Mack Dacascos in 1998’s Sanctuary. Make it happen, buddy!

Movie 1: The Gate (1987)

Come on, you know this movie, ye wee metal pup.

This is — non-CGI, mind you — a tale of an album known as The Dark Book by Sacrifyx — a band who died in a horrific accident after its recording — that serves as “the key” to opening a gate to hell . . . that just so happened to be under the roots of a lightning-stuck tree in the backyard of future Blu Cigs spokesman Stephen Dorff (he was 12 at the time).

How loved is this movie? You can buy Sacrifyx “The Dark Book” T-shirts on esty. Fans have compiled “Top 10” lists about the film. Sacrifyx is noted as one of the best “fake bands” on film. And . . .

There’s a (very bafflin, but awesome) Sacrifyx website, and . . .

An equally eerie album by a band called Sacrifyx listed on Discogs that recorded an album at Dunwich Analog Studios in Detroit, Michigan, in 1983 — with a song “The Gate.” But wait, the movie didn’t come out until 1987?

Shivers. And guess what . . . the album is real. It’s on You Tube. Which Old God is F’in with us, here? Love this movie, ye must!

Movie 2: The Gate II: Trespassers (1990)

Dude . . . imagine a Tibor-made Freddy Krueger movie? How awesome could that have been? Instead, we got a sequel to The Gate — both written by Michael Nankin, who made his debut with the David Naughton-starring (yes, the Dr. Pepper “Making It” Meatballs werewolf in London guy), Animal House-rip Midnight Madness in 1980.

The upside to this movie: Terry shoots and scores! He bags a babe. So, you see, it pays to worship Satan and dabble in the black arts. Do it! Chant Natas three times and the babes will come crawlin’ out the ground for ya!

Is The Gate II as good as the original? Nope. But it’s a lot of fun with great non-CGI effects, once again, from Randall William Cook, who also handles the SFX for the next feature on this evening’s program.

Intermission! Spin the dark circle, if you dare . . .

Back to the Show!

Movie 3: I, Madman (1989)

Long before meta-fiction became shot-on-iPhone de rigueur for the digital auteur crowd (For Jennifer), Julio Cortázar wrote a short story — La Continuidad de Los Parques (The Continuity of the Parks) — a tale that is three stories; each aware of one another in a universe where fiction collides with meta-fiction.

The much-missed Jenny Wright of Near Dark fame (I recall reading her interview in Shock Cinema Issues #45 that went into detail about the abuses she suffered and caused her exit from the business) is Virginia, a bookish girl obsessed with writer Malcolm Brand’s I, Madman. In the pages of that tale, the deformed Dr. Kessler attempts to win over an actress by killing people and adding their faces to his own. And she comes face to face, literally, with Dr. Kessler as he’s entered the real world.

Should this follow up to The Gate be as revered and remembered as The Gate. Yes. Is it? No. Love this movie, you must. It’s awesomeness and a bag ‘o garlic fingers.

P.S. You need more “film within a film” tomfoolery? Check out Anguish (1987).

Movie 4: 984: Prisoner of the Future (1982)

Tibor’s first commercial film project was this failed Canadian TV series pilot programmer in 1978. Courtesy of the Star Wars-infused sci-fi market, it was shook loose from the analog dustbins onto home video shelves in 1982.

Also circulating on DVD bargain comps as The Tomorrow Man, it’s a surreal psychological drama concerned with the imprisonment of an intelligence agent in an Orwellian future. Don’t let the Dr. Who-esque TV production designs deter you from watching this well-written and acted sci-fi’er — a commendable start to the awesome career of Tibor Takács.

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

Mill Creek Sci-Fi Invasion: Slipstream (1989)

For decades, I’ve either stared at the box cover of this movie or looked at it while going through streaming movies to watch. I mean, it checks so many boxes, as it’s set in a post-apocalyptic future, has bounty hunters in it and stars Mark Hamill and Bill Paxton. Yet I’ve never watched it. And again, that’s why I love doing these Mill Creek months, because it’s allowed me to finally discover so many movies that I’ve previously skipped.

I don’t know if Slipstream is one of the successes of these experiments, but hey, at least I finally watched it.

It certainly has a great pedigree. It has a score by Elmer Bernstein, was directed by Steven Lisberger, who made Tron, and waproduced by Gary Kurtz, who did the same role on The Dark CrystalReturn to Oz and oh yeah, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Before Jedi, Lucas and Kurtz had a falling out over the creative direction of the franchise.

That’s probably why this film has so many great actors in it. Beyond Hamill and Paxton, there are minor roles for Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley and F. Murray Abraham.

The film instantly tries to create a mythology of a world where the Harmonic Convergence — oh man, remember that and all the other pre-millennial apocalyptic insanity? — has caused drastic climate change in the form of the Slipstream, a strong series of winds that have encircled the globe. Humanity is mostly destroyed, but those left behind have learned to harness the Slipstream or at the very least respect it. 

Bounty hunters Will Tasker (Hammill) and Belitski (Kitty Aldridge) are hunting Byron (Bob Peck, Jurassic Park), a man is seemingly unable to be hurt and who keeps quoting the poetry of John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and Lord Byron, who can also heal blind children (so there’s that).

As for Paxton, he plays Matt Owens, who angers the bounty hunters and then steals Byron, taking him to Hell’s Kitchen. It turns out that Byron is an android that dreams of a place beyond the Slipstream where more of his people reside. 

Kurtz hoped that Slipstream would be a major success and start another science fiction franchise, so it’s pretty glossy and filled with all manner of characters who could have been spun off into future stories. But nope, it all ended here. It never received a theatrical release in the U.S. and was hampered by Kurtz’s divorce — man, the guy was having no luck in 1989 — which led to him having to use all of his Star Wars money to finance this. 

Maybe people weren’t ready for a movie obsessed with aviation, free will and artificial intelligence, I guess. It’s not necessarily bad, but it doesn’t feel like a franchise starter that failed (see Krull for a good example of that). There’s some kind of good movie in here, but it never really takes off. And after that aviation-based pun, I’m out of here.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Cold Light of Day (1989)

Detectives have been called to a residential address in the London suburbs after a blockage in the drains turns out to be human remains. Dennis Nilsen is brought in for questioning, and while he seems like a normal person at first, he would come to be known as the “British Jeffrey Dahmer.”

If you haven’t seen or heard of this fictionalized account of these murders before, no worries — after winning the UCCA Venticittà Award at the 1990 Venice International Film Festival — it went largely unnoticed.

A grainy 16mm effort with sound design that seems to want to punch you repeatedly in the face, this is by no means an easy watch. In no way does it glorify the violence or reasons behind these killings, but takes a dispassionate, almost documentary-style approach to the proceedings.

This is writer/director Fhiona-Louise’s only full-length film, but the Arrow re-release also contains two of her shorts, Metropolis Apocalypse and Sleepwalker, as well as a new commentary track from her. This limited edition — 2,000 copies only — release is a must for lovers of true crime and confrontational experimental cinema.

You can get this from Arrow.


Drive-In Friday: ’80s Teen Sex Comedy Night

As Robert Freese pointed out in his “Exploring: 80s Comedies” featurette for B&S About Movies, Bob Clark’s Porky’s opened up a cottage industry of teen sex comedies. And boy, did producers scrape the grease pits . . . where’s Pee Wee, Kim Cattral, and Kaki Hunter when you need ’em? Robert Hays! Leslie Nielsen! Where are you, bros?

Movie 1: Fast Food (1989)

You a-lookin’ for a-finger lickin’ good burger joint (that’s not) down the road from Faber College . . . one that’s staffed by Melanie Griffith’s half-sister Tracy Griffith (Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland) going up against evil burgermeister Jim Varney (yes, Ernest P. Worrell of the “Goes To” movies), along with Kevin McCarthy from Invasion of the Body Snatchers . . . and Michael J. Pollard (Memorial Valley Massacre) . . . and Traci Lords (Shock ‘Em Dead) as an industrial spy?


How about a movie with lame jokes about “date rape drugs” in the special sauce and labs where men suffer from non-stop erections?

No wonder this ended up being the last film by ex-’80s TV teen idol Clark Brandon (My Tutor, TV’s The Fitzpatricks, Out of the Blue, Mr. Merlin, The Facts of Life). And why am I the only one who remembers watching 1977’s The Chicken Chronicles on HBO in the ’80s with Clark mixing it up with Steve Guttenberg and Phil Silvers?

Yeah, it’s as bad as American Drive-In and Hard Rock Zombies, which were both shot back-to-back by Krishna Shah. So thanks for the heads up, Blue Laser Studios. And thank you, You Tubers for uploading it HERE and HERE to enjoy. Eat ’em and smile!

Movie 2: Stewardess School (1986)

You a-lookin’ for a ripoff of Airplane! starring Donnie “Ralph Malph” Most in a comedy that plays an airline crash in downtown Los Angeles for comedy? How about a ripoff of Police Academy set in a stewardess school?

Well, if Donnie, aka “Don,” Most as a washed-out pilot slummin’ as a steward doesn’t get ya . . . maybe Mary Cadorette — who played Vicky, the girl who finally got Jack Tripper to settle down and go from Three’s Company to Three’s a Crowd — as the hot air hostess, will get ya’. How about Wendie Jo Sperber as a frumpy, overweight air hostess?

No. Didn’t think so. Again, where’s Robert Hays and Leslie Neilsen when you need ’em?

Intermission! You need a Chilli Dilly! And a hotdog!

Back to the Show!

Movie 3: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Leave it to Sean Penn to save day!

Of the glut of teen sex comedies, it’s this Cameron Crowe-penned comedy — along with Bob Clark’s Porky’s and, to a lesser extent, Boaz Davidson’s much-adored The Last American Virgin — that major and indie studios desperately tried to imitate but never duplicated.

This one has it all: Phoebe Cates changed our young lives rising out of a pool. The Sherman Oaks Mall is practically a character in itself. Jennifer Jason Leigh is so hot, she breaks up a friendship. We all wanted to be as cool as ticket scalper Damone and wore caps and vests. We wanted to hang out with Jeff Spicoli like his stoner buds Nicholas Cage, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony Edwards. And we begged our parents for a pair of checked vans. And we all wanted jobs at the mall slingin’ fast food and selling movie tickets (and working in the record store). And it came with a pretty cool Sammy Hagar theme song.

An all-out classic. Watch it.

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

SLASHER MONTH: Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1989)

Oh Canada. You brought us the just alight Prom Night, the beyond great and why doesn’t everyone celebrate this movie like they do other inferior films Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the not altogether bad Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil.

Notably, none of those movies relate to one another at all. So go figure, the one film in the series that I never watched ended up the only actual sequel.

That said, the start of the film completely ignores everything we’ve learned before. Mary Lou, now played by Courtney Taylor instead of Lisa Schrage, has been in Hell since she died at a school dance in 1957. But she has a nail file and has been chipping away at the chains that bind her for decades, finally escaping back into our world. As she returns to Hamilton High School — totally in Canada, but overly American thanks to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and flags a plenty and non-Canadian football — she starts off on the right foot by killing a janitor and using a jukebox to blast the pacemaker out of an old lover’s chest.

Speaking of those American flags, one night totally average high school student Alexander Grey leaves his girlfriend Sarah Monroe (Cynthia Preston, who is in another beyond wild Canadian film, Pin) behind as he soul searches about his total average-ness. He’s discovered by Mary Lou and after some two person push-ups on the stars and bars, he’s under her spell.

It works. His grades go up. He becomes a football hero. And he’s never had better sex ever.

So what’s wrong? Well, Mary Lou is killing everyone in his way.

Like the guidance counselor who doesn’t believe in our protagonist? She gets her face burned off with battery acid. His football rival gets a ball thrown through his stomach. And soon, even Alexander’s slacker best friend Shane gets his heart ripped out.

Alexander is conflicted. He loves his average girlfriend, but she’s already dumped him for a nerd. Well, a nerd who gets killed by AV equipment. And as we’ve already learned about Mary Lou, she will not be stopped when she wants something, even if her female rival has learned how to use a flamethrower.

Ron Oliver wrote the screenplays for the second and third films in this series (and directed this one). The original title was The Haunting of Hamilton High, as there was no plan to connect these to the Prom Night series. The money for this came from Live Entertainment. A few days before filming started, Oliver ended up going to dinner with the family that owned that company, only to learn on Monday that production had been delayed because the sons had killed their mom and dad. You know them as Erik and Lyle Menendez. Another Oliver fact: he and his partner were married by Udo Kier. One more? He wrote and directed several installments of the Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid of the Dark?

This can’t live up to the proceeding version, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t try. I’ve always loved that Mary Lou is the lone slasher that embraces sex and forces men to become the final survivor — but never lets them live.

You can watch this on YouTube.

2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 25: Etoile (1989)

DAY 25. HEY BABY, CAN YOU DANCE TO IT?: This one has to have one substantial dancing scene in it.

For this day of the Scarecrow Challenge, I decided to do that Italian movie about ghosts and murder in a dance academy. Oh, there’s more than one?

You know, the Italian horror movie that Jennifer Connelly did. Oh, there’s more than one of those, too?

Etoile. Everyone knows this one, right? It’s that movie where a girl gets possessed as she dances Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. There’s a more famous movie like that, too?

But seriously, this is the film that is not Suspiria or Phenomena or Black Swan.

Connelly plays Claire Hamilton, a ballerina who comes to Budapest to further her dance career and loses her identity to a 19th century dancer named Natalie Horvath who was killed in a tragic carriage accident. But this movie is not content to merely homage — or rip-off — one Argento film. The end was called out by critics for how close it is to Opera and the entire basement sequence reminds one of Inferno, except you know, there’s a giant swan pecking at the hero.

Also — Argento didn’t somehow get Charles Durning into his movie.

Peter Del Monte is better known for his film Julia and Julia. While not a bad movie, this would really benefit from a more artistic eye, but there I go comparing this movie to Argento all over again.

You can get this from Ronin Flix or watch it on YouTube.

SLASHER MONTH: The Freeway Maniac (1989)

There’s no way that the Gahan Wilson that wrote this movie is the Gahan Wilson who drew all those cartoons for Playboy, right?

Because if he is, then this is a comedy and this movie makes a lot more sense.

And if not, then I have no idea what the filmmakers were going for in this one.

So after this movie completely rips off the open of Pieces and Nightmare, we move to an asylum where the inmates are being given cigarettes as some form of therapy. One of them escapes and kills everyone in his way and that’s Arthur (James Jude Courtney, who would go on to be The Shape in the 2018 Halloween). He nearly kills an actress named Linda (Loren Winters, who was a one and done actress in this, along with producing the film), whose experience ends up getting her cast in a cheesy science fiction movie called Astronette that will use her notoriety for publicity.

There’s no way Arthur would hunt her down, right?

I have so many questions for this movie. How did they get Robbie Krieger from The Doors to write the theme song? Why did they have Linda’s boyfriend cheat on her and suddenly become a sympathetic hero in the last act? Why is there no real freeway in this movie? Why does Arthur howl at the moon? Why is some of this movie well-shot with decent stunts and other portions have the worst acting you’ve ever seen? Are you surprised that this was released by Cannon?

There’s not really another slasher like The Freeway Maniac. It’s…something else.

You can watch this on YouTube.

SLASHER MONTH: Houseboat Horror (1989)

Directed by Kendall Flanagan and Ollie Martin, the whole campaign for this movie pretty much seems to revolve around how bad it is. That said, I’ve seen plenty worse slashers, but I’m also someone who likes to eat the fruit out of the bottom of the broiler at the Melting Pot, as it were.

A rock band is making a movie on Lake Infinity and — as the title suggests — have a houseboat to live and work on. What follows is what you expect — red herrings as to the identity of the killer and what you don’t — a large portion of the movie is given to a hunt for mushrooms in the forest.

This is also pretty much Jason Vorhees down under, complete with a protective mom and harpooning lovers together just to make Mario Bava fans cry foul. It also uses plenty of music cues that sound exactly like they came from Crystal Lake. What it has that those movies don’t is a band that sounds like an Australian version of The Replacements at times and a killer named Acid Head.

What’s your tolerance for shot on video slashers? For movies where everyone has a mullet? Where continuity and lighting change within the very same scene? Allow this to determine whether or not you want to waste your time and watch this on YouTube.

SLASHER MONTH: Witchtrap (1989)

Let’s be perfectly frank. I’d watch a movie that was 85 minutes of people repeatedly making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as long as Linnea Quigley was in said movie. I’m sure they’d figure out some way to make her take a shower while the sandwiches were being made, which I find to be a bold directoral choice that I would explain to my wife was necessary for the foreign markets.

Anyways — Witchtrap.

You have to admire the dumbness of a movie that has a warlock as the final boss and still calls itself Witchtrap. Then again, the alternate title was The Presence and that’s not as good.

Kevin S. Tenney made two versions of Night of the Demons, along with two Witchboard movies. Here, he tells the story of a team of phenomena busters who have a special machine — a witch trap, if you will — to aid themselves in de-ghosting the Lauder House. Tenney even acts in this, as they couldn’t get another actor in time when one dropped out and hey — he already knew the script.

The whole movie is dubbed thanks to an on set filming error. But hey, if you watch Italian movies as much as me, you’ll gloss over that. I love reading reviews of this movie that decry its wooden acting and long stretches of dialogue. What did you really expect? It’s a direct-to-video 80’s movie. Be happy that there’s a super gory head explosion and Linnea gets in a shower. That said, the shower kills her, but she does fulfill her contractural obligation to jump in the stall. Seriously, why has Bathfitter or ReBath not hired her for a series of commercials?

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi. Of course, it’s available from the company that must have rented 5 for $5 movies every day of the week, Vinegar Syndrome.