Killer Crocodile 2 (1990)

Shot at the same time as Killer Crocodile and directed by Giannetto De Rossi (who also directed Cy Warrior but is mainly known for special effects on films like ZombiThe HumanoidDuneHigh Tension and more than sixty other movies. He co-wrote the film with the producer — and director of the original — Fabrizio De Angelis and Dardano Sacchetti.

Ennio Girolami is back as the hunter known as Joe and Richard Anthony Crenna is on hand again as Kevin, the environmentalist turned croc killer, as a second mutated reptile starts eating everyone it can get its jaws on.

They’ve come to the swamps of the Caribbean with reporter Liza (Debra Karr) as she investigates bad businessman Mr. Baxter, who doesn’t see why radioactive waste is a detriment to the holiday resort he’s just opened.

This one is filled with padding — lots of flashbacks to the first movie — but it makes up for that by having the titular monster go through the wall of a house to get at people, then eat a nun and top that by snacking on a whole bunch of kids. Nobody is safe and the body count comes in at 21, which is pretty respectable.

You can get this with the original movie from Severin or watch Killer Crocodile 2 on Tubi.

Siete en la mira 4 (1990)

With a subtitle of Yo Soy La Ley (I Am the Law) — a title it was re-released under a year later — the fourth Siete en la Mira film moves away from the gang on gang violence to just featuring two killing machines. Roberto “Flaco” Guzman (a man with more than 200 credits, mostly from the VHS era in which he poses with a revolver on the cover; he also directed 1989’s Pánico en el bosque, a movie that ups the video box ante by having a woman with long white hair holding a machete in one hand and a man’s severed head in the other) is Tulio Rodriguez, an absolutely ruthless murderer who teams up with Lorena Herrera’s female assassin. Herrera was a model who won the famous “Look of the Year” content in Mexico, then became an actress in movies like this, Policía Secreto and Octagon and Mascara Sagrada in Fight to the Death before finding her way to being a pop singer and telenovela star.

They’re opposed by Jorge Reynoso (Siete En La Mira 2: La Furia De La Venganza) who is one of those tough Mexican guys who shrugs off multiple bullets and keeps on coming. Both the heroes and usually the main villains of these violent Mexican films are able to do as if they were Miguel Myers.

This movie has some harrowing — and therefore entertaining — moments, like when a man about to be lynched has the stage beneath him destroyed piece by piece or when a child interrupts Tulio assaulting his mother and shoots him in the eye with a BB rifle. Tulio then shoots the mother — who he’d just been inside — once to drop her and then another time in the head before unloading an entire clip into her now dead body. There’s also the sight of the short and somewhat chubby 56-year-old Guzman making sweet love to the 23-year-old  Herrera who is quite literally a statuesque vision. Maybe there’s hope for all of us.

There’s no hope for most of the people in this movie, because everyone gets shot repeatedly and that’s the ones who were lucky. The end has the three leads exchanging gunfight before Tulio gets shot in every appendage, kind of like some wild Catholic saint painting that you’d stare at and wonder why religion often indulges in such bloodlust, all before he dies and falls directly into an already dug grave.

Damián Acosta Esparza, who also made the third movie in this series, made El Violador Infernal, a movie that still makes my heart race, and thirty other movies with words like trágico, sangre, muerte and venganza in the title.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Siete en la mira 3: Calles sangrientas (1990)

Bikers battle punks with Fernando Almada as the authority figure caught in the middle. Yes, his character was dead in the second movie in this series, but I get the feeing that this is a sequel in name only.

One of the gangs even goes to a high school where they make their money selling drugs to students. Two brothers, Raúl and Humberto, get involved, with Humberto dedicated to staying in school and Raúl joining the gang in their battles against other toughs as well as robbing trucks. Then, Humberto is killed, and his brother must reevalute his ways.

At the end of this movie, a bad guy keeps shooting Almada who keeps getting up and gritting his teeth like he doesn’t have time to bleed. Once, I saw my grandfather get stabbed — and another time he was in an accident in which most of his back was burned to a crisp — and the guy didn’t register the day or cry or even make much of a noise.

He would have loved Fernando Almada.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: The Freshman (1990)

Director and writer Andrew Bergman read about nightclub owner Vincent Teresa being arrested for smuggling a near-extinct lizard into the country and thought it’d make a great movie. Imagine his fortune at getting Marlon Brando into the movie for just $3 million dollars.

Bergaman said, “On one level you’re like, I’m going to direct this guy!? But at the end of the day you say, well, somebody’s got to direct him, so what the hell, it’s going to be me. And he was really a pleasure to work with. It’s not like you’re dealing with George Burns in terms of a comedy god. Getting Marlon to do things was sometimes like turning around an aircraft carrier because he had a way he wanted to do it. But you could get him there. He was terribly respectful and funny.”

This is the same Brando who publicly condemned this movie as the “biggest turkey of all time” and wanted an extra $1 million for one more week of shooting or he’d keep on making fun of the movie in the press. When they did pay, he began to publicly praise The Graduate.

Clark Kellogg (Matthew Broderick) is studying film at NYU but before he even gets to his dorm, his luggage is taken Victor Ray (Bruno Kirby), which brings him into the world of Carmine Sabatini (Brando), who is pretty much just playing himself from The Godfather. Now he has a job doing deliveries for the secretive boss, like picking up komodo dragons from the airport for The Gourmet Club, a group of elites who eat endangered animals while Bert Parks sings for them.

He’s also pursued by government agents trying to get info on the Sabatini crime family as well as Carmine’s daughter Tina (Penelope Ann Miller) who acts as if they’re to be married. Is Carmine really going to serve those animals? Or is something else happening?

I love the meta aspects of this film, like Clark’s teacher Arthur Fleeber (Paul Benedict) making his class watch The Godfather Part II while Clark’s heart is obviously in exploitation. He has a poster for The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak up in his dorm.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterWhite PalaceOne True ThingDonnie BrascoThe Devil’s OwnThe MatchmakerAnacondaI Know What You Did Last Summer and The Deep End of the Ocean. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1990s Collection: White Palace (1990)

Directed by Luis Mandoki and written by Ted Tally and Alvin Sargent — and based on the book by Glenn Savan — White Palace does something extraordinary for an American movie. It presents an older women as a sexual being every bit the equal of her younger male lover.

Max Baron (James Spader) is a St. Louis advertising executive who has given up on life after the death of his wife. On the way to his friend Neil’s (Jason Alexander) bachelor party, he grabs a sack of burgers from White Castle* — err, White Palace — a burger diner. He learns that the order is six burgers short and leaves the party to argue with the waitress who rang him up, Donna (Susan Sarandon).

Later, they randomly meet in a bar and nearly argue until they mutually reveal why their lives are where they are: he’s lost his wife and she’s lost her son. And then improbably, they end up going home together. He wakes up to her going down on him, then they make love. It won’t be the last time. And unlike so many Hollywood films, he repays her kindness with his own favors.

There was even more of the ad agency in the film, including a problem client played by Gena Gershon. All of these scenes were cut, which also meant that most of Kathy Bates’ role was also left out of the movie.

There’s also a sex scene removed from the film and the first one in the movie was cut down so the movie didn’t get an NC-17 rating. Additionally, the original ending was the same as the book where Max proposes to Nora in a restaurant bathroom and the ending is inconclusive. That ending didn’t test well so a new one was shot. You can see the actor’s hairstyles change in the scene and that’s your signal for which footage is from the reshoot.

*The original title for the film was The White Castle, and the novel even makes reference to a specific White Castle at the intersection of S. Grand Blvd. and Gravois Ave. in south St. Louis. The restaurant chain refused permission to use its trademarked name in either the novel or the film. They also refused permission to allow any of its restaurants for filming locations. The diner used in the movie is now known as the White Knight; the filmmakers wouldn’t let them call it the White Palace after the movie, which is weird when they went through all those legal naming issues themselves.

Mill Creek’s Through the Decades: 1990s Collection has some great movies for a great price like HousesitterOne True ThingDonnie BrascoThe Devil’s OwnThe MatchmakerAnacondaI Know What You Did Last SummerThe Freshman and The Deep End of the Ocean. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Haunting Fear (1990)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Premature Burial, Haunting Fear stars Brinke Stevens as Victoria, a wealthy woman haunted by recurring dreams of being buried alive following the death of her beloved father. Her slimy husband Terry, played by Ray regular John Henry (née) Jay Richardson, pretends to be supportive while banging his hot secretary Lisa (Delia Sheppard) behind Vicki’s back. It’s not the only secret he’s keeping. Terry owes mob boss Visconti (Robert Quarry) 80 large in gambling debt. Visconti sends bent Detective James Trent (Jan-Michael Vincent) to watch the couple’s house to make sure Terry doesn’t make a break for it. Sweet as she is, it isn’t long before Trent develops an affinity toward Victoria, while at the same time Terry and Lisa are cooking up a scheme to kill Vicki, re-mortgage the house and pay back Visconti before the deadline. 

Rounding out the cast is Robert Clarke as Vicki’s doctor, who may or may not have murdered her father for a slice of the inheritance, and Michael Berryman, who makes a single-scene appearance in a nightmare sequence set in a morgue. 

Shot in six days for $140,000 at an old mansion later used in Ray’s Mind Twister (1994) and Witch Academy (1995), Haunting Fear is part horror movie, part erotic, blurring the lines between Vicki’s nightmares and waking life effectively through the use of editing and noir lighting courtesy of DP Gary Graver. The soundtrack, devoid of an overabundance of ambient sound save for a subdued synth score, adds further to the film’s quiet but steady pace to the final act. 

 It’s here where the film finally dives fully into horror territory. Instead of dying, Victoria breaks free of the wooden box into which Terry and Lisa have sealed her, and goes full tilt crazy, stalking her tormenters with a knife in a giggling frenzy from the shadows. While the first half focuses more on the scheming of Lisa and Terry, the finale is Stevens’ show. Cited as her favorite performance from this golden era of “Scream Queens,” it is Brinke’s meatiest role to date, having been written for her while she and Ray were a couple. Even when she’s going berserk, there’s something in her coffee-colored eyes that elicits sympathy. 

A film buff himself from childhood, Ray’s script pays homage to several classics. The image of Stevens sitting on the floor of the corner of her kitchen, vacantly lost in her own insanity, tapping a large knife tip onto the tile floor is straight out of the Dan Curtis classic Trilogy of Terror (1975.) Further, the scene where Vicki is put under hypnosis and made to recall her past life traumas by Trilogy’s Karen Black is reminiscent of Corman’s lesser-seen The Undead (1957) wherein the protagonist travels back in time in her mind to recall her past lives. If Allison Hayes had survived past the age of 47, it’s a sure bet Ray would have hired her.

True to most of the director’s output from this period, there’s plenty of sex and nudity go around, although sadly, we never get to see Richardson bare all. Come on, Fred! How about a little something for the ladies? There’s even some Basic Instinct-style rough stuff (played for laughs), almost two years before that film hit the scene. Is Haunting Fear true to the source material? No. Then again, no Poe adaptation ever has been. Haunting Fear is therefore best viewed in the spirit with which it was made. A nice little thriller meant to satisfy the 1990s video market. 

Spirits (1990)

Dr. Richard Quicks (Robert Quarry) leads a group of researchers into a haunted house, like skeptic Beth (who was once a lesbian, which a Fred Olen Ray movie totally wouldn’t exploit), on the make Harry and psychic Amy (Brinke Stevens) who of course gets possessed by the house, at which point Father Anthony Vicci (Erik Estrada!) becomes the only person who can save them all — as long as he gets past the fact that he ignored his vow of chastity and slept with a woman. The shame…

Anyways, more exciting than Ponch playing a priest is Michele Bauer playing a nun who gets naked and denies the existence of God and says “You knew your way around a pussy pretty good for a priest.” as well as Tiffany Million — once a GLOW girl, later an adult video star — playing a demonic nun, which is better than just a nun.

Fred Olen Ray never made an Amityville sequel, but this is as close as he’s going to get, as well as making The Haunting, as this movie calls the mansion Heron — instead of Hill — House. This feels like an Italian movie without the excesses that an Italian film would add. No turtles are killed for real, no eyeballs get stabbed and no gigantic demon made from the dead bodies of murdered villages rises from the catacombs. But hey — Erik Estrada trying to resist a Michele Bauer half out of a nun’s habit. That’s worth something.

Mob Boss (1990)

Don Anthony (William Hickey, Don Carrado Prizzi in Prizzi’s Honor and Uncle Lewis in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) runs the biggest crime family in California. He’s rubbed out by a team of his archrival Don Francisco (Stuart Whitman) and his mistress Gina (Morgan Fairchild). As he lays dying, he tells Monk (Irwin Keyes) to find his son Tony — yes, Anthony Anthony — to keep the family alive.

It turns out that Tony is Eddie Deezen.

Now, the mob has sent Gina to seduce him, as well as Angelo and Sara (Jack O’Halloran and Brinke Stevens) to kill him. Can Monk and the rest of the family get Don Tony ready for the family business or will they all die trying?

This is the last film of “Iron” Mike Mazursky, plus it also has Don Stroud, Dick Miller, Robert Quarry — credited as his Dr. Phibes Rises Again character name Darrus Biederbeck –and Teagan Clive from Alienator in the cast, which is a Fred Olen Ray mark of quality.

Does Ray have a vision? He did cast Deezen as a lead in a movie. I think that says yes.

In my dreams, Ray made a sequel and shot for shot created the end of Goodfellas with the cocaine run with all of the same actors except Deezen takes over for Ray Liotta.

Bad Girls from Mars (1990)

Welcome to the meta world of Fred Olen Ray, as Bad Girls from Mars is about a movie called Bad Girls from Mars and all of the many things that go wrong during filming, including actresses being killed off by a masked killer, which as always pleases the Italian side of my DNA.

Even though the producers are making a killing — wokka wokka — from insurance payoffs, they keep making the movie and bring in Emanuelle (Edy Williams, the one-time wife of Russ Meyer) from Europe to be the lead. She’s out of control the moment she lands in Los Angeles and the killings just keep on happening.

Ray used the sets left over from Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death to make Wizards of the Demon Sword. Before the sets were taken down — a second time — he wrote (with Equinox screenwriter Mark Thomas McGee) and shot Bad Girls from Mars in the day and $19,000 that he had left.

Corman would have been double proud.

Inspired by Hollywood Boulevard, there are references to Batgirls from Mars and bat symbols throughout the film. That’s because Ray was going to hire Adam West and Burt Ward, but they were busy that day.

Literally, that day.

Anyways, it’s a movie where Edy Wiliams says, “The smell of garbage turns me into a wild woman!” and Brinke Stevens plays a woman who’ll do anything to be a star. I may be projecting a bit, but I always think of Brinke as being the sweetest person, even when she’s being the evilest villain in a film. Like I just want to play with her hair, ask how her day was and make sure she’s feeling alright. Let other men obsess over sleeping with scream queens. I just want to be supportive.

You know, Gary Graver worked with Orson Welles and Fred Olen Ray. The difference — among many — was that Welles worked for decades to complete a film and Ray would knock off a few a month. You determine your success by your own values.

This is also called Emmanuelle Goes to Hollywood because that title sells.

O Escorpian Escarlate (1990)

Rubens Francisco Lucchetti, who had once wrote for comics and pulp magazines, made this movie to honor Brazilian heroes like Morcego Nergo and O Sombra, with the name of the movie’s villain — The Scarlet Scorpion — taken from a radio series Lucchetti created that was based on Fu Manchu. There’s also Madame Ming, who is pretty much Madame Dragon from Terry and the Pirates mixed with Fu Manchu’s daughter Sumuru (who is also in the Jess Franco movies The Million Eyes of Sumuru and The Girl from Rio). The hero of this movie, Anjo, was a character created and played by radio actor Álvaro Aguiar for the radio series As Aventuras do Anjo, which was broadcast by Rádio Nacional from 1948 to 1965.

This movie is all about just how important radio was to Brazilians, as the public loves the show The Adventure of The Angel so much that its creator has become a millionaire and is about to make a movie about it. Fashion designer Gloria Campos dreams of meeting the announcer and creator of the show as she imagines the adventures come to life in her mind, yet the Scarlet Scorpion may be more real than anyone can imagine.

There’s also a striptease by Roberta Close, the first transgender model to pose for the Brazilian edition of Playboy. Shot a year after her gender confirmation surgery, Roberta fought the government for eight years to legally be female and has also walked the red carpet for Thierry Mugler, Guy Laroche and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Director Ivan Cardosa also made A Werewolf In the Amazon with Paul Naschy and the Coffin Joe documentary The Universe of Mojica Marins. He also made several of his own horror movies before this, such as The Secret of the Mummy and The Seven Vampires.

Even without knowing much about the history of Brazil’s superheroes and radio shows, this is a fun movie that mixes fantasy and reality for entertaining effect.