SLASHER MONTH: Shiryô no wana 2: Hideki (1992)

Evil Dead Trap 2 has moments of absolute beauty and scenes of frightening horror, often within the very same frame. It’s about three people who are brought together by a serial killer who isn’t just murdering people throughout Tokyo, but tearing their organs out and leaving them in the open for all to see.

They are a projectionist named Aki Ôtani (Shoko Nakajima), who is forever behind the scenes of the movies she shows from the projection booth of her work, hiding from the world that she wants to love her but feels that they never will because she doesn’t have the body or looks that see as ideal. And oh yeah, she’s haunted by a small boy’s ghost who pushes her into scenarios of abject horror.

Then there’s Emi Kageyama, her best friend, who is more traditionally beautiful yet also someone who is sexually excited when she gets near the murder scenes that she crosses her legs, so overcome with passion that her hardened crew is disquieted.

And finally there’s Kurahashi, the man that Emi tries to set up with Aki, who ends up being married and that’s the very least of his secrets.

Then everything stops making sense and gets really interesting.

This is the kind of movie that you can watch and try to figure out the story and never really get there. That’s because at its heart it is just as much a giallo as it is a slasher. It wears its devotion to Argento not only on its sleeve, but in every frame, with a battle between Aki and another killer that emulates the white sheets sprayed with gore from Tenebre. There’s also a moment where the very theater itself comes to life as if it wants to destroy Aki, sending echoes of Demons through my mind (and yes, I realize that Argento didn’t direct that film, but let’s be honest, his vision is all of that one).

Director and co-writer Izô Hashimoto also wrote the script for the anime version of Akira, as well as the movie version of the manga Shamo.

This really has nothing at all to do with the original, but why should that both you? It also makes zero to no sense by the end of the movie, which made me love it even more.

There’s a moment in this movie where the neon of Tokyo is captured in one wide shot, but as you take in that colorful incandescent beauty, you notice in the corner of the screen that the killer is stabbing someone in the water over and over and over. It’s a near-perfect shot and close to something that even Argento would be proud of. If all this movie had was that one shot — and it certainly has so much more — I would still recommend it to you.

R. D Francis informed me that you can watch this on FShare.

SLASHER MONTH: Zipperface (1992)

Zipperface is one of the scummiest movies I’ve ever watched that wasn’t made in Italy, so imagine what that entails. Written, produced and directed by Mansour Pourmand, whose IMDB reveals is a person that emerges every 18 years to make a movie, like some crazed maniac that would be battled by Carl Kolchak, this is all about new cop Lisa Ryder (Dona Adams, whose mother Marilyn is also in this, which had to be uncomfortable) tracking down a serial killer on her very first case.

Zipperface is killing actresses who are also BDSM prostitutes at night, which for some reason has upset Mayor Angela Harris. The investigation by Ryder and her partner Harry goes through more red herrings than a 1974 giallo, as they look into a misogynist cop, a crossdressing aide to the mayor, a priest and a photographer.

Making things harder — I should have said difficult but this movie is obsessed with sex and it…rubbed off on me — is the fact that our heroine is dating Michael the photographer, the exact same man who everyone thinks could be the Zipperface. Zipperface! I love yelling that name out for no reason at all.

Much like any number of my favorite giallo, this ends with the killer being someone you would never think was the killer. If only this was made with less Cinemax After Dark feel and more giallo zeal. That said, I foresee this coming out via Vinegar Syndrome any day now.

You can watch this on YouTube.

SLASHER MONTH: Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)

We start right where the last film ended, with Mark and Sarah escaping the burning wax museum. However, while writer/director Anthony Hickox and Zach Galligan returned for this movie, Deborah Foreman and Hickox had had a bad breakup, so she was replaced* by 6’1″ supermodel Monika Schnarre, who was also in Hickox’s Warlock: The Armageddon.

Much like House II, this movie takes the ideas of the first movie and spins them deliriously out of control into another film that feels barely connected to the original while still being totally great. I also realize that this isn’t a slasher as much as the first film, but I still wanted to cover this sequel during our month of the genre.

The zombie hand that survived the last film has killed Sarah’s abusive stepfather (George “Buck” Flower!) with a sledgehammer and she’s charged with the crime. Going back to Sir Wilfred’s home — he’s been reborn as a raven — they learn that they must join the army of light angels and use the various nic nacs that have been assembled throughout time to get the evidence needed to clear her name.

They enter God’s video game, which makes me hope that there is a Divine Creator, becuase that means that our heroes get to play in the worlds of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Alien, Godzilla, Frankenstein, The Haunting, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Jack the Ripper, Nosferatu and a film the original Waxwork already teased, Dawn of the Dead.

This film also has a great cast, with everyone from Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp as Baron Von Frankenstein to Bruce Campbell, Michael Des Barres (the singer of the bands Detective and the Power Station, as well as MacGyver nemesis Nicholas Helman), Sophie Ward (Young Sherlock Holmes), a pre-Deanna Troi Marina Sirtis, John Ireland, Die Hard bad guy Alexander Godunov, Maxwell Caulfield, David Carradine, Juliet Mills (!) and even Drew Barrymore in an uncredited role as the victim of a vampire.

They could have made fifty of these movies and I would have watched every single one. This one is even more out there than the original and expands on the concepts to be more adventure, which I was totally on board for.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*We’re not supposed to remember that Sarah was rich in the first movie and poor in this one.

SLASHER MONTH: 976-EVIL II (1992)

By writing Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time and House IV and directing Sorority House Massacre IIDeathstalker II (which he also wrote), Big Bad Mama IIGhoulies IVThe Skateboard Kid 2Body Chemistry IV: Full ExposureFriend of the Family IISorceress II: The TemptressThe Escort IIIThe Bare Wench Project 2: Scared ToplessThe Bare Wench Project 3: Nymphs of Mystery MountainThe Witches of Breastwick 2, Bare Wench Project Uncensored and Bare Wench: The Final Chapter, Jim Wynorski may be the king of the sequels. Let’s add 976-EVIL II, a movie that somewhat continues the story begun in the Robert Englund 976-EVIL.

Also known as 976-EVIL II: The Astral Factor, this movie is all about Spike, a leather jacket wearing loner from the first film, again played by Patrick O’Bryan, and final girl Robin battling Professor Grubeck, who is in full command of astral powers and a Satanic horoscope phone line.

“Out of the darkness and into the light comes your horrorscope on this dark and stormy night.”

There are two great reasons to watch this. The first is Brigitte Nielsen, who did this movie for scale after losing a pool game bet to Wynorski. And the other is a bravura sequence that combines the two best known public domain movies of all time, Night of the Living Dead and It’s A Wonderful Life, as one of the girls becomes stuck between the two films and ends with Zuzu Bailey transforming into Kyra Schon and stabbing the girl with a trowel. It’s an astounding piece of filmmaking, one that comes out of nowhere (the script had the girl absorbed by a video game and the budget couldn’t handle it) and delivers.

You also get appearances by Philip McKeon (TV’s Alice) and George “Buck” Flower, as well as some great lighting and usage of budget.

This movie is way better than it has any right to be. Seriously, you should check it out right now, because I can’t believe this hasn’t received a high end re-release yet.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

SLASHER MONTH: Hellmaster (1992)

Sometime in the late 1960’s, Professor Jones (John Saxon) was involved in an MK Ultra-style eugenics experiment. Wondering what eugenics is? Our own President refers to it as the “racehorse theory,” which should scare the unholy shit out of you when you realize that eugenics was a major driving force in creating the Master Race of the Third Reich. But hey — isn’t it so funny when hes cutting up and making fun of people?

Sorry for the politics. Let’s just talk about Hellmaster. We’ll all feel better that way.

Jones created The Nietzsche Experiment, which gave its subjects telepathic abilities while also making them violent mental cases. Twenty years later — and armed with an entire gang of deformed mutants (is there any other kind) — he is killing everyone who ever did him wrong and transforming his old college into a slaughterhouse.

Originally called Them and Soulstealer, this made in Detroit regional small wonder — shot in the Clinton Valley Center Hospital, an active-at-the-time mental institution — was re-released at the end of the video rental era. Beyond Saxon, David Emge (Stephen from Dawn of the Dead) makes an appearance as a reporter, who joins with one of the survivors and a psychic who takes the drug in order to destroy its creator once and for all.

This is a movie that looks way better than you’d expect and plays out much more fun than you’d hoped. In a world of direct-to-streaming, the video store classics will forever remain above them, looking down and dripping goopy syrup-smelling blood all over the place.

You can watch this on Tubi or order it from Vinegar Syndrome. Their new release even has the Them cut and commentary for both versions. I love everything they release, as they put the care into these forgotten movies that studios neglect to bestow on their most artistic releases.

Rock and Roll Fantasy (1992)

Before he helped start The Asylum, David Michael Latt made this sex comedy which way more comedy than sex. Attila plays Jamie Z., a rock star who is too much of a headache for his manager, so he’s marked for death. He lives in a girl’s sorority and you’d think that’d be the recipe for way more hijinks than it is, but nope. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the excessives of 1980’s post-Porky’s madness, but this was too tame, too simple and, well, too filled with actors literally screwing up their lines and it not being edited.

There are many early 90’s direct to video and cable ladies on hand, such as Avalon Anders, as well as April Lerman, who was on Charles In Charge before ending up here in her last acting role.

I want to find something to like here, something to make it all worthwhile. But sometimes, there is nothing but entropy and the void. The more you stare at it, the more it screams back in your face.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Starfighters (1992)

I really tried to go all three weeks of Mexican films without a lucha libre film, but man, when it’s one this strange, I couldn’t help myself.

Before Tyler Mane played Michael Myers in two Rob Zombie films, he was known in Mexico as El Nitron. Here, he plays El Vampiro Interespacial, who is conquering the galaxy. A space prince tries to get away, which brings him, as always happens, to Earth.

Lucadores de las Estrellas has a simple premise but presents a movie perfect to run in the background of any party.

A girl from the spaceship comes to Earth and decides to take over the life of a deceased singer named Larossa. She’s played by Gloria Mayo, who was also Adriana in Santo vs. the She-Wolves and also in the baffling Vampiro, Guerrero de la Noche.

Luckily, she finds El Mistioso and El Volador(who would one day become Super Parka and whose son Volador Jr. is a big star in CMLL today), who teach her all about drinking beer and wrestling. They end up having an empty arena match with Nitron, as well as another match filled with the lucha stars of 1992, such as Satanico, Pirata Morgan, MS-1, Blue Demon Jr., Ponzoña, Bestia Salvaje, Janette, Martha Villalobos, Cynthia and more.

The evil minis that hang out with Nitron and sound like chickens are played by some major mini-luchas: Mascarita Sagrada, Aguilita Solitaria and Espectrito.

The idea for this film was a combination between Antonio Peña, who would soon leave to form AAA in the biggest Mexican wrestling news of perhaps all time, along with Ramón T. Cerro (who was also part of the team that made the Vampiro movie), Francisco Alonso Lutteroth (also known as Paco Alonso, perhaps the most powerful man in Mexican wrestling in the latter half of the 20th century) and Mayo.

This film is everything it should be: fights, a little romance, no small amount of comedy, masked men and aliens. All films should be this much fun.

Ángel de Fuego (1992)

Within a depressing Mexico City circus, 13-year-old Alma is a fire-breathing, trapeze-swinging young woman who is in love with her father Renato, a dying clown. She wants to give birth to the child they’ve conceived together and their sin of incest leads to her walking the streets. There, she joins a group of puppeteers who present shows that preach the word of God. However, even in this new world, Alma cannot escape the sin that she feels will never be absolved.

Once she learns that she will never be accepted in this new church, Alma becomes the despoiler and the destroyer, leaving behind only flames.

I’ve seen this compared to Santa Sangre, which I feel was a much better film. This is interesting but never seems to reach the heights of that film. That said, you should check it out and see what you think.

You can watch this on YouTube.

El Psicopata Asesino (1992)

Ruben Galindo Jr. made Don’t PanicCementerio del Terror and Ladrones de Tumbas, all movies more than worthy of praise. This is a mix of a cop film, a slasher and some occult themes, as the killer is a psychiatrist who is able to influence the minds of his patients.

This feels more like an Americanized direct to video cop on the tail of a killer with something extra — The First Power, if you need an example — which here ends up being mental powers.

Sadly, this movie does not live up to the first three of Galindo’s films that I enjoyed so much. But I’m not giving up on him, especially when he has movies like Mutantes del Ano 2000, where a giant mutant rat runs while in a teacher’s house, and Resucitare Para Matarlos, where a bullied kid learns how to kill all the soccer players once he comes back from the dead.

Muerte Infernal (1992)

Why would I spend weeks of my life preparing for this barrage of Mexican weirdness for you, dear reader? Just so I could tell you all about this movie, which is a veritable pot luck dinner of the things that both enthrall and upset me in movies.

Mexico, as horror filmmakers, rarely does subtle. And they rarely just do one thing when other horrifying elements can be layer on, like the scariest tasting seven-layer burrito ever burrito’d.

It would be enough if this movie was a ripoff of Child’s Play. But no, that’s too easy for director Roberto Guinar. No, instead, the doll shows up for a man named Lorenzo, who can’t perform sexually with anyone but his mother. Yes, that’s right. If you’re not creeped out by human dolls running around and killing people, this movie tosses in a side dish of incest. And not implied. Oh no. No, no, no. This incest is driven into your eyes and heart with all the fervor and subtlety of a Mexican soap opera from Hell.

Yes, Yermo has entered the House of Dolls, the store where Lorenzo and his ladylove mother call home. When our hero — is he our hero? — takes him to a children’s show, all the doll will do is fart. And fart. And fart some more.

The music in this is insane, like cowboy music with synths at times and screams and growls at others, all in English for a movie shot in Spanish that looks and feels like a latmodelrl scumbag Italian film but came out years after it was made and was only available in bootleg bins in Mexican stores in the U.S.

Everything in the above paragraph is why I am both fascinated and upset by this movie, which we all know means that I will be talking about it non-stop to anyone dumb enough to listen.

Most of this movie is Yermo and the lunatic son lying on the floor and laughing, as if you have a window in to their baffling world. I want to know more. In the perfect world of my dreams, this movie would have had at least two sequels to explain more. And no, the budget, aesthetics and sheer incomprehesinbility of this would not have been altered a lick in between installments.

This movie was near-impossible for me to find, but if you want to come over to my house, I’ll mix you cocktails spiked with hallucinogenics and we can scream at one another about this movie for as long as it takes.