SLASHER MONTH: Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars (1992)

First off, that 1992 that this was made? That’s a misnomer. Much like Terror, Sexo Y Brujeria, this movie was partially made years before and then finished a decade or more later. And you’ve seen it before. And the fact that this movie was actually finished makes me overjoyed beyond belief.

Yes, Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars is really Scream Your Head Off, which was started by director John Carr and writer Philip Yordan in the early 80s. And yes, you guessed it, it was one of the segments in the infamous Night Train to Terror, a movie that has obsessed me enough to write about it more than a few times (example a and example b). While it was an unfinished film, it somehow had enough footage to make it into that bonkers anthology and even be released as its own standalone movie, which is probably all the proof you need to know just how much content needed to be out there for the dual-headed beast that was the video rental and nascent cable industry.

So even though this movie was already somewhat released twice — and shot twice, as there were nude and non-nude versions of some scenes — Carr decided to go back, grab Danger: Diabolik star John Philip Law despite the fact that he looks much older than he did in 1981 and make the movie that he always intended to film.

He also got Francine York (Secret File: Hollywood) to play Marilyn Monroe, who has been kept in an asylum for thirty years.

Obviously, the sheer weirdness of Night Train does not go away when you break it down into smaller parts.

Anyways…

Harry Billings (Law) was driving home with his new wife when he got sideswiped and she died, which leads to him sleeping barefoot on her grave. He tries to jump off a bridge on the very same road where this accident happened and gets brought to the asylum of Dr. Brewer (Arthur Braham, whose only other role is the mad scientist in the adult movie scenes within another Night Train component, Gretta AKA Death Wish Club AKA The Dark Side to Love), who uses his assistant Otto (Richard Moll, who has hair in one segment of Night Train and does not in this story) to abduct women and do whatever it is that evil geniuses do to ladies. And in that movie, that would be lobotomies and white slavery.

Oh yes, I neglected to mention that this movie willy nilly leaps from film footage to SOV back to film not caring about mixed media or taking you, the viewer, out of the experience.

The doctor also has a female partner, Dr. Fargo (Sharon Ratcliff, who only did this film), who has made a deal with an Arabic suit-wearing man to take all of the mind erased women and sell them to some harem on the other much more evil side of the world.

And then, after he himself is mind-wiped to serve as their slave, Harry finds Marilyn, who has been kept in a room filled with posters of herself and given to saying long moments of exposition: “The story they told me here was, when the studio dropped my contract, I was signed by an independent company to do a film. I didn’t know that it was owned by powerful people! They never intended to make the film! They insured my life for millions of dollars, and then they murdered a lookalike Marilyn Monroe, and left her in my bedroom!”

Of course, she could just be an insane woman in a mental asylum who thinks she’s Marilyn, but every time Harry steals away a new blonde for the evil powerful people, he stops in, visits her and falls in love. Most of the movie is Harry going to comical lengths to kidnap blondes, who are then electrocuted and then he goes back to try to woo the most famous blonde of all time. That’s a lot of blondes.

I mean, this is a movie in which John Philip Law goes to church and doses a believer right in the midst of mass, then takes her back to the asylum.

This movie is a mess, packed with continuity, time lapse, sound quality, film to video and just plan weird errors. Yet it has moments of great fun, like Marilyn’s long soliloquies and Moll looking through jars of decapitated heads, including one that has Harry’s name on it just waiting for him to screw up.

Now, my quest will take me to find the VHS version of Scream Your Head Off, but even then, I don’t feel like I’ll ever get off the Night Train.

The Burning Moon (1992)

Writer/director/FX artist Olaf Ittenbach must have been thinking, “No one has any idea what a SOV horror movie from Germany could do to peoples’ brains. Let’s change that.” He pushed things so far that this movie was banned for twenty years from the very nation that it came from, which is pretty astounding — and a testament to how offensive it is — if you think about it.

Ittenbach plays Peter, a junkie whose parents somehow trust enough to babysit his sister, so he reacts as any of us would be shooting up and then telling her some stories that no child — or adult really — should ever hear.

In “Julia’s Love,” Julia has a date with the perfect man. The perfect man who is also a serial killer who is going to follow her home and decimate her entire family. And then in “The Purity,” a series of murders and assaults rocks a 1950s town and the wrong man is accused; unfortunately, he’s being protected by the real killer. And then, as things happen, everything literally goes to hell.

And then Peter kills his sister and himself.

It’s a feel good movie packed with gore, depravity and — depending on how many times you watched your VHS tape — bad tracking. I mean, it does have a priest drinking blood, worshipping Satan and then torn in half while in Hell, so it immediately gets 6 stars.

This is exactly the kind of movie that people that worry about kids watching horror movies think that they are watching. So don’t let those closed-minded jerks down!

You can get this from Severin.

Raising Cain (1992)

Brian DePalma didn’t want to go back to the thriller and felt like it was a step backward. Kind of like Argento going back to make Deep Red. I say this because for two guys who have been accused of being overly inspired by Hitchcock, this one feels like DePalma had a debt to pay to someone in Italy — particularly the one scene that reveals the killer that feels lifted from the end of Tenebre.

But hey — didn’t Argento get Jessica Harper for Suspiria after seeing Phantom of the Paradise?

Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow) may regard his daughter Amy as a science experiment and that rightfully upsets his wife Jenny (Lolita Davidovich), but perhaps she’d be more upset if she knew that inside her husband’s brain lived a whole bunch of other folks, like a young kid named Josh, a protective nanny named Margo and the violent Cain. And oh yeah — Cain is making Carter continue the experiments on children that ruined his father’s career.

His wife is also sleeping with someone else, a man named Jack (Stephen Bauer) and she’s planning on leaving, but Carter starts implicating Jack in his crimes and then tries to drown his wife. He’s also abducted his own child and claims that she is with his father, who has been dead for years.

That’s when we meet the woman who helped Carter’s father with his book, Raising Cain. She had no idea that the man was psychologically abusing his son so that he could study the personalities that emerged from the systematic manipulation that he put him through. And oh yeah — the man has faked his death established a new identity and in Norway where his son sends children to create more multiple personality disorders.

Anyways, this movie is pure silliness in all the best of ways, with Lithgow having an absolute blast, DePalma outright referencing scenes from more than one Hitchcock — Psycho is the easiest to spot — and an ending that isn’t an ending. I’m here for all of it.

Single White Female (1992)

I saw this movie on a teenage date, in a theater filled with other young people and I remember that when the scene came up when Allison (Bridget Fonda) accidentally watched Hedra (Jennifer Jason Leigh) masturbating on her bed, everyone was laughing at the awkward nature of this scene. But I think about this moment a lot. And not for prurient reasons. It’s because Allison is discovering not only that the person who has taken over life is taking over even her own bed, it’s that Hedra is more secure in her own sexuality and womanhood when she takes over Allison’s persona than Allison herself is.

Director Barbet Schroeder worked in the thriller genre quite often, which is the western way of saying that he made gialli that didn’t have as much sex or style. Single White Female is the exception.

Allison has just left her philandering boyfriend and is looking for a roommate when Hedra arrives. She lost her twin in the womb and as such, she’s been seeking her twin ever since. Allison seems to be that person until her lover comes back, which leads to Hedy acting out by launching a dog to its doom (which nearly makes this a slasher; why do slasher killers always take out innocent dogs? Talk about cheap heat…).

There’s an astounding moment in this film when after Hedy gets a makeover to look exactly like Allison, she tricks her way into going down on Allison’s boyfriend. He tries to stop her when he realizes that she isn’t who she thought she was, but then she does what very few female villains do: she assaults him, robbing him of his agency and when he complains, she penetrates his eye and brain with her stiletto heel. Somewhere, Fulci is clapping like a wildman.

I always thought that it was strange that to show how off-kilter Hedy is, they show her dancing at The Vault and participating in BDSM. Oh, she must be insane if she likes pleasure!

Other than that, this movie moves toward an interesting conclusion with a tacked-on square up reel that test audiences demanded. Ah well.

Dollman vs. Demonic Toys (1992)

Is the Full Moon Universe a thing? If we’re to take Dollman vs. Demonic Toys seriousluy, the answer is yes, as beyond getting to recycle footage from DollmanDemonic Toys and Bad Channels, Brick Bardo (Tim Thomerson) from Dollman, Nurse Ginger (Melissa Behr) who was shrunk in Bad Channels* and Judith Grey (Tracy Scoggins) from Demonic Toys all get together to battle Baby Oopsy Daisy, Jack Attack, Mr. Static and the evil G.I. Joe figure Zombietoid.

Let me just try and explain Baby Oopsy Daisy’s plan to you. As midnight draws close, a demon that has been buried in Toyland Warehouse will have its soul put inside his baby doll form, then he will impregnate Nurse Ginger, eat the shell of their child and become a human.

If you check out the Full Moon anthology The Haunted Dollhouse, you can see a cut down remix of this entitled “Dangerous Toys.” Seeing as how this entire movie is just a bunch of other movies put together, you really have to be amazed by how small the carbon footprint of Full Moon is.

*Never mind that Bunny was the one that really got shrunk.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Seedpeople (1992)

Seed pods from space land in Comet Valley and start incubating people and hatching more of their evil kind in a plot that in no way references or has even seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers and totally has Dan O’Bannon’s back when people accuse him of stealing from Shivers and It! The Terror from Beyond Space.

Peter Manoogian did direct Eliminators, so we should forgive him for this one.

Man, I set myself up by trying to do more than thirty Full Moon movies in a week, didn’t I? I’m struggling at 2 AM to say something nice about this movie. At least they didn’t make this another sequel to The Curse? It’s something to bring home if Critters is out? At least the poster is nice?

You can watch this on Tubi.

Doctor Mordrid (1992)

Leave it to Full Moon to make a Dr. Strange movie years before Marvel got a chance. Well, you know, unless you count the Peter Hooten-starring TV movie version. Charles Band has the option to make a Dr. Strange movie, but the option expired before production started. Yet to ensure that this movie has true Marvel DNA, the production art — back when the title was Doctor Mortalis — was by Jack Kirby, the man who pretty much invented everything the House of Ideas started with. Supposedly, another pitch, Mindmaster, became Mandroid. Kirby was never paid and ended up suing.

Anton Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs) has been sent to Earth by the Monitor to keep tabs on an evil wizard named Kabal (Brian Thompson, the Night Slasher from Cobra), a man who plans on stealing a trove of alchemical weapons and opening the gates of Hell. Mordrid has been waiting 150 years for this battle and the time is finally here.

This is a pretty big movie for Full Moon, featuring a scene where prehistoric skeletons battle in a museum and lots of magic combat. Keep your eyes open, because one of Kabal’s monsters at the end is a werewolf from The Howling.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Netherworld (1992)

David Schmoeller, who also directed Tourist Trap, Puppet MasterThe SeductionCrawlspace — and the documentary that came out of it Please Kill Mr. Kinski — and Catacombs AKA Curse IV was the man who made this movie. He has a crazy background, as he studied theater with Alejandro Jodorowsky and was mentored in film by legendary director Luis Buñuel.

This is the story of a young man named Corey Thorton (Michael Bendetti, who you may remember from the last season of 21 Jump Street or perhaps from Screwball Hotel) who has come back to Louisiana — originally, they were going to shoot this in Romania — to learn that his father’s mansion is filled with a secretive cult and bird people that can raise the dead, plus there’s lots of black magic, a brothel and a flying stone hand that has no body. It’s weird in a good way, in the kind of what did I just watch while we drank too many beers and ate too much pizza feeling that all good rental horror should be.

Oh wow! Anjanette Comer from The Baby) is there too! So is Holly Butler, who was on the TV show :20 Minute Workout and was once Universal Studios Hollywood’s premier Marilyn Monroe impersonator, so it makes sense that she plays Marilyn in this movie.

Plus it has a great poster. If your video store didn’t have this up on the wall, you may have had a bad childhood.

Netherworld also appears as “Resurrection of the Damned” in the Full Moon remix compilation Possessed.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Divine Enforcer (1992)

“Open the gates of Hell! For I am the right hand of God!”
— So speaks Father Daniel

Trust us: We aren’t plot spoiling when we tell you what we have here is a great idea of a Sylvester Stallone Cobra (1986) ripoff — with Sly as a catholic priest, instead of a toothpick-chewin’ rogue cop, after an ravenous serial killer — a vampire killer, no less.

Needless to say, this karate-horror hybrid isn’t as good as that Stallone pitch-premise. Ah, but we have the presence of a Ponch and Stringfellow and a Ron Marchini-lite karate-thespian as a priest raising a Jean-Claude Van Damme’in holy hell on a Z-movie budget.

Damn straight, I want to watch this. Load the friggin’ tape! LOAD THE TAPE! Man the drink blenders, Sam. Pull up a section of couch, Bill Van Ryn. This is gonna rock the VHS heads.

Prism. How many films from your shingle have I watched? Let me count the tapes. For the ends of spool and I shall not erase. Most quiet VCR, by remote and candle-light.

So, welcome to another never-heard-of-it-or-seen-it-before lost VHS’er that’s never been released on DVD or Blu-ray, which, unless it is reissued on either format and a freebie copy is provided to the reviewer — or the writer is paid to write the review — they/their website home, doesn’t review it. Now, true: We at B&S About Movies get our fair share of promotional DVDs and Blus, as well as box sets of reissued classics, as well as the newer 2021 fair, and we get plenty of promotional digital screeners from P.R firms. And we enjoying exposing those reissued and new films to audiences — but it’s the analog barnacles: the VHS ditties lost to the ages; the films never reissued to hard or streaming digital formats that’s our jam; the films no reissues studio shills for the greenbacks. (And that ain’t no cliched ensuing trope we’re spewing, there, my friend. Nor do we do conventional, simple summary of the plot reviews. Where’s the fun in that QWERTY’in trope? You gotta go gonzo, sans the green.)

Such a film is The Divine Enforcer — a film with more critic and user reviews than we anticipated. This is a known film?

Shockingly, yes.

So, unlike us Allegheny pugwackers splashin’ about the Three Rivers confluence, the more discriminating VHS’er have, in fact, watched this, well, let’s face it: poverty row junk, courtesy of its rusty ‘n crumbled, star-power sparkle of Jan-Michael Vincent, Robert Z’Dar, Erik Estrada, Don Stroud, and Judy Landers. So, yeah, basically, it’s a B&S About Movies all-star cast. Then, in support roles, we have the insane Scott Shaw (100 film and TV acting credits, with 153 as a producer — one of which is The Roller Blade Seven). And, do we really need to tell you about Micheal M. Foley from Ron Marchini’s Karate Cop, as well as Prison Planet and Cybernator? Well, we just did.

And that’s why we are here, today: Our review of Cyberator, in conjunction with our Ron Marchini two-day blowout, put The Divine Enforcer on our radar. So let’s sit back, together, as we enjoy this video-store renter for the first time — 29 years after its release.

Cybernator served as our debut introduction to the resume of writer-director Robert Rundle; that apoc’er served as his debut feature film. For his next movie, the movie we are reviewing today, in addition to securing the services of everyone above — yes, that is the Jim Brown, the blaxploitation extraordinaire in the cast — Rundle secured the scripting services of Randall Frakes of Hell Comes to Frogtown and Roller Blade Warriors fame — so there’s that B-Movie enticement. Then Rundle gave us Vampire Hunter (1994) with B-Movie screamer, Linnea Quigley, Run Like Hell (1995) with Robert “Maniac Cop” Z’Dar, and the return of William Smith (from Cybernator) in Raw Energy (1995). Sadly, Rundle hasn’t made a film since 2005 and, according to the IMDb, Rundle had a website, but it’s lost in the 404 error-verse.

So, if you haven’t already figured it out from the VHS cover: we are dealing with a religious-based thriller. A monsignor (Erik Estrada; most recently in Dead Over Diamonds) and his assistant, Father Thomas (Jan-Micheal Vincent, Alienator) — both in the ol’ sit-down-thespian-roles-for-a-paycheck — recruits a new priest, Father Daniel (Michael J. Foley), to their Los Angeles parish. The newcomer priest proceeds to turn vigilante (as Vincent did in the HBO-dumper pastiche of The Warriors and Death Wish in 1980’s Defiance) and takes on various thugs and criminals that rule the neighborhoods.

Of course, knowing Foley’s skill set as we do, Father Daniel (wow, where was Ron Marchini, he was made for this role) has mad martial arts skills — and he’s armed with a stockpile of crucifix tossing-blades and a Boondock Saints-style pistol with a cross on the handle — only that 1999 film wasn’t made yet.

So, amid Father Dan’s daily duties of cleaning up the city of drug-dealing scumbags (cue Jim Brown and Robert Z’Dar) and protecting his landlady (call Judy Landers to set), Father D. runs afoul of Otis (cue Don Stroud, hacking at the ham), who claims to be the bloodsucking — and beheading n’ skull-stealing — vampire terrorizing Los Angeles. Assisting Father Dan in the fight is, Kim (Carrie Chambers; made her debut in Karate Cop alongside Foley; also appears in Sleepaway Camp IV* and Bikini Carwash Company II) with her psychic link to Otis.

So yeah, this purely a Michael J. Foley and Carrie Chambers joint, with Estrada and Vincent washed-up and on-board doin’ the now de rigueur Eric Roberts (Lone Star Deception) walk on-to-sit down role, a mantel recently taken up by Nicolas Cage**. Ditto goes for Jim Brown and Robert Z’Dar in their blink-and-you’ll-miss ’em-put-a-name-on-the-box roles. Oh, and we get to see Asian singer Hiroko belt out her 1990 Enigma Records’ release, “My Love Is Waiting” (You Tube). Oh, and there’s lots of gratuitous boobs bouncing about the frames.

Yeah, it’s awful. Really awful.

And it’s also sad.

Jan-Micheal has his script taped inside a newspaper as he “reads” about the ongoing killings; Estrada, is well, Estrada, who wishes he didn’t cop an attitude during his CHiPs heyday and tank his career, and Don Stroud — a B&S About Movies hero — is out of shape, pasty, and saddening as he goes full-on Shakespeare (with a little tongue) to a boiled, bloody skull. But, again, we get Ponch and Stringfellow and a priest raising holy hell. So what’s not to likey here?

Not a damn thing.

You can roll it on You Tube — complete with original Prism VHS opening trailers, so this is truly a retro, home-video ride. However, if an hour and thirty minutes of a martial arts Catholic priest is too much too handle, the fine folks at Cine Arcadia Productions confessed their fandom for The Divine Enforcer by cutting out the fat and distilling the film down to — get this, 17 minutes — with this You Tube upload.

Me? I’m an analog masochist. I’m went for the Full Monty-hour and a half ride, baby! Which is why Sam the Bossman runs drink blenders. Toastin’ the livers is required with a flick such as The Divine Enforcer.

* Yeah, we know. Since we did the first three — Sleepaway Camp, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland — we need to put part IV from 1992 — which we didn’t even know existed — on our review list.

** Did you check out our “Nic Cage Bitch” blowout? It has links to all of his films we’ve reviewed so far. Go head, click the link. Be Nic’s bitch.

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Round Trip to Heaven (1992)

“Shake it up, Shake it up, baby.”
— Ric Ocasek of the Cars

“Heaven Really Is That Hot, Huh?”
— Courtesy of the Saban Entertainment copywriting department

“Starring Zach Gallifan and Corey Feldman of Gremlins!”
— Prism Entertainment’s copywriting hornswoggle

Time to break out the B&S About Movies cocktail shaker! Let’s see what libations are on the shelf . . . let’s pour some Corey Feldman and vermouth-some Zach Galligan, and then toothpick-some Ray Sharkey . . . serve it on a Julie McCullough (ex-Playboy model to TV’s Growing Pains) coaster.

Ack! Pffffff! Pttts. Ffttt.

Who’s the bartender on this . . . well, it’s none other than Alan Roberts, he of the Ron Marchini-starring Karate Cop! But wait a minute . . . Alan Roberts also directed the late ’70s soft-porn, aka adult-drama/adult-comedy, aka my younger-self settling in for a Showtime late-night Friday of viewing, that are Young Lady Chatterley and The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood.

Hey, don’t judge, the Happy Hooker starred Adam West! I was curious to see what Batman was up to! Honest! (Yeah, right!)

Now what I want to know is this: Adam West worked with Ron Marchini on Omega Cop. But when Ron hired Alan Roberts to direct Karate Cop, Adam West was replaced in the sequel by David Carradine. Is there a tale of Roberts-West bad blood with Happy Hooker we don’t know about in this backstory? Especially after West later worked with Marchini — his long-time friend — on Return Fire?

And in this case: we need the backstory because the backstory is better than the movie in most cases — especially in the case of Round Trip to Heaven. Well, here’s this backstory tidbit: the writer on this is Shuki Levy, who wrote three-years’ worth of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episodes. And that’s important to note because, like the Power Rangers, this was made by Saban Entertainment. Their co-producer: Prism Entertainment, who’s responsible for 50 percent of the ’80s video swag on the B&S About Movies servers. And here’s more backstory: this is a bad ’80s teen comedy that, thanks to the DVD-based home video market, kept being made into the ’90s — just one, non-titillating and gratuitous T&A bore fest after another. (We pay tribute to those very comedies with our “Drive-In Friday: ’80s Teen Sex Comedy Night” and “Drive-In Friday: Slobs vs. Snobs Comedy Night” featurettes.)

Feldman is a long ways away from Stand By Me and The Lost Boys, and he’s barely squeaking by with License to Drive. After that, the toilet flushin’ began, with Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever (I threw that 4-for-a-buck-used-tape into the trash after not even finishing it) and the Hell’s VCR library entry, Meatballs 4.

And Galligan? He gets a squeaker-by with Waxwork — only because it starred David Warner and featured superfluous John Rhys-Davies, because we always watch movies with superfluous John Rhys-Davies. Then the toilet flushin’ began, with the utterly awful, post-apoc’er Rising Storm because, well, anything with Wayne Crawford is usually (the presence of June Chadwick of Forbidden World not withstanding), utterly awful. (Ugh, Crawford was in Francis Schaeffer’s Headhunter; you know ol’ Frank from the apoc-turd that is Wired to Kill.)

Oh, you’re thinking of Dream a Little Dream with the two Coreys of Feldman and Haim. Oops, not this movie. But oh, man, that friggin’ movie. Not even the presence of Piper Laurie, Jason Robards, Alex Rocco, and Harry Dean Stanton — and Susan Blakely (fantastically game in My Mom’s a Werewolf) in her role as Cherry Diamond — can save that ’80s mess. I still don’t know how and why John Ford Coley (of ’70s popsters England Dan and John Ford Coley) and Mickey Thomas from Jefferson Starship ended up in their “dream” of a film role.

Oh so, the plot to Round Trip to Heaven! Yes. Surprise! There is one.

Larry (Corey Feldman) works at a garage and moonlights as Boingo the Clown to make the rent. Along with his best buddy, his cousin Steve (Zach Galligan), they decide to borrow a Rolls Royce from the garage to check out the babes at a Palm Springs beauty pageant. Little do they know that the car’s owner (Ray Sharkey, duBeat-e-o) has a suitcase of counterfeit drug money stashed in the trunk: the chase is on. Along for the ride is Lucille, their unnoticed, mousey goody-girl next door friend (McCullough).

Reach for the Charmin (copy of Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas) yourself over on Tubi. But seriously, isn’t this trailer enough?

And seriously: What a “double douche,” right, Wade Garrett?

“Yep, Cameron, because of his Christianity obsession, got Julie McCullough fired from a starring role on a network series, tainted her reputation and tanked her budding career.”

That’s right, Wade. And the Kirkster deserves to be dissed in this review — and stuck in shitty bible-bangin’ movies. So much for Kirk’s little ol’ hypocritically, backstabbing round trip to heaven. Judge not lest ye be judge, Mr. Cameron.

Ironically, if Kirk didn’t turn to the bright side, he’d probably have ended up in Ray Sharkey’s Rolls — or a movie just like it — thespin’ it up.

About the Author: R.D Francis posts his writings on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.