ARROW UK BLU RAY RELEASE: The Mangler (1995)

EDITOR’S NOTE: When I first took a look at this film on September 14, 2017, I didn’t seem to like it so much. Maybe I was having a bad day, as my thoughts have grown more rose-colored in the time that has passed. 

If you’d like to see it for yourself, Arrow Video has released a UK blu ray of this film, which includes a 2K restoration of the movie, three sets of commentary (critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson; “Manglophiles” Matty Budrewicz and Dave Wain and co-writer Stephen David Brooks), Nature Builds No Machines (a brand new visual essay by Scout Tafoya, author of Cinemaphagy: the Films of Tobe HooperThis Machine Just Called Me an Asshole! (a visual essay by author and critic Guy Adams on the monstrous life of inanimate objects in the work of Stephen King), an interview with star Robert Englund, behind the scenes footage and a trailer. 

If you have an all region player, you can get this in the U.S. from Diabolik DVD.

What happens when you put together three of horror’s biggest stars — Robert Englund, Stephen King and Tobe Hooper? That’s the question posed by this film, based on a King/Harry Allan Towers short story that first appeared in the men’s magazine Cavalier before appearing in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift, which also spawned the movies Children of the CornCat’s EyeMaximum OverdriveGraveyard ShiftThe Lawnmower ManSometimes They Come BackTrucks (yes, I know it’s the same story as Maximum Overdrive) and Battleground.

Bill Gartley (Robert England) owns the Blue Ribbon Laundry service, which is based around a laundry press that everyone calls The Mangler. His niece, Sherry cuts herself and gets blood all over the machine, which leads to the machine coming to life. It starts to eat anyone who gets too close to it, like Mrs. Frawley, by folding them just like a sheet.

Drunken police detective John Hunton (Ted Levine, Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs) and his ex-brother-in-law Mark — who just happens to study demonology — investigate the many deaths that follow. It turns out the Tha Mangler is how Gartley runs the town — when their virgin daughters turn 16, the town’s most powerful men and women sacrifice them to the machine. Sherry is next.

Sherry is next, but she helps the two men take out the demon — even if it kills Gartley, his lover Lin Sue and Stanner, the foreman. They throw holy water on it and the machine nearly beats them, but they succeed in taking it out. That is — until John talks about the antacids he’d been taking, which once belonged to the now dead Mrs. Frawley. One of the ingredients is deadly nightshade, also called “The Hand of Glory.”

Here’s where the movie descends into bullshittery. It only follows some of King’s story — which was a novella, so we can cut them some slack. It takes passages from Sir James George Frazier’s The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. But the “Hand of Glory” is usually the hand of a murderer who has been put to death or part of the root of the mandrake plant. That said — the endings of the book and movie are totally different, so I shouldn’t expect anyone to do actual research or make the occult make sense within their film.

The Mangler comes back to life, killing Mark and chasing John and Sherry. She tries to give herself to it to save him, but he stops her. They fall through a manhole cover and escape, with him taking her to the hospital, as he’s fallen in love.

Oh yeah — Mark is friends with an old photographer named J.J.J. Pictureman, who tells him the hidden history of the town before he dies. As John waits for news on Sherry’s condition, he gets a letter from the dead man. He warns him not to trust anyone in town with a missing body part, as they may have sacrificed it to the Mangler.

When John goes to see Sherry, flowers in hand, the machine is back in place and she has replaced her uncle, looking like a female version of him. She waves to him and he notices that her finger is missing. Throwing away the flowers, he leaves.

I worry that my description of this movie makes it sound better than it really is and that people will watch it. Hooper may not have even finished the film, as some say he was replaced by the producer, Anant Singh. It actually played in around 800 theaters, but was considered a failure. Hooper would go back to directing for TV after this.

When I first looked at this a few years ago, I looked down on it. Maybe it’s the years of worse movies in between or perhaps a reappraisal — more likely I miss the time when I could just go to the video store to rent stuff like this — but my memories of The Mangler have grown more fond since then.

Carnosaur 2 (1995)

This movie went into production before Carnosaur was even done. That’s how it works in Corman world, because this was going to be a big direct to video success. It’s still Aliens with dinosaurs and ends the same way as the first one, as a T. Rex battles a forklift.

What starts as a nuclear meltdown turns into a storage facility packed with cloned dinosaurs. Along the way, you’ll see the boom mic, tape marks on the floor and puppeteers in frame, but the dinosaurs are a little better as the team had a week of post-production this time.

Director Louis Morneau also made some other sequels, like Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead and The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting. Michael Palmer, who wrote it, also was behind another Corman sequel, Watchers III.

You can make fun of these down and dirty sequels all you want, but the crew worked 16 hour days for 18 days in a row, which is a huge effort to deliver a movie under budget and way ahead of expectations. So if some things go wrong, well, so be it. It’s incredible that any movie gets made.

The Prophecy (1995)

Gregory Widen has had a great career, creating HighlanderBackdraft and this movie, which is a pretty great record. This was the first film he directed and man, it’s stayed with me since I first saw it more than 25 years ago.

Thomas Dagget (Elias Koteas, who somehow can be in a kids movie like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Crash) is a Catholic seminary student who loses his faith after watching a battle between angels and becomes an LAPD cop just in time for Simon (Eric Stoltz) to enter his home, tell him that the war between angels is here and get attacked by Uziel, an angel under the command of Gabriel (Christopher Walken).

Seriously, Walken owns every frame he’s in and he actually has some great company in this one. That said, the cast is packed with heavy hitters like Virginia Madsen, Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer and Amanda Plummer.

None of them would deliver lines like Walken: “I’m an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now until kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why.”

Then again, Mortensen does get this one: “Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers every night. And then you’d jump in your bed, so afraid I was under there. And I was!”

Well, when the cops do an autopsy on Uziel, who has been killed by Simon, and learn that the body has no eyes, both sexual organs and the blood chemistry of an aborted fetus. Yeah, this is the kind of movie that drops those strange bits of knowledge on you just to see if you’re paying attention.

I got the opportunity to speak to the film’s producer, Joel Soisson, who said, “The idea was that these Hallmark angels in the Old Testament were not nice at all. They were brutal. And they just take you down. And I looked at it as they hated humans and then we have these predatory angels and nothing had been done like this before. Now, TV is starting to do things like Legion but in 1995, nobody was doing this.

The producers didn’t get it. They really liked the story but said, “What if instead of angels, they were zombies?” And we answered, “Well, that’s not the story.”

When I look back at all the genre things I did, that’s the one that I would remake or make another sequel. Gregory made something as engrossing as The Bible and it’s just as full of paradoxes as The Bible. So whatever you believe, you don’t have to be Christian, you can interpret so many things out of the Scriptures. And the angels are mysteries that we can’t understand and it’s fascinating to me.

I love that we find this conflict between the angels, with Walken’s Gabriel leaving Heaven and trying to start a new Hell, but Satan comes to Earth and says, “Not on my watch.” And Satan helps humanity! There’s humanity and even some John le Carré espionage.”

This is one of my favorite films because it’s so unashamed to be as weird as it gets. If this movie was only the scene where Walken hung out with school children and yelled out, “Study your math, kids. Key to the universe!” it’d already be one that I adore.

It’s years ahead of its time and still feels fresh.

As for the four sequels, well, stay tuned.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Scanner Cop II (1995)

Also known as Scanners: The Showdown, this brings back LAPD scanner cop Sam Staziak (Daniel Quinn) and places him on the case of renegade scanner Karl Volkin. He’s already put the man in jail once before and killed his brother, but now Volkin has been killing other scanners and adding their power to his own.

Volkin gets his revenge by causing Staziak’s mother to kill herself — well, she sacrifices herself instead of letting him scan her — and that leads to a brutal final battle in a warehouse.

Khrystyne Haje is in this, following being in Head of the Class. She’s also in  Cyborg 3: The Recycler and Demolition University, but don’t feel bad for her. In 2001, it was reported that she was the quarter owner of a Silicon Valley company worth $500 million.

Director Steve Barnett also made Mindwarp and Hollywood Boulevard II, a movie that I never knew existed until now. Writer Mark Sevi seems to be a sequel master, scripting films like Class of 1999 II: The SubstituteGhoulies IVDream a Little Dream 2Excessive Force II: Force on ForceDead on: Relentless II and Relentless IV: Ashes to Ashes.

Plus Robert Forester automatically adds several stars to any movies he shows up in.

Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)

Bill Condon wrote Strange Invaders and Strange Behavior before this movie, which didn’t fare as well with the public and critics as the original movie.

Maybe the movie Bernard Rose wanted to make would have been better. Virginia Madsen told Horror News Network, “They originally wanted us to do Candyman 2, but they didn’t like Bernie’s idea for the sequel. They made the Candyman into a slave which was terrible because the Candyman was educated and raised as a free man. Bernie wanted to make him like an African American Dracula which I think it was so appealing to the African American community because they finally had their own Dracula. The Candyman was a poet and smart. He wasn’t really a monster. He was sort of that classical figure. The sequel that Bernie wanted to make was a prequel where you see the Candyman and Helen fall in love. It was turned down because the studio didn’t want to do an interracial love story.”

There was also a plan to turn the Clive Barker story “The Midnight Meat Train” into the second movie years before that story became its own adaption.

That said, this movie — which explores the legend and shows that the Candyman was really an artist named Daniel Robitaille who was born to free slaves after the Civil War — isn’t horrible. It’s just that Candyman is one of the greatest horror movies ever, so making a sequel is such a major burden.

So this one is a slasher where the original was a meditation on race and rage. Maybe I should say something nice about the score.

Raging Angels (1995)

“Between the worlds and music, something evil was tearing them apart.”
— Vidmark’s alternate, copywriter hornswogglin’

As the televangelist-inspiring carnival barkers of old once said, “Step right up! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

So, if you are keeping track of your rock ‘n’ roll flicks, and we know you are, you know that Michael Paré (Moon 44) and Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints, forever!) each made two of them: Sean Patrick Flanery made this, and the even more obscure grunge chronicle, Girl (2000), while Michael Paré made this, and Eddie and the Cruisers.

In Girl, Flanery was an ersatz-Cobain who becomes the love interest of a wayward, college-bound high school girl. In Eddie and the Cruisers, Paré was an ersatz-Jim Morrison who faked his death.

Here, Flanery’s aspiring, oh-so-not-metal rocker (which a film of this genre needs: metal) runs afoul of Paré’s, well, faux-Tom Cruise — if his Stacee Jaxx from the abysmal Rock of Ages was running Scientology and brainwashing teens into hard rock zombies, like Damian in Black Roses. Oh, only if this film were as cool as that last sentence. . . . If this film was as cool as American Satan.

Of the many foreign and domestic VHS and DVD sleeves issued. The original, disembodied floating-head design trope, wins . . . at least this time.

I just don’t know how to describe Raging Angels . . . this political sci-fi rock n’ roll heavy metal horror romantic musical (Phew!). I don’t know how to assume the “Christian” intent of the film, if any . . . what was its spiritual inspiration? And with five screenwriters (well, two on “story” and three scribes) — and with our fair director taking an “Alan Smithee” credit (plot spoiler: It’s Asian actress Hisako Tsukuba aka’ing on the writing front as Chako van Leeuwen; this is a “Chako Film International Production,” after all) — there’s no way to know whom is wholly responsible for this biblical-plot plethora pathos of analog schadenfreude. (One of the scribes taking a pass on it was Kevin Rock, who worked on sequels to The Howling, Warlock, and The Philadelphia Experiment, as well as Roger Corman’s rights-holding tax shelter, The Fantastic Four.)

Imagine Menahem Golan’s biblical tale of the Book of Genesis‘ Adam and Eve colliding with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust in The Apple, with its subplot regarding the power of love and music . . . and you thought producer Richard Zanuck greenlighting Russ Meyer, an independent X-rated filmmmaker, and Roger Ebert, a first time, inexperienced screenwriter, for a 20th Century Fox “sequel” with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was a weird picture, with its cautionary tale of innocent hopefuls chewed up and shat out by the Tinseltown music industry.

I just don’t know. . . .

No matter how you pack it . . . see what we mean?

Did the tape of Jon Mikl Thor’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare end up inside the VHS sleeve of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead on Hisako Tsukuba’s personal home video shelf? Perhaps, after watching Keanu Reeves in The Devil’s Advocate — and taking into consideration his work as a metal head and musician River’s Edge and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure — Tsukuba decided to re-imagine Al Pacino’s Lucifer-as-a-lawyer as a cult-leading rock star? Perhaps it was one too many spins of the likes of ’80s Christian (aka “White Metal”) bands Stryper, Believer, Deliverance, Holy Solider, Messiah Prophet, Whitecross, Trouble (okay, settle, they’re “Doom Metal”), and X-Sinner? (If only I just rattled off the soundtrack listing with that sentence, but alas, I have not.)

Oh, the majesty of it all, with this film’s pinches from Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise (Gramercy’s concert hall headquarters; the concert assassination), They Live (recruiting the wayward homeless to boost their ranks), and John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (conspiracy, subversion, and government overthrow).

The beauty of Raging Angels is that it is inherently meta: The filmmakers (well, again, Asian actress Hisako Tsukuba, who co-produced Joe Dante’s Piranha, as well as ALL of its sequel/remakes) are using film to push what is best described as a (Tsukuba’s) socialism viewpoint; that a united, one-world welfare state under a supreme leader is the only way for the world to succeed in perpetual peace — which is the very message pushed by the film’s rock star-cum-celebrity spokesperson, Tom Cruise, er, Colin Gramercy (Paré). Ah, it turns out, Gramercy (in a plot twist), isn’t Satan-as-a rocker; he’s been brainwashed by Satan (a George Soros-styled billionaire philanthropist) as the chief advocate for a dopey, 501 c3 tax-evading pseudo-religion masquerading as a “self-help” book and tape-schilling amalgamate.

Like Daddy Rich pimpin’ his prosperity theology says: “There’s a good place in this world for money, and it’s right here in my pocket.”

Yes, praise Green Jesus, by watching this film . . . you will see the light! For watching Raging Angels will quell the “raging angels” within. This film will lead to your spiritual enlightenment . . . as you will learn how to be “your own god.” Yes you can! Just like “prosperity gospel” (i.e., “money gospel”) megachurch overseers Joel Olsteen and Creflo Dollar, whom “God tells” to pick the pockets of the flock to buy the Houston Astrodome and private 747s (fitted in real gold-plated fixtures, natch) to spread the good word. Hey, God can’t live or fly in junk, dear flockster. Forget that utility bill and tithe to Gramercy, for “God” will provide the water, light, and curb-side pick-ups. The Coalition for World Unity will provide the room and board and you’ll never have to work again . . . as long as you “obey” the word.

Eh, sorry, Ol’ Scratch, for I’ve stopped believing. Your attempt to brainwash me into socialism via a bad movie . . . you created a recruitment video for atheism. Besides, your film doesn’t even have backmasking? How can you make a movie with this subject matter and not have someone playing records backwards!

Anyway . . . our not-so-metal-warrior, Chris D’Amico (Flanery), is an arrogant, temperamental rocker on the way up who believes in his hype; and with his alcohol abuse out of control, his band sacks him. And the band he fronts is . . . none other that the aforementioned Holy Solider — ripping through Ronnie James Dio-era Rainbow with “Gates of Babylon” (on screen), which is this film’s lone high mark (on the soundtrack we also hear their original, “The Pain Inside of Me“). And Chris ends up like Pete Best and Chad Channing (know your Nirvana heritage), as Holy Soldier nets a deal and achieves great success . . . as a metal band . . . during the height of the grunge era (put a pin in that, for more, later).

So, our now penniless rocker, who has beat the bottle and stowed the cockiness, needs a gig. He and his musician-girlfriend, Lila Ridgeway (ex-daytime TV actress Monet H. Mazur, in her feature film debut), audition for gigs in Colin Gramercy’s new, worldwide satellite-cable concert (Paré, unlike in his star-making turn as Eddie, actually sings here, with “The Hunger”). And Colin wants Lila as a back up singer, who quickly falls under the cult-rocker leader’s spell (for all good televangelists have that enclave of chicks to help work through those sermons), but not Chris.

Uh, oh . . . but Lila is changing. She’s not the same girl, anymore. And the drinking didn’t make Chris wreck his car, it was Satan (literally; a ghostly image appears in the windshield). But Lila ain’t buying the excuses, anymore. She dumps him on Gramercy’s word.

Cue Chris’s Grandma Ruth (Shelley Winters!), who, thanks to her horrific dreams and visions (that screws up his new band’s audition), starts with the nagging warnings that “Chris is in danger.” Well, the demons won’t have any of that. Let the demon attack begin. But not before our dead Grandma recruits the eccentric, religious-psychic-preacher Sister Kate (Diane Ladd!) to save Chris and Lila’s souls from eternal damnation. The demeaning of Jesus Christ down to evil-warding, biblical-verse spells and religious trinkets, ensues.

Eh, on the upside: everyone is trying. Grandma Shelly and Aunt Diane are going at it with gusto, and Sean Patrick and Paré always sell the drama — no matter how awful it usually is, as is the case with most of their films.

Finally!

Yes, the final good vs. evil showdown we’ve been waiting for at Colin’s global, subliminal worldwide satellite concert, is here — the concert that will transform the citizens of Earth to the Coalition for World Unity way-of-life once and for all! Well . . . I think it’s best you watch the clip of the final battle, for the rest of the story.

See what we mean?

Where’s Jon Mikl Thor when we need his bare-chested, bad-ass metal warrior self? Where’s Billy Eye Harper, Lynn Starling and Headmistress with the epic concert show closer? Ah, now I see why the CWU needs to subliminal message their concert: because the concert, with their screeching Christian symphonic rocker signing, Mozart (“One World”), and Colin Gramercy’s “life changing” epic, “The Hunger,” is — as is any Christian “rock concert” held in a church’s chapel-cum-gymcafeditorium that I’ve been too — absolutely, utterly awful (and when you realize the music sucks, they “kidnap” you by blocking the door and will not let you leave before the show’s over . . . and not even then. Screw you, One Bad Pig. Your Red Hot Chilli Peppers-for-Jesus schtick, sucked. At least Ronnie James Dio didn’t abduct me and force me to listen and indoctrinate me).

And that is what is ultimately missing from Raging Angels, the one thing that would have taken this Satan-steals-souls-with-rock-music mess over the top: a soundtrack on the level of the “No False Metal” classic Black Roses. For Raging Angels needs the likes of Lillian Axe, Lizzy Borden, and Carmine Appice’s King Kobra masquerading as the faux bands of the film. This film needed Metal Blade Records’ Brian Slagel as its music consultant to transcend it as the “No False Metal” classic it so wants to be . . . and utterly fails to be.

Granted, Sean Patrick Flanery impresses here (yes that is him singing, with “Come In My Mind“; in fact, here he is belting “One Step Forward” in Girl), but for as much as I enjoy any film with the ‘Flan, his character and the related songs are a bit too — through no fault of his own — douchy to pull off the demonic side of the proceedings. The rest of the soundtrack’s mostly B-Side castoffs — faux-Led Zeppelin’ers Kingdom Come (“What Love Can Be”), Golden Earring (?) (“Twilight Zone”), Boston (“Livin’ for You”), The Mission U.K (“Wasteland”), and well, what do you know, the aforementioned Stryper (“To Hell with the Devil”), and Sweden’s “dance rockers” Army of Lovers (“Supernatural”) (a big deal in Europe, but not in the U.S.) — just aren’t lathing the grooves on my vinyl. And, yes, shockingly, that snippet of “Arrow” by a band called Candlebox is the very same, we-relocated-the-band-to-Seattle-to-be-a-grunge-band, Candlebox. (Odette Springer, who scored Cirio H. Santiago’s Mad Max-rips Dune Warriors and Raiders of the Sun, scores here, as well as co-writing, with Hisako Tsukuba, Monet Mazur’s character’s vocal showcase, “I’m Crying Out for You.”)

And if the lack of metal in this Satanic music flick ain’t cuttin’ it, then, chances are, neither are the not-so-special effects.

When was this made? Well, based on the dated-soundtrack, certainly not during the post-1990 grunge-era. Raging Angels reeks as a film shot at some point during the hair metal ’80s — courtesy of its à la Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, practical-sfx rubbery monsters (taking into account that film’s epic “Plan 9 from Outer Space” Satan vs. Angel battle) and burgeoning-technology CGI. Yeah, the dank n’ moldy aromas of years-languishing on the shelf — as most “Alan Smithee” films do — to then be thou looseth on the shelves of oneth’s local Blockbuster Video, permeates.

In the end, what we ultimately have in the frames of Raging Angels isn’t a errant, “No False Metal” heavy-metal horror film: we have an evangelical Christian Cinema precursor to the rash of low-budget, direct-to-video evangelical Revelation/Apocalypse films triggered by Christian author Tim LaHaye’s mid-’90s end-of-the-world Left Behind novel series. Those best-sellers were, of course, produced into a tetraology franchise by Canadian’s Paul and Peter LaLonde Christian-based Cloud Ten Pictures, which specializes in end-times films.

So, forget about the Black Roses and Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare analogies. The true spiritual cousins to Raging Angels are those proselytizing flicks starring past-their prime actors, such as the Apocalypse tetraology (1998 – 2001) with Gary Busey, Corbin Bernsen, Jeff Fahey, Margot Kidder, Mr. T, and Nick Mancuso, Six: The Mark Unleashed (2004), with Eric Roberts and Stephen Baldwin, David A.R White’s dopey Rapture-flicks, such as The Moment After (which rip off Schwarzenegger’s End of Days to lesser-and-lesser effect), and the biggie of the bunch: The Omega Code starring Casper Van Dien and Michael York. Raging Angels is all of those premillennialist flicks — only with a Satan-recruits-with-music plot device, and worse production values.

Eh, whatever, ye leaders of the CWU. If douchy music from tapered haircut and scruffy soul-patched dudes is the way to global peace, then give thee chaos. At least Satan has better music to-be-brainwash-by. At least I learned that the way to rock is to sling my axe behind my back and wear glittery tank tops.

The VHS tapes are out there, but watch out for those DVDs, they’re grey DVD-r rips. And while they look really good, I am still not jammin’ on those Euro Region 2 copies, either. Emptor the caveats and know your regions before you go hard digital, kids.

In all of my years coveting this film for the VHS collection, I never found a copy. Sure, I could easily buy a copy online these days, but, well . . . it’s just not the same as discovering a copy in a video store’s cut out bin — or at today’s library book drives or second hand stores, is it? For the joy is the thrill of the analog chase and the celluloid discovery . . . and then having your expectations deflated as you struggle to get through the movie, and then apologize to your VCR.

Eh, I’ll just free-with-ads stream it on Tubi with ya’ll.

Hey, Scorpion Releasing! You need to do for Raging Angels what you did for The Apple and get this out on Blu-ray. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. . . .

Coming the first week of December. . .

We’re reviewing a week of classic — and heavy-handed — early ’70s Christian films with our upcoming “Exploring: Christian Cinema of the ’70s” featurette. So, join us on Wednesday, December 1 through the Sunday, December 5 . . . “join us . . . join us. . . .”

Don’t fear Satan! Hail Sammy Curr! No False Metal!

There’s more fake rockers of the Chris D’Amico and Colin Gramercy variety to be discovered with our “Ten Bands Made Up for Movies (and a whole lot more)” featurette. You want more, real band cameos? Well, check our out “Ten Band Cameos in Movies” featurette.

All of the Italian and Spanish “Satanic Panic” movies you can handle.

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

Slasher Month: Sick-o-pathics (1995)

Okay, so let met get this straight in my head: This is a 55-minute, Italian-made anthology horror of three tales consisting of a killer sex doll, a killer handbag . . . and a parody of Joe D’amato’s Anthropophagous. And — being ever the good sport — Dardano Sacchetti, the writer of, well, a large portion of our favorite films at B&S About Movies, appears in the frames.

If it came out of Italy, Sacchetti, across his 1000 credits, wrote it — everything from The Cat o’ Nine Tales (1971), to Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood (1971), to Giannetto De Rossi abysmal Cy Warrior (1989). Then, in between, Sac’s rattled off stuff like the incredible Shock (1977), the influential Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979), Cannibal Apocalypse (1980), and our most beloved apoc’ers 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982), Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983), and Rome 2072: The New Gladiators (1984).

Just wow. You made my youth worth living, Dardano!

But Sacchetti isn’t the only Italian icon, here: Underground horror greats Linnea Quigley (recently of The Good Things Devils Do), David Warbeck, and Sergio Stivaletti appear, as well as directors Joe d’Amato, Luigi Cozzi, and Lucio Fulci; the late maestro’s daughter, Antonella, has a cameo as a pregnant lady . . . whose fetus is blown out of her vagina into the air. Yes, it’s like that. No, really. And it’s all very dumb, and it’s all very cheap, and it’s all very sloppy . . . and it is extremely sick. So, hell yes, we love it!

Just wow. We never heard of this one. We never once seen it on a U.S. video shelf. And here we are, 26 years after the fact, lovin’ it, over on You Tube.

Look, if the trailer doesn’t sell it . . . turn in your B&S membership card. For we never knew ye. If it does, well, pair this up with Nigel the Psychopath for a Halloween double feature.

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: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995)

Written and directed by Kim Henkel, who wrote the original film, this take on the Sawyer family has sadly been forgotten, but it had — as so many films do — a rocky creation, a two year period where it disappeared and features two big stars who pretty much don’t want anything to do with it. It’s also the last movie in the original timeline of the films before remake and reboot and reimagining became the constant status quo for chainsaw movies.

I can see why some people dislike this movie. After all, there’s now a thousand-year-old secret society paying off the Sawyers — who now choose pizza over human flesh — to kill people to keep the population in a constant state of fear. Or maybe they do it so people can achieve transcendence through that terror. Leatherface, who used to be a killing machine, now struggles with not only his ability to capture and murder the teenagers, but his sexuality, cross-dressing and screaming like a child.

He also does not use a chainsaw.

The real center of this story is Renée Zellweger’s Jenny, who Henkel wrote the story around, claiming that was about “her transformation, her refusal to shut up, to be silenced, to be victimized. And by extension her refusal to be oppressed.” In the director’s cut, it’s shown that she’s been abused her whole life, so the terror of the Sawyers leaves her unafraid.

Actually, they’re now the Slaughters, not the Sawyers, and led by the other big star in this production — he wasn’t at the time — Matthew McConaughey as Vilmer Slaughter, a maniac who combines the characteristics of the HItchhiker, Chop Top and Leatherface with a cybernetic leg and the need to self-scar himself. His wife Darla reveals much of the conspiracy theory in the film, except that she also claims that she has a bomb implanted in her skull and that Vilmer is from space.

This movie played 27 theaters, then Japan and then disappeared for two years, as CAA wanted nothing to ruin the success of McConaughey. It finally played in twenty cities in 1997. Yet it has its fans, as no less a Chainsaw fan as Joe Bob Briggs said, “This is the best horror film of the 90s” and called this “a flick so terrifying and brilliant that it makes the other two Chainsaw sequels seem like “After-School Specials.”

The end of the film features John Dugan, Grandfather from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Paul A. Partain, who was Franklin and Marilyn Burns, who was Sally. I love that she locks eyes with Kenny as the movie closes. I also adore that this movie has so many Texas bands, like “Der Einziger Weg” by Debbie Harry and Robert Jacks (who was Leather in this), plus songs by Roky Erickson and Daniel Johnston.

2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 6: The Fishmen and Their Queen (1995)

6. IT CAME FROM THE SEA: Some kind of threat from below the brine.

Sergio Martino can do no wrong. Seriously, even when he’s combining footage from Island of the Fishmen AKA Screamers and 2019: After the Fall of New York into one TV movie, I can’t be anything but entertained.

Two teenagers are stuck in the hell that is the end of all things, with radioactive waste everywhere and barely a chance to survive against the horse-riding, masked and completely berserk (and great) Exterminator Warriors. When an old man named Socrates and his magic dog Lampo take them to the island of the fish people — who are ruled by a stunning queen (Ramona Badescu, who also sang the movie’s theme song) — everything seems like it’s about to get better,

Man, I love the scene where one of the kids waves to one of the mer-men and they wave back in an action that was meant in anger in the original film.

Well, it turns out that the queen has enslaved the fishmen and is trying to destroy a masked dwarf that the kids save along with Selva the jungle girl, whose sister — and rightful queen of the island — has been turned into a wooden statue. That means that our heroes must set free the fishmen and save the transformed ruler.

This movie makes less sense than any other late-period Martino movie and I’m counting Uppercut Man and American Tiger in that. This is as dumb as it gets, ending with a spaceship leaving Earth for no reason other than there was no crane that lowered a god in either of the two movies strip-mined to make this one.

Speaking of American Tiger AKA American Rickshaw, the first time I went to Scarecrow, I wanted to see just how deep their library was. Even before Cauldron Films released the film on blu ray, Scarecrow had it on VHS. That made me believe in them.

Final Exit (1995)

Stop me if you’ve heard this on before. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, a convicted murderer and two professing Christian teenagers meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and, well, make a movie. Final Exit is an “evangelistic drama will confront your viewers with life’s most important choices: Jesus or Satan? Heaven or Hell?”

Oh man, yeah. This is why I watch movies.

As a kid, I repeatedly encounter Jack Chick tracts that, if anything, pushed me away from the path that Mr. Chick wanted me on. This Was Your Life is a really good overall view of the world of Chick: a man has led an ordinary life full of sin, wasted what God gave him and is thrown into Hell and he’ll never get out. Variations on this theme appear, telling us that even the clergy — especially Catholics — can still go to Hell. Reading so many of these so often as a kid led to the man that I am today.

In case you haven’t been amazed by what the Christian side of the world endorses these days, this movie will set you straight. Of course, the serial killer will go to Heaven because he made a very specific prayer the night before he was executed and he would have never found Heaven without the death penalty. The Nobel prize winner did amazing, wonderful, astounding things in his life and ended war and saved lives, but he was selfish and did it all for himself and not God, so he’s going to burn.

And then the movie reminds you that even though this man stopped some wars, there will still be more wars. Also, one of the serial killer’s victims is innocent, but never found God, so they show her being removed from Hell for just a moment before pushing her back in.

Writer/director Danny Carrales has made a ton of movies like this, moving up from SOV quality to actual films. His latest one, 2018’s Beyond the Darkness — and you just know that I love that he used the name of a Joe D’Amato movie — has lighsaber-looking things on the cover, which means I need to track it down and do a full deep dive. And oh yeah, Carrales is also a professor at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

Some people ask me, “How did our country get like this?” We always were. It just used to be tracts, SOV videos and the 700 Club wasn’t watched by everyone and shared like social media. It’s someone’s POV, no matter how much you disagree with it. And you know, no matter what you do, you’re going to Hell.