Everything in Gil Renard’s (Robert DeNiro) life is going wrong. His ex-wife Ellen (Patti D’Arbanville) has a restraining order against him. He’s not allowed to see his son Richie (Andrew J. Ferchland). He’s lost his job as a knife salesman at the very company that sells the knives his father created. The only good thing in his existence is the San Francisco Giants and his favorite player Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), who just signed a $40 million dollar contract.

But now Bobby is in a slump.

And Gil can’t have that.

One of the ways that he helps is by getting Bobby the jersey number he wants, 11, killing rival Juan Primo (Benicio del Toro). That helps his favorite player play better. But he’s lost his love for the game, a fact he reveals to Renard after the strange man saves his son Sean (Brandon Hammond) from drowning. Soon enough, he’s kidnapped the child and will only return him if Bobby hits a home run and dedicates it to him.

Based on The Fan by Peter Abrahams, this was directed by Tony Scott and written by Phoef Sutton. There are also great character roles for John Leguizamo and Ellen Barkin.

Cal Ripkin Jr. was Snipes’ hitting coach for this film and has said that De Niro creeped him out. When they met, he was listening to tapes of Robert Bardo, the man who stalked and killed Rebecca Schaefer. One would imagine that Snipes already knew how to play baseball, as he was Willie Mays Hayes in Major League.

In case you wondered, this is not as good as The Fan with Lauren Bacall and the German groupie madness Der Fan.

You can get the Mill Creek release of The Fan from Deep Discount.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on June 3, 2019. It has be re-released as part of Mill Creek’s retro line with a really cool slipcover that makes it look like an old rental. You can get it from Deep Discount.

James Foley has an interesting IMDB resume, with films from RecklessAt Close Range and Glengarry Glen Ross to Who’s That Girl (he also directed Madonna’s videos for “Live to Tell”, “Papa Don’t Preach”, and “True Blue”), Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. As I’ve always said, there’s a fine line between arthouse and grindhouse. Fear is a movie that despite its bigger budget pedigree and future A-list stars has one foot surely planted in the grime of exploitation. And that’s why I kinda love it.

Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) is sixteen and living in the midst of a turbulent blended family between her father (William Petersen) and new mother (Amy Brenneman). In my strange head, I’ve shipped that Petersen is really his character from Manhunter, starting over again in life as anything but a cop.

That said — Nicole is a wannabe bad girl, sneaking into bars with real bad girl Margo (Alyssa Milano)  when she meets David McCall (Mark Wahlberg). He’s gorgeous and charming and says all the right things. But her dad hates him immediately. There’s an undercurrent of incest in this film — it’s never shoved in your face, but there are hints of it, that Nicole’s father is perfect a bit too protective, a bit too defensive of her when his wife says she looks like a slut.

Keep in mind, every single time you hear The Sundays’ cover of “Wild Horses,” you’re getting a sex scene, including one where David’s hand finds its way between Nicole’s thighs on a rollercoaster. Oh Fear — you understand the movie that you ought to be so well.

Soon, David shows his true nature, keeping Nicole out too late and assaulting one of her friends when he thinks the guy is trying to get with his girl. He even gives Nicole a black eye which, oddly, brings her together with her stepmother, which is a troubling narrative when you start to think about it too much.

Of course, she takes him back and even when her parents demand that she not have visitors when they leave town, she gives him the code to their house so they can make love. Daddy, however, can’t trust the guy — even if the stepmother does, allowing him to help with her gardening — and discovers that his background is full of lies.

Everything has to fall apart. Nicole watches Margo smoke crack at a party and sees David take her off to a bedroom for sex. In my favorite scene in the film, Margo tells Nicole’s little brother that she can’t wait until he grows up so she can ravage him — he’s eight — before the bomb gets dropped that Nicole knows she had sex with her man.

David becomes obsessed with Nicole, tattooing his own chest with the words NICOLE 4 EVA in a scene that should be watched over and over again. He also goes off, choking out Margo, killing that gentleman who dared to hug Nicole and cornering her in a mall bathroom. Then he goes further, destroying her dad’s Mustang with the graffiti “Now I’ve popped both your cherries!”Her dad replies by breaking into David’s house, where he finds a shrine to his daughter.

Once David discovers that dad has been to his house, he responds in the only language he knows: abject violence, turning this movie into a teenage Last House on the Left. It starts with the beloved family dog, Kaiser, being beheaded and only gets worse from there. Sure, things turn out fine, but wow, getting there will necessitate years of therapy for everyone.

Universal Pictures is currently working on a re-imagined version of this film with more of a female perspective. Here’s hoping it isn’t afraid to go too far, like in this movie when a maniacal Mark Wahlberg screamed “Let me in the fucking house!” Seriously, he was never better than he is in this movie, just a vision of complete young love gone wrong.

VESTRON BLU RAY RELEASE: The Dentist Collection (1996, 1998)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Vestron releases are coming out from Lionsgate, such as this collection of two 90s slashers. Extras on The Dentist include commentary with director Brian Yuzna and special makeup effects supervisor Anthony C. Ferrante, isolated score selections and audio interviews with composer Alan Howarth and director of photography Levie Isaacks, interviews with Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Paoli, Ferrante and J.M. Logan, a trailer and a still gallery. Extras on The Dentist 2 includecommentary with director Brian Yuzna and special makeup effects supervisor Anthony C. Ferrante, isolated score selections and audio interviews with composer Alan Howarth and editor Christopher Roth, interviews with Jillian McWhirter, Pierre David, Ferrante and Logan, a trailer and a still gallery.

The Dentist (1996):

Brian Yunza directed this one, a movie that is ready to upset you even if you’re hardened to gore, because everyone hates the dentist. Seriously, if you’re about to get a filling, please avoid this movie, because it features major moments of molar malice. It made my teeth hurt just watching it.

Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen*) is a man with it all: a successful dental practice, plenty of money and a gorgeous wife. Of course, she’s sleeping with the pool guy, which makes him go absolutely bonkers and start killing everyone that has ever upset him. It starts with shooting his wife’s friend’s dog and then only gets crazier from there. By the way, that isn’t even a dog. It’s a stuffed goat.

He hallucinates that an actress is his wife and starts choking her with her stockings before her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo!) flips out. And then he brings his wife in to show her a new opera-themed room and cuts her tongue out before taking out all of her teeth.

For most of the film, Alan is in-between reality and his delusions, so you have no real idea what’s happening. What is going on is plenty of death, like air getting injected into someone’s jugular and smashing out someone’s teeth with a drill**, this movie reminds me of how long it took me to get all my front teeth replaced with implants.

Hey — Ken Foree shows up as a cop. If you’re playing at home, that makes him a police officer in Dawn of the DeadTerror SquadTrue BloodBlood Brothers and this movie.

The budget was so small that Yuzna did his own storyboards and gave the art department his credit card to get set decorations. Favors must have been called in, because Alan Howarth composed the entire score in one weekend (as well as doing the final mixing and foley work).

*While Bernsen played real-life serial killer dentist Glennon Engleman in Beyond Suspicion, this movie was not based on that tale.

**The kills are all based on murders from Hitchcock films.

The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself (1998): When we last saw Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen), he was being sentenced to a maximum security mental hospital and being menaced by his wife Brooke (Linda Hoffman). However, he’s hidden a weapon inside his own skin and escaped, but his aforementioned ex knows that he’s gone to one of the towns that he’s kept postcards from and she’s going to get the money he owes her to pay back all of the teeth and the tongue she’s lost.

This Brian Yuzna (SocietySilent Night, Deadly Night 4: InitiationFaust: Love of the Damned) directed film — he also made the 1996 original — seems like a sideways sequel for The Stepfather, with Dr. Feinstone becoming Dr. Lawrence Caine and starting all over again in the town of Paradise, Missouri.

Of course, he’s still a maniac and all the issues he had in the first film all come raging back all over again, like his extreme jealousy when he falls for local Jamie Devers (Jillian McWhirter, Dune Warriors), who looks just like his last wife.

Also, much like the last time we saw the evil dentist, if you have to get any work done on your chompers, you shouldn’t watch this beforehand. There’s also a Clint Howard appearance, which is always welcome.

Alan Howarth did the score, so listen for stingers that sound suspiciously like the ones from Halloween 2. And I almost forgot that Big Ed Hurley’s eyepatch-wearing wife Nadine (Wendy Robie) is in this.

Alien Beach Party Massacre (1996)

Two different aliens — the humanoid Mirusian and the pig-appearing Ghastorian — have been battling over a Death Sphere that accidentally dropped off on Earth by goofball Mirusian janitor Nagillig — and because it looks just like a beach ball, it is fated to land on a beach and have some nerd scientists and surfer dudes try to figure out what’s happening. Oh yeah, they also become friends with Nagillig.

There’s a lot of weed smoking — one probably correctly believes that it was this way behind the camera as well — and death by surfboard, which doesn’t happen all that often. The death comes from Ghastorian commander Lord Odem and his henchman, who lie in wait at an old house, where Dr. Bateman has been studying UFOs. Also: sunscreen can defeat aliens, so someone alert Baz Luhrmann.

Director and writer Andy Gizzarelli never made another film, but has worked on a producer on the HBO remake of Perry MasonBridgertonAnd Just Like That…True DetectiveBig Little Lies and Feast. The amount that you will enjoy this movie is based on how much you can stand helium voices or people who sound like they’re trying too hard to be Jeff Spicoli.

That said, it’s a beach party science fiction slasher and there aren’t many movies that can say that.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Satanic Yuppies (1996)

Directed and written by Mark Burchett and Michael D. Fox (VampsBlood Sisters: Vamps 2), this movie is also known as Evil Ambitions and really is 1996 in its most pure and distilled flavor.

The Satanic Yuppies in the title are politician Gideon Jessup (David Levy) and model agency owner Brittany Drake (Amber Newman, HorrorvisionHell-O-Ween) and they have marked Julie Swanson (Lucy Frashure), a virginal fresh off the bus and new in the big city girl for Satan’s bride. And by the big city, I mean Cincinnati, because dead bodies keep showing up in the Ohio River.

Reporter Peter McGavin (Paul Morris) is on the case, despite being warned by his boss Miles Bishop (S. William Hinzman, the Flesheater not in zombie mode) to just forget all about it. You know who does get him off the trail? Brittany, who owns him from the minute they speak. At the same time, another girl he runs into gets kidnapped by the cult’s long-haired killing machine Lester (Rob Calvert).

Despite the sexual dynamo throwing herself his way, McGavin finds his way back to his story and gets help from phone sex operator/literal ghostwriter of Mae West’s autobiography Madame Natalie Goldfarb (Debbie Rochon), who informs him that the first four murders were to create the bridesmaids of the devil and the fifth murder will be his bride, at which point, kind of like a godfather at an Italian wedding, Satan must give a favor to whoever put the nuptials together.

After killing Detective Leslie Kellogg (Renee Raos), the police officer who was trying to help McGavin, with a blue blur while she’s in the bathtub, a succubus is sent to take our protagonist and make him a member of the cult. But when Satan (Randy Rupp) shows up, it turns out he’s not all that pleased with the rich and powerful who are following him.

While the protagonist is lame and you’ll probably be more of a fan of Newman’s evil mistress of the dark arts — and modeling — this is by no means a bad film. It looks a lot like a 1990s adult film from VCA, with that plastic bright video quality, yet just hints at the sex instead of giving it to you. That said, if suddenly people started having sex for real, I would in no way be surprised.

Between Hinsman and Rochon being involved, how did John Russo not get into this movie?

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Santa Claws (1996)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on April 12, 2022 and you can now buy it on blu ray from Terror Vision. It’s also a combination Pittsburgh Made/holiday movie!

John Russo lives in Glassport, which I can see from my house, and he wrote the idea that became Night of the Living Dead, which would probably be enough, but he also helped make Return of the Living Dead happen. And he also made Midnight and The Majorettes, two movies that fall into that strange genre that can only come from Pittsburgh, the yinzer giallo. He also was the publisher and managing editor of Scream Queens Illustrated, which figures into this movie.

Raven Quinn (Debbie Rochon) used to be a scream queen but ever since she had two children with a scream queen magazine publisher who would rather take nude photos of models than work on his marriage. Luckily, she has Wayne (Grant Cramer), a neighbor who once watched his mommy do more than kiss Santa Claus, lost his mind and killed them both. So perhaps she is not quite so fortunate.

Beyond getting to see Night stars like Marilyn Eastman, who played Helen Cooper, Karl Hardman, who played her husband Harry, and first zombie — and the director of The Majorettes and FleshEater — S. William Hinzman, you can pretty much see this as an American Night Killer. They’re both set at Christmas, they both deal with broken marriages and they’re both absolutely berserk movies seemingly made by maniacs.

Waste not, want not, as Russo edited this into Scream Queens Naked Christmas.

Yinzer bonus: Numerous scenes of characters wandering Market Square before anyone went there, back when George Aiken was still making the best-fried chicken ever, when National Record Mart still had that huge store and G.W. Murphy’s was still open. I mean, the killer runs into the Oyster House for a second and I was awash with 90s dahntahn memories, like Honus Wagner, the smell of Hare Krishna’s t-shirts, Candyrama and so much more.

In short, a killer that uses a garden cultivator as a weapon, like a total South Hills Blood and Black Lace, all with softcore dancing that makes me wistful for dollar pizza at Anthony’s and the old sign that was painted on the wall at the Cricket and hey, John Russo wrote two songs for this, “Christmas by Myself” and “Brand New Christmas.”

If you remember that old store Novelties in Market Square that never seemed to sell anything and was put out of business for a Dunkin’ Donuts, well, I want you to know that this movie has the killer buy his Santa Claus suit in that very store.

Welcome to the yinzer giallo list, Santa Claws. Meet us under the Kaufmann’s clock for your framed certificate.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Scream Queens’ Naked Christmas (1996)

Available as an extra on the new Terror Vision blu ray of Santa ClawsScream Queens’ Naked Christmas is such an oddity in our overly saturated by pornography world of 2022. It’s dirty, kind of, but not really in any way as much as it’s women taking their clothes off which seems perfectly chaste today. It ends up here, a combination movie for this week of Pittsburgh movies and holiday classics — classics may be stretching things but it is the season of giving — directed by John Russo, who was also the publisher and managing editor of Scream Queens Illustrated, a magazine that chronicled horror movie actresses — and showed their boobs, let’s be frank — in a time when getting on the internet often involved needing to be at a university or the slowest dial up ever.

As a kid, I often fantasized about what it would be like going to the Edison Hotel and what was waiting for me inside. I should have been shown this film because the dancing in it is about as sexy as any so-called Pittsburgh adult club I’ve ever been in. At least the Tennyson Lounge used to let you get up on stage and sing, The Cricket was cheap to drink at and you could get dollar slices at Anthony’s when that was still a place. In fact, I’ve always liked the aura of sin in clubs of ill repute more than experiencing the sin because it’s just a transaction and the sooner you realize you’re just a mark, the quicker you can just hang back and soak it all up. The robotic dancing in this, the faraway eyes — just imagine it darker, smelling like more perfume and if you dumb glitter all over yourself and burn your money, you too can have an authentic experience.

With Wayne (Grant Kramer) from Santa Claws hosting, basically this video is John Russo and Bill Hinzman videotaping women and getting them naked for the yule season. Sue Ellen White only did this movie, but Lisa Delien (using the stage name Lisa Duvaul) was also in Eyes Are Upon You and Amanda Madison (using the name Christine Cavalier) appeared in other movies like Psycho DancePsycho VampireSlaughter Secretaries…yes, all Wave Productions. She’s also in Donald Farmer’s Red Lips.

The main star is, of course, Debbie Rochon, whose career took her everywhere from getting a scar on the streets of Vancouver at the age of 14 and being an extra in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains to buiding her legacy as a scream queen in movies like LurkersTromeo and Juliet and so many more, being picked as Draculina magazine’s Scream Queen of the Decade (1990–1999). She’s still making movies today, shrugging off setbacks like nearly losing four fingers of her right hand to a prop machete. She’s also one of those people who appear so perfect that you wonder if they’re some kind of android. I hope she never stops making movies ever.

This movie is ridiculous but I’m also strangely happy that it exists. If you saw Santa Claws, you’ve seen it already, but I respect that Russo is out to make money off you more than once for the same exact product.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Santa With Muscles (1996)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Happy holidays. This was first on the site on December 25, 2019.

The Wolf of Wall Street — in real life — was Jordan Belfort. Other than spending time in jail for fraud and related crimes in connection with stock-market manipulation and running a boiler room as part of a penny-stock scam, he also executive produced this Hulk Hogan vehicle.

Oh Hulk Hogan — the man who to this today claims that he was asked to take over for Cliff Burton in Metallica, who says that Elvis used to watch him wrestle in Memphis even though Hogan didn’t wrestle there until 1979 and Elvis died in 1977. Then there’s the time the makers of a grill called him first, he didn’t get the phone in time and they called George Foreman next. Then there’s the time he outdrank John Belushi after WrestleMania II, which took place in 1986. Never mind that Belushi died in 1982.

Actually, there’s no one better to play Santa Claus, who is based on telling lies to children.

Blake Thorn (Hogan) is a millionaire who sells vitamins but doesn’t ask anyone to say their prayers. Really, he’s not a nice guy and the cops bust him one day as he’s playing paintball. This is perfectly normal, as is the amnesia he gets at the mall, which leads him to believe that he’s Santa.

Don Stark, who was Bubba Caldwell in Evilspeak, plays a mall manager who gets Blake into the costume. He’d also go on to play Bob Pinciotti on That 70’s Show alongside Mila Kunis, who is also in this movie. When she was asked about this movie by GQ, she said, “I was too young to fully understand the importance of working with Hulk Hogan. I just thought he was this huge man.” She had some rough early films, such as American Psycho 2 with William Shatner and the 1995 Piranha TV movie remake.

There’s also an evil scientist named Ebner Frost (Ed Begley, Jr.) who is taking over an orphanage run by Garrett Morris because he wants some magic crystals. He has an entire army of maniacs to help him — Dr. Blight, Dr. Vial, Mr. Flint and Ms. Watt (Diane Robin, who is one of the prostitutes that Clarence Boddicker snarls “Bitches, leave!” to in RoboCop).

Robin Curtis, who was Lt. Savvik in the Star Trek films, is in this. And speaking of Evilspeak, Clint Howard shows up. So does William Newman (Silver Bullet and The Craft), Brenda Song (from that Netflix stinkfest Secret Obsession) and Brutus “The Barber” (also known as Baron Beefcake, The Booty Man, Big Brother Booty, Brother Bruti, Brute Force, The Butcher, The Clipmaster, Dizzy Hogan, Dizzy Golden, The Disciple, Ed Boulder, Ed Golden, Eddie Hogan, The Mariner, The Man With No Name, The Man With No Name, Furface and The Zodiac) Beefcake.

Director John Murlowski also was behind Amityville: A New Generation. It was written by three oone-and-donewriters, Jonathan Bond, Fred Mata and Dorrie Krum Raymond. However, Mata was a casting director and cast the Andrew “Dice” Clay movie Brain Smasher… A Love Story. Seriously, knowledge like that will get you nowhere in this life.

If you ever wanted to see Hulk Hogan as Santa Claus, well, here’s your chance, brother.


Max Pointdexter, I shit you not, has hacked into a NASA probe and is watching images from space, which is totally what most guys use the internet for and also, this was 1996, so imagine how slow the load time was. He also somehow has an attractive woman in his room and just keeps worrying about UFOs, which I guess is what you do if you’re in MUFON, right?

Look, were I making a UFO movie, I may cast Charles Napier as a sheriff, but I would not make the movie about him on the trail of several criminals. I would concentrate on, you know, the aliens. And the UFOs. And the invasion.

Obviously, everyone involved with this saw Independence Day or at least saw the script because a good chunk of this has Max on a laptop — the smallest laptop you’ve ever seen — typing against reptilians. Somehow, he also has someone who can get him high end military weapons because he pulls a bazooka out of the trunk of his car which seems like a decent enough weapon against little green men.

Oh yeah — the hot scientist’s name is Holly Capers.

Holly Capers!

You get cows getting kidnapped by UFOs before blowing up a farmer and his farm real good, just after we watch his daughter sneaking some loving from her boyfriend.  There’s also a long scene where Holly saves her cat just as her house explodes and you know, I’m totally on board with that. Cats over aliens forever.

Someone literally says, “Why do I suddenly feel like I’m in a bad episode of The X-Files?”

Director Peter Maris also made 1979’s Delirium, as well as Land of Doom and Terror Squad. Writer Nancy Newbauer also worked with Maris on the movie The Killer Inside. Maris seemed to bring back several of the same actors for his films, as David Homb, who plays one of the convicts, was in his video game Phantasmagoria and The Survivor. Also in this: Hoke Howell, who was one of those “I know that guy” guys, as well as the writer of movies like Click: The Calendar Girl Killer, One Block Away and B.O.R.N.

You can read a longer review of this right here.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 2: Diabolique (1996)

DAY 2. TROUBLE IN THE TUB: Bath time ain’t always relaxing.

The Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac novel Celle qui n’était plus had been already made in 1956 as Les Diaboliques. But was it made in Pittsburgh? And did it star Sharon Stone, who skipped being in The Flintstones to make this?

Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, whose career includes Benny & JoonNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and then this and The Avengers, this has a script by Don Roos, who also wrote Single White Female so you’d think he’d understand that whole concept of American giallo.

This is a movie with the absolute worst threeway relationship ever. Mia Baran (Isabelle Adjani) is a devout Catholic who works at a school with her husband Guy (Chazz Palminteri), a man so abusive that even his mistress Nicole Horner (Stone) feels badly for Mia, who we first meet as she nearly dies in a bathtub.

The two women decide that they’ve finally had it with Guy and lure him to an apartment of one of Nicole’s friends. Mia drugs him, they drown him in a bathtub and then carry his body out in a wicker box that they can barely get into the trunk. They toss his body in the swimming pool and when it disappears and photos of them killing him are mailed to the school, things get tense.

Also: that’s not just Donal Logue filming the school, but also J. J. Abrams. Kathy Bates shows up as an investigator, Spalding Grey — who died by a suicidal drowning — is a teacher and Bingo O’Malley — it’s a bigger deal if you’re from here — is in this too.

There are twists and turns — as you can imagine — as well as Stone hitting Palmieri in the head with a rake. I laughed out loud when that happened. It’s not good, but also it’s good because it’s Sharon Stone in a bad 90s remake of a movie that inspired so many other movies to the point that a remake feels beyond without reason.

Also: if you live in Pittsburgh, you realize that they’re just throwing names of cities out there. Come on, Sharon Stone. You’re from Meadville.

I always discuss that Stone would have totally been in an Umberto Lenzi giallo if she were around in the 70s. Her career path proves this. But as I keep track of what movies are Yinzer giallo — psychosexual murder movies made in the Steel City — this does not qualify. Sure, it has sex and murder, but it doesn’t get the geography right, theree are no accents and no one goes to a bar and has an IC Light. Nor do they visit a single landmark. You mean to tell me that Sharon Stone couldn’t walk past the Oyster Bar?