Things II (1998)

Things II is not a sequel to 1989’s Things. No, it’s a sequel to 1993’s Things and how about the fact that there are two SOV movies called Things? Well, Dennis Devine, who directed and wrote this with Steve Jarvis and Mike Bowler, also directed Fatal ImagesDon’t Look In the Cellar and Demon Kiss (want to learn more? Check out Drive-In Friday: Dennis Devine Night).

Horror writer Dean F. Keene orders a pizza and tells two of his stories to the delivery girl. “The Thing From Nanchung” has Stace getting a monster from a scientist and feeding it chutney and that’s she’s going to lead it to kill her husband Dexter and get to be with her true love Sam. Then two thieves come in and the whole plan may be ruined. Steve Jarvis directed this part.

“The Thing From The Lab” has a cop hunting down a serial killer called The Westside Strangler who may be an insect while romancing a photographer who has already had the creature kill someone in her studio. This segment was directed by Devine and has a slasher theme mixed with some strange science fiction monster action.

Mike Bowler, who would make Hell Spa, was in charge of the wraparound and the stories all work together. This is the precursor to the streaming horror anthologies that glut my inbox, except that it’s closer to a real horror anthology because there was some thought and care put into it.

If you’re looking for what happened after the 1989 Things, prepare yourself for Wicked World.

Gargoyle Girls (1998)

Joe LaPenna did special effects for Tales for the Darkside and Alien Beasts before directing and writing this, his one and only film which was intended as a portfolio for his work.

D’Asaro Michael plays Stanley, a not-so-great magician who mostly does work at parties for kids. Then he gains a magic ring and it brings two female gargoyles — yes, that title was not lying — into his life. One of them, Gwendolyn (Sasha Graham, who is still making microbudget films), is the nice one, kind of like Splash with wings. Her sister, however, realizes that if you’re a demon woman in the modern world, you should probably start to do some damage.

The romcom nature of this isn’t exactly to my liking in inverse proportion to how much I love the actual gargoyle girls in this, which look like they stepped out of the art of Coop or a particularly well-stocked Hot Topic and want to break my heart.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: The Minion (1998)

Directed by Jean-Marc Piché and written by Matt Roe and Avi Nesher (the director of Doppelganger) this movie finds the holidays coming at the worst of times, as all the signs of the end are there — it’s  super hot in New York City despite it being December — and that’s because The Minion is about to unlock the fourth of the Trinity — just go with it — the Antichrist who is locked inside the fortress of the Knights Templar and their strongest warrior Lukas Sadorov (Dolph Lundgren) must stop that from happening. He’s also a former Speznas who left the Soviet army after witnessing a massacre of civilians in Afghanistan — is this a Red Scorpion sequel? — who ends up working with a Native American archaeologist named Karen Goodleaf (Françoise Robertson).

The Minion has powers like The Hidden, jumping from body to body, but Dolph has a spiked glove so it seems like this is unfair fight for demons. Also: a subplot about nuclear waste on reservations, the alternate title Knight of the Apocalypse and the sad undelivered promise that Michele Soavi was one selected to direct this and man, what a movie that would have been. It’s still pretty good — I mean, Dolph praying before beating up cops and a bunch of Knights Templar in body armor fighting a body-switching demon, what else could you ask for? — but just imagine if this had been in the hands of a man who put a scene in a movie where a rabbit can use a remote control and it’s the least wild idea in that film.

Everyone compares this to End of Days but Lundgren got there first.

You can watch this on Tubi.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998)

I have let all of you down by not having a Pollonia Brothers holiday movie on the site until now, so here we go. Alan (Mark Polonia) has a horrible job that gives him big hours and small pay and he might not be able to get gifts for his kids, but maybe if he helps Santa defeat the Feeders, which are literally hand puppet monsters, perhaps everything will work out.

Directed by John, written by him and Mark and just around an hour, this also has a cat in it that is really made of construction paper and I don’t know, there’s something about things being lo fi and shot on video that makes me incredibly forgiving. The real gift? There are two more Feeders movies and have the same aliens that look like they were made by children and have glowing red eyes which I love. I mean, they also haunt me, but I love them.

You can watch this on Tubi.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 27: Mom, Can I Keep Her? (1998)

27. THE NATURAL ENTERTAINER: Watch one with a pro-wrestler turned actor. Put some raw fun in your movie mania.

Terry Funk is the wrestler that every other wrestler wants to be. When I was a kid and saw him battling Hulk Hogan in his short WWF stint, trying to punch ring announcers, running out with a branding iron and yelling at everyone in his path, I said to myself, “I’m going to be Terry Funk someday.” And that was before ECW, before death matches in Japan, before he did moonsaults in his fifties. I trained with his brother Dory and kept asking, “How does Terry throw those great punches?” The art of pro wrestling is very important and making things look perfect is even more so.

He told me he’d tell me someday.

This movie — directed by Fred Olen Ray, also a pro wrestler — starts with Terry Funk as Jungle Ed, introducing a gorilla on stage and do we need anything else from this movie? How about if it also has a cast of people I’d love to meet? One-time Buck Rogers Gil Gerard? He’s on hand. So are Alana Stewart, Brinke Stevens, Reese from Malcolm In the Middle, George “Buck” Flower, Don McLeod (TC Quist and also the gorilla from those old commercials who’d jump up and down on suitcases) and Mary Woronov too.

Let me say that for you real loud.

Mary Woronov is in a movie with Terry Funk.

Look, a gorilla eats all the cookies. And Brinke Stevens is just so wonderful, I want to write her poetry and leave it in her mailbox because I’d be too shy for her to ever know it was from me.

So on the way out of Florida and leaving the Funkin’ Dojo, I asked Dory Funk Jr. again, “How can Terry make his punches look so good?”

He answered, “He just punches you in the face.”

Carnival of Souls (1998)

Wes Craven Presents Carnival of Souls is directed by Adam Grossman, who also wrote the script, and Ian Kessner. It has nothing to do with Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls other than the name. What it does have is comedian Larry Miller as a carnival clown named Louis Seagram. In 1977, he raped and murdered the mother of Alex Grant (Bobbie Phillips). After he’s released from prison, he attacks Alex in her car, which she drives into a river — maybe it has a little bit of the original, including a role for Sidney Berger, who was in the Herk Harvey film — and dreams of the carnival where she first saw the clown.

Candace Hilligoss, star of the original, turned down a role. She saw this and hated it, saying that if anyone sees the words “A film by Adam Grossman” they should run for the exit. She also blasted Craven for putting his “signature crap” all over it, saying he should be “hung up by his thumbs at Hollywood and Vine for fans to stone, because he so devastated the intent of the original.”

Other Grossman films that Hilligoss should not watch include Sometimes They Come Back… Again and  Sometimes They Come Back… for More.

I don’t think this movie is exactly great but the fact that it isn’t bad is a major success. Miller is really good in this and really plays a great villain. And hey — Shawnee Smith!

You can watch this on Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)

Directed by David DeCoteau and written by Benjamin Carr and David Schmoeller, fan love for the puppets brought them back five years after Puppet Master 5 was supposed to end all of this. Most of the story takes place at The House of Marvels, a museum run by Dr. Magrew (George Peck) and his daughter Jane (Emily Harrison), who soon meet a gas station employee named Robert Winsley (Josh Green) who is a sculptor. As he works on a puppet for the doctor, he starts having nightmares that he is turning into wood. He also nearly kills a man who attacks Jane and the Magrew explains that they all have a violent side.

By the end of the movie, the puppets have turned on the doctor and come to the side of Robert, particularly when the young artist’s soul is placed into the puppet he created, Tank. He then blows the head off the doctor while his daughter watches. So yeah — revenge is sweet when you’re small.

Sure, most of the puppet animation is just recycled from the other movies. And yeah, this is pretty much the same movie as Sssssss. Yet I think you have to appreciate that level of exploitation balls, you know? It’s nearly Italian.


14. A Horror Film About Insects (No Bigger Than Humans)

Directed by Terence H. Winkless and written by Robert King — and based on the novel by Eli Cantor — The Nest has a great poster going for it. I stared at it in the video store for the longest time and now, decades later, I’ve finally watched it.

Sheriff Frank Luz (Richard Tarbell) has a lot to deal with. Dead dogs are showing up all over town. Books are falling to pieces. And his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Johnson (Lisa Langlois, Happy Birthday to MeDeadly Eyes) is back.

I dated a bug scientist — an entomologist — for a few months and I always told her that her experiments would lead to situations like this. She thought I was stupid and she was right, but I know that Dr. Morgan Hubbard (Terri Treas) is behind all of this, experimenting on cockroaches until they get cat sized and who needs that? How was that supposed to help?

This movie has human cockroaches and a cat cockroach, because it wants to make you puke. I mean, well done, you know?

Also: the studio this was made in dealt with cockroach infestations for years.

Also also: All of the explosions came from Humanoids from the Deep.

SLASHER MONTH: Bride of Chucky (1998)

Written by Don Mancini and directed by Ronny Yu — the same person who directed The Bride with White Hair and would go on to direct Freddy vs. Jason — this movie may not have doen well with critics, but it introduced a very essential part of the Child’s Play series: Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), a former lover of Charles Lee Ray who ends up trapped in a doll just like him. Now, she has to dig up Chucky’s human body and get an amulet which will allow them to possess her neightbors Jesse and Jade (Nick Stabil and Katherine Heigl).

Have you ever wanted to see John Ritter get nails driven into his face? Good news. This movie is ready to deliver.

Mancini referred to this as “part horror, part comedy, part romance and part road movie” and that’s why it works. Fans may have been upset that Andy Barclay wasn’t back, but they’d be won over soon enough. Inspired by Bride of Frankenstein, they went all in on finding a mate for Chucky who could live up to his love of killing. They succeeded. They also pushed the series into campier territory instead of the nearly straight slasher and supernatural vibe of the first three movies. After all, it was pretty wild to have a child’s doll killing so many people. They leaned in here and went for the laugh, not just the jugular.

This also comes from the era where every slasher had a soundtrack worth buying. Beyond Blondie’s “Call Me,” this has Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl” and his band White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ’65,” as well as Monster Magnet’s “See You In Hell,” Motörhead’s “Love for Sale,” Bruce Dickinson’s “Trumpets of Jericho,” Powerman 5000’s Machine Man inspired “The Son of X-51,” Kidneythieves covering “Crazy,” the song Willie Nelson wrote for Patsy Cline, plus Slayer’s “Human Disease,” Coal Chamber’s “Blisters” and Stabbing Westward — yes, it was 1998 — performing “So Wrong.”

This movie was hyped on the October 12, 1998 episode of WCW Monday Nitro when Chucky interrupted Gene Okerlund and Rick Steiner to tell the Dogfaced Gremlin that his brother Scott would win their feud. The SyFy version of Chucky would show up in NXT in 2021 and even cut a promo on Rick’s son Bron Breakker.

Bride of Chucky also got in a visual gag that the creators had wanted since the second movie: an evidence locker has Michael Myers’ mask, Jason’s mask, Leatherface’s chainsaw, Freddy’s glove and Fluffy’s crate from Creepshow.