Archive for Fangoria Movie Friday

AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: Zombie Nightmare (1987) movie review

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2014 by Paxton

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Yesterday you saw the ad for the flick, Zombie Nightmare from 1987.  It starred Adam West, Tia Carrere and Jon Mikl-Thor.  I’ve loved the look of that ad since I first saw it in Fangoria so I decided that it was going to be this week’s Fangoria Movie Friday review.

Zombie Nightmare poster

The only thing I’ve ever seen on this movie was yesterday’s home video ad. I remember the image vividly from when I bought the issue. So, since I’m filling in holes in my cult horror movie watching this month, I decided to track down this movie and give it a watch.

The premise is simple enough.  A guy is run over by a bunch of teens in a sports car and killed.  He is resurrected as a mindless zombie by a voodoo priestess in order to get revenge on all the teens that were in the car.  Bloodshed ensues.

It stars Adam West and Tia Carrere, so this should be 100% a winner.  And I mean that in the most B-movie awesome way.  Now that I’ve watched it, what did I think?  In a nutshell it’s a bit disappointing.  There’s definitely some high moments here and there.  The aesthetic is early Troma, as it seems with all the movies I’ve picked this month.  Not a whole lot of gore, surprisingly, but a metric ton of cheese.  Production values are on par with something like Street Trash but that movie was endlessly more fascinating than this one.  Do I recommend?  Hmmm, not really.  I don’t plan on watching it again, even though it amused me a bit during my viewing.  Another movie this reminded me of was Hard Rock Zombies which I reviewed last year for AWESOME-tober-fest 2013.

Let’s look at some of the more choice moments of this movie.

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And the movie begins, and we see that right away, this movie has the potential to be several different kinds of awesome. Adam West in a schlocky zombie movie? Yes, please? Tia Carrere?! Yes! And maybe she’ll get topless for her kill scene.  Those are the thoughts running through my head when I see the title cards.

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Wait…slick back hair, tight t-shirt, cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve.  Did I put on The Outsiders by mistake?  Is Leif Garret going to show up in a letter sweater?

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Oh, I see. Those greasers are here to endanger that young lady. And the husky, sweat panted dude is going to do something about it.  And that something is participate in the most ridiculously choreographed fight scene I’ve seen since Miami Connection.  Yes, husky sweat pants actually does spin around with the guy on his shoulders.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: HP Lovecraft’s From Beyond (1986) review

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2014 by Paxton

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Well, this week has been Stuart Gordon Week. All of this week’s content has been leading up to my Fangoria Movie Friday review of Stuart’s 1986 horror classic, From Beyond.  The movie, like the previous The Re-animator, was based on an HP Lovecraft short story.

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You’ve seen this week how much Fangoria was in love with the idea of this movie.  I remember it all over the magazine back in the mid 80s.  For some reason, even though I love Re-animator, I had never watched this movie.  But now I have.  And it’s not bad.

The premise is rather interesting.  A machine called “The Resonator” stimulates your pineal gland to allow you to see other dimensions which causes creepy creatures to manifest all around you.  And the more you are exposed to the effects of “The Resonator” the more it changes you.  Dr Pretorius and his assistant, Dr Tillinghast, who created the machine, turn it on and see these weird creatures appear.  Suddenly an accident occurs where Pretorius is seemingly killed and his assistant locked up in an asylum for the murder (an asylum because he’s spouting gibberish about inter dimensional creatures killing the doctor).  A beautiful psychologist, Dr McMichaels, believes the assistant is innocent and convinces him to take her to “The Resonator” to investigate the crime scene and they are accompanied by the awesome Detective Bubba Brownlee.  And lots of horror and interdimensional craziness occurs.

This movie definitely has a “by the Creators of Re-animator” vibe.  Not just because of the two principles, but the whole feel of the movie is very Re-animator-ish.  Which, of course, I like from the beginning.  Also, with like only 2 or 3 set pieces and only four principle actors, this also has a very stripped down, minimalist feel.  Like we are watching this performance as a bizarre theater production.  It absolutely feels like something you’d go see in a dark theater WAY off Broadway.  And that works in the movie’s favor.

The actors are very good too.  Jeffrey Combs is a little less crazy in this but he’s every bit as manic and interesting as he was in The Re-animator.  Barbara Crampton is great as Dr McMichaels and I still have a huge crush on her.  She doesn’t have an iconic scene in this like she did with the severed head giving her…well…head…in The Re-animator, but we do get a great scene of her in a leather dominatrix outfit.  I was very surprised by Ken Foree as Detective Brownlee.  He was AWESOME even going so far as fighting inter-dimensional creatures in nothing but a red thong.  Seriously.  It’s awesome.  The final principle was Dr Pretorius played by Ted Sorel.  He was the least interesting to me, but he played it fine.  Nothing to complain about, but nothing really to praise either.

Is this as good as The Re-animator?  No, it’s not.  However, it’s a pretty fun little flick and I’d recommend giving it a shot especially if you loved The Re-animator.

I mentioned that this movie was based on a short story of the same name.  I hadn’t read the story either, but since it was only like eight pages I went ahead and read it after I watched the movie.  It’s essentially like a prologue to the movie.  The events in the story are mostly what happens in the beginning of the movie with the machine getting turned on, the creatures showing up and Dr Tillinghast (Pretorius in the movie) getting killed and his best friend/partner taking the rap for it.  It’s not bad, but short.

Let’s look at some of the more choice moments of this movie.

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There’s the title card on the left and on the right, the opening shot of the movie which is a cozy image of one Jeffrey Combs, wrapped in a warm fuzzy sweater, biting down on a #2 pencil and drinking from a (vintage!) Coke can as he focuses all of his concentration on typing into that ancient computer that probably runs on a combination of steam and gasoline.

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Here’s more old as the Bible computer machines.  It looks like something Doc Brown would have in his basement.  Check out the monitor colors on the right.  Green background with blue writing?  We honestly didn’t care about our retinas in the 80s, did we?

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Here’s the psychologist Dr McMichaels played by the lovely Barbara Crampton. Those giant 80s glasses are so f**king adorable.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: Street Trash (1987) review

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2014 by Paxton

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I’ve talked a few times this week about an obscure little movie called Street Trash.  I described my fascination with the articles and pictures I’d seen in Fangoria magazine in the late 80s and the fact that I was never able to find a copy to watch nor was I ever able to find it on cable.  So, like I did with Rawhead Rex, I found a copy of this movie and I am now about to fill a giant hole in my 13 year old self’s soul by watching this movie.

For, as I mentioned the last few days, this week’s Fangoria Movie Friday review is Street Trash.

Street Trash poster

This movie started out as a film school project that received a bit of buzz in some grindhouse theaters in New York.  The director was offered seed money to make it into a very low budget feature length movie.  It’s gore and shock factor lead it to be a small cult hit in 1987.

As I said, I remember the Fangoria article about this movie fondly.  If for nothing else than the described toilet melting scene and the picture of the blond makeup artist with a (now vintage) Coke bottle filled with gore.

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Well, I have now finally watched the movie and I’ll talk about it…..right…..now.

This movie, at its heart, is a Troma film.  Not surprising since Toxic Avenger was released only 2 years prior.  All the hallmarks and tone are there, even if this wasn’t made by Troma proper you can tell it’s influenced by their style.  The movie is super gory.  And, honestly, the gore effects are actually pretty good considering the rest of the production is bare f**king bones.  The ubsurd, gory, dark humor is there throughout as are the surreal, dirty, grungy characters that populate the world.  To be fair, I’m not a huge Troma fan.  I really like the original Toxic Avenger but I haven’t really liked anything else they’ve released.  So, Troma-style isn’t necessarily a slam dunk for me.

This movie is just all so bizarre.  But in a weird way it works.  Essentially, the story begins when a sleazy liquor store owner finds a 60 year old case of Viper wine sealed up in his store room and decides to sell the bottles at $1 a pop to the dirty homeless guys that come in.  One bottle is sold and passed around and we see that the decades old wine will immediately disintegrate anyone who drinks it.  Lots of gruesome deaths happen on a fire escape and, awesomely, on a public toilet.  There’s even a scene in which a homeless guy has his penis cut off and tossed around “keep away” style as he runs around trying to retrieve it and put it on ice.  It’s gory and gross and just a wild ride.  And, like I said, bizarre.

There are a few other weird subplots going on like two brothers trying to cope with being homeless, a violent cop out to solve the mysterious melting murders and the brutal antics of a deranged Vietnam Vet named Bronson who rules the local junkyard.

I told you, the movie is bananas. But in a fun way.  I definitely had fun with it and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in these types of movies (you know who you are).

Here’s a look at some choice moments in this movie.

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This is the sleazy liquor store owner finding the case of Viper in his storeroom. Looks like vintage Ron Jeremy, doesn’t it? That could very easily be a version of Spanish Fly and he’s going to use it to bang all the chicks.

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The infamous toilet melting sequence. This looks a little weird in static images but I assure you it actually comes together in the movie. It’s gross and fun.  There’s another scene where a bum actually melts through the bars of a fire escape.  Very imaginative.

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I mentioned this film is populated with Troma characters, here’s one of them. This is the guy that owns and/or runs the junkyard. He hates bums, despite the fact that the junkyard is full of them.  He’s a fat, disgusting slob and reminds me of the mayor character from The Toxic Avenger.

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More Troma characters!  This is the crazy Vietnam Vet Bronson (left) who seems to control the junkyard and his disgusting, dirty bum whore (right).  She is seriously gross.  And Bronson treats her like sh*t throughout the movie.  He even hilariously belts her one right across the eyes.  It’s so Looney Tunes that I had to make an animated gif of it.  Check it out:

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Hilarious.  For some reason the cops actually think this Bronson is a threat.  A threat to dirty bum whores, maybe.  But not much else.

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On the left is a sign at the entrance of the junkyard which warns against bums.  That’s funny because the junkyard is FULL of bums.  As you can see from the pic on the right.

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At the end of the movie, this homeless guy doesn’t just melt, he f**king EXPLODES in an awesome firestorm of wino gore.  If nothing else, the effects on this movie are seriously great.

So, that’s Street Trash.  I did mention earlier that this started out as a short for film school.  I was actually able to watch that original 14 minute short and the movie is a lot better.  The short, you can tell, was a rough draft of the feature length movie.  If you get a chance, give it a watch, otherwise, the movie is the way to go.

I’m so glad this turned out more like what I was expecting than the disappointing Rawhead Rex.  Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by next week’s movie as well?


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: Review of Rawhead Rex (1986)

Posted in Fangoria, Genres, horror, monsters, movies, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2014 by Paxton

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On Wednesday I showed you the cover to Fangoria #61 with a cover story on the movie Rawhead Rex. And I told you I’ve been fascinated with that movie since 8th grade. Yesterday I showed you the guts of that Rawhead Rex feature story (pun intended).  Well, for my inaugral Fangoria Movie Friday I finally watched Rawhead Rex and now it’s time to see if it stands up to what I thought it was going to be.

As I’ve mentioned, Rawhead Rex was written by Clive Barker and released in 1986.  Here’s the terrible and confusing poster for the movie.

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What the hell is going on with that poster?  Needless to say, that didn’t clear up anything for me about the nature of this movie before watching it.  Horrible, horrible poster.

As background, I enjoy some of Clive Barker’s early stuff, but I’m not really a devotee.  So his name alone on this movie isn’t really doing anything for me.  The movie will have to stand on its own.  Unfortunately, bottom line, it’s not very good. Very low production value. Very low kitsch value. Not a lot to love. Sort of straight forward slasher monster movie. No subversiveness. Really just a by-the-numbers job. Very disappointing.

The story is about an ancient pagan fertility god, Rawhead Rex, who is awakened in a small town and starts going on a killing spree. That’s basically it. And I’m seriously giving more information than the movie gives you.  There’s long stretches of no killing and long stretches of no boobs or nudity. So, as an 80s monster/slasher flick, this really kinda blows.

You want to know how bad this movie is?  They actually put the below sentence in the plot synopsis on Wikipedia:

“On the road, Howard’s daughter needs to go to the bathroom, so Howard pulls over and lets her go by a tree.”

Someone wrote that.  Specifically to be published online.  For the movie’s plot description.  Seriously.  However, they had to put it in there because that scene is a crucial part of the movie.  THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

While I can’t really recommend it, let’s look at a few things worth mentioning.

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Here’s the title card and a face shot of Rawhead Rex after he’s awoken from his thousand year slumber. The makeup/costume work on Rex is not good. You can’t tell by this small static picture on my blog, but it’s pretty bad.  His design would be cool in a comic book, maybe, but on the screen, it’s less than stellar. And his big reveal during the awakening, which you see in the poster above, looks like complete dogsh*t.

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This is a stained glass window found in a church discovered early on by the main character played by David Dukes. At first glance he doesn’t find it odd that a church would have a giant red monster with huge fangs and bones and skulls all around him captured in a stained glass mural.  I mean, I’d be like “HOLY SH*T! WHAT THE F**K IS THAT AND WHY IS IT ON YOUR WINDOW?!”

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A clear Easter Egg for fans of Angus Scrimm and the Phantasm movies.  The first of which was released in 1979.

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