In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, March 18, 2019

R.I.P. John Carl Buechler 1952-2019

I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of director and special effects legend John Carl Buechler today. He was 66.

R.I.P. John Carl Buechler

Buechler's name belongs right up against Baker, Bottin and Winston as his fingerprint was on countless horror titles I devoured as a kid, including From Beyond, Dolls, Nightmare 4, Ghoulies and later on, Hatchet. He worked for indie titans Charles Band and Roger Corman, even directing such titles as Troll, Cellar Dweller and Friday the 13th Part VII that introduced us to the best incarnation of Jason Voorhees imho.

Buechler with Kane Hodder.

I was really chuffed to see how the horror community rallied around him when family members set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical bills as he battled the cancer that eventually took him from us. R.I.P. Mr. Buechler. You will be missed, but fortunately you left behind a tremendous body of work for us to forever enjoy.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Smell The Glove

This week's VHS is Ross Hagen's 1979 crime noir The Glove.

A bounty hunter (John Saxon) swimming in debt attempts to hook a big payday, a homicidal ex-con (Roosevelt Grier) who uses a riot glove to pummel his victims.

So yeah not a horror film. I obviously ignored the glaring “adventure” sticker on the box when I bought it. I figured it was from the seventies, so it'd likely be at least half-decent no matter what. Good enough to fork over the five bucks at whatever convention or swap meet it would've been anyway. As it turns out I was right - half decent.

The Glove starts out with a cracking tune which unfortunately no film that followed could have lived up to. Check this out--

But I swear I'm hearing “you can't escape from the kiss and rape of The Glove!” Am I crazy? Like WTF! As I said, this was a seventies crime noir so its pace tended to be quite deliberate and meandering, but not necessarily dull. It's not often you get to see Saxon play the lead so it was cool to see him narrate his way through the proceedings. He always had such a natural cadence with dialogue and it's on full display here.

John Saxon in The Glove.

In between keeping up with Saxon's shenanigans, Grier - when not teaching kids to play guitar - walked around town beating white dudes to a pulp with the title appendage. Well, eventually he did. It seemed like he missed a lot at first, just so the filmmakers could show just how powerful this riot glove actually was.

The Glove was watchable, but did pad its run time with a lot of incidental material. I wouldn't say that you should just revel in Everything Is Terrible's three-minute version, but it's out there if you want to skip to the good bits.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Short of the Week #57: The Procedure

We played Calvin Reeder's The Procedure 2 at Little Terrors a few weeks back so I thought I'd post Part One in case you have never had the pleasure. Go on, try not to laugh. I dare you.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Adventures of Jack Crawford Jr.

This week's VHS is James Glickenhaus' 1993 thriller Slaughter of the Innocents.

FBI agent Stephen Broderick (Scott Glenn) is aided in his search for a serial killer by his hyper intelligent son, Jesse. (Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus)

I saw this movie when it came out, but really only remembered two things, this guy getting impaled on deer antlers Quigley-style—

--and that even as a teenager I thought that the Jesse character was wildly implausible.

Slaughter of the Innocents showed up on the “Hot New Singles” wall at Blockbuster one day. This was a rack reserved for one-off releases to make sure they didn’t get buried under the popular titles that took up the bulk of our shelf space. I kept my eye on this singles rack because it often featured the indie & foreign stuff like Man Bites Dog, Happy Birthday Türke, Mindwarp and Gas, Food Lodging just to name a few.

As for this one, it’s not too hard to figure out that Glickenhaus wanted to cash in on the success of The Silence of the Lambs here. Aside from casting Scott Glenn and the similar sounding title, it’s also an FBI-hunt-for-a-serial-killer flick. Just imagine Lambs without Hannibal Lecter and if Clarice Starling was a ten-year-old boy and you’ll get a decent approximation of the subject matter.

Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus as Jesse in Slaughter of the Innocents.

So the bulk of my thoughts on this movie are going to be about Jesse – who was played by the director’s own son and actually does a hell of a job considering all he goes through in this movie – and I’m not sure where to start so I’ll just dive right in. This kid was basically the Encyclopedia Brown of true crime knowledge and, between school and little league, seemed to be able to out-sleuth the FBI. I'm torn between which element was least likely, that a kid would even be capable of this or that his father seemed to be actively encouraging it. Seriously, Broderick and his son had the weirdest relationship…

But I haven’t gotten the best part, as Jesse also happened to be a tech guru, carrying around the nineties equivalent of an iPad and was always connected to his fact-spewing super PC. I mean, the voice recognition on this thing was better than Alexa's today!

“You have a collect call from a Mr. D.E. Machina.”

But it wasn’t just the dynamic between father and son that was confounding, as there were several scenes that just struck me as odd, like when a young girl got kidnapped from a gas station parking lot and the attendant seemed more upset about it than the mother. Or when Broderick and his team (that included Aaron Eckhart in his first role) snuck up on a Neo-Nazi suspect’s cabin and he was just hanging out in full SS garb. On the other hand, the movie did have HerculesKevin Sorbo in his most un-Hercules role ever so…

Lastly, I wasn’t surprised when Imdb told me this premiered on television because this movie contained the most generic nineties score I think I’ve ever heard. Having said all of that, Slaughter of the Innocents was a functional movie, but it lacked the grit-infused energy that Glickenhaus’ action-oriented titles from the eighties like The Soldier and Shakedown possessed. It’s just a shame that the problematic wonder kid element was also the only thing that made this movie at all unique.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

HXFF Awards 2019

No short this week, but I did want to pass along the winners of this year's Hexploitation Film Festival that happened a bit ago. We had a strong line-up this year, but it was the following shorts that came away with the top honours.

For more info about the fest and the feature film winners, click here.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Truckers vs Butchers

This week's VHS is Rainer Erler's 1979 teleplay Spare Parts.

Young newlyweds Monica & Mike (Jutta Speidel & Herbert Hermmann) run afoul of an organ thief ring while on honeymoon in New Mexico.

I had zero expectations for this one, but it actually ended up being pretty solid. Despite being a TV movie, it bore the quality I've come to expect from projects birthed in the seventies. It had a deliberate, yet engaging pace and was populated with naturalistic actors talented enough to perform no matter how outlandish the subject matter. This was a German production shot in the United States with an original title was even simpler than Spare Parts.

I think what really surprised me about this movie was that it constantly went against where I thought it was going to go. The biggest example of this was the character of Bill (Wolf Roth), the trucker that Monica encounters after her hubby gets snatched by dudes posing as paramedics. My first instinct was to think this guy must have an angle because no one is that nice. He almost immediately went all-in on helping her fight this growing conspiracy. This guy seriously needs some sort of Good Samaritanship medal or something. Look at this restraint!

After that oh-so-awkward exchange above, with the help of his network of hauler buddies, they basically take down the fake ambulance. Fifty minutes in and done, easy peasy. And even when Mike & Monica follow the trail and find the person running the show from a hospital in Roswell – I have to admit I was a little disappointed when it wasn't aliens behind the curtain – it was not the hand-rubbing mad scientist you would expect. Quite the opposite in fact. This all led up to a chase sequence with dual ambulances jockeying on an inexplicably empty highway.

I really liked the lead actress in this film. Speidel was (and still is) quite prolific in her native Germany. In this movie, she had a Marilyn Burns-like quality, except instead of being chased around with a chainsaw for half the picture, she would've been more likely to eventually turn around and smack Leatherface in the face with a tire iron.

Jutta Speidel as Monica in Spare Parts.

While director Erler's intent was likely a less flashy version of Michael Crichton's Coma, Spare Parts exists on its own merits and even managed to surprise me once or twice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Short of the Week #56: A Peculiar Thud

This week's short is a particularly creepy entry from 2017 called A Peculiar Thud from writer/director Ross Morin.

No matter how many times I watch this short, the delivery of that “Can I come in?” line always freaks me out. Morin followed this up with the experimental short documentary In A Landscape, Dreaming.