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.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Eyesore Haul

There was a VHS swap meet down at the ol' Eyesore Cinema this weekend and here is the resulting booty.

Looking forward to digging into these over the next few months. Been a long time since I watched The Mangler, but my memories of it are quite fond. I mean, you really haven't lived until you've seen Ted Levine get attacked by an icebox.

Friday, March 29, 2019

A Little Bundle of Cohen.

With the recent passing of genre giant Larry Cohen, this week's title is his first horror film, 1974's It's Alive.

The birth of the Davies' second child brings them nothing but pain and suffering when it turns out to be murdering mutant. And it's loose in Los Angeles!

Had to spring for VOD on this one, as I do not own the VHS sadly. It's Alive was another title I thought I'd seen as a kid, but realized pretty early on that was not the case. I guess my memory of the baby's POV tearing through an operating room must have been from one of the sequels. No matter.

I could certainly see that this was Cohen's earliest foray into horror as it possessed a more deliberate pace than his later efforts. The ones I grew up with, specifically Q & The Stuff, have more grandeur and larger scope. When looking at his work as a whole, you can see his progression as a filmmaker.

Sharon Farrell & John P. Ryan in It's Alive.

Now, that's not to say there isn't a shitload of personality in this movie. John P. Ryan (who always played the villain in the movies of my youth like Avenging Force and Class of 1999) had some terrific moments, including some odd banter with a Scottish nurse and his choice to smoke & chew gum at the same time. How? Why? And don't even get me started on the cops.

It's Alive existed in a weird universe that seemed to over-react to the situation at hand. A mutant baby escaped from the hospital and somehow it's the parent's fault, as the father lost his job and the mother was loaded up with pills. Even the press seemed to be on their back, naming the couple in the news before the blood was even dry.

I did like how the creature itself was handled. It was a gradual reveal, using shadow and blurred lenses to start, and even some body suit work in its most effective moments. The puppetry was obviously more rudimentary than what we'd get from gore guru Rick Baker in the decades to come, but the sound design made up for it in spades. Throw in a solid score from legend Bernard Herrmann and you've got an inherently watchable flick, if maybe not as colourful as Cohen's later collaborations with Michael Moriarty.

Also, now that I've read that the baby was modelled after the Starchild in Stanley Kubrick's 2001, that's all I can fucking see now!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

R.I.P. Joseph Pilato 1949-2019

I do not like how frequently we are losing horror royalty these days. This Sunday past we lost actor Joseph Pilato. He was 70.

Joseph Pilato 1949-2019.

Pilato appeared in many films over his fourty year career, but was best known for his role as Captain Rhodes in George A. Romero's Day of the Dead. I was lucky enough to meet him in 2012 when he appeared at the second edition of Shock Stock. He was warm, energetic and a born entertainer. He called me a puss fuck!

Pilato at Shock Stock 2012.

Rest in peace, Mr. Pilato.

Short of the Week #59: Antimity

This week I'm showcasing an entire channel. Antimity is a collective led by filmmaker Larry Alan that produces horror short films at a pretty alarming pace. My fave below is an amusing yarn called Hands.

For more Antimity, check out the channel including their most recent offering, Violet.

Monday, March 25, 2019

R.I.P. Larry Cohen 1941-2019

We lost another icon this weekend in writer/director/producer Larry Cohen. He was 77. I have spoken a lot about Cohen over the years because there really aren't many people who were as important to indie horror as this guy was. 

R.I.P. Larry Cohen 1941-2019.

It wasn't just the wonderful output that features fantastically weird and wild titles like Q: The Winged Serpent, The Stuff and God Told Me Too, but also that he was one of the genre's purest filmmakers who never put anything but his unadulterated vision up onscreen.

I was extremely lucky to see him (and his regular cohort Michael Moriarty) a few years ago at Fantasia premiere lof Cohen's biodoc, King Cohen where he picked up a lifetime achievement award.

Cohen accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award at Fantasia 2017.

He was also prolific in that he directed twenty films, but wrote at least ten more that weren't even produced. Cohen deserves a grand farewell and I can think of nothing better than to have Moriarty serenade his buddy into the great beyond.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Ask Evil Home.

In honour of the recent passing of genre icon John Carl Buechler, this week's VHS is his 1988 effort, Cellar Dweller.

Thirty years after a comic artist (Jeffrey Combs) is murdered by his own demonic creation, a new generation of artists convene in the same building only to repeat his misadventure.

I have to admit that I had no idea that Buechler made this picture before this week. I'd heard the title before (though I always get it mixed up with the 1971's Beast in the Cellar), but never gave it more than a cursory glance. My loss because it is actually an entertaining yarn. It's not as batshit and effects heavy as his movie Troll, made two years earlier, but Cellar Dweller has a lot going for it, as well. It actually shared a similar structure to Troll in that it's one location (an art school instead of an apartment complex) and a creature bumped off the residents one by one.

Cellar Dweller had a fairly unique through line in that the character's drawings came to life. I feel like that's an untapped resource that hasn't been explored since the eighties with things like Creepshow, Paperhouse and that bit in Nightmare 5. Bring that shit back! Buechler cleverly padded his running time with these comics, often using it in place of special effects. It could've felt like a cheat, if said comics hadn't been so dang awesome. The work was credited to both John Foster or Frank Brunner, but whoever penned them did a bang-up job!

Buechler was obviously having fun here, whether it be from the thinly veiled digs at some of the “arts” or his in-joke set dressings. I find it hilarious that the main character (played by newcomer Debrah Farentino) had a Re-Animator poster on her wall and didn't once think, “hey, the guy in that movie sure looks at lot like the guy who got me into comics and died in this house thirty years ago”. I guess we can all be blinded by our idols.

Mainly, I was impressed that Buechler kept his sense of humour considering how busy he must have been in 1988. Not only did his installment of the Friday the 13th franchise come out that year, but he also did effects for Nightmare 4 and Charles Band's Pulse Pounders. This guy loved his work. Anyway, Cellar Dweller is definitely worth a watch.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Short of the Week #58: Videobox

Considering yesterday's sad news, I'm keeping things light with this cute short from 2016. Ben Fullman's short film Videobox not only captures the era, but also nicely executes a pretty neat idea. Enjoy!

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 T├╝rke, 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.