This week's VHS is a recent acquisition in Emmanuel Kervyn's 1988 horror Rabid Grannies.
A birthday party for two old ladies (Catherine Ayemerie & Caroline Braeckman) turns gruesome when they are possessed by demons and start knocking off their greedy relatives.
Rabid Grannies was a strange beast because it was a four European country co-production that was released this side of the pond by Troma Entertainment. It was a good fit for them, as the subject matter screams the company that brought us titles like The Toxic Avenger and Surf Nazis Must Die. However, with the foreign locales, dubbed dialogue and over-the-top gore, the hybrid actually felt more along the lines of Lamberto Bava or Braindead-era Peter Jackson.
It is amusing to note that a more appropriate title would've been Demonic Grannies, as the two grand matriarchs were possessed by a evil artifact given to them by a shunned relative and not infected by a four-legged creature. I'm guessing, in a practice that was popular in the eighties, this movie started as a title (or poster art) and worked its way back from that.
Rabid Grannies takes an unusually long time setting up its characters. That's not to say there's anything deep about them, there's just a large number so it just took a good chunk of time introducing them all. You've got the unhappy couple with kids, the magnate with the trophy wife, the bad boy and the lesbian couple for which I wonder if the filmmakers were trying to be progressive or exploitative. My money's on the latter. It was over a half-hour before the gore started flying, but it was very entertaining once it did..
I must admit there was a good deal of it, much more than I would've expected. I imagine that is why – save the catchy title – Rabid Grannies hasn't been forgotten. Everyone was fair game and most were cut to pieces. Even the ending was something that, again, echoed the younger Bava. You know, this could've been one of the umpteen Demons sequels and no one would have batted a gouged out eye.
This was a good pickup for Troma, as it matched their mandate, but also branched them out from the urban American titles they were known for.