Cyber Monday: Project Shadowchaser Trilogy

Frank Zagarino dies hard!

Cinemasochism: Black Mangue (2008)

Braindead zombies from Brazil!

The Gweilo Dojo: Furious (1984)

Simon Rhee's bizarre kung fu epic!

Adrenaline Shot: Fire, Ice and Dynamite (1990)

Willy Bogner and Roger Moore stuntfest!

Sci-Fried Theater: Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (1979)

Surreal Russian neo-noir detective epic!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Halloween Havoc: TERROR AT TENKILLER (1986)

Back in 1976 one of the first video cassette labels was brought to life by one Bill F. Blair. Oklahoma based VCI Entertainment released a slew of obscure, often low-budget or no-budget, films on to the video market and in the mid ‘80s were responsible for essentially creating the DTV market though his United Entertainment Pictures label. United Entertainment was a company Blair founded as an offshoot of his company United Pictures; an outfit that rented films and projectors for non-theatrical purposes (schools, libraries, hospitals, etc). In the mid-‘80s Blair realized that the demand for horror movies on video was so high that he could take a mere $27,000 and parlay it into a shot-on-video horror movie that he would release on video via his own label. BLOOD CULT (1985) was hugely successful and paved the way for future endeavors that included buying the rights to films that he was not actively involved in making, such as THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY (1980?) which he released in 1987. While there’s a lot to admire about the Blair’s entrepreneurial spirit and his desire to release great and not-so-great little films that would otherwise be lost to history, there is one sniggling little detail that presents a bit of a problem. The movies that bear his producer credit were terrible. Some really, really terrible. Case in point, TERROR AT TENKILLER.

Directed by Ken Meyer, an entertainment lawyer who clearly thought that making a movie wasn’t all that hard, the premise has two college girls headed down to a lake in a town so small that they only have one diner that seats about a dozen and is not even open for dinner. Matter of fact, I’m not sure there even is a town since the only thing we see of it is a road-sign pointing ahead and reading “Gore”. Lyin’ sonsabitches. There is definitely no gore to be found going forward. Anyway, apparently there has been a disappearance (which we see in the pre-credit sequence), but nobody is terribly concerned about it. There is actually mention of a sheriff, but for some bizarre reason, the writer didn't feel like that was an important character to figure into the story. Err, I mean “story”. Seriously, no sheriff? What kinda cheap-ass flick is this? You gotta have a sheriff! At the very least you can have a surprise ending showing the sheriff to be the killer! Oh wait, they already revealed who the killer is in the pre-credit sequence. So, no point in having a sheriff after all. Once by the lake the girls talk about an abusive boyfriend, go swimming, talk on the phone, talk about guys, take naps, talk on the phone, talk about relationships, read books, talk on the phone, talk about the lake, walk to the lake, sit by the lake, talk about how beautiful the (stock footage of) the lake is, did I mention talk on the phone? Jeezus! Shut the hell up already! A couple of people are killed, but you will be so bored shitless that the clumsy attempts at shocks will just add to the irritation factor. I think a more appropriate title would be TEDIUM AT FEWKILLER.

Produced independently in Blair’s home state of Oklahoma, Blair picked it up and released it in between his infamous, highly publicized SOV slasher film THE RIPPER (1985) starring Tom Savini and REVENGE (1986), his surprisingly (at one point) obscure sequel to BLOOD CULT. While it maintains the price tag that keeps it in line with Blair’s other offerings, it really has almost nothing to offer outside of excruciating boredom. The film starts out with a pre-credit sequence in which the killer is shown grabbing a girl and slashing her throat in Savini-esque fashion (complete with cut-away to a shot of the moon) while synth strings and piano warble in the back ground. Cut to a college a swimming pool and subsequent shower scene! Unfortunately the shower scene just hints at what our busty leading lady Leslie (Stacy Logan) has to offer and is rudely interrupted by her loud, pushy friend Jana (Michelle Merchant), who is almost just as abusive as Leslie’s jackasstic boyfriend Josh (Ken Meyer who shows that in spite of the awfulness of this movie, he is definitely better at directing than acting). Interestingly this movie was written by a female so the women are all reasonably level headed, though they do not make the best decisions about men. All of the male characters are abusers, letches, psycho killers, or all of the above! Remind me again what the opposite of “misogyny” is? Oh, yeah, right... “normal.”

Once on the road, the girls talk about how there are going to be hot guys in the less-than-one-horse town (which reminds me of the time one of my sous-chefs was convinced there were going to be hot chicks at the Boy Scout Camp he was going to spend the summer cooking at). And they drive. And they talk. And they drive… Once in town the visit the diner where they get jobs, they talk to Charlie. Hi Charlie! Then the walk to the lake and discuss it’s beauty:
Leslie: “It’s so nice.”
Jana: “It’s great.”
Leslie: “Isn’t it nice?”
Jana: “Yeah, it’s great.”
Are you ready to kill yourself yet? Don’t get comfy, there are more golden rays of brilliance where that came from!

The local muffin of studdage.
Once at the lake Mrs. Meyer decides that since we’ve suffered through 25 minutes of this stinker, it’s time for much needed plot exposition... thank Christ! Ok, so what is the deal with the friggin’ lake already? Apparently Jana would come up to this lake with her dad and Dad would tell her a story about how the lake got it’s name. The name comes from a beautiful Indian maiden who’s sister was kidnapped and savaged by another tribe. She got her revenge by killing ten of their best warriors, picking them off, one by one (cue ominous music). The last one she killed by dragging him to the bottom of the lake where they both drowned. “That’s not true, is it?” asks Leslie. To which Jana replies “nah, Dad just told me that because I was afraid of swimming.” What?! Dammit, if I hadn’t seen who the killer was in the pre-credit sequence, I’d be hoping for some sort of zombie Indian girl to rise out of the lake and… ok, ok, I can’t even think like that. Let’s get on with it.

Later the boat rental guy, Preacher (Dale Buckmaster) spies on the girls and Tor attacks him and cuts off his arms, in one of the three scenes in the film that sport any special effects. Tor throws them in the basement of the house in an attempt to provide a weak shock moment at the end of the film when Leslie is trying to hide from Tor.

After getting a cryptic message on their answering machine, you’d think that the plot would kick into gear and stuff would start going down with a vengeance. And you’d be wrong. Unless you were talking about more conversations! Yes, more phone call scenes, a picknick bench conversation about how Tor should come over for a beer (I guess since he’s the ONLY guy in town, that makes him an eligible bachelor), how Josh is a nutter, but he loves her and blah, blah, blah… Ok, now we will get something happening! Nope. Now Jana has a long walk out to the lake (more stock footage of the lake). Jana swims in the lake, Jana sits by the lake, Jana looks at the lake, Jana naps by the lake. Cue more soft music and stock footage of lake. If you ever said to yourself, “I’m in the mood for a horror movie that will help me get some sleep” this is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Tor shows up at the house in shorts that no man outside of a St. Patrick’s day parade should ever be caught wearing and asks for a beer. Jana flirts with Tor. Tor acts creepy. Jana flirts some more. Leslie reads “The Stand” at the diner and has a phone conversation with Josh. Jana decides that since she has a man over, she needs to wash her hair in the sink. Thoroughly. For a really, really long time. Tor finally must have had enough of this worthless time filler and pulls the strings on Jana’s bikini top and you think “hey! Gratuitous nudity will wake me up!”, but no, we cut to an insert shot of a knife entering plastic flesh while Jana sounds rather concerned and tells Tor to “stop it!” Yep, I'm sure that's the first thing to say after someone stabs a sharp knife into my vertebrae.

There's your gore, enjoy.
The rest of the film is Josh travelling to the lake, Leslie running through the woods from Tor for an eternity and ending up right back where she started for no reason and finding Josh dead (so much for that character!). Leslie plays dead and Tor rows all the bodies out to the middle of the lake. Leslie takes this opportunity to hop out of the boat and swim for safety (she was swimming in a pool at the beginning of the film, remember? Clever, eh? Yeah, no, not so much), while we find that Tor doesn’t know how to swim and sinks like a stone. Of course now that he’s dead and Leslie is safe (in the voice over she actually explains how her swimming saved her, just in case the monotony of the film bludgeoned your short-term memory)... so naturally he pops back up for the credit roll.

Ugh! While some of Blair’s projects are pretty entertaining with the right expectations and mindset, TERROR AT TENKILLER is probably one of the most uninspired, uninteresting slasher films I have ever had to sit through. It offers little other than excruciatingly dull conversations that have not only no bearing on any sort of “plot” but are just tedious filler to pad what would be an insipid half-hour to a full 88 minutes. This is what happens when you let entertainment lawyers direct films. Let this be a lesson to the world.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Halloween Havoc: WINTERBEAST (1991)

Last time I blasted LUNCH MEAT all over the place for being low budget and not trying worth a damn.  Now I’m going to write up the equally bad and low budget WINTERBEAST and say that I actually enjoyed this terrible movie.  Why the double standard you ask?  Because the makers of WINTERBEAST tried, damn it!  They may not have made a good movie, but at least they had the brains to fill it with weird stop-motion monsters, some nudity, zombies and one totally bizarre bit involving a clown mask. Most importantly, they didn’t make a boring movie a la LUNCH MEAT.  It might not make a lick of sense, but I was never bored stiff during its 76 minutes.  Ah, beast of winter, how I love thee.  Let me count the ways.

Filmed in the wilds of Massachusetts, WINTERBEAST is set in a small town besieged by unexplained disappearances on the local trails, including a mountain ranger. Obviously this troubles the local law enforcement and ranger Bill Whitman (Tim Morgan) corrals a search posse of three other folks. In the mountains the team discovers an ancient looking totem pole altar set up with human skeletons attached to it. That’s it, we’re closing the beaches…er, trails, we’re closing the trails. Dave Sheldon (Bob Harlow), owner of the Wild Goose Lodge and plaid jacket enthusiast, objects as this would mean cancelling the upcoming fall festival, the town’s biggest source of income from really bored tourists.

Of course, the creepy Mr. Sheldon might just have some ulterior motives for wanting the folks wandering into town and somehow this all might involve some ancient Indian curse.  Helping explain things to Whitman (and the audience) is Charlie Perkins (Charlie Majka), the local town Indian legend historian (too cheap to cast a real Native American, eh?). Perkins has all the right books and even possesses an ancient demon tooth that he apparently houses in a box alongside a dildo.  Seriously, look at that shot.  The characters never mention that other object in the box, but I knows me a fake penis when I see one.  Hey, that sounds kinda weird. Anyway, Whitman irks Sheldon once again by putting flyers all over town saying the trails are closed (the nerve!).  From this point on shit gets wild as random folks are killed by claymation monsters, all the peripheral characters are offed, Sheldon reveals himself to be the bad guy and Whitman and Perkins fight off Winterbeast with a flaregun and Indian skull.  

Sounds about normal for a horror flick, right?  Playing basically like “JAWS in a mountain town,” WINTERBEAST doesn’t offer any surprises in the plot department. It is the stuff that comes out of left field that really drops your jaw. I’m talking about stuff like the bit where Whitman and his assistant Stillman (Mike Magri) go to check out some empty houses and are attacked by a bizarre stop-motion mutant dinosaur.  Or the scene where Perkins is attacked by some bizarre 20-ft chicken that looks like BLOOD FREAK’s brother on steroids. What the hell are these things?  No one in the cast mentions them.  I guess we can just chuck it into the “must be some kinda Injun monster” category like the film does with everything else in it.

And that is just the intentional absurdity.  One can also get their kicks from watching for continuity errors like the ever changing evolution of Whitman’s mustache.  Seriously, the length and style of his whiskers change all the time, even sometimes in the same scene! My favorite is the obviously fake one that looks like a ratty paintbrush and is, oddly, bright orange.  I’ve made this handy visual guide for all to see:

One of the biggest problems with LUNCH MEAT was the lack of any kind of exploitation outside of the premise. Well, the makers of WINTERBEAST certainly got the memo.  The first five minutes have a stop motion skeleton thingy, a guy tearing off his skin and a demon skull bursting from a guy’s chest. You also have to love how they work nudity into the film.  The first 20 minutes has Stillman looking at nudie books over and over and they damn well make sure to get a shot of the centerfold. They’re not joking around.  They make sure he holds it right in front of the camera.  Later, you get this amazing stop-motion scene with some of the funniest gratuitous nudity from a Rita Rudner look-a-like:

The real showstopper in the film, however, is the scene where (not surprising) it is revealed Mr. Sheldon is the bad guy whose ancestors have some pact with the evil Indian demons. Sheldon sneaks down to a secret room in the lodge where he has some mummified bodies.  He then throws a Shirley Temple-esque version of “Oh dear! What Can the Matter Be?” on the old record player and proceeds to lip synch to it.  Then things get really weird as Sheldon grins manically, puts on a clown mask and dances around while touching the corpses. Whitman and Perkins confront him and Sheldon gives the standard “bad guy tells all” speech before his head explodes in a ball of flames.  What?  Adding to the bizarreness of it all is actor Harlow as Sheldon, convincingly creepy and looking like a cross between Malcolm McDowell and Roddy McDowall.

WINTERBEAST was originally released on VHS in the early 90s by Tempe Video. If you get a hankering to see it though, definitely pick up the special edition DVD release.  Yes, director Christopher Thies rolled this one into the digital world with a presentation befitting CITIZEN KANE. You get deleted scenes, a commentary track, a “making of” segment and more.  By far the most fascinating extra is the “Soap Opera Version” of the film, which consists of footage of the movie shot on high end video.  Eventually they thought it looked too much like a soap opera, scrapping it and heading back to film. It is quite a package that you should definitely pick up if you are a bad movie aficionado.  I guarantee that by the time the film is done, you will be singing “Oh dear! What Can the Matter Be?”  Or you’ll at least be saying it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Halloween Havoc: THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY (1980?)

Some movies are born bad. They are badly conceived, badly written, badly acted and badly produced. They slip into obscurity and sometimes, on occasion are dug out of obscurity by the filthy few of the truly obsessed so we can all gather around and say “yep, that movie sucks!” Then there are movies that are every bit as bad but refuse to go quietly. They have no redeeming features whatsoever and yet manage to be widely distributed and continue to make money while everyone stands around with mouths agape saying “yep, that movie sucks!” Such is THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY.

Shot on what appears to be 16mm in what appears to be 1980, the film was shelved (or more accurately, dug out of a closet) in 1988 and released during the DTV boom. At that point, much like now, you could throw anything horror themed out on video and you could make bank. The crazy thing is that unlike many of the more celebrated schlock of the era, such as BLOOD CULT (1985), THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY sported none of the exploitation elements that you’d expect other than a “deranged” killer (we know he’s crazy because his eyes are always popped wide and he tilts his head back and forth) and yet still this movie persists and even thrives on the home video market.

This film is one of those films that is absolutely terrible in all the right ways (except for a lack of cheesy gore). The film hits the ground running with a credit that reads “B&S Productions”, which these days would be smirky humor by hipsters who are showing that they know they are making a Bull Shit movie. Here it is actually executive producers Bill F. Blair and Betty S. Scott. But man, it sure is an amusing coincidence. The essential premise is that a maniac has escaped a local hospital with scrubs and a scalpel and is carving up a path directly to the house of the doctor who performed the frontal lobotomy on him. Of course that very night is the night that the doctor’s daughter is having the weakest slumber party ever with a couple of friends from school. Eh, what more do you need really? I'm good with that.

Teh hawtness!
At the local highschool, a classroom of “kids” who have apparently been held back for about six or eight years. We know that they have been held back, not because they are too old even for college, but because they are stoked on the fact that one of the guys has a “super watch” that actually counts time in seconds. Damn man, is this a sci-fi flick or what? Crazy! The guys talk a bunch of crap about how one guy is a dork (Rick Polizi, named “Science” because he wears scrubs to school and is fascinated by poking the vertebrae of a cheap plastic anatomy skeleton), and how Chris (Jan Jenson) “isn’t wearing a bra again!” While the soundtrack plays a song written for a casio synthesizer that includes the lyrics “let’s go out tonight, let’s go out and boogie”, Chris and her friends Tracy (Nancy Mayer) and Linda (Joann Whitley) discuss their plans for a slumber party. Unfortunately they can’t go to Chris’ house because last time someone invited “that bohemian football player”! What? Since when do highschool kids use the word bohemian, except when referring to a famous Queen song? And since when are football players bohemian?! What did he do? Paint impressionist still-life on the walls after doing wine-barrel stands?

So it’s decided, Linda’s house it is, even though she claims that the conditions are  “no guys and no drinking.” To which Chris exclaims “Tommy and Billy have snuck into a million houses before, it’ll be a piece of cake!” Uhhhh, yeah, sounds like you got a couple of keepers! Hell, the house is so big that no one would ever know there was a party going on there at all. Not even the audience.

Linda’s house is something to behold all right, it’s a bi-level plantation-style mega-house complete with Doric (or is that Ionic?) columns and a sculpted yard. Dad (David Whitley) is a rich doctor, who you know is rich because all the young nurses are hot for him even though he’s balding, pasty, and has all of the personality of a dishtowel. Too bad his richness doesn’t extend to the inside of the house! Phew!

Woooo! Par-taaaaaay!!
With the party in full-swing, by this I mean the ghetto blaster is cranked up and the girls are spasmodically jumping up and down, Dad comes home and gets cranky turning down the LP so they can hear a special news bulliten about the psycho who has just killed a nurse at a bus stop near the hospital. The girls look mildly concerned and as Dad walks off, Tracy says “do you know anything about this Dr. Sickler?” to which Dad replies “well… I just don’t know.” Thanks doc! I've never been a big fan of the old plot-exposition monologue character, but damn, throw us a bone here! Another moment of inspired dialogue comes after the boys show up in Halloween masks and “scare the piss outta those babes”. After a round of “screw you” and “I can’t help it if you are on the rag”, Chris (who looks more and more like a coke-head as the movie progresses) and Tracy have this exchange:

Chris: “He’s such an asshole, I don’t know why I like him”
Tracy: “Because he’s so fucking good looking, that’s why!”
Chris: “Oh yeah? Since when have you been taking inventory?”

Huh? Wait... Inventory? What?

But wait, I almost forgot, there’s a killer on the loose! Finally the killer finds the docs house (so wait, this guy is completely unhinged, had a lobotomy and still managed to escape and find the doctor’s house in a few hours?). After attacking Tommy (Danny David), who merely looks surprised while having his throat slashed and who never should have taken off his shirt in the first place. There’s even a shower scene thrown in here where nothing, except a bare shoulder, shown which makes me wonder why even bother to shoot it in the first place? Then again, this movie completely breaks the golden rule of exploitation filmmaking: “Only hot chicks have slumber parties.” Tyler, buddy, I may be a little late with this advice, but lemme tell ya, there are other ways to be a rule-bustin’ maverick. That ain’t a rule you mess with... unless you are making some feel-good female mid-life crisis flick with aging stars trying to recapture their youth.

I guess if you do enough coke,
this totally makes sense.
This movie has more “wtf?” moments than you can shake a remote at: the girls “hide” the booze from the parents on a table in the dining room in front of a floor to ceiling window; because they are having a party, they decide to stash all the phones in the bathroom; Billy spills beer on his shirt and decides to fix the situation he’ll throw the can of beer out of an open window; and seriously, what the hell, did Science actually slash Billy (Lance Descourez) or was that the killer pretending to be Science after having killed him and if so, why did he pop up from under the bed with the mask on? Ghaaaa!

Amazingly writer-director-actor Stephen Tyler (no, you’re thinking of Steven Tyler, now that would have been something) never went on to make another feature film, nor did his cast. I’m guessing his dialogue exchanges didn’t have Hollywood banging on his door. When Tommy disappears while waiting for Chris to get out of the shower, Chris goes looking for him marching over to the closet saying “ok queerbait, isn’t it time you came out of the closet?” and later to the other girls “he’s such a homo, he even took the bed spread!” With such longevity, it's amazing no one has tracked the guy down and interviewed him. Matter of fact there is very little info on this film out there at all. Clearly this is “backyard filmmaking” done with friends and family, but it would be interesting to know what the intent was. If Tyler was using it to get into filmschool, I'm guessing the entry requirements were more stringent back then. I've seen worse student films... then again, I've seen a lot better too.

Added as an afterthought for the late ‘80s home video market, a couple of tracks by the band Firstryke were added to the soundtrack. Back in the early ‘80s (ok, ok, and even today), I was heavily into the metal scene and have a fairly solid knowledge of bands of the era and Firstryke (presumably pronounced “First-Strike” and not “Furs-Tryke”) was a new one on me. Hailing out of Oklahoma, sporting only a single album and a sound that is comparable to every other damn band that came out of the LA scene at the time, Firstryke actually seemed to gain a career being associated with this film. Their one and only album “Just a Nightmare” actually got re-issued last year and they have regrouped to do tours. All because of their association with this turkey? Man, if only we could get them on tour with Easy Action!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halloween Havoc: LUNCH MEAT (1987)

Quick nostalgia story detour – in the late 80s, the thriving video store in our area wasn’t Blockbuster, but a place named Erol’s Video that used to get everything. Among the chain’s many quirks were that they would cut boxes down so they all uniformly fit inside these bulky Styrofoam laced cases and they would just dump the returned releases in a feeding trough in the center of the store.

One day in the late 80s, my sister and I were hovering around the return standee when the employee unwittingly drops the Holy Grail in front of us – LUNCH MEAT! What?  That tiny flick that had a single page write up in Fangoria that we never thought we would see?  This can’t be.  Sure enough, the colossal red case was quickly ours and we forced our mother to endure yet another humiliation at the checkout counter. Naturally, we were disappointed.  With visions of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE dancing in our heads, we instead got lesson in horror film hucksterism as the movie barely lived up to the promises the (still) amazing cover offers.  This film barely had a pulse.  Of course, that doesn’t stop me from revisiting it some 20 years later to confirm that, indeed, it still sucks.

LUNCH MEAT opens as all films should – with an obese mongoloid redneck carrying a chicken running from his scrawny brothers.  Meet the sons of Paw (yes, they spell it Paw in the end credits): Benny (obese), Elwood (scrawny sans beard), and Harley (scrawny with beard).  These backwoods bumpkins apparently hunt humans and sell the meat to the local restaurants (AAA ones, no doubt).  Cut to the Hollywood sign and a Jeep Cherokee full of six teens heading to Mt. Edgar for the weekend.  Hold on a minute…this is set in California?  Do they have rednecks there?  And why do they have Southern accents? Anyway, back to the car.  Inside we have Eddie (driver), Sue (Eddie’s girl), Debbie (obligatory punkette), Cary (asshole), Frank (love interest for Roxy), and Roxy (final girl, played by one Kim McKamy; more on her in a bit). You can tell they are a wild bunch because they sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

A Rob Zombie Wet Dream:

Following a bunch of annoying arguing, the kids run out of gas and push the car to Wilbur’s Bar & Grill – World Famous Juicy Burgers.  I kid you not, the sign for this place is one of those old school big letter dot matrix print outs that flaps when wind hits it.  And guess who just showed up with a delivery?  Elwood and Harley!  They proceed to ogle the girls while the guys continue to quarrel (“You’re not allowed to stay at my cabin!”). Our yokels figure out where the kids are heading and decide to set up a false detour in order to “ketchemenkillem.”  So the kids take the bait and soon find Benny lying in the middle of the road. They stop to check on him and he proceeds to kill Eddie and rip his throat out. The hick hunters then jump out and attack, with Debbie losing her head.  Frank and Roxy head off in one direction, while Cary and Sue head off in the other.  All this goes down at the thirty minute mark, which means director Kirk Alex then spends the next 58 minutes draaaaaaagging out the chase through the woods.

I often wonder how films like this get made. I mean, you have a group of people who have enough brainpower to raise money for a film, yet can’t be bothered with the seemingly small detail of making it interesting.  Starting off by ripping off THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is probably the first wrong move. You won’t top it, so you can at least try to outweird it (see BLOOD SALVAGE).  But hulking Benny is no match for Leatherface. Hell, he isn’t even on Buddy (SLAUGHTERHOUSE) Bacon’s level. Debuting director Alex seems to have no interest in imagination and instead opts for the same old stuff. Then again, this guy barely has the capacity to put together a cohesive film. I’m not demanding Hitchcock levels of talent, but perhaps the occasional interesting camera angle or an attempt at suspense would be nice?  His idea of a chase is a single shot where the prey runs across the screen and then we get the predator sluggishly moving along after that.  His idea of dialog is the following exchange mid-chase.

Paw: “Harley!"
Harley: “Paw!”
Paw: “Harley!”
Harley: “Paw!”

Even more surprising is the complete lack of exploitation elements.  If you can’t compete on a technical level, at least wow me with some gooey over-the-top gore effects (see REDNECK ZOMBIES). Again, that damn cover promises me Benny chewing on a severed arm like he thinks he is The Deadly Spawn.  We do get him chewing on some raw meat, but it is a leg, which you only know is a leg because Paw screams, “Stop chewing on that damn leg.”  How dare you! Instead the audience is treated to lame stuff like Paw slashing someone with the fakest machete ever and a severed head that I’m pretty sure was re-used twice.  Most of the time we don’t even see a knife/hook/pickaxe even enter a victim.  That is criminal, especially when you go out of your way to show someone pull the offending weapon from a fake foot.

Most surprising is the complete lack of nudity.  It is doubly surprising because lead Kim McKamy took the porn world by storm a few years – and a stop at a plastic surgeon – later when she debuted as one Ashlyn Gere (a fact that kept the IMDb listing LUNCH MEAT as an adult title for the longest time, ha!).  If you want the audience to remember your flick and you haven’t done it with any other exploitable element, at least throw in some T&A.  If you can’t figure that out, you’re helpless and deserve to be slapped in the back of the head by Roger Corman.  In the end, this LUNCH MEAT is totally rancid (and not in a good way).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Halloween Havoc: THE DISTURBANCE (1990)

Welcome the official kickoff for Video Junkie’s Halloween Havoc, where we will be covering horror movies exclusively for the month of Shocktober.  We were hoping to start on the first, but the Indiana Jones clones found it necessary to occupy a few extra days. Regardless, prepare for an onslaught of reviews of horror movies from all over the spectrum to get you in the mood for the best holiday of the year.  While you decay your teeth, we will hopefully help you rot your brain.

The inaugural selection is THE DISTURBANCE, an underrated and mostly unknown flick.  This is one of the kinds of movies we love here at Video Junkie – low budget and regionally shot by a one-and-done director.  It might not be on the level of the slick product at the time, but it displays enough creativity/oddity and certainly has its heart in the right place.  The proceedings get off on the right foot with a guy going off about pain in a mental health support group.  One member, Clay Moyer (Timothy Greeson), then tells the group about his recurring nightmare of being chased by a person who then has a demon burst out of their face.
Rob Zombie cameo?

Dude is obviously disturbed.  How disturbed?  He likes to build mega-sandcastles on the beach!  But this is the 80s and we all know the way to a woman’s heart is through detailed sandcastles.  Clay’s sand monument attracts the attention of local hottie/waitress Susan (Lisa Geoffrion). They dig each other and you know what that means – 80s love montage!  Yes, they build sandcastles, play Frisbee and snuggle watching TV while the love ballad singer croons “I get a little spark in my heart.”  The sex is so good that Clay soon finds himself peeping outside a girl’s window and watching her undress before he kills her because she might be that crazy demon who has been haunting his dreams.  And he is seeing stuff like a sand hand grabbing Susan from his beloved sandcastle.  Is this real life or just hallucinations?

We then meet Clay’s parents who are always complaining that he doesn’t do anything but sleep and play with his cat. Wait, this guy lives at home with his parents?  Loser!  Clay then visits Susan at the club and hallucinates about getting it on with the female lead singer of the band. Oddly enough, he still dresses like a dork in his hallucinations.  Things get bad when Susan tells him the old “we aren’t working” line and Clay goes off the deep end.  He takes a shower and imagines Susan in there with him, only to have his mother come in and start laughing at him.  He exhibits the natural response and beats his laughing mother to death.  He then snaps to as his mother knocks on the door to see if he is okay and realizes he has just gutted his cat.  Clay does the right thing and stuffs the bloody carcass in his parent’s clothes hamper.  Hey, he’s disturbed, remember?

This results in an all-around breakdown as Clay is fired from his job washing dishes (he saw bugs everywhere).  You know what a breakup, mental breakdown and firing means, right?  80s sad montage!  We see Clay reminisce about the good times, before he goes to try to convince Susan to work it out.  I don’t think it went well as he leaves a bloody handprint on the door when he leaves the place.  Clay then has a super duper mega-hallucination where he sees blood pour from the laundry basket and a mutant cat head pop out of the laundry machine.  The cops arrive to arrest him, but Clay slices his wrist in the bathroom and is admitted to the hospital.  The delusions continue in the hospital as he sees all sorts of weird shit on people before he escapes.  Clay makes it back to Susan’s house and comes to the realization that he stabbed her to death in the bedroom.  He then runs down the street before the cops shoot him dead and quell the disturbance once and for all.

Made in Southern Florida, THE DISTURBANCE was picked up and released by Double Helix films with the initial VHS coming from VidAmerica.  The film became more readily available as one of the three titles in the first RareFlix set from Media Blasters (alongside the previous reviewed DEATH COLLECTOR and the totally 80s POSED FOR MURDER).  One thing most folks don’t know is the folks at Media Blasters slipped a hidden commentary track on this one and POSED.  Providing remarks and observations fueled by 40oz. Cobra are employees Dave Beinlich, William Hellfire and Richard York.  Don’t let the alcohol mention fool you, these guys actually provide lots of details and info about the film and its makers with editor/DVD author Beinlich even going so far as to track down the actual locations and business owners.  Definitely a nice surprise and a great listen.  Interestingly, American Film Team offers two versions of this film on their website. One is the aforementioned horror flick and the other is a more “serious” look at schizophrenia under the more exploitive title WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE NEIGHBOR’S SON? (something I hear in my neighborhood every day).

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Well, here we are at the end of the road.  Our “week long” coverage of Indiana Jones and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK rip-offs has lasted an astounding 34 days.  We pride ourselves on trying to present the most thorough overview online, but there are still titles (JUNGLE RAIDERS, TREASURE OF THE AMAZON, BIKINI JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF EROS [oh boy!]) that will pop up later on the blog.  Hopefully in 100 years when our grandchildren are worshipping Wyld Stallyns some adventurous future video junkie will discover our coverage and learn something (and probably say, “What losers!”).

Of course, what better way to wrap up the coverage than to peek into the world of the porn parody?  We previously covered Indiana Jones parodies here, but the porn genre is quite a different beast.  Namely because you see folks getting nekkid and doing it for the camera, something HYSTERICAL (1983) was (thankfully) lacking.  Porn send ups are tricky because 85% of the time you will only get a semi-clever send up title attached to a film that opts not to spoof its namesake in the least.  The porn industry was quick to jump on the RAIDERS remake train with the introduction of Indiana Joan in 1984.  Three films (INDIANA JOAN AND THE BLACK HOLE OF MAMMOO [1984], INDIANA JOAN IN THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE [1989] and RETURN OF INDIANA JOAN [1989]) were made with the character.  Not sure how “faithful” they are to the source material as copies were unavailable for review.  Other Indiana Jones porn knock offs include the Private Productions INDIANA MACK (2000), INDIANA MACK II: SEX IN THE DESERT (2001) and the Ron Jeremy starrer SAN FERNANDO JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF POON (2000).  Even the gay industry got in on the action with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARSE and the amusingly titled sequel RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARSE: THE MUMMY’S HAND.

The business of pornsploitation took a big leap in the new millennium with studios like Adam & Eve, Hustler and Vivid producing films that copied major movies in both title and content.  CAROLINA JONES AND THE BROKEN COVENANT is Adam & Eve’s attempt to cash in on LucasFilm’s 2008 last drop wringing…er…anticipated sequel INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.  Even funnier is the film attempts to be a true sequel, dealing with events from RAIDERS and one of Indy’s offspring.  And let’s just say this one is far more appealing than Shia “Must Have Some Major Blackmail Material” LaBeouf.  The film takes place 25 years after the events of RAIDERS and opens with Carolina Jones (Ava Rose) exploring a cave. She, naturally, happens upon a couple having sex on an altar with sacrifice Dixie (Bree Olsen) tied down nearby.  Carolina saves Dixie by drilling into the man’s skull (apparently this cave has an electrical set up) and throwing a spiked dildo into a monk’s mouth (really!). Carolina and Dixie return to a hotel where they get a telegram that reads “covenant has been broken…find JB…love, dad.” Who is this mysterious father?

Carolina Jones shows her treasure(s):

Using Dixie’s hitchhiking skills, the duo head to the home of one John Brody, Carolina’s former lover (and one assumes the son of RAIDERS’ Marcus Brody).  The guards (including a guy with a long ponytail) prove no problem as Dixie screws one to allow Carolina the opportunity to sneak in.  She finds the blindfolded Brody tied to his bed (as he was just having sex too, duh!) and gets the pertinent info out of him by pouring hot tea on him.  Seems Brody told Nazi Clause (Aron Laszlo) the secret location of the Ark of the Covenant and he is now hiding in Israel.  Are Nazi’s still around post-WWII? And is Israel the best place to try and hide?  Carolina vows to stop Clause and then, for good measure, she pours honey on Brody’s penis and smashes open an ant farm to unleash some hilarious CGI ants.  Man, if I had a dime for every time one of my ex-girlfriends did that to me.

Outside of Brody’s mansion, Carolina breaks down what is going on to Dixie. “My father is Indy Jones,” she says, to which Dixie responds, “No way!  That famous race car driver?”  Carolina also reveals that Brody is her one and only lover.  This absolutely stuns Dixie, who offers, “No wonder you are so tense. You’ve got a pussy.  Use it or lose it.” Carolina takes this sage advice to heart as she immediately gets it on with the bellhop at the next hotel.  Did I mention she has a tramp stamp?  Eventually our duo makes it to Israel and – in a plot move odd even for porn – Dixie’s ex-fiancé Alex shows up out of nowhere. The three of them are quickly captured by Clause’s men and he presents the sacred ark to use “zee pow-her on zee twee of ewe.” Damn, that ark sure got smaller.  Things look hopelessly bleak for our trio before Indy Jones hisself kicks open a door and unleashes a can of whip whoop ass.  All is well as Clause dies and thick accented Indy is reunited with his daughter.  But things need to be patched up between Alex and Dixie and Carolina knows the only way – a threesome that begins with her come on line of, “Now, who wants to find my Holy Grail?” No, I’m not kidding.    

Yes, we take our film criticism very serious here at Video Junkie and won’t turn our noses up at something just because it shows real intercourse (unless it has Marlon Brando in it).  For a porn parody, CAROLINA JONES actually manages to both achieve and disappoint. The fact that the filmmakers opted to do a sequel to one of the most famous films of our generation is admirable in a Bruno Mattei sort of way. Unfortunately, they did it with a budget of about $15 bucks.  And while you will get a laugh here and there, the script is definitely not porn send ups finest.  Adam & Eve is one of those porno companies that prides itself on making stuff “for couples” so don’t expect anything too risqué in the sex department.  They should, however, be commended for casting natural girls Ava Rose and Bree Olsen in the leads.  They are both the antithesis of the surgically enhanced, plastic looking ladies who unfathomably dominate the top of the porn industry food chain.  And, surprisingly, they are both decent actresses…by porn standards!  Whew, glad I got that in there.  The funniest thing about this micro-budget porn send up is actually better than The Asylum’s ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE TEMPLE OF SKULLS all around from the acting to the CGI bugs.

Bonus treasure for reading the whole review: