Jul

posted by admin | July 21, 2014 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Guest Review

“We are here to serve humanity.” Thus states one of the hippest title sequences ever done in my opinion, something that sticks with you long after the rest of the film ends up in the Recycle Bin on your mental desktop.

It’s the tail-end of the Groove Era—psychedelics, calf-boots, turtlenecks, and breezy free-form jazz. The United States is run by a beneficent race of humanoid aliens of unknown origin who have striven to end war, hatred, political and social corruption, sexual tension, and obesity. They call themselves The Monitors, and the civilization they are trying to push the country into accepting is the kind of maternalistic, overly-intrusive nanny state envisioned by genial Swedish socialists. As the film’s tagline declares, “If you don’t like air pollution, war, body odor, hard pizza rolls, exercise, hairy musicians, sexy blonds, tooth decay, smiling heroes, population explosion….you’ll love The Monitors.” All is not well in Paradise, however; there are those who rebel against the flaccid, Wonderbread norms of the new society and long for the good ol’ days of promiscuity, liquor, kickbacks, and the Missile Gap.

This is the conflict at the heart of this film, based very loosely on the 1966 novel of the same name by science-fiction author Keith Laumer. I have done both, and I found this to be one of those rare instances where the film is more entertaining than the novel, mainly due to Laumer’s stilted writing style and excessive sobriety. The film’s main problem is that it careens around like an unmedicated bi-polar patient, unable to decide whether it is a witty, stinging commentary on American conservatism or a slapstick Stoogefest.

Directed by Jack Shea and filmed entirely on location in Chicago, the film featured the first screen appearance of Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe, which radically changes the balance of the film from being a Sober Warning of Excessive State Interference to one of Zany, Promiscuous Drunks Trying to Get Away from Daddy’s Rules. Veteran comics Avery Schreiber, Larry Storch, and Keenan Wynn have major roles, and cameos of late-60s contemporary comedians and pop culture figures are frequent.
The film is an odd period piece in several ways, and was a spectacular flop. It was produced on a small budget by camera manufacturers Bell & Howell to showcase a new cinematic camera system they had recently developed, and to draw attention to Chicago as a hip alternative place to shoot movies. They failed on both counts; Bell & Howell stopped producing cinematic equipment within two years, and no-one would film in Chicago for decades after the film’s failure.

From my perspective, the film’s main flaw is that is goes way overboard on the Zany/Madcap Humor. For instance, Larry Storch (of “F-Troop” fame) is always funny, but only in small doses; like watching Lindsay Lohan at a bar, you might get a laugh for the first 10 minutes or so, but after that you just want the bouncer to club her over the head and drag her away. A New York Times review from October of 1969 agrees, defecating on the film by stating “The movie is neither as funny nor as stinging as it was intended to be….The endless wisecracks seem none too wise or witty, or, for that matter, new.” For a film that features a well-known comedy troupe, that’s a major “ouch.”

Overall, the acting is pretty decent. Guy Stockwell (older brother of Dean Stockwell) plays Harry, a kind of generic All-American Guy who nevertheless comes across as likeable; Susan Oliver (who looks good in green as an Orion slavegirl in the Star Trek episode “The Menagerie”) plays Barbara, a chick who never quite makes up her mind about the Monitors, working first as their agent then joining (sort of) the resistance; the sober but likable Shepperd Strudwick plays the leader of the Monitors, Tersh Jeterax, and, when the film comes to its conclusion, leaves the viewer feeling as though they have disappointed Dad; and Sherry Jackson (of the classic biker-B “The Mini-Skirt Mob”) who flounces into Harry’s life as Mona, the girl who helps him escape from the Monitors’ re-education facility and has a great wet-tee scene in a fountain.

The cinematography is remarkably good with many really well-composed shots; director of photography was Vilmos Zsigmond who would go on to shoot classics like Deliverance, The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Black Dahlia. Its amazing to see such talent at work on such a low-budget project, like having Ansel Adams photographing piles of dog crap.
The story progresses pretty much the way you’d expect, with almost no surprises; the resistance (let by a pair of batshit officers played by Storch and Wynne) plans to bomb Monitor HQ, thus rendering the excessively-structured Monitors leaderless and impotent. Although he dislikes Monitor rule, Harry is not quite prepared to go that far and he contacts the mothballed President to help foil them. They do, but Jeterax and the other Monitors are so disappointed by the antics of the Earthmen they have come to save that they withdraw from the planet, like disappointed parents leaving their wayward teens to face the consequences of their actions.

And that is one of the crazy things about the film. Yes, they can be annoyingly overbearing, like impeccably-well-dressed high-tech hall monitors tasked with keeping order in the unruly Human High School and issuing detentions accordingly, but they are so well-meaning and so damned polite about it that you can’t really dislike them. By the end of the film, you find yourself sympathizing with them instead of with the idiotic yahoos who have spent the movie trying to bring them down. Nevertheless, life without booze, sex, corruption, and fast-food would be a serious drag, so you still—paradoxically—are glad to see them go. I don’t know whether the film intended to have that dual effect or whether it was something I brought into it.

In any case, if you’re looking for a groovy, late-60s ride in a sci-fi convertible, with a few laughs and a brace of martinis and miniskirts along for the ride, this is a pretty good film to check out.

roadside attractions

  • Groovy soundtrack
  • Psychedelia
  • Miniskirts
  • Alien Puritanism
  • Cameos by actual, sitting U.S. Senators (well, one at least)
  • More miniskirts
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

Some action, but no gore

1

blood

BREASTS

Monda’s wet-mini foundation scene

0

beast

BEASTS

0 monsters, just anal-retentive aliens

7.0 OVERALL
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trailers

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Jul

The Addicted
2014 – Not Rated – 90 Minutes – Revolver
Starring Jenny Gayner, Sean J Vincent, Thea Knight – Directed by Sean J Vincent

Ghosts, abandoned spooky place, masked killer, revenge plot… mix that all together and you have a vile, wretched cocktail so bitter that it’s hard to swallow and you get The Addicted. It’s a low budget film from England, that will bore you to tears and drive you to the verge of madness, you’ll wish customs seized it. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but you weren’t there, man!

The setup is simple and in retrospect, pointless, as a group of four adults posing as youngsters, two guys and their girlfriends, sneak into an abandoned rehab clinic with an Ouija board to summon the spirits that haunt the place. Rather than set up any type of mood or draw out suspense as they don’t even ask the departed questions with their mystical Parker Bros. game, an unseen entity, or an entity that looks like two stagehands dressed in black, immediately drag one of the girls into the dark. She returns with a pipe in her stomach and falls to the ground dead, setting the others into ’scatter and panic’ mode and are dispatched in a pretty mild fashion.

Pacing, tone and suspense are all set up within the first few minutes… nonexistent.

add_2Four “kids” go missing? That sounds like just the scoop for our reporter (I guess?) Nicole who is looking for that hot lead and that story might be the ticket. Especially since her father use to run the place. Wow, what a coincidence! You think that may have anything pivotal to do with the plot? It’s starting at this point where you are easily able to connect the dots and figure out what happens in the movie before anything happens.

Anyway if you’re still watching, a new security guard is brought in to watch over the clinic and mere moments into his first night, he is dragged off and killed, along with any possible tension or suspense. By now, you are probably realizing this is a movie that is clearly mistaking a pointless body count for actual horror.

But in an actual attempt to provide exposition, we flashback to 1987 when the clinic was open. David, a heroine junkie, is informed by his doctor that he hasn’t made any progress and will not be released… and then hands him some horse. Huh?! As David injects himself with the stuff, his doctor leans in and tells him in a sinister fashion that he is going to take his wife and money and makes sure that David rots there forever! Woah, evil ulterior motives? As the doctor makes moves on David’s wife, he spots David’s son looking down at him from the stairs, looking none too pleased.

Nicole, along with her boyfriend Adam, decide to go and investigate this place for unknown magazine or newspaper. But, you can’t have a movie with just two victims running around an abandoned place, that would require too much mood and tension. So they introduce another couple, Mike and Liz, whose personalities are so thin, they are transparent. After a pointless amateur music video that consist of stock footage of this group partying, they finally arrive at the clinic and the first thing they do? Sit around and talk about how they shouldn’t be there. Way to establish that your protagonist is a real go getter. They do manage to provide some plot, explaining why the place closed down, but the reason for it… is pure genius. Are you ready for it?

add_3Because a patient, David, committed suicide.

I’m not making a joke about suicide here, but if clinics closed because a patient killed himself, every clinic in the world would be shut down. What, do they expect to have a 100% success rate with their patients? Moving on, after Adam vanishes to go set up cameras and is apparently good at creeping up on people too, as evident upon his return. Finally realizing some plot needs to happen, they explore the place to shortly come to a door that Mike is volunteered to open. It pulls from his hand and they all scream and panic, while Mike is dragged off by two grips, I mean that ghost, which has the ability to set itself ablaze like the Human Torch composed of the world’s worst After Effects composite. Luckily Mike is rescued by Adam as smoke from… something (?) begins filling the room and the screen so intensely, that the effect actually goes over the aspect ratio bars.

Ok, if your editor can’t figure out which effect goes on what layer, it’s time to find someone else.

With the place locked down, they all vaguely recall a fire escape! Brilliant. Ok, so best course of action would be to stick together and go look… or Adam can venture off by himself once again. Gee, you think he is up to something? As the others wait for him to come back, Mike is in need of a fag (calm down, that’s what they call them in England) and goes off alone to find them and is dragged off into the dark again.

You know, it’s like Latent learning where you see if they change their behavior based on the result of what previously happened, but it never does. Lab rats are smarter than these people.

Mike awakens bound to a gurney to be greeted by a man in an orange jumpsuit and black skull/clown mask, who looks like the rejected member of Slipknot, shoots him in the leg with a nail gun for no reason, then injects him with heroine. I wonder where Adam could be… oh, there he is! He regroups with the others to search for Mike and almost immediately find him. Hopefully he isn’t dragged off again anytime soon. That would redundant and stupid… oh, sonuva…

add_4Remembering that they once had a point of finding a fire escape, Adam disappears, AGAIN, to go find it. Seriously, how hard is it to find a fire escape? It’s a fire escape! They are supposed to be easy to find in case of a, you know, fire! While Adam is looking for this obscure relic known as the fire escape, the girls are attacked by the ghost! Things sure are getting tense, as we see Mike waking up bound to a gurney once again (are we really doing this scene again?) and seeing as we seem to be stuck in an endless loop, you can guess what happens to Mike.

But it’s now that this masked psychopath reveals their true identity and it’s exactly who you’ve known it’s been the whole movie. The obvious continues to unfold, I mean drag out, as the killer’s plot is revealed and the connection with David’s ghost is explained and how Nicole fits into all of this as it boils down to her toughening up, by stripping down to a wife beater and tying her hair back like every heroine in most horror films ever and the movie ends on the most tired, predictable mirror jump scare in cinema history. But, you already guessed all of this. You’re smarter than this. Long ago, you probably shut this movie off and started doing something better with your time, like not watching The Addicted.

Within the first twenty minutes, the entire plot is set up, the reveal and all, so there is no wonder, there is no suspense… it’s all filler from here and it’s the worst kind. Boring, drawn out filler. It was at about this twenty minute mark I fell asleep, woke up toward the end just as the killer was about to reveal their identity and I guessed who it was with total confidence. That’s how cliched, tired and run of the mill this movie is. You can watch it in your sleep. This movie has the feel of ‘we have a dark, large empty space, let’s make a movie!’ And within this space they have to make a movie, they take one idea and repeat it continuously, you’ll think that the movie is broken as you think, “wait, didn’t I see this already?” Why yes, yes you have, but now it’s happening again… only the same. But that’s what happens when you don’t have things happen in your movie. The Addicted is like a one hit wonder CD a friend buys because of one song; He puts it in and puts that track on repeat over and over, until you finally snap.

This is a boring movie that relies on a huge coincidence too, doesn’t it? Part of your antagonist’s evil plan happens to be that you need to be somehow connected to the girl your revenge plot is against. Hey, didn’t Scream do that? Yeah, it was stupid then and it’s stupid now. Of course, maybe the film would have been a little more tolerable if they did some ADR or used better mics, as the movie sounds incredibly disembodied and muffled. Do you know how hard it is to hear an actor’s dialogue through a rubber mask in a hollow, echo-y room through an incredibly thick British accent? It’s not easy! Same can be said about the visuals. I understand this is a low budget film, but my god if you can’t pull off the bare minimum of decent looking effects, don’t have them. Not to mention that it’s a poorly lit movie, with lighting changing drastically between shots, that the scenes often look very muddy. On a fair note, some of the practicals are pulled off rather decent and if I have anything positive to say about the film, it’s that the actors do a bang up job. Everyone pulls of a convincing role and emotes well, but unfortunately it’s wasted in this film.

The Addicted
It’s a one note movie that feels like it drags on with very little thought put in, relying heavily on the same scare and idea to work repeatedly and then repeats the same ideas, the same scares, hell, even the same shots of those scares to a point where you feel like you are going insane or living in some sort of time loop. You have to wonder how a film like this got made. For a low budget indie film, this is one that isn’t worth your time. In fact, it should be locked away in solitary confinement forever and ever… and ever and ever.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Everytime someone is dragged off, take a shot.
  • Take a shot every time Adam vanishes.
  • Eye candy.
  • Nail gun massacre.
  • Oh and take a shot every time Mike is dragged off into the dark.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

The pole through the stomach is done nice, but the blood seems to be used sparingly.

1

blood

BREASTS

We are… for having seen this, but a point for Nicole’s awesome cleavage.

1

beast

BEASTS

These beasts are easily outwitted, but the victims own worst enemy is their very own stupidity.

2 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer!

trailers

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Jul

Captain America
1979 – TV Movie – 90 Minutes – Shout! Factory
Starring Reb Brown, Len Birman, Steve Forrest – Directed by Rod Holcomb

Captain America is the prime example of a superhero movie. He has a neat uniform that represents what he stands for, his weapon is cool, he has super strength and speed and to top it off, he’s chock full of American pride. His origins come from the heart, a weakling who wants to go to war to stand up against the Nazis and after a successful superhero experiment, he’s socking Hitler right in the kisser. All the ingredients for a top notch superhero flick. To play the star spangled hero, let’s get Reb Brown; the guy who would later star in the MST3K riffed Space Mutiny and a couple of Bruno Mattei ripoff-sploitation films, like Strike Commando and Robowar. And who else fits the bill better? He’s the blonde hair, blue eyed beefcake best known for shrieking at the top of his lungs while waving a machine gun around and beating the snot out of terrorists, so who else would be a better candidate for the USA’s all American superhero?

In 1979, Marvel would unleash upon the world the made for TV Captain America movie. With everything I talked about above, this movie is going to blow people away!

Nah, just toss all of that out the window.

Well then, how else would you open a Captain America movie, but with him leisurely cruising in a panel van, kicking it back while a mellow tune toots over the footage. What, you think an opening at a heated battle during WWII is action heavy? And this is how we introduce the patriotic Steve Rogers, who in this case is a former marine who is living in his van, traveling the states and finding out who he really is. In other words, Captain America is a hippie. We learn all of this as he talks to his surfer friend about meeting up with his friend Jeff who is in need of help and receiving a letter from a man named Simon Mills who wants to speak with him about his late father’s work. So much action happening in the first several minutes, it’s impossible to take it all in! Slow down, movie!

ca_2But Steve encounters some trouble on the way to his friend’s. Turns out, some thugs are after Steve, as they spray down a curvy road alongside a cliff with oil and do you think Steve spots this obvious trap? Of course not, because that would make the villains look incompetent, which surely they aren’t. Ahem. Since black oil in the bright California sun camouflages in so well with grey pavement, Steve falls prey to their trap and rolls his sweet set of wheels down the cliff, but emerges from the wreckage unharmed… except for a slight tear in his polo! Curse these evil-doers! Just who are they and what do they want with Steve? My guess would be to rid the world of horrific panel vans.

Steve literally walks it off and chalks it up to being an accident and meets up with Dr. Mills who tells Steve all about his father’s last project; FLAG. Full Latent Ability Gain. Yup, cause Super-Soldier Serum was too obvious and this movie needed something that was a little more vague. Although all the test subjects who have been injected with FLAG do gain powers, they don’t live too much longer afterwards. And you thought irritable bowels was an unfortunate side effect. It turns out that Steve’s father created the serum from his own DNA, so they believe Steve would be able to harness the abilities without, you know, the side effect of death. Does our patriotic marine step up to his calling? No. Instead, he whines and tells them he doesn’t want to report in to anyone and wants to lay low, kick back and discover who he really is. Our hero. The few, the proud… the puss.

Moving on with his life, Steve finally goes off to see his friend Jeff, who has just been murdered. Steve seems to be having a rough day. Meanwhile elsewhere, a black limo pulls up to an oil company and a man in a black suit gets out before looking around and walks into the building with a brisk, but relaxed pace. Why did I just describe that to you? Because they show every second of it, so it must be important! Inside, we learn that this man is named Brackett, an evil oil business tycoon (Seriously, is there ever a good one?) who is looking for some microfilm in order to complete building a neutron bomb that Jeff was working on with Brackett’s evil scientist in order to hold the city ransom so he can steal gold… ? I don’t know, it’s kind of a stupid plan. His henchman accidentally killed Jeff while interrogating him about the microfilm, but saw Steve at the scene. Perhaps he knows something? So wait, then why did we try to kill him? Before we even knew that he knew Jeff?

Well good thing Steve managed to survive, so now the villains can find out what he knows. Brackett calls him up, telling him he’s a friend and wants to meet up to tell him about what really happened to Jeff. Steve, of course, walks into this trap head first and what’s the first thing these thugs that are supposed to interrogate Steve do? Shoot at him, driving Steve off a cliff on his motorbike. I guess their policy is shoot first, ask questions later. And what is it about cliffs that attract Steve? It’s becoming a Looney Tunes cartoon at this point, except instead of turning into a xylophone, Steve is gravely injured and there is only one way to save him; inject him with the FLAG serum.

So now there are cool scenes of Steve saving people or accidentally and hysterically breaking things, realizing his full potential and newfound powers, right? Nope. He lays in bed and whines about how they took away his right and he doesn’t want these powers, denying Dr. Mills any testing. The visions of Cap standing triumphantly over Red Skull at dawn with the sun to his back as the American flag flaps in the wind comes to mind.

ca_3Whatever, at least the movie is going to force something to happen at this point. Even the filmmakers realized nothing has actually happened. Steve is kidnapped from the hospital by Brackett’s henchmen and taken to a meat packing plant, because… who cares. At least the movie seems to be setting up an action piece! The henchman outright start demanding for Steve to hand over the microfilm… which he still has no idea about… and if he doesn’t, well one of them reminds him what happened to Jeff.

“He got cute and hid the pictures. Then he got DEAD.”

Threatening words that anger Steve, so he breaks free and heroically defeats his captors by hurling large hunks of meat on them and then calling the proper authorities! Man, does this action ever let up!? There is no way they can top it, so let this mark the film’s only fight scene (or at least what passes for one here)! Steve decides that he should talk to Simon about his new powers, which they discuss along with his father’s secret identity as Captain America; a nickname given to him by those ridiculing him for standing up to for the little guy and fighting crime. Holy crap, Steve’s dad sounds awesome. He was a scientist that created a serum that gave him super powers and so he used it to fight crime… why the hell isn’t the movie about this guy?

Just in case Steve changed his mind about the whole “hero” thing, Simon prepared him a new panel van equipped with all kinds of gadgets that are never explained and a secret rocket bike hidden inside. But that’s not all! Made from the sturdiest materials on Earth, he gives Steve the trademark Captain America shield, representing the colors of the country; red, transparent and blue! Wait, is that right? Oh and cherish this moment where they test out the shield by tossing the flimsy thing into the air as it boomerangs back, because he never throws it again.

But Brackett has had enough. Kidnapping some of their female friends, one being Jeff’s daughter, which he should have done this long ago, who hands over the microfilm (oh yeah, there are a couple females in this movie, but they don’t do anything), he finally completes his neutron bomb and makes his demands known to Steve and Simon or else he will detonate it.

“But why? Bracket is no mad dog killer, he is after something.” – Actual words spoken by Simon.

Using his super hearing, Steve overhears some clues to Brackett’s location and decides to FINALLY do something with his powers and take action. Simon thinks Steve should use a disguise and presents to him what looks like a rejected Evil Knievel (even complete with a silly motorcycle helmet) costume based off one of his sketches. So finally at the 74 MINUTE mark, Captain America arrives! I know a lot of super hero movies wait until about 45 minutes or so to show their heroes, but those are 2 hour movies. This film barely makes 90 minutes. So, we don’t even see the titular hero until the final 15 minutes, which he’s not even in costume for the entire duration of.

So he rescues the girls after spraying down some security guards with oil (yeah not henchmen, but some minimum wage security guards just doing their jobs) and unravels the whole plot, which I kinda forgot at this point, because the stupid soaked deep into my brain. However, they still need to deal with Brackett, who has now rigged a device up to his heart so that if he dies, the neutron bomb explodes. Your move, Cap!

ca_4Transporting the bomb on a semi, Brackett has no idea Steve is hot on his tail, so now we get to see them duke it out or Cap stops the truck in a real heroic and tough way! Oh, why am I getting all of our hopes up. Of course he doesn’t. He bends the exhaust pipe of the truck into the trailer in order to knock out Brackett, but what Steve’s thick skull doesn’t know is that this causes humans to asphyxiate and die. Brackett passes out unconscious and the bomb will go off if he dies, so how does Steve resolve it? Does he punch his heart so hard, it beats faster? Don’t we all wish. So, get this… he calls Simon to come administer first aid to Brackett since Steve is untrained in that area. This scene actually goes on for a few minutes. This is… what the… I can’t. I can’t.

They keep him from dying, disarm the bomb and save the day… off camera, of course. We just see the exposition in a dialogue scene and Steve rocking duds that look identical (minus the motorcycle helmet) to the actual comic book version of Captain America, thus accepting his powers and taking on his father’s legacy.

So to reiterate, your source material consists of a man with great powers, who is brave and courageous, fighting Nazi’s during the second the World War, but for whatever reason that isn’t good enough?! No instead, we get a Captain America, in a much stupider looking outfit mind you, who whines and complains and doesn’t want to use his powers?! In fact, he never throws a single punch, his signature shield or really anything that Captain America is known for! Come to think of it, a majority of scenes are filler where nothing is happening or Steve is just cruising in his van. I’m sorry, but HOW do you f*#@ this up? I understand the 70’s were a different time and budgets were lower and special effects were much more difficult to pull off (especially for a superhero movie), but the Hulk series was fairly close to its source material, so why not Cap?

And Reb, what did they do to you, man? Sure this was before his action movie star days, but when you cast a guy like Reb Brown, you should just let him do his thing. His acting range goes from falling asleep to getting sleepy. Not the most versatile range of acting. They would have been better off actually choreographing fight scenes and letting the dude throw people around and toss the shield, kinda like CAPTAIN AMERICA! THE MOVIE YOUR FILM IS ABOUT! Maybe they thought a guy beating up evildoers was too violent. I mean, they couldn’t get the costume right until the end, threatening us with a sequel.

Captain AmericaWith the lack of faithful character adaptation, boring score, sleepwalking performances and lack of any action makes this a bad, cheesy flick to even sit through. Even for the 70’s this film is too mellow. If you’re trying to fall asleep, I highly recommend it. I suppose we should Thank Shout! Factory for bringing this to DVD, but why should we. Otherwise, do your country a fair service and skip Captain America. But that sequel… you don’t think… they wouldn’t… did they?

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Reb Brown. Sigh, I know. I should be more excited.
  • Rip roaring panel van.
  • Captain Whiny-baby.
  • An evil plan! Stupid, but evil!
  • Cliff-diving.
  • Beat by meat.
  • Cap’s durable, light weight recyclable plastic shield!
  • Um, isn’t there a superhero in this movie?
  • Oil change.
  • Semi-serious heart attack.
totals

1

blood

BLOOD

With no fight scenes, I’m giving a point for the ripped polo.

1

blood

BREASTS

There was some cleavage, I think, but who cares.

4

beast

BEASTS

Brackett’s no mad dog killer and Reb is unfortunately underplayed as Cap due to a terrible script.

2 OVERALL
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Watch the TV Spot!

trailers

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Jul

Don't Go in the Woods
1981 – R – Code Red
Starring – Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden – Directed by James Bryan

There’s a title that also works as warning sign in life; Don’t Go in the Woods or Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone if you are one of the many people that confused the oddly placed tagline right next to the title (the actual title card in the movie reads Don’t Go in the Woods). I won’t go on a tangent or anything, but this little issue has been confusing horror fans for years, but director James Bryan cleared the issue up on the DVD’s special features and even IMDB credits the movie as Don’t Go in the Woods and if it’s on IMDB, then it’s 100% accurate…

Camp slashers in the early 80’s had a dark and somewhat serious tone to them, whether it be Friday the 13th or (as silly as it was) Madman, but then comes along Don’t Go in the Woods and says, “We’re here to have fun!” And there’s a fun little analogy: if this film were a character in an 80’s slasher, it would be the beer drinking, pot smoking, prank playing, one liner spewing character. However, don’t mistake this for a comedy or a spoof. The tone is definitely horror, but the delivery is pure lovable cheese.

dgitw_2Right out the door, this film doesn’t hold back. A young woman dashes through the woods, screaming her lungs out and tripping and falling into a shallow river to soak her white shirt as blood begins to pool. Another poor sap who is enjoying the most boring hobby of all time, bird watching, has his arm is hacked off (which only seems to slightly knock him off balance) and clobbered over the head. In the first few minutes, the film let’s you know it’s going to be sleazy and filthy with ridiculous levels of violence and less than average acting… which is exactly what we are tuning in for!

While the happy campers of… whatever the name of this place is, are being hacked into pieces, let’s meet our group of four adventurers, Ingrid, Joanne, the misfit Peter and led by the lecturing outdoor connoisseur Craig. When you get down to it, they ultimately have no other goal than to just be camping in the woods. That’s no stretch of the imagination and from what I understand, people actually do that. No reason to bog this plot down with pointless exposition like, they are looking for a secret treasure, or it’s a getaway from the daily grind or claiming inherited property. They are just there to camp, so deal with it. Peter doesn’t take camping too seriously, dangerously leaping from a log and stomping on the ground as Craig scolds him about how risky and stupid that was. He could have been injured or there could have been snakes!

As they frolic about, our killer stalks more random prey, this time a chubby photographer and his wife. He drags her off and does who knows what to it and the husband is thrown off the side of a cliff for the crime of wearing too much pink. He clearly won’t be missed, as a group of teens splashes about in the water literally feet from where his bloated, lifeless body now defecates itself.

dgitw_2So what are the police going to do about this? Surely all of these people disappearing is pretty suspicious. Nah, it’s probably bears assumes our heroic law enforcement, as they brush it off with around of some office putt-putt. These men sure know how to prioritize.

It’s been several minutes since someone has been savagely torn apart, so who better to volunteer themselves as victims than a couple of randy, um, middle aged people? Huh, usually in this scenario it’s teenagers, but here it looks like mom and dad don’t have the kids for weekend and need to drive miles away from civilization in an RV to do the no pants dance. Our killer, not having premium basic cable packages provided out in his area (probably due to coverage), decides to catch the live Skinemax show. Dad isn’t having any of that and grabs his pea shooter, shouting into the night in a random direction, which upsets the maniac. He dispatches dad pretty quickly and rolls mom in the RV down a hill, which explodes at bottom after settling there for a few moments, which all vehicles were known for doing in the 80’s.

Well perhaps the portly Sheriff should look into things, as he takes to the sky in a helicopter, although he doesn’t seem too concerned with looking for anything suspicious… meanwhile, a young mother gets stabbed to death while painting, posing for the cover art and her baby is stolen and a poor helpless man in a wheelchair is decapitated. Yeah, nothing odd going on around here, just people vanishing by the handful. No need to concern yourself or exert any energy that isn’t going in to eating ham.

You’re probably starting to see a pattern happening. But to break the mold (and to kick some plot into gear), Peter decides he’s a bad enough dude to rescue the President from Ninjas go camping on his own and wanders off from his group, which is the best thing you can do when you’re in the wilderness, with little food and water and no knowledge in survival and first aid. It goes about as well as you think. He’s cold, hungry, miserable… the classics. I was expecting a montage of the silly mishaps that could happen to him, like getting his hand stuck in a toaster, a bucket stuck on his head, butt caught in a mousetrap all while slapstick music plays. But no, morning finally comes and he witnesses a fisherman get murdered by the now revealed crazy, bearded, homeless looking bear guy with beads on his face. Typical.

dgitw_3Before looking for Peter, the rest of the gang decide to play ineffectual pranks, as Craig strings up Joanne in her sleeping bag, just as the crazed woodsman stumbles upon them and kills Craig. Ingrid (now that I’m thinking of it, who the hell is named Ingrid that wasn’t born in the 20’s?) bolts the scene, leaving Joanne to be strung up like a pinata. Peter, now armed with a sharp stick, bumps into Ingrid and the two dash frantically through the woods, running smack into Rope Face Guy’s crazy kill shack, littered with garbage and dead bodies. Upon surviving an attack from the killer, Ingrid and Peter escape (but not before accidentally killing a hiker by mistake… which is oddly never brought up or seems to have an effect on either of their mental health) and check in to the local hospital, where the police FINALLY decide to do something about it and round up a posse for a good ol’ fashioned manhunt! Believing Joanne to still be out there, Peter sets forth on his own manhunt, against the wishes of the law enforcement.

Peter races against the posse to find this backwoods killer and stop him once and for all. And also to make sure his friend is still alive. It all boils down to a duel, with Ingrid somehow running out of the middle of nowhere and finding Peter to help him stop the maniac once and for all. I guess GPS tracking devices were invented while they were in the hospital and the doctors implanted one inside Peter without him knowing… or it’s just a coincidence.

Although the gore may not be the most amazing practical effects and at times laughable (although given the tone of the film, it’s a safe assumption it was intentional), it was enough to land this film a spot on the notorious Video Nasties list. Even though it was later removed (in 2007) because the effects are so laughable, it’s still noteworthy. The film has a certain sleaze feel to it and I get that feeling like I’m watching something that I shouldn’t be every time I view this and it makes me giddy, which is what I think was the reaction the James Bryan was looking for. It’s not a film to be taken seriously, so loosen up and have a good time with it. It’s actually surprising to read that there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding this film upon its release. Being an over the top slasher flick from the 80’s, depicting horrific death scenes makes it a perfect target I suppose. Some of the deaths feel like possibly the intent was to cause controversy, such as the woman being killed in front of her child and the man in the wheelchair having his head cut off, but the fact that the acting is so hokey, if you want to call that acting and the crew most likely intended to do it so. The film even has its share of pointless scenes, like where a roller skater (in the woods…) bumps into the Sherrif and they both go about their day. Why was she rollerskating in the woods? Where was she headed? Was that supposed to be a jump scare? I can’t believe people were so up in arms about this, even back then. Silly people looking for things to be upset about. Sigh.

Don't Go in the Woods
Don’t Go in the Woods is a simple, silly slasher flick not to be taken seriously. Sure, the acting is so cheesy that it’s stinkier than Munster cheese, but the kills are so entertaining! Sure, none of the characters are really likeable in a realistic since, but they are so goofy that you don’t mind hanging out with them for the duration of the movie. You’ll have more fun watching this movie than you would actually going camping. Plus you don’t have worry about getting killed by some crazy woodsman.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Don’t go in the woods alone, but you do anyway.
  • Bird watching costs an arm…
  • Peter of the jungle… or woods, whatever.
  • Bear trap headache.
  • Painting the canvas red.
  • Mountain man Ewok.
  • Lazy law enforcement.
  • Sleeping bag pinata.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Mutilations galore in a spectacle of over the top blood, made from BBQ sauce!

0

blood

BREASTS

I don’t even think we get any cleavage and coming from a director of adult movies, that is shocking.

6

beast

BEASTS

The grizzle killer is pretty scary, but I take away points for his weird Ewok costume and beads on the face.

4.6 OVERALL
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Jul

evildead1

Now I, as a reviewer, believe that if you can’t review something you truly love with the same eyes as you do everything else, you shouldn’t be reviewing things. So for your eyeball looking pleasure, I bring to you the first review of the trilogy of The Evil Dead.

What I truly love about this movie is that in 1981 the horror cliche of “Cabin in the Woods” was a fresh enough concept that scares could still be original, and the idea could be used in a different manner. You know, other than a big, dumb guy in a mask who kills teenagers for premarital….anything. Not that I hate that scenario, but….I hate that scenario. So let’s dive into one of my favorite movies. Please hold your pitchforks and torches until after the review, thank you.

The movie kicks off with five Michigan State students (insert collegiate joke here, I’m not trying to be lazy, folks, but I could go on for a long time). Our five victims…ahem…stars of the movie go up to the cabin in the woods for a little relaxation time, and because of the time this line fits: HOW ORIGINAL! Sorry. Been waiting a long time to use that. After some introductions and exposition, we meet the baddest S.O.B. in ALL of horror cinema history: Ashley J. Williams (Ash to his friends). I think we’re supposed to care about the rest of the cast, too. But we don’t.

evil deadThe students stumble across an old tape recorder containing an old spell that awakens demons living in the woods. So they do the smartest thing they could: They play it. Because that’s what you do when you find evil relics and a translation of a demonic spell. You play it. Ash’s sister, Cheryl, gets possessed first, warning of death coming in the night. She freaks out and takes off into the woods, which is always a bad idea; I don’t care what genre of movie it is. When she’s in the woods, one of the most talked about, celebrated, and hated scenes in movie history takes place. I won’t mention it here, but it’s pretty dark and gruesome.

After Cheryl’s encounter, Ash decides to drive her back into town, in the middle of the night, in demon-infested woods. When in the history of ever has this worked out? Ash may be a badass by all rights after this movie, but he’s never been burdened with an overabundance of brains. After discovering the bridge has been turned into Jack Skellington’s hand, The Chin returns to the cabin with the news that they’re stranded for the night. Here’s where things get a bit freaky. The first demon makes itself known, attacking all in the cabin.

Evil DeadSome really disturbing violence later and the demon is cast down….to the basement. They threw this thing, that can toss people like a paper airplane with one hand and looks like she got hit by the world’s most awful coconut cream pie, in the basement. Michigan State, everyone. One by one, the other cabin members fall to the woods and the demons. Several of them get hacked up by an axe, and one manages to lose her head at the end of a shovel. I’d go into more detail, but this part of the movie is a whirlwind of gore and violence that doesn’t stop. An ankle gets stabbed, a woman chews off her own hand, and white blood flows easily.

This is another movie that I don’t want to give away the climax to, because if you haven’t seen it…..I….Turn in your B-Flick card, right now. For the tiny budget they had and the still fresh subject material, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell made a formidable horror film that still holds up today. The effects are campy, the story cliche, and the actors amateur, but it’s still awesome. What’s even more incredible is that this movie set a few standards that still exist, including the horror hag, travel cam, and the beginning of two careers that are more than influential today. Go and check it out. Thank you for reading. Now you may proceed with the pitch forks and torches.

roadside attractions

  • The Chin 1.0
  • ?Shovel Decapitation
  • ?

  • Did that thing actually talk?
  • ?Kiss your ribs goodbye?
  • Self Munchilation
  • ?The Yellow Car
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

This movie has it in spades, buckets, squirts, and different colors.

0

blood

BREASTS

While this movie has none, I don’t mind. It’s nice to see a horror movie that’s not sold on it.

8

beast

BEASTS

Original-looking demons, and grizzly acts, and living trees.

9.0  OVERALL
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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>