Archive for the '80’s b-movies' Category

Aug

Comments Off on The Burning

the burning

It’s nearing the end of summer and one can’t help but feel a sense of whimsical and wonder as the days grow shorter and it starts to get a little colder. This is the time I like to visit the campgrounds… by watching a camp slasher film, of course. Sure the obvious picks are any number of the Friday the 13th films (minus Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X and Freddy Vs. Jason), but how about some other camp films? Something based from an old campfire tale told in parts of upstate New York in the 80’s… where I’m from and where I went to camp!

Now let me quickly tell you that story: You see, a maniac named Cropsey would stalk and kill people, much like the archetype boogeyman. It’s really that simple. Even more interesting, this tale has been popular since the 30’s, so upon researching it, I found that there isn’t even a Wiki page! Coincidence? Most likely. Of course this story will vary depending on which fable you read, but one thing remains constant: The revenge of Cropsey!

Which brings us to The Burning. The Burning was, strangely enough, being filmed around the same time another movie was being made about the Cropsey Maniac tale. Since The Burning came out first, that other film changed it’s story a bit and renamed its title to Madman. Anyway, it’s your classic camp tale about a maniac seeking revenge on anyone who comes back to the camp where he was nearly burned alive. Sounds pretty cut and paste, right? Well, yes actually, it kinda is. However as simple as the plot may seem, the movie shines through with excellent character development, fantastic gore and makeup, plus a soundtrack by Rick Wakemen! The Rick Wakemen of Yes. Not to mention the film is kinda creepy. So there’s that.

the burningThe movie opens up as several boys from Camp Blackfoot are plotting to scare the crap out of the caretaker Cropsey, because he’s kind of a douche. This prank, for whatever reason, involves a skull with worms and candles and wouldn’t you know it, it goes south and poor Cropsey burns. He’s burnt to a crisp. He’s burnt so bad, he scares an orderly at the hospital that everyone mistakes to be Lawrence Fishburne in an early roll (it’s not), much like that scene from Mad Max where his partner grabs his arm… yeah you know the bit. Anyway, five years go by and Cropsey is released from the hospital and what’s the first thing he does? Kill a hooker. You gotta keep that pimp arm strong as they say, I guess.

Meanwhile at camp, all the kids are playing ball, ogling over girls, you know kid stuff. Some of these kids include the very first acting rolls of Holly Hunter (in a very small role), Fisher Stevens (that “Indian” guy from the Short Circuit movies) and most bizzarely, Jason Alexander, with a somewhat fit body and full head of hair… I repeat, George from Seinfeld with A FULL HEAD OF HAIR. There is also the camp dweeb Alfred who is being bullied by the self appointed camp jock from Jersey, Glazer. Luckily, Alfred has Todd, the camp counselor, looking out for him. All is fun and games for the moment, but it doesn’t take Cropsey long to show up and start the body count.

The older kids go off on a canoe adventure of some kind and it doesn’t take long for camp stud Eddy to take his girl Karen out for a little swim. But since she won’t put out, Eddy sends her off crying and she runs into Cropsey. Unfortunately for her, Cropsey isn’t very good at consoling sad girls and mistakes wiping her tears with cutting her throat.

The next morning, they discover the canoes are missing and resort to building a raft, which responsibly, the camp counselors Todd and Michelle send a handful of kids off to find the canoes. Nothing bad could happen here. Now, what follows is such an intense and graphic scene, it originally had been butchered by the MPAA and earned this film one of the first spots on the UK’s Video Nasties list. So, you know it has to be good. Well, they find the canoes alright. And Cropsey is waiting inside and hacks and slashes them to pieces! Talking about this scene cannot do it justice. It is something that has to be witnessed.

the burningShortly, the raft drifts back to camp with the remains of the kids (so that’s what they put in the camp stew!), while Todd is searching for Alfred, who just witnessed Glazer and his girlfriend get butchered. Michelle heads back to camp on the makeshift raft for help. Todd faces his past (oh forgot to mention, he was one of the kids that accidentally burned Cropsey) and must defeat the maniac if he wants to save Alfred.

I can see why the censors had such a field day with this movie. These were actual kids being murdered and mutilated and it was shocking to see for the first time, especially with outrageous and amazing special effects by Tom Savini (who passed up Friday the 13th Part 2 in order to do this film). And I do have to add, these effects look spectacular on the Scream! Factory Blu-ray release! In fact, that whole transfer is one of the best I have seen. At one point when Cropsey is killing the hooker, you can see actor Lou David’s face shrouded with a black mask and sunglasses (hell, you can even see the reflection of the hooker in the glasses!). Now this begs the question; was Cropsey hiding his hideously burned face or were the filmmakers hiding the actors face to make it look shadowed? Hmm…

What else can you say? It’s a great summer time movie, with lots of blood, great special effects and a cool killer with some righteous music. So what are you waiting for? Summer isn’t over just yet. So pack your sleeping bag, an extra pair of undies and a copy of The Burning. And some Off. Mosquitoes are annoying.

roadside attractions

  • Fireball Caretaker.
  • “Scissoring” Hooker.
  • Ready. Aim. Fire. Run.
  • Jason Alexander with hair.
  • Jason Alexander mooning.
  • Raft mutilation.
  • Axe to the face.
  • Jersey Jock impalement.
  • Burned again!
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

Buckets of blood, arms, fingers and melted flesh.

7

blood

BREASTS

Here and there and soapy.

10

beast

BEASTS

Cropsey! And Glazer.

8.6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the infamous “raft scene!”

trailers

dripper
Aug

Comments Off on Bloodsport

blood sport
Bloodsport (1988) is an interesting bit o’ film, as it is a better Street Fighter II flick than Street Fighter, which shares a star in Jean-Claude Van Damme. Bloodsport, unlike Street Fighter, actually features a fightin’ tourney, full of half-naked, sweaty dudes. Sure, Street Fighter has its share of half-naked sweaty dudes, but they ain’t fighting in a tournament.

If’n it’s fighters going toe to toe and working their way through a crazier bracket than NCAA Basketball could ever hope for, Bbloodsport montage splitloodsport is yer flick. All your really need to know is Bloodsport stars action b-movie favorite, Jean-Claude Van Damme. I could stop there, really, but I won’t.

Van Damme plays Frank Dux, an American who takes part in the underground, and illegal, martial arts tournament called the Kumite (for the Communications majors out there, that’s koo-me-tay, not koo-MITE). An early highpoint of the film is a flashback, which happens in the first, thirty seconds, give or take. We’re treated to a kid playing a young Van Damme, which is all kinds of great. The flashback continues for what feels like 47 minutes, and shows Van Damme growing up and training in the art of Ninjutsu. Van Damme suffers through one of the best training montages of the 1980s, including a scene where he does, brace yerself fellas, a complete split. Yes, with his legs.

There’s plenty of punching, kicking, and yelling to go around. Bloodsport doesn’t really have any dull moments. If someone isn’t yelling, they are punchin’ and or kickin’. Bloodsport is basically a ‘gritty reboot’ of Karate Kid if’n it was directed by guy who made Commando.

bloodsport splits

Revenge of the Nerds fans take note: Donald ‘Ogre’ Gibb plays Van Damme’s burly buddy. He’s a lovable pit fighter, which is the best kind, really. On the other side of the fighter spectrum is baddie Chong Li, played by the unmistakable Bolo Yeung (who plays a similar role in Enter the Dragon). You may not remember the name, but Yeung is one of those ‘Oh, THAT guy’ actors. And really, if Van Damme ain’t reason enough for you to take a gander at Bloodsport, Bolo Yeung as Chong Li sure as whiskey-fire is—even just to hear him say the classic line, “You break my record, now I break YOU!”

Tiger says, Bloodsport is a must watch for any martial arts movie fan. And for fans of watching guys act uncomfortable when Van Damme does the splits.


Tiger Sixon is forced to watch B-movies from the comfort of a secret government base in Death Valley. He looks nothing at all like Daniel J. Hogan (@danieljhogan) who draws the comic Clattertron.

roadside attractions

  • Complete Splits
  • Crotch Punches
  • Walled Cities
  • Arcade Game Showdown
  • Yelling
  • Screaming
  • Death Punch
  • Breaking Bricks
  • Man Boobs
  • Ninja Training
  • Van Damme Butt Shot
  • Blood
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

BLOOD is in the title!

4

blood

BREASTS

Plenty of man boob to go around.

10

beast

BEASTS

Chong Li, and the rest of the fighters, are pretty dang crazy.

8 OVERALL
dripper
Jul

Comments Off on Street Trash

arcade

At a simple glance or even a guess, Street Trash may seem like a horror flick about melting bums. Well, that’s only about twenty percent of the film. Although you may not know without having seen it, Street Trash is a busy little film, combining several plots together. It’s actually quite a complicated film, but manages to intertwine all these plots together while keeping it nice and tidy… and packing it with plenty of gross out moments and gore.

The homeless run wild like Hulkamaniacs led by the sociopathic Vietnam vet, Bronson. His gang of misfits that he calls ‘soldiers’ create chaos and terrorize civilians as well as other hobos, especially Freddy and his younger brother. His younger brother has taken a liken to the secretary at the junkyard, where the bums take refuge and beneath all that filth and grime, she has taken a liken to him too. But as fate would have it, local liquor store owner Ed finds a crate of expired booze called Tenafly Viper. Rather than aging like a fine wine, this nasty, foul liquid boils, bubbles and melts whoever drinks it into a glorious, gory, multi-colored florescent puddles of goop. All of this catches the attention of gritty, action cop Bill who wants to nail Bronson for these atrocities and clean up the streets. Hell, there is even a small sub plot going on involving James Lorinz (Jeffrey from Frankenhooker) as a Doorman who is ratting on his mafia boss after failing to see Freddy take his boss’s date back to junkyard and now he’s gonna get whacked! Believe it or not, it’s actually a pretty easy to follow, never distracting you and keeping you entertained the entire duration with the help of the cruel humor and gore.

ArcadeIt cuts back and forth between these stories for the major duration of the film, filling in the rest with bizarre antics of the derelicts, most of which is spent cursing and mumbling filth at Ed while they try to rip off bottles of booze. Other times, they are playing ‘Catch the Wiener’ with another vagrant’s… wiener or they are shoplifting at local grocery mart. The homeless are downright dirty in every meaning of the definition. Not only are they caked in dirt and probably feces (most definitely urine), but they are also mean and obnoxious toward each other and let me tell you… Street Trash reaches cruel levels of humor if you are sensitive to that kind of thing (luckily, we here are not and welcome it). Playing much like a Troma film, there are all sorts of racial and sexist humor as well as jabs at the elderly. Further pushing the offensiveness, they include a rape scene in which later, the woman’s corpse is found and with some comical music, the owner of the junkyard defiles it… after he was just trying to rape his secretary. It’s a classy movie, but it’s our kind of class.

The Special Meltdown Edition from Synapse presents all these nasty, but loveable pranks in an uncanny high definition transfer. All the carnage, all the gore and colors look beautiful and clean. It’s amazing how crisp a low budget film can look. The edges are so sharp, every fine little detail pops right out at you and this especially showcases the special effects. The audio has a 5.1 mix and it’s as decent as they get, although it’s obviously not like the surround mixes we are use to today. I say stick with the 2.0 mono it was recorded in. It sounds more natural and keeps that old school charm to it.

ArcadeAnd if you’re a fan of special features, hold on to your butts. This disc is crammed with ‘em. The Meltdown Memoirs is a two hour doc, showcasing everything and anything about the making of one of the 80’s best gross out films. Production, casting, special effects, behind the scenes stories… it’s all here and it’s like being a part of it. It’s that in depth. What really blew my mind about this is future X-Men series director Bryan Singer was a Production Assistant on the film! Who knew? I guess we all have to start somewhere. It just blows my mind. It’s like when I found out that J.J. Abrams did the soundtrack for Nightbeast. Of course you get the interviews, which are always interesting to hear, you also get bloopers and outtakes (which I love), and so you get to see what actually didn’t make it into the Special Meltdown Edition. But probably my favorite bonus feature on here is the original 16mm short the film. It’s definitely the backbone of what the movie was based from, although it wasn’t called Tenafly Viper in this. This all rounded off with some trailers and promo stuff, making all this worth any value.

See what I mean? A lot, and I mean A LOT, is going on in Street Trash and you never would have guessed given it’s just a low budget action/cop/horror/Vietnam drama/romance/retrospect look at the homeless movie, but give props where props are due. Director J. Michael Muro and writer Roy Frumkes fit all the pieces together to make it a solid, entertainingly disgusting, wild watch. This is like the Tetris of the film world. Its elements are odd shaped pieces that when put together correctly, form a solid line. This film literally has something for everyone and if you can’t find one thing to like about it, then there is something seriously wrong with you and your eyes and Bronson will find you and poke them out.

Save them pennies and buy a copy from the Synapse Website!

roadside attractions

  • Melting Hobos!
  • Adult take on ‘Hot Potato’.
  • Bulimic Justice.
  • Air Canister Torpedo Decapitation!
  • Filth, flarn, filth.
  • You know what, the entire 100 minute runtime.
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

Red goop, green goop, blue goop to purple and yellow You get it all as well as some guts and other body parts.

8

blood

BREASTS

Bush, boobs, butts and wieners. A lot of it.

9

beast

BEASTS

Whether it’s a gloppy puddle of vagabond mess, tough cops or crazy homeless Vietnam Vets, there is enough to make you pee your pants.

8.6 OVERALL
dripper

Check out this trailer from “Street Trash”

trailers

dripper
Jul

Comments Off on Warlock

I’d been hankering for a movie where an amish guy kicks around a demon who looks like a reject from a 80’s hair band and by golly, Warlock came along and did just that. Julian Sands stars as the pony tailed warlock who’s about to be put to death in 17th century Boston. Just before he’s going to be hanged, and burned over a basket of live cats, Satan shows up and zaps him into a time tornado to the 1980’s. His mission, to find some super witch book called the Grand Grimoire that can destroy the universe and every living Back Street Boy ever in existence. Well at least he’ll find some decent hair gel there. Julian’s not off the hook just yet because a furry witch hunter called Redferne (Richard E. Grant) has followed him through the time portal packing all sorts of witch-bustin’ goodies.

The Warlock crashes into a apartment owned by a waitress named Kasandra (Lori singer). She lets him stay for the night but In the morning, he chows down on her roomates tongue sautéing it and cursing kasandra to age 20 years a day. That is gonna be hell on her plastic surgery bills. Redferne with a major case of jet lag finally shows up but he’s still on medevil time and The warlock has already taken off. Redferne and Kasandra use a bit of his blood to make a witch compass that points uptown where the warlock’s been talking to satan through a hack psychic. He rips out her eyeballs and uses them for GPS to track down the missing pages and Redferne and Kassandra end up chasing the flying warlock all over the countryside. They find him in an Amish farmhouse where Redferne harpoons him with a weathervane and a Mennonite helps locks him down with some chinese finger traps. The Warlock escapes of course (if only the amish had a taser!) and hops a plane back to an old Boston cemetary. The same cemetary where the corpse of Redferne holds the final pages of Grimore in his boney little hands. So it’s a battle to save the universe in a demon/fur trapper cage match on holy ground! One of the better witch on the run films, Warlock had some great fx for the time and it maybe the best flying British witch movie since Mary Poppins. Definitely check it out and don’t forget to bring the anti-warlock salt.

roadside attractions

  • Finger hacking
  • Grave robbing
  • Eyeball spiking
  • Tongue frying
  • Weather vane harpooning
  • Fat guzzling
  • Freefalling warlocking
  • Eyeball GPS
  • Extreme insulin injections
  • Gerriatric mini-skirts
  • Toe and thumbscrew
  • Rawhide chewin’
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

a decent amount of bodily leakage mostly from the eye sockets

0

blood

BREASTS

No nudity but there is a lot of fur.

9

beast

BEASTS

1 demonic possession of Satan, 1 warlock,  and a a large amount of beards

9.5 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “Warlock”

trailers

dripper
Jul

Comments Off on Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to Me

The movie industry hit it big in the horror genre with the now slasher legends Halloween and Friday the 13th. It opened a flood gate of imitators and wanna-be’s, many of which copied the formula too closely, leaving them to be called ripped offs. Not all of them, mind you. Some of these ‘rip offs’ managed to take the basic components of slasher formula and run with it, making their own unique film. Two of these films just happen to be Canadian! I mean, can you believe it? My Bloody Valentine and Happy Birthday to Me would slip out from their predecessor’s shadows and right into the radar of the MPAA.

Happy Birthday to Me, which seems like a silly little horror flick at first glance, is actually full of surprise shocks in this ‘who-done-it?’ mystery, chock full of violence and gore… which unfortunately the before mentioned MPAA had a field day cutting.

So meet Virginia, she smokes a pack a day, but wait, that’s me… Wait. Those are Train lyrics. I apologize. Allow me to restart. Meet Virginia, newly accepted into the elite ‘Top Ten’, a snobbish group of the richest kids at the Crawford Academy and I have to say… they are all douche bags. Every single one of them. Every night, the group meets every night at the Silent Women Tavern. This is where the film’s first kill comes in. One of the top ten, Bernadette, is nearly strangled in her car by an unknown assailant until she escapes from the vehicle only to have her throat slashed.

The rest of the Top Ten barely seems concerned that one of their friends never showed up (or is even present for the remainder of the rest of the film). After one of the Ten, Greg, causes a problem like the bro he is with another patron, the crew flee the scene to jump a bridge that they call ‘The Game.’ You can see the level of creativity in this group. Virginia shouts ‘Mother’ as the vehicle she is riding in jumps the bridge. Her only real friend, Ann, tries to stop her. Upon landing, she runs out of the vehicle and straight to her mother’s grave, boasting how proud she would be of her for finally being part of the exclusive socialite club. Clearly, we have a healthy individual for the remainder of this nearly two hour film.

HBTMVirginia sees a therapist, Dr. Faraday, who is clearly in his sixties and overweight, but that doesn’t stop him from wearing skin tight polyester button ups, proudly showing off his pasty, hairy chest (resembling if you put pubic hair all over bread dough) with a gold medallion dangling loosely. Because, let’s be honest. That’s who you want advice from when you are trying to piece a tragic childhood together that you can only remember fragments of. Which is what happens throughout the course of the film: Virginia assembles, piece by piece, what exactly happened to her.

Virginia’s father leaves away for business during the weekend of her birthday and while this is going on, members of the elegant Top Ten begin to die in horrible fashions. The creepy foreign exchange student (and I mean creepy. The dude breaks into Virginia’s room to steal panties) gets his face ripped apart by a motorcycle, Greg has his chest smashed by his own weight set, only after having an epiphany that the group is growing distant and Alfred… poor Alfred. Regardless of how creepy this individual may seem, the poor guy is gutted while trying to give Virginia flowers one night when she is visiting her mother’s grave. So, does this make her the killer?

The next day at the school dance, she brings home another member, Steve, only to skewer him through the face with a kabob, so yeah… I guess that kinda does make her the culprit. Loud and clear. Or does it? Well, trying to figure out what is going on, Dr. Faraday stays with her while her father is gone and I have to say, this is actually kinda creepy. You definitely get a sexual vibe from him. I know it’s probably supposed to come off as more of a caring guardian figure, but it doesn’t. Anyway, he fails to give her any answer, so she kills him with a fire poker.

During the movie’s climax, the day of Virginia’s birthday, Virginia finally pieces together her history, learning that her mother was a drunk and was having an affair. Her mother, after throwing Virginia a birthday party, which none of the Top Ten showed up to, drives straight to her lover’s house to confront him and we learn Virginia has a half sister. On the way home, Virginia’s mother flies off the bridge, drowning herself and nearly killing Virginia. After this revelation, the killer comes forward, just in time as her father comes home to celebrate her birthday.

HBTMThis all leads up to an ending with quite a unique twist. This twist unfortunately doesn’t have much of a build-up do to rewrites and can seemingly come out of nowhere, possibly turning the viewers head to the side as they ponder aloud, “huh?” This doesn’t it make it any less effective, however. In fact, the movie ends on a note of uncertainty and dread, all while Virginia sings “Happy Birthday to Me.”

Happy Birthday to Me seems like it may be a low budget hack and slash, but it’s actual a very sharp, studio film, directed by J. Lee Thompson, the director Cape Fear. Sure it follows pieces of your standard slasher formula and at times the characters seem quite dimwitted. The film will also suspend your sense of belief at times, but never loses its’ charm. If you’ve never seen this film, you’ll keep guessing as to who the killer may be and what secrets they are trying to hide as the Top Ten is massacred one by one, which is a shame this film was heavily edited. There were some very gory death scenes. It’s always interested me that an uncut version of My Bloody Valentine exists, but not Happy Birthday to Me. It’s a shame.

Also interesting to note, before the Anchor Bay release of the film in 2009 which had the film’s original score, the previous DVD release by Colombia Pictures, for some bizarre and inhumane reason, replaced the creepy score by Bo Harwood and Lance Rubin, in favor of some ear vomiting disco. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of that edition. That soundtrack is bad enough to kill you.

roadside attractions

  • Matching gloves and scarf.
  • Who’s the douchiest?
  • Motorcycle Face lift.
  • Bench pressed.
  • It ain’t brain surgery.
  • Have your cake and eat it too.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Total gore-fest… is what I would say if the MPAA didn’t butcher this film.

5

blood

BREASTS

Steamy shower scene… plus Greg pumps iron, ladies.

7

beast

BEASTS

Yo, that Virginia chick be mad cray-cray! And that ain’t all!

6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie here.

trailers

dripper
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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 >>