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

Jun

Comments Off on Hell of the Living Dead

Tagline: They eat the living!

Year: 1980           Runtime: 101 min

Director: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn) & Claudio Fragasso

Writer: Claudio Fragasson & Jose Maria Cunilles

Starring: Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay

There are any number of things that go awry that result in a b-movie: no budget, no talent in front of the camera, no talent behind the camera, no talent planning the film, etc., etc. There is no shortage of the preceding list which means there’s no shortage in b-movies. That’s great for the fans, and even better for us here on The Lost Highway, but the thing is, not all b-movies are “so bad they’re good.” That magic something that makes a bad movie entertaining is as elusive as Nessie and Sasquatch and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar.

Is it genius? Is it luck? Madness? A little column A, little column B, little column C? Like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

One avenue where I’ve noticed a high amount of success is where filmmakers ride the coattails of a more popular movie. The idea is simple: latch onto something that’s making money and exploit it with a cheap reproduction. Italian filmmakers in the 70s and 80s were particularly brilliant at capitalizing on this maneuver. Every genre is open to such exploitation, and infamous filmmakers were all too willing to slop something together for the fans lucre, I mean, enjoyment. Hell of the Living Dead sets the bar higher in that it tries to capitalize on three genres: zombies, cannibals, and natives (i.e. dark skinned people who are generally portrayed as cannibals) at once—and fails at them all.

There is no mistaking the je ne sais quoi of a spaghetti [fill-in-the-genre] film. Hell of the Living Dead reeks of it. One would think that in the light of such overwhelming ridicule these films received the filmmakers would call it quits after one, maybe two, flops. But no matter how far off the mark a exploitation movie landed, most of these filmmakers made many more schlock films. Unlike the specially designed javelin used to correct for Lamar’s limp-wristed throwing style, there is no correction possible for a Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso hot mess of a film.

Buddha be praised!

Word of Caution: because Hell of the Living Dead is a cinematic disaster of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink calibre, it will appear I am having a hard time staying coherent. If you find yourself wondering, “What in the hell is he blubbering about?” don’t worry, it’s not because I’ve stroked out. That’s just the movie. Don’t think too deeply about the incongruities. Attempts to untangle the jumble will only cause you stress related injures. Allow the madness to wash over, and away, from you. The hollow feeling and night terrors will pass. The rocking, though, is permanent.

Hell of the Living Dead

The film opens in an industrial complex, a Hope Center. There are lots of white coat clad people with clipboards walking about with airs of important business. These are the world’s top scientists working on world hunger and stuff. How does flipping switches in what looks like a nuclear power plant solve the problem? No idea. Thankfully the movie exposits that the Hope Centers’ mission is to achieve Satiety, Peace and Good Happiness Stuff through the top secret project, Sweet Death.

Oh, Sweet Death, huh? Makes less sense than flipping switches, but OK. Interesting name though.

What’s more interesting is Sweet Death is a gas which kills people and then reanimates them as flesh eating zombies.

Uhm… I suppose “hope” has a special meaning in Italian that doesn’t quite translate into English.

One of the capsules has a meltdown during this flurry of activity, or as one worker puts it, “a routine spot check,” and Sweet Death gets out. The whole facility is infected. Another generation of idiots are removed from the gene pool, just in the nick of time. It’s not too bad though, this Hope Center is off the coast of New Guinea, which means there’s still a chance to keep this mishap under wraps. Keeping this PR nightmare quiet is important because most (third world) people are happy to have Mosanto, eherm, I mean, the Hope Centers in their countries, helping them with hunger and stuff.

(The movie says there are Hope Centers, i.e. more than one. It only shows the one. It hints of the others in moments of exposition that serve only to confuse and annoy the audience. Are they all working together? Are they independent? Who is paying for all this? Who knows.)

But not everyone is blind to Evil Corporate Big Brother Reich’s real plans. A band of know-it-all college hippies takes an American embassy hostage to expose the truth, man. What they get for all their planning and effort is a special Interpol commando team (SICT) with itchy trigger fingers. Wearing protective gear wasn’t part of their course at university, and they’re too smart to duck and/or get behind cover, so another generation of idiots are removed from the gene pool, just in the nick of time.

That concludes the unnecessary but entertaining portion of the film. Now that the film’s introduced SICT, on to the zombie action!

Because the Sweet Death outbreak is confined to New Guinea the UN sics SICT on it. SICT is supposed to… well… the movie never says. Mike, the SICT leader admits, when they finally arrive at the Hope Center, that he doesn’t know what their supposed to do. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

SICT flies INTO the country, where they then have to make their way cross country to the coast, then out to sea to the Hope Center. While this would seem to be as smart a lighting your pubic hair on fire to remove a lice infestation, it turns out to be a necessary contrivance. It’s only in hindsight that one learns that this lame planning is to pad out the film’s runtime. Without the cross country adventure the movie would run about 30 – 35 minutes.

None of the journey is necessary to the story. Actually, there’s not really a story, so tacking this scene on to that scene and another to this other one is as good a plot as Hell of the Living Dead offers. Cutting through the country is simply an excuse to pick up Lia and her cameraman, show some natives doing native things, and have the zombie attacks.

To add realism to the native scenes the filmmakers incorporated a bunch of footage from a documentary.  They did the same for establishing shots of traveling through the jungle. As you can expect the footage doesn’t match up. The editing is so bad that it doesn’t come close to fitting in with the original footage. In one scene there’s a kangaroo rat running through a desert that’s supposedly next to the Landrover as they’re driving through the jungle. In another scene we see natives canoeing in a wide river, but the commandos are in a thick jungle nowhere near water.

But it’s the sound dub for the animals that’s the tops. I thought there was nothing funnier than seeing a Kung Fu movie dubbed into Spanish. I was wrong. Hell of the Living Dead does one better, they dubbed different animal sounds for the ones shown. The best is a scene of what looks like storks dubbed in turkey gobbles. Priceless.

What would a 80s B horror flick be with out gratuitous nudity? Not a 80s B horror flick, that’s what. At least not an Italian one. As there’s only one woman, it’s Lia who has to show one for the team. Why she does so is classic horny teenage boy logic. The only way to get into the savages’ village is for Lia to go in topless and a vine g-string. Why? Because she lived with the tribe for a year. Uhm. OK. Does that mean she ran around naked save for a vine g-string that year? Is this what all women do, or just white women? Eh, who cares. She jogs ahead of the vehicles for a bit for some nice jiggle action. Bonus (for the extras playing natives that day): All the tribe members get to touch the naked white woman. SUH-weet!

Ultimately Hell of the Living Dead is to zombie movies what Taco Bell is to Mexican food. It will give you diarrhea and shaves an hour and a half off of your life. Yet, for some crazy reason, you keep going back for more.

roadside attractions

  • Hear the racism in lines like: “What kind of terrorist? Palestinian? Iranian? New kind?”!
  • Gape as the characters do while their close friends and co-workers and lovers are eaten by zombies!
  • Witness a vicious zombie rat attack!
  • Learn what the UN truly is: a big theatre with 12 people waving and throwing papers at one another!
  • Wonder why everything is contaminated and turning people into zombies except for our heroes!
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Buckets of blood, black slime, and sundry goop.

2

blood

BREASTS

Lia, the sole woman, has to strip to get into the natives’ village.

10

beast

BEASTS

Loads of Poo-Faced™ Zombies.

7.33 OVERALL
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Jun

Comments Off on Xtro

I’m starting to doubt this whole “aliens are among us” conspiracy theory going around lately. Sure, back in the day when ET was on lunchboxes and Alf was eating cats, I was more inclined to believe such nonsense, but now I call shenanigans. Occasionally we get a “credible” witness like a Walmart manager who is abducted in the parking lot or and old lady with glaucoma who saw blurry lights out by her woodshed. To me it seems like it’s mostly just drunk deer hunters in pickup trucks. Kardishains are actually aliens? Yes that’s believable, but drunk deer hunters who may have just shot their buddies in the face aren’t the reliable witnesses as you would’ve originally believed. They have consistently lied about deer they shoot and how many other hunters in the process (the averaged is 3). Why would I ever believe them if they claim to be probed by a 8 ft albino? So now whenever I’m approached by a old beat up pick up truck with a gun rack in back, I know that someone is about to tell me a lie. I say to that fellow, “Whoa there bearded stranger, you best sober up and we’ll talk about your alien encounter over a hot cup of joe.” and we share a good flavored coffee and laugh about the ridiculousness of it all. So remember, don’t trust drunk deer hunters when it comes to alien conspiracies but do trust sober pheasant hunters with bigfoot stories. They are most trustworthy people you can meet and will never steer you wrong. (except Dick Cheney)

xtroSpeaking of alien abductions, Xtro is yet another movie that further destroyed any extraterrestrial credibility left. Tony and his dad Sam are out in their backyard playing fetch with their dog when the fetch stick suddenly explodes in mid air and the dad is sucked up like a vacuum cleaner into a vortex of light leaving Tony wondering what happened to his stick.

Years later, Tony is still having nightmares about the abduction and rightly so. His mother Angela seems to be coping well, since she’s shacking up with a photographer named Joe and hiring a French live-in maid played by Maryam Dabo. That life insurance must have paid off nicely. Things are all set up for a outrageous romantic comedy, but then a meteor falls in the woods and some hairless alien dog oozes out of it. The gooey mutt finds a woman in a nearby English cottage and attaches to her face with an alien vacuum hose depositing mutant DNA into her womb. She awakens hours later with a hangover and a tummy the size of a Volkswagen which she spontaneously gives birth to the recently abducted Sam as a full grown man!!! Whoooaaa! No hot water, no warm towels, no epidermal. This could be the best pro abstinence video ever.

Sam is a bit bewildered also a bit colicky, so he steals some clothes after killing a tourist and tracks down Tony and his mom back in town. Rachel his wife smacks him upside the face, but he explains how he had amnesia for the past 3 years and is ready to be a dad again. She totally buys his story letting him move in and kicking Joe to the curb in no short order. So take note cheatin’ boyfriends, just claim amnesia and everything works out fine.

Things seem like old times with the family back together, but Tony catches his Dad eating his pet snake’s eggs and is chased into the street and given an alien hickie. Seems that Sam wants to turn Tony into his own alien hell spawn. Days later, Tony seems his normal bland self, but suddenly develops psychic powers to conjure midget clowns and giant GI Joe dolls to go on killing sprees. At one point, he even creates a black cougar. Yes that’s right, aliens love cats, Alf lied to us! After Tony kills his neighbor, he strings up his live-in French maid as a giant cocoon to lay gooey alien eggs in the bathtub. She’s a sort of inverted pez dispenser. xtroWhile all this is going on, Rachel and Sam have run off to a cottage to make the sign of the 2 humped back whale. Sadly in mid love making, Sam’s skin starts falling off which really destroys the mood. Rachel freaks and Sam runs into the woods to meet up with his alien peeps to talk about his crazy times as a Englishmen. Joe the ex-boyfriend shows up hauling Tony along for the ride but ends up getting his brain melted away by Tony’s alien sonic attack. Rachel runs screaming after Tony, who meets up with his dad who is now full on alien and they disappears into a beam a light abandoning his mother and thus ending the weirdest Pink Floyd video ever.

Not too shabby for an alien film if you ignore the midget clown and random black cougar attacks. I’m thinking the movie might have been actually made by real aliens but we may never know. The truth is out there. *fade away with x-files music*

roadside attractions

  • Exploding fetch stick
  • Frog tongue lashing
  • Snake egg eating
  • Mutant hickies
  • Snake smashing
  • Killer midget clowns
  • Killer giant GI Joe dolls
  • Random black cougar attack
  • Jello molds gone bad
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Lots of alien goo and ickiness to go around.

8

blood

BREASTS

Maryam Diabo, enough said.

9

beast

BEASTS

One crazy alien mutant with optional mutating son. midget clown, a giant GI-Joe, a snake, and a panther. Sounds like a late night L.A. party.

8 2 OVERALL
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Jun

Comments Off on Madman

Madman
1982 – R – Code Red
Starring – Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish – Directed by Joe Giannone

Ah, summertime. I believe Will Smith said it best when he said, “Every moment frontin’ and maxin’, chillin’ in the car they spent all day waxin’. Leanin to the side, but you can’t speed through, two miles an hour so everybody sees you.” This has nothing to do with this review, but man wasn’t that a good song? Especially in the summer?

Alright, now that the joke is out of the way, summer holds a special nostalgic place in most of our hearts. For me, going to camp was one of the most exciting parts. Getting together with all the other kids to play games, learning survival skills and telling spooky stories around the campfire. And let’s be honest, you felt so accomplished when they would slap a badge for that on your shirt, but instantly demasculate you with a baking badge. Nonetheless, I love the old feeling I get when I’m up late watching horror movies based around summer camp. Brings me back to a time when it was okay for adults to scare the living pee out of children.

One such tale is the legend of Cropsey. An actual story I’m familiar with since it was most popular in the upstate New York area, where I lived when I was young and went to camp. In a nutshell, the story is about a man returning to his familiar grounds and murder anyone who dares to camp there. Of course, this all depends on who is telling the tale, since, as with most legends, there are several versions of it, but this one seemed to be the most popular. So popular in fact, that someone decided to make a movie about and call it The Burning. However, another movie using the same tale was being made around the same time, but the good ol’ Weinstein’s beat them to the punch, so a small rewrite later, writer/director Joe Giannone unleashed Madman.

mm_2It’s the last day of camp as a group of kids are being horribly scarred for life by a ghost story that camp counselor sings to them as he prances around the fire. Chuckling at his amateur kid frightening skills, head counselor Max decides to one up him and calmly tells the children in the most trusting and soothing voice a supposedly true legend that will make sure no amount of therapy will ever help these children. That tale is the legend of Madman Marz, who murdered his wife and child with an axe, where he was shortly hung for his crimes (this was back in the day when lynching was encouraged… or the South), but his body had disappeared! Concluding, his name is never to be said above a whisper or else he would return to his sacred grounds and kill anyone who is present. So of course, the first thing the mouthy little punk Richie (who must’ve been a top contender for Mouth in The Goonies) does is scream his name and unnecessarily throw a rock an unknown amount of distance, which I’m guessing is at least half a mile away, judging by his solo march there later on, smashing out a window on a vacant house. This house seems so far off, it may as well have been Jenny’s house from Forest Gump. All have a good laugh as Max says his goodbye and goodnight to the kids, but Betsy (played by Dawn of the Dead‘s Gaylen Ross) disapproves of the story frightening the children, forever spoiling spooky campfire stories for everyone everywhere.

Betsy has a thing for TP and your guess is as good as mine as to why, since he snuffs her affection before they all return to their cabin. He quickly apologizes to the group about his outburst and to Betsy since it’s probably his last opportunity to hook up, as Max leaves to head into town to get supplies… and beer. Can’t forget beer.

But that’s not why you’re watching this movie. Camp cook and professional whiskey drinker Dippie is the first to fall victim, as Marz tears out his throat. I know we are all attached to this character and you’ll be in disbelief when you see him die, like when you saw Steven Segal die in Executive Decision. Still brings tears to my eyes.

What follows next is perhaps one of the most drawn out, semi-underwater, slow motion love scenes between TP and Betsy and lemme tell ya, you will be reaching for that fast forward button. It seriously drags out for several minutes, which normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, but Gaylen Ross keeps her puppies well hidden the entire time, while TP flexes his cheeks before climbing into the hot tub. While these two are contaminating the water, Madman Marz watches from outside. It’s about this time TP realizes he should probably check on the boys and notices that Richie is missing and goes out looking for him… alone… in the dark woods. Betsy offers to come with him, but he declines, as she sees a lumbering, shadowy figure darting around, but shrugs it off. I’m sure TP will be fine…

Did I say fine? I meant strangled and hung up like a pinata. To the actor’s credit, he really pulls of the excruciating pain that one must go through when being hung, as he actually choked himself by tying a rubber band around his neck! Now that’s “dead-ication.” Meanwhile, Betsy is back at camp complaining to Stacy that TP only wants sex when they realize he’s been gone for quite some time. Dave volunteers to go out alone into the woods to get killed next, bumping into TP’s body along the way and manages to dodge a few of Marz’s axe attacks before one finally manages to decapitate him. He was way in over his head anyway…

mm_3So now Stacy think TP is playing a joke (cause that’s what you did back then, play ineffectual pranks) and takes the car down to find everyone. Investigating something going bump in the night, she bursts in on the other two counselors, Ellie and Bill, about to bump uglies. She leaves them to their session of foreignication and has either very keen senses to where the others may be or this is the smallest wooded area in the world. She literally stumbles on Dave’s headless corpse (you starting to see a pattern here?) and runs back to the truck, but unfortunately the she has fallen victim to horror cliche #14: the stalling vehicle. Using all her mechanic knowledge, which I’m guessing is about none, she sticks her head right under the hood so Marz can cleverly jump on the hood to take off her head. That’s yer problem right there!

Bill and Ellie are hot on her heels searching for her when Ellie spots Marz standing over his trophy, which immediately sends her dashing toward Bill where she pleads with him to do the most rational thing; LEAVE! But what good is that? Bill suggests the most facepalming idea in history, to go check it out. Yes, go right toward the lumbering, superhuman maniac with an axe. Stacy’s body and Marz are gone when they reach the truck and oddly enough, neither of them see the blood splashed all over the front of the truck and decide to drive it back to camp, but if you recall, the truck does not start. Daves finds Stacy’s head in the engine and tosses it aside like an unwanted soggy melon and the truck starts (that’s got ‘er!) and they start to speed back to camp, but not before Marz rips Bill out of the driver’s side and snaps his back like a twig. After the truck crashes into a tree, Ellie runs back into camp and very cleverly hiding in the fridge. Seriously, if I were a killer (I’m not, I swear!), I would never in a million years think to check the fridge for my victims. Fresh ones anyway. That’s where you keep the leftovers. Unfortunately, it’s all for nothing. Once the noise quiets down, Ellie pokes her head out and checks the place out, only to be stabbed. The scene is really well paced and actually made me nervous!

Cut in between all this is the adventures of our young hooligan Richie, who has now stumbled upon the house he threw a rock at, which happens to be the home of Marz. After poking around a bit, he finds the dead bodies of all of the counselors in the basement. Good luck with therapy, kid!

So, if you’re doing your math correctly, this leaves lonesome Betsy, who is unaware that her friends have been brutally butchered. She’s making her rounds like a prison guard, which I’m sure all campers are familiar with that feeling, when she spots Ellie’s body and dashes off to grab a shotgun. Seems like the only smart characters in this movie are gossipy girls. Guys take note; just because your girlfriend talks constantly about makeup and their friend’s current boy toys, doesn’t mean she can’t properly load your hunting rifles and outgun you. Just ask Ellie, who managed to survive her stab wounds and creeps up to the door, who Betsy mistakes for Marz and blasts her friend’s face off. Whoops.

Betsy loads all the kids onto the bus and tells the eldest to drive the rest into town as she searches for her friends, which, remember, she has no idea are already dead. It’s probably a good thing a panicked woman who just emptied a double barrel 12 gauge shotgun at her friend’s head, probably isn’t in the best condition to drive a bus full of scared, jumpy children. Marz attacks the bus before they can leave, but retreats once the non harmful, padded door is shut on his hand and Betsy knows she has to end it once and for all, chasing him down to the house from before that Richie somehow managed to bust a window out from several miles away. After some creeping around, Marz attacks her, slashing her face open and impaling her on a hook Texas Chainsaw Massacre style, but happens to be packing a hunting knife, stabbing Marz who accidentally knocks over a candle, setting the place ablaze. Who knew her inner-pyro would come in handy? All for nothing though, as Marz escapes into the night.

mm_4Coming back from a long night of drinking, Max who is surprisingly not swerving all over the road spots Richie who is riddled with fear. Max asks the Richie what’s the matter, to which he exclaims, “Madman Marz… he’s real!”

To the movies credibility, it does pace the tension and build up very nicely. The scenes that build up to a characters death are drawn out to the point where you will be on the edge of your seat just waiting for something to happen and when it finally does in a glorious, blood splattered death, it pays off. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the scenes of the counselors interacting with one another. I would say it’s too close to real life, since they don’t really discuss anything interesting, but that’s what it is. Just conversations about things I don’t think people actually talk about or girls going on about guys and blah, blah, blah. Mostly, they serve as an excuse for one character to head out into the dark woods alone to find the previous character who went off into the dark woods alone, so at least at times it does get the plot moving along.

Also, for being a low budget horror film of the early 80’s, it does have some of the best atmosphere you can get out of a slasher. The scenes are dark and often backlit, filled with the wood’s cold fog that can make something as open as the outdoors feel claustrophobic and making Marz feel larger than life. Speaking of, Marz is a pretty interesting killer with a well developed back story. Some horror flicks take several sequels to build a character’s backstory and can’t even do as good of a job as this movie did in just a few minutes. I’m looking at you Saw! A sequel was actually planned, picking up shortly after the events of the first film, wherein Richie would be in a psychiatric ward and he and Max return to the camp ground to try and stop Marz, but sadly the movie was never made, most likely due to Madman‘s obscurity or maybe studios didn’t want to take a chance on a lesser known flick, since Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm St. sequels were the ticket.

Madman
I like to find any reason I can to talk about this film, as I mentioned Madman is one of my favorite slashers. Sure it’s filled with a number of cliches, but it’s fun. Heck, I even did a video review of it, which you can check out here. So join me next time around the campfire to tell more chilling ghost stories… and bring S’mores!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • The legend of Madman Marz, as told by the most trusting man ever.
  • Riche, all star quarterback.
  • Dippie.
  • Girl talk.
  • Hanging around.
  • Car trouble.
  • She was shooting her mouth off!
  • Gaylen Ross is Drew Berrymore in Firestarter.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Decapitations, bone snappings, mutilations and throat rips that even Patrick Swayze would be proud of.

3

blood

BREASTS

Two sex scenes and no boobs… something is wrong here.

9

beast

BEASTS

Shove off Jason, make room for Marz!

6.6 OVERALL
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May

Comments Off on Graduation Day

Graduation Day
1981 – R – Troma
Starring Christopher George, Vanna White, Linnea Quigley – Directed by Herb Freed

School kids are going to be graduating and soon, the streets are going to be littered with over privileged kids who think they know it all because they maintained a C average in Psych, drinking and driving during the day, being loud and rude in public places and throwing their trash on the sidewalks. Ah yes, the bright, young future leaders of our businesses and country. In honor of this most joyous celebration (or second most dreaded time of the year, the first being Christmas), we’re gonna sit back with a Troma flick and watch these dunces get hacked and slashed in the appropriately titled Graduation Day. This of course was in the wake of the slasher boom since, hey, Friday the 13th was successful, so let’s just do that.

But does copying its neighbors test make it a passing grade?

It’s the end of the school year and track star Laura collapses and dies after crossing the finish line at the 100 meter race. A metaphor for racing to the finish line in life perhaps? Most likely not, it’s just something that happens in the movie. Coach George Michaels (played by genre favorite Christopher George) is blamed for causing her death from pushing her limits too far and also from being one letter away from having the same name as the guy who was in Wham. Plus, he’s kind of a tool, so that doesn’t help. Laura’s sister Anne comes home after hitching a ride from a sleazy truck driver, which I feel is a one sided representation of a truck driver. Until Big Trouble in Little China, truck drivers were always portrayed as fat, lazy and stupid sleaze balls. Anyway, as another member of the track team jogs through the shady woods near the school, someone with a stop watch and a pair of black leather gloves approaches from behind and slits her throat in under thirty seconds! That’s gotta be some kind of slasher movie record.

gd_2So where does Anne fit into all this? Well, she is here to honor her during graduation and accept her diploma and to thank Laura’s boyfriend, Kevin, for all his support. The two meet up later on (no, it’s not what you think, perv) at Kevin’s grandmother’s house, who spends her last few dragging minutes of life sitting in a rocking chair and staring into space while shouting for people to leave or get out. So, basically every old person ever. Anyway, Anne wanted to meet up with Kevin to give him Laura’s track medal, which I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to pawn it for cigarette money.

Since this is a slasher in the early 80’s, we enter autopilot where no characters are really developed and only serve the purpose to add to the body count one at a time, as we watch the same set of gloved hands time his kills in under 30 seconds. Quick thought, Dead in 30 Seconds would make a great sequel to Gone in 60 Seconds, so someone get on that. What on Earth is he timing all these deaths for? Is there some sort of forum where he posts his time and competes? Actually, it does tie in with how Laura died and if you made that connection (as I’m sure most of you did during the first kill), you can already make a safe assumption about who the murderer is.

However, this doesn’t stop the film from trying to throw you off. For example, the principal of the school opens his desk to remove a switchblade to peel an apple (cause you know, just eating it regular would be weird…). We also see a stop watch in his desk, so if you didn’t have a brain, something along the lines of, “Duhhh, whaaa? Is he the killer?” may have popped into your skull, but anyone with the intelligence of more than a tangerine knows better.

gd_3*Editor’s note: I mean no offense to tangerines. I like tangerines. They are delicious.

So if you’ve been keep track of everything I told you, pretty much the remainder of the film is like a tame stag reel of random character deaths, which ordinarily isn’t exactly a bad thing. But believe it or not, this is where the movie really starts to feel like it’s dragging. Of all the scenes in a horror film, you should be excited to see characters get offed, but this is where Graduation Day really fails; none of these characters are truly developed. I’m not saying they have to have really emotional and in depth back stories, but ANY kind of character development would have helped to make their murders feel entertaining instead of random shots of people dying, which is truly surprising given that this movie has a fairly decent cast, which ultimately makes it feel like such a waste! Christopher George, Vanna freakin’ White and Linnea Quigley! Even when poor Linnea gets decapitated (surprisingly almost no blood for a decapitation, by the way) the only thing you know about her is that she is a promiscuous stoner. Which I’m sure may sound great to some of you after just reading that, but once you see the execution (both in character development and demise of), you’ll see what I mean.

By now you may have just realized that Anne hasn’t been in the film in quite some time and isn’t she the heroine of the story? Well just when you think that, Anne pays a visit to Coach Michaels and accuses him of murdering her sister to which he denies (I guess he gots to faith… ahem). We already knew this, but the film really wants to drill it into your head that he’s the killer, but since you’re smarter than that, you know it’s hogwash. So more scenes of randoms dying, mostly through virtually bloodless impalements, and the principal yelling at poor Vanna White for the flood of incoming calls about the school kids missing, which understandably brings in the local police. Not shockingly, the film really doesn’t do anything with this either. A detective shows up, states that they are all probably just out partying or running away with their ladies for the weekend. Really driving home the tired cliche of the uninterested local police force that doesn’t really do any police work. Normally this would be frustrating, but thankfully do to the film’s lack of character development, it’s easy not to care.

gd_4A few students find one of the victims stuffed inside a locker, which Coach Michaels (after having been fired) sees since he is nearby. Boy, they really want you to believe he is the killer. Gee, I guess he is and not who it obviously is… speaking of, Kevin is now locked in fistacuffs with Coach, blaming him for all the murders, but… yeah do I need to keep repeating myself? We know who the killer is, but regardless, the movie wants to drag out this false sense suspense for several more minutes as a chase ensues, resulting in Coach Michael’s being gunned down by the cops, leaving Anne to enter the movie once again just as you are thinking, “where the hell is she?”

So the murderer is dead and everyone can move on, right? Well in such a shocking twist, Anne pays a visit once again to Kevin to see how he is holding up, discovering Laura’s corpse in his room, which could only mean… he is the killer!? Duh, whaaaa?!?! Yeah you saw it coming since he stepped foot into frame. So once again, we partake in another chase scene, leaving you feeling like some exhausted dog; Go fetch the ball, bring it back… but to save us some time, Anne gets the upperhand after a struggle, kicking Kevin onto a giant board of huge nails. You know, even if someone wasn’t killing all the students, I’m sure they would have died anyway, since this school has walls of nails sticking out. And parents think their kids will get hurt playing touch football.

At the end of the day and as much as I hate saying things like this, Graduation Day is nothing more than a Friday the 13th clone and a boring one at that. It feels like something of a cash-in, riding on the coattails of more successful slasher flicks during the boom, than it feels like it actually tried to be something. All of the characters are very one dimensional, the film doesn’t exactly try to play it like the straight man horror film (like Halloween) or even take a chance to let the audience know it’s self aware and spoof the genre. This makes Graduation Day void of (almost) any humor or genuine tense or scary moments. You would think that something following a pretty simple formula would have been successful and make an moderately enjoyable film, but it seems to fall flat in those examples. It’s not that the film itself is confused in which direction it should take the tone or appears to be confused on what it wants to be. It will leave you, for lack of a better word, bored.

Graduation Day
Given the material presented in the movie and being an 80’s slasher, it’s not fun… not even cheesy fun, like something such as Blood Hook or Unhinged. Between the darkness of the film and the headache inducing score makes this one ugly film. It’s hard to believe Troma would later stamp their name on it, seeing as it lacks any elements they are known for. Still, it’s not entirely dreadful, nor is it the worst example of a slasher film. It’s just there, it exists and nothing it presented can save it or make it enjoyable. Not even when Linnea Quigley bears her top. And it takes some sort of bizarro talent to make that not worth the time invested in this film. You’re better of skipping school to avoid this.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • If the glove fits, you must murder.
  • Murder in 30 Seconds!
  • Track and Field… of Death!
  • Corpse kissing.
  • Relaxing bed of nails.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Surprisingly interesting kills with almost no blood.

7

blood

BREASTS

It’s always a pleasure to see Linnea’s pair, but unfortunately it’s in this movie.

1

beast

BEASTS

Blind grandma is far scarier than Kevin.

4 OVERALL
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May

Comments Off on An American Werewolf in London

An American Werewolf in London

“An American Werewolf in London” is probably the best anti British tourism ad since early Mentos commercials. It’s a movie that shows if you don’t stick with the tour guide, you’ll end up shredded by a werewolf or bitten by one and have to deal with flea baths  for the rest of your life.

An American Werewolf in London

A couple of American students, David and Griffin are backpacking across England when they stumble into a pub called “The Slaughtered Lamb.” It’s not the big party club you’d expect, but it’s stock full of  English folk playing darts and drawing pentagrams on the walls. David and Griffin decide to have a pint but are forced to leave the pub early when they ask about the satanic wall art and are shunned for their lack of cribbage knowledge.

They hike it across the English moors  fully warned to stay on the road when a werewolf  suddenly attacks them killing Griffin and leaving Dave with some pretty bad neck wounds. He passes out just as the werewolf gets shot by the townsfolk but awakens later at a hospital. David tells the doctors about having dreams of running in the woods naked and gnawing on deer heads or seeing his family killed by nazi werewolves while watching the muppets. A common sign of lycanthropy or bad hospital food. His dead friend Griffin shows up in his room later and warns him he’ll become a wolf at the next full moon unless he kills himself. That’s typical zombie reverse psychology, but David doesn’t believe him and goes home with the head nurse for some showering and gratuitous ardvarking. After she leaves for work, he goes all hairy monster and starts killing dinner party guests and British businessmen who can only briskly jog from danger.

A doctor from the hospital suspects the murders were done by David so he stops in at the slaughtered lamb for some intel gathering and a blood transfusion if needed. (It’s a service at all the local English bars.) Meanwhile David is hanging out at a porno-theater where  An American Werewolf in Londonhe goes full on wolf again and his girlfriend shows up  just in time to see him decapitate a policemen and gets shot by a Swat Team. The exact same way Winston Churchill died. David turns back into human form which is end of the film and my personal limit for male hinnee shots.

American Werewolf in London has to be one of the shorter werewolf movies made but has some of the best special f/x  and set the standard for werewolf transformations on screen. What’s really missing is a werewolf surfing on top of a service van or maybe a 80’s montage of him playing basketball  while some Night Ranger music plays in the background.

roadside attractions

  • Deer decapitation
  • cop decapitation with head roll
  • Dart throwin’
  • Nazi werewolves with optional neck slashin’
  • naked marathon running
  • Moors of death
  • Nurse bedside manners
  • Zombies in a porn theater
  • extreme werewolf transformation
totals

9

blood  

BLOOD

Werewolves have horrible table manners! There’s blood everywhere.

7

blood  

BREASTS

Some ardvarking with a naughty nurse. Thanfully no hairy werewolf breasts.

 

9

beast  

BEASTS

One dead werewolf and one on a english bar crawl.

8 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 >>