Archive for the '80's movies' Category

Aug

poltergiest 2

When I used to  buy real music albums before they became these darn interweb downloads, they used to have 2 actual sides on a record. Yup, you had to get up and flip a record to listen to more Mili Vanili or what we referred to in my days to as “mood killers.”  Most of the time  the “a” side would have all those top hits you’d hear on the radio but the b-side would be the leftovers, the forgottens, the land of misfit songs. Occasionally you’d find a hidden gem in the rubble of Casio loop tracks that was actually pretty good. It’s the same way I feel about Poltergiest 2: the other side. Heck, even it’s title says “b-side” and in comparison to the original it isn’t nearly as good but still has a few clever moments.

poltergiest 2Since all those fun times in Cuesta Verda when their house imploded, the Freelings have moved in with their Grandma Jess.  Steve Freeling (Craig T Nelson) has  started selling vacuums to pay the bills but is saving a ton on cable without a demon ready TV. Little Carol Anne has become a clairvoyant but only uses her powers to pick out yarn colors with her hands. Sure she’ll get made fun of in school but just wait until senior prom when there’s a bucket of pig blood. Also there’s the younger brother Robby. He’s bummed they don’t have a TV but still hates clowns and trees. Rightfully so, I think that kid had a tougher time that  Carol Anne did at the old house. Oh, and what the heck happened to older sister? Where did she run off to? Did she go to college? end up in loony bin? Nobody even mentions her. It’s as if she got wrote out of existence like that dog in the Brady Bunch.

One night Grandma Jess dies in her sleep so The poltergeist take the opportunity to call up Carol Anne on her toy phone and harass her like A Comcast sales rep. Long distances rates to hell are actually quite reasonable that time of night so some evil spirits escape into the wall shaking the house violently and send the Freeling family packin’. Taylor, a wise indian stops them on their way out telling them it’s better to stay and fight the evil. Steven says Taylor can stay but he’s taking his family to a  diner to drown their sorrows in milkshakes and talk to possessed ladies at the pie carousel.

poltergiest 2The next day Carol Anne gets stalked at the mall by a old preacher named Kane dressed as an emo Colonel Sanders. He catches Carol Anne and sings her a song until her mother, Diane finds her. She thanks him and runs away missing out on all the great mom jeans sales. Meanwhile, Steven has gone out in the desert to smoke Indian weed in a hut with his new BIP (Best Indian Pal.) He’s hoping to get in touch with his inner warrior or stoned hippie but hallucinates some bad special effects instead. At least he gets a cool Eagle feather out of the trip.
The Freelings return to the house after Taylor did a quick ghost cleaning which strangely smells like bleach, but the old preacher shows up the next day on their sidewalk telling them they’re “all going to dieee in thereeee!!”. Those are some mighty aggressive door-to-door sales techniques. Steve tells him to take a hike and Robby’s braces try to strangle him that night in the bathroom. It’s Orthodonics of the damned!

Tangina the tiny psychic finally shows up to help Diana tap her own psychic powers and discover the history of Kane who buried all his followers in a cave below the Freelings old house. Steven doesn’t handle the news well and becomes a raging alcoholic who drinks some tequila with a demonic worm in it. It possesses him briefly making him…. well…. a bigger raging alcoholic.  He upchucks it thanks to the Power of Love and it becomes a big demonic spider monkey instead.  It tries to choke him in the foyer but Steven fights it off with a puff of holy smoke. Lucky he inhaled but didn’t swallow.

The family flees the house  in their station wagon pursued by possessed chainsaws and angry jumper cables and they decided to head back to Cuesta Verde to do battle with Kane on his home turf. Once in their abandoned neighborhood, They head down into the cave and jump into a magic fire Taylor prepared. They  float around a bit and stab the Kane monster with a spear from an indian souvenir shop before he can absorb Carol Anne. It amounts to the most anti climatic  battle since that one guy punched Justin Bieber in the face at the airport. The family emerge safely and are finally free from the evil’s clutches and other movie contractual obligations. Yes, Craig T. Nelson could finally go on to make and even worse evil…Coach.

Poltergiest 2 is a fun ride despite being very psychic munkchin light. Barry Goodall says take a trip to other side but always bring an Indian pal along for the ride.

roadside attractions

  • Creepy Colonal Sanders
  • More Zombie-fu
  • Taquilla Posession
  • Indian Fireside Cookouts
  • Orthodonic posession
  • Cave Spelunking
  • Levitating Chainsaw
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

More goo that red stuff but nobody should ever drink taquila,ever!

0

blood

BREASTS

It’s Freeling family friendly terror. No nudity allowed.

9

beast

BEASTS

A creepy preacher, evil taquilla worn, squid people, a lot of zombies, some weird spider monkey demon thing that climbs walls.

8.2 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to “Poltergiest 2: the Other Side”

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Aug

posted by Blake | August 18, 2014 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Bad movie

robo vampires

I have been watching B-films since I was a kid, recognizing at an early age that low-budget cinema is usually far more entertaining than the latest Michael Bay blockbusters.  Occasionally I run across a movie that shatters all of my previously-held notions of just what constitutes a “bad” film, leaving me slack-jawed at Man’s capacity to produce truly abysmal art.  “Robo Vampire” is one such movie, a cinematic singularity from which no particle of light escapes; I was humbled by it.

The film was cobbled together in 1988 by Filmark Intl. Ltd., the brainchild of Tomas Tang, producer and often director of very-low-budget action movies featuring ninjas, sorcerers, jiang shi, and anything else that was in vogue at the moment.  The director is listed as “Joe Livingstone,” a pseudonym for either Tang, himself, or his mentor and onetime-partner Godfrey Ho.  Apparently, there was a jiang shi craze in Hong Kong films at the time, and Verhoeven’s “Robocop” had been released the previous year to great acclaim, and since Tang usually produced low-budget kung fu films featuring drug triads, well….why not slap all three together and try to hit one out of the park?  This makes the plot amusingly moronic at best, confusing and aimless at worst.

Adding to its incoherence, “Robo Vampire” is actually two separate films fused artlessly together by bad dubbing and butcher-block cutting and splicing.  The first is a kung fu/jiang shi/Robocop rip-off set and filmed in Hong Kong, featuring a war between a heroin kingpin and the paramilitary drug enforcement agency trying to bring him down. The second is a wholly-uncredited Thai film featuring actor Sorapong Chatree who is something of a legend in Thailand. Although the Thai film is pure filler and contributes nothing towards advancing the plotline of the movie, it’s not a complete wash: it does contribute a couple of babes, a rape scene (obligatory for all Asian action B-films), a really bad come-on line, a Thai girl cutting open and sewing up a real cow and one of the most ludicrous stunt stand-ins I’ve ever seen.

robo vampireA  plot summary of this movie deserves a book, but here’s the gist of it.  A Hong Kong drug lord, Mr. Yung (played by a Guido Sarducci stunt double) is being vexed by Hong Kong’s paramilitary anti-drug squad, led by the apparently 16-year-old Mr. Glenn.  Glenn’s best agent is Tom the Goddamned Anti-Drug Agent (hereafter Tom GADA) who leads several successful busts, drawing the ire of Guido.  Guido then does what any good Italian Triad leader does: he hires a Taoist sorcerer-priest to train a special squad of jiang shi (a uniquely Chinese hybrid of psychic vampire and zombie) to deal with the situation.

Scene in Hong Kong, where the Taoist is demonstrating the effectiveness of the Vampire ProjectTM to some skeptics from the “Organization”; this movie is full of characters who drift in and out at need and are never explained nor seen again, like Red Shirts on the Enterprise.  He proceeds to transform one of the jiang shi into a “Vampire Monster,” which adds wearing a gorilla suit off the Clearance rack at Spirit to its already formidable undead powers.  Towards the end of the scene, a Caucasian female ghost enters fly-by-wire and challenges the Taoist.  In a badly-acted exposition she states that her name is Christine, that the Vampire Monster is her lover Peter, and that since they were banned from marriage by his Chinese parents, they committed suicide to be together in the afterlife but he has ruined their plans.  While this scene is ludicrous and cumbersome, the sting of it is taken away by the fact that Christine is wearing a very sheer white ghost-gown and is obviously bra-less.

robo vampireElsewhere, Tom GADA is killed by the Vampire Beast in a failed attempt to bust the Taoist and there’s some Thai film segments to add confusion.  Cut to a hospital.  Ex-Tom is lying on a slab, and his best friend and boss Teen Glenn casually authorizes a Nameless Tech to begin transforming his corpse into “an android-like robot” (his exact words).  The Tech begins shoving enormous, kludgy late-70s components into ex-Tom’s chromed and bisected torso, then sealing him up using a blowtorch (a sparkler stuck on a cardboard handle).  “RoboWarrior” is then activated, and some of his skills are shown on a firing range.  Unfortunately, RoboWarrior looks like the type of abysmal, amateurish cosplay gear you generally see worn by high-school kids at fourth-rate Cons. Someone from Costuming scored a bunch of those silver rayon sleeveless vests popular back in the early 80s and cut them up, then spray-glued them to cardboard cutouts and cricket padding sewn on a pair of coveralls; it’s that bad.

After some intervening Thai-film filler, Guido and two henchmen are being pursued along a shoreline by RoboWarrior but they lead him into a trap—-a circle of flames!   He burrows in the sand and escapes by digging his way clear, then fights off four jiang shi before one of Guido’s boys takes him down with a Light Antitank Weapon.  He “deactivates” in a fireball, giving us another great moment in this film: the “robot” that explodes in flames is a rag doll soaked in gasoline and wrapped in tinfoil (see photo).  This also points out one of the central production details of this movie: there is not a single special effect in this film that is not derived from fireworks or gasoline.  Even the gunfire in the Hong Kong half of the film is all black powder cap work with a badly-dubbed sound effects track.

Cut to the hospital again, with RoboWarrior back on the table again.  The attending doctor declares, “I’m afraid he short-circuited,” but the Nameless Tech retorts that it’s “not that serious.”  A few turns with a cheap, cordless power screwdriver, a few significant glances among the staff, and another session with the sparkler-torch and RoboWarrior rises again!

I can’t think of any other film with the pure genius to show a ghost and a gorilla vampire having sex, only to be interrupted by a robot hunting an Asian drug lord and his henchmen, because that is exactly what comes next.   After some come-hither glances, Christine the bra-less ghost and Peter the vampire gorilla begin some bizarre Monster Mash foreplay followed by the bump-and-grind to consummate their “marriage” from earlier in the film.  Unfortunately, their coitus goes interruptus through RoboWarrior, and monkey-boy’s not about to tag him in.  Christine puts on the frightened-girl act, begging (paradoxically) “Please don’t kill us, we love each other!  You can kill us but wait until our love is consummated.”  This gives RoboWarrior a flashback to his days as Tom GADA and the night his wife dumped him because he was a cop.  This sad imitation of a Murphy Moment has nothing to do with the scene at hand, but since that can be said about 75% of the film that isn’t a real problem.  The happy couple take advantage of his confusion to fight him to a standstill, the scene ending with the two of them doing a Riffraff/Magenta thing.  There is no sign of RoboWarrior, and no explanation of where he has gone.

After another section of Thai-film filler, we finally get to the Big Showdown: Guido and his boys face RoboWarrior and get wasted.  The four jiang shi then attack, only to fall one-by-one.  Finally, the Vampire Monster and RoboWarrior go head-to-head in a hopping battle across half of Hong Kong.  Elsewhere, Christine the bra-less ghost attacks the Taoist for reasons unknown, but after she strips her gown off (again inexplicably, but who cares?) he banishes her by writing a spell across her cleavage.  He then calls more jiang shi as reinforcements against RoboWarrior, but Christine comes flouncing back out of nowhere and claws his face, killing him. She is not seen again. The four new jiang shi fall, then RoboWarrior fires his flamethrower out of the barrel of his machine gun and torches the Vampire Monster (the stream of fire is actually a gasoline-soaked length of rope stretched from the gun-barrel to the target…really).  The Vampire Monster is finished, as we know because the gasoline-soaked rag doll in his robes and suspended from a rope off a balcony is burning while he howls.

RoboWarrior marches away from the corpses and the ruins.  The End.

If all of this sounds somewhat incoherent, good; it is, and I haven’t even mentioned half of it.   But if you’re into bad cinema, watching Robo Vampire is a mystical experience.   Check it out.

.

roadside attractions

  • Gorilla vampire-on-ghost sex
  • Two films for the price of one
  • “Android-like” robot
  • Robocop cosplay tips
  • Gasoline and fireworks
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

Eye-gouging, flesh devouring, real cow-gutting

3

blood

BREASTS

Ghostly but firm

4

beast

BEASTS

Jiang shi, “Vampire Monster”, sexy specter

3.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to Robo Vampire

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Aug

Before I begin this review allow me to just say that this movie is my favorite movie of all time. So you may have to forgive me for fanboying just a little bit. Now that that disclaimer is put out there let’s get to the review.

Evil Dead 2 is not so much as a direct sequel to The Evil Dead as it is a recap with a continuation wrapped up in one awesome movie. Fans of the series can delve into the whole history of why that is, but I will spare you the details. The gist of it is this: “My movie!” “No, MY movie!” And thus, like any uncomfortable situation, we pretend what they were fighting over didn’t happen. Thanks to….Nothing…nothing at all….ahem. We have the opening of our movie.

Drawing up differences between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 is easy and sometimes necessary but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum. The movie opens with just Ash and his girlfriend going to an abandoned cabin in the woods, unlike the first, which involved five people. You’re welcome, every movie since these. After getting there, and essentially remaking the first movie into a much shorter version, Ash begins his battle with the evil. After being possessed then released by the dawn, uh…it happens, he tries to leave only to find the bridge is out. Of course. Again. When has that EVER worked?

Ash returns to the cabin after the evil in the woods figures out how to manipulate time. I’m not kidding. And here begins the biggest chunk of this movie: the psychological aspect. Unlike the first installment, The Evil Dead, this movie focuses more on the mental state and the torture that can be inflicted through manipulation of reality and not so much on the gore. While there is gore, it is not as prevalent or over the top as the first. Such as Ash’s girlfriend’s head is re-animated and attacks him, biting his hand, leading him outside to the workshed. Now here is another little thing that these movies gave birth to: controlling the volume of your ADR. There is a moment when Ash says “Workshed.” and the audio is so loud and overpowering it became a long running joke for actors.

After removing the aforementioned head from his hand via vice the rest of Linda’s body decides to get in on the action, coming after our hero with a chainsaw. Of course the effects here are practical, no CGI anywhere to be found (thank the film gods), but they’re also bordering terrible! Linda’s body looks like a store mannequin covered in play-doh and the movements in the fight are so jolted you can almost tell it’s a guy with a stick whacking Bruce Campbell with a muppet from the burn unit. After defeating and dismembering his now dead again beloved, Ash goes back into the house to discover the evil has possessed his hand. Why didn’t it just re-possess him entirely is a much a mystery to me as it is to you.

After a dramatic Raimi shot we come to the other characters in the movie: Professor Knolby’s daughter, her boyfriend, a redneck, and his redneck girlfriend. Once more we’re not given a lot of background on any of these characters. Just a line or so about why they’re in this movie. Say it with me, kids, “They’re here to die!” On second thought. Don’t say that, kids. Now that we have all our characters on screen I just want to comment this: redneck girl is a scream queen. The other girl is not. She tries, don’t get me wrong, but holy potatoes is it just not her strength. What’s that? Sick of seeing characters on screen that aren’t Bruce Campbell? Me, too. Let’s go back and see what Ash is up to.

After a fight with his own hand that can only end in frustration and pain so intense he does the only logical thing a man who’s been tortured constantly for 48 hours does: lops off his own hand with a chainsaw. After a long sequence that may or may not happen in Ash’s head we finally have the arrival of our other characters. They got there through a trail that was sort of hidden in the woods. I don’t know how Ash didn’t find it or see it, either. After a short confrontation ash is thrown in the fruit cellar while the arriving party begins to try and sort out the chaos that’s still laying around the cabin.

After some explanation and some really well placed audio and camera angles we meet Professor Knolby’s possessed wife Henrietta. Another short confrontation later Ash is sprung from the fruit cellar and joins the other cannon fodder…ahem…uh…characters. While trying to deal with the reality of what’s going on one of the party gets taken over by the evil and explains what they want. After a gory confrontation we get some of Sam Raimi’s best soundwork ever put to film, upping the already creepy atmosphere of the whole movie.
After a visit from a ghost. Yes, seriously. Ash and company find out there’s a way to defeat the evil. But other folks have other plans that result in the return of Evil Ash! Some violence, gore, and a touching moment later, Ash is back to himself, again. Now. Let’s gear up for the final showdown. In the “Preparing to go to war” sequence we get two of Ash’s best known lines: “Groovy.” and “Let’s carve ourselves a witch.” And they’re still awesome.

Final showdown checklist! Chainsaw arm? Check! Sawed-off double barrel shotgun? Check! Catchphrase? Check! Heading into a situation nobody could possibly come out of alive? CHECK-A-FREAKIN-ROO!!! As much as I would love to go into detail about the final battle scene of this movie and what happens I must refrain. I know, I know. Just know that the end of this film perfectly gives us the movie that probably brought the majority of fans to the Evil Dead series in the first place: Army of Darkness.

How to wrap this up and sum up the movie? Well. For the time that it was made it was actually really ahead of itself and really demonstrated what a director could do on a shoestring budget with some dedicated actors and whole lot of creativity. The effects were incredible back then and, surprisingly, some still hold up to this day. In fact the entire ‘Red Band Trailer’ thing is born from a quick shot in this movie where blood coats a lightbulb. Once you get past the gore and horror nature of the film, however, it does sometimes seem overacted and campy. The actors are excellent in almost every scene, the audio is still through the roof excellent, and the direction is career making. In the end I love this movie and hope you guys do, too.

roadside attractions

  • The Chin 2.0?
  • Ted Raimi Attacks?
  • Is that Freddy Kruger’s glove?
  • ?A farewell to arms?
  • The Classic Flying eyeball of Nom
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Gallons and gallons and gallons upon gallons and with colors

1

blood

BREASTS

One set and they’re on a decayed body…..so….

10

beast

BEASTS

Even The Chin gets evil.

9.2 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to Evil Dead 2

trailers

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Jul

Curtains
1983 – R – 90 Minutes – Synapse Films
Starring John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson – Directed by Richard Ciupka (as Jonathan Stryker)

Klondike brings up the most provocative question of all time by asking you, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” Or in Curtains‘ case, “What would you do for the perfect role?” Me personally, I would audition and send a gift basket with one really pricey gift in the middle of fine cheeses and jams, but some people are actually willing to kill for it! In the early days of all the shlocky Friday the 13th clones, this little diddy from Canada cuts to the top and shows that bacon and Rush aren’t the only good things to come from our neighbors to the North.

Samantha (Samantha Eggar, The Brood) rehearses on stage as the director of the film Audra, Stryker (John Vernon, Animal House), isn’t quite convinced of her performance. I, however, am not convinced that a man named Stryker should be directing, but instead should be a cop who doesn’t play by the rules or a man who spends most of his time selling homemade potato cannons to school kids. You see, the character of Audra is absolutely mad and if Samantha, a dedicated and methodical actress, is gonna pull it off convincingly it’s gonna take some serious… um, convincing.

It’s not long before they are sitting in front of a doctor with Stryker detailing Samantha’s violent history and threatening to end her film career altogether, so Samantha lunges at him with a prison shank, screaming in pure rage! She is quickly restrained and slapped in a straightjacket, but as the doctor and the orderlies leave the two of them in the room (wait, they are just gonna leave her in the room with him after she came at him with a knife?) Stryker and Samantha begin laughing, revealing this was all a ruse. Faking insanity for a starring role; that’s dedication.

cur_2Samantha is now institutionalized, living among the insane and observing them. Stryker visits occasionally for progress and for support, but that only goes so far, as the madness seems to be getting to Samantha. She’s constantly pointed at and laughed at. The girl she shares a room with every night wakes up screaming, until one day she is taken away in the middle of the night after a fit and Samantha wakes to find her lobotomized. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, as everything seemingly starts to be cracking Samantha. On his final visit, Stryker and Samantha don’t exchange any dialogue, but sit in silence until he slowly gets up and leaves. And he doesn’t just leave the room… he leaves her there for good.

Rather than do the right thing by telling the doctor it was a ploy and give the actress the role he promised her, Stryker decides to have himself a casting couch session at his remote home with six hot ladies who are all eager to play the role of Audra. This is cleverly told through the styling of stand-up comedy from Patti (Lynne Griffin, Black Christmas), one of the girls auditioning for the part. So we have our comedic relief, who else might we have? Filling out the roles of horror stereotypes, we have the snooty veteran actress Brooke, Laurian the rich girl, Tara the musician, Christie the young promising skater and Amanda. Amanda would have a description, but after having a nightmare about a melancholy looking doll in her room, she is stabbed in the stomach by someone in the shadows after spending the evening with her boyfriend, discussing all the kinky ways he can tap that. Meanwhile, at some other location, Samantha has escaped! All Bond villains, step aside and let Samantha show you how to film a sinister scene! Fireplace: check. Sipping on a fine alcoholic drink: check. Plotting your revenge and vowing to do whatever it takes to someone in the room whose identity is obscured: Oh yeah, big check. But there is no need to worry. The film has more surprises hidden away.

Now at Stryker’s home, the girls get acquainted and have themselves some girl talk. You know, who would do the dirtiest thing to Stryker. This is when he makes his grand entrance and circles the table, introducing each girl with a sentence that sums up their character, like they are all henchman to his Bond villain. It’s classic. I just imagine Stryker hiding behind the door eavesdropping and getting excited as the girls discuss what they would do for him sexually to get the roll. Then quietly he does a fist pump, then psyches himself to get back in the game, practices his lines about each one of the ladies and waits for the right cue to burst into the room. It all pays off. This dude is smooth. He then tells them that acting is only half of the audition, but they need to prove they are right for the role through dedication and sacrifice, setting the precursor to reality TV shows. Damn you, Stryker!

cur_3Guess who decides to show up for dinner? That’s right, Samantha! Later that night, Christie overhears Samantha and Stryker arguing about what happened in the looney bin, but before she can make sense of it, Stryker’s Spidey-Sense tingles and he rips the door open, surprising her. He quickly feeds Christie some BS about it being a scene from an old play and then coaxes her into sleeping with him (no doubt with a promise of the role and not to speak of what she overheard) and leaving her looking smug as she spends the rest of the night crying from guilt. Told you this guy was smooth.

Maybe what Christie needs is some therapeutic ice-skating to get her mind off the previous night’s dirty deed. As Christie skates her troubles away the next morning, she sees a familiar looking doll, partially hidden away in the snow. Suddenly in slo-motion, a figure decked head to toe in black careening toward her disguised with a hag mask and armed with a sharp sickle raised in the air. This sets up one of the most iconic slasher movie scenes of all time as the killer skates after Christie (yes, SKATES) in a cat and mouse game until she is finally done in. This is one of those scenes you really have to see to experience. It’s unintentionally memorable in almost a dream quality looking shot, complete with the image of a witch like looking figure. This scene easily could have been farcical, but everything I mentioned composed together makes it frightening wide awake nightmare.

Of course this is easily written off by Stryker as he tells the other girls that a note was left under his door and she left, but the show must go on! During the auditions, Stryker places the hag mask on Samantha and demands her to seduce him! After she fails at it, he humiliates her acting and moves along in his audition. Could Stryker be the murderer since he is in possession of the mask or is that too obvious? Soon after ridiculing Patti and taunting her into giving him a convincing audition, the hag mask goes missing… You get the feeling this guy isn’t so nice? In case you aren’t sure about Stryker’s motives, how about him using Brooke in a state of hysteria after she finds Christie’s head in the toilet (which vanishes after Stryker comes in the room and nothing is found)?

As the night closes in, the body count rises. Tara is next on the list, as she dances like what can only be described as a drunk robot trying to swim in molasses. Brooke and Stryker, embracing each other as she pleads for the role, are interrupted as someone bursts through the door with a revolver, firing a few shots! Laurian is chased endlessly through a nightmare maze of bizarre set pieces and props and Patti is approached and confronted by Samantha. The killer is revealed in not so much of a shocking twist, but more of a somewhat lackluster and questionable twist that you seem to go along with.

cur_4When all is said and done, two things about Curtains is glaringly obvious. The first being the some of the plot holes, while nothing major to deter you from the film, they will leave you with questions. The killer’s motive is ultimately weak, given that not much time is spent with them, but the biggest hole being the unknown person in the room with Samantha early on in the film after she escaped. We never find out who this person is, what their relation to Samantha is or what role they play in the movie. It was so mysterious and seemed to have set up a big reveal, but this character is never seen or heard from again. I have a sneaking suspicion that somewhere out there that there is a deleted scene explaining this and unfortunately there are no deleted scenes to be found on Synapse’s newly released Blu-ray.

This doesn’t mean the movie is terrible, mind you. In fact, it’s quite good. As I said previously, these questions and holes in the plot are absolutely minor and this is actually quite a suspenseful little horror film. Although not entirely heavy on violence, there is enough to keep all blood thirsty cretins at bay with just enough sleaze added to fill in the void for those craving more gore. There is plenty of titillating scenes showing off the naked skin of our beautiful leading ladies, who all pull in solid performances, by the way. The movie is tense when it should be and during the downtime, dialogue scenes, there is plenty of treachery and filth to keep you interested, but not too much to turn you off. There is enough mystery to keep you curious and overall, it’s a damn fine experience. Curtains is comprised of quite a few memorable, vivid scenes to ever be seen in a slasher film. Who knew these things could be somewhat artistic?

Which finally brings us to the newly restored Blu-ray from Synapse. I see a lot of films restored from the original 35mm prints, but I have yet to see one that looks as defined as this. All the lines are crisp and sharp and very little grain and scratch is detected and when there is, it feels like a part of the scene. Synapse’s painstaking 2k restoration paid off beautifully and was well worth the wait. Of course, the film’s audio is presented in newly remastered 5.1 for the young blood’s or original mono for the OGs. Not pops, no hiss, it’s as clean as you get, but even if you are having trouble hearing, English subs are available. There is even an audio commentary track from actresses Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin moderated by Edwin Samuelson that focuses on the their experiences on set. It makes for a good listen as they recall stories from filming. There are two other bonus features if you are looking for something a little more on the tech side, one being a six minute vintage video called Ciupka: A Film-Maker In Transition that gives you a look at director Richard Ciupka working and interacting with the cast and crew. The other is a new 35-minute documentary that chronicles the making of the film as the cast and crew recalls their experiences. Believe me, there is enough to keep you busy. You haven’t seen Curtains until you have seen this release from Synapse.

Curtains
So even though at times Curtains can be untenable, it does take itself very seriously and that’s for the better. Solid performances, amazing set pieces, a memorable killer and an overall enjoyable film all put together and presented handsomely by Synapse. I would put Curtains up there with poutine. It’s that simple of an idea and it’s that good.

Images courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Stand up comedy plot.
  • Dirty talk.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Ice-skating of death!
  • Stryker the playa.
  • Get your head out of the toilet!
  • Samantha be cray.
  • Who done it? Ehhh.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

A lot of stabbing and slashing, but nothing to lose your head about!

5

blood

BREASTS

The film is filled with fine, sexy ladies.

8

beast

BEASTS

Among a room full of people willing to backstab each other, someone is running around in a hag mask killing them!

6.3 OVERALL
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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
dripper

Watch the entire movie!

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