Archive for the '80's movies' Category

Nov

Burial Ground
“The earth shall tremble…. graves shall open…. they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nights of terror…. “Profecy of the Black Spider”

1981 – Unrated – 86 Minutes – Shriek Show
Starring Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Peter Bark – Directed by Andrea Bianchi

If there is one thing I love about Italiansploitation films (that’s Italian made exploitation films, which I’m sure you were able to figure out), it’s that they would take a preposterous idea seriously while having fun with it. Sometimes without even knowing that’s what they are doing. The producers tell them that the Dawn of the Dead movie is popular, so crank out a zombie flick as fast as you can. Someone writes a script over a lonely, drunken weekend, turns it in and the first director that says they can make it on the lowest budget wins. The gore is ramped up, a few quirky and disturbing character traits are added and the film is cast. Everything is turned up to ten. The actors take their roles very seriously and put their heart and soul into it. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to notice once these films are atrociously dubbed. The film is then haphazardly cut together in a short amount of time and released to your local grindhouse theater the next day for your viewing pleasure. Nethertheless, once those credits start rolling, you aren’t sure what the hell you just experienced, but you loved it.

I have no evidence to back this up, mind you. It’s something I’ve gathered from watching bonus features, reading stories and the overall impression I’m left with once the film is over.

Burial Ground comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Everything about this film is poorly executed, so why do I love it so much? I should hate this film by all accounts, but I don’t. It’s a film that you can’t really talk about or review without putting it under a microscope and fully analyzing it. So hunker down, this is gonna be a long review. I know what you are thinking, “Didn’t you already review a movie called Nights of Terror?” Well, no. That movie was Rats: Night of Terror. This movie’s subtitle is Nights, with an ’s’, plural, which is actually quite stupid since the film only takes place during one night. But seeing as how Night was already taken… or maybe they are being extremely technical since the opening of the film does take place on the evening before, but I don’t think they took that into consideration.

bg_2Mall Santa by day, back up ZZ Top member by night, Professor… ? (they just call him Professor or “the” Professor if they are being polite or perhaps in some cruel ironic ploy, his name actually was Professor) has just discovered the secret! A secret so secretive that it will be never be revealed what it is or even brought up by anyone again. He then wanders out to some tomb not to far from his mansion where zombies begin to rise and immediately eat him and by eat him I mean they rub identifiable lumps of gore all over their faces to mimic eating, even after his pleas that he is their friend.

First thing you are gonna notice about these zombies is that there seems to be a mix of pretty decent zombie makeup and some of the worst looking zombies you’ve seen. The makeup job can get so bad, that you can see the actors eyes and lips through the masks, even on a low quality VHS. The second thing you’ll notice is how slow they are are. And when I say slow, I mean S-L-O-O-O-O-W. Crawling doesn’t even define it. These zombies move so slow, you’ll think you’re watching a scene in slow motion. You have to wonder how they ever catch their victims to eat, but luckily we have a smorgasbord of daft idiots for them to feast on and I’m not sure where any of these people are in relation to the Professor, since it’s never really addressed (maybe as colleagues in passing, but I can’t recall). The stand out character from this group is Michael, played by Peter Bark, for a reason that will become glaringly obvious the split second he is on screen; he’s a dwarf in his mid 20’s with a bad toupee playing a ten year old. And if that isn’t creepy enough for you, he also has sexual feelings toward his mother.

Anyway, this evenly matched man to woman crew has returned after six months and what’s the first thing they do? Sex! Yeah, the film certainly knows how to maintain your attention, as you watch each of the three couples foreplay, until Michael interrupts his mother, Evelyn’s. She stands there totally nude, inquisiting the young lad about what he is doing, which I’m sure is in no way sexually confusing to the already sexually confused deviant. Without getting to far ahead of myself or psychoanalyzing the character, Evelyn seems to be sexually confused about her son as well, but it’s (surprisingly) more subtle.

The useless blonde archetype of the group, Janet, can’t help but feel that they are all in danger and wants to warn the others, but is discouraged by her lover Mark. The good ol’ ‘Prophet of Doom’. Most of these Italian films had them, even if they don’t fit into the story, like why is she suddenly getting these feelings? It’s never explained, so let’s move on to the next morning, where after some finely placed J&B Scotch product placement, we are finally giving a brief, but not open ended explanation as to why the zombies have risen.

bg_3The Professor was studying ‘the black arts’. There ya go.

And this is why all of the characters are here. This is what the Professor wanted to tell them. A simple phone call or letter would not do. Well, we needed a reason to group a bunch of dimwits together for a zombie, gut munching gore fest, so now we have one.

Now that all (and I do mean all) of the exposition is out of the way, we can move on to more exploitation! Each of the couples separate to do their own hobbies, like sketching, photography or George teaching Evelyn to fire a handgun (which, again, never comes back in the film, so take that, Chekhov’s gun!) Ultimately, all of these activities lead to heavy petting, leaving these fools to be distracted as the zombies emerge from the tomb and attack the profusely stupid and conveniently distracted couples. Janet and Mark are the first two to be attacked and although they aren’t sure what to make of the creatures, Mark intelligently states that, “Whatever they are, they aren’t human!” Thanks Mark, I wasn’t able to figure that out. As they escape, Janet runs around screaming and flailing, making Olive Oil look dignified, manages to get herself caught in a bear trap. Wait, why the hell is there a bear trap randomly placed there. Did I say bear? I mean’t nimrod trap.

Meanwhile, George is trying to seduce Evelyn, even while Michael is in the room (which I’m sure seeing random dudes grind on his mom is in no way adding to those sexual feelings toward her…). In a disturbing turn of the scene, Michael manages to gain his mother’s attention by finding a cloth, commenting that it smells like death, then showing George how to really seduce a woman as he kisses his mom’s hand all over while staring right into George’s eyes as if saying, “Yeah punk, let me show you how it’s done. I know what my mom likes!” I can’t believe I had to write that. This movie is making me feel ill.

Luckily before things go any further and turns into some weird fetish films, the zombies attack, killing George leaving Evelyn and Michael to defend themselves by throwing paint on the zombies and setting them on fire. James and Leslie, the other couple (sorry, that’s the best description I have for them) manage to save them in time, as they also previously saved Mark and Janet. They group takes shelter inside the house, with what looks like very helpful stage direction from a zombie who points for them to run in a certain direction. Finally inside with the butler and maid, Nicholas and Kathleen, they decide it’s best to check out the rest of the house to make sure it’s safe. Mark heroically volunteers defenseless Kathleen to go search the entire house by herself. Sorry lady, but we can’t spare any of these several people sitting around. After searching the house for a bit, Kathleen finds an open window to close on the second floor, but that doesn’t stop these zombies. These zombies are ninja like experts with their precise accuracy as one throws a tent spike right into her hand, pinning her in her spot and leaving them time to slowly cut off her head with a scythe, making this what could be the best zombie kill in a movie.

bg_4These zombies may look laughably stupid, but they know how to organize. Arming themselves with weapons from a nearby and conveniently placed tool shed, they march to the front door and begin smashing on it with tools. However James, who inexplicably now has a shotgun, starts blowing their heads off from an open window. Even these zombies aren’t that stupid, as after about a dozen of them have their brains reduced to mush, they begin to retreat. The group feels they are now safe for the night and Leslie heads off to find some bandages for Janet’s wounded leg, only to be jumped from a zombie outside as she passes a window, who uses a broken shard of glass to push through her brain. This calls for all the other zombies to infiltrate like a SWAT team and attack helpless Janet in a scene that feels like it goes on forever, until the others reappear and fight back.

That was pretty tense! I think everyone needs a break. As they all sit around and rest up, Michael uses this time to make a move on his mom by kissing her and groping, adding a whole new definition to breastfeeding, which she sickly seems to be going with, but snaps out of it and slaps him across the face and immediately apologizes. Yeah this kid is gonna be messed up for the rest of his life, which coincidentally isn’t too much longer. He darts off only to have his arm devoured by a zombie Leslie, who I thought had glass stabbed through her brain (but, how did she turn if she wasn’t bit?). Evelyn finds the now dead Michael and bashes zombie Leslie’s head up against a bathtub, leaking all kinds of grossly colored juices.

No time for mourning your weirdo son, lady. The zombies have made a homemade battering ram (holy moly, they are resourceful) and have broken down the door! If only they were really slow moving and weak, then maybe they would have a chance of escaping… instead the remaining survivors hide until morning when Janet spots what looks like a monk heading inside the tomb. Monks? Sure why not! I’m sure they are down right neighborly and will offer shelter and help or, as it turns out, they are zombies and kill James upon seeing him, who almost immediately rises from the dead.

So what are the qualifications for becoming a zombie in this movie? Do you or don’t you have to get bit? How long does it take? Who cares! Zombies, right?

The final three realize they are locked in the tomb’s… workshed? Yeah, why does this place have a workshed? I guess when monks and the Professor aren’t studying the black arts, they are heavy into home repair. I’m sure a workshed is in no way a setup for the final act and our remaining victim’s fate (wow, I am using a lot of sarcasm in this review). Michael returns as a zombie, with a whole new arm somehow and a nipple bite later, Janet and Mark are being surrounded and being pushed headfirst into saw blades. The movie closes on a freeze frame, telling of a “profecy” of a “nigths” and that’s not a typo on my part.

So the movie ends about as well as you thought it would. With obviously glaring typos over the survivors’ demise.

bg_5If it weren’t for the time that this movie was made, I would have sworn this is a spoof, otherwise there would be no explanation as to how bad things are in this movie. Complaints about some of the terrible and revealing makeup aside (at least during the close ups), these zombies are incredibly slow moving and weak. In order to make them a menace, the characters in this film are written to a point of stupidity so insane, that it is fiction. Nothing anyone does is something anything with a pulse would do. They stand around looking puzzled as zombies slowly shuffle toward them, then while escaping, they run head first into the undead, even though they have plenty of space to run around them. Of course, most zombie films are guilty of this, but here it’s overplayed. Thankfully, it plays for laughs and sheer entertainment. With the exception of Michael, I can’t say anything positive about the other characters. There is simply nothing to them, except to be a meal for the zombies. I’m not expecting deep character development, but literally all of these characters are the same. The guys are all faux masculine and the women just cry. In some sort of sick ironic sense, if it weren’t for Michael, there wouldn’t be any reason to watch these buffoons.

Playful jabs aside, the film isn’t horribly directed. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider it to be beautiful like a Mario Bava film or something like Fulci’s The Beyond, but mood is well established and the shots frame everything well to capture what is going on. The soundtrack is… interesting to say the least. It’s no Harry Manfredini score, but it’s odd keyboard ‘pokes’ and tense violin strings do accompany the film extremely well. And the gore. Oh yes, the gore. There is more than enough here to satisfy any like minded horror fan as these poor chumps are ripped apart and have their guts devoured, body parts torn or cut off and even the zombies themselves get their head smashed to bits. Also, I know I joked about some of the makeup looking pretty bad and it can be, but there are some good looking zombies thrown in, complete with maggot covered faces and all. And I do have to say, it’s refreshing to see zombies use some tools for a change and instead of mindlessly lumbering around, these zombies actually had something of a plan and did what they could to do it. I was often reminded of the first zombie encountered in Night of the Living Dead who uses a brick. There are very few breaks in between the carnage for you to sit back and relax, as something is always out to get you. Even the dubbing is fitting for the film. It’s as atrocious as you would expect (especially Peter Bark’s voice over) from an Italiansploitation film, yet it somehow fits into all of this.

Ever hear the phrase ’so bad it’s good?’ Well, this is what the are referring to when they say that. This is a movie that by all accounts (the special effects, acting, directing, etc.) should be a bad film, but it isn’t. Everything that is bad is what makes this film good. Laying beneath its serious demeanor is a smirk of devilish charm, a film that is (or at least it must be) self aware and having some fun with you. Underneath all the layers of cheese is a delicious blend of fun and hokiness. Burial Ground is what I consider to be the definitive example of the Italian zombie genre of the 80’s. It’s not revered as a classic in the way that George Romero’s earlier zombie flicks are, but the film is looked as a classic in terms of what to expect from an exploitation film of this genre.

Burial Ground
I really could go on forever about Burial Ground, but I think it’s easiest, and probably the best, to say you need to see it. I don’t think you can consider yourself to be a zombie fan or Italian film fan until you do.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • ZZ Top devoured.
  • Michael.
  • Sexy sexiness sex.
  • Bear trap troubles.
  • Maid decap attack.
  • Better Home and Garden, zombie edition.
  • Mother lover.
  • Home improvement, monk edition.
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Guts are eaten, heads are cut off, limbs are devoured, flesh is rotten… has the world gone mad!?

7

blood

BREASTS

Lots of nudity and sex… and the most uncomfortable breastfeeding.

5

beast

BEASTS

Slow moving, but not entirely braindead.

7.3 OVERALL
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Nov

posted by Barry Goodall | November 9, 2014 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Review by Barry Goodall

Seems you can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a dwarf in a b-movie these day….or toss a dwarf and hit a dead cat. It really depends on your upper body strength. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little people, the elves, dwarfs, those vertically-challenged and consider myself an outstanding midgetarian. I even know all the lyrics to the lollie-pop gang song and think Tom Cruise is actually quite statuesque. It only makes sense that I’d really dig the movie Troll which features not one but two midgets! It’s probably the most dwarf friendly movie since Return of the Jedi.

Troll is the story of a family that moves into an apartment where a devious troll name Torok has been co-leasing their laundry room. Torok  possesses the body of their their annoying daughter Wendy when she loses her toy ball in the basement. She starts acting like a overdosed crack head in front of her family and the parents just think she needs to ease off the Godzilla movies. They don’t realize she’s started a door-to-door campaign of turning everyone into giant avocados by stabbing them with her Green Lantern ring. Sonny Bono in his finest wife beater shirt ends up being the first victim when he gets turned into a potted plant. Then Julia Louis-Dreyfus morphs into a forrest nymph who runs around half naked in an ivy swimsuit (Jerry would be appauled.) Wendy’s brother “Harry Potter Jr.” becomes suspicious when she flings him against the wall like a rag doll. House of Slytherin may be involved until he learns from a neighbor witch, Eunice that his sister is actually a troll in disguise.

Meanwhile, Wendy becomes friends with a real dwarf, Malcolm, and invites him over for dinner to keep her company at the kid’s table. His refusal of chocolate milk confounds the parents who don’t seem to understand their daughter’s behavior or her choice in friends with mustaches. Wendy-Troll feels sorry for Malcolm who’s been dying of a bone disease and out of sympathy turns him into a frolicking Disney elf instead. Death would have been better. Meanwhile Harry Potter Jr. gets a magic spear from Eunice who has changed into a younger version of herself to go troll hunting but gets zapped into a talking tree stump instead. B-Movie violation…too many shapeshifter on the field! She tells Harry to find his sister deep inside the apartments which have now turned into a magical fairlyland.

Harry frees Wendy from an action figure display case with his Antique Roadshow spear when a giant winged troll shows up and attacks them. Torok has a change of heart and throws a steel pipe in the giant’s chest killing it instantly and helps them escape. Harry and Wendy find their parents and move from their greenhouse apartment complex to some place with fewer plants and much taller people. New Jersey probably. Turok takes a bit role in the Wolf of Wall Street and is currently living in Soho.

Troll isn’t a great movie, heck I’m not even sure you can classify it as a film but it sure grows on you. Check it out, and don’t forget to keep your Sonny Bono tree watered daily.

roadside attractions

  • Chia-pet apartment dwellers
  • Extreme Indoor plant growers
  • Epileptic seizure dancing
  • talking stumps
  • Spear-fu
  • Dwarf-fu
  • Troll puppets
  • mushroom table lamps
  • giant bean pods
  • Harry Potter copyright lawyers
totals

6

blood BLOOD
There’s about 2 quarts of the red stuff and lots of green fertilizer goo.

2

blood BREASTS
2 breasts, but only Jerry Senfield can see them.

9

beast BEASTS
plenty of icky sock puppets left over from the FX guys filming Ghoulies.
8.2 OVERALL
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Oct

NEKRomantik
“Death is just the Beginning.”

1988 – NR – 71 Minutes – Cult Epics
Starring Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt – Directed by Jorg Buttgeriet

Everyone has a fetish or a fear. Some are, to say the least, weird and that’s putting it lightly. Having sex with dead bodies? Yeah, that’s… that’s definitely weird. To center your movie around it? Yup, totally weird. So you can see why a movie called NEKRomantik, a title that implies romance with necrophilia, would be controversial. Now that I mention it, this is quite a controversial movie and rightfully so. It’s one of the few films that has earned it’s reputation and status alongside something like Salo. It’s a movie that starts with a crudely hand written warning and then on to something even more memorable…

And what better way to start off your film with an old woman pissing (talking about leaving an everlasting first impression, movie). To be fair, that’s lightly setting the tone for this film and things get a whole hell of a lot harder to watch. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband drive their car off the side of the road and die in a horrific accident. The next morning, Joe’s Cleaning Agency is called to the scene to clean up the grisly mangled bodies. Seems like something the police coroners would do, but then again this is Germany. Among these fellows is Rob, who really seems to love his job due to his ghastly obsession; necrophilia! This job allows Rob to take things from the scenes, like an organ here or there (you know, nothing that would clearly be missing…). He brings these home to add to his collection he and his girlfriend Betty have. Yes, even these two managed to find each. I wonder if there is a dating website for necrophiliacs?

nek_2While Betty baths in blood, Rob sits on the bed and plays with human organs while watching a program about overcoming phobias, which coincidentally enough does poetically tie into the film some way. While watching the program, Rob has a flashback of an older man who we assume is his father butchering his pet rabbit when he was a child. I have to admit I had trouble sitting through this scene since the rabbit was actually killed. I’m all for filmmaking, but I don’t believe an animal should have to die for your movie. This is intertwined with cuts of a man performing an autopsy on a human and I don’t know who either of them are or how or if it’s related to what’s going on or with Rob… let’s just move on. We could be here all day psychoanalyzing this film.

Luckily due to some drunk redneck taking popshots at birds with a rifle and accidentally killing a nearby gardener (and after ditching the body in a pond), Rob pulls off the ultimate score and brings home Betty their very own corpse! The two love birds rub the goopy cadaver all over, kiss it, then each other and then… oh no… why is Rob cutting a metal pipe that for some reason looks phallic like to size?! No, why are they attaching it to the dead body’s groin?! Well, at least they are safe about it. Betty slips a condom over the “instrument” and the two (or should I say three) go at it. The scene is shot with a blur effect making it dream like or almost like an outer body experience.

Ah, things seem to be going fine for the love birds and their new “toy” that they’ve hung on the wall with plates underneath to catch the dripping fluids (ew). Nothing could spoil this positive upswing. Or could it? Due to his constant tardiness and stinky overalls being left in his locker, Rob is fired from his job, but luckily he has kind, loving Betty there to emotionally support him. Once she stops straddling the corpse and reading love novels to it, she yells at Rob, calling him weak and that she doesn’t want to spend her better years with a loser. Shortly after, Rob returns home to find a note from Betty saying that she took the corpse and split. I know how you feel, man. My ex took the cat when she left. Harsh.

nek_3Rob spirals into depression and goes through all the things one goes through when they are down; heads to the theater to catch a slasher movie, kills the cat, tries to commit suicide with whiskey and pills, strangles a hooker and then defiles the corpse in a cemetery. You know, the classics. Upon being woken by a strange old man after killing the hooker, Rob decapitates the old man with a shovel, which results in a greatly grotesque effect (think Bad Taste) and after fleeing the scene, Rob realizes there is nothing left and there is only one way out as the film reaches its, dare I say, “climax”.

With the quotes around that word and given the nature of this film, I’m sure you realize what I’m talking about. But brother once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

There is an unclean feeling you’re left with after viewing NEKRomantik, which goes without saying. Rob has a pretty sick fetish that you would normally dislike a person for, but the way he is portrayed by Daktari Lorenz is more sympathetic, even when he is defiling a corpse or murdering a lady of the evening. He and Betty seem like that totally normal couple, except for, ya know, that one thing… Though the narrative and the uniquely striking way it’s shot, everything about it is like looking into something that on the surface appears normal, but there is something sad and tragic about it, even though we never truly learn what that may be.

There is quite a bit of shocking, and at time fortuitous, imagery. Perhaps even more strange about it is that it simultaneously takes you out of the moment, yet keeps you connected. As much as you want to look away, you can’t avert your gaze. You get where I’m going with this. For every negative about the film, there seems to be a positive that contradicts it. Writer/director Jorg Buttgereit found that balance between horrible and beautiful. Just about every little thing is this film is saying something about who we are as people. The scene where Rob goes to watch the slasher movie, for example. Everyone in the theater is groping their girlfriends, talking or drinking a beer while people are being tortured, sexually abused and slaughtered. Along with the entire tone of the film and what it’s about, is it saying we have become completely desensitized to sex and violence in media? Ow, my brain! Stop making me think, movie!

nek_4Of course it’s not all pretty. There are periods when the film does seem to drag during some of these scenes, but just as your about to get sick of watching it (if you haven’t already), the shot changes. Without a whole lot of dialogue in the film, your left to the imagery and what they are trying to connect to fully tell the story and some people may not be able to completely pay attention to this. It does require your full attention and once Betty leaves Rob during the second half of the film, it starts to feel like it’s beginning to drag as the story continues. This is most likely because we watch Rob literally putter around and slowly mentally deteriorate even further than he already is. The movie is only a short 71 minutes long, but it’s during this final part of the film where it feels like it’s breaking the two hour mark.

Given all the film’s content and how disgusting and morally corrupt you could claim it is, I have to say, the film is somehow beautifully artistic about it. Cult Epics has recently released NEKRomantik on Blu-ray and you certainly get a bang for your buck. Not only do you get an HD approved transfer from the original 8mm prints, but you also get a “Grindhouse” HD version taken from the 35mm theatrical print for a more gritty look, which adds that extra layer of filth to it. Make note, although it has been restored, this was an extremely low budget film, so there is still quite a bit of grain and dullness, but what do you expect? It’s not exactly IMAX here. You also get a few featurettes, including a ‘making of,’ Q & A with Jorg Buttgereit as well as an introduction to the film from him. He also provides an audio commentary to the film along with co-author Franz Rodenkirchen. Perhaps the “hottest” of all the bonus features is the never before released short Hot Love, which also includes a commentary and its very own featurette. Top it all off with the original motion picture soundtrack and you have yourself one hell of a Special Edition and since it’s limited to 10,000, you may wanna grab a copy real quick.

NEKRomantik
I know I’ve said this before, but it is more true here than it has ever been; NEKRomantik is NOT for everyone. Not even die hard horror fans. You have to be looking for a film that is beyond disgusting and sleazy, yet somehow mesmerizing. It embraces the moments of silence, only playing a fairly haunting soundtrack, depicting scenes of vile acts of weird perversion involving organs and gore, but tying it together with loneliness, the want for love and becoming completely lost in your life. Jorg Buttgereit tells an freakish and bemused story, while it may not be for everyone, those who do find an interest in it will adore it.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Road-killed.
  • Organ donors vs. organ collector.
  • Blood bathing Betty!
  • Necrophilia at it’s most artistic.
  • My baby left me for a man with no pulse.
  • Cat’s in the bag.
  • Cemetery “cream”ation.
  • Killer climax.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Blood baths, car crashes, organs, gunshots, a ghastly decapitation and a stabbing.

6

blood

BREASTS

Betty bears ‘em but under such odd circumstances.

5

beast

BEASTS

Rob is Frank Zito crossed with Peter Parker.

6 OVERALL
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trailers

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Oct

The Video Dead
“The living dead are here, and they’re lusting for blood – yours!”

1987 – R – 90 Minutes – Scream! Factory
Starring Michael St. Michaels, Thaddeus Golas, Douglas Bell – Directed by Robert Scott

Remember when everyone use to nag at you when you would come home and plop yourself in front of the boob tube that “Television will kill ya!” It’s meant quite literal in The Video Dead, an interesting little zombie flick from the 80’s. This was back when not every zombie movie had to take place after a virus had spread and it’s now a post apocalyptic world, back when zombies moaned and shambled instead of hissing and walking at a fast pace. Ah, the good ol’ days. But enough of my old man gripes, let’s see what this movie has to deliver.

Speaking of deliver, two delivery men bring an alcoholic writer (is there any other kind?) a mysterious crate, with no COD! Remember those days? When you someone would send you something and you would have to pay for it when it arrived? Gee, thanks for sending me something that I now have to pay a fee on. Anyhoo, I wonder what could be inside? The suspense is killing me and apparently the writer can’t wait either, sense he bashes the thing open with a crowbar to reveal… a weathered ol’ analog TV. Oh. Great.

vd_2But there is something strange about this TV. For starters, only one station seems to come in and it apparently only plays one scene from a low budget zombie movie, but here’s the kicker; the zombies come to life and crawl out of the TV! You think 3D is the next big thing, well think again! Although, I think this is only a gimmick and won’t last long, since these zombies seem to kill whatever they come across.

Oops! Seems those delivery drivers made a mistake and need to pick the TV back up for the senders, who happen to be the subtly named the Institute for the Studies of the Occult. I wonder what they do there, how they get their funding and what you do with your degree once you graduate. Can we see that movie instead? No, instead we see the writer, strung up in birthday decorations, dead as a doornail. Aw, nobody came to his party, poor guy.

Three months goes by, which apparently is enough time to allow a home that is the scene of an unsolved murder to be sold and the new tenants are moving in. Well, their daughter Zoe is, since her parents are still overseas. Zoe is also majoring in aerobics, which doesn’t come back into the movie in any way. I’m not being sarcastic there either. It pops up during conversation once and that’s it. Anyway, it isn’t long before something in dirty, ripped clothing is dragging a leg, scuffling toward the house. Upon entering, much to her surprise, it’s her brother Jeff. Wait, why was he dragging his leg? He doesn’t for the rest of the movie. Did someone punch his leg and cause the muscle to tense up? I’m going to assume that’s what happened otherwise this serves no purpose, other than to make you believe it was a zombie.

vd_2Jeff. How would you describe Jeff? Well, he’s your average radical 80’s kid with spiked blonde hair, tattered clothing and has a chill attitude. The actor’s performance however… oh boy. Do you remember that kid from Troll 2, the one most known for his line delivery of, “They’re eating her! And now they’re going to eat me! OH MY GAAAAAAWD!” Yeah, he gives that guy a run for his money.

The next morning, a chubby man in a cowboy hat named Joshua Daniels, who could very well double for Joe Don Baker, arrives at the house asking Jeff about the TV. Jeff thinks nothing of it and dismisses Joshua, but shortly after, the seductress on the TV begins to call out for Jeff, luring him into the attic. Now, most people would think to themselves, “Hey, didn’t someone just come around asking about a mysterious TV?” But not Jeff. He decides to bring it into his room, the dolt. And to think this idiot is a total babe magnet. The next day (still wearing the same clothes he arrived in), his neighbor April comes by to introduce herself and tells him all about the murder that occurred in his new home (umm… aren’t realtors required by law to tell you if someone has been killed in your new home?). Jeff falls for her immediately, so much so that he even takes the heat for accidentally killing a dog she watches for some rich folk. Ladies, what has your man done for you today?

That night while toking on a doobie (that’s what the kids say, right?), the seductress comes out from the TV to tease Jeff into thinking he will get “some” and then disappears back into the TV to laugh and giggle at him. Jeff, doesn’t get the hint and desperately seeks out how to get in contact with her, but before he can score a six digit phone number, someone named the Garbage Man comes from behind and slashes her throat, revealing her true, hideous identity. Jeff’s line delivery here is flawlessly executed, a nonchalant, “There’s someone in the room with you… no.” I’ve seen more emotion come from Gillian Anderson’s lips in The X-Files. The Garbage Man tells Jeff about the creatures and to put the shiny side of a mirror up against the TV, since the zombies don’t like to see themselves. Believe it or not, but Jeff almost manages to screw this up. I wouldn’t trust this kid to put his underwear on right, if he wears any.

vd_4It seems like it was all for nothing, or perhaps just poorly written as zombies devour April’s father and the maid, along with a few neighbors… while having some fun about it. Actually, I shouldn’t say devour. They sorta choke their victims to death and you rarely see them eating anyone. April takes refuge with Jeff and Zoe as Joshua reemerges and I’m going to assume this time Jeff will listen. He tells them of the terrible creatures that come out from the TV and kill everyone they encounter… you know, stuff you already know. A new bit of information is offered, however. You see, these zombies don’t die like traditional zombies by destroying their brain. These zombies can be tricked into thinking they are regular folk and be convinced they’re dead. It’s the only way to stop them. As they continue to bicker about what to do with the zombies, April gets her useless arse kidnapped, so Joshua and Jeff wait until morning (gee, don’t make it a priority or anything) to rescue you her. Oh, great. Any elderly, chubby old man and a kid who probably needs reminders how to blink are your heroes.

There is actually some good back and forth between Joshua and Jeff, as they tease each other and we get a little insight into who they are and see their more human sides, as they search for April by shouting her name as loudly as possibly. This is when the movie kinda turns goofy, almost as if they were running out of ideas, but they knew they had about thirty more minutes to pad out and that’s how it feels. Not to say they don’t make it entertaining. Jeff and Joshua hunt down the zombies, setting all kinds of traps and what happens next for an expose of gore and violence, I didn’t see coming.

The zombies are now closing in on the home where Zoe is by her lonesome self and she’s left to do the only thing she can. Remember when Joshua was talking about treating them like regular folk? Sounded stupid, right? Well guess what? It actually works. The zombies die and Zoe’s parents come to visit her in the hospital since she is all traumatized shortly after and bring her a little gift so she have something to watch.

Talk about a tonal shift in movie. This movie went from semi-hilarious with a ridiculous premise to semi-serious and dark, although it never feels like you are watching a different movie. Another thing that seems to bog it down from time to time is the pacing, most noticeably in the third act. It feels like it’s starting to drag, but never reaches a point where it feels unwatchable. The Video Dead is quite the opposite of unwatchable, actually. I picked myself up the Scream! Factory two pack with TerrorVision (is that not the most awesome double feature?) and the Blu-ray transfer presented here looks crisp and sharp… unfortunately, it makes the makeup job on some of the zombies look even more laughable than they already had. Don’t get me wrong, some of them look great, like our main zombie that is all rotted. But then there are others, like the rock-a-billy looking zombie crossed with Ryan Stiles where his appearance is something to the effect of putting Elmer’s glue all over someone’s face and painting it blue. You can even see where they should have blended it. Luckily because of the silly premise of the movie, it’s not an issue and when the film tosses blood and guts your way (or a melting, exploding zombie head), you won’t even think twice about it. Too bad the same can’t be said about the music. That short loop will get stuck in your brain, you’ll wish it were your head that was melting. The music sounds like a two note version of the Halloween theme stuck on repeat. You keep expecting in to change, but it never does. All the flaws are forgivable, since it’s low budget and the thing had to be shot on weekends whenever the cast and crew could find time off from their day jobs.

The Video Dead
While it’s not the finest example of a zombie film, it has enough cheese to keep you entertained. It’s one of those so-bad-it’s-good type of flicks and I don’t mean that in an ironic sense. There are quite a few things in the bad that make this an absurd film that you can enjoy. While it’s not quite up to Troll 2’s high standards, I would certainly put it up there. I first discovered this little gem back on VHS when I was in highschool that an ex-girlfriend just so happened to have and I’ve watched it from time to time again ever since. Thankfully, it has found it’s way to Blu-ray and is much more available. If you’re looking for something to treat yourself with and have a good time, then tune in for The Video Dead!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • TV will rot your brain or zombies will crawl out of it and kill you.
  • Jeff and Zoe, this fall on Disney Channel.
  • Joe Don Baker’s long lost brother, Joshua.
  • Dead dog walking.
  • Zombie hunters.
  • Um, I think your soundtrack is skipping.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

The zombie classics eating limbs and guts, melting heads. S’all good.

2

blood

BREASTS

If this film were missing one thing, it’s this.

6

beast

BEASTS

Unfortunately, these zombies aren’t much of threat as long as you aren’t stupid.

5 OVERALL
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Sep

Rats
“Mutants of a nuclear disaster.”

1984 – Unrated – 97 Minutes – Blue Underground
Starring Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Geretta Geretta, Massimo Vanni – Directed by Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)

I feel like rodents always get a bad rap, especially rats. They’re always seen as the filthy, diseased sewer dwelling creatures that infest and devour everything in sight, yet they are cute little animals that are pretty clean and actually quite smart. But, I suppose it’s easier to hate and fear something than it is to understand and love it, especially in horror films.

Rats not only take the focus of the 1984 Bruno Mattei film, a blend of The Road Warrior and Night of the Living Dead, but it takes the title as well. That’s how potent these furry little critters were. You could just slap their name right on your poster in big, bold font and instantly disgust your audience. It does have a subtitle, Night of Terror, but I would say it’s more along the lines of Night of the Misunderstood, Cute Animals. Probably not as titillating as the filmmakers wanted, but watch the picture and you will see what I mean.

Just a heads up, this is a film made in Italy in the early 80’s, so you’re gonna see a lot of animal cruelty.

It’s the not too distant future, an opening text crawl fills us in on what’s happening, where mankind is and how we got there:

rts_2“In the Christian year, 2015, the insensitivity of man finally triumphs and hundreds of atomic bombs devastate all five continents. Terrified by the slaughter and destruction the few survivors of the disaster seek refuge under the ground… From that moment begins the era that will come to be called “After the Bomb”, the period of the second human race… A century later several men, dissatisfied with the system imposed on them by the new humanity, choose to revolt and return to live on the surface of the Earth as their ancestors did… So, yet another human race begins, that of the new primitives… These two communities have no contact for a long period. The people still living below ground are sophisticated and despise the primitives, regarding them as savages… This story begins on the surface of the Earth in the year 255 A.B. (After the bomb)…”

Wow! Never mind some of the inaccuracies and punctuation errors in there, but that certainly is a lot of information and backstory in just the opening text. Of course, none of it really matters and the only thing you need to know is that it’s the post-apocalyptic future and people roam in gangs looking for food, which could have been established without the text, since that seemed to be the plot of every post-apocalyptic movie of the 80’s. But, nice to know they put all that thought into it, which is more than you can say for most of those films. I also love that “After the bomb” is put in parentheses at the end, like the beginning of that text crawl was so long ago and they don’t trust you to remember it.

As bopping pop/rock music plays (that I swear has been used in other Bruno Mattei films), a group of these “primitives” that look relatively well dressed, with outfits ranging from a leather biker uniform, goth, civil war and various military garbs, find an establishment to investigate. The leader of the biker gang, Kurt (basically he’s MacReady sans the silly hat), makes the decision that the group will search this hotel… or whatever it is… for some food and when finding some precooked pasta and sugar (both of which weren’t rotted), they dump it all over each other in a fit of happiness. A girl from the gang, Chocolate, gets covered in flour and mistaking racially insensitive for comedy she dances around saying, “Look at me, I’m white! I’m as white as all of you!” Seems like the most rational thing to do in a world where food is extremely scarce. During this odd celebration, they find a body that looks like it was chewed up and mutilated. They all scream and terror, staring at it, which is odd considering you think given their living situation, they have probably seen dozens of dead bodies just on the way there.

Let’s talk about this “gang” for a second. Aside from Kurt, they are all named after whatever characteristic they can visually be identified by. Like a person without any common sense would name random strangers in a crowd to keep track of who’s who. Duke is the rebellious one in like a civil war uniform, Video is called that because of his knowledge in computers, Lilith and Lucifer are supposed to be the goth ones and the most potentially insulting one of them all is Chocolate… because she is a black woman. I would almost say it’s racist, but I don’t think Bruno Mattei quite understands what being racially tolerant is, or being sensitive to one’s sexuality or religious beliefs. Check out any of his other flicks, especially Robowar to see what I mean.

rts_3Maybe this new sanctuary isn’t so safe after all. Time to split up and investigate the place finding more bodies and dozens and dozens of rats, which seem pretty harmless… for now. The real kicker here is among their findings during their search is a plant nursery with fresh vegetables and a water purifier, which is perfect for the hippie of the group, Noah. So we have clean water, fresh veggies and edible food. Not bad for just stumbling into a place and searching for ten minutes. Oh and there is also a giant functioning computer with an ominous, pre-recorded message. In any case, this sounds dangerous, so they burn the bodies just in case they are also in a ripoff of John Carpenter’s The Thing.

As the gang settles in for the night, masses of rats begin to gather around and I have to say, it’s quite cute! You know what isn’t cute? Watching a hairy dude in a ponytail named Lucifer non discreetly plow Lilith under a sleeping bag with the whole gang watching, who were apparently annoyed by it. So why did they let this happen until one of the gang members, Taurus, throws a boot at them? The answer doesn’t and wouldn’t matter, but Kurt tells them to go someplace else. The porking continues and even Lilith grows tired of this and tells Lucifer she needs a break. Since his manhood was questioned, he storms off and happens upon some liquor to get drunk and act like a total buffoon.

With all these characters being alone and falling asleep, now is a perfect time for the rats to strike! They start coming through the water purification system and contaminating that and attacking Noah. Lucifer gets himself eaten, butt first, which is actually quite fitting for him and Lilith is devoured in her sleeping bag. As she screams, she wakes up the rest of the group who arm themselves with flamethrowers and shotguns and run off to investigate. After they find Lilith’s body, with a rat that climbs out of her mouth, Noah jumps from around from the corner, half eaten and screaming to high heaven. Kurt roasts the hippie to spare him or to torture him, since the poor guy runs around on fire until Duke, the rebel of the group, pumps a shotgun round into him. Good to know they look out for one another.

This place seems to be more trouble than it’s worth, so time to blow this popsicle stand! Well, they would except the rats have sabotaged their bikes! Yes, the rats knew that this was their only means of escape and have prevented them from leaving! This is all (somehow) Kurt’s fault… at least according to Duke, who now begins the rivalry shift in the movie. Duke challenges Kurt’s authority, but it’s nothing more than a weak pissing contest, as the group decides to do what they did in Night of the Living Dead and board themselves inside and barricade the place up nice and tight. Well, except for the one HUGE open window that one of girls, Diana, happens to be standing under as a stage hand dumps a box of rats all over her, who look scared and confused as she shrieks to the point of making your ears bleed. Chocolate informs everyone that without clean water for her wounds, Diana could die from infection. I don’t know how Chocolate knows that for sure, but it’s the closest thing we have to making this plot move along, so off to the basement to get to that purifier!

Kurt along with the rest of the men, minus Duke who stays behind to watch things, head down into the basement to get some water, however, the purifier is flooded with rats and Kurt’s flamethrower jams! To make matters worse, Duke refuses to open the door, just as dozens of rubber rats on a treadmill charge them, until Chocolate forces Duke to open the door, resulting in… well nothing really. Kurt just threatens him and kicks him in the nards, but then they all just start looking for a means to escape or shelter. I dunno, sometimes with all the stupid going on, it can be hard to keep track. Tensions run high as the group fights, er… scream and tip toe around rats and Duke takes one of the girl hostage and demands control of the group! Great, just what we needed at a time like this! Luckily, the idiot blows himself up with a grenade trying to blow up rats. Next time I have a rodent problem, I think I will try this method. Seems effective.

rts_4With Duke no longer causing any problems, the remaining members of the gang can focus on what they were originally doing: Running around and screaming while getting rats dumped on them, as the rats break down a barricaded door. Yes, rats manage to beat down an enforced door. Who knew? The gang dwindles down one at a time, just as mysterious men in gas masks and yellow hazmat suits appear and fumigate the streets. Who are they and what do they want? The answer will simply shock you… with laughter! Every minute of this film has boiled down to one of the most outlandish, preposterous ending of all time, because why the hell not?!

In the age when Italy was ripping off zombie movies left and right, at least this one substituted zombies with rats and put it in a post apocalyptic setting. Sure, most of the time the characters were just trudging around, doing stupid things because the script called for it or shrieking at the top of their lungs nonstop to the point where I wanted to punch the closest living thing to me, but Ratsdoes have a few things going for it. Like… um, give me a second to think of one… oh! Like when rats literally explode out of a guys stomach like an air cannon! That was awesome. Oh and before that, he stands up like a zombie, so all I could picture was all the rats inside him controlling him like a giant robot. Aside from that, the rats just nibble at people, so don’t expect your average Bruno Mattei gorefest. Speaking of the rats themselves, you may have noticed at some point that at times they look an awful lot like painted guinea pigs. Or that’s the rumor according to Bruno. I’m going to assume (if it were true) because painting guinea pigs was cheaper than buying rats, but who knows. All I know is I feel bad for the poor critters getting kicked around.

For a Bruno Mattei film, this one is pretty comprehensible instead of his usual nearly idiotic, impossible to follow films, but it still has an ensemble of some of the dumbest characters cinema has to offer. Everything uttered out of their stupid suck holes, every lame brain decision they make… why? Why would a person realistically or rationally do that? They wouldn’t. But that’s a Mattei flick for you. If you can’t write something to make sense, just make your characters dumber than a box of off brand vanilla wafers.

And you know, for the life of me, I can’t believe I haven’t noticed before, but after hearing this soundtrack I’m fairly certain Bruno Mattei didn’t know how to use the proper music at the right moments. Well, for the most part. The film does have a moody synth track that plays well and is kinda creepy, but that bopping drum and keyboard tune is out of place every time.

However, it’s all worth it to see that ending. I know you can power through all the stupid. You can watch these nimrods make the most nonsensical decisions and say the dumbest things. I promise you it will pay off. Hell I admit it. I like this movie a whole lot.

Rats
Well, I can at least say this; it’s one of Bruno Mattei’s more watchable films. So, there’s that. That’s a good thing.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • In the years 2000!
  • The cutest killer creatures of all time!
  • Step forward and be named by your stereotype.
  • Sleeping bag salsa!
  • Conveyer belt o’ rats.
  • To roast ‘em or walk right through ‘em? That is the question.
  • Guinea pigs or rats?
  • That ending though…
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Mostly devoured flesh and a geyser of gut rats!

5

blood

BREASTS

Lilith goes full frontal and Lucifer shows off his lil’ devil.

2

beast

BEASTS

They are so cute!

4.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie… in Italian!

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