Archive for the '80's movies' Category

Apr

The House by the Cemetery
1981 – Unrated – Blue Underground
Starring Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Frezza – Directed by Lucio Fulci

Finding a new home isn’t always easy. Most of the time if it seems to good to be true, it most likely is. Sometimes there is mold damage or the foundation isn’t sturdy… or sometimes there is an evil doctor turned creature living in the basement that murders people for blood and body parts. That’s usually something they keep off the record, so it isn’t until you buy the home that you have to deal with that pest yourself or hire an exterminator, as the Boyle’s find out in Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery. As the tagline says, “Read the fine print. You may have just mortgaged your life!” which is one of my favorites of all time and sets up the events that you are in store for. Of course other taglines read, “Can anyone survive the demented marauding zombies in…” and “BEWARE THE DEMON FORCES OF THE… BLOOD BEASTS,” misdirecting and implying that there is more than one monster, but I guess it wouldn’t be a Fulci film if something weren’t mildly confusing.

Like most Fulci films, The House by the Cemetery’s plot isn’t the most logical, having a few glaring holes here and there and the ending of the film making little or no sense, but not as incomprehensible as some of his other work, say Manhattan Baby. Apparently in early releases of the VHS, some of the reels are edited out of order, making the story even more confusing. This was made in the early 80’s when Fulci was really serving up some well told, nasty horror flicks, sometimes so nasty the movie would earn a well deserved spot on the Video Nasties list. Alongside City of the Living Dead and The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery is considered to be the third in his unofficial “Gates of Hell Trilogy.” Since I already discussed the film in a Goon Reviews video, (WATCH IT HERE!) why would I be talking about it again? Because it’s that good. Read on.

hbtc_2The House by the Cemetery opens up quite literally in the very definition, as we see a house that is next to a cemetery. It’s a relieving feeling, knowing you can trust the film to be true to the title, unlike some others (I’m looking at you, I Drink Your Blood). A young couple has finished using the uninhabited property as a secluded place to boink. This scene like catching the tail end of a horror movie cliche, as we don’t see the sex act, but the young girl who vomited her guts out (literally) in City of the Living Dead calls out for her boyfriend about a thousand times before finding his mutilated body nailed to a door, then getting a knife driven through the back of her skull and out her mouth. As the unseen murderer that is made up of rotting body parts, as indicated by one of his hands, I can’t help but wonder… did Pieces copy that exact same stabbing scene, or did this film rip off Pieces? With Italian filmmakers, sometimes it’s hard to tell who ripped off who.

Enter the Boyles, who are moving to this Boston home from New York City, where every Italian movie seems to center. The man of the house, Dr. Norman Boyle, is continuing the research of his colleague who was working in the house when he mysteriously murdered his mistress and committed suicide, so obviously this is the dream home to bring your wife Lucy (played by Fulci regular Catroina MacColl), who has previously heard voices and hallucinated on meds and your effeminate son, Bob, who claims a girl in one of the photos of the house has been warning his family not to come. Clearly the ideal Norman Rockwell painted family.

But first, a little disclaimer about Bob.

hbtc_3Bob is going to freak you out, thanks to the magic of dubbing. He may look like a normal child, but just wait til he starts speaking and you hear one of the oddest voice acting choices for dubbing. Bob’s voice is something of a middle aged woman who hasn’t quite reached puberty yet. It will catch you off guard.

Even with all these flashing red warnings, the Boyle’s move in anyway, giving further material for the Wayans that “white people be tripping.” Within moments of moving and establishing that Lucy might be slightly off her rocker, the babysitter, Ann, arrives, played by that creepy staring chick with the thick eyebrows that is strangely attractive from Dario Argento’s Inferno. The actress decided to reach slightly outside of her acting safe zone of staring ominously past the camera and actually have a speaking role… while staring ominously past the camera.

As if the company the Boyle’s are keeping isn’t disturbing them enough, it doesn’t take long for the house to being making all kinds of Spencer’s Gifts haunted house CD noises, with the creaking floorboards and childish crying. These sounds drive Norman to pause his research and investigate to find, to his shocking horror, Ann trying to pry open the boarded up basement door. At like, two in the morning. Huh? Why would she be doing that at an ungodly hour? Maybe she got home from the bar and still had some leftover Red Bull and vodka energy.

And the next morning, it’s brushed off like it never happened. Bob meets this ghost girl from the photo, named Mae, who is not only a ghostly figure that warns Bob of the dangers to come, but also plays hide and seek with him! Norman goes about his research, beginning to uncover the odd disappearances of the townsfolk and more about his co-worker’s death, while Lucy finds a tombstone marked Jacob Tess Freudstein in the middle of their living area. Norman assures her that all the homes in the area have them and it’s nothing to worry about. And to prove she has nothing to worry about, he finally pries that damn cellar door open, after about a bajillion false delays and the Fulci trademark “close up on the eyes of people exchanging glances” shot. Upon investigating the basement, they realize there is nothing to be afraid of down there except BAAAAAAAT! The winged rat tangles itself in Lucy’s hair and bites Norman on the hand, which Norman then dispatches by stabbing it with a pair of scissors and the bat bleeds out of several pre-cut holes.

hbtc_4Well, that’s about enough of that! The Boyle’s immediately smash cut to the real estate place demanding to be re-housed, but are unfortunately they are told it would be a few days. A few days later (I think… or later that day?) when the Boyle’s are off doing… something, the real estate lady, Mrs. Gittelson, arrives to tell them about their new crib, but the monster living in the house likes his new tenants and stabs her to death with a fireplace poker and drags her into the basement. By now you’re thinking, “A Fulci film without an eyeball gouging? What the hell!?” Well, you may notice that as Mr. Gittelson is being dragged off, one of her eye’s is torn apart. Apparently, there was a shot of her death scene in which her eye gets ripped out of its socket, but was cut because Fulci felt it didn’t look authentic enough. Man, given the caliber of effects in Italian horror films, your effect must have really sucked if Fulci wanted to pass on an eyeball gouging.

The next morning, Ann is scrubbing away at the giant bloodstain that Lucy barely questions and then shrugs off. Ann stares at Lucy, unblinking and silent, as Lucy’s questions go unanswered and all she can say afterwards is, “that girl Ann is a real weirdo.” Understatement of the year. Norman is all like, “whatevs” and glosses over some background history on their resident in the tomb, Dr. Freudstein. Apparently, he was a mad scientist of sorts. This prompts Norman to get away from his family for awhile and head back to New York City. Norman bails on his family while Lucy goes shopping, leaving Ann with the increasingly annoying Bob, who she thinks she hears crying in the basement. Ah, she fell for an old horror movie cliche! There’s no way she’ll get “a head” that way… wink!

hbtc_5Arming himself with a toy gun and a teddy bear, Bob heads into the basement to save Ann (or what’s left of her), but is saved from a monster hiding in the shadows when his mother comes home. Bob tries to tell her about Ann’s rotting corpse in their basement that’s littered with body parts, but Lucy isn’t having any of that nonsense and sends Bob to bed. But Bob, now being convinced by his mother that Ann isn’t dead, sneaks down into the basement only to be confronted by the monstrous Dr. Freudstein, who looks like a half melted, rotting corpse with fresh new limbs, which turns out that’s what he does with his victims. Norman has just discovered this and rushed home to help Lucy rescue Bob and quickly get out all this exposition, that Freudstein needs new limbs and fresh blood to stay alive (um, don’t regular people need that too?). Norman hacks off Freudstein’s fresh new arm while breaching the door with an axe and freeing Bob from the mad doctor’s clutches, reuniting them all in the basement. But rather than immediately dashing out and escaping to somewhere safe or torching the place, they stay in the basement, listening to the child like cries of the doctor (now that I think of it, why does he cry like that?). Dr. Freudstein slowly approaches the family and getting prison shanked by Norman, which he could argue was in “self defense.” However, Freudstein is a hardcore fan (and probably the only fan) of the MacGruber movie and tears out Norman’s throat, spilling gallons of blood! Lucy and Bob try to run up the stairs under the tomb, attempting to shove the heavy slab of concrete blocking their only exit.

It’s actually a well paced, tense scene. The monster slowly approaches them, making his way up the stairs and just when you think they are going to make it, Dr. Freudstein grabs Lucy’s ankles and drags her down the stairs as we hear her scream in the darkness and then silence. Bob is now all alone and orphaned as he sees Freudstein make his way back up the stairs. Bob frantically tries to push open what he and a full grown, panicky women couldn’t open and as the doctor inches his way toward Bob, within his grasps. Suddenly, a pair of tiny hands rip open the tomb with Hulk like strength and free Bob, who is revealed to be Mae. Wait, what? Apparently Mae can summon “mother saving a trapped baby” strength and not only rip open a couple hundred pound slab on concrete, but yank Bob out of there so fast that if she let go, he would have shot into the atmosphere. But the confusion only begins there. Throughout the film, Mae is accompanied by an older woman whose face we never see, until now, when it’s revealed to be Freudstein’s wife, making her at least a hundred years old… so, are they ghosts? As the kids and Mrs. Freudstein wonder off, you can’t help but to be puzzled by the ending, but it’s not going sour the experience of the movie for you.

Of all the movies that could have been named Don’t Go in the Basement, this should have been it.The House by the Cemetery, while in traditional Fulci form by not being entirely coherent, is one of his more strongly structured stories. In exchange for that, it’s also not his bloodiest or nastiest… but it is in no way tame. The film is packed with plenty of stomach turning moments of brutality and gore, that is sure to make you toss up your lunch. Something that is often overlooked in these kinds of films is the beauty of the cinematography. While it may not be as artistic as his Italian counterpart Dario Argento, Fulci’s shots in this film are often open when outdoors, sometimes feeling colorless, which leaves with the feeling of dread and becoming more claustrophobic as we go further down into the house and into the basement where the reds start to run. Right from the opening shot of the fog rolling over the graves and over to the empty, dilapidated house, you feel at unease, but there is something gorgeous about what you are looking at.

The House by the Cemetery
This film is a staple for horror fans and a pillar for Italian horror flicks. For all the fun I had nit picking a few things here and there, it’s a without a doubt pretty solid horror film with, for the most part, pretty decent acting, dreary mood and atmosphere, splattered with all kinds of guts and gore making this a must have for fanatics of the macabre cinema.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Fornicators be damned.
  • Bob.
  • Exciting and thrilling real estate!
  • Not the goddamn Batman.
  • Ann demonstrates how to lose your head.
  • This doctor makes house calls!
  • Road House-style throat rip!
  • Are they ghosts?
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

Stabbings, decapitations, guttings… it wouldn’t be a Fulci film without the pretty red stuff!

5

blood

BREASTS

Right in your face at the start, but that’s it in the boobies department. Not even cleavage afterwards.

10

beast

BEASTS

Don’t be fooled by his sissy cry, Dr. Freudstein is a beast! Is Bob’s atrociously dubbed voice a match for him? And don’t forget about large, oddly square-shaped bats!

8 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie!

trailers

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Apr

Thou Shall Not Kill... Except
1985 – Unrated – Synapse Films
Starring Robert Rickman, Sam Raimi – Directed by Josh Becker

Very few films can take two completely opposing ideas, put them together and make them work. Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except (also called Stryker’s War) is one of those films. It’s one part Vietnam War, one part Manson Family, all bottled up in one great revenge flick left on the shelf to ferment over time and it aged marvelously, fine enough for you to sip on or share with your friends. It’s wild and perhaps a bit unruly, but it never gets completely out of control. This is an interesting concept, to say the least. It’s one that easily could not have worked, but when you have the crew responsible for The Evil Dead behind it, rest assured you’re in capable hands to mix the mad and the macabre with outrageous, zany antics.

Deep in the jungles of Michigan, I mean… Vietnam, Sgt. Stryker leads his mean, the brute Sgt. Walker, the green 2nd Lt. Dave Miller and the wisecracking Lt. Cpt. Tyler and a bunch of other guys without names through hazardous enemy territory. Without warning, the soldiers are ambushed (I guess that’s why it’s called an ambush)! Most of the men are killed, except our aforementioned cast, and Stryker is shot in the leg, forever disabling him with a bum leg. He returns home to make walking with a cane look cool way before Dr. House did and to start his life over again in his secluded creep cabin, where he spends most of his time drinking whiskey with his dog… Whiskey. That is, until his high school sweetie Sally is asking her grandfather, who visits Stryker often, about him. He wants her, she wants him, but he’s too stubborn because of his injury and thinks she’s only taking pity on him. You know the story. Eventually, he gives in and goes out on a date with her and it’s like old times and the two reconnect, like they were never distant. However, Sally cuts the date short because of work (always seems like that’s the case, right fellas?) and they plan a second date. But before she can meet Stryker for that rendezvous, she and grandpa has some uninvited guests over for dinner…

tsnk_2Shortly, his rowdy friends arrive from Vietnam (who are most certainly ready for some football) and visit Stryker at his cabin. The old unit catches up by drinking some beers at a local bar and defending the bar maiden from a biker gang in what looks like a well choreographed fight scene, but not the most graceful, as the actors almost fall over their own kicks and punches that sounds like someone is smacking an empty plastic jug against a side of meat… in a can (if any of that makes sense). Then again, they just finished drinking Nick Nolte levels of alcohol and knowing this crew’s filming methods, it’s very possible that the actors were actually drunk. Once that’s done, they drink some more and pass out, then drink some more and shoot at an old shed with guns. So, basically drinking. They drink. A lot.

Stryker believes Sally is standing him up once it’s evident (unbeknownst to Stryker) that she won’t be showing up, but once his dog Whiskey goes missing, the gang splits up and searches for him and stumbling upon Sally’s uninvited dinner guests… a blood thirsty cult led by Sam Raimi in a Manson wig and carrying a pirate sword! But these folks are no laughing matter, regardless of Sam Raimi’s scenery chewing. Having taken the entire town hostage (or at least a good chunk of them), killed off the police force (the whole one guy), barbecuing poor ol’ Whiskey (insert cooking with whiskey joke here) and having kidnapped and torturing Sally, things are serious or as Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys would say, “S**t just got real!” They rally back at Stryker’s love shack and arm themselves, starting yet another militia in the state of Michigan.

tsnk_3Confronting the cult and freeing the townspeople, Stryker and his old unit go to war with the b-movie equivalent of the Manson family. Battle ensues with guns, knives, sharp sticks… literally. All sorts of things are used for weapons in the final twenty minutes, which serves as one large fight. Luckily, it never feels like it’s dragging out, mostly due to some satisfying, over the top style kills, as the cult is impaled by tree limbs, multiple garden instruments, swords or blown to bits in a satisfying manner as Stryker and his men blast these scumbags down with shotguns. Although never reaching extreme moments in gross out gore, quite a lot of blood is spilled as the unnamed cult leader played by Sam Raimi impales one of his own followers for his motorcycle to flee and quickly becoming lost in the forest maze of trees. But these are Stryker’s woods… he knows them like the back of his hand. Hell, this is his backyard and he’s going to get revenge for Sally and Whiskey!

Finally, we get to the showdown between Stryker (who I have to say that Brian Schulz plays this roll in a charming smug kind of way) and the Charles Manson/Sam Raimi amalgamation after he wrecks his hog. Like all classic hero vs. villain fights, the odds juggle back and forth with the baddie seemingly having the upper hand and tossing out a great stinger, followed by the hero’s retort and execution…

“I am Jesus Christ!”
“No you’re not… you’re dead.”

tsnk_4Several shotgun blasts to the abdomen and an impalement on a busted dirt bike later, Stryker and crew find Sally and they all drive off triumphantly into the sunrise, accompanied by a well deserved and welcoming victory fanfare.

Don’t be fooled by Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except’s low budget. This movie packs quite a fun punch. As I said earlier in the review, this is an interesting concept, a blend of two different ideas that could have easily not worked if it weren’t in the right hands, but luckily this was a brain child of Bruce Campbell and Josh Becker. Speaking of the Big Chin, he originally played Sgt. Stryker in the 40 minutes short (called Stryker’s War, included on the Synapse Blu-ray) and was cast to return to the role for the full length feature, but due to Bruce having recently joined the Screen Actor’s Guild, he was unable to participate in a non SAG movie. He did however provide help as an assistant sound editor, as well as allowed the crew to shoot on his own property. You can see how the role was originally written for Bruce, but Brian Schulz makes this his own without shadowing Bruce Campbell’s portrayal of the character. The man is just as charismatic as he is cocky. Sam Raimi easily steals the show with his cult leader character, chewing the scenery like Big League Chew in such a memorable way. And of course, Ted Raimi makes an appearance as a cult member in a mask and chains, cackling like a mad man in typical Ted-like fashion that you know and love.

Although the film was a low budget 16mm, Synapse has painfully restored it from the original prints, so everything looks crisp and clean. Sure, there are flaws here and there (mostly with the old stock footage), but what do you expect from a nearly thirty year old film shot on 16mm? I know I may be repeating myself here, but this film seriously looks beautiful. It’s amazing how well restored it is, with dirt and scratches cleaned up, lines sharpened, very few grainy scenes… it’s stunning and remarkable. One of the best looking older releases I have ever seen. And of course, the audio, also for being what it was, sounds terrific. Dialogue is well heard (which is a good thing, since there are no subtitles), but some of the sound effects, like the kicks and punches I mentioned earlier, sound a bit muffled, but it’s nothing to turn you off from the movie. In fact, the movie offers multiple viewings with two different, well informed and interesting commentaries. These are my favorite kind of commentaries too; small, low budget films with a cast and crew that reflect on it fondly. Just listening to them, you can tell they love it and had a blast doing it.

Thou Shall Not Kill... Except
So, fall in line, maggot! Grab your rifle and a copy of Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except and be ready, for The Blood Bath is coming!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • War is hell.
  • Dr. Stryker, MD.
  • Drink, fight, repeat.
  • Blood Bath, the cult movie Mansons.
  • Whiskey BBQ!
  • Lawn Dart Cop.
  • Hippie hunting!
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Shotguns rip apart hippie’s stomachs and plenty of ‘em get impaled by various instruments.

4

blood

BREASTS

Sam squeezes Sally’s bazooms, leaving bloody handprints.

8

beast

BEASTS

I would totally join this cult, as long as they had a good 401k and benefits.

6.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Though Shalt Not Kill… Except!

trailers

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Mar

Ninja Terminator
1985 – Not Rated – IFD Films and Arts
Starring Richard Harrison, Jang Lee Hwang – Directed by Godfrey Ho

Before we get into the review, let’s talk about what kind of movie Ninja Terminator is. If you’re thinking that it’s some kind of actual ninja terminator like that cyborg from Robocop 3, you’re way off. If you think it’s ninjas fighting a terminator, as awesome of an idea as that would be, it’s also incorrect, so stop guessing. It’s actually a hybrid of two different low budget movies and when I say that, I don’t mean it’s a mixed genre. Allow me to further explain.

There are all kinds of low budget film making techniques, some cheesier than others, but nothing takes the cake when it comes to Martial Arts B-Movie director Godfrey Ho. You see, Godfrey had such a cheap and quick method that it borderlines genius and schlock; To save money, he would film a small amount of new footage and later take another film he had already shot or owned, cut the two together, dub new dialogue so they tell the same story and there you go! A movie! Perhaps the best and cheesiest part about this method is the two films had little or nothing in common, but Godfrey always found a way to connect the two, usually by a telephone scene since the actors from both films obviously never meet on camera. Did it always work? Ehhh, kinda. Sometimes it can be a bit convoluted and confusing, but Ninja Terminator is pretty coherent… for the most part.

nt_2So here we are, somewhere in Asia (I think) as the evil Ninja Master of the infamous ninja empire (and you can tell he is the ninja master, because his GI is red so he blends in with… red things?), which is now evil, assembles the three parts of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue to control its awesome power. He tells his henchmen to attack him, but their swords are powerless against him, now that he harnesses the wicked power of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue. He laughs menacingly in that way only a poorly dubbed movie could pull off, “HA-HA-HA!” So you know it’s working effectively, which is fortunate for him.

One thing you may be asking yourself right now is, “Why do all the ninjas wear mascara?” And they wouldn’t answer you. They would suddenly appear behind you and spin kick you. How dare you ask such a stupid question.

However, three of the ninjas, Ninja Master Harry… yes, you heard right… Ninja Master Harry (Godfrey Ho regular Richard Harrison), Towne and Tamashi (these two guys are so obscure that even their character’s names aren’t listed on any Wiki entry or IMDB), each steal a piece of the statue and decide to keep them hidden from the evil ninja master, since he has become evil… EEEVVVIIILLL! As they flee the evil ninja fortress, they are attacked by ninjas doing cartwheels, but are easily defeated by Harry and the other two and they manage to escape.

nt_3Two years pass and Tamashi is immediately killed, which sucks because we knew his character for all of two seconds. Believing Tamashi’s sister may have his piece of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue, Towne, who is now apparently corrupt and wants the statue all to himself, hires the sinister Tiger Chan to kidnap her. Tiger dresses like Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII, in a white suit and for some odd reason, wears a woman’s blonde wig. Truly he is threatening! Also hearing of Tamashi’s passing, Harry hires the cocky Interpol agent Jaguar Wong, a man so smug that even George Clooney would tell him to tone it down, to protect her. There isn’t one scene where this guy isn’t chewing bubble gum, but dammit! He’s always kicks arse when he does! He’ll even put his hands in his pockets and kick you all over the place! Harry and Jaguar keep in contact via a Garfield telephone since they aren’t in the same movie, but still need help from each other.

Meanwhile, Towne and Harry are visited at their homes by ninjas, but these chumps are easily thwarted after our heroes jump into the air and spin and in a Sailor Moon fashion, instantly appearing in new ninja duds! Harry has a sweet tiger striped camo GI, by the way. They learn they are being targeted by the “Ninja Terminator” for their pieces of the statue. Speaking of, how’s Jaguar doing on protecting that girl?

After a couple dozen scenes of Jaguar chewing gum, smirking and drop kicking everyone (funny how none of these thugs think to bring a gun when they know they can’t beat him), turns out she was kidnapped and will be killed if the statue isn’t returned. Cut to some scenes of Harry fighting some ninjas, who have the power to teleport a couple feet. But later, Jaguar also happened to sort of kidnap Tiger’s right hand man’s girl and have sex with her where she shows off her… hairy armpits. But they once had a thing with and they want to exchange girls and get the statue, I think, but…

nt_4You know, for a plot that should be so simple, there is actually quite a lot going on and most of that is due to trying to make footage from another film fit into a ninja movie. This is where it really starts to get mixed up and can feel confusing, so fast forward past a few more scenes of Jaguar kicking people in the face, as Harry and Towne have it out with the Evil Ninja Master after they are delivered a message from a toy robot. Yes, that actually happens. Harry and Towne put aside their differences and agree to take out this threat in the final battle for total control over the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue!

Okay, so it may not be the best example of a balls to wall martial arts film, but the ninjas fighting in this is pretty cool, with the sharp and quick whip sounds with every punch and those generic ninja costumes are just so damn neat. No wire work here! This is back in the day when you had to hire actual martial artists to do your dirty work and it definitely shows. I don’t want to say that the fight choreography here is stellar, but it is pretty impressive. Richard Harrison and his awesome dad mustache kick some serious tail. This movie has everything you could want out of a ninja flick: Bad dubbing to the point where every character sounds similar, stolen music cues (I noticed the theme from A Clockwork Orange in there), exaggerated sound effects, magical abilities and at the end of it, the hero wins!

Ninja Terminator
Do I recommend the film? Absolutely. It’s not completely incoherent and it’s a lot of fun. This is the kind of movie you can watch with your buddies and have a great time. If you want to see an excellent spoof on the Godfrey Ho martial arts films, check out Ninja: The Mission Force from Ed Glazer (the show also stars The Cinema Snob’s Brad Jones). Their love for these kind of films really shine through here, from cutting in other films, the bad dubbing, even right down to the Garfield phone. Anyway, I think I’ve said too much. I must pass this along to my ninja editor so he can ninja post it. It’s the ninja code.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Richard Harrison and his dad-stache destroying ninjas!
  • Avon Ninja eyeliner.
  • Insta-change costume ninja!
  • Better hope Jaguar isn’t all outta bubble gum…
  • No problem that can’t be solved with ninja fighting.
  • Garfield phone.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Swords wiped across people’s legs and stomachs, but no blood.

4

blood

BREASTS

Who needs boobs when you have ninjas? Ah, who am I kidding? Of course you do, but the one pair in this movie is ruined when you see those hairy pits.

8

beast

BEASTS

NINJAS! Everywhere are ninjas! But, what’s up with Tiger’s wig?

5.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!”

trailers

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Mar

Strike Commando
1987 – Unrated – Flora Film
92 Minutes – Starring Reb Brown, Christopher Connelly, Alex Vitale – Directed by Bruno Mattei

A one man commando team sneaks deep into enemy lines by the orders of his snaky superior to obtain evidence of communist presence in Vietnam and personally liberating any innocent victims… sound familiar? It included scenes like his heroic escape from torture before making a cowardly radio broadcast, waving a belt fed machine gun back and forth, screaming at the top of his lungs like a banshee, all while single handedly wiping out the red threat and doing so shirtless, wearing a bandanna… That’s right, Strike Commando! What, you were thinking of another action packed movie that featured a major action star, made a boatload of money and was seen by a mainstream audience?

In case you couldn’t tell by my poor attempt at sarcasm (oh, I thought I was so good at it), the film I was actually describing is Rambo: First Blood Part II or for the laymen, Rambo II. It’s not uncommon that a popular movie is ripped off, in fact throughout the 70’s and 80’s, there was quite an increase of these “clones,” the best of ‘em brought to you by Italian cult film director, Bruno Mattei. Bruno, sometimes directing under the pseudonym Vincent Dawn, had made quite a name for himself by ripping off other popular films, such as Predator with Robowar, Dawn of the Dead with Hell of the Living Dead, Aliens with Shocking Dark and Salon Kitty with SS Girls. Now, I know the term “ripoff” can automatically turn people off from a movie, especially when it seems like these films are poor, low budget replicas, but you would be misled. Hell of the Living Dead may appear as nothing more than an inferior copy of Romero’s movie, but after the first act, if actually does its own thing. Or SS Girls, filled with disgusting, oddball characters, further exploiting the elements of the original movie it’s mocking, you really see that this is the kind of film that director’s like Quentin Tarantino are trying to make. After that mouthful, let’s look past this minor flaw and give this film a ’shot.’ Pun intended.

sc_2Deep in the jungle of the Philippines, I mean Vietnam, a team of Strike Commandos is infiltrating an enemy base to plant explosives, because… um, because. The team is led by Michael Ransom, played by the notorious blonde beefcake Reb Brown. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Reb Brown was the muscle bound, B-Movie action star of the 80’s (most commonly known to the mainstream audience as Big McLargehuge from the MST3K episode Space Mutiny) that did it better than any of the A-listers. The man would hoist a heavy machine gun in one hand, waving it all around and somehow hitting every target, all while screaming his war cry… the most throat peeling, intense scream so damn frightening that I’m convinced the bullets are not firing from his gun, but they are fleeing from Reb in terror. Anyway, after a sentry (toting an M-60 for whatever reason) spots them and raises an alarm, most of the Strike Commandos are KIA in the attack and the rest are killed in the premature explosions, ordered to be set off by Col. Radek, who has been watching from a vantage point the entire time along with Major Harriman. The Major is angered, but Col. Radek reminds him that the mission is more important than the lives of the Strike Commandos. But if you think Ransom is dead, you’re wrong… dead wrong.

As the opening credits roll, Ransom drifts down a river, somehow holding his breath all night and morning, until he is found by a local village boy who nurses him back to health in time to recreate that scene from Beyond Thunderdome where Mad Max wakes from being unconscious, only to be tied by his ankles and fall out of a hut. After speaking with an elderly Frenchman, Le Due, living with the Vietnamese, Ransom agrees to escort them to some place safe. Along the way, they find a dead soldier with a working radio, so Ransom calls his base for a rendezvous pick up and threatening vengeance simultaneously, which admittedly probably sent mixed signals.

The next day, Ransom and the villagers come across enemy fighters where everyone, including Le Due who looks like he must stink of three week old cheese left in the sun, gets in on the action. Being old and stinky, Le Due stops for a nip only to be ambushed and choked to death by a hulking Russian that in no way bears any similarities with most Dolph Lundgren characters named Jakoda. And trust me, you’ll remember that name… Upon finding Le Due’s corpse, Ransom notices a Russian star insignia that Le Due tore off in a struggle, indicating Russian presence in Vietnam.

sc_3The body count rises as Ransom mows down Commies by the dozen in his escape, but unfortunately there are too many, even for Ransom. He manages to flee the Communist Russia infested Vietnam, leaving all the villagers behind… whoops. Seeking earlier said vengeance, Ransom comes back to the US with his beans completely steamed, but Major Harriman calms him down with in a more elegant, “Yo, bro! CHILL!” But no worries, as Ransom immediately volunteers to go back and take photographic evidence of the Russian presence. I think we all know where this is leading.

Ransom returns to find all of the villagers have been wiped out. He comes across the young boy who helped nurse him at the beginning, dying, making a last request for Ransom to tell him all about Disneyland… where the popcorn grows on trees, mountains of cotton candy flourish, the chocolate malt rivers flow and a magic genie that will grant your most wonderful wish… and Reb delivers this all while crying in the most Oscar worthy clip ever put on celluloid and I mean that in the most sincere way. There is no way any actor could take these lines from this script seriously (which makes me question if Bruno Mattei and screenwriter Claudio Fragasso were aware and making a parody) and deliver it the way Reb does. My hats off to him for being able to say what he says with a straight face and shedding tears. Come to think about it, it also humanizes him more so than Rambo. During his mission, Ransom had befriended several villagers and risked his neck for them. He’s actually quite a compassionate hero when you think about it. This is Ransom’s breaking point. With a vengeful war cry, holding the deceased young boy and screaming, “JAKODA-AAAA!” at the tops of his lungs, he sets out for revenge!

After learning the whereabouts of Jakoda, Ransom shreds up some huts with an M-60, cutting the place to ribbons, but Jakoda reveals himself, unscathed and forcing Ransom to surrender by holding a hostage. That damn big heart of his! In order to force him to make a demoralizing radio broadcast, Ransom is tortured for what we can assume is weeks, maybe months, as he is whipped, electrified, does extreme yard work and locked in a cell with a rotting corpse! This scene is actually pretty dark and not easy to watch as listen to him gag, vomit and plead. In contrast, Rambo had it much easier compared to Ransom! Finally giving in, Ransom agrees to make the broadcast and PSYCHE! You think Ransom would cower and give in to your demands? Think again! Ransom escapes after pretending to make the demoralizing speech, only to make it peppy and uplifting, shouting into the mic at the top of his lungs the way Reb does and takes out the guards. I’m pretty sure it was at this moment that Reb Brown birthed the acronym BAMF.

sc_4While escaping, Ransom takes one of his captors and Jakoda’s partner, Olga, hostage and learns of betrayal and treason… Radek was working with the Russians all along! At first he doesn’t believe it, until Radek flies by in a chopper shooting at him, killing Olga. Some rescue! Making his way through the jungle, killing scumbags by the handful, he literally runs boot first into Jakoda, who wants to go head to head with Ransom. What follows is the most testosterone driven, bare knuckled fist fight of all time. You literally feel the weight and the impact of their punches and cringe in pain as the two large slabs meat smash faces! Ultimately, Ransom gets one over on Jakoda and tosses him over a waterfall to his doom… or so he thinks.

Ransom finds Radek’s base, turning it into Swiss cheese with a machine gun, but Major Harriman appears to inform him that the traitor Radek has fled. Still, it was fun to recreate that scene where Rambo shoots up Murdock’s office. But there is no hiding from Ransom forever. Now sporting a kicking yellow bandanna, Ransom tracks Radek down in his new operation and doing what he does best; crumbling the place top to bottom with a grenade launcher and wasting henchman and office furniture with a belt fed machine gun, howling at the top of his lungs! After satisfyingly blowing Radek into a thousand pieces, Jakoda appears with a new set of metal teeth (I’m guessing it was cool, because Jaws had them in a Bond film and they’re cool). After another balls out fist fight, Ransom stuffs a grenade in Jakoda’s mouth, leaving a ghostly shout of, “AMERICANSKI-III!” as he blows in half!

Holy hell, is this movie… AWESOME! The action is over the top so much so,that every bullet and every explosion feels like an intense kick to your face, forcing you to grind your teeth. Everyone actually puts in a solid performance. You downright despise Radek from the start, which makes his death that more satisfying. Jakoda is a physical and mental threat to Ransom (almost like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises) and Ransom himself is the all American muscle hero with a heart of gold that you want to root for. Reb Brown delivers one of his best performances and creates one of his best and believable characters. Reb is so buff, that even the largest of weapons look like mere peashooters in his arms and you completely buy that this guy could take down Jakoda, someone twice his size, in a fist fight.

Strike Commando
Anyone can rip off a single film and do it shot for shot (look at Carnosaur 2), but it takes a mastermind like Bruno Mattei to ripoff a film, integrate ripped off scenes from other films, add a few interesting character traits and actually throw in a few twists and somehow make it his own. As I mentioned earlier, he’s done this before, but I think Strike Commando (along with Hell of the Living Dead) is a shining example of Bruno Mattei’s work and that a ripoff can actually be somewhat original and downright entertaining and enjoyable on its own. It’s filled with action and great characters that I, like the Strike Commandos, demand justice, that you go out and find a copy of this movie… or no magical journey down the chocolate malt river at Disneyland for you, Amercanski!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Reb. Brown.
  • Ruptured ducks.
  • Rambo or Ransom?
  • Reb’s patented war cry.
  • Praise be thy explosion.
  • Head to head with Jakoda.
  • Office make over Reb style!
  • Russian dentists sure make good dentures
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Reb Brown eliminating all enemy threats with bullets, explosions and his most deadly weapon, his fists!

5

blood

BREASTS

You don’t need boobs when you have Reb Brown.

10

beast

BEASTS

Radek is slimy, Jakoda is menacing, but Ransom is all American, all butt kicking and unstoppable!

7.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!

trailers

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Mar

My Bloody Valentine
1981 – R/Unrated – Paramount
90 (R)/93 (Unrated) Minutes – Starring Neil Affleck, Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier – Directed by George Mihalka

For every season, there is a holiday and for every holiday, there is a horror film and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Yes, even the patron saint of overpriced flowers and chocolates so you can look like the world’s best boyfriend for a nanosecond has a slasher flick for his special day. Given the easily playable theme of love and romantic getaways, I’m surprised there aren’t more Valentine Day horror themed movies (the only one coming to mind at the moment is that late 90’s Scream knock off, Valentine). However, the “holiday” does have perhaps one of the earliest and better Friday the 13th clones simply known as My Bloody Valentine, one of the finer things to come out of Canada.

I mean, it’s the perfect setting for a horror film; everything is drenched in shades of red, the theme of the roses and love, hearts… it presents itself full of opportunities for some scares, so how does it play out in this film?

mbv_2The movie opens in a coal mine (there you go, that’s your connection right there… right?) as two people in miner suits, masks and overalls, seem to be alone. One of them strips to reveal that they are a blonde bombshell, which is fortunate for us, because I don’t think anyone would have wanted to see a dirty, hairy man strip down to his drawers . She tries to undress him, starting with his mask, which he rejects, but she continues her seduction anyway. Gotta say, she makes teasing a gas mask look sexy. His breathing becomes heavy and erratic, until he lifts her off the ground and slams her on a pick ax he previously stuck in the wall next to them. As she screams, a cool little animated intro drips blood as creepy music box type of melody plays over it, reminding you of the the Silent Night, Deadly Night title card.

After that, we see it’s Thursday, February 12… get it? Because it’s a Paramount film and they own Friday the 13th… Anyway, all of the men are rushing out of work at the mines to the rec center to meet their gals who are setting up for the big Valentine’s Dance. Normally, something like this wouldn’t be such a big deal to you kids with your iPads and hula hoops, but to the small town of Valentine’s Bluff, it’s the main attraction. Especially seeing as how this is the first dance in twenty years since the night Harry Warden’s killing spree.

You see, a couple of eager beaver supervisors decided to split early before checking methane levels and there was an explosion, trapping five miners down below deep in the mines. Only one man, Harry Warden was finally rescued, having eaten the other miners to survive. One year later, Harry took his revenge on the supervisors, carving out their hearts and putting them in heart shaped candy boxes, warning the townspeople for years to come to never have a dance ever again… ever! Looks like high school drama club is finally paying off.

Speaking of drama club, what would a slasher movie about Valentine’s Day be without a love triangle? TJ returns to his hometown, mostly to hang out in the corner of the room sipping a beer and smoking Marbs, after several years of being away on the west coast to find his girlfriend Sarah is now in the arms of Axel, who has the most animated lips of anyone speaking I have ever seen. It’s a classic pissing contest between these two as Sarah sits idly by moping and doing what she is told, because apparently this is the old West as two men battle for the affection of a woman.

mbv_3So you may be able to see why it’s a big deal (hey c’mon, this was before the internet… what else were they supposed to do?) about the dance. With Harry locked up in the loony bin, dear old Mabel and the gals are working around the clock to make the dance look better than it’s ever been. This means hanging up streamers and construction paper hearts and… well, that’s pretty much it. But soon, the Mayor receives a heart shaped box with a human heart inside, along with a warning to cancel the dance. It appears that Harry Warden is back!

That night as Mabel works at her laundromat, she is attacked by someone in miner gear. The next day, Chief Newby stops in to gets his pants pressed or whatever laundry business he has, when he finds Mabel stuffed inside a tumbling dryer, burnt to a crisp. Trying not to cause a panic, Newby and the Mayor announce Mabel had died from a heart attack (well, they are halfway right…). Newby calls the mental institution where Harry Warden was locked up and they just so happen to no longer have any records of him being there. Gee, what are the odds? Finally heeding the warning, the dance is cancelled, but do kids ever listen? Our group of promiscuous teens decide they are going to have a dance after all and have it at the mine, because that sounds totally safe. But soon they will learn their lesson, one by one.

Even the crotchety old bartender doesn’t want the kids having their dance, as he over hears their plans. Wanting to trick the kids using the urban legend of Harry Warden, he brilliantly sets up a scarecrow type of miner, rigged to a door that raises a pick ax upon opening. Wow, between planning this idea and executing it, this man certainly has a lot of spare time. But it’s all taken down in a matter of seconds, as he drunkenly giggles to himself testing out his gag and who should be standing there, but Harry Warden, driving his pick ax through the bottom of the bartender’s jaw, popping out one of his eyeballs in what is probably the goriest effect in the whole movie and is it satisfying. But the killing, and visceral death sequences, don’t stop there.

mbv_4Now it’s the time of the big dance, where TJ and Axel finally have it out over Sarah in a true beer drinking, chest thumping, sports fan kind of way… fist fighting. After the fight, Axel storms off, opening a beer in the most dramatic way possible and chugging it. Now that the happy mood is killed (along with a few of the party goers), a small group, including Sarah decide to go down into the mines to get their minds of that neanderthal way claiming women as property, but Harry Warden follows them down and his cover is blown when the kids come across a few dead bodies. Finding Axel, TJ devises a plan to go down into the mines to rescue Sarah, but as the Newby makes his way to the crime scene, he receives some disturbing and interesting news… there were no records of Harry Warden because he died a few years prior. So if it’s not Harry, then who is assuming his identity and carrying out his vengeance?

After Axel falls into water, seemingly drowning, TJ finds what’s left of the group as he and Sarah are now chased by Harry Warden, only it’s not Harry. After being pinned by rocks after they fall from the ceiling, it is revealed to be none other than Axel! It turns out, Axel’s father was one of the supervisors that was responsible for mine explosion and after witnessing his father being killed when he was a boy, it snapped his fragile little mind. Before being caught, Axel saws his own arm off to free himself from being trapped in the rocks, swearing to return and get his revenge! Hey, if you can saw your own arm off in an escape attempt, you deserve to get away and have revenge.

A sequel was proposed, but unfortunately never made due to poor box office results, which is a bummer seeing as how this is a really decent slasher flick. Although it’s one of the many that are considered to be a Friday the 13th “clone,” I would say it has more than enough substance and story to be considered one of the more original “clones” in Friday’s shadow, enough to stand on its own, even if it does share a lot of similarities, like the prophet of doom character, a masked killer who suffered the loss of a family member, creative and over the top kills… okay, so they are pretty similar.

My Bloody Valentine
Luckily, the most readily available version of the film is the uncut version with the deleted scenes edited back into the film. But since they all came from different sources or Lionsgate didn’t feel like putting the money into it, they aren’t remastered in HD or cleaned up too well, but if you ask me, I think it the aged look gives it a nice touch. So, remember all those graphic and spectacular special effects and kills I’ve been talking about? Yeah, those aren’t in the R rated version. I suppose I could pick on it a bit for being a Canadian film, but I have a new found soft spot for Canada… So cuddle up with the one you love and watch horny teens get murdered, because nothing else says, “I love you.”

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • A true heart breaker.
  • Hot male shower scene, a little something for the ladies.
  • Take a shot every time you notice something Candian-y.
  • Bobbing for boiled hot dogs.
  • I been working in a coal mine, going down, down. Working in a coal mine… Whew, about to slip down!
  • Give this man a hand… he escaped the long arm of the law (rimshot).
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Face boiling, pick axing, decapitating, eye gouging good time… in the unrated version.

6

blood

BREASTS

More buns that boobs, but that’s the Valentine’s gift for the ladies.

7

beast

BEASTS

Neil Affleck’s line delivery is more terrifying than Harry Warden himself.

7 OVERALL
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“Watch the trailer for “My Bloody Valentine!”

trailers

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