Archive for the 'B-movie Reviews' Category

Jan

Comments Off on Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker
“He’s Home… But He’s Not Alone.”

1991 – R – 90 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring William Thorne, Mickey Rooney, Jane Higginson – Directed by Martin Kitrosser

Let’s take a moment to consider what Christmas is really about; toys. The newest and coolest toys. If you don’t have the latest and greatest toys, then you suck, you’re dead to me. Get better toys. Much like video stores, the mom and pop toy stores were run out of business for not carrying the ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ or the latest Pokeman’s. It’s all big business now and they lack any heart. It’s the little guy who knows your kid’s name and will leave him killer toys anonymously at your doorstep, then head back to his filthy apartment to beat his kid. At least this is the case in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker stars Mickey Rooney, a well known actor who wrote a letter of disgust in protest against the original film stating that the “scum” who made the movie should be “run out of town.” That is until he needed a paycheck. Change of heart suddenly, Mickey? It also stars a bunch of other people that aren’t worth noting, so does this make it a bad film? Nah, it’s alright.

Like EVERY Christmas-horror movie, some kid named Derek is watching their mom going at it like a pony out to stud, but for a change of pace, it’s not with Santa Claus this time. His peeping tom time is interrupted by the doorbell, which to his surprise when he answers, is a gift for him. Before he can open it, his dad, a very shirtless and hairy man, sends him off to bed for opening the door so late by himself! After all, what if it were a killer Santa? Feeling greedy, he opens the gift to find a musical orb painted up like Santa. It’s charming, until he literally flips the kill switch on the thing, which proceeds to strangle the gangly, hairy man as he falls on a fireplace poker. Double kill!

sndn5_2Two weeks pass and Derek hasn’t spoken a word. His mother, Sarah, on the other hand, is annoyed that Derek hasn’t moved on. She is on vacation mode while this kid does odd things like squish his eggs at breakfast, for which she smacks him around a bit. Geez kid, your father was brutally murdered in front of you by a Christmas toy, get over it! But if there is one thing to get a child’s mind off a witnessed homicide, it’s a brand new toy. Sarah takes him down to Petto’s Toy Store run by Joe Petto (played by the aforementioned Mickey Rooney) and the odd Pino. Pino is the type of odd that makes you feel uncomfortable in daylight… in public. Pino offers Derek the hottest toy they have to offer, Larry the Larvae! That’s right, all the kids are clamoring for the latest, hideous looking and sounding insect toy. All this time, some guy named Noah disguised as Kyle Reese has been following Sarah and creeping around Petto’s store. Who on Earth could he possibly be? For one thing, he’s the world’s biggest (and most likely only) Larry the Larvae enthusiast, cause he scoops that hunk of plastic up after Derek and Sarah leave and he seems to be in a rush. I can tell ya, he’s not in any rush to pay his rent at the local seedy motel he’s staying at, wherein his room is littered with toys from Joe’s shop. The landlord (or whoever runs motels) shows up demanding money or Noah will be evicted and manages to talk the landlord into taking the Larry the Larvae toy until he can get him his money. Wow, this thing must’ve been a hot commodity! It’s worth more than a handful of them Beanie Babies!

Such a hot commodity that the landlord needs to play with it and take it out of the packaging while driving at unsafe speeds. First of all, who takes their child’s toy out of the package to give to them and secondly, why in the car? The guy is barely paying attention to the road that his death is unavoidable at this point. Larry the Larvae acts in natural selection’s place and crawl into his mouth, sucking in his eyes as he inevitably crashes his car and being early 90’s movie law, the car explodes! All this guy wants for Christmas is his two front eyes!

sndn4_3Maybe taking Derek to see Santa will help him out (with another anonymous present to be found on their way out), even if Santa turns out to be a creep, since it’s Noah in disguise. What are the odds he happens to be a mall Santa, spotted them in line and talked Ricky (Clint Howard reprising his role, but not the same role) into giving him his shift? The stars must be aligning.

While all of that was going on, Pino is breaking into Sarah’s home with a key he keeps hidden under a brick with the writing, “Pino ’75”. Wow, it’s a good thing those locks haven’t been changed nearly twenty years. Wait, why is his name dated from that long ago? I’m getting ahead of myself and that question will be answered, but Derek and Sarah arrive home early thanks to Santa Creep and Pino bolts from there, scaring Sarah half to death. She immediately storms down to Petto’s Toy Store and demands answers and that answer is… they use to live there. That’s it. Still, it feels like there is something more to it…

That night, Sarah decides to let Derek open the mystery gift, thinking it’s from her friend Kim and to answer your question, yes the same Kim from Silent Night, Deadly Night 4! She has apparently adopted Lonnie and they both seem to have forgotten all about the crazy bug cult, kidnapping and spontaneous combustion and now live in a town with killer toys. As Kim is distracting Sarah, Derek takes the present out to the trash since the last time he had a gift left on his doorstep, it didn’t turn out so well. Lonnie happens upon this discarded present and opens it up to find himself a brand new pair of rollerblades! But these rollerblades were secretly rocket powered, enabling Lonnie to go at uncontrollable speeds of about 5 miles per hour! He smacks right into a car, which I’m sure he could have done faster by going down a slight incline, and ends up mummy wrapped in the hospital.

Back at Petto’s place, he does his typical dad stuff, like gets drunk and starts wailing on Pino, who it turns out is much stronger than he looks and accidentally tosses Joe right down the stairs.

Sarah heads off to visit Kim and Lonnie in the hospital, leaving Derek to a pair of promiscuous baby sitters. Just this kid’s luck. You remember what happened the last time this kid heard people going at it? As odds would have it, it happens again. Joe appears dressed as Santa and drops off a sack full of deadly toys for a (what seems to be) heavily cut gore buffet! He uses this opportunity to snatch up Derek and flee the scene, cause nobody would be able to connect who left all these toys from a specific store in the middle of a bloodbath.

sndn5_4Meanwhile, the connection between Noah and Sarah is revealed; he left for the military, they were dating and that he is actually Derek’s real father. Wow, that’s a lot of unnecessary and predictable exposition. But we can’t move on the the finale yet, there is more. Noah explains what he was doing with all the toys; making sure they weren’t boobytrapped! That’s right and there’s more. Turns out, Joe was arrested for boobytrapping some toys in the past after his pregnant wife died in an accident. That explains that, but then who is Pino?

And we do find out in an eye popping moment when Pino reveals he is actually a robot built by his father! He strips his costume right off and resembles a Ken doll, full size and come to life… and just as smooth, if you catch my drift. Turns out he grew quite an affection for Sarah and wants to kill her son to replace him. He expresses this by lifting up her legs and dry humping her, making for a very merry Christmas, I’m sure.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 not only (kinda) brings back the killer Santa gig, but also goes back to the series more exploitation roots, opting more for bizarre and disturbing sci-fi that was popular during the early 90’s rather than the then not so popular slasher elements. As you may have noticed, the plot for a type of film like this seems needlessly complicated, but I assure you, it’s not. Everything is explained in a couple lines of dialogue and they move on. Earlier I stated that this film stars nobody at the expense of a joke, but that is underselling it. Everyone actually puts in a fine performance, especially the actor playing Derek, who barely has any dialogue throughout the film and even Noah resembles somewhat of an almost as talented Stephen Dorff. Pino is downright creepy and when his true nature is revealed, you look back and realize he was kind of robotic in hindsight. Come to think of the casting, you have to assume casting Mickey Rooney and putting him in a Santa costume as a killer was intentional. Also, the Pinocchio nod with Joe Petto and Pino and Pino being a toy created by Joe was a very cool, dark twist on a fairy tale.

I can’t help but shake the feeling the MPAA wanted this one cut down, as there seems to be quick cuts away from gore, which is a shame since it’s done quite well. Yeah, this film has more blood than the previous two, but less ickiness than Initiation. The onslaught scene of the toys massacring the babysitters is outstandingly bloody and perhaps a bit comical.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker
The film certainly captures the holiday spirit (you know, decorations, Santa and murder) much better than Initiation and doesn’t feel like the title was a last minute inclusion, but rather it’s part of an anthology series with the same theme. I found it to be a lot of fun from the concept, right down to the performances, you will have a jolly ol’ time. It made me wanting for a sixth installment, but what we got instead was a less than mediocre, copy and paste modern day slasher. Maybe we will take a look at that next year.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Don’t open till Christmas… or else.
  • Killer toys.
  • Keep your eye on that toy!
  • Drunk Mickey Rooney dressed as Santa and smacking people around.
  • Battle of the bedroom.
  • Robo-Pino.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a whole lotta red.

4

blood

BREASTS

Two pair are better than one.

7

beast

BEASTS

Drunken Mickey Rooney with an army of killer toys and a creepy, perverted robot kid!

5.6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer!

trailers

dripper
Dec

Comments Off on Bermuda Tentacles

Bermuda Tentacles
One of the reasons I love horror movies is that you can pretty much turn any scenario into a horror one. Bought a creepy doll at a second hand store? Boom. Haunted murder doll. Fixed up a car from a salvage yard? Boom. Haunted murder car. Got that house cheap on the market? Boom. Haunted murder house. You know, I’m starting to see a trend there. So let’s go a little more extreme, shall we? Flying the President of the United States to a summit meeting in who-cares-ville? Throw in the Bermuda Triangle, tentacles, and Linda Hamilton and you got yourself a genuine SyFy flick!

Oh you read that right, folks, the Bermuda Triangle, tentacles, and Linda Hamilton. So our scenario goes by the numbers; President’s plane goes down, some rouge-ish type soldiers are called in to rescue him and tentacles attack. But wait! There’s more! Let’s add a submarine that pilots like an airplane for some reason, plus a boneyard of planes and ships and all the bad CGI you can handle. There you have it, your very own terrible movie. No easy payment plan needed.

bt_2So after our opening scene and the entire setup, which is honestly so badly scripted I wonder if the writers were every sober, we get to meet our cast. Enter soldiers one through six and Linda Hamilton. Seriously. You’re not going to remember their names. I tried! But all I could think was, “Wow. I don’t care about a single one of you.” Linda Hamilton’s character gives us the short and also badly scripted set of orders to rescue the president. But oh, no! Translucent tentacles reach up from the depths of what looks like San Francisco Bay to terrorize the ships that have come to aid!

What’s truly entertaining about this nondescript monster is how it changes it’s mode of attack from full on impalement to dragging folks around by their ankles. But what’s even more entertaining than watching that is watching the soldiers aboard the ships try to fight it. I know folks work on a budget and all, but maybe you could demonstrate what it looks like to fire a real weapon. The actors and extras stand there shaking their obvious airsoft guns like they’re trying to get a stubborn picture off an etch-a-sketch! Not to mention the entire crew is on a battle carrier with cannons and they all stand on the side of the boat with guns. Logic!

Well now that we’ve heard about these “Sea worms” from a marine biologist. Cause, you know, every naval fleet has at least one or two of those in their emergency kit. We finally get to watch the cast do their best impressions of the original Star Trek show by fumbling around a small set whilst piloting some top secret submarine to go and fetch the leader of the free world, who conveniently is in a life support pod that has been sucked to some impossible number of feet below the surface. Why the President’s pod can traverse these depths with no issue while a billion dollar submersible has more trouble than Jean Claude Van Damme faking a country accent is a question I’d like answered.

bt_3After a sequence that lasts way too long we finally get to the set piece that ate up most of the budget: the inside of some underwater cavern littered with remnants of sunken ships and planes. Funny how that place looks just like the airplane graveyard that the Mythbusters used to go to acquire parts. While soldiers 1-6 try to find the fallen President we go back to the surface for more exposition, Linda Hamilton, who apparently ran from the Terminator so hard she wound up in a SyFy flick, gets news that the “sea worms” are attached to a bigger creature and are actually just tentacles. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming. Yeah. Thought so.

Back underwater, we get more surprises that don’t surprise. More tentacle attacks! More gun shaking! Oh, hey, they found the President. But what’s this? It’s not an underwater cave after all? Well what could it be? You guessed it folks: Aliens! Which for some reason has laid dormant this entire time trying to repair itself and has just finished those pesky malfunctions right as the soldiers are trying to rescue the Chief of Staff. Don’t that beat all? Quick! Back to the bad CGI sub and into another overly extended sequence. While I am not an expert in marine terminology, I’m fairly certain most of the dialogue that takes place during this sequence was either made up or taken from Airplane.

bt_4Back to the surface to do battle with the fully repaired alien ship! Trust me folks, if you’ve made it this far into the movie you’re a trooper and deserve to laugh at the final scene of this flick. No spoilers here! Oh SyFy, you brilliantly bad movie factory, you. I’m never disappointed when I need to watch bad CGI, horrible scripted scenes and actors or actresses that are in dire need of a paycheck. This movie is another gem that is ripe for a drinking game or a sequel. Either way, I’ll be watching for both. Thanks for reading! And as always, stay tuned.

roadside attractions

  • Shells. No shells. Shells.
  • Leftover props from Megashark.
  • Leftover actors from Megashark.
  • Leftover Submarine cockpit from Megashark.
  • Leftovers.
  • Extras that die twice.
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

CGI and bad effects make it almost comedic.

0

blood

BREASTS

It’s made for TV. Even cursing isn’t allowed.

4

beast

BEASTS

Recycled animations and unoriginal ideas.

2.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer forTucker and Dale Vs. Evil

trailers

dripper
Dec

Comments Off on Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
“And if I die before I wake, thank you.”

1990 – R – 86 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Maud Adams – Directed by Brian Yuzna

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas, isn’t it? Unless you are reading this any other time than December, anyway, but there is always a cheerful holiday flick to get you in the spirit. Take the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise for example, a film series that derailed so sharply and quickly, I think it gave me whiplash. Would it surprise you that the fourth installment has literally nothing to do with Christmas? Well, it takes place at Christmas, but that’s where any relation to previous entries or even the Christmas holiday stops. It’s like they had a script to a horror film and weren’t sure how to market it, then realized they owned the rights to this series, made some last minute changes, stapled Silent Night, Deadly Night to it and there ya go… Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation.

Somebody filmed Clint Howard going about his day, covered in his own ofal and eating hamburgers covered in ants that he found on the ground and decided to make a movie. As he is enjoying his meal, a woman cosplaying as the Human Torch falls from a building and splats on the sidewalk. The news seems to write this off as “spontaneous combustion,” because apparently that is a thing. However, eager junior reporter Kim thinks there’s more to it when she catches the news while her boyfriend, Hank, is making sweaty and what looks to be extremely humid sex to her. She wants to report the story, but her boss’ club clearly has a ‘no girls allowed’ sign, but after talking with her co-worker Janice (who’s only excuse for the way men act in this film is, “boys will be boys”) Kim decides to do it anyway.

sndn4_2Everyone wants to seem to write this off as a suicide, which seems like overkill if you are already on fire, but that doesn’t fool Kim. She heads down to the bookstore where she checks out a book, Initiation of the Virgin Goddess and befriends Fima, a suspicious old woman who gets a crystal wind chime sound every time she glances at someone suspiciously… which is constantly. Fima offers Kim a snack that looks like a date, but is something more sinister, as noted by the previously mentioned not-so-subtle music cue. Not a very subtle approach to the true nature of the character. Next on Kim’s to-do-list is check out the roof where the woman had jumped. She climbs to the ledge and seems to be in some kind of trance, when Ricky comes out of nowhere and yanks goopy, giant arm sized maggot out from a vent and shows it to Kim as if he is saying, “Look at what the special effects guys made! It may not make sense, but it looks cool!” End scene. I’m sure it will make sense somewhere.

Kim gets home and things totally begin to ‘bug’ out as her apartment is now crawling with cockroaches. She flips threw her recently checked out book and comes across a symbol of women’s power, which her spaghetti has somehow taken the shape of! What could this mean? Is the flying spaghetti monster real? No time to think about it, she’s running late for dinner at Hank’s parent house, where his father berates her for being Jewish, further proving that all men think very little of women (in this movie). Hank tries to apologize to her by groping her outside, but she doesn’t take it and heads home where more illusions and bugs are happening. Kim passes out from the weirdness (and you might be as well), but is woken up the next day by Janice just in time to make it to the creepy picnic where she meets two of Fima’s friends. They drink wine and act suspiciously like they are in some kind of cult as Kim is passing out. Hank arrives and picks her up from work, which she had ditched to go to this picnic. Priorities, Kim, priorities.

Kim and Hank check out the spot where the woman on fire commited suicide or whatever and find a recently drawn symbol that is starting to look familiar, so Kim takes off to Fima’s apartment for some tea. So this is the second time she has blown of a story she is supposedly interested in? And she wonders why her boss won’t give her an assignment. As Fima tells Kim that she reminds her of her daughter Lilith, Kim starts to get drowsy. Fima is now demanding Kim eat another date, making her the most aggressive date saleswoman ever.

sndn4_3Kim wakes up to what can only be described as a fever dream, where Fima and her friends strip Kim of her clothes, paint some symbols on her and slice a rat open over her as Ricky places the giant maggot on her stomach from earlier, which begins to bore into her stomach. Weird, I get the same dreams whenever I eat Arby’s. Kim awakens again in Fima’s apartment and leaves, but that dream must have got her feeling frisky as she starts having the intercourse with Hank once she gets home. Ricky enters the apartment and begins watching Silent Night, Deadly Night 3

…Wait, what? Nevermind.

Hank finally notices that some weirdo is in the room watching a crappy horror movie and is stabbed to death by Ricky, just as Janice is calling and Kim answers. Typical woman on the phone while her boyfriend is being murdered. Sheesh. Ricky manages to capture Kim just as Janice is arriving, but in a shocking twist, Janice scolds Ricky for making a mess of the situation, revealing she is part of that cult! Kim, having passed out AGAIN is now waking up surrounded by the cult only to have a sweaty, doughy, hairy Clint Howard wearing a mask from A Clockwork Orange and thrusting at the camera. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Another hallucination and another passing out later, Kim is officially part of the club! Hooray? After chatting with Fima at the bookstore, we learn that woman who died at the beginning was Lilith, Fima’s daughter, who wasn’t strong enough. Strong enough for what, I don’t know. They never really get into what this cult’s ultimate plan is. Maybe it’s to get Clint Howard laid, in which case, mission accomplished. Anywho, Kim has now taken the place of Lilith and must sacrifice a man or else she will be set ablaze too. Always read the fine print when you join a cult.

sndn4_4So the plan is a Christmas kidnapping (hey, there’s the tie in to the series) of Hank’s little brother Lonnie, which goes pretty smoothly actually (after Ricky murders his parents, of course), where he is to be sacrificed on the roof, should Kim fulfill her destiny. Or do you think she will kill Fiona and Ricky, thus adopting Lonnie and appearing briefly in the sequel?

At the end of the movie, you will slump back in your sofa with a nearly permanent dumbfound expression on your face and think, “What the hell did that have to do with Christmas?” and “How did this series get so far away from what made the original so great?” I get that they wanted to do something different, but that’s not always a good thing, especially when the movie isn’t even relatable to neither the series or a certain holiday it’s supposed to take place during. It’s really mind boggling that someone felt that a sequel to Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 needed to be rushed immediately, saw this script and thought, “Perfect!” The characters are so one dimensional, that it makes comic strip characters seem full of life. Everyone seems to be playing a harsh stereotype of something, whether it’s how chauvinistic men can be or the powerful witchy women, it seems like someone had a single view on how people are represented and rolled with it. They make the Punch-Out games look subtle in their stereotyping. Not all is bad though, I mean, the practical effects are pretty good, but you get good stuff when it’s a Brian Yuzna film with Screaming Mad George effects. It’s goopy and gross and it’s sure to capture the holiday spirit.

As far as the Silent Night, Deadly Night series goes, Initiation is by far the most detached, having dropped the whole killer Santa angle. After Part 2, for whatever reason, the films become more Sci-Fi influenced, which is a really bizarre decision for Christmas themed movies. They most likely wanted to try something different, a new spin on something old, but if there is anything the slasher genre should have learned, it’s that you should never stray away from the formula. In this case though, I don’t think it would matter. Even if you take it out of the franchise and look at it as its own film, Initiation really isn’t that interesting and it should be, most likely due to the flat feeling I’ve continuously mentioned. Aside from the few gross out moments that are intentionally thrown at you for the sake of being gross, there is nothing of value or entertaining to watch.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
If there is anything Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation has taught me, it’s that men are chauvinistic pigs and women are mystical cult witches with super powers. Can’t trust anyone. Anyway, with giant maggots, women on fire and a sweaty, naked Clint Howard, I say Merry Christmas!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Burger time.
  • Spontaneous combustion-a-cide .
  • It’s a maggot miracle.
  • Witchy women.
  • Clint Howard put out to stud.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

People set of fire, stabbed and gross, icky bugs.

4

blood

BREASTS

Two turtle doves.

2

beast

BEASTS

Clint Howard having sex in a mask.

3.6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer!

trailers

dripper
Dec

Comments Off on It Lives Again

Its still alive

Expectant parents everywhere should breath a sigh of relief. Sure, you’ve been worried your kid will come out purple with a cone-shaped head or be dumber than that uncle that jumped off his roof, but that’s only natural. Maybe your family tree really doesn’t fork much. Despite all the things, you probably won’t have to worry that your newborn will eat the nursing staff or go on a murderous rampage across the city. But that’s exactly the type of thing that happens in a Larry Cohen film and with the sequel to “It’s Alive”. He shows us once again just how important prenatal vitamins are.

In “It Lives Again”, Baby Davies is no longer the only mutant kid on the block. Another expectant couple, Eugene and Jody Scott, are about to give birth to a killer toddler and the government is out to stop it. Pro-lifers/choicers, start your writing campaigns. Terrible tykes are popping out everywhere and Frank Davis (John P. Ryan) is hoping to save a few, especially after shot-gunning his own in the sewer a few years back. Creepy Frank crashes their baby shower and arranges to have a mobile baby delivery truck pick them up. Unfortunately, Jody goes into labor early so Frank has to kidnap them at the hospital and take a doctor hostage along for the ride. Just think of the medical bills. While in a car chase, Jody gives birth and the mutant slices up the interns just before they can get it caged it up. Somehow they switch cars and Eugene sneaks the baby out to a isolated retreat to meet up with some other mutants kids in the basement. Maybe they can start a band. It’s been a stressful week so Eugene takes a dip in the pool and gets attacked by a escaped baby mutant who latches onto his neck. It’s like a club med for the deformed.

It's Still alive

The cops find the hideout from a giant tracking device that they put in the mom’s purse and all the babies bust free tearing across the hillside and ruining a perfectly good birthday party. Necks are torn out, faces are gouged and presents are ruined which is all pretty typical for a kids party. The cops kill most of them, but the Scott’s baby escapes into the woods. Jody and Eugene hangout at a hotel and hope to lure their own kid back to teach it about letters, using the potty and not ripping out people’s throats when it has had “mad” feelings. Lessons plans don’t go well when it shows up and they have to shoot it instead. Homeschooling class dismissed.

As far as killer mutant baby movies go, this is one of the better ones. Check it out but keep your baby monitor set to stun. Also, don’t forget to also see the equally gruesome “Island of Alive”, a great film when you need your mutant baby movie to have a more “tropical” flavor.

roadside attractions

  • 9 dead bodies.
  • Neck chomping.
  • Face eating.
  • Extended car chase with roadblock action.
  • Loitering cops.
  • Incubator prison cell.
  • Mutant pool frolicing.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

These mutants go for the arteries. You’d think you see more gushers.

0

blood

BREASTS

No scenes of mutant breast feeding? Is there no justice?

9

beast

BEASTS

Lots of little mutant ankle bitters.

8 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer to  “It Lives Again”

trailers

dripper
Nov

Comments Off on Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror

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
dripper

Watch the trailer!

trailers

dripper

About the Highway

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