Archive for the 'B-movies' Category

Aug

rawhead rex

I sit before you with a migraine, angry, writing this piece. Ahem. I remember checking out some graphic novels at a local Hastings store when I was a kid. One by Clive Barker in particular caught my. It was called Rawhead Rex and at the time, it was one of the most violent and shocking graphic novels I had seen. I was young and comics to me meant something like X-Men and Batman, but this… this was a whole other beast. Gore and foul language filled each page as Rex devoured villagers and children. I remember being stunned that he was totally nude and reminded me of the Alien from… well, Alien. Shortly thereafter, my brother and I saw the VHS at the same store. We were totally shocked this was made into a movie. How could the censors allow such a thing? We had to see it so we rented it immediately.

rawhead rexRemember that one Christmas as a kid where you asked for Top Gun on Nintendo, but instead you got the Top Gun Tiger Electronics Game?

Yeah, so there is this guy Howard Hallenbeck who is on holiday with his wife and two kids in Ireland to research some religious doo-dads for a book he’s writing. What a convenient set up for him. So where does Rex come in? A couple of farmers are trying to remove a phallic like structure (wouldn’t be a Clive Barker movie without one) and eventually it gets struck by lightning and BOOM! Instant demon!

Now here’s where it gets disappointing as I previously mentioned. It didn’t take the movie too long to get to this point.

Rex is… nothing like he looks like in the book. In the book, he was described as a nine foot tall phallus with teeth (…yup). And how does he look in the movie? He looks like Kane Hodder in a goofy Halloween mask with those blinking red LED lights and an S & M suit. And just like I did when I saw this as a kid, my face froze in a state of shock. I didn’t know if I should laugh or be angry. So I did both.

With Rex’s arrival, an alter at the local church becomes hot like a stove and a priest or deacon or whatever religious status he has by the name of Declan O’Brien touches it and sees visions of Rex and all his chaos. This blows his mind and he goes bonkers. Although I think it was unintentional, this guy becomes something of the comic relief character.

rawhead rexNot much to comment on anymore. Rex runs around eating people, one being Howard’s son, which was graphic in the comic, but here it’s only implied through edits. Sigh. Rex lazily slashes at people as what looks like ketchup is slapped on as special effects and people fall down and die. So by now, you’re just waiting for the movie to be over, but luckily O’Brien offers some of the funniest dialogue, with odd combinations of swearing at the top of his lungs and cackling like a madman. Best part of the film is when Rex ‘baptizes’ him by peeing all over O’Brien and he laughs like an idiot the entire time. I think I rewound this part like eight or nine times.

Finally your wish comes true and the movie draws to a close. Howard finds some relic that can kill Rex, but *choke* *gasp* it doesn’t work! Then his wife comes from out of nowhere and apparently, it had to be the power of a female to kill Rex. This could have worked… if they didn’t set this plot device up in the final ten seconds! Seriously, you could have built up to it. I know, they probably wanted to give the female character something to do instead of just being in the background, but that’s all she was up until this point! So they kill him, some kid puts flowers on a grave and Rex’s emerges from the ground and roars, as if this movie merited a sequel.

Come to think of it, in the graphic novel, I believe the villagers got together and pillaged him. That would have been way better. I also heard rumors of a remake a few years back, but nothing since. Clive Barker was wise to discredit this movie. Boo.

roadside attractions

  • Giant hamburgers
  • Raw-ha-ha-head Rex
  • Peed on Preacher
  • Children-O’s
  • Ireland
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

About as mild as the Hot Sauce at Taco Bell. Whatever that means

3

blood

BREASTS

I think one instant on pregnant woman? Ew.

4

beast

BEASTS

FEAR RAWHEAD REX! If you don’t die from laughter first

6.0 OVERALL
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Check out the trailer for “Rawhead Rex”

trailers

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Jul

posted by The Goon | July 29, 2012 | 80's b-movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Reviews by the Goon

Unhinged

Unhinged is a film I remember seeing various VHS box covers for when I was a child. I would hear tales of its shocking and disturbing story and atmosphere, over the top violence and gore and a twist ending that would leave you scarred. Fast forward to my mid twenties; I’m browsing the horror DVD’s at a local FYE (Don’t ask me why I was there. I guess I felt like being overcharged for something) and I come across Unhinged. At first, I didn’t recognize it, but the box shows a woman’s face, wide eyed and covered in blood. After reading the synopsis on the back I realized this was that notorious Video Nasty I heard so many legends about… but my expectations were about to be crushed.

Have you ever heard a story from a friend that he from his friends and they heard from their friends… and so on? It becomes so exaggerated and diluted that when you finally see it, it was overhyped, underwhelming and you find yourself surprised at how this film, Unhinged, managed to make it on the Video Nasty List. And keep in mind that the DVD is the uncensored version.

The story to Unhinged is nothing new, mind you. Three girls on their way to some jazz concert or something (I don’t know. The beginning of the story is smothered in boobs and what they are talking about goes by so fast) and they go off the road and are rescued by a creepy family. Well, they are rescued by the family’s helper, Norman, who looks a lot like Burt Reynolds. Films like ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘Tourist Trap’ or even ‘Just Before Dawn’ may be racing through your head. Well, that’s because you’ve seen this scenario dozens of times before. It’s nothing original, it’s nothing new. It’s your ‘stranded-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-crazies-but-I’m-staying-here-when-I-should-just-leave’ plot. The family consists of Marion, the creepy and odd daughter of Nancy. Nancy doesn’t do much except kinda sit around and chew scenery. She hates men; the film decided they needed to hammer this only important piece of information into your head. So, I’m gonna go ahead and skip several drawn out dinner scenes (clearly trying to emulate some Texas Chainsaw Massacre there) and tell you. Her husband was institutionalized. Yup. See where this is headed?

unhingedWhether it’s the girls or Marion and her mother, they all seem to share bad chemistry. Their dialogue is clunky, seems unrealistic and the actors are seemingly rushing through their lines just to get to the end and pausing so the other may speak. This is bad when you are relying on your audience to attach themselves to your characters. Much like how we felt bad for the girls in ‘The Last House on the Left’. We got to know these girls and they were tortured, but here… you just don’t care. I caught myself thinking about how I should arrange my DVD’s.

They do actually create some tension though. One of the girls is out of commission for quite some time in the film (and you have to wonder why it took the girls till the SECOND DAY to check on their friend) and at night, they hear someone breathing that becomes increasingly louder.  Later, they find it to be some creepy dude and I have to be honest here: I totally forgot what his relation was to the people of the house (ANSWER: His name is Carl and it’s Marion’s brother). And I had to look that up, but that proves my point. You don’t invest yourself in these characters. But yeah, you know how the rest goes; the main girl is chased finds her dead friends and confronts Marion, who actually… in a surprising twist… is a dude!

I’m going to break my mold for a bit. I usually try to talk about the movie in a few paragraphs, trying to spoil as little as possible, but with a movie like Unhinged, there isn’t really much to talk about. As I said, you’ve seen this type of movie before. But, now that I’ve talked about it, I’d like to talk about what it was the movie was trying to accomplish in a period where movies were confusing blood and body counts as scary.

Unhinged The DVD does offer an interview with the director on a local Portland, Oregon (the cast and crew were all natives from there) TV channel that is actually kind of insightful, for as short as it is. Don Gronquist states that he wanted to create a movie that horror movies don’t need a high body count to be scary and that’s what he wanted to do with Unhinged. Make a creepy movie that didn’t focus on blood and bodies for scares. And I have to totally agree. This is the reason I like Unhinged. It made a bold attempt to break away from what was popular and safe to sell tickets and instead really tried to go back to using atmosphere and twists as true horror…which I believe that’s what it should be about. Sure, blood and guts are nice, but they don’t scare you. They disgust you. Horror isn’t blood. Horror is truly being frightened to look over your shoulder or to walk down your hallway in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the film borrowed elements that were too familiar and didn’t do anything new with them. Sure, the film isn’t frightening, but it can be creepy at moments.

I say watch the film. Sure the acting is hammy at best (Marion being the only well portrayed character), every death scene is someone getting stabbed off screen then getting blood splashed on their face, but it’s entertaining and definitely doesn’t deserve all the negative feedback it gets.

Also, the DVD offers a few bonus features. One is an audio commentary track featuring five “comics” attempting to riff the film, but it ends up being five obnoxious, drunk loudmouths talking over each other. Oh and it’s not funny.

roadside attractions

  • Burt Reynolds Stunt Double
  • Last House on the Left Nod
  • Gender Conusion-A-Tron
  • Peeping Tom-ism
  • Worst Friends Ever
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Yes there is blood in the film, but you could also say there is silverware.

7

blood

BREASTS

A couple of full frontal shower scenes over important exposition, so pay attention!

9

beast

BEASTS

A mean ol’ Granny, a bearded peeping tom and a gender confused psycho! A family that makes the Bundy’s look civil.

7.0 OVERALL
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Check out the trailer for “Unhinged”

trailers

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Jul

It may surprise many of you to learn that I, Barry Goodall have no cell phone. I kid you not. I own no Apple iphone, no blackberry, no kumquat 2.0, …there’s not one fruit based technology of any sort in this double-wide. In fact, I started writing this review back  in the late spring of 2011 when I stripped fresh bark for parchment from a nearby pine  and sent my review in a whale bone mailing tube on the back of a trained river otter. He delivered it to the city folks upriver who then air shipped it to a cheap outsourced data entry employee in Bangledesh. There my review was translated  to Arabic then to French and back again to english.You may notice some strange typos that could confuse me for this be sure to  humus I surrender this pudding suit?

Sure, there’s the looks of shock you get when you say you don’t have a cell phone “But Barry, how do you make phone calls?”  they’d ask. “Well, after we get done making our homemade asprin from  the  gall of a castrated boar and our homegrown opium, we take turns using the family fire pit for smoke signal messages. Would you like a piece of this homemade baklava?”

So thanks, but no thanks to your dark magic or you call it “mobile technology.” I think I’ll be sticking with my laser disc players and Nintendo powerglove for now. Sure I might not be able to Instagram myself  impersonating a duck, but you can never put a price on a well trained river otter.

Speaking of  big long distance bills. Little Joey has been comunicating with his recently deceased father over a toy phone in the Germantic sci-fi “Making Contact.” One of the few movies to feature a giant mutant hamburger and a darth vader cameo all in the same film. Joey doesn’t realize than communicating with his dead dad would unleash the demonic spirit of an evil ventriloquisto doll who wants to make him into toaster strudel. The dummy looks a bit like a young Erich Von Stroheim with all the charm of an old man that just learned they cancelled Matlock. Joey finds the dummy while hunting down his lost robot in a nearby mansion and sticks him in his room to complete his collection of safety recalled toys.

Joey’s mom thinks he’s going crazy but seems less concerned her son can levitate a glass of milk with his mind or that he may have stuck some kitchen knives in the wall in a fit of telekentic rage. Joey also been getting picked on by some school bullies so he’s only about one wedgie short of going Carrie on their behinds.

Joey’s teacher learns of his power when he visits his mom for a “parent teacher conference” and brings in an entire government evac team to seal up the house and study Joey’s brain with wired turkey basters. Meanwhile the bullies make a  plan to kidnap Joey while hanging out at the old Bates home but the evil dummy has trapped them there instead. Joey sneaks out  to help free the kids from the clutches of the devil doll and has turned the house into a maze full of mummies, giant hamburgers, and man eating dinosaurs (or as we call it, Euro-Disney.)  The gang tries to escape but discover the only exit is blocked by the puppet and the ghost of an inept ventriloquist not played by Jeff Dunham. The two must battle with their telekentic powers to see who will triumph and who gets their face melted off first.

Making Contact was obviously influenced by the success of ET and Poltergiest with a bit of Star Wars thrown in. I was hoping for more German nude cannibalism or at least some singing nuns but was sadly disappointed. Barry Goodall says check it out only if you’re looking for a good anesthesia before a major surgery or are in need of an epitac. You can also check out the original German extended cut  in the DVD box set with extra farvergnugen. Just be sure to play it loud and scare your neighbors.

roadside attractions

  • Giant hamburgers
  • Pigtail levitation
  • Krispy Kreme product placement
  • Electro shock garabage cans
  • Melt-o-dummies
  • Fisher price glow phones
  • Runaway Datsuns
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

I think a kid got a noise bleed and scraped his knee. Oh the carnage!

0

blood

BREASTS

Nadda ta-tas, I think this was supposed to be for kids. But it was originally German so you never can be certain.

8

beast

BEASTS

The grumpiest vantrliqust dummy ever, darth vader, giant hamburger, and some goofy looking dionsaurs.

4.0 OVERALL
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Check out this trailer from “Making Contact”

trailers

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Jul

I am from the future. Things are different there. For one thing, Dolph Lundgren is as important an historical figure as Leonardo Da Vinci. A sample of his resume: Black belt in Karate; Masters in chemical engineering; Fulbright scholar at MIT; Bouncer at glamorous NYC dance club; Male model; U.S. Olympic pentathlete (non-competing); Actor; Writer; Director; Artist. One time, masked burglars broke into his home without knowing its owner. They tied up his wife and child, but upon noticing his photograph on the mantle they realized they were robbing Dolph Lundgren and fled in terror. He is a polymath. A renaissance man. A Thomas Jefferson or a Benjamin Franklin. Except where Benjamin Franklin discovered the nature of electric current, Dolph Lundgren discovered that a man of muscle could make an obscene amount of money by starring in inexpensive direct-to-VHS action movies.

While there are more famous Dolph Lundgren films, “Showdown in Little Tokyo” is undoubtedly the greatest Dolph Lundgren movie. I don’t mean because it has his best acting (that would be “Universal Soldier”). In fact, Brandon Lee (“The Crow”) completely overpowers Dolph with the sheer force of his charisma. Much has already been said for the late Brandon Lee’s talent, but that guy was a Movie Star.

The reason “Showdown” is the greatest Dolph Lundgren movie is that it contains everything you want out of a Lundgren vehicle: guns, exploding cars, boobs (Tia Carrere!, or rather her body double), homosexual subtext, Dolph shirtless, and awesome one-liners. Although Brandon Lee cockily saunters through the movie, maliciously setting bad guys on fire and stealing the show, even he can learn from Dolph. Dolph is the Master. We are all his pupils.

I’m not even going to attempt to summarize the plot. It doesn’t matter. Don’t even worry about how it’s physically impossible for Dolph to jump over that moving car. Don’t stress your pretty head about how he has infinite ammo. Why does Brandon compliment Dolph on the size of his manhood? Wouldn’t you when confronted by full Lundgren? This movie rules. It is essential viewing for all you numbskulls.

The Lessons from “Showdown in Little Tokyo”:

-Dolph and Brandon are in love.

roadside attractions

  • Dolph Lundgren, you wussies
  • Tia Carerre’s naked body double
  • Brandon Lee, RIP!
  • Yakuza decapitations
  • Electrified Mattress Torture
  • Hollywood racism
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

You can always safely count on Dolph to give you some middle-of-the-road 1990s action movie violence. The best naked bathhouse tattoo knife fight since Eastern Promises

9

blood

BREASTS

Tia Carrere is technically naked in this, but it is pretty obviously her body double. Also, Nyotaimori (Don’t google that word at work.)

7

beast

BEASTS

Under-appreciated 90’s b-movie heavy Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa randomly stabs or decapitates someone every five minutes

9 OVERALL
dripper

Check out the trailer for “Showdown in Little Tokyo”

trailers

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Jun

prince of darkness

I have to come right out and say it: Whoever doesn’t love John Carpenter can go to hell. Hell. Hmm… interesting, because Prince of Darkness has lots to do with hell, which is obvious in the title. Now that I think about it, how does one become the Prince of Darkness? Is there a ceremony? If Satan is the Prince of Darkness, then who is the King of Darkness? Jerry Lewis? Val Kilmer? I didn’t realize Hell was a Monarchy. And if that’s the case, does that mean all the countries like Canada, England and Australia are going to Hell, while the good ol’ USA goes to Heaven? Yeah! Score one for ‘Merica!

With my trusty, ice cold, watery beer(s) at my side, I fight for Good and attempt to put Prince of Darkness in its place… my DVD player.

Prince of DarknessSo, right away we see some old Priest doing what old people do, die, as he lets go of a box. But what’s in it? This is when we meet our cast of characters who are suppose to be students at a college, but they look more like the parents of the students. Just how old are these supposed ‘kids’? But, the main character, Brian (Jameson Parker), really bothers me. It’s not his acting or anything. It’s that his mustache is uneven. Seriously, just look at it! Every time he is on screen, I just stare at it and stop paying attention to what is going on. I got off topic there for a second. I would blame the booze, but… look at the thing when you watch this. Anyway, they are taught by Professor Howard Birack played by Victor Wong, and I think he teaches some sort of Physics class when they are approached by a John Carpenter regular Donald Pleasance playing  a Priest trying to protect the world from evil… a role I’m sure we’re all familiar seeing Donald Pleasance in. The Priest, Father Loomis (I guess he gave up being a doctor and became a father) is seeking their help to investigate this room and a mysterious cylinder in the basement of the derelict Los Angeles church. The cylinder looks a lot like this thing I bought from Spencer’s Gifts, but it’s no toy. It is, as they later find out after a theology student, Lisa, translates some text from the old book, the Devil. Yes, the Devil is a weird swirling green, gooey thing. Who knew? I always thought he was like some dude with long hair and a coat or a beast of some kind, but nope. Turns out, he’s a nothing more than a party favor a stoner buys to stare at for hours.

Prince of DarknessIn a well paced manner, bizarre things begin to happen and people start to die. This is when the movie starts to get creepy. One character gets impaled with a unicycle by a homeless Alice Cooper (imagine having that engraved on your tombstone) and another is stabbed to death with scissors by a homeless Adrianne Barbeau. Not to mention, this student also comes back from the dead to deliver a message in the most nightmarish vision: His voice is distorted as he tells them to “Pray for Death,” then falls to pieces as little black bugs scatter everywhere! Not only that, Satan in his liquid form, sprays a few of the students in the mouth (mostly by one of the students regurgitating the liquid in to each other’s mouths) to possess them. When they are possessed, they literally stand around and just stare blankly. It freaks me out, their expressionless faces. Another one of the students, Kelly, forms a bruise which is actually a marking. She eventually becomes host to Satan, and as the group discovers, whose goal is to bring forth an ‘Anti-God’…something more powerful than Satan! My guess is that it would be Charlie Sheen.

By now you’re probably wondering why they don’t leave the church. It’s because Satan has himself an Army of crazy homeless people on guard twenty four hours surrounding the place! It seems like Satan has himself a better army than Canada.

While all this is going on, the remaining survivors are having weird dreams that are just down right unnerving. They play like old school VHS tapes as a distorted voice warns them of the impending doom, hoping that they will be able to alter the events and prevent the Apocalypse. But do these kids (again they seem so young and not at all like they are 30 year olds), their professor and Donald Pleasance have what it takes to stop the Devil from bringing the Anti-God into our world and prevent the end of everything as we know it? Well, since it’s a John Carpenter movie and it’s the second movie in his “Apocalypse Trilogy”…

It disappointed me to find out that when this movie first came out in theaters, it bombed. Critics and fans disliked it, but luckily in the past decade, it has a newfound appreciation and some even say it’s almost as suspenseful as The Thing, which I believe it is. The pacing in this movie is very well done and it never feels like there is a dull moment. The atmosphere and the possessed characters are truly unnerving and frightening and you get a sense of isolation (again, much like The Thing) since they are trapped inside a church. Even the concept of Satan in liquid form is pretty cool. May not be the best interpretation of him, but it’s pretty creative. Prince of Darkness is a good example of why I love John Carpenter’s work. He gets horror. The only thing I would have changed is that friggin’ mustache on Jameson Parker’s face.

roadside attractions

  • Uneven ‘stache
  • 40 Year Old Students
  • Liquid Satan
  • Alice Cooper
  • Gaysian
  • Pizza Face
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Good ol’ fashioned sprays and splats!

3

blood

BREASTS

Butterface cleavage

9

beast

BEASTS

Hobo’s, Minions and Satan himself.

8.6 OVERALL
dripper

Check out the trailer from “The Prince of Darkness”

trailers

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