Archive for the 'Cult films' Category


Comments Off on Dead End Drive-in: Rest Stop Review Edition

rest stop reviews

We’d like to introduce you to a new format for this and some future movie reviews. We call them Rest Stop reviews. They still have that same great snarky taste but with 50% less filling. That’s right it’s environmentally friendly blogging, and you’ll still feel like you’ve gotten a chance to stretch your legs, and empty your bladder. We’ll have more in the upcoming months but in the meantime enjoy our first Rest Stop Review of the 80’s Australian cult-film “Dead End Drive-in.” Let us know what you think, and be sure to grab yourself a snack in the vending machine on your way out.

Is that the lead singer from the Cure?

In “Dead End Drive-in” Australia shows us their continuing obsession with the  apocalypse even without Mel Gibson to save the day. The world is in economic ruin, the only lucrative business is fender bender scavenging, and everyone eats Hormel chili out of cans. A weasely little man named Crabs “cause’ that’s what his momma caught” and his dimwitted girlfriend Carmen, steal his brother’s 56 Chevy for a night out at the drive-in. Turns out the drive-in is just a disguised concentration camp for vagrants, the unemployed and new wave punks… sorta like Denny’s but with electric fencing.

Carmen shows off her fruit baskets to Crabs and pretty soon they’re doing the backseat rumba like horny koalas while the cops are stealing their tires. The next day they find themselves trapped in the drive-in with 100’s of renaissance festival rejects and all the snackshop food you could ever eat. Crab doesn’t see much of a future in professional loitering so he makes an escape plan even though Carmen would rather sit around eating banana fritters and look like a homeless Pat Benatar. She’s got a few Kangaroos loose in the top paddock if ya know what I mean. Crab steals a truck during a Klan rally and  goes postal shooting up the place and driving over homeless shanties right before he does an evil Knievel off the top of a truck ramp. Multiple car crashes with explosion, red underwear of terror, drive-in hit and runs, snackshop shoot out, tow truck stunt spectacular, Cricket bat head bashing, and extreme red Speedos. The only thing missing was Olivia Newton in leg warmers and maybe a Crocodile Hunter or two. Now there’s an 80’s Australian film I’d like to see. Retroman says take this movie for a walkabout but be sure to bring a spare tire.



Comments Off on The Last Rewind: A Tribute to Video Vault

It seems like every day I hear or read about a company either filing for bankruptcy or closing its doors for good. And to be honest, most of the time I really don’t care, as many of the businesses are just “mass appeal” stores that have been run into the ground by greedy corporations who have long since lost touch with their target market. Well, yesterday I learned about one business closing, a cult video store named “Video Vault” that really hit close to home for all of us here at Lost Highway. Unfortunately, a lot of factors such as limited parking, high rent, moving to a new location, a crappy economy, and the digital download age are to blame for its demise. It really makes me wish that Video Vault could come back from the dead like Jason Voorhees does in those “Friday the 13th” movies, and slaughter the competition. But unfortunately that won’t happen. In our world, this kind of loss is the equivalent of finding out that one of our favorite actors and/or directors has just passed way.

So let me tell you a little bit about Video Vault. This little gem of an independent video store was started by movie aficionado John McCabe in the mid 80’s, when video stores were about as popular as drive-in movie theaters were back in the day. Seeing an independent niche market video store like Video Vault today (2010) in a major metropolitan area would be about as rare as seeing actual music videos playing on MTV. Anyway, it didn’t take long for Mr. McCabe to make a name for himself by specializing in rare, hard-to-find films that he proudly claimed were the worst in town. Now you’re probably scratching your head at the part about having the worst movies in town. But trust me, that claim is very accurate considering he carried bottom of the barrel films like “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” If I had to describe Video Vault to someone who had never heard about the store, I would say that they are the cinematic version of The Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA), and I mean that as the highest compliment. Bad movies were their area of expertise, their little niche in the cutthroat movie rental business. The films that many forgot, or couldn’t care less about, John McCabe cheered and celebrated, along with the legions of loyal patrons. For 25 years Video Vault continued to stay in business against all odds, even though video formats changed from VHS to DVD, the independent video retail market began to go the way of the dinosaurs, and the once eclectic tastes of movie renters unfortunately became more and more mainstream–in other words, watered down–and mind-numbingly generic. And even though I haven’t been to Video Vault for several years now (because I moved out of the area), I still remember my first visit there.

I recall being very impressed, yet at the same time a bit overwhelmed by their large selection of VHS videos that covered a variety of different genres and sub-genres. Their previous location (the one that I’m familiar with) had several rooms filled from wall to wall with thousands upon thousands of videos. It was like I had just gained full access to someone’s prized and personal movie collection. You could’ve easily spent the whole day there going through all of the b-movie gems that they had to offer. And did I mention that the staff was always friendly, very knowledgeable, and ready to offer up their movie recommendations if you were having trouble choosing a movie to rent? The whole atmosphere was just so refreshing and pleasant. Whenever a customer walked through the door they were greeted like an old friend, whether it was their first time stopping by, or if they were one of the “regulars.” To me that personal touch really made an impression, and that’s probably one of the many reasons why they were in business for so many years. And if you couldn’t find a particular film in the mountain of movie titles, chances are owner John McCabe would have been able to track it down for you. Try getting that level of customer dedication and service at Blockbuster, or any other generic corporate movie rental chain.

It’s a real shame that this b-movie Mecca has to close. I just really hope that Video Vault will live on in some form after April 2010, so that the current and new generation of cult film buffs will still be able to meet, talk alternative cinema, and help each other find the next “it’s so bad, it’s good” movie experience. Please be sure to express your support to the wonderful folks over at Video Vault by clicking here and saying hi, or wishing them well in their future endeavors.


Comments Off on Horror Hotel (Bloody New Year)

Bloody New Year

I gotta admit I prefer budget lodging in this Michigan economy. Just give me a room with a bed and a TV and I’m living the life of a king. It probably comes from my dad whose idea of a family vacation was going up north with us in the back of the pickup so we’d just slide around like loose change. Apparently he thought we could just go limp if we were in an accident. Luckily we’d only stop for some deer venison jerky or to close up that loose tailgate. Once at our destination he could always find the cheapest hotel in the area. I kept holding out for the possibility of a pool but my dad would just say “They charge you extra for that…I can just spray you down with the hose out back.”

Bloody New Year

The motel would have signs advertising amenities like “AIR” or “COLOR TV” usually placed over a flickering neon sign with a letter or two burned out. Yes enjoy your stay at the “HO EL” where you too can fall asleep to the gentle sounds of a bug zapper killing it’s prey or play that always popular game of “name that stain.”

The room would usually smell of dank mothballs and your feet would sink immediately into an inch deep matting of wall to wall shag carpet. All this fenced in by your standard issued 60’s wood paneling. I can still feel those walls closing in on me like I was Han Solo in that Death Star garbage room scene. “Wait, there’s something moving in the carpet!” If you were lucky you’d get a bed with those vibrating magic fingers and for a mere quarter you could get your inner organs reorganized or your spine realigned without those hefty chiropractor bills. Now that I have my own kids I too find myself drawn to those roadside budget lodgings but I know to always keep a can of bug spray handy and look for one with a heated pool. So if you’re ever on Lost Highway I suggest Big Marge’s Sunset Motel. The Sunset has clean rooms, great rates, and the morning coffee will put hair on your chest. Marge is proof of that.

Bloody New YearSpeaking of hotels you don’t want to stay overnight at. The Grand Island Hotel in “Bloody New Year” redefines the term “tourist trap.” A group of middle aged looking British teens after a long day of harassing carnies crash their sail boat on a remote island. There they find a strange Bavarian looking hotel seemingly abandoned and hastily decorated for a New Years party. Turns out an experimental government plane took a nose dive on the island back in the 50’s creating this sort of time rip in space where the dead are stuck haunting the hotel. Sorta like the line at Secretary of State only for the undead so rightfully the spirits there are a bit cranky. At first things seem pretty normal, maids service is sporadic, beds get turned down mysteriously. There’s also open bars and peeping toms, but nothing you wouldn’t otherwise expect at your Hotel 6. Unfazed the soggy group find some vintage clothes left over from a Happy Days rerun to change into and proceed to investigate the rest of resort. Downstairs there’s a B-movie marathon playing on a makeshift theater showing a much more interesting “Attack of the Brain Stem” film but then they cut over to some lame home movies of the hotel instead. “Bring back the brain stems!”

Things do liven up a bit when an Arabian sheik fresh from the set of Aladdin leaps out of the screen and kills Spud “I’m Alrighta” with a scratch to the face. A good reminder to always wash your hands! This horrifying event doesn’t seem to affect the rest of the group which range from apathy to boredom “Oh bullocks Spud’s dead… maybe we should wrap him in tinfoil and poke holes in him.”

The group wisely decide to split up to make the killing go more quickly  Tom and his girlfriend head off to investigate a nearby beach house and try to get in some nooky time. Once inside they they get attacked by a malevolent fish net and a demonic end table that they impale with a fish hook. If only they had learned early on the true horrors of Red Lobster decor!

horror hotelMeanwhile Rick and his girlfriend head down to the beach front for some afternoon clam digging but are soon drawn to mysterious sounds of laughter in the nearby woods. The sound gets louder as they approach the center of the island and find themselves in an arborist nightmare of giggling trees and laughing shrubs. The chia-pet demons start dive bombing them so they run out of there faster than Mark Wahlberg in a crappy Shyamalan film. They end up at at crash site of vintage WWII action plane where a zombie pilot’s head explodes and ruins Rick’s stylin suit jacket.

But then things get weird…

Like a Scooby Doo episode the carny gang from the mainland appear on the island fresh from their rowboat workout to terrorize those darn meddlin’ kids. People start turning into fondue faced zombies and  carnies get their heads ripped off like twist caps on soda bottles. There’s disappearing maids, dandruff storms, elevators that soak up patrons like big bounty towels and there’s evil furniture banisters with Kung-Fu grip. I think I might have hallucinated that last part but I swear at one point they get attacked by ping pong balls and ride a billiards table like a surf board in a zombie disco. These are just some of the many amenities you too can enjoy at the Grand Hotel island!

The guest list dwindles down as most of them now are Demonites under hotel management. Rick and his girlfriend not wanting a bad case of bed hair or getting disemboweled battle their way back to shore to find the getaway rowboat. Will they discover the secrets of Grand Island? Will they escape the ghosts evil clutches? Was Mr. Bean the only thing funny to ever come out of Britain? All this and more can be answered in “Bloody New Year.”

I was half expecting Bloody New Year  to just be another run of the mill holiday themed slasher but it turned out to be a fun little creepfest with some obvious nods to The Shining..well except without all those pesky things like plot or acting to get in the way. Retroman Says check it out “and be sure to bring a clean pair of Alan Whickers you bloody land lover, or I’ll box yer blimey ears you bugger. Gots No time for Rumpy Pumpy!”

– 1 exploding zombie pilot
– 1 shotgun zombie blast and dismemberment
– 1 neck corkscrew
– 2 banister demon Muppets
– Carnival boat parades
– Peeping tom ghosts
– Multiple arm choppings
– Paranormal furniture movers
– Invisible bed turnover services
– Sheik scratch fever
– End tables demon possessions
– Laughing bushes
– Death by boat propeller
– Attacking fish nets
– Gut punching
– Killer ping pong balls

8.2 out of 10

“ohhh Bullocks.”

Check out the trailer for Horror Hotel (bloody New Year)


posted by admin | June 16, 2009 | 80's movies, Cult films, Cult movies, Review by Barry Goodall

Comments Off on Repoman

“Introducing the New 2010 Chevrolet Chernobyl with optional power windows, power locks, and death ray emitting trunk.”

This weekend, while working on my Camaro behind the old toolshed & trailer, I busted a fan bracket off the engine block. There’s no nearby Autozone or NAPA dealer, and it was after 5 on Sunday. Luckily, Joe Don’s Salvage Yard is just a hop, skip, and a drunk stumble down the road, and I can always count on Big Joe to still be up watching “Law and Order” re-runs at his front office desk, mostly to avoid his old lady. The man refuses to get cable, and uses an old black and white TV with rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil. Usually I try to sweeten the deal with something deep fried as a gift for Joe. He’s much more willing to help me scrounge around the lot if his veins are immediately filled with salt and nitrates. However, this time I had nothing with me, not even a piece of pocket-warmed beef jerky; I was going into a gun fight without a six-shooter and Joe knew it. He immediately became agitated, cursing and mumbling under his breath, fumbling with the TV antenna, and just waved me off in the general direction of where I might possibly find the fan bracket or get a painful staph infection–whichever came first.

I find the junkyard to actually be a very peaceful place to think and meditate, much like a cemetery… minus the possibility of a spontaneous zombie uprising, though I am well prepared for such a situation. Sure, I always get funny looks at funerals when I carry that machete around, but you can never be too careful. I like to show it to people in the procession and say things like “Yeah, you never know…we might need to bury him twice.”

After hours of dead ends I finally found what appeared to be a Camaro similar to mine, with a heck of a lot more rust. It was a bit hard to tell though, as most of it had been flattened like a PB&J in a kid’s lunch sack, but the engine was still intact, so with my trusty Allen wrench, I removed the fan bracket cautiously. I couldn’t help but imagine the scene of Indiana Jones removing the golden skull from the altar. Checking around for hostile natives, I made my way back and paid the fair price of $25 and the promise of a bucket of chicken for Joe when I came back. Who said you can’t put a price on adventure?

Speaking of pioneers in the salvage industry, Emilio Estavez plays Otto Maddox, a rebellious punk who enjoys head banging with friends and eating his dinner out of dog food cans. Ahh, the rebellious youth of the 80’s. These are the same guys that wore Wham shirts. Howard Dean Stanton plays Bud, a seasoned, disgruntled repo-master who enlists Otto to join his dojo of car jackers. The other beer-inspired repo staff are: “Lite”, a streetwise gun touter, and “Miller”, a hippie mechanic who tries to teach him the repo code of ethics, and hopefully convince him not to make “Mighty Ducks 2.” Taking a few too many head butts at the previous night’s rave, Otto feels a kinship to them and the life of the auto repossessor. Sure the hours stink, but you do get the benefits of getting shot at by enraged Mexican immigrants, or getting the snot kicked out of you by a Mowtown band with guitar cases.

Meanwhile, during all this grand larceny fun, a one-eyed self-lobotimizied scientist, J. Frank Parnell, is transporting glowing shrimp platter aliens in his car trunk across state lines. Besides breaking some food import laws, he’s also encouraging people to look in his trunk, which immediately vaporizes them, leaving behind only the fresh scent of pine. It’s his own Ark of the Covenant on wheels, minus the Nazi’s. J’s plan is to meet up with Leila, one of the few members of the official fan club of UFO’s who isn’t still living in their parents’ basement, and expose the world to the truth. Otto puts some of his smooth moves on her, and she gets Estevezed in the back seat of his car. How romantic, but she hopes the horizontal mambo will encourage Otto to help her find the scientist, so they can  book the intergalactic shrimp cargo on local talk shows.

A $20,000 bounty is put on the Malibu, and soon a secret G-team in rented suits, along with every repo and car theft ring in the county is out looking for it. The G-team is led by a cruel German dominatrix with a mean kung-fu grip robotic hand (do they charge extra for that?), and an unhealthy obsession to get those alien remains at any cost. Otto gets captured  and is tortured by Mrs. Roboto so that she can try to learn the whereabouts of the actual car, but Otto is rescued before his hair gets singed. He later encounters his ex-girlfriend, Debbie, a particularly nasty punk rocker who left Otto for his best pal at a mosh party, leaving him heart broken in his tighty whities. It’s your typical boy meets girl, boy catches syphilis kinda of love story.

Debbie is hooked on speed and sushi eating with her new boyfriend, Boni, when they run into Otto while they’re robbing a 7-11. Everyone has a gun pointing at someone else’s head, leading to a pretty frantic session of scratch and win tickets. Boni however, just wants to settle down, get married and have little spiked hair social deviants. But instead, he ends up getting a shotgun blast to the chest. Just an early preview of married life, my friend; count yourself lucky.

Any semblance of a plot was lost a long time ago, but no one really cares at this point. We meander the city streets at night in glowing cars, have spontaneous shootouts in hospital stairwells, torch street people, and listen to hippie mechanics spouting universal wisdoms about the cosmic order of consciousness and the lattice of coincidence. Gotta love Saturday nights in L.A.

Repoman is a definitive cult classic that gets even better upon repeated viewing. A special Roadside award goes to Emilio Estevez, whose role as Otto redefined the anarchist punk rocker, and Howard Dean Stanton, who fit his role as a crusty, seasoned car reposessor perfectly. If I saw either of these two guys near my car, I’d be getting nervous. Retroman says check it out, and be sure to order the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet.

– Obsessive air freshener collecting
– Generic food in a can
– Radioactive intergalactic calamari
– Devo radiation suits
– Mace to the face
– Rat tossing
– Coffee to the face
– Emilio Estevezing
– Mexican rockabilly Vegas lounge singers
– Levitating cars

Rated 9.3 out of 10

“Don’t fear the Repo…baby I’m your man…we’ll be able to fly now”… man, those lyrics ring so true now.

Check out the trailer for Repoman


posted by admin | March 26, 2009 | 70's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Cult films, Drama, Horror movies, Sci-Fi

Comments Off on Omega-Man

Look man, I told you to bring your ray-bans with you!  Now we look like dorks!”

The movie starts with Colonel Robert Neville, M.D. (Charlton Heston) discovering a vaccine which counter-acts a bio-warfare germ released in a war between the Soviets and Chinese.  Neville manages to inject himself at the last moment, but everyone else dies, leaving Neville alone and really, really lonely for a girlfriend.  Neville spends the next couple of years tearing bikini posters off of walls and indulging his female mannequin fetish.

Omega ManIt turns out not everyone infected by the germs dies; some of them turn into hippie-zombie-luddites.  Yes, they’re hippies with long hair who want to tear society down, they’re mostly undead, and they hate technology.  Just in case 1971 white America didn’t get the point of this movie, they also hate “honkys”.  For reasons that are never really explained, the infected dress up as monks and call themselves “the family”.  They also build catapults and use guns, despite the fact that they’re supposed to be against technology.

About an hour into the movie Neville finds other survivors and wastes no time getting busy with Lisa (Rosalind Cash), who’s infected but has no symptoms.  There’s a really creepy scene where Neville smiles broadly at Lisa and we get a close-up of Neville’s teeth.  Wow, that really should have been edited out.  Hopefully the NRA was able to offer him better dental care.

Inspired by his new found love interest, Neville uses his own “Anglo-Saxon blood” to synthesize an antidote to the bio-warfare germs for Lisa and her brother, who are both African-Americans.  Things are looking up until Lisa’s little brother, fresh from being saved by Neville’s blood, is killed by the zombies.  After that, all heck breaks loose as Lisa turns into a zombie, Neville’s home is burned down, and he takes a spear to the chest while trying to save Lisa.  In the last scene, he hands a bottle of the antidote, an extract from his own blood, to the remaining survivors.  He promptly dies in a pose just like Jesus on the cross, amidst a pool of his own blood.

Omega-manCharlton Heston, Zombie-Hippies-Luddites, the collapse of civilization, race relations in America, white America as Jesus on the Cross, they’re all here.  In this case Neville represents traditional American values of the time; technical superiority, moral superiority, spiritual superiority, military superiority, masculinity, and guns, lots and lots of big guns, the way god and Uncle Sam meant it to be.  Neville spends roughly half the movie running around without his shirt, armed with a machine gun, drenched in sweat, perhaps in a bid to knock-out the zombies with his personal aroma or bullets, whichever works first.

This film is a moment in time, a reflection of the social and racial paranoia and unrest of the early 70’s.  The zombies are hippies and minorities who have no respect for culture, tradition or the benefits of modern life in America.  They’re ruining everything white Americans worked to build and making the cities scary!  The only way to escape it was to move out and away from the city.  Honey, let’s move to the suburbs, and fast…

– Homicidal Hippie-Zombie-Luddites dressed as monks
– NRA going out of business sale
– Zombie Catapults!
– Mannequin fetish
– Charlton Heston’s teeth
– Saxon Blood super formula – now with world saving power!
– Neville as Christ on the Cross

rated 7.0 out of 10

Check out the trailer for Omega-man

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