Archive for the 'Cult films' Category

Mar

Comments Off on Strike Commando

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

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

7

blood

BLOOD

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

5

blood

BREASTS

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

10

beast

BEASTS

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

7.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!

trailers

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Feb

posted by Barry Goodall | February 25, 2014 | 90's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Cult films, Cult movies, Review by Barry Goodall

Comments Off on ExistenZ

existenz

David Cronenberg never fails to disappoint. Just when you’re needing a movie to make you feel icky again, he hits you upside the head with a ten day old trout left out the in sun too long. Yes it’s his 1999 film ExistenZ (remember to emphasis the Z with your neck extended like a baby eagle waiting for food). It’s a bit Matrix meets alien only with more gooeyness and is destined to do for chinese food what “the Fly” did for eating doughnuts. ExistenZ takes place in the near future where some Sony executives shoot up acid and decide their next game console should be made of human flesh and have nipples. Enter the marketing team saying “Hey the nipple thing is perfect, but can it plug into a bioport on your lower back with an umbilical cord too?” Wow, sign me up for two for some sweet multiplayer action or potential lower spinal paralysis!

existenzAllegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a leading designer of virtual reality games for these console-pods but is shot in the shoulder while attending a focus group, a known hotbed for gun violence. The Security Guard, Ted Pikul played by Jude Law, rescues her but he’s a bioport virgin and has to have one ram shackled into his spine by William Dafoe with an air wrench instead. Dafoe plays a gas station attendant who changes oil filters by day and staples firewire ports into your tramp stamp region by night. Typical Dafoe typecasting again. Once hooked into the game, Allegra and Ted take on their game characters role and become factory workers in a mutant fish slaughter house where game pods are manufactured from the fish guts. oh, and don’t forget all the free botulism.

Ted and Allegra take a lunch break at the local chinese restaurant where Ted orders the house special. It’s a simmering  side-sampler buffet of dead mutants animals encrusted in goo which Ted devours like he has a tape worm. He finshes off the meal and slurps out the entrails to constructs a gun made of bone and gristle just so that he can shoot his waiter. This means the rebels are trying to take control of the game and worst of all there will be no fortune cookies after dinner. Meanwhile, Allegra’s game pod has become infected by a computer virus which she’s hooked up to but a rebel toasts it with his portable flamethrower. The pod pops open releasing millions of infectious spores destroying the other factory game pods thus upping the level of un-believability not seen since OJ testimony. Alegra and Ted awaken finding themselves still attached to their supposed real-life game pod while snoozing in a ski-lodge which we all know this is still a virtual world because ski-lodges don’t actually exist outside of trashy romance novels. existenzMeanwhile a revolution starts up outside lead by realist rebels who are tossing around grenades and shouting things like “death to the virtual world” and other typical revolutionist banter. Ted and Alegra escape to the hills but have a gun-showdown with a competing virtual game developer who just wants them to work for his company instead. It’s a pretty effective recruiting method. I don’t want to give away the twist ending on this one except to say…it’s more of the same. There now you’re expectations aren’t too high,  Barry Goodall says put down the virtual gameboy and go a few rounds with Existenz. Just don’t do it on an full stomach.

roadside attractions

  • Bioport licking.
  • Jiffy lube organic implants
  • Umbilical cord cutting
  • Double headed salamanders (not a euphemism)
  • Tooth bullets
  • Chinese buffet of horror
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

People getting shot with teeth bullets, gory gooey entrails to help keep that gore meter up.

7

blood

BREASTS

Cronenberg goes light on the nudity for this one which is odd for a cronnenberg film.

7

beast

BEASTS

A bunch of mutant fish and lizards and weird pod creatures that hook up to your spinal column.

8 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to “ExistenZ”

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Dec

Comments Off on Nightmare City (aka City of the Walking Dead)

Nightmare City
1980 – Not Rated – Raro Video

Zombies, zombies and more zombies. No matter which direction you pivot your head, there they are. Bland. Dull. Boring. Far outlived their lifespan (they are undead after all, har har). To me, they all blend in together, offering nothing new, exciting or even entertaining to the sub-genre. I’ve made this argument a hundred times before, so I won’t rehash it again. Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a zombie trend. In the 80’s, we saw a boom from Italy, flooding our film market with imitators and clones. But there was undeniably a certain charm and originality to them that today’s zombie films seem to lack, be it good (or bad) makeup effects, bizarrely odd characters or even seemingly intentional insane plots.

Let’s look at Cannibal Ferox director Umberto Lenzi’s zombie romp, Nightmare City, also released here in the States as City of the Walking Dead (not to be confused with Fulci’s City of the Living Dead). I remember first seeing this movie at the local video store in the big box, with the topless woman, half her face ripped off, under the City of the Walking Dead title. Although these mutants or creatures share characteristics of zombies, director Umberto Lenzi claims it’s not as much as a zombie movie as it is a “radiation sickness movie.” I already did a video review for this film on Goon Reviews, so I’ll do my best not to repeat myself. By the way, WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW HERE! Now that the shameless plug is out of the way…

nc_2We start this puppy off like most Italian horror films, by establishing shots of a city (D’oh! I already repeated myself). It’s totally irrelevant to anything in the plot, not like you never know what city you are in, but you are in a city. But within this city is uncanny reporter, Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz). Dean is just waking up in time for his big interview with a scientist for whatever reason you would interview a scientist for. Now, remember this scene, because it may just come back…

Once at the airport, a military plane does an emergency landing as security personal and Dean line up outside the plane. Nobody seems to be responding to the calls for them to step out, which brings up my next question: Why the hell does airport security have machine guns? I can’t get a stick of gum through security, but these dudes are toting fully automatic weapons? Well those guns might come in use, because once those doors open, a swarm of radioactive infected mutant people (we’ll just simply call them zombies from here on) rush out and start to kill everyone! And by that I mean, they slash at the soldiers from about six feet away and they jump back. Ever watch a group of kids pretend to fight because they are playing superheroes or something? Anyway, Dean just stands idly by, looking bored until he realizes, “Oh we should probably leave.”

There is actually something these zombies are doing that you may have noticed is quite unique from other zombies. Yeah, they are using weapons and running! How about that? If there is one thing you have to give this movie credit for, it’s that it tried to do something different with a genre that even they knew was going to quickly become mundane. It’s a breathe of fresh air, as it actually gives this nonsensical film an (at the time) original spin.

nc_3Dean wants to alert the area of this atrocity, which is a clever and rational thing to do, but the man, General Murchison specifically, censors him like communist Russia and Dean is immediately suspended from work. And you thought you were having a bad day! Meanwhile on the opposite end of the spectrum, Major Holmes (Mel Ferrer) is about to “hit that” when he’s alerted of the crisis and put into action. Looks like a cold shower for you this morning, Major. At ease!

It’s just like the authority to be late on the action. The zombies bust in to the TV station, which is totally convenient to move this somewhat of a plot along. While the military is figuring out what to do and calling their loved ones, Dean heads over to the hospital to save his woman, since he’s a man of action. Even with the zombies killing everyone in the hospital, Dean still manages to save her in a heroic, muscle bound brute fashion as they get away in a Volkswagen Beetle. Get outta here, ’69 Dodge Charger, ya schmuck… make way for the new muscle car!

The remainder of the film is actually quite redundant. The various characters are taking shelter, trying to stay alive, but alas failing to do so. Dean and his wife find themselves holed up at various locations, each time she vomits out nonsense women’s lib and the evil of mankind. I’m not saying women’s lib is nonsense, but trust me… you do not want this woman speaking for your cause. However, Dean is always spared from these self indulgent speeches as zombies always seem to attack and the two flee to the next location to repeat this tired process. It would be boring if it weren’t for the unintentionally amusingly, stupid decisions that these characters constantly make. Seriously, they make Gomer Pyle look dignified and subtle. You will feel like you’re stuck in a loop, kinda like Groundhog Day, but instead of reliving the same day with the freedom to take what you previously learned and do as you please, you have to watch the same scene over and over and over…

nc_4They finally wind up at an amusement park (Zombieland nods, perhaps?) where guess what? That’s right! Zombie attack! Only this time, Dean takes the fight over flee and scoops up a machine gun and grenades (GRENADES!?!?) and mows down zombie after zombie Rambo style, one arming, using the “spray and pray” method. As he and his wife climb to the top of a roller coaster, Major Holmes arrives in a chopper to try and rescue them. As the two make their way up the ladder, Dean’s wife falls and plummets to her death, smacking every poll on the way down in perhaps one of cinema’s most hilarious death scenes. But, this film does not end the way you think it would. Not even close… hint: Think Phantasm.

Raro Video once again restores a classic from the original 35mm and let me tell you, this is the best it will ever look (until there is a new way to transfer in the future). After comparing it to the Anchor Bay DVD release, this new HD transfer has less grain and the colors and contrast look quite good. Everything looks very crisp, which is unfortunate for the special effects, as it seems to highlight how terrible they are and reveals every flaw. The audio is 2.0 and you get both English and Italian. Although it’s stereo, it sounds pretty good and everything sounds clear as rain, which is more than you could ask for. However, if you’re looking for special features, I’m afraid you won’t find much as far as quantity goes, but quality wise, there is a rather excellent interview with Umberto Lenzi from 2000 that runs almost an hour long. I found it to be informative to watch. Other than that, you get both Italian and American trailers, which to me look identical. This is all packaged underneath an old fashioned, but still cool slip cover (which the film Demon Queen stole the image for), which reveals the classic artwork you are probably most accustomed to. Overall, a well packaged transfer worth the investment (you’re welcome, Raro… when can I expect my check?).

Nightmare City
For all the negative things I had to say about Nightmare City, at least it’s pretty damn original and fun. It’s not your typical zombie film, offering more intelligent “undead” that wield weapons, make semi-rational decisions and run. Fans of average, run of the mill zombie media may not find enjoyment in the film, but I suggest you put away that Walking Dead chubby every seems to have, take a risk and watch something different, such as Nightmare City. The gore isn’t necessarily excessive, but there is a decent amount. The acting is exactly how good you would expect it to be (although a lot of that is to blame on the almost early FMV game style audio dubbing) and although the plot is downright silly and, let’s face it, it is a stupid movie, you will find yourself having a good time, whether you are laughing at it for one or two of the various reasons you should be, I think you will be pleasantly pleased with Nightmare City.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Mild mannered reporter, Hugo Stiglitz.
  • Runner up for worst zombie makeup.
  • Mel Ferrer or Tommy Lee Jones?
  • Ninja Doc!
  • Blood drinking zombies.
  • Women’s lib and coffee talk.
  • Best amusement park ride ever!
  • The nightmare truly is a reality. Harsh.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

There is a decent amount of the ‘bright red bonanza’ as well as few other spectacles, like a head explosion.

5

blood

BREASTS

What would an aerobics class be without boobs?

8

beast

BEASTS

Running zombies are a scary thing, regardless of how stupid your characters are.

6.6 OVERALL
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Watch the video review of “Nightmare City”!

trailers

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Nov

Comments Off on Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
1986 – X – Arrow Video

Texas Chainsaw Massacre really the set the bar with horror back in 1974. It goes without saying that it is one of the greatest horror films of all time, so when Cannon Films acquired the rights to the franchise in the 80’s, a sequel was inevitable. Giving the original creator Tobe Hooper full creative control, it must have been a lot of pressure. How can a sequel live up to all this hype and deliver the same level of atrocity and macabre as depicted in the original? Tobe Hooper simply found the answer in not following the same formula as the first. Instead he took the film in a different direction, focusing more on gore and comedy, making it completely a slapstick for the criminally insane. Certainly an audacious and risky move, but would it actually work?

tcm2_2And he does this right from the start. Immediately following a text scrolling narrative echoing the events of the first film, it’s thirteen years later as two cackling college jug heads on their way to Dallas are popping shots at signs with a revolver from a car and calling K-OKLA radio station, badgering the leggy DJ appropriately nicknamed Stretch (Caroline Williams, meow!). Since these douchebags are refusing to hang up, Stretch has to keep them on the line and on the air (did radio stations actually use this lamebrain phone system?) as a large pickup truck, proud of its state’s stereotype by displaying some buck antlers and a confederate flag, chases them on what seems like the world’s longest bridge, until a familiar chainsaw wielding, masked maniac saws the top off one guy’s head and consequently crashing the car. Apparently city folk aren’t welcome ’round these parts.

Time to call in the cavalry! Former Texas Ranger (looking at it now, I’m not sure if they mean baseball player or an actual Texas Ranger) “Lefty” Enright, played by a manic Dennis Hopper, is at the scene of the crime. Although he’s ridiculed by his peers, Lefty knows exactly who did this… the same scumbags that tormented his niece and nephew, Sally and Franklin Hardesty. And no, this isn’t a string of typos. In a Soap Opera type of twist, Lefty is the uncle to the protagonists of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and he’s been hunting down the Sawyer clan ever since. Desperate, and most likely lonely, Lefty prints a want ad regarding any information on this brutal slaying (and for that special someone). Stretch brings him a tape with the slaying recorded on to it to which he shortly requests her to play it on the radio, which I’m sure the FCC will have no problems with. Still, it’s better than anything that Lady Gaga dude puts out.

tcm2_3But first, a little comical scene of Dennis Hopper arriving at a workshop, throwing phat stacks of cash on the table, like he just won some games of dice (these two things are funny to visualize in slow-motion along with any rap song), arming up with several chainsaws of varying size and madly hacking a log up outside, testing the chainsaws. He does this entire scene without a single line of dialogue, deadpan face, as the owner of the shop laughs to himself like he’s a mad scientist. This scene is the horror movie equivalent to Willem Defoe’s death scene in Platoon. It’s that over the top, but it’s that damn good.

Well, who else should hear this new hit but a welcoming and familiar face, Drayton Sawyer (for those of you who may not know the name, he ran the gas station in the first film), who just won a local chili cook-off contest! Turns out the Sawyer’s have been running a traveling food truck business since the first movie and I have to say, this is a very clever idea. After a probable manhunt took place following the events of the first film, a ‘meals on wheels’ service would allow these killers to move freely without getting caught and disposing of bodies. It’s genius (and I’m sure copyrighted… shucks). Hysterically cursing at the wheel, he turns it around to send the boys on a little search and destroy mission.

tcm2_4Nobody does search and destroy missions quite like the Vietnam veteran hippie with an exposed metal plate in his head, Chop Top, who it turns out is the twin brother of the Hitchhiker character in the first film… another soap opera twist, played amazingly by the characteristic Bill Moseley (and most likely one of his best roles). Seriously, this guy is all over the place. One minute he’s making a joke about one thing, then another, then he goes into a psychotic rage. He truly defines a psychopath. Chop Top arrives at the radio station shortly after LG, who does… something at K-OKLA, leaves for some grub, he asks Stretch to play the “special Lefty request”. Suddenly out of the darkness, the man in the mask, Leatherface bursts out with his chainsaw, waving it ferociously into the air, dinging Chop Top’s exposed metal plate (oh, that’s why they call him that!). With Stretch having locked herself in a room, LG returns to find Chop Top digging through old records, all while spouting some of the best one-liners ever. Chop Top belts his head continuously with a hammer, while Leatherface is falling in love… yeah, it’s strange to see and even more strange to describe. You see, since Stretch isn’t showing him fear, he falls for her and begins thrusting with his chainsaw, making for one of the most sexually awkward scenes ever. It’s so awkward, high schools should show them for abstinence videos. Leaving her to live (unbeknownst to Chop Top), the two bail with LG’s body.

Stretch follows them to an abandoned amusement park, rather fitting given the tenants. She falls into a trap, placing her inside the Christmas colored, bone scattered death trap just in time for Lefty to arrive, fully loaded with chainsaws and spewing the word of god, which is a bit cliche. Both Stretch and Lefty are left to their own devices if they want to get out alive. Stretch uses her charm on the wits of Leatherface (who even puts the skin of a face over hers) to try and escape and Lefty… well, he just starts tearing this place to shreds, howling like hobo on a meth bender with nothing to lose, “BRING IT DOWN! BRING IT ALL DOWN!” He finds Stretch, reminiscent of the dinner scene from the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with the Sawyer family, as he claims to be The Lord of the Harvest (not to be confused with The Lord of the Flies). And then, in a more battle more epic than Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader’s final duel, Lefty has it out with Leatherface, chainsaw to chainsaw! Madness on an unmeasurable scale unfolds from here.

tcm2_6Believe it or not, but this film initially received an X rating. The filmmakers decided to release it as Unrated so it would be allowed to play in more theaters. Even during its home video release, it still was Unrated. It wasn’t until the lousy, bare (no extras!) release in 2000 by MGM it was finally given an R rating. But we’re not talking about the MGM releases. We’re talking about this crisp, clean transfer from Arrow Video (with a few noticeable scenes of noise, but it’s not too bad), which looks amazing on a big screen in Blu. For you surround sound fans… sorry, they stuck with stereo for this release, but that’s how we like it.

And how about those extras? Arrow filled this release with so many extras, you’ll be stuffed. A good portion is carried over from the MGM “Gruesome Edition”, but that didn’t stop Arrow from adding plenty more, one of the coolest being Tobe Hooper’s previously unreleased short, The Heisters and another film Eggshells. On top of that are a few retrospectives on Mr. Hooper and possibly the most amusing feature on here, a fifteen or so minute rant from the man who played Leatherface, but it’s followed by about a half hour rebuttal by Stephen Thrower. Slap that in a sweet package with some astounding artwork and a hundred page book and there are enough extras on here to make this release thick and meaty. After all, it’s all about the meat… don’t skip on the meat.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
If you want to see Dennis Hopper screaming at the top of his lungs while waving chainsaws wildly in the air and going bats#*t crazy, then this is the movie for you. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 would literally be like looking into the mind of a madman. This is one of the most outrageous and insane films out there and still somehow remains comprehensible. I’m not sure it’s even possible to compare this to its original counterpart since they really aren’t in the same league. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a parody of the original, making a goofball, splatstick comedy out of a serious toned serial killer movie, but that is in no way a bad thing. All the characters are completely ridiculous and over the top, but they are playing along with the hyper-violent, daffy tone of the movie (especially Bill Moseley’s Chop Top) that it all somehow makes sense and dammit all, if it’s not entertaining in a psychotically hypnotizing way. It like being on a hallucinogenic and seeing all the ravings of a lunatic come to life, with the colors to make it really ‘pop’. The buzz isn’t back… it never went away.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Splitting headache.
  • Dennis Hopper… acting or actually that crazy?
  • Incoming mail!
  • Leatherface in love.
  • The Last Round Up, makers of the meatiest chilli!
  • Nam Land!
  • Saw vs. saw!
  • Crazy Caroline Williams Dance.
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

We start with some punk getting half of his head sawed off, then another person pelted in the head repeatedly with a hammer, throw some guts in here for the perfect gore-met!

6

blood

BREASTS

One scene in particular, where Caroline Williams has soda and ice sprayed all over her legs and chest will have the young ones getting funny feelings for the first time.

10

beast

BEASTS

The psychopathic Chop Top and Leatherface square off with Dennis Hopper, armed head to toe in chainsaws. This is what Michelangelo would have painted in the Sistine Chapel had he seen this movie.

8.3 OVERALL
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Oct

Comments Off on Maniac

Maniac
1980 – Unrated – Blue Underground

If there is one thing that the 80’s did for us (besides give us cocaine and Alf), it was install a paranoia in us through movies. Horror movies were evolving, becoming more horrifying and grotesquely more realistic. We were looking over our shoulders constantly and assuming any sound in the middle of the night was a murderer that broke into our homes. These movies also outraged sensitive cinema goers, claiming this type of movie breeds wackos. One such film would be simply be called Maniac and with a title like that, you should know what you’re walking into. Yet for audiences back then, they were disturbed by what they saw. Could it have really been that sadistic?

When the special effects are done by Tom Savini, the man who did Dawn of the Dead and was fresh off the gruesomely reviewed Friday the 13th, combine that with William Lustig, a guy whose earlier works were porn, you should know what you are walking in to. Actor Joe Spinell brought such a twisted and yet realistic spin on the psychotic main character Frank Zito, that you would think with this flick, the premise was so alarming and the effects were disturbingly visceral, that anybody watching the film didn’t think a murder could be depicted with such ferocity and carnage and shame on them for being so naive. The combination of these three men bring this film to deranged new levels and showcase a level of mayhem to be unmatched. It angered feminists, critics hated it, so let’s degrade ourselves and plunge into the filthy world of a psychopath!

maniac_2As a couple snuggles up on the beach, a prowler watches from one of those… binocular things… I forget what they are called, but you use to find them in large cities and you put a quarter in them and you can see the city. Anyway, after rolling around on each other like pale leather bags in a mildewy blanket, the man leaves to gather firewood… on the beach. It doesn’t take long for him to be garroted by the prowler, who then sneaks up on the sleeping girlfriend and slices her neck. Her screams fade into overweight, sweaty killer known as Frank, as he shoots up out of bed in a cold sweat, screaming like a lunatic and crying and judging how the interior of this small apartment is decorated, I’d wake up screaming and crying every day too.

Later that evening, two prostitutes (one of which is very eager for that one last trick to pay rent, son) see Frank, who is probably the shadiest looking person in an already shady area, takes one of the streetwalkers upstairs where he has her model like in them fancy magazines. Within moments, he charms the lady of the night by showing the size of his… money clip and starts making out with her pretty intensely, rolling on top of her and for that, believe me, I think she earned that cash. Have you ever put a warm, doughy dinner roll on top of a green bean? Well anyway, Frank starts to become frustrated and chokes this hooker to death and crying immediately afterwards. I’ve heard of crymaxing, but killmaxing? Is that a thing? As he mutters to her, “Why did you make me do it?” he scalps her using a box cutter, which I have to say, watching this will make you flinch in pain. That’s your grotesque Savini special effects at work for you there.

So what exactly is Frank doing with these scalps? If he were Apache, they would be trophies of some sort, but we actually aren’t too far off. Frank nails the scalps to the heads of mannequins that he’s dressed in the clothes of his recent victim, thus in his mind, honoring the person and allowing them to live on forever. It seems Frank feels what seems to be a motherly attachment to them, talking to them and scolding them, which makes sense seeing as it’s often hinted throughout the film that he had mother issues.

maniac_4Leaving his apartment once again with a disassembled 12 gauge shotgun in a trumpet case, he follows a couple out of a disco (yeah, those existed at one point) to what kids would call ‘make-out point.’ The stud in this scene, by the way, is played by Tom Savini, who is desperately trying to get ‘some’. The floozy is resistant at first, but who can resist a mustache as powerful as that? Tom Savini’s mustache has rivaled other great ‘staches in history, like Tom Selleck’s. After some serious necking in the backseat, the woman sees Frank peeping through the window like a little kid at the zoo and talks Savini into leaving. Flicking on the headlights, they see Frank standing in the night. He pounces on the windshield, armed with his shotgun and blows Tom Savini’s head off. And I meant right the freak off, spraying gallons of blood and whatever foods happened to be on the Kraft services table that evening. This scene is so graphic, it could give the head explosion scene from Scanners a run for its money.

After proving to those two that disco is dead, Frank cries himself to sleep after a healthy internal monologue about “stopping the fancy women” and handcuffing himself to a mannequin. He wakes up for a midday stroll through the park, where a photographer, Anna (played by ex-Bond girl Caroline Munroe), snaps a shot of him. Frank notices and casually strolls up to her belongings, snagging her address and goes about his day (cue non-conspicuous whistling).

Since they had to bore you with that scene of exposition, they throw you a bone and kill another woman. This time, a young nurse decides to reject a ride home from a friend and tread home solo in the middle of the night, while reading a newspaper with the headline, “MANIAC KILLS TWO MORE!” She soon notices she is being stalked and tries running through the subway station, hiding in a bathroom. This scene is heavily borrowed in other movies, including Alexander Aja’s High Tension (he would later go on to produce the remake of Maniac!) and it’s probably due to not only its pacing, but the idea of a stranger tracking you through a vacant space and having to hide with no escape. After a few moments, she believes the killer has fled, losing interest and as she washes her face in the sink, Frank stabs her through the back with a bayonet.

maniac_5Eventually the filmmakers realize that even a movie called Maniac can’t be composed completely of scenes that depict brutal murders of women, so Frank pays a visit to Anna, but in a very friendly and possibly romantic manner. Dressed nicely, he invites her to dinner to which she accepts and believe it or not, but the two seem to be hitting it off and it comes across as very authentic. Wanting to see him again, Anna invites Frank to one of her photo shoots, where Frank humbly arrives and everything seems innocent enough, until he meets Rita. Frank steals a necklace of hers and leaves the set, only to pay a visit to Rita’s home late a night with the necklace, posing as just a friend returning it. But would a friend kidnap you and tie you up? Maybe, but certainly not in a hostile, psychotic manner. With Rita kidnapped, Frank paces and spouts off about being abused and being left all alone, which implies he is most likely talking about his mother. Frank tells her that she will never leave him again, as he plunges a switchblade right into her chest and adding her scalp to a growing collection of mannequins.

Well this is becoming downright depressing! Maybe a visit from Anna will perk him right up. Frank picks her up to take her to a show, but a quick detour at his mother’s grave in the cemetery before hand. No sign of this night going sour, especially as the sky turns black and the fog rolls in. At the grave, Frank begins to blubber like a baby and as Anna tries to console him, he tries to choke her. I’m sure he likes to think of it as ‘hugging her neck’, but Anna fights him off and even slices his arm open with a shovel. Wounded, Frank chases after Anna, but slows down and seems to become lost… especially mentally as he hears his mother’s voice calling out for him, bringing him to his knees. And then like true Savini fashion, the rotten corpse of his mother bursts from the ground and terrorizes him! If he hasn’t lost his mind already, he certainly is now. Back at his home after fleeing the cemetery, he cries to himself as he notices that the mannequins are slowly becoming alive and they are very unhappy.

Maniac is a film that makes you feel filthy and unclean for watching it, but that’s what I love about it. It’s a character study of a truly, deeply disturbed human being. You’re audience to his personal torment and are forced to watch his violent actions. But there is a sympathetic side, as he weeps and talks nonsense to himself, you can feel the misguidance he had growing up and can’t help but feel sorry for him. It’s at the moment you begin to question why you are on his side. He’s done such vile things, are you supposed to feel that way? But that’s another thing that makes this movie great; you root for the bad guy without even knowing it.

Maniac
With an anathema you love to hate or hate to love, a dark and seedy look into his sick, perplexed world, overflowing with gore and other gross stuff, it’s enough to make you question your own sanity. At the dawn of the slasher flick era, Maniac stood above them as the indisputable champ of shocking horror, visually and methodically. It is perhaps the darkest serial killer pic since Psycho and would pave way for others, such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. If there is anything positive to take away from the film, it’s that Frank was able to score a babe like Anna. So that means maybe there is hope for some of us.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Sleeping and peeping.
  • Nightmare apartment.
  • Is Frank Zito gonna have to choke a broad?
  • Scalping sicko.
  • Sweaty and crying… or hungry?
  • Buck shot cranium massage!
  • Bond babe!
  • Zombie mom issues.
  • Torn to pieces!
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

The scalping looked good for the time, but the shotgun scene will make your head explode…

7

blood

BREASTS

Bubble bath included.

10

beast

BEASTS

Joe Spinell doesn’t play Frank Zito… he seemingly IS Frank Zito and it’s downright terrifying.

8.6 OVERALL
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News report on the controversy it caused.

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Watch the trailer of “Maniac!”

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