Archive for the 'Horror movies' Category

Dec

Comments Off on To All A Goodnight

 

1980 – R – 87 Minutes – Scorpion Releasing
Starring Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Linda Gentile – Directed by David Hess

You mean to tell me that there’s a Christmas slasher flick written by The Incredible Melting Man himself, Alex Rebar and directed by David Hess, the sadistic Krug from The Last House on the Left? Well, sign me up! This sounds like a jolly-good show! You would think so, right? David Hess was a talented actor, but as a director, there’s nothing that really sticks out about To All A Goodnight. It’s a bland looking movie, not even using the Christmas element or lighting to make it stick out on a visual level. I wouldn’t say that it’s poorly directed, but it’s not exactly a masterpiece in cinematography. The writing is about as stock as a slasher can get, like made-from-the-can kind of slasher. Just pop that open, dump all the contents into a bowl and microwave it for five minutes. Sure, it may smell like a slasher film, but it sure doesn’t taste the same.

It’s hard to tell whether or not the writer and director duo wanted to capture the same spirit as Friday the 13th or if they were just hired guns, although I think it may be the latter considering the two are actually quite talented people. The film does reek of producers stepping in and taking control. After all, producers always know what’s best and have never screwed up a film. Ahem.  Again, that’s speculation on my half, but either way the end product isn’t really all that impressive, but I do have to admit there is a certain kind of sleaze to it that makes it watchable.

The story starts off in the past during Christmas vacation at the Calvin Finishing School For Girls where a prank goes horribly wrong, as they usually do in a horror film, and a girl falls off a balcony to her death, kinda reminding me of Prom Night, which came out the same year. So, there’s your slasher’s motive. If it feels like you’ve seen this done a hundred times before, it’s probably because you have. Fast forward two years later and the five girls responsible, Nancy, Melody, Leia, Trisha and Sam, have whatever reason to stay at school for Christmas break once again, which is quite a convenient coincidence for our killer. There is another girl, Cynthia, but she’s dispatched of by the killer only moments after being on screen that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Each girl takes on a cliched trope, but all seem to share the personality of spoiled, selfish teenage girl, making all but the lead, Nancy, unlikable. But hey, if there is anything that modern slashers have taught me, it’s who needs likable characters in a slasher?

All girls just wanna have fun, but how can a group of girls do that if their bothersome house mother, Mrs. Jensen, is there to babysit them? Why, by drugging her of course. Something about this feels very wrong, as the girls slip some sleeping pills into her milk and off to bed she goes. Now the girls can invite their rich, alcoholic boyfriends in their private jet, drink and get laid, basically every girl’s Christmas dream. Hell, porn legend Henry Reems (under the name Dan Stryker, a name better suited for a terrible ’70s cop show) pilots the spoiled, young men to the party. Now that there is a whole slew of victims, it’s pretty much paint by numbers here. Eventually one or two wonder off to do their own thing, usually sex, and get killed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a slasher, heck, it’s encouraged, but the kills are so dull and virtually bloodless that it hardly qualifies as entertaining. The only thing that really sticks out in my mind at the moment (which keep in mind it’s only been a few moments since I’ve seen it) is a Mario Bava-esque inspired killing when one couple is going about the horizontal rumba, the guy on top is shot in the back with an arrow, pinning down his lady lover and she is promptly decapitated. Oh, did I mention that the killer is hiding in a suit of knight armor when this happens? What I’m more interested in is how he found the time and snuck into knight’s armor all quiet and patiently waited in there until a couple decided to have sex right in that room in that exact spot placed in front of them. It’s actually pretty clever… or poorly thought out screenwriting.

Why, there’s even a Crazy Ralph knock-off named… Ralph. What the hell, why not? The film has absolutely no shame in ripping off Friday the 13th‘s fan favorite prophet of doom. He’s not only an obvious red herring (even by 1980 standards, near the beginning of the slasher genre), but he’s literally a red herring, dressed in red onesie and carrying around gardening sheers, spouting out nonsense about evil and protecting the girls and blah, blah, blah. I don’t know at what point slasher flicks decided that it would be implied that this particular type of character would be a simpleton, but even for the lowest common denominator of slashers, this feels pretty weak. Like, a copy of a copy of a copy. The man is essentially a giant toddler in his red underoos and his seemingly childish behavior and babbling.

At this point, the film is going to be taking the have-sex-and-get-killed rule a little too serious since just about every character is having sex or attempting to have sex and immediately murdered for it. I can picture in my head an overweight, balding producer demanding more sex and nudity and trying to justify it by murdering the teenagers for it. Of course, the final girl, Nancy, no longer feels like part of an ensemble, but sticks out like a sore thumb. Like, putting an Amish girl in a crowded punk rock show. While the others are drinking and having intercourse, she’s walking around fully clothed in what looks like a 1920’s nightgown and drinking a glass of milk. You know, just in case you couldn’t tell she’s the innocent one. So, one by one, or two by two actually, their numbers dwindle until it’s Nancy and some geeky guy who only got a handjob, so I guess that doesn’t count as intercourse, so he gets to survive. Now, I wouldn’t want to steal the excitement of revealing who the killer is from you, but if you really want to know, just think about who’s left alive. Yeah, it’s pretty underwhelming. I will tell you that it very much echos Friday the 13th, wherein a mother is seeking revenge for the death of her child. It’s pretty predictable in that sense, plus you know, Friday the 13th did it, so every cheap slasher film had to also.

If you thought that To All A Goodnight was a quick, cheap cash in on the then new slasher boom, you’d be correct. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, even for 1980, that I’ve mentioned was basically the start of the slasher boom, this one feels like a really, really bad cash-in. It’s like it took a look at Friday the 13th and Halloween and basically just said, “yeah, do that, but we don’t want to spend a whole lot of money and it has to be done next week.” This was the only film David Hess directed and to his credit, it’s not the direction that’s terrible… it’s everything else. To be fair, Alex Rebar would go on to write Demented and that was a pretty decent film. However, there is a sleazy vibe present throughout the movie and perhaps that’s because of the low budget nature of it, but it could also be porn star Harry Reems presence in the film.

I do have to ask, where were all the protesters and whiners when this movie came out? Silent Night, Deadly Night was targeted, picketed and pulled from theaters, but you never saw one person complain about a killer Santa in To All a Goodnight after their children saw an ad for it. Well, there’s your answer right there; it’s all in the marketing. I couldn’t find any information about the film’s budget or even so much a TV promo or radio spot. Plus, this movie is pretty awful and nobody cares if you protest a bad movie.

 

As time has been proof of, To All A Goodnight isn’t regarded as a great holiday classic or even a good slasher flick. It’s there and it exists and I’d recommend checking it out at least once, but I get the feeling it’s not going to be something you’ll get a hankering to watch every so often. Not even at Christmas.

Check out the whole dang movie.

May

Comments Off on Spectral (2016)

Welcome to another review, folks! You ever watch a movie, and hope that it’s good, like really wish it turns into a knockout, but then falls JUST short of it? That’s what you’ll get with this movie. Massive potential, a nice drive, but, in the end, it just can’t click that last gear to make it good. So, let’s dive into “Spectral,” a Netflix original.

If cliches make you groan, look away, now. There’s a lone soldier, marching through an unknown wasteland, to fight an unknown foe. Of course, he’s the only survivor of a group that came up against a new kind of enemy. Which begs the question: Why did the rest of his unit die at the hands of this adversary, but he was left alive, and alone? Did his unit hate him that much? Did he miss the ‘move out’ command while in the bathroom? I’m all for setting the scene, but this is stretching it. Oh, look, dead guys.

We should go that way, while ignoring the voice on the radio that’s almost yelling to wait for back up. Cliche number two, in almost as many minutes: He ain’t got time to bleed….er….wait for backup. And you, like me, will be wondering why. Spooky alley filled with war-torn debris and more dead people, not to mention a ghastly apparition? That’s the correct path, right there. Yup. He’s dead. Who saw that coming? Please raise your hands. Exactly.

Cut to a science lab where they will talk a lot of mumbo-jumbo that is completely pointless, as it has nothing to do with the main story. All it tells us is that it’s the future, which we kinda guessed, and they’re searching for a rare element. It’s so rare, in fact, that it used to be used in ink cartridges. Like people, scientists, in the past were just throwing away rare, and valuable, elements to make office toner cartridges. After a failed experiment, a proof of concept, really, the now main character is trying to get a government contract, but doesn’t land it.

Apparently the people in the uniforms instantly think of murder, and weaponizing the tech on display. If you think it’s another stretch, you’re right. After what results in a ‘I would never!’ the story moves on, having a hard pause for this piece of info that lead nowhere. This scene could’ve been skipped over, just to get to the next scene, and introduce the main character with half the dialogue, and none of the plot holes. And guess what? The movie does JUST THAT! Science McScruffyGuy gets sent to the unit that experienced all the death at the apparitions. Why? He invented the tech they use.

Science McScruffyGuy lands overseas with new tech, having been told about the ghost thing, which leads to the military unit trying to bust his chops. Of course, can’t have the military involved in a movie without that scene, can we? Fill in pointless exposition, old buddy syndrome, and then begin to take bets on who’s going to die in the next encounter with the ghosty ghosts. Let’s head into a war-torn city with a scientist who’s never been in combat, wielding tech that’s never been tested! That count you had on who’s going to die? Double it. ‘Cause even the cliché gods throw their hands up.

The scene in the building, as they ascend, looking for evidence of…something, is actually a pretty cool scene. This is where you start to see the influences of the movie begin to emerge, “Ghostbusters,” “Aliens,” and even some “Predator.” The homage is thick, but still BARELY original enough, so you don’t choke on your drink while they nudge you in the ribs with a ‘Huh? Huh? Did ya get it?’ We finally meet the enemy, and also recover the lone survivor of the last squad that went in to fight. So, what are we up against? Evil specters? Demons? Wrathful ghosts? Nope! Blue…mist….ish.

These blue mist creature things descend upon the new soldiers like locusts on a newly grown corn field. And, wouldn’t you know it? These things can only be seen with that exact, specific, one-of-a-kind camera that McScruffyGuy brought along. Now begins the second act: Survival in a war-torn country that looks a lot like the back lot to “Band of Brothers.” We run, scream, and flail our way through the next couple of scenes, only to end up in an iron factory. Because, you know, Third World countries still have those in abundance. Plus, they’re really convenient when you need a plot point.

We find out the invisible ghost-a-ma-things can’t touch, or cross, iron. So we spend the night with the soldiers, and their new orphan wards: Newt 2.0 and other kid. The exposition sleepover ends with the ghost-a-ma-things figuring out a way around the iron defenses, and going full zombie horde on the survivors, and their new dead weights. The next scene, however, is actually pretty cool, I cannot deny it. We begin the run for safety, the ghost-a-ma-things hot on their heels.

The pick up occurs in a town square-type setting, and honestly, this is the beginning of that ‘I didn’t think they’d kill them’ feeling. This scene is AWESOME! Tanks! Helicopters! Guns! Ghost-a-ma-things! Explosions! And all of this at once! This is the kind of scene that people that love the ’80s and all the glorious ridiculousness live for. The slow-motion shots are simply breathtaking, and the intensity can be felt with every second of what’s happening. So: Kudos on an epic scene, movie. However, all things must come to an end.

That moment, no matter how bad we wanted it to stay, is gone. We arrive at the bunker with the rest of the people that are left from the ghost-a-ma-things and all the war, too. During this scene is where lines are drawn, loyalties divided, and shouts get shoutier. So, remember how it took Science McScruffyGuy years to perfect the tech that he used in the camera that allows them to see the ghost-a-ma-things? Well, it takes him hours to weaponize it, and make it part of the standard kit that they hand out to the soldiers, ready to go and fight the ghosty-ghosts.

Here’s where we bring the review to an end, because we enter the final act, and, as you know, no spoilers in a Deadman review. The direction of this movie is great, taking huge cues, and notes from other movies, and all the greats. Acting ranges from pretty dang good to ‘Is that the read we’re going with on that line?’ There are some really cool shots, and some actual scares, but this movie, I feel, collapses under its own weight at a certain point. I still, however, will highly recommend watching it. Until next time, folks! Stay Tuned!

 

roadside attractions

  • Now those are some neat uniforms
  • Ain’t got time to bleed cliche
  • Ain’t got time for backup cliche
  • Ain’t got time for cliches cliche
  • If it’s such a rare substance why is it in printer cartridges?
  • Proof of concept equals murder
  • Have they never seen a horror film?
totals

2

blood  

BLOOD

Almost no gore, but there’s those effects.

1

blood  

BREASTS

None. Well. Ghost ones.

10

beast BEASTS

Awesome designs, and well executed.

 

6.0 OVERALL
dripper
Jan

posted by Doktor | January 5, 2017 | 2010's b-movies, Feature, Holiday films, Horror movies, Review by Doktor

Comments Off on The Twelve Slays of Xmas: The Twelfth Slay

Season’s Grievings from your friends here at The Lost Highway. 2016 has been a difficult year. We lost Professor Snape, Admiral Ackbar, and even Alf. We watched as the United States of Earth was divided down the middle in a vicious election which still threatens to end in a nasty divorce. There were devastating natural disasters and Russians hacking. It’s been a real bummer.

And now to compound things it’s the holiday season, the worst wonderful time of the year. “While everybody else is opening up their presents, (others are) opening up their wrists” because “the suicide rate is always the highest around the holidays.” (Kate Beringer, Gremlins). In light of this year’s events, and the weight of the holiday season, what’s a mutant to do?

This Xmas we decided to put together a little gift to answer that question, a list of advice gleaned from the reel world of b-movies. We watched twelve Xmas themed movies and learned twelve valuable lessons to help navigate life.

The Lost Highway proudly presents: The Twelve Slays of Xmas.

The Twelfth Slay of Xmas: A Christmas Horror Story

We’re finishing strong. A Christmas Horror Story an anthology with five stories so it’s a five-fer!

First: If you’re a teen fight all your natural urges. Lock yourself in a room and pray to Jesus until you’re an adult. Otherwise you’ll break into your school to film a documentary, or have the sexuals, or just be an insufferable jerk, and rightfully be murdered horribly. Or, worse yet, end up pregnant, a fate far worse than death, no matter how gruesome.

Second: Never trespass on someone’s property to steal a Xmas tree. There is good chance that the property is infested with evil, shapeshifting trolls that will kidnap your child and take his/her place. Once in your home the troll will wreck shop and kill everyone in its path. Just pay for a tree. They’re not that expensive.

Third: Don’t be a self-centered jerk family. Evil doesn’t really need a reason to destroy you, but it sure does make things easy when you’ve got the bastard equivalent of a neon sign pointing you out. When your whole family has said signs just kiss your butt goodbye. In other words, be good for goodness sake!

Forth: If Santa’s elves start acting crazy, like chopping into their own hand when offered a cookie, put those little monsters down. This is a sign of the elvish zombie infection and just like regular zombie infection, nothing good can ever come from a zombie outbreak. Aim for the head. Double tap.

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen A Christmas Horror Story yet stop reading and go watch the movie. There be spoilers ahead.

Fifth: If that last bit of advice seemed unrealistic, it was. Sort of. See, sometimes the infection isn’t “out there” in the world so much as it is inside one’s head. Sometimes life is a big M. Night Shymalan twist and what we thought were zombie elves are really just normal people, dressed in elf costumes, working crappy jobs at the local mall. Sometimes the truth is a regular guy, dressed as Santa, has flipped his lid and gone on a killing spree. So, before you’re all in on a sweet zombie stomping maybe take a moment to pinch yourself lest you later discover you’re not Santa, the elves are not zombies, and the light blinding you is headlights from the SWAT team about to take you out.

 

And there you have it: twelve days, twelve practical pieces of advice to help you navigate this crazy world, cherry picked from the treasure trove of therapeutic psychology that is b-movies and delivered by your friends at The Lost Highway. We hope you had a safe and happy Xmas and wish you all the best for the coming year.

Watch the trailer for “A Christmas Horror Story”

trailers

dripper
Jan

posted by Doktor | January 4, 2017 | 70's b-movies, Feature, Holiday films, Horror movies, Review by Doktor

Comments Off on The Twelve Slays of Xmas: The Eleventh Slay

Season’s Grievings from your friends here at The Lost Highway. 2016 has been a difficult year. We lost Professor Snape, Admiral Ackbar, and even Alf. We watched as the United States of Earth was divided down the middle in a vicious election which still threatens to end in a nasty divorce. There were devastating natural disasters and Russians hacking. It’s been a real bummer.

And now to compound things it’s the holiday season, the worst wonderful time of the year. “While everybody else is opening up their presents, (others are) opening up their wrists” because “the suicide rate is always the highest around the holidays.” (Kate Beringer, Gremlins). In light of this year’s events, and the weight of the holiday season, what’s a mutant to do?

This Xmas we decided to put together a little gift to answer that question, a list of advice gleaned from the reel world of b-movies. We watched twelve Xmas themed movies and learned twelve valuable lessons to help navigate life.

The Lost Highway proudly presents: The Twelve Slays of Xmas.

The Eleventh Slay of Xmas: Black Christmas

The call is always coming from inside the house. It doesn’t matter if it’s some random Friday night or Xmas eve, when there’s a killer on the loose with a penchant for calling his victims to terrorize them, he is ALWAYS doing so from inside the house. Moreover, the prevalence of cell phones has only served to further help the Phone Call Terrorist Psycho. Now the call can be coming from the same boat, train, plane (so long as it’s not taking off or landing), or any other number of places which heretofore had no phone lines.

So beware. The killer is calling from very close by, which makes sense because if he was far away he wouldn’t be much of a threat as a killer, would he?

Be sure to come back tomorrow for The Twelfth Slay of Xmas: A Christmas Horror Story

Watch the trailer for “Silent Night, Deadly Night”

trailers

dripper
Jan

Comments Off on The Twelve Slays of Xmas: The Tenth Slay

Season’s Grievings from your friends here at The Lost Highway. 2016 has been a difficult year. We lost Professor Snape, Admiral Ackbar, and even Alf. We watched as the United States of Earth was divided down the middle in a vicious election which still threatens to end in a nasty divorce. There were devastating natural disasters and Russians hacking. It’s been a real bummer.

And now to compound things it’s the holiday season, the worst wonderful time of the year. “While everybody else is opening up their presents, (others are) opening up their wrists” because “the suicide rate is always the highest around the holidays.” (Kate Beringer, Gremlins). In light of this year’s events, and the weight of the holiday season, what’s a mutant to do?

This Xmas we decided to put together a little gift to answer that question, a list of advice gleaned from the reel world of b-movies. We watched twelve Xmas themed movies and learned twelve valuable lessons to help navigate life.

The Lost Highway proudly presents: The Twelve Slays of Xmas.

The Tenth Slay of Xmas: Silent Night

We here at The Lost Highway are firm believers in the Ancient Greek idea of moderation. Anything done to excess can become a problem. We’ve seen it time and time again. Case in point, a small town with a big Santa festival draws a large number of Santa impersonators. What could be wrong with that, you ask? Well, if someone is bug nut crazy and wants to go on a killing spree dressed as Santa—and who HASN’T had that thought, amirite?—, such a small town would be a great place to go a murdering.

So see, even something as innocent as a Santa Claus festival can have dire consequences. You may be waving your hands dismissing this warning as so much hogwash, but ignore this admonition at your peril. We won’t be so tacky as to say we told you so, but… we told you so.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for The Eleventh Slay of Xmas: Black Christmas

Watch the trailer for “Silent Night”

trailers

dripper

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