Jul

suspiria

Ready for a far out science fiction adventure? Well, here’s something groovy you may want to check out, dig it? Ok, I promise I’ll lighten up on the all the hepcat slang. In the spirit of the 1950’s, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is homage to the black and white beatnik flicks, absurdly silly sci-fi films like Plan 9 from Outer Space and even musicals, like Rocky Horror Picture Show. Normally mixing this many genres can make a film incoherent or confusing, but here it seems to all blends together… like nice, old fashioned milkshake.

Beginning in the science fiction element, our title character Johnny X, full name Jonathan Xavier, is banished from his home world for being too wild and reckless, like his role model, the reckless rock star (possibly in the vein of Elvis) Mickey O’Flynn, played by, in the oddest casting choice, Creed Bratton from The Office. So as a punishment from the head councilman (played by Kevin McCarthy in his final role), Johnny is sent to Earth, until he can do a selfless act. But with an attitude like Johnny’s, what do think is going to happen next?

One year later, a drop dead gorgeous woman named Bliss abruptly enters a diner in literally the middle of nowhere and seduces the young man behind the counter, Chip and the two are about to take off… that is, until Johnny and his gang, The Ghastly Ones, crash the party. This is where the film jumps genres from beatnik to musical, but does it casually. You go along with the musical number, snapping along, as the singing provides exposition, as Johnny uses what he calls the ‘Resurrection Suit’. This suit gives him the ability to control others, but Chip manages to pull off some heroics and saves Bliss as they flee into the desert.

HBTMOverhearing what is going on, a patron at the diner by the name of King Clayton (played by the always favorable Reggie Bannister) who just so happens to be the manager of Mickey O’Flynn, offers a deal with Johnny: Help him with his ‘situation’ with Mickey and in return, he will bring back the soda jerk Chip and Bliss. And what situation would that be? Well, it’s not that he didn’t show up for rehearsal as the news previously had reported… turns out, King Clayton is in deep with loan sharks to keep his theater open and Mickey was gonna pack the house and pay the debt, except that he croaked the night before the rehearsal. So the idea is to get the Resurrection Suit back to reanimate the recently departed Mickey to put on the show. Could this be that selfless act that gives Johnny the ticket to go home?

Well as luck would have it, King Clayton is Chip’s uncle and along with Bliss, they walk right into the lion’s den, so to speak. Putting all grudges aside, leaving Bliss for his new girl (and gang member) Bobbi Socks, Johnny gets ready for the show. However, the sluggishly oaf and appropriately named Sluggo, in an act of independence, sabotages the suit and flees with the now reanimated Mickey and kidnapping Bliss along the way. Recruiting Chip into the gang, baptizing him as ‘Soda’, the two put their differences aside and head off to save Bliss, who Sluggo is demanding in exchange for the Resurrection Suit. And so begins the final battle. Will Johnny defeat Sluggo and save the girl? Will he get home? Don’t worry. All of these questions are answered in the final act.

Overall, the movie is an entertaining romp that those with love of retro cinema and serials will love. It also has some silliness that brings the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra to mind. It not only has a sense of humor, but you a splash of love for everything that is the 50’s. Director Paul Bunnell brings all together fantastically to bring you something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is a throwback to those beatnik romps with greasers, gangs, dames, slime balls, dweebs, thugs, Martians and weirdoes… all in the name of love. It’s an adventure, it’s a musical, and it’s groovy. Check this one out. Dig, Daddy-O (Oh come on, I had to end on some cool slang)?

You can purchase The Ghastly Love of Johnny X here!

roadside attractions

  • Devo hat.
  • Soda shake romp.
  • Hepcats and dames.
  • Rock-a-billy zombie Creed.
  • World domination… with science!
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Nothing to really see hear, but that’s not what it’s about.

7

blood

BREASTS

Plenty of busty dames to oogle at.

8

beast

BEASTS

Sluggo and a zombie Mickey O’Flynn. Even the girls are deadly.

6.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer here!

trailers

dripper
Jul

The Burning: chosen by General Relativity

Cropsey, protagonist slasher of “The Burning”, is a camp maintenance dude who is brutally burned in prank gone wrong. Written by Oscar-grubbing producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, “The Burning” is one of the archetypal summer camp slasher movies. Among the highlights, a brutally slow murder of a prostitute and incredibly swift takedown of about five kids on a raft using an absurdly sharp pair of hedge clippers. Also Jason “George Costanza” Alexander plays a a cool athletic bro, whose full head of curly hair is the envy of all campers and Fisher Stevens, of Short Circuit, plays a skinny weirdo. I can relate to Cropsey. When I was in 3rd grade, I attended Junior Chrono-scout camp. I was teased by the cool kids and jocks, probably because my interests skewed toward reading books about spacetime rather than pogs or yo-yos. One night, when I was out stargazing with my melvin friends, Ed Podgorski took my whitey tighty briefs out of my bag and threw them on the roof of the cabin. So I murdered him and his entire group of friends and I have returned to the Junior Chrono-naut Camp ever year on the anniversary to exact the same vengeance.

Friday the 13th: Part 3D: chosen by Die-Anne Takillya

To me, this is the best of the F13 franchise. Of course, I’m a sucker for cheesy 3D effects; after all, nothing says ‘good times’ like objects flying at your face… ahem.  But yes, this is the flick with some of the best kills: Harpoon gun to the eye, bare hands skull crushing, upside down male bisection right through the groceries, yikes!! Also, for my money, this one has the best old guy that predicts doom for the horny teenagers, I mean, he’s waving an eyeball around! Why don’t they listen? My only complaint about this one is the ridiculous side-story about Chris and her already surviving Jason once. Personally, I think final girl rules should have applied here, and she should have ended up taking a dirt nap, just like Adrienne King’s character in Part 2. But, we have to chase her traumatized behind around and she has not one, but two- count ‘em: TWO! floating canoe hallucination-driven freakouts before the authorities drag her out of our lives forever. The hallmark of this one is of course Jason donning his trademark hockey mask, red markings and all. Other highlights include wormy boy getting the best of some rude biker punks, an excellent sweater knotted around the neck by Rick, Chris’ uptight yuppie boyfriend, and a pair of the biggest bongs I’ve ever seen. Let’s pack up and take a trip to Crystal Lake!

Madman: chosen by The Goon

Would you believe that Madman was originally based on the Cropsy Murders tale? No? Are you calling me a liar? Well, it’s true. But some other movie called The Burning came out first (heard that some Fisher Stevens and Jason Alexander dudes were in it and that Tom Savini guy did the effects… might be worth checking out), so they had to tweak the story a bit. Madman takes place on the last day of camp and during a cautionary tale about the title character, Madman Marz, one of the campers shouts his name and so the hunt begins! Marz, a very large dude who stomps around ripping and bashing things apart, stalks the camp, picking off the stupid counselors one by one as they do stupid things. Have I mentioned they’re stupid? They follow the formulated clichés, which could turn you off, but luckily the film saves it with over the top, gory deaths. Madman takes course over one dark night, which helps keep the story flowing at a good pace and I have to mention how well lit this movie is. The blue hues, mixed with the ambiance of howling wind and creaking wood floors, give the film a calm, but alarming feel to it. Overall, Madman is an underrated slasher, most likely due to its seemingly simple setup… and hammy acting, but underneath that is a gory, interesting slasher flick with a lot to offer. During the film, you’re left with that ‘last day of camp’ sadness, because you found who you were, you made friends and now you’re leaving… because you are being murdered. Oh, don’t expect this film to end happily. Interesting enough, there was supposed to be a sequel, involving the two surviving characters, one of which was institutionalized, but it never came to be. Oh yeah, check out my video review for Madman!

Hotel Hell: chosen by Barry Goodall

There are a lot of reasons not to stay in  cheap motels in the south. Bed bugs, cross burnings in the courtyards or the possibility of ending up in the owner’s BBQ recipe just to name a few. Motel Hell instilled this fear in me at an early age and nearly made me go vegan. Well only briefly, but who really wants to move to Portland? It stars the amazing Rory Calhoun as the hotel owner Farmer Vincent. He and his crazy sister have been kidnapping tourists and grinding them up into their BBQ meat to sell to the townsfolk.  But a good BBQ recipe is all in the preparation and Farmer Vincent likes to plant his victims up to their necks first and then cuts their vocal cords so they sound like they’re gargling mouth wash. I think that keeps em’ from tasting too gamey. Silly at times and disturbing at others it’s one of the classic summer time b-movies. Also be on the lookout for a guy in a pig’s head with a chainsaw during the gratuitous “damsel in distress strapped to a conveyor belt” scene. Remember, it takes all kinds of critters…to make Farmer Vincents fritters.

Jaws: chosen by Tiger Sixon

Most horror films make ya scared of the dark, be it with mask wearing psychos, slime covered aliens, or zombie insurance salesmen. It takes a special kind of horror film to make you scared of the DAY, as Jaws does. Nothing screams “summertime” more than swimming on a crowded beach on a nice afternoon. In Jaws though, the screams of “summertime” quickly turn to “SHARK!” as a man-eating beast from the deep makes a snack out o’ humans. The shark ruins all kinds of summer fun: sailing, swimming, holiday trips with relatives you can’t stand, and more. With blood and beast to spare, Jaws remains a summer classic–and still keeps people outta the water.
Sleepaway Camp: chosen by DoktorSummer is a accursed mixture of the sublime and the horrific: beautiful girls in bikinis and screaming heat waves which melt pavement; three months off and nothing to do; summer camp. Summer camp is the epitome of the best and worst that summer has to offer, and Sleepaway Camp is the motion picture embodiment of summer camp. There are horny, idiot boys and snotty, mean girls. Creepy camp counselors and staff. Idiotic group games and activities. Awkward making out which reminds you of the time you secretly watched Daddy and second daddy making love. Wait, what? … And then there’s the really scary stuff, the things you get lifelong therapy for: short shorts and half shirts, on the guys. BLARGH! Best of all, just like boarding the bus to return home, Sleepaway Camp knows how to put innocent summer fun to an end with extreme prejudice. Choke on that, M. Night Shyamalan.

Jul

Happy Birthday to Me

The movie industry hit it big in the horror genre with the now slasher legends Halloween and Friday the 13th. It opened a flood gate of imitators and wanna-be’s, many of which copied the formula too closely, leaving them to be called ripped offs. Not all of them, mind you. Some of these ‘rip offs’ managed to take the basic components of slasher formula and run with it, making their own unique film. Two of these films just happen to be Canadian! I mean, can you believe it? My Bloody Valentine and Happy Birthday to Me would slip out from their predecessor’s shadows and right into the radar of the MPAA.

Happy Birthday to Me, which seems like a silly little horror flick at first glance, is actually full of surprise shocks in this ‘who-done-it?’ mystery, chock full of violence and gore… which unfortunately the before mentioned MPAA had a field day cutting.

So meet Virginia, she smokes a pack a day, but wait, that’s me… Wait. Those are Train lyrics. I apologize. Allow me to restart. Meet Virginia, newly accepted into the elite ‘Top Ten’, a snobbish group of the richest kids at the Crawford Academy and I have to say… they are all douche bags. Every single one of them. Every night, the group meets every night at the Silent Women Tavern. This is where the film’s first kill comes in. One of the top ten, Bernadette, is nearly strangled in her car by an unknown assailant until she escapes from the vehicle only to have her throat slashed.

The rest of the Top Ten barely seems concerned that one of their friends never showed up (or is even present for the remainder of the rest of the film). After one of the Ten, Greg, causes a problem like the bro he is with another patron, the crew flee the scene to jump a bridge that they call ‘The Game.’ You can see the level of creativity in this group. Virginia shouts ‘Mother’ as the vehicle she is riding in jumps the bridge. Her only real friend, Ann, tries to stop her. Upon landing, she runs out of the vehicle and straight to her mother’s grave, boasting how proud she would be of her for finally being part of the exclusive socialite club. Clearly, we have a healthy individual for the remainder of this nearly two hour film.

HBTMVirginia sees a therapist, Dr. Faraday, who is clearly in his sixties and overweight, but that doesn’t stop him from wearing skin tight polyester button ups, proudly showing off his pasty, hairy chest (resembling if you put pubic hair all over bread dough) with a gold medallion dangling loosely. Because, let’s be honest. That’s who you want advice from when you are trying to piece a tragic childhood together that you can only remember fragments of. Which is what happens throughout the course of the film: Virginia assembles, piece by piece, what exactly happened to her.

Virginia’s father leaves away for business during the weekend of her birthday and while this is going on, members of the elegant Top Ten begin to die in horrible fashions. The creepy foreign exchange student (and I mean creepy. The dude breaks into Virginia’s room to steal panties) gets his face ripped apart by a motorcycle, Greg has his chest smashed by his own weight set, only after having an epiphany that the group is growing distant and Alfred… poor Alfred. Regardless of how creepy this individual may seem, the poor guy is gutted while trying to give Virginia flowers one night when she is visiting her mother’s grave. So, does this make her the killer?

The next day at the school dance, she brings home another member, Steve, only to skewer him through the face with a kabob, so yeah… I guess that kinda does make her the culprit. Loud and clear. Or does it? Well, trying to figure out what is going on, Dr. Faraday stays with her while her father is gone and I have to say, this is actually kinda creepy. You definitely get a sexual vibe from him. I know it’s probably supposed to come off as more of a caring guardian figure, but it doesn’t. Anyway, he fails to give her any answer, so she kills him with a fire poker.

During the movie’s climax, the day of Virginia’s birthday, Virginia finally pieces together her history, learning that her mother was a drunk and was having an affair. Her mother, after throwing Virginia a birthday party, which none of the Top Ten showed up to, drives straight to her lover’s house to confront him and we learn Virginia has a half sister. On the way home, Virginia’s mother flies off the bridge, drowning herself and nearly killing Virginia. After this revelation, the killer comes forward, just in time as her father comes home to celebrate her birthday.

HBTMThis all leads up to an ending with quite a unique twist. This twist unfortunately doesn’t have much of a build-up do to rewrites and can seemingly come out of nowhere, possibly turning the viewers head to the side as they ponder aloud, “huh?” This doesn’t it make it any less effective, however. In fact, the movie ends on a note of uncertainty and dread, all while Virginia sings “Happy Birthday to Me.”

Happy Birthday to Me seems like it may be a low budget hack and slash, but it’s actual a very sharp, studio film, directed by J. Lee Thompson, the director Cape Fear. Sure it follows pieces of your standard slasher formula and at times the characters seem quite dimwitted. The film will also suspend your sense of belief at times, but never loses its’ charm. If you’ve never seen this film, you’ll keep guessing as to who the killer may be and what secrets they are trying to hide as the Top Ten is massacred one by one, which is a shame this film was heavily edited. There were some very gory death scenes. It’s always interested me that an uncut version of My Bloody Valentine exists, but not Happy Birthday to Me. It’s a shame.

Also interesting to note, before the Anchor Bay release of the film in 2009 which had the film’s original score, the previous DVD release by Colombia Pictures, for some bizarre and inhumane reason, replaced the creepy score by Bo Harwood and Lance Rubin, in favor of some ear vomiting disco. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of that edition. That soundtrack is bad enough to kill you.

roadside attractions

  • Matching gloves and scarf.
  • Who’s the douchiest?
  • Motorcycle Face lift.
  • Bench pressed.
  • It ain’t brain surgery.
  • Have your cake and eat it too.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Total gore-fest… is what I would say if the MPAA didn’t butcher this film.

5

blood

BREASTS

Steamy shower scene… plus Greg pumps iron, ladies.

7

beast

BEASTS

Yo, that Virginia chick be mad cray-cray! And that ain’t all!

6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie here.

trailers

dripper
Jun

Deep Red

Dario Argento, also known as the Italian Hitchcock. Not because he is a white, overweight, sexual deviant harassing his stars, but because he understands what makes a horror/thriller really good: suspense. The man really knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat (or in my case, a cheap, broken futon) and when it builds up until it can’t build up anymore, it knocks the breath out of you and kicks you back, but you come back for more. It’s a rush. Furthermore, both Hitchcock and Argento’s stories focus on a protagonist who is trying to solve a murder on their own. There’s something people don’t do anymore. Nowadays people just call the police. Boring.

I thought it would be appropriate if we took a look at the film that put Dario Argento on the radar, Profondo Rosso a.k.a. Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders (yeah, Italian films usually had at least eight or nine different titles). The movie starts off heartwarmingly terrifying enough with a struggle between two characters we can’t see, until one of them is stabbed to death and we hear a child scream, over a creepy child’s tune. It’s a familiar set up, but it’s Dario Argento’s execution throughout the film that makes this shocking and unique.

The LampThat was just the title credits, by the way. The film follows pianist (tee hee) Marcus, who one day heading home after visiting his friend Carlo, who has some rather odd jokes about rape and is involved with a transvestite (because, why not?), witnesses the death of a medium, Helga Ulmann. Earlier that day, Helga was using her sweet Professor X type powers (ok, they weren’t that cool) and begins to hear that child’s tune we heard at the beginning. Upon reading into this, she fingers a dark and twisted mind in the audience and then in a very stylish (and later to become Argento’s trademark) POV shot, that person gets up and leaves the lecture to kill Helga for being ousted. Or maybe they really had to pee.

Anyway, Marcus fails to save the medium and remembers a painting of several faces missing from the apartment, which will come into play later. But for now, we are introduced to what is probably the Italian film industry’s favorite occupation, reporter. This reporter, Gianna, is played by Daria Nicolodi, who will go on to collaborate with Dario Argento in many other films. She’s one of those no nonsense, women’s lib kinda girl (by the way, we here at The Lost Highway are down with the whole Women’s Lib thing…). Marcus can’t let go of this mystery. He searches for Carlo to ask him what he remembers from the night of the murder and we meet Carlo’s mother, who makes Angela’s Aunt from Sleepaway Camp look subtle and sane. Later, Marcus hears that same tune, only he is able to save his own skin. He and Gianna decide to look into this tune with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Giordani, who was an associate of Helga’s. This brings them to writer Amanda Righetti, who is murdered before Marcus can talk to her, but she leaves a very clever message written on her bathroom wall that is uncovered when Girodani later visits the crime scene and steams up the room (I just read how bad that sounds…)!

The LampThis turns out to be unfortunate for him, however. He basically put a giant bullseye on his back and partakes in what is one of the creepiest scenes to involve a doll. Perhaps influencing the Billy puppet from Saw, a two-foot-something puppet runs out from behind a curtain scaring the poop out of him! His reaction is that he is quite startled, but I think I would have screamed and ran around setting fire to the room. Meanwhile, Marcus and Gianna continue their end of the investigation in a deserted house, with plenty of close calls and thrills, tying all the previous clues together, bringing them to more clues. Only this time, the clues seem to point at Carlo as the culprit, who stabs Gianna and holds Marcus at gunpoint… but he couldn’t have been the killer, could he? Marcus was talking to him when Helga was killed. Hmm, further and further down the rabbit hole… It’s now in the final act that Marcus remembers what was in that painting he saw: The face of the killer! But who could it be? So many odd, colorful characters that it could be.

The movie concludes nicely, tying up all loose ends while making it look good, all in a grisly, gory, good old fashioned death scene with plenty of blood and gore. Deep Red doesn’t skip in that department, so all you sickos can get your fix here.

All of this stretches out over a two hour run time, which does seem a bit long for this. Being one of Dario Argento’s earlier works, as good as the suspense and tension is, it can feel drawn out. Deep Red definitely takes it time getting from one point to another, which can turn off some viewers (although they certainly would be missing an excellent movie). And if you are watching the Director’s Cut that Blue Underground put out back in 2007, the dialogue goes from English dubbed to Italian dubbed with English subtitles, since a fully dubbed Director’s Cut does not exist, it can be distracting to those who don’t want to read their movie during certain scenes.

Deep Red is intense, shocking and violent. It’s a mystery that will keep you guessing and you’ll get excited with each clue toward to reveal of the killer. No matter how many times I see this, sometimes I forget who the killer is and it’s like I’m watching it for the very first time. So, turn off the lights and lock the doors, and watch one of the more suspenseful movies from the 70’s. But, get the hell out of there if you start to hear any creepy children’s music.

roadside attractions

  • Take a shot every time you hear that children’s tune.
  • Take another shot every time there is atrocious dubbing.
  • Shaved with Glass!
  • Tranny Troubles.
  • Dolly Dearest.
  • Steaming up the bathroom.
  • Elevator Decapitation!
  • Pianist.
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

For a giallo, you see plenty of hacking, slashing and even a decapitation!

4

blood

BREASTS

Closest we get is a tranny and a psychic in robes.

8

beast

BEASTS

A tranny, a psychic, a pianist, a reporter and a crazy killer.

7 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie here.

trailers

dripper
Jun

posted by Barry Goodall | June 24, 2013 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Review by Barry Goodall

The Outing

At what point in history did the Genie become a giant smurf clown with the voice of Robin Williams?  According to middle eastern legend, the genie or Jin is supposed to be a mischievous demonic spirit that would trick you into taking a salt bath with a pack of cobras or get your friend to pee on a electric fence all due to a poorly worded wish, not some wise cracking Jack Nicholson impersonator with a talking parrot. Sure there’s been truly horrifying genies before like Sinbad or even Shaquille O’Neal in Shazaam but none have really captured that  level of creepy factor. Thankfully, movies like The Lamp aka The Outing bring us that more traditional Jin, a demon full of hate and evil… just like Barbara Eden did back in the 60’s.

Being an ancient genie trapped in a lamp for thousands of year gives a Jin a lot of pent of anger and cramped legs so when one is accidentally released by some burglars in an old lady’s house, it’s got a lot of killing to catch up on. Once free, the genie chops down two of the crooks pool party style while giving an axe to the noggin’ of another. Their hopes for finding the old lady’s treasure are pretty much nixed at that point. The cops show up, find the magic lamp with a matching bracelet and give them to the local museum…. yet another missed Antique Road Show opportunity. The museum curator puts them in an office supply room while his kleptomaniac daughter snags the bracelet to accessorize her flashdance sweatshirt. The jewelry is obviously cursed with the demon’s spirit, a sort of extreme friendship bracelet that causes Amy to become possessed herself. We know it’s demonic possession denoted by the glowing eyes and her deep man voice. Her friends don’t seem to notice or care and she easily convinces them to stay the night at the museum for some free after-hours tours and gruesome death and the hands of an ancient demonic spirit.

The LampThe genie starts offing her friends one by one. Not even a opera singing security guard can stop the carnage nor would we want it to really. There’s spear impalement, snake bites in a bathtub, death by a mummy, and a particularly gruesome twitch inducing neck twister. Up to this point the demon we see is mostly just smoke and red Kool-aid vision but It finally makes an appearance just as the budget runs out appearing to be a green alien puppet on roller blades. The Genie can snap guys necks but can’t seem to open doors (door opening obviously not covered in the genie handbook.) It pursues Amy’s dad whom she accidentally wished dead earlier during an argument and Amy must try to stop it before it kills him and possibly takes over the world through badly worded wishes. Birthday wishers everywhere best beware!

Barry Goodall says to give the Lamp a good rub down and always make sure your evil lamps are properly sealed from demonic leakage. This is really the film “Night at the Museum” should have been.

roadside attractions

  • Double axe to the noggin’
  • Locker room-fu
  • Opera singing security guards
  • Snake bite bath
  • Spear through the gut
  • Mummy-fu
  • Headcrush fu with optional rotation
  • Antique Roadshowing
  • Levitation and strangulation combo move
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Plenty of carnage but only during museum after hours.

8

blood

BREASTS

What the film lacks in a cohesive plot is made up for in gratutious nudity.

5

beast

BEASTS

1 mean-lean genie machine.

7 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie here.

trailers

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