The Lost Highway's B-movie Reviews and Cult Films
Nov

posted by Doktor | November 15, 2013 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, Action, B-movie Reviews, Review by Doktor

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Tagline: The Ultimate Team Of Woman And Machine.

Year: 1987 Runtime: 89 min

Director: Fred Olen Ray

Writer: Paul Garson (screenplay) & T.L. Lankford (additional material)

Starring: Heather Thomas, Jeffrey Combs, Ashley Ferrare

What does Airwolf, Blue Thunder, KITT, Ecto-One, Firefox, Streethawk, and the Highwayman semi’s  have in common? They are all over-the-top 80’s vehicles that graced our screens (big or small). As a little boy my heart skipped a beat when we saw them. All I ever wanted—EVAR—was to be the coolest person ever and own one. Having a cool ride was one thing, and I had my eye on a few of those too, but having a super military vehicle was the bee’s patellas!

As you can tell from that last sentence there was never any hope for me, regardless of what I rode around in.

Cyclone is another, less well known, motorcycle belonging to that illustrious bunch of mean machines. With a price tag of $5 million, Cyclone is 5/6th of a Steve Austin. Yet, because it was designed by Dr. Herbert West, I mean Dr. Jeffery Combs… erhm, no, I… Dr. Rick Davenport. Yeah, that’s it. Because it was designed by Dr. Rick Davenport it’s 6/5th a Steve Austin, and a bag of chips! Here’s a quick breakdown of Cyclone’s assets:

  • twin laser gun helmet with H.U.D.
  • turbo charged with nos injection (putting out 400+ hp)
  • armor plating
  • stealth paint that’s been “jazzed up”
  • fire power equal to an F-16
  • powered by The Transformer

The most important development is The Transformer. A dry erase board eraser fuel cell. Sucks hydrogen out of the atmosphere and converts it into “energy.” Neato!

Thing is, Davenport is a bit of an eccentric. He agreed to design and build Cyclone, but he had to do so in secret. The closer Davenport got to finishing the bike the more he was worried that he couldn’t trust “The Agency.” And he was right. The very night he finishes Cyclone he goes out dancing at the hot metal club with his girl and gets an icepick in the back of his head for his troubles.

He didn’t deserve such a fate for designing Cyclone, but he was asking for a beat down by getting on the dance floor. First off, one doesn’t “dance” to metal, one headbangs, or moshes, or in a pinch knifes whomever happens to be standing in the general area.  Everyone there was awkwardly metal dancing, think Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-air, so when in Rome, right? It was so offensive my eyes bled, but then came the insult. He exclaims gayly, “All right!” and “Yeah!” as he is Rick Ashleying. For that, the ice pick was poetic justice.

When Davenport dies “The Agency” sends some of it’s operatives to get Cyclone from his girlfriend, Teri Marshall, i.e. The Fall Guy’s Jody Banks. For no reason she’s skeptical of the agents and feigns ignorance of Davenport’s activities. When she goes back home she heads straight for the secret lab where she trips a hidden message from Davenport. He tells her if she’s hearing this message something bad’s happened and blah, blah, blah. He gives her a complete rundown on Cyclone, including who she can deliver it to if she should accept the mission. She decides she’ll honor his memory and make sure Cyclone gets to the right people, or whatever.

One quick note: It was her handprint which set off the message. Thing is, the only thing she touched was his drafting table. That means the whole thing was a big touch sensor. Considering this was the late 80’s I think someone might have skimmed a good chunk of that $5 million for the drafting table. Who knows what other goodies he had in there.

Speaking of, Davenport’s lab is the least obfuscated in the history of secret labs. It’s hidden behind the fire place in his living room, which isn’t a bad idea in and of itself. It’s the implementation where things fall apart. With the molding around the door, and the decorative molding on the walls, the sliding fire place had to stick out noticeably. And that’s turning a blind eye to the fireplace itself which was only about a foot deep. A neon sign reading “Secret Lab Back Here” would be as inconspicuous.

Then the movie introduces the bad guys. To say they are a bunch of Key Stone Mongoloids would be giving them undue intelligence points. For such an important weapon, and more important fuel source, “The Agency” sends two idiots to stake out the house. They promptly fall asleep. Yep. Out cold. They are awakened when Cyclone takes off out back. They go right back to sleep.

And that’s not the worst of it.

To fully appreciate this enematic experience, I have to back up a bit. What booger eater would give $5 million to some schmuck and not know where he was working, how it was going, or anything for that matter? This is $5 million in 80’s dollars. That’s like $200 trillion now. Secondly, no one thought that MAYBE his secret lab was in his house since he NEVER leaves to go to work? Furthermore, no one is sent out to check until AFTER Davenport is dead? There were plenty of opportunities to drop by. And yet when they do go in they completely miss the obvious hidden passageway to the lab? I have a hemorrhoid that’s smarter than these morons. Anyone this stupid deserves to loose their money and get a swift kick in the ding-ding.

And there’s more.

When the cretins finally discover the lab, and more importantly the missing Cyclone, the main bad guy and his partner give chase. What do they bring to catch a super turbo-charged, 400 horsepower motorcycle? An Oldsmobile station wagon. Sigh. Thing is, the Oldsmobile station wagon actually kept up with Cyclone. I was so angry at this point that I broke my TV trying to pick a fight with the movie.

“The Ultimate Team Of Woman And Machine,” huh? If that’s the case, Cyclone is a technological failure worse than healthcare.gov. (Or that pathetic attempt at political satire.)

To save what little color I have left in my hair I’ll cut to the penultimate atrocity and be done with it. After being caught, escaping, and a fantastic final fight scene where Teri gets to use Cyclone’s cool weapons, Teri just walks away. There are dead people, cars are on fire, and the police are casually looking around at the carnage. No one stops her, asks her questions, nothing. She just walks away. As she left she pocketed The Transformer. Remember, The Transformer is the solution to the world’s fuel needs. It can convert hydrogen in the atmosphere into “energy.” What does Teri do with it? She throws it in a pool of dirty water in the gutter, destroying it.

Good jorb, Teri. Way to honor Davenport. He’s in his own special Hell, and is suffering is legendary.

roadside attractions

  • Marvel at Cyclone, a motorcycle so advanced Davenport has to wear rubber surgical gloves to work on it!
  • Freak Out by how cool the Cyclone sounds—a jet engine played through a flanger!
  • Envy the Cyclone’s ultimate piece of super military tech: a knife with brass knuckles!
  • Be Moved the Rent-a-Center In the Air Tonight song, Riding on the Edge of Night!
  • Throw Up your devil horns \m/ and bang your head to Devil Metal! (You don’t have to wait, check out the video below.)
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

There’s enough blood to warrant a bucket and mop, and some of it in inexplicable places.

2

blood

BREASTS

Only breasts in the movie are in the background in the gym locker room scene.

5

beast

BEASTS

No beasts, but this kind of movie is all about the cool vehicle, and Cyclone is no Streethawk.

4.666 OVERALL
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Bang Your Head! Bang Your Head! Bang Your Head!(Devil Metal):

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Nov

posted by admin | November 9, 2013 | Action, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, New Releases, Reviews by the Goon, screeners

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Deadly Prey
2013 – Not Rated – David A. Prior

Is it ever too late for a sequel? Robert Rodriguez is finally making Sin City 2 after a decade and it seems like the interest just isn’t there from the masses, which is one reason why sequels are usually made within three years. But that never seems to be the case with the Cult and B-Movie genre. You can make a sequel many years later and we would all wet our pants to watch our favorite cast climb casually back into their old roles. I guarantee you if another Evil Dead were actually ever made, EVERYONE would be eager to see it, even if it was Ash taking a crap for ninety minutes.

There is also some concern from an audience when viewing a sequel that took a long period to be released. Films like this have often suffer from production and financing issues or the filmmakers themselves get caught up in trying to make it “hip and cool” for the new generation, attempting to speak to youth by loading up on unnecessary CGI effects and tossing around some of that youngster lingo, but it comes across as your guidance counselor trying to “rap” with you. Does Deadliest Prey fall, urm… prey to this trap? Since this is a review, odds are we are going to find out.

dp_2Nearly thirty years after the events of Deadly Prey, Hogan is released from incarceration and immediately is picked up by his hot minx, Sophia. I have no idea how these two met seeing as she was most likely born when he went to prison. Hogan immediately declares revenge on the man who was responsible for his jailing, Mike Danton. Hogan puts forth his plan, but what has our hero Danton been doing all these years? He’s been raising a family, mowing the lawn… you know, regular action hero stuff. But when he sets out on his most dangerous mission, taking out the garbage, he is kidnapped and wakes to find himself in a familiar situation. He’s stranded alone and weaponless in some unknown woods… and he hasn’t even had breakfast. I do have to give credit where credit is due; Ted Prior is pretty cut and looks pretty buff, even in pajama pants.

Once again, it’s a game of survival, much like Hard Target for those of you who may be unfamiliar. What’s different this time around is that Hogan is broadcasting the carnage filled extravaganza all over that new interwebs thing, being funded by ‘Internet Company’. Okay, so technically it’s not a new idea. Plenty of other films have done it or something similar. Hell, when the Halloween series did something similar years ago. It felt tired then, but given all the advancements in technology and the way we utilize the internet and social networking, maybe there is a fresh new spin on this? Eh, no. The idea is merely touched, mostly feeling like a vehicle to bring the film into the new century to make it ‘updated’.

However, this isn’t the point of the film. We’re getting to that as soldiers rush out at Danton, who straight up murders all the thugs without remorse. Not even the whimpering soldier who surrenders and only took the job because he needed the money. Danton doesn’t even flinch at extinguishing his existence and coldly saying, “You should’ve filed for unemployment.” Don’t worry, there are plenty more terrible, macho catch phrases.

dp_3Time to pause on the action and focus on another thing you’ve seen plenty of times before, Hackers! Hackers that mash the keyboard, call each other “bro” and hang out with a nerdy, but really cute chick that they try to give a catch phrase to. Throughout this scene, she keeps saying “True dat!” Like they had thousands of “True dat!” shirts printed and they needed to sell them, so they figured they could make it a household catch phrase again. These “hackers” stumble across the live stream of Hogan’s little game and recognize Danton from stories they’ve heard. Using their magical computer wizardry skills, they bypass all security nodes, access the modules, hack into the mainframe, triangulate the coordinates (you know, hacker stuff!) and find Danton’s approximate position, they set out on a road trip to save him. I’ll let that sink in.

Then in true 80’s action movie fashion, Hogan hires Lt. Thornton’s (from Deadly Prey) twin bother… Thornton! He’s even more buff than his brother, as he demonstrates by killing a merc with a single punch to the face. The way this dude presents himself with dark aviators, a sleeveless vest and leather gloves, you definitely buy it. Hogan and Thornton decide to let Danton have a little more fun, as he dispatches of more mercs, complete with one-liners so cheesy even Arnold would be embarrassed. In fact, let me show you the formula of dialogue between Danton and the mercs:

Bad Guy – “Dimwitted, but somewhat clever threat.”
Danton – “Witty retort.”
Bad Guy- “Snarky comeback!”
Danton kills bad guys.
Danton – “Macho catchphrase.”

dp_4And just about every conversation is composed like this. But it’s not like we’re reading Shakespeare here… or whatever that saying is. So where were we? Oh yeah, those hackers literally run into Dalton with their hatchback, escaping with him as the cute girl keeps saying, “Hi” to him, like it’s her other catch phrase. So they have an over abundance of “Hi” and “True dat!” shirts. Thornton finds them and pops a couple shots at them. They react and talk like a bullet just missed them, yet there are no bullet holes anywhere on the car or windshield (or maybe Thornton isn’t as good of a shot as he thought). Geez, so much inconsistency and error with this film, I don’t know if I can trust it!* Either way, once a bunch of dweebs rescue you in a hatchback, you sort of lose all credibility as a tough guy.**

*Editor’s note: I’m totally kidding.
**Editor’s note: Still kidding… please don’t hurt me.

The hackers take Danton home to find Sophia, who tells him his family has been kidnapped. Danton responds with a strong, but controlled pimp slap and then put several bullets in to her brains. Now he is freed up to unlock his tool shed of mass destruction and gear up with quick zooms and sound effects! Although I am a little concerned that this entire time his tool shed was only secured by a cheap padlock. Enough lessons on safety, it’s time to pose for the movie poster and it is glorious! It’s the body count part of the movie as Danton mows down scumbag after scumbag, trapping them in time-consuming-that-he-wouldn’t-have-really-had-time-for and mostly improbable traps, barely ever getting a scratch on him until he reaches Hogan or dies trying!

Even though I gave this movie a hard time, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I wouldn’t say it was as good as Deadly Prey and giving the time that has passed and the tight budget they had, Deadliest Prey is a worthy sequel, if not for the cheesy one-liners alone. However, it’s not to say it doesn’t have its faults either. Like I stated in the review, you’ve seen this plot done a million times before and it’s still just as stale as it ever was. Also since they are using the same exposition as the first film (even the same villains and hero) it feels like nothing new is being brought to the table. The hacker characters only seem to serve the purpose of getting Danton to his home so he can load up and kick some butt and at times, the audio seems to be balanced unevenly.

Deadly Prey
What I do find interesting about how I feel about this movie is throughout the film, there is the presence of a ‘home movie’ feel to it. Whether it be the look of the film or the overall tone, but this could have worked in the 80’s as shot on video. But where this movie really shines, is the nostalgia for over the top 80’s action films it gives you. The violence varies from stiff choreographed martial arts, but gunshots as well. Whether it’s to the body or the head, people will take dozens of shots to that specific area. Modern technology aside, Deadly Prey feels like it was made in the 80’s shortly after the original. It may not go down with cult status like the first film, but it’s still a riot. It makes Demolition Man look like Judge Dredd. It makes Phantom Raiders look like… well, Phantom Raiders. I would definitely check this out for an explosive good time!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Action Family Man.
  • Internet revenge.
  • Ridiculous one-liners.
  • Black gloves, black shades.
  • Hacker babe.
  • Loading up on weapons montage!
  • Give the man a hand… or an arm!
  • You’re only ‘half’ the man you used to be.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Hundreds of bullet wounds, a severed arm and a man cut in half. All in a days work.

2

blood

BREASTS

Sophia shows off her cleavage, as well as Thornton.

6

beast

BEASTS

Hogan is an angry man filled with revenge and Thornton is silent, but deadly.

5 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer of “Deadliest Prey!”

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Nov

posted by Doktor | November 3, 2013 | 80's b-movies, B-movies, Horror movies, Review by Doktor, Sci-Fi

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Tagline: …ora può colpire anche te (Now It Can Also Affect You)

Year: 1980 Runtime: 92 min

Director: Ciro Ippolito & Biagio Proietti

Writer: Ciro Ippolito

Starring: Belinda Mayne, Mark Bodin, Roberto Barrese

As the name would suggest, Alien 2 is a mockbuster hoping to cash in on the fortunes of Ridley Scott’s Alien. This is a Rent-a-Center version as only an Italian could do. What that means is two-fold. First, Ciro Ippolito saw Alien and thought, “That’s awesome. I can do that.” This, of course is a terrible lie, but he thought it nonetheless. Second, the movie has lots of walking, driving, standing around, and long (several minutes) panning shots. I believe Ippolito was trying to build suspense and tension, but what he ended up with was filler. If this movie were food it would be a MSG laden order of #13 Kung Pao Meow Mix.

Alien 2 shares two things with Alien. First, the title. For those not paying attention it would appear to be the next film following Scott’s Alien. Second, there’s an alien which first incubates and then bursts from a person’s body. Chest bursting is pretty hard-core, but Ippolito wanted to go full METAL \m/, so his alien is a face burster. This might have been pretty sweet if he had money to light the shots with the alien. It’s so dark you can’t make out much. The few times an alien is in the light it’s jumping from person to person with screen time somewhere in the fraction of a second duration.

There’s not really a story, so much as there is an idea for a story. Some aliens get into a returning space capsule. How? Dunno. Before the capsule is opened they get out and spread all over the world. How? Dunno. The aliens are blue rocks, perhaps eggs, I dunno for sure, that’s just what we get.

There’s a group of speleologists who find one of the rock eggs and take it with them on their trip into a local cavern. In the cave the rock egg hatches and starts killing the members of the group one by one. When they discover what’s going on the group makes a frantic run for it, resulting in them getting hopelessly lost.

When everyone else in the group dies the Final Couple, Roy and Thelma, instantly find their way out. The technical term for this is Convenience ex Machina. While that was contrived, at least the Final Couple didn’t try to pass off the pretense of not leaving and/or saving their friends before they left. They were like, “See ya!”

Making it out of the cavern wasn’t all it was cracked up to be though. Back in the real world everyone is gone. EVEN at the local bowling alley, which is crazy because that place always has tens of people in it. Roy goes to investigate and…

Then there was one.

Oh! The horror of the abandoned automated bowling alley! Well, not quite abandoned. There’s still Thelma and the Aliens. Thelma escapes to find that the world is now cast in a shade of red. She’s all alone. Her cries for help echo in the empty streets.

Cut to black title card: “…You May Be Next!”

While overall the movie was lacking in substance, I did learn a few interesting things.

First, cave rats are sensitive to sonar equipment. This is important to know because if you should find yourself lost in a cave/cavern and you use your portable sonar device to find your way out, you might get attacked by a cave rat. Well, not you personally, but the sonar equipment. They go straight for the antennae, which not only renders the device inert, but voices your warranty.

Non-functioning sonar equipment can be used as a walkie-talkie. Not in real life, but in cheap movies where you need filler and don’t have the props.

B-Movie Survival Tip: if you’re walkie-talkie doesn’t instantly work, don’t immediately toss it away like grandma when she becomes a burden to the family. It might still be functioning. Take out the batteries and blow on them. It works 99.9% of the time.

You can watch the full movie here.

roadside attractions

  • Listen to the confused early industrial synth/spaghetti western sound track!
  • Marvel at the shameless use of NASA stock footage for the “space” scenes! And the movie even admits it!
  • Ponder Thelma’s mysterious powers of telepathy, or insanity—whatever, same difference!
  • Watch the most eager-to-separate group in all of horror filmdom get exactly what’s coming to them!
  • Experience the terror of an abandoned automated bowling alley!
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

It’s an ITALIAN Rent-a-Center Alien. Half the budget was for blood.

2

blood

BREASTS

I’m going with the Rick James vote: “I wish I had more hands so I could give this film’s lack of gazongas four thumbs down!”

5

beast

BEASTS

Face bursting aliens sounds cool, but they didn’t execute the visuals very well. Mostly it’s just them as blue rocks. Mostly.

5.666 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Alien 2: On Earth”

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Oct

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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.

trailers

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Watch the trailer of “Maniac!”

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Oct

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Maniac
2012 – Not Rated – IFC Midnight

Remakes are a very fickle subject. Films that are often being remade, are those that are regarded as high ‘cult’ status and have a large and not to mention intense fan base. So, it goes without saying that when rumors were rumbling that William Lustig’s serial killer masterpiece Maniac was being fitted for a remake, it would be critically disapproved before it was even made. This disapproval seemed to settle into gentle curiosity when High Tension director Alexander Aja was attached and shortly after the casting of Elijah Wood in the role of Frank Zito, not only were we curious, but they had our attention as well. Sure enough, we were watching the production of this film under a microscope and growing more interested with every shred of news.

It’s also tricky reviewing a remake. It will, of course, be compared to the original, which in most cases, is far superior (if not only for nostalgic reasons). But you have to remember to look at it as its own entity and judge it based on its own merit. After all, do you really want to see the same thing rehashed exactly the same way (remember the Psycho remake)? Like I said, it’s very challenging to remake and modernize a horror film, so how does Franck Khalfoun’s rendition of the classic hold up?

It starts off similar enough, with Frank stalking his prey. Only this time a young woman decides to walk home from a night club all by herself, unaware that Frank is watching her (as we watch from his POV) from his truck. After one of the best opening music soundtracks in this generation, Frank meets her at her apartment, unbeknownst to her though. He cuts the power, darkening the corridor and walks behind her, breathing heavily until she is about to enter her apartment. Hesitant to turn around, he tells her, “Please don’t scream,” and before she can, he plunges a giant Bowie knife under her chin. Gently he caresses her face and removes the knife to scalp her and then in big, bold, confident and alarming red letters as big as the screen, the title MANIAC appears before fading to black. Right out of the gates, the movie doesn’t hold back any punches and doesn’t shy away from disturbing you.

maniac_2As Frank wakes up and goes about his daily routine, makes coffee, hallucinates that a girl is in his bed (you know, the usual stuff), you may be noticing that it hasn’t switched out of his POV and that is what not only separates this remake from the original, but from pretty much every other film out there. Keeping in theme with the original, Frank staples the scalp to a mannequin while talking with it. So just in case you weren’t sure he was a few cans short of a six pack, this should tip you off. Continuing, we get a look into how this movie is ‘modernized’ as Frank stalks and sets up potential kills via dating websites. It actually makes good sense and clearly illustrates every single person’s worst fear, but now it’s going to make it harder for me to score a date… especially when we watch this!

A quick online dating success later, he meets up with a cute little trollop named Lucy. It’s during this dinner that we get a look into Frank’s psyche, as the radial blur filters the screen, he sees everyone in the restaurant staring at him and blood trickles down Lucy’s face. It’s never explained exactly what this condition is, though he calls them migraines. They seem to quickly reside after he pops a few pills. Unfortunately, they effects don’t last long. Lucy invites him over for a drink and he insists that he needs to leave, but nervous guys that she can domineer are her thing. She dances around her apartment to ‘Goodbye Horses’, made popular in Silence of the Lambs and forever stapling it to all things creepy. Overcome with homicidal tendencies, he strangles her and scalps her, thus acquiring a new girlfriend (in his mind), after he staples the scalp on a mannequin, of course.

It’s interesting to note that this kill is somewhat different from the others in the film, in that he is hesitant to kill her and almost seemingly resists. He even throws up afterwards and weeps, possibly indicating that he was beginning to like Lucy and did not want to kill her. It adds a whole new dimension to the character and not just a showing the typical ‘kill the women mindlessly’ slasher trend. But now I’m getting off track.

maniac_3This is when we are introduced to the lovely Anna, who will become the love interest of sorts to Frank. She wakes him the next morning by taking photos of his mannequins outside his shop window. Feeling a desirable, artistic connection, he invites her inside to look at his work. When he isn’t doing the Apache scalp to women, Frank restores antique mannequins out of a shop he inherited from his mother, who recently died. The two bond and create a friendship, perhaps with an unspoken romance and you can really see it in their eyes. More specifically her eyes, as the actress, Nora Arnezeder, has to stare into the camera as if she is looking deeply and affectionately into Frank’s eyes and she does this convincingly well. You’ll fall in love with her as she looks past the camera and into your eyes, piercing your soul. But how long can Frank subdue his murderous impulses?

As the two spend more time together, it’s noticeable (to the audience) that Frank is falling for Anna. It’s actually quite charming to see him become smitten by her. Maybe it’s the way she looks at us, the audience, that we are falling in love with her! The very mention that she has a boyfriend gives him a “migraine” like before with Lucy. He goes out of his way to take non prescription pharmaceuticals to control these sinister urges, but unfortunately like all classic monster movies, the beast has to come out. He follows a girl home from a dance studio, chases her through a subway and into a parking lot where perhaps the most daunting and brutal murder of the film takes place, as hides under a car, slicing her Achilles tendon as she walks by and stabbing her repeatedly in the back until finally scalping her and posing by a car, so that his reflection resembles the original movie poster. It’s actually a clever nod, seeing as how we don’t get the infamous bathroom or shotgun scenes.

Having borrowed some of Frank’s mannequins for an art show, Anna invites him to said show where everyone seems to be judgmental of the two, but they are lost in each other’s creativity, as Frank and Anna speak, you really get a sense of the tragedy that they most likely will not end up together. At this point, it’s really debatable if this is a love story or not. You want nothing more than for her to save him from all his troubles. You want Frank to tell Anna that he loves her and maybe that’s the true horror of this film and not the murders; that Frank and Anna will never be together. And as if seeing Anna with her beau wasn’t enough to crush his spirits, he’s ridiculed by him for potentially being a closet homosexual (jocks at an art show… this IS fiction) and then by Anna’s manager. Frank follows her home and in a rather disturbing scene, Frank watches her bathe for a moment, just before dunking her head underwater. He then begins yelling at her as if he were yelling at his mother for the terrible things she did and then scalping her. It’s in this scene where you think maybe Frank doesn’t believe that he is killing anyone, but helping them to live on forever.

maniac_4After receiving the news that her manager is dead, Anna calls up Frank who is more than happy to console her. However, Frank lets a few things slip as you watch Anna’s facial expressions change from sad, to quizzical, to horrified as she realizes Frank is a killer. Realizing she is in terrible danger, she now fights off the psychotic Frank, who tells her he wants nothing more than to help her and take her away, all leading to a very dark, but unfortunately for Frank, fitting end.

In a word, Maniac is intense. Although it contains the same elements and ideas of the original, it feels like a completely different beast. But that’s how a remake should feel. For starters, the entire movie is shot from Frank’s POV, with a few exceptions where the camera will come out from his eyes and we see him committing horrendous acts of violence, which is incredibly effective as you see the murder through the killer’s eyes, then transition to be an audience to it. Frank himself is quite different, being an unassuming, charming young man rather than the chubby, greasy (no offense) counterpart and Elijah Wood plays this role eerily convincing. It’s seriously my favorite portrayal of a character in a long time. Elijah Wood ‘kills’ it! We also go into his childhood quite a bit and examine his mother issues, which there aren’t that many. So it feels like the film could do without these scenes and still work, but the way they are shown is pretty traumatizing. Especially when you see little Frank’s mother getting gang banged as he watches from the closet… and she knows he’s in there. Ah, brings back memories.

As I said before, the entire cinematography is from the point of view of Frank. We are looking through his eyes, which you would think could get nauseating or even be distracting, but the shots are smooth and don’t bob around so much like it would with a free hand found footage type of movie. This also makes viewing it ghastly, like you are a part of this macabre destruction and gore. Speaking of gore, Maniac may not contain the famous head explosion like the original, but it has more than enough repulsive violence and bloodshed to go around! A majority of the effects are practical (or a combination of composite shots) and seeing Frank use his buck knife or straight razor to remove his victims scalps, then slowly pull them off may require you to prepare barf bags before viewing. And to further shake your core, the score by Rob is a simple one, reminiscent of John Carpenter, with an easy synth beat and heavy stings, but always fitting the mood of the movie.

Maniac
While it does take the idea of the original and stays true to the classic, it does take its own path while it tells its own story. I guess you could call it an ‘updated version’ (and by that I don’t mean they use computers and cell phones… although they do). Maniac is most definitely a modern day horror film that will eventually become a classic on its own merit, rather than lurking in the shadow of William Lustig’s original 1980 shocker. In fact, this may very well spawn clones of POV serial killer movies, which will soon become annoying, just like all found footage and possession movies. Check out Maniac, alone or on a date… but not with anyone you met on a dating website.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Frank the Apache.
  • Mannequin makeover.
  • Goodbye horses… goodbye, Lucy!
  • Strangers on a subway.
  • Maniac Migraine.
  • If you have a mommy issue, reach for a tissue.
  • Grand Theft Anna.
  • Frank spills his guts.
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

Blood and guts galore with plenty of scalping.

8

blood

BREASTS

All kinds and all sizes for the kiddies!

10

beast

BEASTS

Although a bit more sympathetic, Elijah Wood ‘kills’ it as Frank. He pulls off totally unassuming and totally bonkers.

9 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer!”

trailers

dripper

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