Jul

Comments Off on Happy Birthday to Me

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

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Jun

Comments Off on Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

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

Comments Off on The Lamp (the Outing)

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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Jun

Comments Off on Hard Target

hard target snake eating

Take Road House, mix with Hard Boiled, add a ladle of gumbo, and you pretty much have 1993’s mullet-tastic Hard Target. Starring the ‘Muscles from Brussels’ himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Hard Target is 97 minutes of Cajun-flavored insanity.

But, unlike my twin brother we don’t talk about, this is the good kind of insanity.

Hard Target is a John Woo film, so toss all concepts of reality and physics out the window. Which is fine. The action in Hard Target is so insane, it touches on brilliance. Like most Woo films, there is plenty of gunplay—but there is also upside down gunplay. Yes, Van Damme fires a handgun upside down at one point. It is jaw-droppingly crazy.

Let’s rewind a bit though. Hard Target is a ‘man hunts man for sport’ story, or to be more specific, ‘the rich hunt the poor and homeless for sport.’ It makes one wonder why they don’t reboot this for today, ’cause I’m sure the 1% would eat this up like caviar at a yacht club ho-down.

hard target motorcycle

Representing the poor and the homeless is Van Damme, as Cajun street fightin’ man, Chance. So named because ‘his mama took one.’ The hunters are Lance Hendrickson, the guy who played The Mummy in The Mummy, and a bunch of other toughs, including frequent Arnold Schwarzenegger foil, Sven Thorsen.

While there is plenty of gunplay, including a few crazy guns (even one what shoots arrows), Van Damme’s martial arts skills are given loads of screen time. In fact, one could play a drinking game based on Van Damme knocking cigarettes out of mouths and sunglasses off of faces.

There are three shining jewels in Hard Target, which make it worth a watch alone. First, Van Damme’s mullet. It is the stuff of legends. If you looked up ‘Kentucky Waterfall‘ in the hair dictionary, there would be a screen capture of Hard Target. Second, the infamous ‘snake-punching’ scene. Van Damme shows he has a way with nature—by beating the ever-living crap out of a snake puppet. The cherry on top is Van Damme doing the bayou version of St. Patrick, and biting off the snake’s rattle (Van Damme has his reasons).

brimley hard target

The last jewel in Hard Target‘s triple crown is Wilfred Brimley. Yes. Mr. Oatmeal plays Van Damme’s moonshiner, swamp dwelling uncle—complete with a Cajun accent. I like to think Brimley was the inspiration for Katniss in The Hunger Games, because he is an ace with the bow, and if you squint real hard, he kinda looks like [what’s her face].

An’ don’t go thinking Hard Target is all snake-punching and fancy kickin’ neither. There is plenty of motorcycle action too—mostly EXPLODING motorcycles (it is a John Woo movie after all), the best of which is the scene where Van Damme STANDS UP on a moving motorcycle to shoot bad guys.

If you have an itch for an over-the-top, physics ignoring action film, then Hard Target is the scratch you need. Tiger says, Hard Target is a must watch.


Tiger Sixon is forced to watch B-movies from the comfort of a secret government base in Death Valley. He looks nothing at all like Daniel J. Hogan (@danieljhogan) who draws the comic Clattertron.

roadside attractions

  • Arrow Guns
  • Upside Down Guns
  • Snake Punching
  • Snake Biting
  • Kicked Off Sunglasses
  • Crazy Guns
  • Hands Free Motorcycles
  • Cajun Moonshiners
  • Creepy Parade Floats
  • Kicking
  • Mullets
  • Exploding Motorcycles
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

People get shot, kicked, stabbed, blown up, and bit by snakes.

2

blood

BREASTS

You see a pair on an ad for an adult business. That’s it.

9

beast

BEASTS

Van Damme and those hunting him count as beasts, because why not?

7 OVERALL
dripper

Now here’s a helpful b-movie survival tip from Hard Target!

trailers

dripper
Jun

Comments Off on Slink

necronomicon

Women, am I right? They always be shopping! I mean, how many purses do you need, lady? I have one wallet and that works just fine. But I guess it’s the consumer mentality of having the latest and greatest. In Slink, it’s these fabulous designer handbags that people are just dying to get their hands on!

Meet Dale, who runs the local tanning salon. Only at this place, the only memberships they have are lifetime… which isn’t very long! After a patron shows interest in applying for a job, Dale talks it over with his wife Joan, who decides it’s probably best to murder her instead. “We could offer her a free tan first!” exclaims Dale, before her head is belted in with a hammer, showcasing the film’s subtle dark humor.

Cut to our protagonist Kayla, discussing with her friend Lindsay that Lindsay’s sister has the hots for Kayla (sounds like that would be quite an interesting sub plot…). Further in the discussion, we learn that Kayla’s uncle Arlo has recently passed and she travels to the small town of Wickenhaven to gather Arlo’s ashes from probably the most odd funeral home directors who seemed like they escaped of the set of Twin Peaks. Upon inquiring where she could buy a charming local gift (damn Yankees), she is told to try the nearby Virgin Leathers, which happens to be owned by Joan and I’m sure you can guess what kind of material those purses are made from…

brainstormKayla, along with her dope smoking friend Courtney, arrive at Uncle Arlo’s only to find that someone else is there… someone claiming to be their Aunt May, who looks might fine for being an Aunt (Peter Parker, eat your heart out!). Trying to connect with the girls, Aunt May reveals that Uncle Arlo may not have died from natural causes, but instead he was murdered. Now it was at this point, I noticed that the characters all talk with that ‘Valley Girl’ accent, which I found to be a bit annoying, but not distracting. Just a personal opinion, but not one to hinder my viewing experience.

Anyway, this is when Kayla heads over to the tanning salon, where Dale, who just killed a young girl and cleaned it up just in time, is friendly enough to let her tan for free. Of course, I’m sure she wouldn’t have agreed to it if she had known he’s in the backroom taping the sessions and giggling to himself. Always read the fine print, sister. This is when Courtney gets a phone call from her father who tells her that they don’t have an Aunt May and he’s coming to get to the bottom of everything! It doesn’t take long for him to arrive and confront her, but his accusations may be premature and Aunt May tells him that she is Arlo’s half sister (uh, you buying that?). Well this is when all the crazies come out, as Aunt May calls Dale and talks about a “big surprise” for the girls.

This is where the movie throws in some real dirty, but welcomed, sleaze. While Courtney is sleeping, Aunt May, barely dressed, climbs on top of her and suffocates her with a bag. There goes the film’s only stoner. But the intensity doesn’t stop there. Kayla goes back to the tanning salon the next morning for another session. He tricks her into rubbing this poison all over herself by telling her it’s a new tanning oil, which I’m sure something like that in no way smells viciously toxic. Once Kayla passes out, she is handed off to the skilled Aaron, in charge of skinning all the girls. By now you’re beginning to see this family come together and true characteristics shine, reminding one of the Sawyer’s from Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Well if you’re going to be a villain, you should damn well play it good. Aunt May stops by the house in the morning, telling the girl’s father that they turned Arlo into a purse. Then what ensues is a silly, but short fight, resulting in him getting stabbed. But what of Kayla? She wakes up in time, saving her own skin right before she is, um… skinned. Fighting for her survival, she runs from Aaron, who puts up a pretty good chase and I have to say, it looks like both actors take some abuse during this chase. Will she escape? Will she survive?

This brings the film into its finale, which I have to say kind of ends abruptly. It doesn’t exactly resolve itself, but instead sets itself up for a sequel or it just ends with no intention of concluding or continuing. Or perhaps the filmmakers wanted to intentionally leave it that open for the sake of ‘just because’ and instead make the viewer think that true evil is always out there.

Slink is without a doubt one of the better independent films out there. It’s dark and violent, with a little bit of humor, but not too much to make it come off as silly. The music is very well done and pretty catchy. There are solo, creepy synths, dance-pop and almost orchestral music. However, as nice as these songs are all done, at times certain types of music don’t seem to fit. But, that’s a minor gripe and in no way will remove you from the movie.

If you are looking for a film with that 80’s sleazy video store rental vibe to it, then Slink is for you. Everything from the dialogue, drug use, bizarre characters, sexual overtones, T & A and even the premise is never too much or overbearing and distracting. You’ll feel reminiscent of smaller films like Unhinged or Deranged. Even with a few flaws, Slink is greatly entertaining for the 80 minute runtime. So, watch this throwback that I dare call a ‘modern day grindhouse.’

Be sure to check out director Jared Masters other work at the official Frolic Pictures website!

roadside attractions

  • Hammer time.
  • Bag Hag.
  • Comb-over Creep.
  • T & A Buffet!
  • Swinging Sounds of Survival.
  • Tanning Tape Sessions.
  • The Skinning Son.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Plenty of victims filleted.

9

blood

BREASTS

Plenty! Whether they are breathing or not is another story.

8

beast

BEASTS

It’s like a Bevery Hills version of The Manson Family.

7.7 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for Slink!

trailers

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About the Highway

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