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

Comments Off on Fog Island

Welcome to Fog Island, your final resting place! Just by taking a glance at the cover, John Carpenter’s The Fog immediately comes to mind. However, fans of the Italian horror genre will notice that it bears a slight resemblance to Bay of Blood a.k.a. Twitch of the Death Nerve and why shouldn’t it? Fog Island is more than a subtle nod to the slasher genre, it’s more of an homage, borrowing heavily from Friday the 13th, but we all know who they borrowed from…

The movie starts in the right atmosphere; that magical hour right before the sun comes up over the ocean and the Earth is painted in dark blue hues, covered in a mist. The sounds of a victimized scream and a cartoony splat make for some ambience to provide exposition. The title smashes in big, bold and red, like something from a 70’s Grindhouse flick.

We cut to Nikki arriving by boat. She’s not flocking to Fog Island for their collectable, commemorative plates, no. Looking for a fresh start from a divorce, she also happens to be starting Fog Island’s very first radio station with her non-descript friend Michelle and a rag-tag bunch of DJ’s that will fill in the rest of the stereotypes. After all, this is exactly what an old time, creepy secluded island needs. I don’t foresee anything going wrong here.

Anyway, let me introduce you to your body count, I mean, characters! First we have the innocent Drew, the perverted comic relief Billy and a transvestite Tabitha, who is a bit of a drama queen (no pun intended). We even get to meet the creepy old cleaning lady, Lily. They kick off the radio station and it seems to be a hit. Well, at least that one lady they showed likes it. So everything is hunky-dory… or is it? Later in the evening, Nikki is awakened by a shadow figure knocking at her door. What does it want?

blackbagThe next day, this film’s Crazy Ralph, Mickey, warns Michelle that they need to leave because it’s not safe. Hey, what would a slasher flick be without a prophet of doom? Meanwhile, we catch glimpses of the shadow figure harassing Nikki, who dips into her flask of a liquid that is described as, “smelling like paint thinner.” Hey, a multipurpose liquor! Being that it’s Nikki’s first night on the air, this leaves the rest of the cast as open game, as the killer playfully gallops and trots, spying on the rest of the crew until he claims his first victim, Michelle… and steals her phone. Must be a jealous ex. The killer plays some creepy children’s music (honestly, is there another kind?) and lays down some lilies… ahem.

Concerned that she can’t reach Michelle, Lily reassures Nikki that it’s probably just diarrhea and shouldn’t worry. Come to think of it, Lily is the one who should worry since she has to clean the toilets in that place! Anyway, Lily tells Nikki of the dark and haunted history of the house and about the murder that took place there, a dark shadowed figure looming in the hallways… and this is when just as the crew is figuring out something is wrong with the place and the island, they get picked off one by one in automatic slasher fashion, but instead of resorting to off screen kills or slashes, there is some gore here. Aside from various stabs, there is a decapitation, a spearing through the bed (a nod to Friday the 13th) and even a shout out to The Burning when one of them is stabbed to death with garden shears and the killer jabs them into the tree. Heck, the killer is even wearing a pea coat and fedora much like Cropsy.

By now, the killer is calling the radio station, telling Nikki that she has been watched the whole time and the house doesn’t belong to her. She takes this relatively calm, but after spotting some flowers and hearing that music again, the killer comes into light, revealing their identity and motive, which turns out to be a very Pamela Voorhees inspired story. By the way, if you want to know the identity of the killer, I’ll drop you a hint: It’s the only character that isn’t dead.

blackbagFog Island is composed of the clichés that form your typical slasher flicks nowadays. Phones ringing and not being answered, but when they are answered it’s a deep, scratchy voice, the drunk prophet of doom, the geek, the slut, the comedian and the continuous asking of, “Hello?” as they chase after a shadowy figure, the creepy townsfolk (although this is only mentioned in dialogue). Speaking of, that’s a subplot that the film never really got into. You never really get to know the island, just the characters in the radio station. Although, this could be a good thing, giving us more personal time to know these characters. And with the characters, it never really goes into why Nikki is hiding the fact that she drinks. I’m assuming it’s because of the divorce, but it’s never really explained. Maybe she is trying to hide the fact that she secretly has the world’s last remaining Ecto Cooler and doesn’t want to share it.

I think American audiences won’t know whether or not this is supposed to directly be a horror-comedy or not… I surely didn’t. Fog Island is a funny film, but like I said, I don’t know if it’s intentional. However, the film’s certainly aware of the films it’s mimicking and has fun with it. Most of these aren’t being shoved in your face though, although they aren’t quite subtle to the horror film aficionado. Since I mentioned having fun, a majority of the dialogue was improvised, which is actually quite interesting. It does make for more natural conversation, however at times it can be seen that the actors are waiting for the other to finish speaking so they can spit out their line of dialogue and this causes them to trip over each other’s lines.

This one is a really interesting and quite unique little diddy. All the nods and tributes to some of the classic slasher flicks of the 70’s and 80’s will keep you entertained. Fog Island was made with no budget and all love for old school horror flicks. It packs in some gore and plenty of laughs, making it worth the adventure to see.

roadside attractions

  • Take a shot everytime you recognize something from another film.
  • Cliche central.
  • Naked Nikki.
  • The very mention of diarrhea.
  • Tranny troubles.
  • Crocodile Dundee reference.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

You’re treated to some splats, squirts, decaps and stabbings.

8

blood

BREASTS

Nikki bears ’em both and they are magnificent.

6

beast

BEASTS

If Cropsy, the dude from Torso and The Driller Killer had a baby with Pamela Voorhees.

6.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Fog Island”

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Jul

Comments Off on Warlock

I’d been hankering for a movie where an amish guy kicks around a demon who looks like a reject from a 80’s hair band and by golly, Warlock came along and did just that. Julian Sands stars as the pony tailed warlock who’s about to be put to death in 17th century Boston. Just before he’s going to be hanged, and burned over a basket of live cats, Satan shows up and zaps him into a time tornado to the 1980’s. His mission, to find some super witch book called the Grand Grimoire that can destroy the universe and every living Back Street Boy ever in existence. Well at least he’ll find some decent hair gel there. Julian’s not off the hook just yet because a furry witch hunter called Redferne (Richard E. Grant) has followed him through the time portal packing all sorts of witch-bustin’ goodies.

The Warlock crashes into a apartment owned by a waitress named Kasandra (Lori singer). She lets him stay for the night but In the morning, he chows down on her roomates tongue sautéing it and cursing kasandra to age 20 years a day. That is gonna be hell on her plastic surgery bills. Redferne with a major case of jet lag finally shows up but he’s still on medevil time and The warlock has already taken off. Redferne and Kasandra use a bit of his blood to make a witch compass that points uptown where the warlock’s been talking to satan through a hack psychic. He rips out her eyeballs and uses them for GPS to track down the missing pages and Redferne and Kassandra end up chasing the flying warlock all over the countryside. They find him in an Amish farmhouse where Redferne harpoons him with a weathervane and a Mennonite helps locks him down with some chinese finger traps. The Warlock escapes of course (if only the amish had a taser!) and hops a plane back to an old Boston cemetary. The same cemetary where the corpse of Redferne holds the final pages of Grimore in his boney little hands. So it’s a battle to save the universe in a demon/fur trapper cage match on holy ground! One of the better witch on the run films, Warlock had some great fx for the time and it maybe the best flying British witch movie since Mary Poppins. Definitely check it out and don’t forget to bring the anti-warlock salt.

roadside attractions

  • Finger hacking
  • Grave robbing
  • Eyeball spiking
  • Tongue frying
  • Weather vane harpooning
  • Fat guzzling
  • Freefalling warlocking
  • Eyeball GPS
  • Extreme insulin injections
  • Gerriatric mini-skirts
  • Toe and thumbscrew
  • Rawhide chewin’
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

a decent amount of bodily leakage mostly from the eye sockets

0

blood

BREASTS

No nudity but there is a lot of fur.

9

beast

BEASTS

1 demonic possession of Satan, 1 warlock,  and a a large amount of beards

9.5 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Warlock”

trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on Sexcula

Tremors

Sexcula is one of those rare movies where I didn’t know what to expect and when I saw it, it was nothing that I expected… although that’s not necessarily a good thing. For starters, Sexcula could be classified as porn or horror spoof (although not a comedy, at least intentionally), which should have been evident from the classy, vague tagline, “She’ll suck more than your blood.” I have no idea what they could mean… Not to say my expectations were high with this film.

It begins, strangely enough, with a scenic drive, accompanied by some soft, light hearted jazz. I notice that this was kind of a theme in the seventies. Anything to establish how mellow that generation was. Anyone ever seen The Touch of Satan? Anyway, it follows that stale formula of someone inherits a creepy old house and they find an old diary of the previous owner (I’m sure you’re more than familiar with it). So after some girl tells her boyfriend with some serious mutton chops that she, “Heard some stories that would curl your pubes,” about the house (classy dialogue, nothing short of poetry), they decide to go on a picnic and read from the diary. Come along, shall we?

As he begins to read, we learn that Dr. Fallatingstein (…really) created a man. This comes as no shock to the man reading the diary, by the way. Not as an incredible discovery in science or reading the ramblings scribbled in a book by a raving lunatic. Since I have it stopped right here, let’s take a look at the plot so far. A mad scientist that created life; sounds more like Frankenstein than Dracula to me. Oh, the guys name is Frank. Huh. I guess Sexenstein doesn’t sound as good. This reminds me of how The Howling 2 confused vampires with werewolves. I know it’s stupid to complain about acting in a porno spoof, but her line delivery is like a third grade reading aloud, trying to learn to read. I’m sorry, but I’m supposed to buy that this person can craft arteries, but can’t convincingly sell me on how ecstatic she should be that she just created life? Seriously, I’m not asking for an Oscar clip, but ANY emotion would do.

So she created man and what for? To have sex with, what else? Only problem is, he can’t get it up. And being a doctor, she clearly can’t help with this situation. Only her cousin, the Countess Sexcula can fix it (and yes, this is all the exposition). And so, we are surprisingly unexpectedly thrown right into the middle of a sex scene. The film actually cuts to her as she is halfway performing filatio. If you weren’t sure this was porn, like I was, considering this a rude awaking.

Sexcula spends the remainder of the film cutting back and forth between trying to have sex with Frank to out of place sex scenes. One of the most odd and probably the most unsexy thing in a film I have ever seen is when this film’s version of Igor, name Orgie (again… really?) tries to have sex with this robotic woman laying on a table in the basement, tied to some mad scientist concoction, when out of nowhere, a gorilla, or a man in a gorilla suit, chases Orgie and deflowers his buttocks. Okay, I have no idea what is going on. Were people watching this to be turned on or did the filmmakers think that the movie was getting too serious and needed some comic relief?

So back to the drawing board as the Dr. Fallatingstein and Sexcula try to figure out what’s wrong with Frank. They do this, of course, by “Putting more science into it.” Yes, actual line of dialogue. This is back when anything could be done with the vague description of ‘science.’ They do this by injecting him with sex cells. Huh, guess you learn something new every day.

Then there is this. Out of nowhere (seems to be a theme in this movie), there is a twenty minute sex scene, taking place during a wedding at a church. Even after it’s done, they rely heavily on this as filler, because it keeps cutting back to it. This brings to light all the production issues that plagued this movie, which is totally surprising that production issues were even a problem in porn spoofs. They try to add some narration over it, a desperate final editing trick to try and tie everything together. If you’re watching this for plot, like I was, do yourself a favor and disregard this part. The film will actually make more sense.

So guess how the movie ends? Sexcula ‘fixes’ Frank’s problem and everyone has sex. Everyone. Frank, Dr. Fallatingstein, Sexcula, Orgie, the robot chick, those other people from the other porn that were spliced in… the gorilla. It’s tugs at the heart strings and gives one a feeling of inner peace, like everything will work out and be ok.

This is one of those cases where the filmmakers know that their audience isn’t watching the movie for a plot and only for sex scenes, which is usually fine in this genre, but that’s where the problem is; the sex scenes aren’t sexy! So by plot and porno standards, Sexcula misses the mark, big time. One thing I can say positively about the movie is that the set design is actually pretty well done and very gothic influenced of the films it’s trying to knock off. The castle is dark and creepy, littered with dust covered machinery with wires everywhere hooked up to all sort of things. The lighting is like something out of a Giallo, with bright fluorescent color painting most of the scenes.

For being a porno, it sure didn’t feel like one. After all, aren’t they supposed to be sexy or arousing? This came off more as awkward and honest, kinda unappealing. Even for a horror spoof, there was nothing ‘horror’ about it, other than her name is a sexual derivation of Dracula… which is another misconception about the film. Sexcula actually follows the plot of Frankenstein closer than it does Dracula! Well I can say for certain this is a film that can deliver on its tagline.

roadside attractions

  • Mutton chop madness.
  • The names are punny!
  • Take a shot every time you think a different porno was spliced in.
  • Unsexy sex.
  • Monkeying around.
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

Not a single drop of that particular fluid… This movie doesn’t suck blood, but it sucks… yeah, you get the point.

7

blood

BREASTS

If there is one thing in this film, it’s certainly that.

4

beast

BEASTS

A gorilla, Orgie, seventies body hair and the acting.

3.6 OVERALL
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I can’t find an appropriate trailer for “Sexcula,” so enjoy this Synapse Films bumper instead!

trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on Suspiria

suspiria

Very few things come together so perfectly, mixing vibrant colors and vivid violence like Suspiria. Most films can’t hold a moment of tension, making you feel uneasy with every moment that passes on screen as you’re too terrified to move or look away and a soundtrack that is so fierce, it pierces your nerves, pumping your blood faster and faster. With Suspiria, Dario Argento tried something a little different, doing away with his usual murder mysteries and opted for something a little more supernatural, both in sound and vision. Deep Red may have put Dario Argento on the map, but Suspiria is what kept him there.

During the opening credits, before any visuals are shown, we are sharply jolted into attention by the hammering of a what could be a rusty steel drum and a shrieking woman accompanied by dreadful whispering. Right before there is any plot or visuals, Dario Argento welcomes you into his world with music from Goblin. This stringing, energetic music only amplifies the blood soaked carnage to follow, which is also more amplified than his previous work. Seriously, what follows, what you will see in Suspiria, will get under your skin.

Arriving in Munich, Germany from the USA on a dreary, stormy evening is ballet student Suzy Bannion (anyone else think of bunion? Yuck.). Upon arriving at the prestigious dance academy she was newly enrolled in, a young woman, an expelled student flees into the storm, shouting something inaudible. This young woman, Pat, takes shelter at a friend’s place in town, where she believes it to be safe. But how naive of Pat, as an intruder’s arm crashes through a window in the bathroom, grabbing her. Pat’s shouts alarm her friend, who frantically runs downstairs, pounding on doors for help. After an awkward cut (she appears in a different hallway), Pat is stabbed, exposing her still beating heart and has a cord tied around her neck. She crashes through the large stained glass ceiling, hanging her as the shattered pieces of glass impale her friend on the ground floor below. If you look up ‘overkill’ in the dictionary, it will say, “See Suspiria.” And this is just the opening…

HBTMBusiness resumes as usual the next day and Suzy starts getting settled into the school after meeting with Madame Blanc and the rather mannish Ms. Tanner and these two don’t seem creepy or suspicious at all… Speaking of suspicious, Suzy starts becoming dizzy and faints during a lesson. The doctor tells Suzy that she is to take medicated wine… medicated wine. Now I’m no doctor, but I’m fairly certain you don’t need a prescription for wine.

I should also mention that this school is full of the most pompous, snobbish girls you would ever cross. They only seem interested in money, whether it’s trying to manipulate money out of each other or boys with big… wallets (what did you think I was going to say). However, Suzy does meet one peach among all the rotten fruit, Sarah. The two become friends and room together. It’s also later this evening while preparing for dinner, it begins to seemingly rain (or drop down from the ceiling in masses) unwanted dinner guests; maggots. Hey, if you thought your school’s cooking was bad! This forces the girls to have the creepiest campout in cinema history (this entire scene draped in an alarming red light) as they all gather in the practice hall. Sarah over hears the nightmarish wheezing of the school’s director… who is not due to return to the school for several more week, so what is she doing there?

Further growing more suspicious of the faculty, Sarah tells Suzy Pat was her friend and they were gathering clues on this mistrustful staff. Suzy, in stylish Argento fashion, recalls clues in flashback form, recalling Pat shouting the words ‘secret’ and ‘iris’ amidst the storm before skeptically passing out. Sarah frantically tries to wake Suzy, informing her Pat’s notes are missing, but she decides to investigate anyway. This happens in time as an unknown figure starts to stalk her. Sarah flees for her life, believing she found shelter through a window in a dark room, but what is waiting for her on the other side will leave her, dare I say ‘tangled?’

HBTMBeing told that Sarah abruptly left the school, Suzy doesn’t buy that bologna and heads out to meet with her psychiatrist Dr. Mandel, who is played by the poorly dubbed Udo Kier (seriously, the dude speaks perfect English and they dub him with that generic white guy voice?). It’s interesting to note Udo received top billing and he’s just now making an appearance as we reach the final act of the movie. It’s not an unnecessary cameo, however. Dr. Mandel provides us with the biggest piece of exposition. It turns out the school was founded by a depraved Greek refugee who was, in all probability, a witch. Udo exits as his time is becoming too costly, so his colleague steps in to finish the dialogue with Suzy, informing her that the coven cannot survive without their queen. Thank you, Mr. Kier. Your check is in the mail.

The film’s conclusion has timid Suzy filling in all the blanks, recalling all the clues and discovering the truth behind this unholy academy. This eerie ending is actually quite frightening and unnerving to say the very least. Hope you have a change of drawers.

Suspiria is like watching a twisted, infernal fairytale come to life. Every scene is masterfully lit with electrifying hues of reds, greens and blues making the scenery seem like a character, but never crossing into the realm of cartoonish. It’s actually quite brilliant and adds to the moody and iconic sound of Goblin, whose score only heightens the level of terror. Suspiria is the kind of film that could have come off as unbelievable and ludicrous, but mixed with the aforementioned ingredients and Dario Argento’s sense of stylized and prodigious direction, everything plays out magnificently. It’s a film that without a doubt has earned its title as one of the most shocking and terrifying pieces of not only Italian cinema, but as horror cinema as well.

roadside attractions

  • High dive hanging.
  • Stained glass impalement.
  • Hallelujah, it’s raining maggots!
  • Medicated wine.
  • Creepy campout.
  • Razor wire rumble.
  • Which is witch?
  • Secrets, secrets and more secrets.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

More than Argento’s later works, but about as much as his earlier.

7

blood

BREASTS

If there were any bare breasts in this film, I’d be too afraid to look.

10

beast

BEASTS

Unknown assailants, monsterish servants, old hags, witches… and rich, snobby white women.

8.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie here!

trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on The Ghastly Love of Johnny X

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

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