Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Plot of Fear (1976)

Poster art for Plot of Fear (1976) #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn……………… Plot of Fear Plot of Fear Plot of Fear Plot of Plot of Fear (1976) by #PaoloCavara

w/ #CorinneCléry #MichelePlacido #TomSkerritt #EliWallach

A group of wealthy men and women get murdered one by one at a decadent weekend party full of orgies and drugs on the outskirts of Milan.

#Giallo #Mystery
#NotQuiteClassicCinema

I had never heard of Plot of Fear (1976) prior to picking up a copy on DVD sometime earlier this year. It was on sale and, looking at the box, I found it irresistible. The description on the back begins “Plot of Fear tells the story of a group of wealthy men and women who get murdered one by one at a decadent weekend party…”. Well, say no more – I’m sold.

It turns out that this description is a little wrong. The men and women are not murdered AT the party. They are murdered sometime AFTER the party – and we don’t even know about the party at first. It’s the thing that ties them all together and provides a motive for the murders.

Plot of Fear is a giallo. I’ve talked about the genre before, and how it has become one of my favourites. This one, starring Corinne Cléry from The Story of O (1975) and Moonraker (1979), features a heavy dose of sleaze including hookers, S&M, and the promised “decadent weekend party”. 

The film even includes a pornographic cartoon made by Gibba, who was an Italian animator (full name Francesco Maurizio Guido) who did several erotic animated films in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tom Skerritt appears in Plot of Fear as a Chief Inspector of the police. I thought for a minute that he was only going to make a brief cameo in one scene, but his appearances are actually peppered throughout the entire movie.

Eli Wallach also appears as Peter Struwwel, a private detective with some questionable techniques and morals – and his character is even more prominent than Skerritt’s.

 is the real hero of the movie. He has 130 credits on the IMDb, and may be recognizable from movies such as The Pyjama Girl Case (1977), Kleinhoff Hotel (1977), The Sicilian Connection (1985). and Big Business (1988) with Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. In Plot of Fear, Pladico plays a police detective trying to solve a series of bizarre murders (as could only be found in a giallo – or maybe a slasher film). 

Plot of Fear is probably not the greatest giallo ever made, but it’s pretty darn entertaining – especially for those who appreciate a higher than average sleaze factor. It manages to keep you guessing as to what the hell is going on – and who is behind the murders. And it is certainly no carbon copy of every other giallo that came before it.

The director, Paolo Cavara, is probably best known for making Mondo Cane (1962) and other pseudo-documentaries that expose strange behaviour from around the world, like Women of the World (1963), Malamondo (1964) and  L’occhio selvaggio (1967). Plot of Fear is a drama that exposes the strange and shocking behaviours of a group of rich elite people in Milan, so it’s kind of like Mondo film in a way. 

Plot of Fear (1976) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that should appeal to fans of unusual giallos and other Italian exploitation films. It could certainly add a little spice to any cinematic line-up that seems a little too chaste for a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Boa vs. Python (2004)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…

DVD cover for Boa vs. Python (2004)Boa vs. Python (2004) by #DavidFlores

w/#DavidHewlett #JaimeBergman

An FBI agent and a biologist release a specially bred serpent to hunt the gigantic snake that has been putting the squeeze on unwary humans.

Two Reptilian Killing Machines Face Off To Fight To The Death-With Humanity As The Prize.

#Horror #SciFi

#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

I don’t buy a lot of giant snake movies, so how did I get this one? I’m not sure… I also can’t remember a damn thing about it.

So, I guess I’ll put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

With a current rating of 2.8 on the IMDb, it’s no surprise that Boa vs. Python (2004) is a bad movie. It’s almost “so bad it’s good” – but not quite. It moves along at a fast pace, so it’s fairly easy to watch. But it does so at the expense of developing any interesting characters or logical plot lines. 

Before watching it, I noticed that the keywords displayed on the front of Boa vs. Python‘s IMDb page were: “oral sex in car”, “oral sex”, “panties”, “thong”, and “sex”. I wondered, briefly, if I was about to watch a soft core porno film…

The two main actresses, Jaime Bergman and Angel Boris Reed are both former Playboy playmates, but only one of them gets naked in Boa vs. Python, which is a little strange. Still, there is a little bit of trashy fun in this movie. Unfortunately, it’s all in the first ten minutes, or so. 

The “oral sex in car” happens between two characters we’ve never met before, and it’s sadly tame. No nudity, no graphic miming of any kind. One character simply slips below the frame while the other one makes a brief face of pleasure – and then the giant snake eats them both. I think the filmmaker might have been going for humour here, as the woman seems to confuse the snake for the man when it begins to eat her. Huh?! Don’t ask.

So what’s the verdict?

Boa vs. Python (2004) is Trash. It has a few moments of inadvertent humour – perhaps even a few moments of intentional humour. And like I said before, it’s fairly fast and easy. Many of the characters are annoying, and they make illogical decisions. Nothing is very believable. There’s a little bit of gore and action, but it’s not enough to carry the movie. A better story would have done it, but we’re stuck with what feels like two different B-movies fused together – one about rich asshole hunters tracking a giant python, the other about scientists and FBI agents using a giant Boa to track the giant python – neither one of which is developed enough to make us care. 

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Fiend with the Electronic Brain (1967)

Vide box for The Fiend with the Electronic Brain AKA The Man with the Synthetic Brain (1967)#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

The Fiend with the Electronic Brain
AKA
The Man with the Synthetic Brain (1967)
by #AlAdamson

w/ #JohnCarradine #RoyMorton #TaceyRobbins

An injured Vietnam veteran becomes violently insane when a mad scientist experiments on his brain.

#Horror #SciFi

#NotQuiteClassicCinema

Not too long ago I reviewed an Al Adamson movie called Psycho a Go Go (1965). As I said then:

One of the things that Al Adamson is known for, is using footage from old movies to create new movies. Or adding new footage to old movies, retitling them, and releasing them as new movies.

Psycho a Go Go was Al’s first feature film, and the original version of… well, let’s call it Psycho a Go Go. In 1969 (or was it 1967?), Al re-edited it and added some new footage of legendary actor John Carradine, playing a mad scientist. The “new” movie was released as The Fiend with the Electronic Brain.

Still not satisfied (or perhaps just seeing another opportunity) Al added some more material, featuring other actors – including his future wife Regina Carrol. He called this “new” movie Blood of Ghastly Horror. If that wasn’t enough, there was also a TV version created in 1972 called The Man With the Synthetic Brain.

There seems to be a lot of discrepancy and differing opinions as to the dates of some of these versions of Psycho a Go Go. Severin’s big box set of Al Adamson movies has The Fiend with the Electronic Brain. listed as 1964 – the same year they list Psycho a Go Go. The IMDb claims Psycho a Go Go is from 1965. The IMDb doesn’t even list The Fiend with the Electronic Brain as a separate movie. They simply send you to the page for Blood of Ghastly Horror (which they say is from 1967). Severin lists Blood of Ghastly Horror as from 1971. 

Severin also includes, as an extra on their Blu-ray, the alternate title sequence for The Fiend with the Electronic Brain, which uses the title The Man With the Synthetic Brain. They also include the trailer. 

Confession: I had never seen The Fiend with the Electronic Brain before last Friday. When I tweeted about the movie (right before I watched it) I took some images from the trailer, which I logically assumed were images from the actual movie. They were not.

I am guessing that they are actually from a later cut of the movie (that uses the title The Man With the Synthetic Brain. But I can’t really say for sure. You can see those images in my tweet, below.

In reality, The Fiend with the Electronic Brain is pretty much the same movie as Psycho a Go Go, but with the added footage of John Carradine. He talks about the character of Joe Cory, played by Roy Morton, being a Vietnam veteran – and how he experimented on Joe (to save his life) but may have made him violently insane. Oops.

I had been looking forward to seeing the more zombie-like monster version of Joe, which I thought that I was seeing in the trailer. Sadly, he was not in this movie. Perhaps I can look forward to that in the next version of this epic, Blood of Ghastly Horror. Only time will tell.

Is The Fiend with the Electronic Brain an improvement over Psycho a Go Go? Probably not. If you’re a big John Carradine fan you might think so, as any John Carradine is better than no John Carradine. It’s perhaps slightly crazier than the original movie, but I’ve always liked Psycho a Go Go as it was (and thought that it was plenty crazy in it’s own way). Still, I enjoyed this “new” version – and I think it’s a fascinating artifact for any fan of Al Adamson. I’ve always wondered about his penchant for reusing his old work, and now I can see one of the many stages of this strange film’s development.

Whatever you call it, The Fiend with the Electronic Brain is undoubtedly #NotQuiteClassicCinema. For fans of Al, it’s almost certainly a must see. And as I said the last time:

There are few sure things in this life, but I would say that any movie with Al Adamson’s name on it is going to enliven any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Progeny (1998)

t’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…

DVD box for Progeny (1998)Progeny (1998) by #BrianYuzna

w/#ArnoldVosloo #JillianMcWhirter #BradDourif #LindsayCrouse #WilfordBrimley

An unsuspecting woman is impregnated by aliens who are experimenting on the human population.

There Are Some Things In The Universe That We Can’t Understand

“Evil in a bottle”

#Horror #SciFi
#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

I bought a DVD copy of Progeny (1998) a long time ago, undoubtedly because of the names Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon. Every horror fan on the planet knows that these two guys were behind the certified classic Re-Animator (1985), as well as From Beyond (1986), Yuzna went on to direct Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and Society (1989), which I wrote about a while back. Gordon directed Dolls (1986) and The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), both of which are personal favourites of mine.

Looking at the box for Progeny, which credits Yuzna as director and Gordon as a producer and co-creator of the story, it’s not hard to imagine why I immediately snapped it up from the bargain bin where I had found it.

In the years since I first watched Progeny, I have become aware that many people hate it. Why? I have no idea. Some blame the acting, others the direction – many of the opinions are wildly contradictory. After almost 20 years, I couldn’t remember many specific details from the movie – just that I had enjoyed it. Could I have been wrong about it? Could Yuzna and Gordon have made a movie as bad as some people say it is?

To find out, I decided to put Progeny to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

Progeny is based on the (what to call it?) urban legend, or mythology, or belief, that people are being abducted by aliens who conduct experiments on them. We’ve all heard the stories. Someone sees a bright light and then the next thing they know it’s two hours later – even though it only feels like two seconds to them. 

The experiments are often of a sexual nature – the term “anal probe” has almost become synonymous with alien abduction experiences – and Progeny does not do a lot to change that. Jillian McWhirter plays a wife who, in the midst of making love to her husband (played by Arnold Vosloo), is taken up to a spacecraft and probed and poked (in the nose among other places) and later discovers that she is pregnant. She believes it is her husbands doing, but he knows that something is wrong, as his sperm count is ridiculously low. 

Eventually they both come to realize that this thing growing inside of her may not be a human baby.

So, what’s the verdict?

Progeny (1998) is a moderate to full blown Terror. It’s legitimately suspenseful and tense – and you feel a real sense of panic, as the characters both do in their own ways. I don’t know what some of the IMDb reviews are talking about, the acting is good. Arnold Vosloo has been in over 80 things and is perhaps best known for playing Imhotep in The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001). Jillian McWhirter only has 26 credits, but they include such cool, #NotQuiteClassicCinema as Violated (1984), Nowhere to Run (1989), After Midnight (1989), Rage (1995), a couple of Bloodfist movies, The Dentist 2 (1998) and Dee Snider‘s Strangeland (1998).

Brad Dourif is excellent as a doctor who is studying the alien abduction phenomenon.

And it’s always a pleasure to see my late Twitter buddy Wilford Brimley in anything.

Progeny (1998) even delivers on the #Trash side of things, with some full frontal nudity and moderately kinky alien probing. This is in line with the kind of kinky madness that can be found in films like Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Society

In fact, one can’t help by compare Brad Dourif’s character to Herbert West, and Arnold Vosloo’s character (who is also a doctor) to Dan Cain. Together they do some questionable things to try to save the blonde love interest (Jillian McWhirter) – who isn’t unlike Barbara Crampton, in a way. 

Don’t get me wrong. Progeny is not as good as Re-Animator. But it’s good enough for this Re-Animator fan to keep it in his personal collection. 

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973)

Poster for The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973)I’ve talked about Jess Franco a couple of times, including how I first became aware of him – and then very quickly became a fan of him. The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973) is one movie of his that I did not see back in the early days Franco fandom. In fact, I don’t think I ever saw it before last Friday. Surprising, considering what a provocative title it is. I don’t think I ever came across a copy on VHS or Beta.

Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) were two of my favourite movies growing up. I’m not even sure how young I was the first time I saw them. Then, when I was about 8, I discovered Young Frankenstein (1974) and it blew my mind. I watched it on TV every chance I got.

Reading Famous Monsters magazine, I became aware of other versions of Frankenstein, most notably the Hammer Horror films like The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). I didn’t see the movies until many years later, but I enjoyed looking at the pictures in the magazine. 

Once I started renting movies in earnest, I tended to gravitate more towards slasher films, than classic monsters like Frankenstein. I guess I figured I’d already seen everything that those creaky old stories could offer.

Then one day I rented Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), or Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, as I called it. It blew my mind in a different way. Young Frankenstein (1974) contained some tasteless humour and sex. Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), however, was on a whole other level or perverse and graphic material. It opened my mind to the possibility of classic monsters starring in much more exploitative films. I’m not sure what Mary Shelley would think, but it was A-okay with me. 

Enter Jess Franco. Let’s face it, the man is a master of exploitation. He’s made everything from soft core sleaze to hard core adult cinema – some of it staring his wife, Lina Romay. He’s also made some surprisingly tasteful movies, like Attack of the Robots / Cartes sur table (1966). He also made a pretty straight-faced (some might say boring) version of Dracula called Count Dracula (1970). I remember seeing this movie on TV when I was young. It starred Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom and Klaus Kinski – but it was no Hammer film. It also, oddly enough, wasn’t much of a Jess Franco film (as I would discover when re-watching it years later). It somehow lacked the tasteless good fun that many of Franco’s other films exude.

The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973) is neither straight-faced nor boring – and yes, it is sleazy and fairly tasteless at times (thank Jesús – Jesús Franco that is!).

Jesús “Jess” Franco is very much a love him or hate him kind of filmmaker – and The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is very much a love it or hate it kind of movie. A quick look at the reviews on the IMDb tell the story very clearly. Some people call it “One of the crappiest looking Frankenstein monsters in film history!”, or a “Truly awful waste of time”. Others call it “a surrealist masterpiece, poetic, perverse, comic, and mesmerizing.” The truth is probably somewhere in between but it is amazing how polarizing Franco and his films can be.

For me, on first viewing, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is not my favourite Franco movie, but it is also not my least favourite. It has some truly amazing scenes that are well worth the price of admission. It also has a few scenes that are a little closer to the boring end of the spectrum – but that’s okay. It’s like a song with a dynamic range; we need the quiet parts to be able to appreciate the loud parts. If it’s all equally loud, then the loudness loses it’s meaning and begins to sound, well, quiet.

If every scene in The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein was as batshit crazy as the scene that one IMDb reviewer describes as “a shrieking, silver-skinned Frankenstein’s monster relentlessly whipping a man and a woman tied together over a bed of spikes.”- (thanks mido505) – then we would soon think that it was normal (and that’s the last thing one should ever think when watching a Jess Franco movie.

There are (at least) two cuts of The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein circulating out there. The French cut, which is shorter but contains all of the nudity and sleaze, and the Spanish cut, which is longer, tamer, and features Lina Romay in a small role. As much as like Lina Romay, I would put my money on the French cut. Of course, true Franco completists must see them both.

The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973) is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema reimagining of a classic monster movie. It would be wrong to say that it is in the same category as the original Frankenstein (1931) or The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), but for those with a taste of Jess Franco’s brand of cinematic madness, it’s a perfect addition to any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Werewolf Hunter (2004)

t’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…

DVD cover for Werewolf Hunter (2004)Werewolf Hunter / Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt (2004) by #PacoPlaza

w/ #JulianSands #ElsaPataky

A traveling vendor seeks the affections of a woman who has lost several family members to an unknown serial killer.

“Based On A True Story”

#Werewolf #Horror

#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

The DVD of Werewolf Hunter (2004) has been sitting on my shelf for years. Whenever I see it there, I get a vague feeling of having watched it and liked it some time in the past. Other than that, no details come to mind. So, I decided to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

The first thing I noticed was that the movie is actually called  Romasanta (2004), or Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt (2004), or  Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta or Werewolf Hunter: Romo Santa – why does my DVD box only say Werewolf Hunter?

The next thing I noticed was that the movie stars Julian Sands, Elsa Pataky, and a bunch of other classy (dare I say, serious) actors. No scream queens, B-movie stars, or Ron Jeremy (or other porn stars) are found in this cast list. It quickly becomes apparent that the movie is a co-production between Spain and the United Kingdom.

Werewolf Hunter (2004) is not a typical werewolf movie. It’s based on the true story of serial killer Manuel Blanco Romasanta, who murdered 13 people in Spain in the 1850s and claimed that a curse caused him to turn into a wolf and kill people. The movie treads that line of “is he, or isn’t he?” We see a wolf in action,  we see transformations, we see blood and gore – but is it all in the character’s head?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The story is gripping, the actors are all top notch, and the action is extremely well done. The only weird part is that I didn’t remember one second of it from a previous viewing. And there are some very memorable moments – including one where a werewolf hunter (or is he a fellow werewolf?) runs like hell through the woods stark naked, penis visibly swinging to the left and the right (to paraphrase the AC/DC song). I wouldn’t exactly call this a highlight, but it’s a fairly unique sight in mainstream movies and I think I would have remembered it.

This, and many other moments, lead me to wonder if it’s possible that I somehow DIDN’T watch this movie fifteen years ago. Could I have accidentally put it on my shelf and forgotten about it? I’ll never know for sure.

So, what’s the verdict?

Werewolf Hunter (2004) is a moderate to full blown Terror. It’s legitimately suspenseful and tense – and you really don’t know what’s going to happen from moment to moment. It has scenes of horror (and gore) that work, and manages to generate an atmosphere of horror and unease throughout. It’s also a convincing recreation of a medieval world.

The ending of Werewolf Hunter might not feel completely satisfying, as it adheres to the true story of it’s source inspiration (although many of the details have been fictionalized). I won’t say any more about it, except that I thought the ending worked. Part of what I like about it, is that it’s different from what one might come to expect from a typical werewolf movie.

Needless to say, Werewolf Hunter (2004) will be staying in my permanent collection  – at least until the next time I look at it on the shelf and say “What the hell is that?!”

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Maniac (1963)

As an avid movie renter, first on Beta then later on VHS, I noticed that there were three films called “Maniac” available to me. The one that I’d heard of and read about, and was super excited to see, was of course Maniac (1980). This was one of the holy grails of the slasher genre, with groundbreaking, eye-popping special make up effects by Tom Savini. The other two movies were Maniac (1934) and Maniac (1963). When I was a kid, these two Maniacs looked old – I mean, really old. They were black and white for crap’s sake! There was no possible way that they were going to feature groundbreaking, eye-popping special make up effects (I.e. gore). I made it a mission to make sure I didn’t accidentally rent one of them.

VHS of Maniac (1963)VHS of Maniac (1934)VHS of Maniac (1980)

 

Fast forward a few years and I realized that Maniac (1963) was a Hammer movie. This made it somewhat more interesting, although it somehow didn’t look as exciting as any of the Dracula or Frankenstein movies. And it was still in black and white.

Don’t get me wrong. I had loved old black and white monster movies since I was a kid. My dad had also introduced me to movies like The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Casablanca (1942) when I was young, so I had an appreciation for all kinds of black and white films. Not to mention the fact that our first TV was black and white so everything I watched for the first few years was black and white.

Still, when it came to paying money to rent movies – horror movies, in particular – I wanted to see something that I couldn’t see on TV. Something a little more extreme, or R-rated. And I believed that any movie called Maniac should be in blood red colour.

So, I didn’t rent Maniac (1963) until much, much later. And I think my first impression was that it was one of a handful of Hammer films that came out in the wake of Psycho (1960), trying to emulate that black and white, low budget, psychological horror-thriller style. It wasn’t as good as Psycho, and it wasn’t as good as Scream of Fear (1961), another Hammer film in that style which I had seen years earlier. So, I think I more or less dismissed it and went back to watching my VHS copy of Maniac (1980).

Watching Maniac (1963) again now, for the first time in more than twenty years, I can honestly say that I didn’t remember anything about it. I found myself doubting that I had ever watched it before – but I know that I did. I guess this is just another sign of old age creeping up on me. I’ve noticed that a lot of the movies that I only watched once back in the 1990s or early 2000s are completely new to me now. Movies that I watched more than once, I tend to remember. And movies I saw in the 1970s and 80s are far more likely to remain burned into my brain – even if I only saw them once.

I suppose this phenomenon could party be due to the sheer volume of movies that I watch now, which is a trend that started back in the ’90s. I watch at least one movie a day. Some days I watch two or three. Back in the ’80s I probably only saw one or two movies a week.

This could be the old man in me talking, but I also feel that the average level of quality was much higher in the movies that I was watching back in the ’70s and ’80s. So many of them are now certified classics – or #NotQuiteClassics as the case might be. I can’t imagine that very many of the recent movies I watch (and by recent I mean anything made in the past 20 years or so), will be remembered with the same reverence as Halloween (1978), Dawn of the Dead (1978), or even Maniac (1980).

I’m not saying that there aren’t great movies being made today (or within the past 20 years). There are, of course. But there are just so many MORE movies in general, and sometimes the truly great ones get lost among all of the mediocrity. It will be interesting to see which current films get remembered and talked about in thirty or forty years (not that I will be around to find out).

So what does this have to do with Maniac (1963)? Well, it’s an older movie (that was already older when I first came across it) that doesn’t get talked about very much. When people think of Hammer Horror, or Hammer movies in general, I don’t think this is one of the top ten movies that pops into their minds. It’s part of a sub-genre, or sub-category of Hammer films, that includes movies like Scream of Fear (1961), Paranoiac (1963), Nightmare (1964) and maybe Stop Me Before I Kill! (1960). Maniac (1963) is probably the weakest of all of these movies. However…

Watching it again after all these years, I found that quite enjoyed it. Maniac (1963) has enough of the good qualities that make movies like Scream of Fear great, to make it a pretty decent little noirish psychological thriller. It’s a slow burn, for sure, spending a lot of time building up characters and relationships. It’s almost more of a drama in the first half, so hardcore horror fans will need a bit of patience as they wait for the payoff. And that payoff likely won’t be big enough for those, like 12 year old me, who might be looking for some blood red gore.

But if you like black and white suspense thrillers, with likeable characters and a growing sense of creepy dread, you might just find Maniac (1963) to be a pleasant addition to your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. While not the best example of its kind, it’s somewhat forgotten #NotQuiteClassicCinema that’s worthy of rediscovery.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Andre the Butcher (2005)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…

DVD art for Andre The Butcher (2005)

Andre the Butcher (2005) by #PhilipCruz

w/ #AprilBillingsley #HeatherJoyBudner #RonJeremy #ElizabethMullins #MaurySterling,

A group of cheerleaders wreck their car and run afoul of a slaughterhouse worker turned supernatural killer.

“No matter how you slice it, he’s pure terror.”

#Horror #Comedy
#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

I somehow wound up with two DVD copies of Andre the Butcher (2005). I bought one (at a video store blowout, I believe), and I guess somebody gave me one. I must’ve watched the one I bought fifteen years ago, or so, but I really couldn’t remember anything about it. So, I decided that it was time to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

I did not remember that porn star/legend Ron Jeremy was in this, playing the former slaughterhouse worker turned supernatural killer, no less. Depending on your feelings about him, that could be either a plus or minus, I suppose.

The cheerleaders are largely unknown actors. April Billingsley, who played Jasmine, has gone on to appear in about 40 things since Andre the ButcherHeather Joy Budner, who played Cookie, has only been in five things. Elizabeth Mullins, who played Kristy (the “fat” cheerleader who wasn’t all that fat), has no other acting credits in movies. She has apparently done a lot of theatre. 

Maury Sterling, who played Hoss (an escaped convict), is a successful character actor with over a hundred credits. 

Andre the Butcher is much more of a campy comedy than a scary horror film. I think that it aspired to being something like a Troma movie, or even a John Waters movie. It has sleazy intentions, but doesn’t really deliver much actual sleaze. There’s a lot of sleazy talk and implied sleaze, but not much that we actually see.

The viewer is robbed of seeing nudity in this moment of Andre The ButcherAndre the Butcher declares itself quite early on, when a cheerleader lifts her top to flash someone. Director Philip Cruz makes a joke out of the moment by having the words “NO NUDITY CLAUSE” appear over her breasts. So, they kind of have the moment, without letting us see it.

I was quite surprised when much later in the film, there were a couple of brief glimpses of naked breasts. They were, however, the breasts of a body double. So as far as I’m concerned, that’s almost the same as having no breasts at all.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of fine movies – some of them personal favourites of mine – that don’t include any nudity. Andre the Butcher, however, presents itself as an over-the-top, sleazy, sexy, deliberately-in-poor-taste B-movie. And it does have its moments of pure campy fun. It just doesn’t quite commit to being what it seems to want to be.

So, what’s the verdict?

Andre the Butcher (2005) is Trash. It doesn’t have a scary bone in its body, so it can’t qualify as Terror. It’s almost the good kind of trash – and a person could certainly do a lot worse when looking for a few campy laughs, and a bit of implied sleaze. It’s no Trashterpiece, however, like The Vineyard (which I talked about in this very category not too long ago). It distracted me for an hour and half – for the second time in my life apparently – but I don’t think I will need to be visiting Andre the Butcher again anytime soon.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: I Drink Your Blood (1970)

I remember finding a shitty-looking black and white photocopied looking clamshell VHS box of I Drink Your Blood (1970) on the shelf of my favourite video store many years ago. I had never heard of the movie, which made it interesting, and the shitty-looking box somehow made me all the more curious about it. It looked like the owners of the video store had made the box themselves – and probably the movie, too. It just looked like an ordinary blank VHS tape with a sticker slapped on it. The sticker just had the title of the move on it – not a fancy designed looking version of it, but simple looking text probably done on a typewriter.

Black and white add for I Drink Your Blood (1970)I figured that I Drink Your Blood (1970) must be some kind of special movie for somebody to have gone to all this trouble. Maybe it was so extreme that no official company would release it. I immediately took it up to the front to rent it

The guy behind the counter looked at it and said, “I’m not sure if this version is uncut or not. Let me know.”

“Okay, ” I said – but had no idea how to even tell if the movie was uncut of not. I had never seen it before. I’d never read about. I didn’t know what was supposed to be in it. How could I tell if something was missing?

I suppose if it had been really obvious, like someone is in the middle of saying something: “Alright man, I’m gonna take this axe and -” – when suddenly there’s an ugly looking cut in the film, and then we’re watching some dude’s horrified looking face as he says ” Whoa, man, why’d you go and do that?! You didn’t have to chop him thirty-seven times!”

Maybe then I would have thought that something had been cut out of the movie. As it was, I just didn’t know. I enjoyed the  movie, however.

A few years later, a friend invited to a bad movie night with some of his other friends. He asked me to bring some crazy movies. So I went to an independent store that had a lot of crazy movies in it. I mean rare bootleg tapes with cheapass photocopied covers, a lot like the one that I had rented years ago. And lo and behold, they had a copy of I Drink Your Blood. This box stated very clearly “Uncut Version – Never Before Seen!” So I rented it, along with a copy of other crazy looking movies, and took them to the all-night-movie-watching event.

Unfortunately, those guys already had so many movies that they wanted to watch, that they never even considered looking at anything that I brought with me. And I had to return the tapes the next day, so I didn’t even get a chance to watch them on my own. I had wasted my money that day, and the store went out of business shortly after that. I never did see the uncut version of I Drink Your Blood.

Now, thanks to Grindhouse Releasing, I own the super-deluxe Blu-ray of I Drink Your Blood, and it contains two different cuts of the movie; the uncut X-rated version, and the director’s cut. The director’s cut is actually a longer version of the movie – but not because there’s more gore and violence. It contains more story. Honestly, I’m not sure which version of the movie is better, so I am thrilled to have them both in my collection.

I Drink Your Blood was one of the first films to be heavily influenced by Night of the Living Dead (1968). Instead of zombies, I Drink Your Blood features people infected with rabies. The effect is similar, but almost more like the fast moving zombies of the distant future (such as in Dawn of the Dead (2004)). 

The villains in I Drink Your Blood, and the first ones to become rabid maniacs, are a group of satanic hippies. This might sound like a ridiculous and campy idea (satanic hippies?!) but at the time the movie was made, some people were actually afraid of hippies. Their music, their fashions, their use of drugs, their rejection of normal society – this all seemed strange and dangerous to “respectable” people. They just didn’t understand hippies, so it wasn’t a big leap to imagine that hippies might worship Satan, or be part of a cult.

And let’s not forget that Charles Manson and his murderous crew were basically hippies gone wrong. And they had just committed their crimes the year before I Drink Your Blood was released. Hippies were definitely ripe for exploitation by the horror genre at that moment.

I Drink Your Blood features Lynn Lowry in one of her earliest film roles. She may have made Lloyd Kaufman’s The Battle of Love’s Return first, but it came out after, so I’m not sure. In any case, she was pretty much unknown when she made I Drink Your Blood. Her part was small, and her character was basically mute, but she really stands out from the rest of the cast. That’s not to suggest that the other actors are bad. I actually think that many of them are quite good, but Lynn Lowry somehow makes the strongest impression. She has a lot of screen presence, and manages to draw focus in every scene that she is in. It’s no surprise that she would go on to legendary cult status, thanks to films like The Crazies (1973), Score (1973) Shivers (1975), Cat People (1982) – and this one, of course.

Lynn Lowry dropped out of film and TV acting for about ten years in the mid 1990s, but since 2005 she has appeared in more than a hundred movies – many of them independent horror and other other genre films. Here’s hoping she makes another hundred.

I Drink Your Blood (1970) is legendary #NotQuiteClassicCinema that every fan should see at least once. I’ve already seen it three or four times, and I will look forward to many more. It will always be a welcome sight on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Deadly Scavengers (2001)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…

DVD cover for Deadly Scavengers (2001)Deadly Scavengers (2001) by #RonFord

w/#JohnFallon #HeatherBranch #VinnieBilancio

After a scientist is killed and his daughter disappears from their secret lab in the desert, it’s up to an elite mercenary team to find her–and what they discover is a giant man-sized cockroach that’s been hunting humans in the area.

#Horror #Comedy
#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

I bought the DVD of Deadly Scavengers (2001) at a pawn shop in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It jumped off the shelf at me because I’d never seen or heard of it before – and it looked like it could be very cheap, and very bad.

It was.

But apparently I enjoyed it enough to put it in my permanent collection. Looking at the box 15 years later, I had no idea what it was really like. So, I decided that it was time to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

The director, Ron Ford, has apparently made 36 movies (so far), He has also acted in 76 movies, including Addicted to Murder (1995), which I wrote about in this very category just a few months ago. He wrote and directed Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood (2000). I’ve been slowly working my way through all of those Witchcraft movies, but I haven’t made it that far yet. In fact, I think the last one I saw was part six, so I have a long way to go…

One doesn’t have to study Ron Ford’s list of movies very closely to see that he is an auteur of bad movies. This is no criticism, as I am a connoisseur of bad movies. I’m trying to watch the entire Witchcraft series, for crap’s sake! That’s a series that started off bad, got marginally better, then a whole lot worse. And yet, for some reason, I can’t resist looking at the next one, and the next one, and the next one…

I bought Deadly Scavengers knowing, nay, wanting it to be bad. And the first time I watched it I was convinced that it was the good kind of bad – with plenty of over-the-top cheapass gore and gratuitous nudity. Watching it again now, I found there to be more gratuitous conversations, ridiculous character conflicts, and obligatory plot twists than anything else.

Yes, there is some gore and violence – and there are even a couple of scenes of gratuitous nudity. But not really enough to carry the film for almost 90 minutes. Some critics have declared Deadly Scavengers to be the worst movie ever made. If it was, I would have enjoyed it more. It’s not really bad enough to be a camp classic (although it has a few moments). Needless to say, it’s not good enough to be another Aliens (1986) or Predator (1987) – which Ron Ford may have been going for. Or maybe he was thinking of Tremors (1990), with its sense of humour. Or maybe he was paying homage to classic monster movies from the 1950s. Alas, Deadly Scavengers is none of those things.

So, what’s the verdict?

Deadly Scavengers is Trash. It feels sort of like a very late entry into the 1980’s shot-on-video horror boom. And most of those movies were Trash. The best of them were good Trash. A few may have even been trashterpieces of bad cinema. Deadly Scavengers doesn’t quite make it that far. It’s neither the best, nor the worst, of it’s kind. It’s simply an acceptable time waster for those who have a high tolerance for bad movies. If a connoisseur is in just the right mood, it might even be an acceptable addition to a marathon of bad movies. Having watched it twice in less than twenty years, I think I’ve seen it enough. But it certainly doesn’t dissuade me from seeking out and watching other movies by Ron Ford.

I may have a problem…