Trash Or Terror Tuesday: The Forsaken (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 The Forsaken (2001)

The Forsaken (2001) by #JSCardone

w/ #KerrSmith #BrendanFehr #IzabellaMiko #JohnathonSchaech #PhinaOruche #CarrieSnodgress
 
A young man hired to drive a car cross-country picks up a hitchhiker who turns out to be a vampire hunter.
 
“The night… has an appetite.”
 
#Horror #Vampires
#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

Somewhere along the way I picked up a DVD copy of The Forsaken (2001), knowing nothing about it. I recall being pleasantly surprised by it, so I added it to my personal library. Fast forward a few years, and I couldn’t remember anything about it. So, I figured I might as well put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by it. The review on the front of the box compares it to The Lost Boys (1987), and that’s not a completely ridiculous thing to say, as it involves a gang of vampires and a relatively cool soundtrack. It even features a couple of songs by Nickelback before they took the world by storm (I know that some will say this is a minus, not a plus, but I will make no such judgment).

The cast features Brendan Fehr, who is from Winnipeg (my home town), where he appeared is a movie called Hand (1998). I should probably be featuring that one on #TrashOrTerrorTuesday, as it is undeniably trash (and not the good kind) – but unfortunately (I mean very, very fortunately) I do not own a copy. But seriously, if I did own a copy (and I might actually buy it for a decent price – what’s wrong with me?) I would probably have to feature it on #MadeInManitobaMonday. But I digress…

The Forsaken is a much better movie than Hand. It’s not as good as The Lost Boys, but who would expect it to be? The cast is solid – and that includes former Winnipegger Brendan Fehr. I should mention that Fehr has appeared in other movies I like, including Disturbing Behavior (1998), Christina’s House (2000), and Silent Night (2012). Most would probably know him from Final Destination (2000) and Roswell (1999-2002).

In The Forsaken, Fehr plays a vampire hunter who is searching for the vampire who once bit him (to stop himself from turning). He believes it might be one of the gang that he encounters with Kerr Smith’s character, Sean – who is trying to deliver an expensive car across the country and attend his sister’s wedding. Much violent action ensues…

So what’s the verdict?

The Forsaken (2001) is a moderate Terror. It has great action, some legitimate suspense, and a few moments that could be described as scary. There is fair bit of nudity – and some sexy vampire antics – as well, which perhaps adds a touch of Trash to the mix (but this is the good kind of Trash). All in all, I enjoyed The Forsaken quite a bit (for the second time), and I will be keeping the DVD in my collection.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Psycho a Go Go (1965)

Psycho a Go Go (1965) is, for all intents and purposes, the first feature film directed by Al Adamson. He was an uncredited director on Half Way to Hell (1960), but Psycho a Go Go was his first official directing gig. As I may have mentioned before, I’ve been fan of Adamson since first seeing some of his movies on VHS many years ago.  I was excited to get to see his first movie, partly because I had thought that it didn’t exist anymore.

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. Sometimes they were movies that other people had made, and that Al (or his producers) had gotten the rights to, and then altered to make them more marketable (or something). Other times, Al would cannibalize his own movies to create something new.

Lobby card for Psycho a Go Go (1965)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, 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.

So, knowing that all of these different cuts and versions of Psycho a Go Go had been released, I wasn’t sure if the original Psycho a Go Go even existed anymore. Thankfully, Troma released it on DVD a few years back and I was able to finally see it. What a thrill that was, and in some ways Psycho a Go Go turned out to be the best version of Psycho a Go Go that Al had ever made.

Psycho a Go Go is pretty much a straight up crime film. It’s a violent and nasty piece of work about a psychotic jewel thief who kills one of his own partners and then goes after a woman and her little girl because they may have inadvertently taken possession of the stolen diamonds.

Sounds tense, doesn’t it? Well, don’t worry because in between moments of suspense there are plenty of nightclub scenes featuring singer, and actress, Tacey Robbins performing with The Vendells. Apparently Al was trying to promote her career at the time he made Psycho a Go Go so he featured her talents as much as he could. In real life, Tacey Robbins released one 7″ single of My L.A. / Ordinary Boy, both of which are featured in Psycho a Go Go.

Psycho a Go Go isn’t going to give movies like Cape Fear (1962) a serious run for their money, in terms of 1960s noir and suspense, but it’s maybe aiming to be in that ballpark. Perhaps Ray Dennis Steckler’s The Thrill Killers (1964) would be a better comparison, although Steckler’s movie is probably still much better made. Adamson, even in his first feature film, is already displaying his mastery of the “bad movie”. It becomes more apparent in the subsequent versions of Psycho a Go Go (like Blood of Ghastly Horror). Still, one can see  Al’s distinct touch in Psycho a Go Go, and imagine his future greatness.

Psycho a Go Go (1965) is almost a good movie, but it is undoubtedly #NotQuiteClassicCinema. For fans of Al, it is a must see. For those looking for a way into Al appreciation, it’s not a bad place to start. 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: Undead or Alive (2007)

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 Undead or AliveUndead or Alive (2007) by #GlasgowPhillips

w/ #ChrisKattan #ChrisCoppola #NaviRawat

Two misfits rob a corrupt sheriff as a plague of zombies begins to sweep the country.

“Guns don’t kill people. Zombies kill people.”

“A Zombie Western Comedy … no really!”

#Comedy #Horror #Western

 

Undead or Alive (2007) is another example of a movie (like last week’s Cult (2007)), which has been sitting on my shelf for about a decade – and which I certainly did watch before putting it there – that I basically have no specific memories of, in terms of plot and content. I recalled it being a zombie western, but other than that – nothing. So, I decided to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

Right off the top, they seem to be blaming the zombie plague on Geronimo – who they claim put some kind of curse on white people. Later in the movie, they even refer to the zombies as Geronimonsters. This didn’t quite sit right with me. I have undoubtedly written my fair share of politically incorrect humour in my time, and maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but I felt that Geronimo deserved a better (albeit fictional) legacy than this.

I must have bought Undead or Alive during the time that I was thoroughly immersing myself in Westerns. I was writing my own epic Western play (an exploration of the history of Western Canada, in fact), and I wanted to soak up as much old west atmosphere as I possibly could. I was also watching a lot of zombie movies because, well, I like zombies – and we were in the midst of a huge zombie resurgence at that time (post Dawn of the Dead (2004)  – which was released, coincidentally, while I was in rehearsal with my brand new  zombie musical – but that’s another story).

Undead or Alive probably intrigued me because it was a combination of two of my current obsessions, Westerns and  zombies, and in theory it’s a brilliant idea. In reality, Undead or Alive just made me want to re-watch Blazing Saddles (1974) and The Return of the Living Dead (1985) – both far superior movies. I feel that Undead or Alive was lifting ideas from The Return of the Living Dead (like shooting zombies in the head doesn’t seem to work), but it was nowhere near as funny. The zombies in Undead or Alive were not that different from regular Western bad guys. They keep on riding horses, shooting guns, and having conversations. This is not what I generally look for in a zombie movie.

Undead or Alive is by no means a terrible movie. It’s well made, with decent action and gore. Unfortunately, the script is not as clever as it needs to be. The movie really aims for comedy much more than horror, and the comedy just isn’t good enough. A person looking for an effective satire of Western conventions would be far better off watching Blazing Saddles, Cat Ballou (1965), or Destry Rides Again (1939).

So what’s the verdict?

Undead or Alive (2007) is neither Trash nor Terror. It simply isn’t good enough, or bad enough, to be one or the other. It’s just floating somewhere in the middle, not particularly interesting enough to be worth multiple viewings. Having watched it twice in ten years, I don’t think I’ll need to be doing that again. It might be an acceptable time passer for those who haven’t already seen it. But I doubt that anyone will love it as much as I love Blazing Saddles (1974) and The Return of the Living Dead (1985). And in the future, I will be watching those movies instead of this one.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Scream Bloody Murder (1972)

My favourite video store used to have an amazing deal that allowed you to rent all the movies you could watch for one month for a low, low price (maybe $9.95, or $12.95, I can’t quite recall). You could rent three movies at a time, and exchange them as often as you like. Some a-holes would pay for the deal, take out three movies and just keep them for a month. I guess it was a cheaper way to “own” movies that had price tags like $199.95 (which basically meant they weren’t for sale – but if you wanted to pay that price, I guess they would have taken it). One year I decided to spend the final month of summer watching all the movies I could put my hands on. I figured it was a good way to try out a bunch of weird and iffy looking movies that I wasn’t so sure about. It was also a good way to relax before heading back school in September.

Unfortunately, I got an unexpected offer to assistant stage manage a play that was going up in September, which meant rehearsing the last three weeks of August. Like a fool, I said yes. This meant that I was in rehearsals for several hours each day – hours that I had planned to spend sitting in front of a TV watching outrageous cinematic atrocities. I had already paid for the all-you-can watch movie deal, so I didn’t want to waste it. I felt that on principle I had to watch a minimum of three movies a day. And since I was in rehearsal until 10:00 PM most days, this meant that had to watch movies all night to make up for it.

VHA box for Scream Bloody Murder (1972)I remember the sun was coming up as I finished watching a beat up looking VHS tape of an obscure old movie called Scream Bloody Murder (1972). The box had been taunting me, and tempting me, from the shelves of Movie Village for a while now, but I’d never been able to convince myself to rent it. It just looked so cheap – it had to be terrible. Perhaps I had flashbacks to renting Garden of the Dead (1972) with my friends a few years ago. Scream Bloody Murder just couldn’t live up to it’s own hyperbole: “The First Motion Picture to be Called GORE-NOGRAPHY!!!” Gore-nography? That screamed ‘rent me!’ and yet I still didn’t trust it. The box looked so… nasty – is that the word for it? Just take a look at it (on the right). Something about it creeped me out in a way that no other horror film ever had.

I’d been a big fan of horror films since I was a kid. I loved movies like Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), not to mention The Amityville Horror (1979) and Poltergeist. (1982). I’d even seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Toolbox Murders (1978) – and those ones had probably given me similar vibes to Scream Bloody Murder, but both Texas… and Toolbox… were famous movies. Steven King even endorsed Toolbox… on the front cover. So, l I knew those movies had to be of a certain level of quality. But Scream Bloody Murder… it was more like finding something creepy buried in your back yard and going “what the hell is this?”

So, it took an all-you-can-watch movie deal, and an all night movie marathon, to finally convince me to slide this tape into the player. It was the final film of the night, and I was probably half asleep when it started – but pretty soon I was wide awake. It starts with a bang – or perhaps I should say a senseless killing. A young boy runs over his father with a tractor. Was it an accident? or some kind of twisted murder? It’s not really clear to me. But the boy jumps out of the moving farm vehicle and manages to get his arm run over. There is some blood and gore, and the whole thing has an air of unpleasantness to it. I was completely riveted.

The kid, Matthew, has his mangled hand replaced by a hook, or claw, and is stuck in a mental hospital until he is eighteen. Now played by Fred Holbert, he is released and he returns to the farm to discover that his mother has a new man in her life. Suffice it to say that Matthew has deep, deep troubles with his mother, and the murders soon begin (again).

This is just the beginning, and Scream Bloody Murder is soon winding it’s way through unexpected plot turns, and delivering some truly awesome moments of madness. By the time the final scene was playing out on my TV screen (as the sun was coming up through the window behind me) I felt disturbed, and just a little bit dirty.

Yes, dirty. The movie seemed so scuzzy to me (and I’m not even sure how to define that), that I almost felt a need to take a shower when it was done (as one critic once predicted that people would feel after watching a play I wrote – but that’s another story). Don’t get me wrong, I had enjoyed the movie – particularly the first half or so. There were moments of unintentional hilarity, as well as truly suspenseful scenes. I even found myself wondering, at one point, if Steven King had seen this movie and been inspired by it when he wrote Misery. Probably not, but there are certain similarities.

In the last act, the movie spirals down to a nightmarish conclusion. Something about the low budget production values, the bad film print, and the worn out VHS tape – coupled with the dark, disturbing ending – left me feeling thoroughly shaken, and somehow less clean than when I had started. Perhaps lack of sleep on my part was also a factor, I don’t know. But I never forgot Scream Bloody Murder, and I later picked up a half-decent print on DVD.

Watching it last week, I didn’t get that same feeling of disturbed uncleanliness. I’ve seen so many other movies over the years that are just as cheap and scuzzy – if not more so – that it really seems kind of quaint and classy to me now. It still entertained me in all the same places. And it was great to see Angus Scrimm in an early appearance, credited as Rory Guy. There are moments in Scream Bloody Murder (1972) that I think are absolutely brilliant, and overall it’s a fairly unpredictable story. I would call it a minor #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic, and recommend it to anyone with a taste for low, low budget horrors of the early 1970s. I know I will always be happy to see it turn up on any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Cult (2007)

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 art for Cult (2007)Cult (2007) by #JoeKnee

w/ #TarynManning #RachelMiner

While researching a local cult, four college students uncover the existence of a supernatural power that may take their lives…and their souls.

“Once You’re In, There’s No Getting Out!”

#Horror

#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

I picked up a DVD of Cult (2007) in a bargain bin somewhere, and I must have watched it, but… coming across it on my shelf, I had no memory of it whatsoever. So, even though it’s a little more recent than a lot of the movies I choose for this honour, I decided to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

I could try to describe the plot, but that would only give me a headache. Basically, a bunch of students decide to do a project about a weird cult that had a big murder suicide incident a few years back in their home town. Their professor seems a bit concerned about this, and says “Let me know if you find anything like…”

“Like what?” the head girl, Mindy, says.

“Just let me know if you find anything.”

Well, what are the odds that this project is going to unearth some weird secrets, perhaps having to do with this very student, Mindy’s past? And what are the odds that this attractive female professor is going to turn out to be seeing Mindy’s father – and therefore have inside information about this student’s past? And why is this student so determined to keep digging into this cult, even after one of her friends, and fellow students,  is mysteriously murdered in the shower (one of the faint highlights of this movie, by the way) -and that her death was seemingly somehow predicted by a book that this Mindy is reading?

Confused? I know I am. And I watched the movie (twice, apparently).

So what’s the verdict?

Cult (2007) is Trash. There was no terror, in my opinion. Perhaps somebody, somewhere would have found this movie scary or suspenseful, but not me. There is a bit of gore. Several of the female cult members (and maybe people who are possessed by cult members? Or maybe just controlled by the cult leader?) stab themselves in the eyes as a tribute to Kwan Yin, who was blinded and murdered by her father many years ago in China (or something like that).

Cult seems like a movie with trashy sleaze potential, especially when a bunch of female cult members, wearing some kind of funky white lingerie, gather around to performa a ritual of some sort, but sadly, it’s all just foreplay for eye-stabbing. And if you stare at this movie long enough, you might just be tempted to join in.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Monster on the Campus (1958)

Quite some time ago, I wrote about a TV show that I discovered when I was young. It aired late on Saturday nights and was called Not Quite Classic Theatre. As I said back then, “perhaps ‘show’ isn’t the right word for it. It was a time slot during which the TV station would air old B-movies.” I wrote that “watching those old monster movies inspired and excited me in a way that no other movies had. I loved them, and I loved that they gave me ideas and made me want to write.” Basically, watching movies on Not Quite Classic Theatre helped to make me into the person that I am today (for better or for worse).

I had already grown up watching back and white classics like Frankenstein (1931) and Dracula (1931) – and I loved them. But the movies on Not Quite Classic Theatre were different. They were black and white, and they were (mostly) monster movies, but they tended to be less famous and respected. many of them were from the late fifties and early sixties (so a whole other era of horror and sci-fi movies). These included the giant bug movies – some of which I’d heard of, but never seen (like Tarantula (1955)) – as well as some lesser known sequels involving classic monsters like the Wolfman (don’t ask me which ones, because it’s all a bit of a blur now).

Promotional Still from Monster on the Campus (1958)The very first movie that I ever watched on Not Quite Classic Theatre was Monster on the Campus (1958). I had never heard of it, but I loved it. Over the years I would remember it fondly, but I never knew what it was called. I mean, I’m sure I saw the title that first time I watched it on Not Quite Classic Theatre, but I had quickly forgotten it. And somehow I never saw it again, or read about it, or saw any mention of it in articles talking about old monster movies. It was like I was the only one on the planet who remembered this thing. Somehow, that made it seem even more special to me. Many years later, I finally saw it again – and it was pretty much as I remembered. When Universalreleased The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection I was thrilled to see that it included Monster on the Campus and nine other awesome movies (if you buy Volumes 1 & 2) from the same era. I knew I had to have it.

The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection on DVDThinking about it later, I realized that these 10 movies were likely part of the package that Not Quite Classic Theatre had licensed for broadcast all those years ago. So, in a way, it’s like I just bought season one of Not Quite Classic Theatre. How cool is that?

What can I say about Monster on the Campus that hasn’t been implied by everything I’ve already written? It’s still a lot of fun, and I still love it (nostalgia may play a role in that, what can I do?). It’s not a giant bug movie, but it feels pretty much at home among those movies. It involves a prehistoric fish, so that’s almost as good. 

That fish is probably the clearest image that I remember from watching the movie back in the 1980s. I thought it was pretty cool and creepy (and maybe just a little bit campy – although I had no idea what that word meant back then). It’s still a highlight of the movie in my opinion.

It’s safe to say that Monster on the Campus (1958) was a seminal viewing experience for me. As far as I am concerned, it is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic. I can never truly repeat the experience of watching it for the first time (either with this movie or any other). But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to try on many a future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Garden of the Dead (1972)

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…

Poster art for Garden of the Dead (1972)Garden of the Dead (1972) by #JohnHayes

Formaldehyde sniffing prisoners are killed during a breakout. After burial, the inmates return from the dead to exact revenge on the prison guards who killed them.

“filmed in DEAD color”

#Horror #SciFi #Zombies

#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

Some friends and I rented Garden of the Dead (1972) back in high school. The poster, which was featured on the VHS box, looked so damn amazing that we were convinced that we were about to watch the greatest zombie movie since Dawn of the Dead (1978). A mere fifteen minutes into the movie, everyone in the room wanted to stop the tape and move on to something else. I, already a completist at such a young age, argued for continuing to watch “in case it gets better.” My friends allowed it to keep playing until about 30 minutes in and then they ejected that tape as fast they could and smashed it into a million pieces (okay, I may be exaggerating slightly – but they wanted to smash it, believe me).

Garden of the Dead was, without a doubt, the cheapest and shoddiest looking movie that any of us had ever seen at that point in our lives. For years it was legendary among our gang. We would reference it from time to time, whenever we needed a measuring stick for badness. “Oh it’s bad, but it’s not Garden of the Dead bad,” would be something we might have said. Even so, I always felt a little guilty about not finishing the movie…

More than ten years later, a friend who worked for a video distribution company gave me a bag of DVDs that he thought I might appreciate. They were mostly “bad” movies, he said, but perhaps they were “bad” in an enjoyable way. I was surprised and intrigued to see that Garden of the Dead was one of them.

Watching it again, as an adult (and finishing it for the first time), I was surprised by how much better it was than I remembered. It no longer looked as cheap and shoddy to me – as I had seen much cheaper and shoddier movies by that point in my life. It wasn’t exactly good, but it seemed on par with many of the drive-in type movies that I enjoy to watch on a Friday night. So, much to my surprise, I put the Garden of the Dead DVD onto my shelf where it has remained for almost twenty years now. I was a bit nervous that one of my high school friends would see it there and accuse me of betraying the old gang, but… I was prepared to tell them that it was better than we had thought. Still, I never got around to watching it again. So, I figured it was time to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

The front gate of the "prison" in Garden of the Dead (1972)

The front gate of the “prison” in Garden of the Dead (1972)

Garden of the Dead is bad. I think my expectations were so low when I first re-watched it as an adult, that I was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s still not as cheap and shoddy as it had seemed back in high school, but it’s pretty cheap and shoddy. The “prison” consists of a few old shacks in the middle of a desert-like area, surrounded by a fence made out of barb wire and plywood. It would not effectively keep anyone from leaving.

The warden wears a suit, as if he’s attending a board meeting in a corporate head office, but he’s in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of prisoners and guards. Why would he bother to dress up?

The prisoners get high by sniffing formaldehyde (not sure if that’s a thing), and I guess that’s why they return from the dead (they’re pre-embalmed?).The movie clocks in, mercifully, at just under an hour. If we had known that back in high school, maybe we would have kept watching – but I doubt it.

So what’s the verdict?

Garden of the Dead (1972) is Trash. It has a few moments of inadvertent humour, which might make it watchable for die hard aficionados of bad movies. I don’t think that there are any moments of legitimate terror or suspense. And it’s not really trashy enough to be a truly fun watch.

Oddly enough, the DVD is introduced by Son of Ghoul (a horror host), and he says that it’s the kind of movie that makes you want to smash the TV after watching it. Not a bad description – and if that makes you want to watch Garden of the Dead, then you probably should. I, having already seen it three (well, two and half) times in my life, will not be joining you.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Black Magic (1975)

As I may have mentioned before, I saw a few crazy Hong Kong martial arts films when I was a kid. Most of them are long forgotten now. I couldn’t even tell you what their names were. I am, however, pretty sure that Black Magic (1975) was not one of them. For one thing, it’s not a martial arts film. It’s more of a weird horror film, with sorcery and… black magic.

Poster for Black Magic (1975)The description that I quoted on twitter is not completely accurate. It’s not about an evil magician making a living by casting deadly spells on people’s objects of desire. More correctly, it’s about an evil magician making a living by casting love spells on people’s objects of desire. That makes more sense, doesn’t it? He does also cast deadly spells, but those tend to be on people’s enemies, not their objects of desire.

Like I said, I had never seen this movie, and I really didn’t know much about it. So, I had no previous relationship with it. I had no feelings of nostalgia. I went in completely neutral. And…

…I liked it. Quite a lot, actually. I found it to be completely bonkers in that thoroughly entertaining way. It made me want to see the sequel, as well as other movies of its ilk. One of my Twitter friends recommended something called The Boxer’s Omen (1983). I know nothing about that movie, but I am adding it to my watch list.

I was going to spend some time talking about my early experiences watching Hong Kong and other Asian horror films, but due to some unforeseen difficulties at the home drive-in, I’m going to have to keep this one short. I shall have to save those stories for some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Until then, I recommend Black Magic (1975) to anyone who has a taste for Hong Kong horror, with a touch of #NotQuiteClassicCinema madness, that really delivers the fun.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Final Stab (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 case for Final Stab (2001)Final Stab (2001) by #DavidDeCoteau

w/#JamieGannon #MelissaReneéMartin #ErinnHayes #BradleyStryker

A game with fake blood and knives becomes a nightmare when someone starts slaughtering teenagers.

“The Reality of this Game… is Murder”

#Horror #Slasher

#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

Final Stab (2001) was made by David DeCoteau, who used to live right across the river from me. I know this because my friend Ian happened to live in the same building. And when I say right across the river, I mean in winter time I could walk across the ice and make it from my apartment door to Ian’s in under five minutes. When the river wasn’t frozen, I had to use the nearest bridge, so it took more like ten or twelve minutes. I went there to visit Ian one day, and as I  buzzed his apartment number, I noticed another name on the directory: D. DeCoteau. I wouldn’t have thought anything about it, except that I had heard that David DeCoteau had recently moved to Winnipeg after making The Brotherhood III: Young Demons (2003) here.  Could D. DeCoteau be David DeCoteau, I wondered?

VHS box for Robot NinjaA while later, I listened to the commentary track on the The Brotherhood III DVD and, from what DeCoteau said, I could tell that he was, in fact, living in my buddy Ian’s building. How cool was that?

I first read about DeCoteau when read J.R. Bookwalter’s B-Movies in the ’90s and Beyond. At the time, DeCoteau was working in Hollywood for Full Moon Pictures, and also making and distributing movies under his Cinema Home Video label. He produced movies like Bookwalter’s classic Robot Ninja (1989). In those days, I found reading about guys like Bookwalter and DeCoteau to be inspirational. 

And now one of them was living across the river from me!

Alas, he moved to Montreal a couple of years later. And my buddy Ian moved to a place that was a 35 minute walk away. Nothing gold can stay, I guess…

But why am I not talking about Final Stab (2001)? 

Possibly because it’s not that interesting (sorry, Dave). It was apparently made as a fake sequel to Scream (1996). It was supposed to be titled Final Scream, but Dimension Films threatened to sue, so they changed the title to Final Stab (which was a reference to the fictional movie Stab in the Scream movies). As low budget Scream rip-offs go, it’s actually not bad. It has enough interesting twists and turns to keep me interested, but ultimately I’d rather just watch Scream (or one of the official sequels).

Poster for Dr AlienSo, what’s the verdict?

Final Stab (2001) is a very mild Terror, with a few hints of Trash. I enjoyed it more the first time I saw it, 15 or 20 years ago, but it was interesting to see it again now. I think twice, however, is probably enough.

It should be noted that I have enjoyed other David DeCoteau movies much more. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988) i and Dr. Alien (1989) for instance. And Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991) is one of the best films in the series, in my opinion. Those ones will be staying in collection. Final Stab? Not so much.