Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Miner’s Massacre (2002)

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 box art for Miner's Massacre (2002)Miner’s Massacre AKA  Curse of the Forty-Niner (2002) by #JohnCarlBuechler

w/#KarenBlack #JohnPhillipLaw #RichardLynch #VernonWells #MartinKove #JeffConaway

A group of friends take gold from an old mine and awaken a long dead miner Hell Bent on protecting his treasure.

“They Axed For It!”

#Horror #Slasher
#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

A friend of mine worked for a website reviewing DVDs. Apparently, he did it to get a bunch of free DVDs mailed out to him on a regular basis. He told me I should get in on it, but somehow I never did. One of the movies he received and reviewed was Miner’s Massacre (2002). – and he told me about it one day.

“Is it worth watching?” I asked him.

“Oh, yeah!” he said with a glint in his eye.

I got the impression that he thought it was a bad movie, but a “so-bad-it’s-good” bad movie. He knew I liked that sort of thing, so I guess he figured that he was giving me a hot tip. He didn’t lend me his DVD, oddly enough. But I guess at that point we were only seeing each other once in while – if we happened to bump into each other at a party or event. He may not have wanted to risk losing his precious copy (for which he’d paid nothing).

A couple of years later I found a copy of Miner’s Massacre in a bargain bin somewhere and, recalling my friend’s ringing endorsement, I bought it. I guess I must have enjoyed it enough to put it onto my movie shelf – where it has remained collecting dust ever since. Honestly, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. So, I decided that it was time to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

It’s basically an old school slasher film directed by John Carl Buechler, who made Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) and about 17 other movies. He is more known for his special effects work. Miner’s Massacre is inferior in every way to any Friday the 13th movie. It tries to create a supernatural killer, like Jason, but doesn’t do as good a job setting him up and making him scary. He seems more campy and ridiculous most of the time. We also see him right away, so we know he’s the killer. There’s no mystery, like even the original Friday the 13th had. That would be okay if he was scary like Michael Myers, but he’s not. 

There’s an amazing cast of well known supporting actors in Miner’s Massacre. Unfortunately, they are all wasted. It’s pretty evident that they are there just to provide some names that can be used to promote the movie. many of them just have one scene – some of which are completely unnecessary and do nothing to move the story forward. 

So what’s the verdict?

Miner’s Massacre (2002) is Trash. It doesn’t work as a serious slasher film. It’s not scary or suspenseful. It also isn’t quite bad enough to be “so-bad-it’s-good”. The ridiculous misuse of the famous actors could almost qualify it, but not quite. It does have a tiny bit of sleaze in it, but not enough to make it worth sitting through. Perhaps those who’ve seen fewer bad movies than I have may be amused enough to declare it “so-bad-it’s-good”. Maybe I even did myself when I first saw it almost 20 years ago. But now, it just seems bad.

For a much, much better miner’s massacre, stick to My Bloody Valentine (1981) – or even My Bloody Valentine (2009), which has a much higher sleaze factor and is in 3D! They are both well worth repeat viewings – and are much better slasher films than Miner’s Massacre (2002). 

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: Psycho Cop 2 / Psycho Cop Returns (1993)

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 comes…

VHS box for Psycho Cop 2 (1993)Psycho Cop 2 / Psycho Cop Returns (1993) by #AdamRifkin

w/ #RobertRShafer #BarbaraNiven #JulieStrain

A psycho cop decides to kill everyone who he thinks has broken the law.

“Something old, something new, someone bloody… and the man in blue!”

#Horror
#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

Confession: I’ve never seen the first Psycho Cop (1989) movie. I’ve always imagined that it was a ripoff of Maniac Cop (1988). Someone gave me an old VHS copy of Psycho Cop 2 (1993) back in the late ’90s. Truth be told it was a former video store owner who had closed up shop and was getting rid of old tapes. How could I not do my part to help? I brought home a boxful of ’90s movies that I’d never seen before. Most of them were trash, but I remembered enjoying this one quite a bit and adding it to my personal library. Fast forward a couple of decades and I really couldn’t remember much about it. I’d enjoyed seeing it on my shelf over the years, but for some reason I’d never had the urge to revisit it. Last week I decided that it was time to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test…

Psycho Cop 2 (1993) – or Psycho Cop Returns as it’s sometimes called – was directed by Adam Rifkin, who made films like Detroit Rock City (1999), The Chase (1994) and one of the segments in the awesome anthology Chillerama (2011). He also made a pretty nifty film called Look (2007), which was shot entirely from the perspective of security cameras. It works surprisingly well, and should be much better known than it is – but I digress…

Psycho Cop 2 is more like a slasher film than Maniac Cop – and as anyone who knows me can attest, I love slasher films. The plot goes something like this: a bunch of office workers throw a bachelor party and a psycho cop shows up to punish anyone who is breaking the law – which is pretty much everyone, since the whole party is against the rules. There are strippers, including relative newcomer and future star Julie Strain, and there are ridiculous, gory murders. Put simply, this movie really delivers the exploitation goods – and it’s all done with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s fast paced, funny, and just plain fun.

I can’t help but notice that it gets a higher rating on the IMDb than the original Psycho Cop, and I can believe it’s a better movie. Maybe one day I’ll watch part one and find out for sure. In any case, I believe that Psycho Cop 2 is entertaining enough to warrant repeat viewings.

So what’s the verdict?

As you can probably guess, I believe that Psycho Cop 2 (1993) is #Trash of the highest order, which means that it’s #Terror to me (although I wouldn’t exactly call it scary). I use the word #Terrror interchangeably with #Treasure – and I will certainly continue to treasure my VHS copy of this movie for years to come.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Blood Sisters (1987)

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 comes…

Poster and VHS box for Blood Sisters (1987) by #RobertaFindlayBlood Sisters (1987) by #RobertaFindlay

Seven girls must spend the night in a creepy former whorehouse as part of an initiation.

“Sexy college girls pitted against an unspeakable power ready to prey upon their naked bodies and souls…”

#Horror #Slasher

#TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

Confession: I’m a bit of Roberta Findley fan and, as such, there was little doubt in my mind that I would want to keep this VHS tape of Blood Sisters (1987) in my collection. Still, it had been a long time since I had watched it, and it was collecting dust, so…

Blood Sisters is a weird mix of sleazy whorehouse antics in flashbacks to the past, and current day sorority slasher movie hijinks – which, as you might guess, is of particular interest to me, since I once wrote a play called Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical. There may even be some supernatural ghost action thrown in for good measure.

So what’s the verdict?

Blood Sisters (1987) is not Roberta Findley’s best movie, but it provides enough campy entertainment and good natured sleaze to easily entertain aficionados for ninety minutes. It is somehow both #trash and #terror, and I will be keeping it in my collection to enjoy again (and again, and again)…

 

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Angus Kohm

You’ll See: Innocent young girls, cruel sorority sisters, foolish fraternity freaks, and one sadistic, insane killer stalking them all. Sound familiar? It is. But this time they sing and dance too…

Reviews:

“What do you do when you’ve got a script that tells the story of an axe-wielding madman who escapes from the loony bin and starts stalking sorority girls on a nearby college campus? Why, you make a musical, of course. Which is exactly what Winnipeg writer/ composer/ director Angus Kohm has done with Slumber Party Massacre, aHalloween-style plot delivered with a Rainbow Stage sensibility. The result is a campy, absurd musical spoof that’s found commercial and critical success beyond the cult following Kohm and co. already had in Winnipeg. And all we can say is, uh… it’s about bloody well time. Not only is Kohm worthy of praise for breathing new life into a time-worn genre (Scream notwithstanding), so is the troupe. Particularly noteworthy are the skilled veteran duo of Cassandra Williams and Stefanie Wiens, who are so adept in their competing good-girl/bad-girl roles. Let’s hope that Kohm, who poked fun at that other B-movie staple, women’s prison films, in the equally ridiculous Bad Girls Jailhouse, will keep coming back like the Michael Meyers of his craft. Five Stars!” (Highest Rating)
— Riva Harrison, The Winnipeg Sun, 1997 

“Call it magic, fringe-style. But what other explanation is there when actors start belting out the tune There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl and all the prim looking grannies in the front row start tapping their toes? And then, by the time the cast starts singing I’m a Crazy Mixed-Up Psychopathic Killer, the grannies actually look ready to jump on stage to sing along. That is the rather magical scene these days at the Manotick Fringe Festival, site of the world premiere of Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical.”
— Paul Gessell, The Ottawa Citizen

“This is the show you don’t want to miss. It’s fast, funny and macabre – just the kind of edgy fluff people expect at a fringe festival. Sweeney Todd fans will be especially pleased. A unifying, tenacious grip on just the right sense of irony makes dippy songs about things like finding a severed head in a toilet bowl absurdly funny. Prediction: Manitoba playwright/composer Angus Kohm will make serious money some day.”
– Pat Donnelly, The Montreal Gazette

“Screamingly funny and well performed. How can you go wrong with a song title like There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl? REACTION/BUZZ: “Even the corpses are singing and dancing.” “I laughed, I cried… I just about wet myself.”
– David Gobeil Taylor, The Montreal Mirror

“A wondrous little piece by Angus Kohm… it moves fast and the timing is bang on. I want the cast album!”
– Gaetan L. Charlebois, The Montreal Hour

“In a perfect world, all Fringe shows would feature at least some of the spunk and spirit of Winnipeg playwright Angus Kohm’s Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre. The Winnipeg Based B-movie fanatic, who brought his Bad Girls Jailhouse to the Toronto Fringe last year, once again shows a genius for casting and a gift for catchy tunes and good humored, ridiculous lyrics…Sorority Girls is good silly fun.”
– Kathleen M. Smith, The Toronto Eye

“Oh what the hell.”
– Jason Sherman, Toronto Life

“This is one of the must-see shows of the festival… like Andrew Lloyd Webber staging Halloween.Kohm’s lyrics draw hoots of laughter… There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl appears destined to become Kohm’s signature song. Five Stars!” – (highest rating)
– Kevin Prokosh, The Winnipeg Free Press

“Here’s a show that gives you exactly what the title promises. Yes, there are sorority girls, they do have a slumber party, there is a massacre and, incredibly, it’s all set to music. Winnipeg’s Angus Kohm is the evil genius behind it. Lyrical gems like That Madman Is Nuts pop up frequently. Only one song goes to far: There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl was just too disgusting.”
– Cam Fuller, The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

“He’s baaa-ck!  No, not the sadistic ax murderer with a lust for the blood of nubile sorority girls, but local composer/playwright Angus Kohm, who unleashes a raucous, cutting-edge satirical attack on slasher movies. Who needs a two sided ax when you can wield cutting edge songs with razor-sharp lyrics honed to leave listeners helplessly laughing?  Sorority Girls debuted in 1997 as a kind of stage cousin to the 1996 film Scream.  Since then, the genre has been crowded by moreScreams, Scary Movies and I Know What You Did Last Summer.  Kohm still has the musical field all to himself.  Undeniably silly and violent in a cartoon-like manner, Sorority Girls stands up as a hilarious skewering of the cliche of teen slasher flicks.”
– Kevin Prokosh, The Winnipeg Free Press (2001)

“A returning Fringe fave, Sorority Girls should have been force-screened to the Wayans Brothers before they spoofed the horror genre in Scary Movie and its terrifyingly bad sequel. This is all the ammo they needed, as five local university students remind us that horror films are already effective self-parody. With rousing song-and-dance numbers such as There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl, and I Feel Like a Walk in the Basement … Alone, the musical plumbs the depths of bad taste — with hilarious results… This will be a hot ticket by the end of the week, even in the spacious Prairie Theatre Exchange.”
– The Winnipeg Sun (2001)

Performance Rights and Other Details For Potential Producers:

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical
A one act musical comedy;
Cast Size: 5 Actors (4 Female, 1 Male);
NOTE: The show was designed for 5 actors doubling as more than one character. It is also perfectly acceptable to cast more than 5 actors and reduce (or eliminate) the doubling.
Running Time: 60 minutes (could be as long as 75 minutes if the director chooses to slow the pace);
Set: Originally produced on a bare stage with one mime cube.
Props/Costumes: Few props, such as fake knives, axe, etc.; simple costumes such as work coveralls and a mask; if doubling with a cast of five, quick changes will be required (for example, from from generic members of the sorority to specific characters in pyjamas);
Music is scored for piano and voices; has sometimes been arranged for a full band.

Copies of the script are available for $7.95 each.
Single Perusal Copies of the score are available for $29.95 each.
A Soundtrack Recording of the 2001 Cast of  Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical is available on CD for $19.95. More info here

Professional and Amateur Performance Rights are available.
Royalty Fees will be applicable, but the exact amount will depend on the details of each individual production.

To find out more, contact the author (address below).
Please include information such as:
1) Where your production would take place
2) When it would take place
3) How many performances there would be
4) How many seats there are in the theatre
5) Ticket prices

To Order Scripts, Scores, CDs, etc.,
or for information on obtaining the professional or amateur rights to
Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical,
contact Angus Kohm c/o Rubbed Raw:

To send an e-mail click here
Snail mail: Angus Kohm c/o Rubbed Raw:
205 – 21 Roslyn Road
Winnipeg, MB
R3L 2S8
Canada
Make cheques (or money orders) payable to Angus Kohm.

Shipping charges may be applicable, and may vary due to shipping location and size of order. E-mail or snail mail to find out more.

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical: a musical that has been seen at fringe festivals and on university campuses all over North America.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: New Year’s Evil (1980)

Back in the 1990s, I appeared on a radio show to promote one of the low budget film projects that I was working on at that time. The host asked me if I had seen any good movies lately. For some reason, this question threw me. It’s always a little tricky to think of a good answer to an unexpected question when you’re put on the spot during a live interview. However, I watch at least one movie a day, so surely it should have been easy for me to rattle off a list of seven or ten titles just from the past week. But perhaps it was the inclusion of the word “good” that made me hesitate, and see nothing but visions of dust and tumbleweeds where the memory of my recently watched pile of movies should have been.

The last thing anyone wants on the radio is dead air, so I immediately started to answer the question with some sort of awkward stammering about how it all depended upon a person’s definition of “good”. Thankfully, as I was speaking, one recently watched movie came back to me.

“I just saw New Year’s Evil,” I told him.

The host looked puzzled. “New Year’s Evil…?”

“It’s not a recent movie,” I explained. “It’s an old slasher film from the ’80s. Made after Halloween, so they named it after a holiday – or at least a day in the calendar. Like Friday the 13th or My Bloody Valentine.”

“I haven’t seen it,” the host admitted, “but I know which movie you’re talking about.” He was roughly my age, and a huge fan of ’80s movies, so it wasn’t surprising that he would have heard of it.

“As you know, I’m a fan of slasher films,” I continued, “but I had never seen this one either. Maybe because the books all said it was bad.”

“And was it?” he asked me.

“I actually liked it,” I said, and I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised by that answer.

Truth be told, my expectations for New Year’s Evil (1980) had been pretty low. My most trusted review book, Terror On Tape by James O’Neill, gave the movie one and a half stars and called it “A less than great throwback to those bygone days when no holiday was safe from the makers of mad slasher movies… With bad music, little blood, and a predictable twist ending…” In Video Trash and Treasures, L.A. Morse says “I think there are more music/dance interludes than bodies in this one, which probably says it all…”. I actively avoided watching this movie for the better part of two decades. It was only when I found an old VHS tape in a bargain bin that I decided it was time to finally see what it was all about.

I certainly did not expect to discuss this movie on a live radio show about FIlm.

It was true that I had enjoyed New Year’s Evil much more than I had expected to – perhaps largely due to the very low expectations that I had developed over the years. Most reviewers criticized the film for it’s extensive use of rock band performance footage – and often called the music bad. I actually enjoyed that aspect of the film. It’s about a big New Years Eve rock show. They call it a “punk rock” show, but the music seems to be more straight up hard rock or classic rock. We do see bands performing several times throughout the movie.

I have a particular fondness for movies about rock bands. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) is a favourite of mine from way back – and it is, in way, about “bad music”, although my friends and I all bought the soundtrack and loved it. I am also a huge fan of the heavy metal horror films like Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987), Black Roses (1988) and Rocktober Blood (1984). New Year’s Evil is not really like those movies. It’s not a story about the band(s), or in which the members of the bands are characters. In fact, the bands in New Year’s Evil are actually real bands. This makes it, in some ways, closer to movies like The Prowler (1981) which features a band performing on stage. But New Year’s Evil features so much music – and a flamboyant rockstar-like celebrity host played by Roz Kelly (who some might remember as Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days (1974-84)) – that it takes on a bit of that rock band horror movie feel. And call me crazy, but I like the music featured in the film – you can hear the theme song by Shadow on YouTube.

So, I wasn’t lying to the radio host when I said that I had liked New Year’s Evil, but I think it was a fairly mild like after that first viewing. Over the years, however, I started to watch New Year’s Evil on New Years Eve (go figure), and I found my appreciation of the film growing stronger with each viewing. Kind of like a song or album that you hear once and think is okay, but after you hear it a few more times you start to really get into it. Those are some of favourite songs/albums. After wearing out my VHS tape, I upgraded to the Scream Factory Blu-ray and I couldn’t be happier. The film has never looked (and sounded) better, and it’s nice to have a few extras to enhance the experience.

One more rock and roll reason to love New Year’s Evil (at least for me), is the fact that Nurse Robbie, whom our psychopathic killer encounters at a mental institution, is played by Jennie Franks. She has a few acting credits over a ten year period, and was apparently also a photographer and playwright. I had never noticed this before, but she also has quite a few songwriting credits on the IMDb – and they are all for one song: Aqualung by Jethro Tull. Those who know me, know that I am a huge fan of Jethro Tull, and Aqualung is one of my all time favourite albums, and songs. When I saw Jennie Franks’ soundtrack credits on the IMDb, my brain couldn’t quite comprehend them – until I remembered that Aqualung is one of the only songs in Jethro Tull’s vast catalogue that wasn’t written solely by Ian Anderson. And I had noticed, years ago, that the co-writer of Aqualung was a woman… Jennie Anderson, in fact; Ian’s first wife. Now I discover, much to my surprise, that Jennie Franks, the actress who plays the nurse who (SPOILER ALERT) gets murdered in New Year’s Evil, used to be called Jennie Anderson, and is, in fact, the very same Jennie Anderson who co-wrote one of my all time favourite songs!

What are the odds of that?

I actually always liked Jennie Franks’ portrayal of Nurse Robbie in this movie, but I had no idea who she was until this year. I suspect that all future viewings of New Year’s Evil will only be enhanced by this exciting new discovery…

Director Emmett Alston only made eight films during his relatively brief career, and by the looks of them they might all be #NotQuiteClassicCinema of one type of another. Alston seemed to be particularly partial to ninjas, having made three films about them. A year before  New Year’s Evil was released, Alston made his directorial debut with something called Three-Way Weekend (1979). It’s described on the IMDb as “Two bisexual girls go camping in the woods and are followed around by a perverted guy in a gorilla mask and a man in uniform with a whip who thinks everyone’s a communist…”. If ever a film heralded the arrival of a cinematic genius it’s got to be this one. Needless to say, I’m putting it on my must-find-a-copy-and-watch list.

 

 

For me, New Year’s Evil (1980) will always be a welcome addition to any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn – especially if that Friday also happens to be New Years Eve, or New Year’s Day. And looking at my new 2021 calendar, I think I know what I’ll be doing next December 31…

Friday The 13th At The Home Drive-In: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

As I mentioned in a previous postFriday the 13th Part III (1982) was the first Friday the 13th film I ever saw. And I had the good fortune of seeing it in the threatre in 3D! It was quite a mind-blowing experience, and as is the case with many first time experiences, it would prove very difficult to top. The next one I saw was the original Friday the 13th (1980), and that movie blew my mind for very different reason, which I wrote about in another blog post. I think that the next Friday the 13th film I saw was Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984).

I was so excited when I heard that this movie was coming out – and, of course, I wanted to see it in the theatre. Sadly, it was not to  be. I don’t remember if it was because my Dad had hated Part III so much that there was no way I could convince him to take me to Part 4 (which would have undoubtedly been true) or, if it was because Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was rated ‘R’ in Manitoba. I have a vague memory that the film was indeed Restricted, which meant that no one under the age of 18 would be admitted. 

This was, on the one hand, disappointing. I had really enjoyed seeing Part III on the big screen and I would have loved seeing Part 4 on the big screen, too. But on the other hand, this kind of made me more excited. The movie was rated ‘R’ which meant that it had to be even more violent, more gory – and more scary – than the already extreme (to my inexperienced eyes) Part III!

I rented the movie on Beta as soon as it came out.

And isn’t that weird? The rules were very strict about not letting anyone under the age of 18 into the movie theatre to see a film like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. But my friends and I would routinely take ‘R’ rated films up to the counter at our local video store and no one would bat an eye. Not once did a clerk ever question us, or ask for I.D., or say “Hey, you’re too young to be renting that!”

Those were good times.

So, I watched Part 4 with bated breath. This was The Final Chapter after all. Somehow they were going to do the impossible: they were going to kill Jason. And I thought that this was pretty darn cool. After all, Jason had already been “killed” numerous times, and he just kept getting back up. How were they going to finally finish him off?

As the movie unfolded in front of me, I found myself feeling anxious, and excited, and scared…  and disappointed.

Huh? Disappointed?! How could I be disappointed by a movie that is now considered to be one of the (if not the) very best film(s) in the entire series?

I think it was a lot of factors coming together to create that feeling of disappointment:

First of all, I saw Part III on the big screen and in 3D. It was a huge, spectacular experience. I watched Part 4 on an old 19″ TV screen – and it wasn’t in 3D.

Secondly, Part III had been my first time seeing anything so violent and gory. It had seemed to me, at the time, that an endless number of people were killed in that movie. Somehow, Part 4 seemed more restrained to me, and I actually thought it had a lower body count. I was wrong, but that was the impression I got the first time I saw it.

Expectations can be a bitch. Part III had raised my expectations through the roof. It probably wouldn’t have mattered what Part 4 was actually like, my expectations would have led me to expect MORE from it.

I suspect that if I had watched Part III again, I would have thought that it was more restrained and had a lower body count.

It should be noted that I did like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter the first time I saw it. I just didn’t like it as much as I had expected to. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but the movie was directed by Joseph Zito, who had previously made one of my all time favourite slasher films, The Prowler (1981), which I wrote about in an unrelated blog post. Of course, I hadn’t even seen that movie yet, but it’s a high quality production and I believe that Zito brought some of that sensibility to the Friday the 13th series. – which, oddly enough, may have been one of things that threw me off the first time I saw it. 

Over the years, people would tell me that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was their favourite film in the entire series. Eventually, I decided that I needed watch it again – and this is when I realized what a great film it was. Joseph Zito put more emphasis on character development and storytelling. The characters in this movie feel more real and are more sympathetic, than any of the characters in the previous three movies. There are more killings in The Final Chapter than there were in Part III, but I didn’t experience it that way the first time. This may have been because I was too busy watching the story, and the killings somehow weren’t as front and centre. In Part III, there had hardly been enough story to get in the way, and some of the characters seemed like they were just there to get killed, so the killings and the gore really became the main focus (at least for me at that time). 

So, it may have been the high quality nature of The Final Chapter that caused me to be disappointed in it all those years ago. Now I recognize it as possibly the best made film in the series, and I love it.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984). is not the last movie in the series. Not even close. And that made me angry for a few years, too. I had actually thought that this film would have been a fairly perfect ending for Jason Voorhees. But then again, we would have missed out on a lot of other entertaining #NotQuiteClassicCinema if the series had ended here – and I would have much fewer choices of what to watch on a #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn. So, I guess things worked out for the best in the long run. 

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Prowler (1981)

I first saw The Prowler (1981) with a couple of friends back the ’80s. We were all blown away by the Special Makeup FX by Tom Savini. We had seen The Burning (1981) and been disappointed that most of the gore had been cut out. We had also seen plenty of other slasher films with sub-par gore FX. So, The Prowler was quite a mind-blowing experience for us.

We also liked the story of The Prowler, and the mystery aspect worked for us. In other words, we did not figure out who the killer was and were legitimately surprised by the revelation. This was not so common when watching the less accomplished slasher films of the day.

Fast forward a few years, and I had become a collector of movies on VHS. They had been too expensive at first. And not that many places would even sell them. But by the ’90s there were a lot of video stores that would routinely sell used movies for a decent price. Every once in a while, I would borrow the old beat-up station wagon from my parents and my friend Brian and I would drive all over town, visiting video stores and looking for good deals on used movies.

We popped into one store that we had never visited and my friend excitedly grabbed a box from a shelf. It was VHS copy of The Prowler released by Astral Video. We had never seen a copy of the movie on sale before, and we had never seen this particular box. The price sticker said $15.00, which was a little high for a used VHS tape at that time. My friend took the box up to the counter and asked the owner if she would consider taking $10.00 for the movie. She thought about it for a minute, letting us know that this was a really difficult decision. Then she said “Ten dollars plus tax?”

My friend agreed and he went home very excited that night, with one of the holy grails of horror movie collecting (at least to us). He reported back to me that the tape was in perfect shape, and the movie was uncut, with all of Tom Savini’s beautiful gore intact. I must admit, I was a just a little bit jealous.

The next time we went out video store hopping, we came upon a second location of the store where Brian had found his cherished copy of The Prowler. We went inside and discovered a second, identical Astral Video VHS box of the movie on sale for the same price of $15.00. I did exactly what Brian had done last time, and wound up paying ten dollars plus tax for my very own copy of this slasher classic.

Later that night, when I slipped the tape into my VCR and prepared to have my mind blown all over again, I made a horrifying discovery. My copy of the The Prowler was censored – all of the gore was cut out! What the hell? I examined the box closely. It was identical to the box that Brian had purchased. Often one version would say R-rated, and the other would say Unrated. Or the listed running times would be different. There were no tell tale signs on my box that suggested it would be anything other than the complete, uncut film. I was not happy.

Brian came up with an idea: what if we put our VCRs together and copy his uncut movie onto my censored tape? It sounded like a plan to me. I was somewhat worried that the quality of my copy wouldn’t be as good, but it’s not like I was ever going to watch the censored version anyway. It was worth the risk.

Thankfully, it worked beautifully. And for years it was what I would watch whenever I had a hankering to see that film again. I eventually picked up a second VHS tape, this one by VCII. And now I have the blu-ray, which is what I watched last #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

The movie still works for me. Aside from the things I already mentioned, I was always impressed by the fact that it starts with a pretty convincing period sequence set in 1945 (right after World War II). They had period automobiles and everything. This is, I believe, a unique achievement in a low budget slasher filmmaking.

Many people cite their admiration for the “final girl” of this movie, and I like her, too. Pam, played by Vicky Dawson, seems to be a more active main character than many. She finds out very early on that something is wrong and she spends the rest of the film, with the help of equally likeable Deputy Sheriff Mark, trying to solve the mystery. In a lesser slasher film, her character would have simply waited around to get attacked in the final reel.

Legendary (notorious?) Hollywood actor Lawrence Tierney, who had been in films like Dillinger (1945) and Back to Bataan (1945), appears in The Prowler as Major Chatham, who seems to run the college. His part is ridiculously small, so this was clearly from the period when his name still meant something, but his career was on the skids. He made a bit of comeback later with Reservoir Dogs (1992) and an appearance on Seinfeld as Elaine’s scary father.

The Prowler (1981) will always be a special movie for me. I’m not sure how successful it was originally. It never spawned sequels or a remake. Some people don’t care for it as much as I do, and I can understand that. But it’s one of my favourite slasher films, and a piece of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that I will treasure until the day I meet a masked psychopath in an empty college dorm. I could watch it anytime, anyplace, any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday The 13th At The Home Drive-In: Friday the 13th Part III 3D (1982)

As I said in a previous postFriday the 13th Part 3 3D was my very first Friday the 13th movie. I somehow convinced my Dad to take me and friend to see it. My Dad hated it, but my friend and I thought it was great! And that was in no small part because of the 3D experience.

Friday the 13th Part 3 3D was also my very first 3D movie. Well, on the big screen, that is. As I mentioned in that previous post, I had been lucky enough to see Revenge Of The Creature (1955) in 3D on television. For those who may not remember, that was a bit of a thing back then; 3D movies being shown on TV. The first one I remember was a movie called Gorilla at Large (1954) – and it should have been the first 3D movie I ever saw! There was a big ad campaign leading up to the broadcast, urging us all to get our 3D glasses at 7-11. I remember biking over with my brother and buying a spiffy pair of cardboard glasses with red and blue lenses. On the way home, I put on the glasses and urged my brother to “do something”, expecting that the glasses would magically make whatever he did more exciting. But alas, my brother’s actions looked no more three dimensional with the glasses than without.

The unfortunate twist to this story is that my parents suddenly announced that we were heading up to the lake for our summer vacation at exactly the same time as the TV broadcast of Gorilla at Large. There was no way I would be able to watch it. I remember pleading with my parents: “But I bought 3D glasses especially so I could watch this movie! They’ll be useless if I don’t stay home and watch it.”

My Dad said the same thing that he said when I found out that I would miss the TV broadcast premiere of Prom Night (1980): “They’ll show it again.” But they never showed Prom Night again – and they certainly never showed Gorilla at Large after that first time.

When I got back to the city, my friends all told me that I didn’t miss much. “The 3D didn’t work” they all said. I didn’t know whether to believe them or not. Perhaps they were just trying to make me feel better, but it was no use. The 3D glasses I spent my hard earned allowance on were sitting on a shelf, unused for the better part of a year – and I didn’t think I would ever get to use them.

But then a miracle happened. The TV guide listed Revenge Of The Creature 3D one Saturday afternoon. There was no publicity blitz this time. Nobody telling us to buy our glasses at 7-11. I guess they assumed that we already had them – and I certainly did.

I watched the movie at a friend’s house, and I was blown away when someone in the movie threw a rope to another character and it wound up in the middle of my friend’s living room! This 3D was definitely working! And my friend told me it was so much better than Gorilla at Large had been. I still wasn’t sure if I believed him, but I was happy because my 3D glasses had not gone to waste – and the 3D experience had been even cooler than I thought it would be.

It was the same friend that came with me and my Dad to see Friday the 13th Part 3 3D a year later or so. And as I said in that previous post, it was so much more intense of a 3D experience. For us, it was the gateway to many other 3D movies, including Jaws 3-D (1983), Amityville 3-D (1983), and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone 3D (1983).  Our absolute favourite, as far as 3D goes, was Treasure of the Four Crowns 3D (1983) – not because it was the best movie, but rather because it was an absolutely relentless 3D experience. That movie threw everything out at us. Even in a boring talking scene, people would hand each other stuff and it would hit us right between the eyes. It was amazing!

         

For some odd reason, modern 3D movies don’t seem to do this. They show us 3D landscapes, and plenty of images with depth. But they mostly seem to shy away from throwing stuff right into our faces. I seem to recall Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone 3D being that way as well – and I remember Siskel and Ebert criticizing it for that. They suggested that the filmmakers were trying to prove that they were above that sort of cheap effect; that they had more class than that. But this raises a simple question:

If you’re making a 3D movie, and you’re not throwing things out at the audience, what exactly do you think the point is?

Friday the 13th Part 3 3D is a good 3D movie. It doesn’t go completely over the top like Treasure of the Four Crowns 3D, but it throws enough stuff out at us to keep us on our toes. It was also my first Friday the 13th movie, and my introduction to Jason. It was a tough one to beat, in terms of body count and gore. Even the highly anticipated Pt 4, The Final Chapter seemed a little lightweight to me after seeing Pt 3 a couple of times. In reality it wasn’t, but that’s how it seemed to me the first time I saw it.

For years I longed to see Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D again. It was out on VHS and Beta in 2D – and it was only ever on TV in 2D. So, I was particularly thrilled when Paramount released the remastered 3D DVD a few years back. It uses the old fashioned red and blue glasses, but that’s okay. It gave me back an important experience of my childhood, and I can confirm that it is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema favourite.

I would still love to see a a 3D Blu-ray version, but until one comes out, I will keep watching my 3D DVD. Probably about once out of every eight times I celebrate #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday night at the home drive-in: Watch Me When I Kill (1977)

I have always been a fan of horror films, and slasher films in particular. I saw movies like Halloween (1978) and Terror Train (1980) when they first appeared on TV, and they made a strong impression. But it wasn’t every day that respectable TV stations would show movies like that. And I was too young to get in to see most of them in the theatre. Home video was a life-changer for a kid like me. Not only did stores like Jumbo Video have a Horror Castle (which was a room filled with hundreds of horror films on VHS and Beta), the clerks who worked in those stores never stopped me or my friends from renting R-rated movies when we were 12 or 13. Continue reading