“The Blob” (1988) REVIEW

SG_BMovies_sideWith a crew like Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, make-up by Tony Gardner, and a cast including Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith (and Del Close and Bill Moseley), how can you go wrong?

While I don’t necessarily believe in the need for remakes (nor am I anti-remake — deep breaths), I would hope that the main motivations behind one would be the intention to improve — like in the case of this movie, updating the special effects to make The Blob a brutal, acidic globule. That’s exactly what The Blob does, and it does an amazing job. This blob is gross and ominous and truly threatening. And the damage it does to the people it encounters is painful looking, to say the least.

The plot line is pretty much the same as the original, save for a change of locations — a meteor crashes to Earth, and the space jelly contained inside starts wreaking havoc on the small town; not much needs to be improved upon there, the story is solid.

When it comes to remakes, this is one of the scant few I give a bloody, gnarled thumbs up.

“Waxwork” (1988) REVIEW

7857_03Ah, to be a teen in the 80s. To be able to enjoy every awesome horror release.

Combining everything that was awesome about 80s horror: bored, affluent teens seeking (ultimately) deadly thrills; likable genre actors and actresses; comedy and gore; killer poster art — “Waxwork” goes above and beyond what’s required to become a classic. Not to mention there are 18 (!) different monsters/villains that are used throughout the film. You couldn’t ask for anything more!

The storyline is quick with the set-up and doesn’t hesitate getting to the good stuff: a group of college students discover a newly opened wax museum while on a walk one day. The proprietor invites them to a gathering and, naturally, they accept. When they visit the museum the next night, they find themselves being sucked into the displays and interacting with the scenery directly. One student gets sucked into a werwolf scene, another is sucked into a vampire scene. So forth and so on.

This one always stuck out to me as there’s so much going on, with all the different scenarios and monsters. This was followed by an equally cool/fun sequel.

“Demons” (1985) REVIEW

dI may lose some friends over this, but I was never huge Argento fan. In fact, I think Suspiria is a tad overrated. The only movie of his that really did it for me was Tenebrae. And while, perhaps not as well-known or prolific, I much preferred stuff by his Italian peers such as Lucio Fulci, and Ruggero Deodato, and Lamberto Bava. Demons was actually written by Argento and Bava with great results. Another 80s punk rock horror film, this one combines some of my favorite things: punk rock fashion, cinema, and zombies.

A group of strangers are invited to see a mysterious movie at a theater. While the movie is playing, one of the patrons goes to the lobby and sees a mask on display — a mask that is featured in the film everyone is watching. She scratches her face on it and soon becomes a bloodthirsty demon. She attacks the filmgoers, who then turn into demons themselves one by one. All hell breaks loose — and it’s awesome.

The movie is super enjoyable, with goopy, gory effects. The soundtrack is chock full of heavy metal, and even features Billy Idol and Accept! This was followed by an equally enjoyable sequel, this one opting to go with a new wave soundtrack (rather than metal), featuring The Smiths, The Cult, Peter Murphy, and Love and Rockets. Don’t be a dummy — see these movies!

“Zombi 2” (1979) REVIEW

ZombieFleshEaters2While this movie should be shown in school as some sort of requirement to graduate, I still feel it’s unwatched enough by entry-level horror fans to be included on this list.

Maybe Lucio Fulci’s best known work, it was oddly marketed as a sequel to Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” — which it most certainly is not.

When zombies are found on an abandoned yacht in a New York harbor, the vessel is traced back to an island where it’s owner, a doctor, was last seen. The island, as it turns out, was suffering from a ‘strange disease’. The doctor’s daughter, along with some allies, stupidly goes in search of her father on the contaminated island. You can guess what happens next.

This is an Italian production, so you know what to expect: fast, cheap production; slow pacing; funky music; gore; tits. The movie contains several memorable scenes, including ‘the eyeball gag’ and ‘zombie fights shark’. It’s also notable for its creepy portrayal of the zombies, going for an earthy, decaying, ‘claypot’ look.

With Tisa Farrow (Mia’s sis) and Ian McCulloch as your leads you can expect at least decent acting. As I said, this is required viewing. Take notes — there will be a test.

“Wake in Fright” (1971) REVIEW


“Wake in Fright” is not a horror movie in the traditional sense.  There’s no murder, no death, no overstated violence; There’s no boogeyman, no stalker, no creature that lunges from the shadows.  But the contents of “Wake in Fright” are indeed horrifying, and the peril the lead character finds himself in is far scarier than your typical slasher film, because the circumstances are much more real.

A teacher in a small, Australian town leaves class on the first day of Christmas vacation, boarding a train in hopes of seeing his girlfriend a couple hours away in Sydney.  There’s a layover in an even smaller, more desolate town called Bundanyabba where the teacher decides to grab a hotel room.  With nothing but time on his hands, he heads to a nearby bar.  Despite keeping to himself, he’s immediately greeted by the local sheriff who buddies up to him, buying him round after round deep into the night.  At first the teacher is cold and aloof, thinking himself above the locals.  But soon he’s drunk, and he eventually warms up to the sheriff, who introduces him to a gambling circuit happening in the back room of the bar.  The teacher starts out hot, winning hand after hand, resulting in fistfuls of cash.  He runs back to his room, awed by the amount of money he has won.  It is not enough, however, and soon greed consumes him, and he heads back to the bar where he proceeds to lose every dollar to his name.  Broke and stranded in a town he does not know, he must rely on the sketchy locals he earlier shunned for sympathy and support.  What started out as a stop for the night winds up being a three day plunge into the depths of humanity.  I don’t want to give it all away.  But I assure you, you’ll feel yucky when it’s all over.

I believe the film “U-Turn” — a movie I really enjoy — was inspired greatly by this movie.  A very similar set of circumstances befall both leads.  But while the small town characters in “U-Turn” are over the top, cartoonish caricatures, the people of Bundanyabba are flesh and bone, and as real and frightening as any person with nothing left to lose.

Lastly, sometimes you see a movie and the subject matter happens to coincide with current events in your life that make the movie all the more important and memorable.  When I was younger, I saw “Twister” during a particularly active tornado season in my small southern town.  Afterwards, walking down my street, gray skies overhead and wind whipping the trees back and forth, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scene I’d viewed just a few hours earlier in which a tornado rips through a movie screen at a drive-in theater.  The similarities between the fictional and factual incidences coalesced to create a memory I can recall to this day in vivid detail.

“Wake in Fright” worked similarly: I watched the film during a particularly hot stretch toward the end of summer.  Plus, I got drunk while watching it, which is kind of the best way to see it.  As I sat there, sweating while guzzling down copious amounts of ice cold beer, I couldn’t help but feel like one of the characters: trapped by the inescapable heat and my own drunkenness.  I could almost taste the dust and hear the flies buzzing.  A truly hopeless feeling.

Trivia: Directed by the guy who did “First Blood” and “Weekend At Bernie’s”.

Horrorstuffs & humor / don't tell yer granny