In the late ’80s there was a mini-slasher-subgenre about killers who continue their careers post-execution, including PRISON (1987), THE HORROR SHOW (1989), SHOCKER (1989) and THE FIRST POWER (1990). Before all of those that were not directed by Renny Harlin was DESTROYER starring ex-NFL star Lyle Alzado as insufficiently electric-chaired killer Ivan Moser. He’s pretty much the worst guy to ever meet: a giant muscleman convicted of “the rape and murder of 23 men, women and children” who thinks killing is hilarious and likes to cackle about it.
They put a whole bunch of electricity into that bastard, but a riot causes the power to go out and he gets up out of the chair. Or at least something like that happened if we can believe the opening sequence that turns out to be the nightmare of stuntwoman/Final Girl Susan Malone (Deborah Foreman, VALLEY GIRL, APRIL FOOL’S DAY, WAXWORK), who’s spooked by her screenwriter boyfriend David Harris (Clayton Rohner, JUST ONE OF THE GUYS, APRIL FOOL’S DAY, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE III)’s research into the Moser case. (read the rest of this shit…)
MULBERRY STREET is a low budget horror indie with a completely unique feel. It’s basically another zombie outbreak movie, but none of it takes place on farms, in fields, on country roads, in abandoned factories or military bases. No, it takes place right in the middle of Manhattan, focusing on the diverse residents of one small apartment building. This particular zombie problem disproportionately affects the poor because the infection comes from rats. People get bit and then they act weird and sometimes they start to grow hair on the top of their ears, and their teeth, uh…
Well, they turn into rat people. Okay, I don’t like that part. But I was able to forgive it.
Before I scare you off, let me tell you what inspired me to rent it: it’s the feature debut of Jim Mickle, who directed COLD IN JULY. And I actually didn’t realize this, but the lead is Nick Damici, who is his co-writer and also appears in his movies STAKE LAND, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE and COLD IN JULY. (read the rest of this shit…)
EDGE OF THE AXE is a 1988 slasher movie that looks and feels a few years earlier to me. It’s got a masked killer and a whodunit and most of what you need besides some imagination.
It starts pretty legit with a nurse getting her car washed, enjoying a cigarette inside when suddenly a dude in a featureless white mask appears and axes her through the windshield. Blood drips down the inside of the passenger side window while suds drip down the outside.
This same masked man (or at least a guy in the same outfit) starts chopping up people in a small town nearby, and the cops and citizens try to figure out who it is.
Gerald (Barton Faulks, FUTURE-KILL) is a young man who rides a motorcycle, so he’s a rugged individualist, but he wears a helmet, so he’s unusually safety conscious for a movie character of the time. He just bought a new computer and he’s excited about it, so he’s also a genius or a nerd or something. He works as an exterminator with his buddy Richard Simmons (Page Mosely, GIRLS NITE OUT) who is not the famous aerobics instructor, but a tail-chasing jock dude who wears bodybuilding shirts and plays darts. (read the rest of this shit…)
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014) is not exactly a remake of the cult classic, and not exactly a sequel. It starts with a narrated montage about the real life 1946 unsolved murder spree and the filming of the 1976 movie about it. And then it’s a fictional story in the same town of Texarkana circa 2013 and the annual Halloween night drive-in showing of the original movie.
A young couple, Jami (Addison Timlin, DERAILED) and Corey (Spencer Treat Clark, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and Bruce Willis’s son in UNBREAKABLE) are on a first date, but she doesn’t like this kind of movie, so they leave. To me they were immediately likable enough to be the leads, so as I watched them drive away I told myself I better not get used to them, they’re gonna be the ones that get killed at the beginning to kick off the story. Sure enough they go park and out of the woods comes a guy with a bag on his head just like the infamous local serial killer nicknamed “The Phantom.” (read the rest of this shit…)
“Your father is one sick mother, you know that? Actually, your mother’s one sick mother too.”
I like THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS because it’s Wes Craven’s feverish impressionist portrait of American economic inequality circa 1991. It lacks the precise metaphoric aim and pulp effectiveness of THEY LIVE, but it’s Craven’s version of that same type of genre-film-as-angry-shout-at-The-Man.
In fact, one of the villains is even credited as “The Man” (Everett McGill, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY). He and “The Woman” (Wendy Robie, THE GLIMMER MAN) own a big old house inherited from their family, living off of the rent from the “half of the ghetto” that they own. One of their tenants is our 13 year old protagonist Poindexter Williams (Brandon Adams, GHOST IN THE MACHINE – and this kid looks really familiar for some reason), who goes by the nickname Fool after the Tarot card of some joker trapped between a fire and a cliff. That’s where he is now, because at his back is having to pay triple rent or get kicked out of the apartment so the Man and Woman can razed it and build condos, at his front is his sister’s friend Spencer (Ving Rhames, FORCE OF EXECUTION) trying to pressure him into breaking into the slum lords’ house to steal gold coins they can use to pay the rent and for mom’s cancer treatment. (read the rest of this shit…)
The cover of THE MIND’S EYE quotes a Film School Rejects review saying “The best SCANNERS sequel we never got.” And it really does seem like a SCANNERS sequel, but with the raw feel of a modern low-budget American indie instead of the cheesy ’90s Canadian b-movie style of the official SCANNERS sequels. This actually takes place in 1990, the year before Christian Duguay made SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER. So chronologically it’s actually the first SCANNERS sequel.
1990 is also the year that THE MIND’S EYE: A COMPUTER ANIMATION ODYSSEY came out, beginning the popular series of early computer animation clips set to Thomas Dolby and Jan Hammer music. It is not made clear in the movie if the telekinetic powers are supposed to be caused by watching THE MIND’S EYE tapes, but obviously I’m going to assume they are. That was how I got mine. (read the rest of this shit…)
a.k.a. AN EYE FOR AN EYE
In my experience as a slasher searcher I’ve found that unknown movies from the ’70s are the biggest risk because 1) it’s mathematically less likely that there’s a great one you’ve never heard of and 2) they were made before the slasher formula really set in. I didn’t realize when renting THE PSYCHOPATH that it was from 1973, too early to be influenced by THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, let alone HALLOWEEN. It feels more like a BAD RONALD or WILLARD type of ’70s-TV-looking weirdo movie, but it does have some of the slasher elements: a freaky killer, a gimmicky motive, one-dimensional victims.
It didn’t take long for the movie to throw me a what-the-hell!?. The title comes up over ominous sounds and a scary closeup of an eye. The sort of thing you’d expect. But then the happy music comes on and the credits use a font similar to My Three Sons. Throughout the movie the soundtrack, credited to “Country Al Ross,” alternates between very upbeat country jams and straight up funk (which I’m guessing is library music).
The titleistical psychopath is children’s TV star Mr. Rabbey (Tom Basham, COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT), who figures out some of the children from his studio audience and hospital visits are being abused, and decides to murder their parents. He bashes a woman’s face in with a baseball bat, for example. (read the rest of this shit…)
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been a little stressed lately by the wave of bad vibes in everything from the putrid state of American politics to current events in film criticism to me being deluged by Trump devotees after foolishly getting myself retweeted by Seagal. But I’m gonna take a deep breath and stand strong and positive and pour it all into outlawvern.com. I’m very excited about all the horror movies I’ve been watching and writing about and I know we’re gonna have alot of fun here this month. (read the rest of this shit…)
FENDER BENDER is a new slasher movie that I believe is the first original production by the great releasers-of-horror-classics-on-blu-ray Shout! Factory. The high concept is that there’s a killer who intentionally gets in small car collisions, exchanges contact information, and then comes after the person.
Hillary (Makenzie Vega, the little girl who Mystique turns into on the prison truck in X-MEN THE LAST STAND!) is a responsible teenager in New Mexico, an aspiring ballet dancer, under way too much pressure from her strict parents. Shortly after getting her driver’s license this shades-wearing cool guy (Bill Sage, AMERICAN PSYCHO) rear ends her, and her dad (Steven Michael Quezada, THE CONDEMNED 2) blames it on her and won’t let her go with them on a long-planned vacation to see a show in Vegas.
We know that this guy is a serial killer, but we watch helplessly as she writes down all her information, just as she was taught in driver’s ed. Then of course while she’s home alone she starts getting text messages from this guy, going from “this is uncomfortable but I guess he’s just trying to be polite” to “this is totally inappropriate.” Can she trust the apology cake she finds on her doorstep that might come from the guy in the accident, or from her dumb jock boyfriend Andy (Harrison Sim) who she just caught cheating and dumped?
I mean, of course not. We know that. But there’s no reason for her to. She doesn’t know she’s in a horror movie.
(read the rest of this shit…)
I still intend to review all of Michael Mann’s movies in chronological order. I haven’t gotten very far, but the one I’m on, THE KEEP, happens to be Halloween appropriate.
Other than its beautiful craftsmanship, this is completely unlike what we associate with a Mann film. Usually he looks for a higher level of realism than most movies, and to be very up-to-date with the technology and trends of the time. THE KEEP doesn’t do any of those things because it’s a weird, atmospheric horror movie set during WWII.
It concerns a group of German soldiers occupying an ancient stone fortress in Romania that seems to be haunted or something. Father Fonescu (Robert Prosky, LAST ACTION HERO, EYE SEE YOU), the priest and caretaker, warns them not to touch the nickel and silver crosses inlayed in the walls, but a couple of them try to steal one anyway. Behind it is a hole and when one of the looters peeks his head into the dark void something takes away the top half of his body. (read the rest of this shit…)