Halloween (2018) Forget all the sequels, this takes place 40 years after the events of the first film, and good ol’ Mikey’s been rotting in an asylum ever since. He escapes and kills lots and lots of people. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie, who is Sarah Connors-style nuts and lives in a bunker. Judy Greer plays her daughter, who has a teenage daughter of her own who she tries to keep away from grandma. Highly entertaining slasher with a high kill count. The blond babysitter was the best character.
Suspiria (2018) Dario Argento’s stylish gore classic about a ballet academy run by a coven of witches is remade as a two and a half hour epic. Dakota Johnson is Suzy Bannion, and the great Tilda Swinton is the head witch in charge. Chloe Grace Moretz and the fabulously named Mia Goth are dancers as well. I’m not sure if this has the rewatchability of the 1977 version, but it didn’t drag too badly over the long run time and there was some good horror and fx. Stick around to the end for some nudity that you may have not expected, and (semi-spoiler) a fantastic cameo that should please fans of the original.
Konga (1961) Camp classic starring Micheal Gough, who hams it up brilliantly as a scientist/college professor who finds rapid growing carnivorous plants in Africa, and uses them to make a serum that will cause rapid growth in mammals. The test subject is an adorable baby chimp, Konga, who after one dose turns into an adult chimp, and a second, somehow, transforms him into a seven-foot gorilla. He changed species! Gough, uses mind control on the ape to kill his enemies, a school dean who frowns on his work, a rival scientist who claims to have discovered the serum before him, etc. A fourth dose of the serum makes him grow uncontrollably, first around 20 feet, and topping out at what appears to be over 50! For fans of so-bad-it's-good, this is a must see, and Gough's channels his inner Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein portrayal. Produced by Herman Cohen (I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Horrors of the Black Museum, and dozens more
House on Haunted Hill (1961) Vincent Price plays a millionaire who offers five strangers $10,000 each to those brave enough to spend the night in a haunted house. William Castle was the master of gimmicks, and this film was presented in “Emergo” which turned out to mean that a plastic skeleton would drop from strings on the ceiling of the theater to scare (or not) movie patrons. It’s an OK movie, I’ve probably seen it too many times.
Theater of Blood (1973) Vincent Price had some success the last two years as Dr. Phibes, who returned from the grave to commit gruesome, themed murders against his enemies, and this follows the same format, except Vinnie plays Edward Lionheart, a thespian who kills the critics who humiliated him in a series of murders based on the plays of Shakespeare. This might be a notch better than the Phibes films. Diana Rigg (TV’s Avengers) is his daughter, and the lovely Madeline Smith (The Vampire Lovers) plays a secretary who should have got more screen time. 50s/60s Bombshell Diana Dors plays one of the critic’s wives. Fun stuff, and gory for its time, check it out.
American Gothic (1987) A group of young adults emergency land their private plane on a remote island in the pacific northwest and find the only house is owned by “Ma & Pa” (The Munster’s Yvonne DeCarlo and Rod Steiger) who live as if it’s the 1920s and have three full grown children who act like they’re 12 years old. Creepy, yes, and the killings don’t take long to start. Brit director John Hough did Twins of Evil for Hammer, among other things. Nice 80s slasher with a fun twist. Recommended.
The Beyond (1981) A young New York woman inherits a run-down New Orleans hotel that sits over one of the Seven Gates of Hell, and several death occur while she attempts to restore it. This gore classic from Lucio Fulci has eye-gouging, acid-burning, faces torn apart by tarantulas, and countless other practical effects that should satisfy any gorehound. I used to rent the edited VHS as a teenage under the title Seven Doors of Death until I found a VHS bootleg of a Japanese laser disc (remember laser discs?) which I still have to this day.
Summer of 84 (2018) Another entry in the kids on bicycles in the 80s genre. A norm, a cool, a fat, and a nerd suspect the bachelor cop in their neighborhood is a serial killer. Throw in a pop culture reference here and there and this was about as predictable as it gets, right down to the main kid having a relationship with the unattainable hot girl. Most disappointing was when I found out that this was from the writer/director team that was responsible for Turbo Kid, which I thought was great. Perhaps I’d have liked it a bit better if I hadn’t heard such great things about it? Not a waste of time, but nothing I’d care to revisit.
Tales from the Hood 2 (2018) Director/Producer team of Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott bring a long-awaited sequel to their 1995 cult hit, and although there’s no mention of refried beans, this was pretty good. The framing device has David Keith (The Thing) telling four morality tales to a money-grubbing cracker. First a group of clueless teens break in to a museum of early-American racist memorabilia to steal a doll in a segment that gives a nod to the doll segment from the first film. Then, some gangstas use a TV psychic to channel a murdered rival. Later, some bros out to date-rape are in for a big surprise, and finally, a black republican finds himself in a Twilight Zone situation in an alternate existence in which his predecessors never stood up for their rights. Better than I expected.
Man Made Monster (1941) Lionel Atwill does experiments with electricity on Lon Chaney Jr, who survived electrocution in a bus accident, turning him from a happy-go-lucky goofball into a glow-in-the-dark killing machine. Director George Waggner would make The Wolf Man with Lon later that year.
Torture Garden (1967) An Amicus anthology featuring Burgess Merideth as a side show operator called Dr. Diablo who gives his patrons a dose of their horrific future. A greedy young man tries to get a fortune from his rich, dying uncle and finds a curse that he soon regrets. Then a Hollywood starlet (the remarkably gorgeous Beverly Adams) scratches her way the top, only to discover a shocking conspiracy. Then a quick, forgettable one about a jealous piano, and finally “The Man Who Collected Poe”, Jack Palance and Peter Cushing are a pair of obsessed collectors. When Cushing won’t sell his any of his priceless collection, Palance comes upon a secret he wasn’t meant to discover. Good stuff.
Black Sunday aka The Mask of Satan (1960) Mario Bava's gothic masterpiece about a vampire/witch (Barbara Steele in a dual role) who is awakened from her tomb after 200 years, and attempts to inhabit the body of a descendant. The pre-credit sequence alone is worth the price of admission, and Babs awaking from the dead with spike-holes in her face is what nightmares are made of. One of the best of its kind.
May the Devil Take You (2018) A businessman gains great wealth through an unholy pact, but when on his deathbed, dark forces come to collect from his unknowing family. Pretty good stuff with a fair amount of gore, I don’t think I’ve seen many titles from Indonesia, if any. This is a good place to start. Subtitles.
Mandy (2018) Lumberjack Nic Cage and his wife are terrorized by a devil cult and Nic seeks bloody revenge. “Knock Knock…who’s there…Eric Estrada…Eric Estrada who…Eric Estrada from Chips” is some of the character development dialog between Nic and his wife, and it just gets worse. This is a tale of two movies, the first hour is about as dull as staring at the carpet, even during the home invasion. It could and should have been covered in 20 minutes. The second hour is loaded with gore and drug use, but I was already bored stupid by the time it started. It seemed like something Rob Zombie would direct if he had a stroke. A lot of people like this one, so watch at your own risk, but don’t say I sent you!
Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971) A rubber-gloved killer paralyzes his victims with a needle to the spine, so they can (supposedly) feel every bit of pain when he slices and dices their midsection. Sounds great, but this giallo falls to the middle of the pack. Barbara Bouchet supplies some early nudity, then that’s about it, though Barbara (Mrs. Ringo Starr) Bach does look fantastic. From one of the directors of Mondo Cane.
Blood Rage (1987) A young boy commits an axe murder at a Drive-In theater and pins the crime on his twin brother, who went into shock at the sight of it. 10 years later, the timid Todd (who combs his hair forward) realizes he’s been duped and escapes from the asylum. Terry (who combs his hair back) takes this opportunity to brutally murder all his friends for some reason. Some laughably bad acting (in fact, the psychologist was such a bad actress, that they dubbed another actress over her to narrate what she was saying) However, this one had some ultra-graphic kills in it, and some nudity too. Louise Lasser was top billed as the mom, but spent most of the film getting drunk and arguing with a telephone operator. Look for Ted Raimi in it too, for about 10 seconds.
Tourist Trap (1979) Chuck Conners plays the old man who runs a beat up old wax museum that’s far off the beaten path, now that they opened up the new Interstate. Two boys and three pretty girls (including Tanya Roberts) are the unfortunates who have car trouble nearby, and look to Chuck for help, but he’s protecting his psychotic brother, who kills his victims through inanimate objects, including wax figures, with his telepathic powers! Not a lot of gore or nudity in this under-the-radar PG effort, but very creepy and worth a watch.
Rabid (1977) David Cronenberg follows up his outstanding Shivers with another semi-sexual parasite flick, staring former porno actress Marilyn Chambers as a motorcycle accident survivor who gets progressive treatments from a new-aged plastic surgery center, resulting in a blood sucking parasite that lives in her armpit. The victims end up biting other people before foaming at the mouth and eventually dying. While police and CDC tries to figure out the outbreak at the hospital, our patient zero hitch-hikes to Montreal and before long it's martial law over there! Marilyn spends a lot of time with her top off. This was a fave of mine as a teenager but I'd forgotten about it for decades. Now I remember why I liked it so much, good shit.
The Prowler aka Rosemary’s Killer (1981) 35 years after a massacre at a graduation ball, a small New Jersey town reinstates its long-suspended dance, much to the dismay of a stalker in WWII fatigues who begins to murder teenagers. Similar in plot to My Bloody Valentine (which was first by a few months) I’d give MBV the edge in story, but the Prowler for some outstanding Tom Savini FX, and a nude scene. Director Joseph Zito would collaborate with Savini again in Friday the 13th part 4 before making a bunch of crappy Chuck Norris movies. With Farley Granger and Lawrence Tierney.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) A small town father-son mortician team are about to close for the night when the sheriff brings in the body of a young attractive female, with no outward signs of trauma and asks for the autopsy as soon as possible. The dissection brings more questions than answers, and as the night progresses some unexplainable occurrences begin to take place. Effective use of a song made famous by the Flintstones. Scary stuff and an obvious movie of the year candidate. Nudity...yes, but dead! Recommended.
Southbound (2015) Anthology tied together by a stretch of highway. There’s bird-skeleton-creatures, weird cult family, strange abandoned hospital, what have you done with my sister, and home invasion, all with a touch of the supernatural. A lotta stuff was going on, I need to check it again. One of the directors, David Bruckner, did 2007's The Signal, which is great, and the best V/H/S segment, Amateur Night.
We reach the parts other combos cannot reach
We beach the beachheads other armies cannot beach
We speak the tongues other mouths cannot speak