Sunday, April 30, 2017

Maniac, Insanity, Cat-Fights, and Phyllis Diller

What! Okay, picture this. An insane cat-fight in which Phyllis Diller rips the clothes off a blonde and tries to bludgeon her to death.  However insane this sounds, 1934's "Maniac" (aka "Sex Maniac") may have been the inspiration for "Re-Animator."  Pre-code? No doubt, but even in 2017, this one would have earned an R-rating. With gratuitous, and often violent nudity, an exploitative women in underwear scene, and an insaniac gouging out a cat's eye, "Maniac" certainly appealed to the prurient interests of a depression era America.
Dr. Meirschultz (Horace B. Carpenter) has created a formula that brings the dead back to life. His assistant is an actor/impersonator, Maxwell (Bill Woods) wanted by the cops. Dr. M. orders Maxwell to impersonate the coroner and steal the corpse of a beautiful suicide victim from the morgue.  He does, and Dr. M brings her back to life.  Too bad, this beauties next death will be an excruciating one. Next, Dr. M wants to bring a corpse back which has a shattered heart. Dr. M has created an artificial heart.  This is too much for Maxwell and he murders Dr. M, walls him up in the basement, makes himself up as this mad scientist, and assumes his identity.
Maxwell, the new Dr. M begins treating patients with horrific results.  One of his patients, Buckley (Ted Edwards), becomes homicidal, carries off the beautiful re-animated girl, rips her clothes off and strangles her in a field.  Meanwhile, Buckley's wife (Diller) offers to join forces with Dr. M.  Uh oh, Maxwell, now has become Dr. M and has a diabolical plan to do away with Phyllis Diller, and his own wife.  Now completely mad, and a necrophiliac (you'll see), Maxwell's plan for the two women, and a number of female corpses will be un-godly.
An exploitation/horror film from 1934, "Maniac" will remind you of "Re-Animator."  The sultry, blonde re-animated girl will remind you of Barbara Crampton.  You won't believe this one, but I kid you not, "Maniac" can be found on YouTube.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Burial Ground, Zombies Attack Amorous Jet Setters

Ah, those ancient Etruscans!  In their time they were quite strapping. Centuries later, however, they are reduced to rotting walking corpses with worms and maggots coming out of their faces. Though their mastery of the black arts enabled them to overcome death, their ability to fight decomposition still lacks (alas, Oil of Olay wasn't invented until the 20th century). Avid readers of this blog will remember the Etruscans from my write-up of The Dead are Alive . So get ready, today we look at another Italian zombie film, 1981's "Burial Ground" (aka "The Zombie Dead" and "Le Notte del Terrore").
Three very attractive and amorous couples arrive at an Italian villa to visit Professor Ayres (already eaten). Ayres wants to tell them about the Etruscans efforts to defeat death, but he is nowhere to found. Being full of hormones, all the couples engage in sexual intercourse.  Evelyn (Mariangela Girdano) and George (Roberto Caporali) have brought their creepy son Michael (Pietro Bertzocchini) with them. Michael, a 12 year old, has an acute Oedipus Complex and before the film ends will engage in a very intimate make-out scene with Evelyn.  When the professor still doesn't show up, our couples move outside for more sexual intercourse.
Here come the Etruscans!  Dripping with worms and maggots they begin their attack.  Janet (Karin Well) and Mark (Gianluigi Chirizzi) are first interrupted and barely get away.  The nymphomaniacs make it back to the villa and the zombies try to get in.  Trapped, Kathryn (Anna Valente), the sultry maid, looks around and falls victim to some very industrious undead.  Her beheading is one of the greatest zombie film deaths you will ever see.  The stunning Leslie (Antonella Antinori) will be next to go and if glass shards in eyeballs is your thing, this demise will please you very much. As the zombies get smarter, the remaining survivors come up with an escape plan.
Will our nubile women and hunk guy survivors be able to flee the Etruscans?  Will Michael's fascination with his mom's breasts play out in disgusting and terrifying fashion? Are the Etruscan zombies a mere metaphor for mass culture, and the sexy survivors a metaphor for the ever decreasing block of individuality (okay...a stretch, I admit).  "Burial Ground" has a lot of gore, most notably, lots of intestine-eating scenes.  The cast is great looking and the sets are creepy.  For some added culture in your movie-watching life, try "Burial Ground."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Food of the Gods, Giant Rats!

A Bert I. Gordon epic from American International Pictures...need I say more?  Loosely based on a portion of an H.G. Wells' story, 1976's "The Food of the Gods" is another horror story of when nature rebels.  As was the theme in many 1970s films, pollution is the culprit here.  With an all-star cast (okay, Marjoe Gortner may not be an all-star), and big rats, giant chickens (and they are a hoot...or a cluck), gargantuan wasps, and over-sized maggots, our film today is a lot more fun than an episode of "The Love Boat."
Morgan (Gortner), a pro football player, and Brian (Jon Cypher) go to an island for some horseback riding.  While riding, their buddy is picked off by wasps...big wasps.  Seeking help, they arrive at a cabin occupied by Mrs. Skinner (Ida Lupina).  There, Morgan is very fortunate to get away from Skinner's chickens, which are as big as horses.  Skinner advises them that a pool, of liquid coming out of the ground, mixed with feed, makes animals bigger.  Enter the nubile Lorna (Pamela Franklin) and her boss Jack (Ralph Meeker).  These two want to buy the stuff, and make lots of big cattle to feed the starving third-world.  At least Jack wants that...Lorna, after seeing Morgan, only wants pre-marital sex with a pro-footballer.

Too late, the rats decide that humans taste better than the gunk coming from the ground.  Uh oh, Rita (Belinda Balaski) and Tom (Tom Stovall) also join our peeps.  Rita is in labor and doesn't want her newborn eaten by monster rats.  Now trapped, Morgan comes up with a plan.  It should be noted that Morgan's previous plans were dismal failures.  As Lorna makes her desire for pre-marital sex known to Morgan, he now seems invigorated,  Not all of our schmucks will survive, but the promise of a cheap hotel room on the mainland, and an amorous Lorna may just be the inspiration Morgan needs to come up with a competent plan to kill the rats.
So, for all you Marjoe Gortner fans...or fans of giant man-eating creatures, "The Food of the Gods" is the film for you.  Next time you throw your your Pepsi can into the river, beware...nature always finds a path to revenge.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Deadly Eyes, Ravenous Dachsunds Attack the Subway

After Robert Clouse directed several Bruce Lee films, he made a horror story for our time.  They may look cute, but underneath their playful and obedient demeanor are man-eating creatures waiting for opportunity.  Dachsunds!  Beware!  Okay, 1982's "Deadly Eyes" (aka "Night Eyes") may be a film about mutant rats attacking Toronto.  However, if you realize the rats in this film are actually Dachsunds, made up to look like giant rats, this becomes a very enjoyable film.
Several complicated and riveting plot lines will all come together in toothy carnage.  Here goes. Kelly (Sara Botsford), a health department official, condemns a feed plant.  The corn feed, meant for animals, is infested with rats and spiked with steroids.  The feed is blown up and burned...problem solved...yeah right.  The rats, who have been feasting on steroids, now scatter into Toronto.  Also, hunk high school teacher, Paul (Sam Groom)  has a problem.  His lovely, and amorous student Trudy (Lisa Langlois) has a mad crush on him.  Trudy will invade Paul's shower, apartment, and bedroom, with a goal pre-marital sex with him.  Kelly and Paul fall in love and they have pre-marital sex.
Back to the Dachsunds...er...giant rats.  They begin feasting.  They burrow into a house and eat a baby and his babysitter.  They invade the park, eat Scatman Crothers, and finally converge on a bowling alley, movie theater, and subway system. As Trudy sheds more clothes in an attempt to bed Paul, Kelly actually beds him.  As the mayor sets up a big gala opening up a subway line, the Dachsunds...er...rats head over there without invites. Now Paul must act to save his new love, Kelly, before the Dach...er...giant rats get to her first.  See, Kelly is one of the mayor's guests at the gala, hence, she is also a menu item.
If the rats get Kelly, will a grieving Paul turn to a nubile Trudy?  Will our cuddly little Dachsunds ...er...I mean...monster rats feast on the mayor and Toronto subway patrons?   Lisa Langlois is very seductive, though hardly necessary in this horror story.  Horror film fans will recognize Lesleh Donaldson, who portrays Trudy's BFF.  For all of you who have never trusted Dachsunds, "Deadly Eyes" is a film for you.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Deathmaster, A Groovy Vampire

Robert Quarry was on the edge of becoming the next Vincent Price.  His portrayal as Count Yorga in Count Yorga Vampire and The Return of Count Yorga was horrific.  Though he never portrayed Yorga after the sequel, you can be forgiven for calling 1972's "Deathmaster" the third Count Yorga film. Set in the L.A. area at the tail end of the hippy generation, the vampire in this film taps into the prevalent culture at that time.  When Charles Manson, Anton LaVey, and Jim Jones were amassing doomed followers, "Deathmaster" tells the tale of one such figure, who just happens to be a bloodsucker.
Khorda (Quarry), encased in a coffin, washes up on a California beach. Homicide follows as Barbado (LaSesne Hilton) acts as his Renfield and brings his coffin to a hippie commune. Meanwhile, Pico (Bill Ewing) is a Kung-Fu hippie seeking the true meaning of life. His babe hippie GF, Rona (Brenda Dickson) is more into the 'let it be' philosophy.  Well, soon it will be, as Khorda, and his Svengali like magnetism, takes over the commune.  Unbeknownst to Pico and Brenda, he has turned every hippie into a vampire, including the lovely Esslin (Betty Anne Rees).  Unfortunately for Esslin, Rona has bigger breasts and now Khorda desires Pico's GF as his new bride.
As Khorda goes through hippies like crap through a goose, he is biting his way to Rona's neck.  As Pico gets wise, perhaps too late, he devises a plan for escape.  This plan will hit some snags and now Pico must take on Khorda and his vampire hippie minions in order to save himself and the free-spirited Rona.  Far out, I know, but the plot turns groovy and grim as Pico seems over matched by his undead nemesis.  Their will be stake carnage, leech carnage, fang carnage, and free love, man.
Will Pico find the real meaning of life before finding the real meaning of death?  Will Esslin turn jealous of Rona's body and engage in a cat-fight?  Will Khorda seek to extend his dominion of influence into a population with earning power instead of flower power?  Directed by Ray Danton, "Deathmaster" capitalizes on several hippie-era fads like free-love, pacifism, and satanism.  Shortly after this film came out, satanism fell victim to Scientology as Hollywood's new fad.  So maximize your groovy and see "Deathmaster."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Abominable, Sasquatch vs. College Girls

Actually, this isn't quite accurate.  The Sasquatch figure may be something far more vicious.  Unlike the real Bigfoot, the monster in today's feature is taller and meaner, perhaps more like the Yeti of the Himalayas.  The college girls?  They are hardly competition to the fury nemesis they will encounter. In 2006's "Abominable," we have a nice creature feature that many of us first saw on SyFy.  In our over sensitive culture, we have made Sasquatch into a lovable misunderstood mammal.  In this flick, he is a blood-thirsty beast who eats peoples heads and guts...now that's more like it.
Preston (Matt McCoy) returns to his mountain cabin after being paralyzed in a climbing accident that took his wife.  He is scared and confined to a wheelchair. His male nurse, Otis (Christien Tinsley) is his attendant, and he turns out to be quite a malignant force.  There is good news, four babes arrive in the cabin next door.  The beauties are there to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana.  Fortunately for Preston he has binoculars.
Enter the monster.  As Preston spies on the nubile women, he sees the girls fall victim to the creature. First Karen (Ashley Hartman) is carried off, then Tracy (Tiffany Shepis) is snapped in half during a gratuitous shower scene.  As the power is cut, and phone lines go down, Preston is unable to warn his objects of desire of their impending doom.  Worse, Otis doesn't believe him and tries to tranquilize him.  As our Yeti-like thing goes through the vulnerable, and sometimes naked damsels like crap through a goose, Amanda (Haley Joel) emerges as the only semi-clean cut babe.  Soon Amanda and Preston will have to match wits to survive the murderous abomination.
Will wheelchair bound Preston and semi-skank Amanda be able to fight off a legendary killer? Do Otis and Amanda's giggly friends have any chance here? Okay, that's an easy one. There are other plot lines that are very satisfying to horror fans. In one, a group of hunters that include Jeffrey Combs and Lance Henriksen try to hunt this being.  Warning...if you watch "Abominable," make sure you see the uncut version for some nice gore and gratuitous shower scenes. Oh yes, this film was directed by Ryan Schifrin, the son of Lalo Schifrin, who does the music.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Zombie Island Massacre, Public Corruption and Zombie Carnage

Okay, think back...Rita Jenrette!  Come on.  You remember.  Need some clues.  Friends with Senator Hubert Humphrey and Edward Kennedy.  With clues like that it will come as no surprise that nudity will slip into our little game.  In 1978 she married Democratic Whip John Jenrette.  During a break in an all night House session, she and John had sexual intercourse on the Capitol steps.  Unfortunately for John, the FBI came a calling and he was convicted of taking bribes from undercover agents.  And Rita?  She did spreads for Playboy in 1981 and 1984. In 1999 Rita sued a property company for failing to pay her a commission for the sale of a high rise to Donald Trump. This brings us to 1984's "Zombie Island Massacre."  Perhaps a fitting metaphor for the swamp that is Washington, DC.
A dozen tourists take a boat excursion to the mysterious island of San Maria,  The highlight of this all day trip is a voodoo ritual in which the tourists see a zombie brought back to life.  The carnage begins here.  A pair of newlyweds (Deborah Jason and Tom Fitzsimmons) go into the bush (no...not Jeb) for sex, but are bludgeoned to death by a smelly monster.  With the bus driver and tour guide also killed, our remaining tourists try to find shelter in a villa...not a good idea.  On the way, more of them get murdered, either spiked, drowned, or strangled.  Sandy (Jenrette) is one of the remaining survivors. As some voodoo monster penetrates the house, our survivors are once again on the run.
Uh oh!  There is more to the plot than originally thought. In addition to a smelly voodoo creature, and an irate voodoo tribe, our survivors are also caught in the middle of a multi-million dollar drug deal gone bad.  Machetes, decapitations, shotguns, and spears will rule the final half hour of this film.  Oh yes, don't forget about the snakes and lizards.  Will the beautiful Sandy survive and make it to Washington, DC to marry her congressman?  Is the voodoo in this film a metaphor for the inner workings of the U.S. Congress?
The film opens with a gratuitous nude shower scene of Ms. Jenrette. The nudity then gives way to the gory carnage.  Don't cry for Ms. Jenrette.  She later received an MBA from Harvard and married a prince from Rome...I'm not kidding.  She is the lady of a huge Italian castle now, living in filthy luxury.  You can't make this stuff up.  As for John Jenrette...not quite as happy an ending.  In 1989 he was arrested for shoplifting in the DC area.  As for "Zombie Island Massacre"?  Good or mediocre, our film today is a neat footnote to one of the nations most notorious political scandals, commonly known as ABSCAM.