Suggested Audio Candy:
Harry Bromley Davenport Brainstorm
Keeper has decided, in his infinite wisdom, to compile a list no self-respecting horror aficionado should be without. Fifty two forgotten classics (that’s one a week for an entire year and split into four seasons) which won’t appeal to everyone but which deserve to be seen by anyone with a penchant for the macabre. Many of these flicks are best known for their lucid box-art from a time when VHS was booming and horror was enjoying something of a heyday. It’s an idiot’s guide basically, compiled by one such idiot and shameless B-movie fanatic for your perusal. There is no fifty two-one rundown, no chronological order, just a whole host of forgotten diamonds in the rough which deserve a second visit.
I shall begin with Harry Bromley Davenport’s schlock masterpiece Xtro. Throughout my time as a scribe I have always used this as a yardstick for ‘so-bad-it’s-downright-genius’ horror. Appearing on the back of the whole E.T. frenzy, Davenport’s tale was as preposterous as any other film to arrive around that time. It reveled in the grotesque and all logic was thrown out of the window from the very moment a middle-aged Philip Sayer was given birth to fully formed early on. Within minutes he was giving his son an alien love bite in some secluded alley and, from there, things somehow just managed to get all the more bizarre.
You may or may not be aware that Xtro is Keeper’s all-time favorite horror flick. This is, in no way, a reflection of quality. It’s a shambles from shaky start to ludicrous finish and even devout fan Keeper can’t pull the wool over your eyes on that front. Despite its numerous failings however, it is a true original. Never since have I had the exclusive pleasure of sitting through another film quite like it. It epitomizes what this list is all about and leads me perfectly into another B-Movie which appeared around the same time.
Bruce D Clark’s Galaxy of Terror keeps us firmly rooted in the ridiculous and comes from the stable of the great Roger Corman. This dude knows how to turn a profit, indeed he has forged a career from doing exactly that and consistently to boot. This and Allan Holzman’s Forbidden Planet aka Mutant both make the list effortlessly, although Galaxy of Terror is perhaps the most fondly recalled of the two. It seemed aged upon its original release but, if anything, has become more spritely over the years. This is the mark of a true B-grade triumph in Keeper’s books.
While Damiea was being roughly taken by a gargantuan space worm, other filmmakers were attempting their Alien anti-thesis’. William Malone’s Titan Find was one such tantalizing travesty and Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination, which suffered harshly at the hands of the censors and is now available uncut rated 15, also standing out from the crowd with chest-bursting swagger . Norman J Warren’s Inseminoid is another I would freely endorse, again choosing alien impregnation as its theme and again incensing with a birth scene…those extra-terrestrials are a randy bunch I tell you.
Speaking of which, Tobe Hooper’s industrious Lifeforce was an absolute firecracker which deserves to be seen yesterday. It may have buckled under its own sub-plot but visually there are few films from its time so striking. It centered around essence-sapping space vampires let loose in London, no Gary Oldman in sight and precious few clothes either. Easily one of the more luxurious entries on this inventory and with budget clocking in at around $25 million, Lifeforce struggled to make back its lay-out and received a pummeling from certain quarters for having ideas above its station but this is poppycock. It’s a glorious movie and one y’all really should give 116 minutes of your time.
Another Hooper classic you may have missed is Funhouse: Carnival of Terror to use its more alluring mantle. Laughably mislabeled as a video nasty through clerical error, there was not much nasty to be seen but instead there was a marvelously atmospheric little chiller which decent use of its ominous locale. While we’re on clowns, a quick mention goes to Stephen Chiodo’s Killer Klowns from Outta Space which had its clown shoes tightly laced and offered visual eye-candy floss in the form of some genuinely delightful dispatches. Luca Bercovici’s Ghoulies also featured a cantankerous clown as well as, of course, the murderous beasties of its title. It bore the tagline “they’ll get you in the end” and this banked on the notion that every human eventually must succumb to a bowel movement somewhere down the line. When that fateful dump occurs, watch out for those Ghoulies.
Moving swiftly on we found ourselves at the “critter from the shitter” from Giuliano Carnimeo’s utterly shameless Ratman. Lucio Fulci’s one-time regular screenwriter, the great Dardano Sacchetti, concocted a story so completely unhinged that it had no right whatsoever turning out how it did. Its half-pint sized rat-monkey hybrid may well have been vertically challenged but the body count was anything but stunted, with plenty of gratuitous nudity and mean-spirited kills to keep things chugging along nicely. He also wrote the screenplay for one of the real papas on this list, Mario Bava’s second entry into the Beyond The Door series, Shock. Few horror movies have ever gotten so deeply trenched in Keeper’s crawling skin than this hauntingly melancholic tale of fading sanity.
In 1980 Lamberto Bava began to carry the baton for his soon to be deceased father and his first full length feature Macabre is definitely one for the completionists among you. Bernice Stegers (Xtro) took her commitment to a jaded cause a little too far after her adulterous lover’s death and proceeded to continue courtship while he decomposed in her freezer. Necrophilia never did make for the most exhilarating viewing experience but there was a looming dread about Bava’s film which sucked the air from every pocket within its insular setting and left a rather fetid aftertaste. Thankfully, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with Lamberto.
The Spring Collection
Galaxy of Terror
Forbidden World aka Mutant
Funhouse: Carnival of Terror
Killer Klowns from Outta Space
Beyond the Door II aka Shock
Plan a whole year of sin,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
First Knight of TOK
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Gallery of Terror
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