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James Horner Final Confrontation
We’ve reached the midway point in our rundown and still haven’t scratched the surface of the forgotten horror flicks worthy of your time. Next up we’re back to the turn of the eighties and one-man profit making machine Roger Corman. Jimmy T. Murakami’s Humanoids of The Deep endured a troubled shoot, which included change of personnel as original director Barbara Peeters was fired from the project for taking exception to the additional gore and nudity requested by Corman. In all fairness, it was still her movie as much of what was filmed by Murakami ended its life on the cutting room floor.
It turned out that it wasn’t only aliens who had insatiable sexual appetites as the half-men/half-amphibians of Humanoids of the Deep loved nothing more than a spot of copulation. They terrorized the inhabitants of a small fishing village slaughtering the men and then letching over the scantily clad women. If that wasn’t a recipe for success then I don’t know what is. Excessively Grue-soaked and crammed with gratuitous female nudity like sexual sardines, this was bread-and-butter all the way and fiercely proud of its heritage. We too were proud, this had all the elements of a cracking B-movie and turned every last weakness into a strength.
Tempted as I am to follow up with another Corman classic Piranha, it seems a little too obvious so instead I shall opt for its sequel Flying Killers. Now, if Oliver Stone was cagey about having cut his teeth with Seizure then I would imagine James Cameron would wake each night with night horrors over his directorial debut. Yet, despite this being the creature chained in the cellar, it was a gloriously irreverent piece of trash which featured airborne piranhas. That, as it turns out, is all the endorsement it takes…airborne motherfucking piranhas.
Demi Moore started her career in low rent horror and popped up in Charles Band’s Parasite in 1982. There is no logical explanation I can give as to why this film still resonates, it’s just another post-apocalyptic story of a man with a hazardous scientifically placed killer slug gestating in his abdomen. I think a large part of it boils down to the fact that I watched this at a ripening age and it just had its place in time. Regardless of any personal adjudication, it featured some tasty tidbits of grue and suitably icky practical make-up effects which help take the edge off.
A year later Band brought us The Alchemist under the guise James Amante. Using a suitable eerie woodland setting and compelling turn from the then white-hot Robert Ginty, it papered over its numerous cracks with some good old fashioned eighties schlock. It’s not like us Grueheads are a particularly needy bunch, give us some vivisection and/or a pair of tits and we’re generally contented. Thus trash like The Alchemist becomes a darned sight easier to justify.
Charlie Sheen’s name on a VHS sleeve was a pretty sure-fire endorsement in the eighties. It’s easy to overlook his marvelous turns as Bud Fox and Chris, when faced with Two and a Half Mennnn. Is it just me or did this sitcom rub sea salt in your eyeballs? I fear I may be flying solo here as it was nominated for two Golden Globes and ran for ten successful seasons. Anyhoots the Sheenster signed his name to Mike Marvin’s hi-octane revenge flick The Wraith in 1986. With a roster the likes of which included characters such as Skank and Gutterboy, it was clear from the offset it wasn’t going to be rocket science. My personal darling was Rughead (Clint Howard hiding behind a soufflé pompadour and Coke-bottle rims) but all fit their stereotype well. What transpired was no different from the glut of other retribution flicks around at the time but, thanks to some souped-up automobiles and lively set pieces, it more than warrants its mention here.
The Nightmare on Elm Street sequence was in full throttle by the time Dream Warriors hit our screens. Whilst far too high-profile for inventory of this nature, it did inspire a rather delightful wannabee in the form of Andrew Fleming’s Bad Dreams. Almost a carbon copy of its more desirable cousin, it was darker in tone and featured a menacing turn by renowned B-lister Richard Lynch as Harris, the leader of a demonic cult who gave Jennifer Rubin all manner of grotesque phantasms to cope with as she attempted to get her head together. Both unsettling and grisly in equal measures, Fleming’s forgotten frightfest is too often overlooked. Harley Cokeliss’ Dream Demon suffered a similar fate and a brisk UK theatrical run ended in total obscurity. Shame, the scorned bride opener was something of an eye-catcher.
Scorned grannies were even worse…especially when they were Rabid Grannies! Emmanuel Kervyn’s Les Mémés Cannibales was eventually picked up for distribution by Troma and who better to tell the tale of two kindly old dears who are transformed into wretched demons and set to work trimming the brood so to speak. Cue blood geysers aplenty and let me tell you a little about geysers. Word has it its the most effective means of blood traveling, closely seconded by the jettison. There’s plentiful geysers to test that theory in Rabid Grannies.
Come to think of it, Kervyn may well have been onto something. What could be more terrifying than the slap of a colostomy bag approaching from your rear, accompanied by the shuffling of ankle-tied slippers and the rattling of dentures as they attempt to settle in the glass held by their owners’ doddery hands. Sends a chill that no drought excluder or hot mug of Horlicks could ever appease.
J. Michael Muro’s Street Trash made trips to the latrine less than appealing. It was bad enough that those pesky Ghoulies knew their way around a sewage system but in Street Trash they’d meet you on the U-bend as you glugged down disgracefully after swigging some ‘Viper’. Any film which features a game of piggy-in-the-middle using a lopped off penis is evidently aiming for a particular demographic and guess what?..I fit the bill. Here, lob it this way, I’m wearing my protective catcher’s mitten! More risqué than a tipsy Mel Gibson at a bar mitzvah, utterly irreverent and altogether a fun time had by all. All, that is, except for the hapless douche still trying to intercept his projectile plonker before the sun goes down.
Two sequels which were easily better than their forebears were Frederico Prosperi’s Curse II: The Bite and Jim Wynorski’s 976-Evil II. Neither were exactly Aunt Petula’s prize-winning pumpkins but they were, at the very least, a pair of prime turnips. I always harbored an illogical fear of snakes and The Bite did nothing to rest my racing mind. On the other hand 976-Evil II did considerably bring down my parent’s phone bill.
Tom McLoughlin’s One Dark Night is the epitome of style over substance. It has a distinctly unorthodox flavor and features a compelling score which underlines the menace exquisitely. While the overall experience is compromised somewhat by overly simplistic dialog, thankfully there isn’t too much to pick holes in and instead it relies on atmosphere, something it has in abundance. Featuring a youthful Meg Tilly as pledge Julie, it serves as a potent reminder as to why spending the night in a mausoleum to gain acceptance of your peers just isn’t worth the commotion. It’s a slow burner for sure but, once the crypt opens and the undead begin shuffling freely, there’s enough visual panache on exhibit to stick with it through any lulls in pace. Speaking of which, Jerry Ciccoritti’s Graveyard Shift aka Central Park Drifter was positively oozing blue-tinged style and is frequently overlooked in favor of more fashionable vampire offerings from its time. Whilst admittedly no Near Dark, The Lost Boys or even Vamp, it was both tragic and compelling. It also featured a good old-fashioned eighties synthesizer score so what more proof do y’all need?
The Autumn Collection
Humanoids from The Deep
Piranha II: Flying Killers
Curse II: The Bite
One Dark Night
Graveyard Shift aka Central Park Drifter
Plan a whole year of sin,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
First Knight of TOK
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Gallery of Terror