Suggested Audio Candy:
Richard Band & Shirley Walker Ghoulies
I just can’t get enough of talking about bad movies. Moreover, it’s hard to know where to start when you consider how much low-rent tripe has surfaced over the past few decades. Over the past three articles I have explored some of the most vile offenders and peppered with a few guilty pleasures just to offer some kind of credence to the claim that a bad movie need not be an absolute write-off. More often than not it is but there are rare exceptions to this rule, Troll 2 being one such rough diamond. Try as you may to loathe it, and my first viewing was reserved for such contempt, there’s a certain unique charm to a piece of supposed art which has no idea how to apply the most elementary brush stroke. If there’s hope for cinematic algae such as Troll 2 then there’s hope for all bottom-feeders right?
“Do you remember when you could sit outside and not worry about the mosquitoes and the killers?”
Bill Leslie and Terry Lofton’s The Nail Gun Massacre from 1985 is an exception to that rule. Here is a film, if you can label it as such, which was desperate to cash in on the whole massacre craze and its title alone couldn’t help but reel you in. Dennis Donnelly’s The Toolbox Murders had already shot off a few rounds with its hardware seven years previous and had such a profound effect on Leslie and Lofton that their killer, clad in motorcycle helmet and combat attire, only packed his pneumatic nail gun for his road trip. Alas, a catchy title is all The Nail Gun Massacre was pre-loaded with and it fired from a blank chamber. We never actually witnessed a single tack being shot, the performances were way beyond inept, the orchestrator of madness sounded like Darth Vader’s nephew, and above all else it was more lacklustre than Odyssey Video’s back catalogue combined, Richard Marquand’s The Legacy excluded. One to avoid like a dose of the bubonic plague.
“This is evil … remember me? I just made my first kill right on schedule”
Emmett Alston’s 1980 film New Year’s Evil fared only moderately better. Marketed as a slasher flick, it shared more in common with numerous low-rent seventies cop thrillers than anything else. The killer here chose not to hide behind a mask and instead masqueraded freely from the offset, with only a lopsided mustache and a pair of his grandmother’s tights as disguise. Boredom ensued, laced with moments of sheer hilarity but where New Year’s Evil raised its head above the excrement was a dance montage so utterly priceless that you couldn’t help but lower your guard. I say dance where, in fact, it appeared that the crowd were only concerned with getting to the nearest restroom before pissing their pants. To further our glee, the new wave punks on center stage lowered the tempo a notch and same revellers fell into a collective vertical coma. We were not far behind them.
John Carl Buechler’s Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College put paid to any faint hopes the Ghoulies had of graduation and swiftly consigned them back to the latrine from which they emerged. The first film was shameless fun, its sequel likewise, but Buechler’s third entry really scraped the barrel. This time they were afforded voices and their gift became our curse as the relentless frat-boy toilet humor left everything to be desired. Evidently one flush wasn’t sufficient as, four years later, Jim Wynorski (Not of This Earth, Chopping Mall, 976-Evil 2) fished the cantankerous critters out one final time. No puppets this time and instead Warwick Davis’ drinking buddies were offered a gig. The result was a film which, despite whittling away our last few brain cells, was actually well shot and featured a reasonably well-choreographed chase scene as sweetener. If Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama is your bag then check Ghoulies IV out by all accounts but don’t blame Keeper for any resulting embolisms.
Andreas Schnaas was on something of a roll when he decided to offer his own take on one of the more notorious video nasties. Violent Shit, Violent Shit II: Mother Hold my Hand and Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom were all shot on video for next to peanuts and had little going for them other than some unconvincing, but admittedly ambitious, dispatches. I touched on 1999’s Anthropophagus 2000 during a previous Z-List and, alas, it cannot escape my attention a second time. As bad as this film was, and it was woefully inept believe me, it was in no way without merit either. Joe D’Amato’s original was not afraid to sicken audiences and the fetus-feast was lovingly updated, along with enough mutilation to sate all but the most rabid appetites. Some of the gags worked better than others and an arm dismemberment, in particular, was extraordinarily well done when you consider Schnaas had less than $20k in his attaché case. Anthropophagus 2000 did exactly what it stated on the tin … now if only I could work out whatever the hell that was.
Shadow New Year’s Evil
Just like Robert Ginty I have decided to return vigilante style and this time Violent Shit isn’t getting off so lucky. So we’ve established already that Schaas knows how to shoot a supremely bloody gore scene but what of the overall experience? Remember when Quint dragged his grimy nails down the blackboard and set our teeth on edge along with the entire population of Amity? Now imagine that on incessant loop for 75 minutes. Padded with so much unnecessary footage, it was barely a movie at all and is best viewed as a five-minute montage as that still leaves seventy to repent. By the time Karl The Butcher was afforded his third outing the FX was at least showing distinct signs of improvement. If it’s grue that you’re after, start there if you must, but don’t concern yourself working backwards unless you’re a glutton for punishment of course, in which case, knock yourself out.
Alternatively you can hang out for Luigi Pastore’s Violent Shit: The Movie later this year and pray for a small miracle like Keeper. Bastard had me at “Let the slaughter begin”
I would imagine “what have I done?” as being the first words to have vacated George A. Romero’s lips upon primary exposure to Ana Clavell and James Glenn Dudelson’s unofficial sequel to his cherished 1985 zombie masterpiece. To its only credit, Day of The Dead: Contagium at least played it straight down the line but, other than that, was a self-congratulatory puddle of phlegm utterly undeserving of high fives. Poorly shot, edited evidently by gibbons, and possessing all the sheen of an ostrich egg doused in magnolia emulsion; this excreted on Romero’s legacy from a nose-bleed inducing height and is undeserving of your time and/or pity.
“Great. A driver without keys and a soldier without bullets. It must be my fucking birthday”
For the record, I’m fully aware that the ordinarily bankable Steve Miner’s 2008 Day of The Dead remake is despised by Romero devotees the world over. I can’t stand here and defend this film and would imagine that Mena Suvari and Ving Rhames negate to include this in their respective showreels but neither can I bring myself to put the old dog out of its seemingly perpetual misery either. Granted it had absolutely no right to assume the mantle of Romero’s pièce de résistance but, if you distanced yourself from such intel and accepted the puking ceiling-scuttling zombies for precisely what they are then you had yourself some perfect late-night cable fodder with a brisk pace, all manner of gooey grue, and a turn from Sevari that was nothing if not committed. It’s no Halloween III: Season of The Witch, but just like Tommy Lee Wallace’s shimmering gemstone of eighties horror, it deserved a little perspective.
“Nurse Jacobs, I can’t write a prescription for ugly”
If Day of The Dead 2: Contagium’s dastardly directorial double act Clavell and Dudelson thought they had gotten off the hook for Creepshow 3 then I regret to inform them that they must think again. The pair may well be huge Romero aficionados but should that make it acceptable to desecrate another of his glorious back catalogue? It’s ultimately fruitless attempting to apply perspective with this one as it desperately wished to be a Creepshow movie and followed the precise template so, in many respects, the result was simply indefensible. However, should you take the peak from the troughs, then the second segment The Radio, featuring a solid performance from a young A.J. Bowen and an intriguing premise, was deserving of a better anthology. In its favor, there were five tales of terror meaning you get five attempts at sitting through the entire movie.
“You ever feel like taking a drill and boring a hole in your head so you can let the screams out?”
I really should check in on those zombies and make sure they’ve not been up to mischief in my absence. Yee haw it’s a two-for-one deal courtesy of the once promising Return of The Living Dead franchise. After the second film took two clown shoe steps back, Brian Yuzna looked to have steered us soundly back on course with his valiant third. Then William Butler and Aaron Strongoni’s Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis and Ellory Elkayem’s Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave both appeared in short succession and that was the end of that rousing comeback. Despite both being largely lamentable there were a whole cavalcade of low-brow hijinks to be had, mostly at its expense mind. However, allow me to pose you this Grueheads? Would it be honorable to banish dumb and dumber from our illustrious kingdom when we’re culpable of clapping like seals on occasion? Watching a pizza delivery zombie balance his meat feast like an inebriated hobo walking the line was utterly precious and there was no shortage of splatter on the platter should we be feeling peckish.
In typical Keeper fashion here comes the curveball. Fred Vogel’s The Redsin Tower has absolutely no place in such dubious company and, indeed, secured itself a lofty eight out of ten when the Crimson Quill cast its judgement on May 16, 2013. Vogel had already turned heads with his August Underground series highlighting a great deal of promise in make-up effects if nothing else. However, nothing could have prepared us for his demonic 2006 thunderbolt. Well played, more taut than a gimp’s headgear, and more than a little unsettling, this is the closest that any independent horror film-maker has come to emulating The Evil Dead and that makes it a somewhat treasured commodity in my book. So why the Z-List then? Simple…I just like keeping you on your toes. The Redsin Tower is, put simply, hidden treasure. Now spread the sickness.
If you’re thinking I have gotten soft then think again as The Unfathomable Collection concludes with a slice of vintage Camembert that I have no intention of nuzzling. Kim Henkel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation escapes by the skin of its knuckles despite any lipstick and instead Jorge Montesi and Dominique Othenin-Girard’s Omen IV: The Awakening is up for scrutiny. I can hear you all pleading me to be gentle as it was made for TV after all. Alas, I can cut it no such slack as it sucks on more levels than a dime store hooker on a fire ladder and is deserving of every last lash it has coming. My furious anger is directed more towards the studio for shamelessly bolting this turgid excrement onto a stellar trilogy. That aside, and I’m aware of the growing consensus that it is in need of tribunal, it was plain dull. There’s nothing more soul-destroying than knowing that you’re considered bland and that seems punishment enough for Montesi and Othenin-Girard.
Still the Z-List plunders forth and who’s to say that The Indefensible Collection isn’t holding a banana to your tailpipes at this very moment? That’s one for another day methinks as reappraising all of these bad movies, Vogel’s barnstorming delight obviously excluded, are costing me valuable IQ points. Select carefully Grueheads, there are reasons why some roads remain untraversed and the majority of the above are simply too riddled with pot holes to contemplate clutching your hand-brakes. My advice would be to sleep on it but, before you do, watch The Redsin Tower and then try getting a single wink.
The Unfathomable Collection
Nail Gun Massacre
New Year’s Evil
Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College
Day of The Dead: Contagium
Day of The Dead (2005)
Return of The Living Dead 4: Necropolis
Return of The Living Dead 5: Rave To The Grave
The Redsin Tower
Omen IV: The Awakening
Sequence Thus Far
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015