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Rick Patterson & Neal Fox Return of The Killer Tomatoes
Please make it stop. This marks my sixth visitation to the annals of horror past and the bad movies are just relentless. It would appear that I have rubbed the wrong lamp as my only wish now is for a bout of acute conjunctivitis. Nevertheless, I’m nothing if not gallant and thus, I bring you fine people The Unpardonable Collection. Don’t go feeding me milk and cookies just yet as I can only take partial responsibility for you partaking in any one of the fourteen dubious delights ahead. It was supposed to be thirteen but I can no longer quite grasp numerals. Besides, I’m just having too much of a hoot, can’t you see? Bring on those stinkers and saddle up Grueheads as it’s destined to make a llama steeplechase appear a decidedly less bumpy ride.
Pain is temporary; film is forever
Charles Band may have given us fondly remembered B-List fare such as Parasite and The Alchemist, among numerous others, but he still has a lot to answer for if you ask me. In 2005 he brought us The Gingerdead Man, and that, in itself, is an unforgivable crime. However, as bad as that movie was, it did at least feature the divine casting of Gary Busey as the voice of our cinnamon sicko. However, three years later, when Silvia St. Croix decided to throw a sequel in the kiln, Busey was nowhere to be found. Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of The Crust may well be one of the most entertaining movies you will find on this list but that is, in no way, an endorsement. Not taking itself seriously may have been a shrewd move when you consider the killer is made of pastry. St. Croix takes the parody route and, to give it its dues, this film does have its fans. However, I’m not one of them. With a supporting cast which includes Haunted Dildo, Shit For Brains, and Hemorrhoid, you know you’re not watching a Merchant Ivory period drama. I have to admit that I chortled on numerous occasions during Passion of The Crust but rarely was I laughing with it. Okay, maybe once or twice. Three times max.
Actually, while we’re here, let’s make this a back-to-back Keeper smackdown. Arise Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver, also directed by St. Croix although now with William Butler as an accessory, and actually the first sequel is off the hook temporarily as this makes it look like 10 Years a Slave. Anyone who has recently suffered a brain haemorrhage or the under five may take great umbrage with my scathing but I’d imagine everybody else should be as mortified as I was. Adolf Hitler on roller skates, need I really say more? 78 minutes I invested into this tripe and, when you add that to the previous 82 frittered on Passion of The Crust, that adds up to an 160 stretch which I am never likely to see again unless I get my hands on the time machine from this third installment. If I ever do, then I’m heading straight back to 2005 and stealing Busey’s spark plugs on the first day of filming the original.
When good vegetables go bad!
Continuing our naming and shaming of food-themed horror films, next up to the chopping board are everyone’s favorite of their 5-a-day, The Killer Tomatoes. The first was an undisputable B-movie classic, whereby its sequel most certainly wasn’t, but did feature a spunky young George Clooney for the ladies. I have massive respect for John De Bello for achieving quadrilogization, that in itself is something to be applauded. However, the Z-List is custom-made for turkey giblets such as Killer Tomatoes Strike Back! and Killer Tomatoes Eat France! and it just wouldn’t be right to exclude them. Both feature the wondrous John Astin and, after the consumption of vast quantities of alcohol, they’re pretty fun to boot. However, I was never fond of tomatoes unless puréed and that would have been the smartest move here. Throw both into a blender and you’ve got yourself two-thirds of a smoothie. Fret not if you’re not thirsty, I can always leave it in the refrigerator for later consumption. On second thoughts…
Attack of the Killer Refrigerator. I shit you not, I didn’t even plan this. As it happened, we have fate to thank for bringing us together. I stumbled upon this fifteen minute oddity by Michael Savino and simply had to share it with you. The next time you decide to chip away any excess freezer ice, think of the refrigerator’s feelings. There comes a time when appliances have had enough of such rough justice and, unsurprisingly, that’s the upshot here. Dismemberment is on the cards and presumably the seal on the fridge door has been stuffed with razor blades as it makes decidedly short work of a group of party guests. I won’t be too harsh on this one as it’s clearly a labor of love and may well be the only killer refrigerator movie in existence which does make it something of a designer original. But Treevenge it most certainly isn’t.
“Didn’t I ever tell you about my hemorrhoids? They get really bad when it’s humid, you know”
Ding! Microwave Massacre actually boasts that it is the worst horror movie of all time although I’m sure Crazy Fat Ethel would have something to say about that. Wayne Berwick’s 1983 cataclysm is nothing of the sort, although it would make the fifty worst horror movies which makes it right at home in hell’s kitchen. Inspired by his wife’s abysmal cooking, Donald finally finds a plus side to owning the world’s largest industrial microwave. Even Crazy Fat Ethel could’ve squeezed her child-bearing hips inside this behemoth. There are veritable culinary delights to be had for the paltry sum of a few busty waifs and strays and Donald dons his apron when we’re hoping he’ll tie the strings round his throat and asphyxiate himself. He doesn’t and 76 minutes is our penance for falling for cheeky box art.
“What you are about to see, you may find hard to believe. It is a tale of the supernatural, an experience of the occult beyond all imagination. It is a story of frightening monsters of human origins who could only be repulsed by monsters more wicked, like the underworld demons who avenge spilt family blood. You will see these avenging spirits relentlessly punish the murderers to infinity. Even the Gods could not stop this inevitable force. A little strange? Maybe. Judge for yourself”
If you asked the legendary Christopher Lee for the worst ever horror movie, and I regret that time may be of the essence on this one, then I would imagine Meatcleaver Massacre by Evan Lee (no relation) would be his suggestion. He had no idea that he would receive top-billing for this monstrosity as his opening monologue was shot for entirely another movie and sold without his knowledge. Perhaps its greatest crime is that there is no sign of a meat cleaver. You don’t see Attack of The Killer Refrigerator acting so underhand; that alone qualifies the director for a severe finger wag. As for the film itself, it sucks like a randy squid, but will be of limited interest to those seeking some low-rent seventies exploitation.
“I’m running the show, Deputy Dawg!”
Robert A. Endelson knows a little about low-rent exploitation and his 1977 home invasion sleazefest Fight For Your Life found itself in all kinds of trouble in 1984 as the DPP tarred it with the video nasty brush and banished it to the sidelines. Exhibiting meanness of spirit almost unparalleled at the time, cries of misogyny rang out and it has maintained its infamy right up to the present. Despite any raging notoriety, it is at least mildly sympathetic to the plight of its victims and stands up to scrutiny better than many of the films vilified by the censors, at least with regard to artistic merit. Having said that, it is admittedly odious and leaves a particularly pungent after-taste. Those without a thick skin may want to give Endelson’s film a rather wide berth.
A horrible experiment. A criminal empire. One thing in common…
The work of the great Clive Barker hasn’t always translated well to the screen and that is largely down to George Pavlou. 1985’s Transmutations aka Underworld boasts the acting chops of Denholm Elliott and Steven Berkoff and there ain’t a damn thing either one of them can do to raise this from the doldrums. Lousy acting and a screenplay seemingly written in braille then translated by gibbons are one thing, but it’s plain dismal to boot and looks more like a music video for The Human League than a film with any intention of being taken seriously. Of all of Barker’s adaptations this is easily the most lamentable but it didn’t stop Pavlou from returning a year later to have another crack at doing the Liverpudlian proud.
Colin Towns Rawhead Rex
“Are there any connections between the murders?”
“Yes. They’re all dead”
Rawhead Rex has two things going for it, which is two more than Pavlou’s last attempt so at least it shows signs of progression. Firstly, despite the appalling make-up effects (particularly rubber-headed Rex himself who resembles a life-sized finger monster), it’s never less than entertaining and the choice of an idyllic Irish countryside setting as backdrop lends a certain Gaelic charm. Secondly, and most critically, Barker was so incensed by the repeated failure to translate his words to screen that it prompted him to take matters into his own hands and that resulted in Hellraiser a year later. I’ve tried so hard to loathe this movie but ultimately it appears fruitless. Some films can skate by on being so bad they’re good, and Rawhead Rex fits the criteria effortlessly.
Jeff Kwitny’s insipid slasher Iced arrived at the party somewhat tardily in 1988 and then had the audacity to deprive its audience of kills until the final fifteen minutes. As if that wasn’t enough to encourage we hang up our snow boots, it fritters its ski lodge setting and the one potentially redeemable kill using a gnarly stalagmite occurs off-screen, cutting to a bucket of ice being hacked at by a pick. However, there are two reasons to watch Iced, or at least the closing scenes. After discovering the bodies of her friends strewn about the cabin, our final girl makes the astute decision of picking up the nearest phone. Problem is that she negates to inform the authorities and instead calls her real estate agent to gripe about her timeshare. Then he turns out to be the killer! If that isn’t enough to provoke an avalanche then the closing scene would have Tom Berenger and Sidney Poitier frantically boarding their toboggans. Our sole survivor decides to build a snowman with her child but doesn’t bank on the psychopath sneaking inside and bursting out menacingly for the all-important freeze-frame finale. Utterly priceless.
“I now pronounce you… totally fucking dead”
It took Michael Cooney seven years to capitalize on Kwitny’s wretched seasonal slush puppy with Jack Frost, the chilly tale of a nutcase masquerading as, you guessed it, a mutant killer snowman. Fast forward another half a decade and Cooney decided that the best place for the second vacation was a tropical Caribbean resort. Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman has precious little to recommend it by bar a few inventive dispatches (via barbecue tongs, colossal ice anvil, and malevolent baby snowballs that bite) which are just enough to stave off the frostbite, although not without significant brain freeze ensuing.
José Ramón Larraz’s Spanish oddity Edge of The Axe arrived late in the eighties around the time that the slasher hype had all but dissipated. In fairness, this has its moments, an opening car wash slaughter, back alley chop shop, and a disembodied pig’s head in a bed being standouts. It also ends amusingly with local law enforcement officers shooting first and leaving the coroner to ask any questions. Should you enter with the correct mindset and enjoy this for what it is (not particularly good), then there are worse ways to spend ninety minutes. I would rather watch Edge of The Axe than eat Paella; take from that what you will Grueheads.
He’s out there…out of sight, and out of his mind! See the terrifying spectacle of the eye-gouger…Your ultimate nightmare!!
Kent Bateman wraps up The Unpardonable Collection with The Headless Eyes from 1971. Boasting easily the most tantalizing cover image of our entire tally, it also hits the ground running with a burglar having to suffer the indignity of having his eyeball plucked out with a dessert spoon by the building’s resourceful tenant. It’s downhill faster than a jaunt up Hamburger Hill for Bateman’s film from hereon in, as a combination of the following render us comatose. Pitiful poorly lit photography, woefully degraded film stock, acting that is inaudible at very best, the editing of a Sasquatch in boxing gloves, and the pace of a crippled chinchilla…how’s that for rotten apples? Things look up for the final five as one-eyed Arthur finds himself a suitable replacement and cradles it lovingly as his inner monologue drives him utterly deranged and he consequently freezes to death in a slaughterhouse freezer, still clutching his keepsake. Was it worth it Arthur? The answer, where we are concerned, is as resounding as it is nope.
Watching bad movies starts out as taking one for the team but, after a sufficient time with Gingerdead Man, The Killer Tomatoes, and Jack Frost, I have shed at least thirty IQ points and currently can barely grasp the quill. Suddenly, these monstrosities are far more appealing. With a little rehabilitation and some determination, I may one day be able to spell my name once more. Until then, I’m off to view The Diving Bell and The Butterfly with my one good eye. Not sure how to connect the optical nerves yet and I still need to find a way out of this freezer. Fret not Grueheads for, once I do, I shall warm myself up in this conveniently placed oversized industrial microwave. Always learning you see.
The Unpardonable Collection
Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of The Crust
Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver
Killer Tomatoes Strike Back!
Killer Tomatoes Eat France!
Attack of the Killer Refrigerator
Fight For Your Life
Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman
Edge of The Axe
Sequence Thus Far
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015