Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Final Exam 1981 (the GOLDEN year for the SLASHER film)

Jimmy Houston gives us something a little different than your normal slasher fare. A lot of people think the character development and the time it took the director to give us insight on our characters detracts from the film, making it seem like a talky television movie. In some respects this is quite true.While going a different direction in regards to characters, Houston still gives us the already clich├ęd shot of two love bird co-eds getting all hot and sweaty in the back seat of 'jock boy's' car. Familiar territory already.Wouldn't you know it? After the star quarterback for his college football team finally talks his date into the back seat, someone starts fucking with them - pushing and bumping the car. The dude's first instinct is that it was probably one of his jealous team mates, but he soon figures out it probably isn't when someone jumps on the hood of his car and slices a huge hole in the canopy of quarterback's convertible with a big butcher's knife. He then realizes he should get the hell out of Dodge and jumps in the front seat, but is quickly jerked through the hole in the canopy and manhandled onto the hood of the car. The killer lunges his silvery bladed butcher's knife deep into quarterbacks chest as his girlfriend watches in horror

We then witness a close-up of the screaming chic in the back seat. The camera zooms in on her ugly face while her annoying scream goes on until our next fade in.It's the next day and a group of co-ed acquaintances are discussing the murders that took place at the rival college. (ala Scream) There's a pretty uplifting vibe to the film already, as the characters make jokes and make light of the situation. One of the Frat boys going as far as to say that since the star quarterback from the rival team was now dead, "they might have a chance to take them."During this short little opening to introduce our main characters, we get to learn a lot about them already. We realize that they're seemingly normal (well, all except for Radish who's obviously a closet homo) people with thoughts and feelings like the rest of us sub-humans.Mark, one of the football-jock-frat boy-pricks is even cool in his own right. Final exams are there and he needs to pass, but like most red blooded Americans he plans to cheat because he didn't study. Well, I guess you could call it cheating. I'm not going to go into detail because this is ultimately a great surprise in the movie. Let's just say that I thought Houston was going to give us a morsel of slasherness and shy away from it, giving us a 'Red Dawn' rip-off instead.Nevertheless, we have our virginal heroine, Courtney. Everyone loves her, but she can't find the right person. She's the one who'll let you cheat off her even though she's contemplating your murder in her mind. There's the serial killer freak who has a poster of the Toolbox Murders up in his dorm room. He always drinks Irish whiskey at the end of the term, and probably would prefer Courtney if she were a man. We have our fat coach who lives his dreams through his students when he could still do a single push-up. There's a drunken security guard who'll get your goat. There's a whole slew of likable characters to root for.I almost forgot to mention that there's hardly any bloodshed in this movie, and not until forty-five minutes after our opening sequence does anyone come into contact with the killer. BUT, all is not in vain. This film has loads of atmosphere to keep it on the right slasher track.

 It indeed is talky throughout, and plays off like a television drama at times, but it delivers on a larger level during the last thirty minutes. The finale is really well done. We get to see glimpses of the killers face, which is basically an ordinary man in a green army jacket.The lighting is very well done and the setting of the school added more gloom and doom to the situation. There's also some very good camera work in regards to certain shots - The 'Shining-esque' shot of Courtney walking down the long hallway after she finds Radish's face smashed through a door. Some very good stuff.What's the motive for the killer's murderous rage? Well, it never answers that question. We're left wondering why he chose to stalk college campuses in his black van and ultimately butcher coeds like they molested him when he was a kid or something. I should be pissed at this idea, but the open ending rings true on the same bell as Halloween. (Not to mention the similar piano score) Maybe the producers got a little ahead of themselves thinking they had a gem on their hands, thus the obvious sequel. Aside from all the obvious detractions, Final Exam still works for me.

The Boogeyman 1980

The movie begins with the 'Halloween-esque' shot of a quaint suburban home, all nestled quietly against beautiful lush scenery and ambiant darkness. Faint blues are used throughout, giving us the impression that something sinister is about to happen inside.
The camera latches still on the curious young faces of Willy and Lacey, who look barely six. They peak through the window at their alcoholic mother and her drunken sadistic boyfriend having foreplay (with a pair of panty hose over his face) when they get caught. It seems the boyfriend likes to tie young Billy to the bed when he's been a bad boy and leave him there.
Young Lacey, inclining on her sibling survival techniques, runs to the kitchen and grabs a butchers knife, cutting the ropes from Willy's wrists. He frees himself and runs to mom's bedroom (where her and boyfriend are making love) with the butcher's knife, and stabs the shit out of pantyhose man. Anyway, doesn't all this - the butchers knife, the voyeurism, the opening shot, (I forgot to mention the music), the murdering of someone by a young child - doesn't all this sound like we're in store for a masked killer who will ultimately 'come home' sometime during the movie? Sure it does, and why wouldn't it?
I don't want to give Lommel more credit than he deserves with his entry into the slasher sub-genre, but he threw us a loop - not just ripping off 'Halloween', but 'Amityville Horror', and 'The Exorcist' as well.
Anyway, after the kid knifes his mom's boyfriend to death, we go on down the road a bit, (around twenty years) where we find  Lacey who has grown into a nice looking young woman, and her brother (who now is mute ever since that fateful night.) Oh yeah, I almost forgot: It seems as if a certain mirror in the bedroom on that night twenty years ago (My mom used to have one just like it - she purchased it for twenty bucks back in the early eighties.) captured the image of Willy murdering his abusive father figure and somehow traps the spirit of the dead boyfriend inside it.
It seems as if Lacey and her brother have made a pretty good life for themselves. She's a grown woman now, married to a local policeman, where she and her brother live with the husband's family in a big nice house on a farm.
Everything is going great until Lacey receives a letter from her psychotic mother who states that the doctors haven't given her much time to live, and that she feels it her right to be able to see Lacey and Willy before she passes on. This takes Lacey through a flashback of that fateful night, and resurfaces all those happenings, leaving her is a state of shit, I mean shock.
Weird things start to happen and people start to die in weird ways. Lacey starts seeing her mom's dead boyfriend  in mirrors throughout the house. Willy paints the mirrors black while listening to The rolling Stones (just kidding) in a symbolic gesture.. It's all about the mirror's baby! An old hypnotist ( played by John Carradine) soon gets involved and during a session with Lacey, is witness to her inner demons. It's suggested that she go back to the house where her problems had originated and tackle her issues face to face.
Well, this seems like a good idea. She and her husband travel to that old two story house where three siblings are alone while Ma and Pa are on vacation. Lacey and her husband ask to come in and see the house again. All is fine until she walks into the bedroom. It just so happens that the same exact mirror that was on the wall twenty years ago just so happens to be in the same spot in the same bedroom. Ok, now that's the most logical thing I've ever heard.
Anyway, it's explained that the mirror just somehow never got thrown out and crap begins to happen. Lacey sees pantyhose man in the mirror and bashes it all to hell. Like any normal person, Lacey's husband puts all the pieces of the broken mirror in a paper bag and they take it back home with them.
After they leave, one of the weirdest death scenes in horror film history happens. If by some chance someone reading this review hasn't seen it yet, I'm not going to give it away, but let's just say that three siblings die in about thirty seconds, via some kick ass ways.
To make a long story short, throw in a little bit of a possession flick ( mixed with another sub genre) into a big bowl of slasherness and you'll ultimately end up with, 'The Boogeyman.'
Throw in a priest who tries to fight the menacing spirit of the pantyhose man, along with a mute brother who finally builds up enough strength to speak during the traumatic ending and you pretty much have it. Dammit, throw in a dumpy shot-on-video look (I have the old vhs copy) and THEN you'll have it.
I think I'm done. Wait, I said that looking into a mirror. So, did I actually say that backwards?

The Abomination 1987

A young southern boy finds himself a changed man. Cody is your typical white trash with some problems. Like all good old southern boys, he has an overbearing, albeit ill Mother, who eventually is the cause of his demise.
It seems as if good old Mom has a cancerous tumor deep inside her lungs. While watching a money hungry preacher on television late one night, she harks up this solid tumor, which in turn, takes shape as an ancient demon. The 'phlem demon'then resides inside the cupboards of the house where it eventually coherses young Cody to kill everyone in his path. Like most people who become brainwashed by cancerous tumor demons, Cody then brings back the body parts to the demon so he won't starve to death

The demon keeps getting fatter and Cody keeps killing.

There's buckets of blood in this one. There's a very gorey chainsaw decapitation scene and about thirty minutes of him waking up from the same nightmare...over and over and over and over...and over....and over.

Just when you think you've seen it all, you ain't seen shit. This is one of those films whose title fits the bill perfectly. An'Abomination' is exactly what this little film is, but it's one of those good abominations. This is one of those rare must-see cases for the subject matter alone. It's not everyday you find yourself witnessing a deranged young man doing the evil bidding of his Mom's cancerous demon.
This is one hard mutha to find. I was lucky enough to find a copy at a friend of mine who used to own a video store. Like mentioned above, this is a case where you should pick it up if you ever run across it.
If you want something serious, don't even bother - but - if you're in the mood for some silly over-the-top gore and bad acting, with a sideshow of southern evangelist shenanigans, watch this instead of the Trinity Broadcasting Network - You'll get more spirit
ual fulfillment.

I Drink Your Blood 1970 -aka- Phobia

A band of Satanist hippies lead by Horace Bones roll into a town and begin terrorizing the local folk-  raping a local girl after she sneaks in one of of their satanic rituals. Grandpa goes after the bunch of filthy hippies, but the hippies corner Grandpa, force feeding him a little LSD. His grandson doesn't take to highly by this and decides to get back at the hippies by feeding them meat pies infected with blood from a rabid dog. They turn into crazed lunatics and begin killing and/or infecting everything in their path.

Where to begin with this one. This is probably the most filthy -  grimy drive-in flick I've ever had the pleasure (or displeasure) of watching. I don't hate the film. The whole scenario is something that's made in a cheese factory, but the 'nastiness' of the film as a whole makes one want to take a shower after watching.

Bashkar (who was incidentally paralyzed not too long after I Drink Your Blood was made. He has since passed away) plays the ludicrous Horace Bones who's pretty much a man hell bent on power play using satanic rituals to brainwash his followers. They make their way into town and move into an abandoned house that's soon to be torn down anyway. The house is infested with rats and the group of hippies go from room to room impaling the rats on anything they can find, roasting them and eating them for a meal. Some nasty shit.

The scene where Grandpa comes home fried on LSD and holds kitchen utensils against his forehead constituting a set of horns is quiet humerous, but quiet disturbing once you shower off the layer of cheese.

Also known as Phobia, I Drink Your Blood had a pretty good run at the Drive-In back in the day and has since gained a small cult following. Is this film worth watching? Well, yes. If only once. The whole premise makes this one a  strange pile of dirt. This will definitely leave a layer of filth on ya folks.

Sure, go ahead and give it a whirl. OR, you could go outside and roll around in the dirt for a hour and a half and have the same experience.

Ron Palillo is Dead

Of course he is known for playing the eccentric high school student in the 70's sitcom 'Welcome Back Kotter', but horror fans know his as the also eccentric mental patient who befriended Tommy Jarvis in Friday the 13th part 6: Jason Lives!~ I always liked his character...he put a lot of 'heart' in playing Hawes...chewing on his little straw.

Rest In Peace 'Hawes'.

Ron Palillo:  1949-2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

80's Slasher essay coming up soon!~

Going to do an essay on the golden years of the 80's slasher film. I'm not even going to touch the big studio slashers, but the more obscure titles like Just Before Dawn, Maniac, the Final Terror, Lunchmeat, etc. Gonna be good. Keep checking back for updates!~

Friday, August 10, 2012