Hellraiser (1987)

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A man who’s made a deal with the devil gets buyer’s remorse and escapes from hell. Now he’s depending on his ex-lover to bring him human snacks to regain his strength and skip town before his demonic tormentors find out he’s gone.

This is another movie that’s supposed to be a classic. Everyone knows this movie. It’s the one with the guy in the black dress with nails hammered into his face. Yea, that guy’s scary! SPOILER: he only has like 5 minutes of screen time. So that’s a bummer because the scrubs who fill the voids between pinhead appearances aren’t nearly as cool.

The movie begins with a man who solves a mystical Rubik’s cube he bought in China Town. Except instead of earning the awe and respect of his peers, he gets ripped apart by fish hooks in sadomasochist hell. Somehow the guy escapes the “cenobites” – the demons who poke and prod him in the underworld – and holds up beneath the floor boards in the attic of his flop house. Also he’s no longer a person, but a withered tomato husk. More on that later.

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For future reference. 

The guy’s half brother and his wife move in to the house, where they find the dead guy’s flesh light in the attic. “Ew, gross!” says the half brother. “Ooh la la,” thinks his wife, as she conjures up memories of the secret affair she had with her brother in law. To say this guy has been cuckolded would be quite the understatement. Not only does his wife have the hots for his his brother, but she bangs every barfly in town while not giving her actual husband so much as an Eskimo kiss. Because his life isn’t quite sad enough he also has to endure constant passes being made at both his wife and daughter by just about everyone, including the moving crew and his own dinner guests.

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also…he dies

So this guy lets the moving men drink his beer after working up a thirst hitting on his wife and daughter. Then they need his help moving a fucking mattress up the stairs because in addition to being assholes they are also the worst moving men in the world. While pushing it through a doorway the guy shreds his hand on a loose nail. The blood splish splashes through the floorboards onto his his brother-in-hiding begin. Bitching stop motion effects capture his unholy transformation from beef jerky to man:

According to horror movie logic, a few drops of blood can turn a dusty cobweb into a fully functioning muscular skeletal system, but it requires eviscerating two additional whole humans just to add taste buds thereafter. Eventually he’s all set except for the dermis, which his half brother unhappily provides. Now he’s ready to hit the town!

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Mothers, lock up your daughters

Well, not quite. Remember that niece of his? Well she solved the puzzle box too! But she’s got a bargaining chip to save her from a play date in the stock yards of hell: him. Apparently Cerberus was taking a nap the day he escaped because the cenobites were none the wiser to his absence. Understandably sheepish, the demons agree to keep her north of Hades provided she leads them to her uncle.

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Of course you can trust us!

There is a horror movie theorem that states that the haunt in a house isn’t leaving unless it takes the house with them. Seriously, how many movies involve a house being blown to shit when whatever source that pervades it is expelled? Hellraiser fits squarely into this category. Rafters are inexplicably crashing down, the walls are blowing up, and everything is catching on fire. And amidst the confusion the niece figures out she can zap these horny creeps back to their sex dungeons by fiddling around with the puzzle box and pointing it at them. Good thing all these explosions are distracting us, otherwise that might not make a whole lot of sense!

Overall:

malort
I
t will tear your soul apart!

Malort is the stuff of legend, and it tastes like putrid death. And yes, you can count me among those who imbibe from time to time. Truly, the lines between pleasure and pain are never as blurred as in a bottle of Malort.

 

Day of the Dead (1985)

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About:

A group of scientists and soldiers are holed up in a bunker in Florida after the country has been overtaken by zombies.  While the scientists desperately try to explain what has happened, the impatient military outfit assigned to protect them is eager to engage the undead.  Humanity’s last hope not only faces the hordes of flesh-eating zombies outside their combine, but must try to survive each as well.

Review:

This movie started out really cool.  From the get go it felt so dark and creepy and sinister.  These scientists fly their whirlybird to some Florida town looking for survivors of the zombie apocalypse, one of them desperately imploring through a megaphone: “HELLOOOO?”  Of course the only people who respond are the walking dead.  And not just random bodies in nondescript tatters.  There are brides, clowns, bicyclists; an entire city of human life captured at the moment of their deaths like some gruesome photo.

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We’re not gonna take it!

And then 45 minutes of nothing.  Like, nothing really at all.  The scientists bump heads with the group of military personnel until the end.  Apparently when the zombie outbreak occurred a team was hastily assembled and plopped into an underground keep with the goal of trying to discover what had happened to mankind and if there was any way to reverse the effects.  What follows for much of the movie is some douche bag army guy threatening the scientists that if they don’t come up with a miracle cure soon he’s going to go ahead and bring his outfit to the surface to try and fight off the millions of hungry undead.  It is unclear why the scientists don’t just let him go get eaten.

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Because, like, our compassion is what makes us human, maaan.  

The whole process of trying to diagnose the cause of the outbreak isn’t even a part of the picture.  An overly involved scientist is tearing into corpses and keeps a pet zombie, but all he’s really discovered is that once people turn into zombies they are like dogs, acting on instinct and conditioned to respond to certain stimuli.  Does the group use this information to conduct a mass zombie-training class?  No, the scientist gets greased and his theories never materialize into anything but filler.

Finally at the end one of the soldiers loses his marbles and decides to go out and open the doors for the undead.  There is no reason in this other than to advance the plot, for which I was grateful.  Once the zombies were back in the picture the movie is again highly entertaining, if only for the remaining 20 minutes.  The special effects are brilliant and entirely over the top.  It’s a shame they weren’t showcased throughout the entire length of the film.  I just wish I weren’t eating spaghetti when I watched it.

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Overall: Guinnes

Guinness for strength

Guinness for strength

I’ve run out of explosion gifs, so from now on I’m grading a movie by pairing it to a beer.

Guinness is that beer you grow up believing is the beer to end all beers. And then you get your grubby little underage hands on some and you’re like, “eh…that’s ok.” Actually, when you first try it you act like it actually is the greatest thing ever because you don’t want to look like a chump in front of your fellow pledges. In any case, at some point you switch to something with more of a taste and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Dead Alive (1992)

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About:

Lionel Cosgrove lives with his domineering mother in a small town in New Zealand.  When she dies after being bitten by a rare monkey, she comes back to life as a voracious zombie, infecting other townsfolk as Lionel frantically tries to clean up her mess.

Review:

Do you know what Peter Jackson was doing before he cashed in on the Lord of the Rings movies?  He was making ultra gory B horror movies like Dead Alive.  Released as Braindead in New Zealand, the title was changed for the US release because we already a movie called Brain Dead (which had Bill Paxton AND Bill Pullman in it!)

Dead Alive is a horror-comedy, the purpose of which is not so much to tell a story or inspire fear, but to showcase a flood of home-made special effects and over-the-top, never-ending gore.  I tried eating a plate of spaghetti while watching this, and trust me –  that was a big mistake.  But the while the movie is visceral, it is also very well-done and extremely creative.  If there had merely been a high body count with buckets of blood then that’d be one thing.  Yet Dead Alive puts so much detail into every death, inventing new ways to shock, sicken, and delight us with its quirky special effects as the movie goes on.

The movie opens in 1957 on Skull Island, where a New Zealand explorer has captured a Sumatran rat monkey, which according to legend was bred when plagued rats scurried off of slaves ships and raped all the native tree monkeys.  In an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark he is pursued by angry natives and finally bests the savages by jumping into the back of a vehicle to leave them hopping up and down, angrily shaking sticks.

The Sumatran rat monkey ends up in a zoo and is a real piece of shit.  First this little rat bastard is beating up on all the other fun-loving monkeys, then it finally passes its zombifying plague onto Lionel’s mother.

He got what was coming to him

The absurd grossness begins there and doesn’t stop until the ending credits.  After Lionel’s mom is bitten she dies and comes back to life a flesh-craving zombie.  Being the loving and oedipal son that he is, he can’t bring himself to bury her reanimated corpse in the cold ground, so instead keeps her locked up in the basement with the rest of her zombie buddies, sedating them every so often with massive amounts of animal tranquilizer.  Occasionally one of them would wander off, but overall Lionel has the situation pretty much under control.

Shit really hits the fan once Lionel’s slimeball Uncle Les discovers all the tranquilized stiffs in the basement and threatens to call the police unless Lionel gives him his mother’s inheritance, including the house.  And what better way is there to celebrate inheriting a buttload of cash and a mansion from your dead sister than inviting the whole town over for a giant party?  Of course the zomboners in the basement get loose and the next 45 minutes or so is a fantastic expose of blood and guts.

There are really far too many great scenes from the movie to post here so I just encourage you to find a copy and watch it.  If nothing else, Dead Alive is 100% pure entertainment.

Overall: 8.5

HOT HOT HOT

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Dead Alive is a must see.  Billed as the goriest movie ever made, it does not disappoint.  And unlike setting all this disgusting gore to a serious and disturbing plot that might actually make you lose sleep and question your moral principles, the movie is hilarious so it’s all in great fun.  Plus, who doesn’t love New Zealanders?

Re-Animator (1985)

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About:
An ambitious medical student creates a serum which he believes can bring the dead back to life.  Disregarding warnings and threats from the faculty, he and his roommate set out to prove that death can be beaten.  But when their experiments go horribly wrong, their academic reputations are the least of their worries…

Review:
I hate to admit that the first time I tried to watch this movie I fell asleep during the opening credits.  My bad! Re-Animator was a great flick and well deserving of its cult status.  I think in order for these types of movies to be a success it is important they not take themselves too serious, which is something Re-Animator certainly does not do.  The gore is so abundant and over-the-top all you can do is laugh in between dry heaves.

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This guy knows what I’m talking about, lol!

The protagonist, young and ambitious medical student Herbert West, is a complete dick head for most of the movie before suddenly morphing into the beloved hero at the end.  He transfers into Miskatonic University after studying abroad and immediately starts shit with faculty member Carl Hill, accusing him of plagiarizing his work on brain death and teaching his students outdated theories.

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also a known dick to pencils

Turns out there is a reason the little bastard is so brash, and it’s because he’s invented a serum that, when injected into a corpse’s brain steam, will bring it back to life.  So far it’s worked on rabbits and cats, so it’ll probably work just as well on the stiffs down at the local morgue, right?

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I don’t see why not

West ropes his new roommate, Dan Cain, the darling of the Miskatonic med school, into helping him gain access to the morgue and test his neon goo.  Also brought into the fold is Megan Halsay, Cain’s hot fiancee and daughter of the school’s surly dean.  Dean Halsay is already not too keen on Cain banging out his daughter on the reg, so you can imagine he’s more than a little purturbed when he finds out he’s also bringing her along to poke and prod at dead bodies.

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Best date night EVER!

My favorite scene is when West tests his re-animation serum on Cain’s dead cat, Rufus.  In  a Pet Sematary homage, the cat comes back to life even more demonic than cats are normally.  The two chase it around with a croquet mallet and baseball bat until thy finally make it explode by throwing it really hard against the wall:

Fuck you, demon toupee!

I don’t want to give much more away, but I will whet your whistle by letting you know that what ensues is plenty of re-animated corpses bleeding from each and every one of their orifices, guts spilling out by the bucket-full, and a dismembered zombie head going to town on a great pair of damsel boobs.

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Baby, you’ve reanimated my heart ❤

Overall: 8
When it comes to zombies, I prefer rotting corpses brought back to life, as opposed to the ‘living dead’ model where people are turned after being infected by a virus.  Because the zombie genre seems to be chalk full of these latter types, Re-Animator struck a chord within my stone cold heart.  As mentioned, the gore for this movie is phenomenal; the make-up and special effects are top notch and the death scenes are really creative.  If you are looking for a good old fashioned splatter fest, you’ve found it in Re-Animator.

Screamtime (1983)

screamtime cover

About

This movie starts out in NYC where two hooligans steal some movies from a video store and head to their busty friend’s house who, lucky for us, is just stepping out of the shower.  They take over her tv, drink her beer, and pick at her Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.  We watch the stolen films with these guys, as each movie becomes a chapter in an anthology.

Review

This is an English movie although the back story takes place in NYC.  As one of the hooligans so poignantly deduces, “I can tells by da way dat dey tawk.”

The first segment involves a Punch & Judy puppeteer (yes, this is an actual thing) who is neglecting his familial duties because of his obsession with his, er, craft.  This wife threatens to leave him and go to Canada (whoa, badass here!) and gives him the choice of joining her or staying behind for his puppets.  Meanwhile his douchey stepson, channeling his inner Sid Vicious, doesn’t have any quarrels with leaving his mom’s hubby behind, and lets him know it by torching his puppet stand and publicly shaming him in front of his child adorers.

One after another all the folks who’ve been giving the man so much shit start getting killed by his Mr. Punch puppet, who whacks them with a little stick all while shouting gibberish in a high-pitched kazoo voice.

Pretty scary stuff.

I think the intent of the director here is to have the viewer wonder if maybe this Mr. Punch puppet has a mind of its own.  However, since it is so obvious that it does not and that it’s – you guessed it! – actually the old man doing the killing, I have no qualms with giving away spoilers here.  It’s pretty ridiculous that this old and feeble-looking man is able to get the jump on everyone and then whack them to death with what looks like a foot-long ruler.  In fact, he offs three people this way before someone finally disarms with ease and tosses him off a building into a trash compactor.  Piece of cake.

The second segment is by far the best and probably should have been the whole movie.  Newlyweds move into a fixer-upper and the wife begins seeing apparitions of a gruesome murder throughout the house.  Her husband can’t see them, and begins to suspect that maybe he’s made a terrible mistake.  That’s about all I can say because I don’t want to give anything else away.  The ending provides a whoa-crazy-crazy twist.  If this was the only segment this would be a really good, albeit short, movie.  Unfortunately it is merely the meat that is sandwiched between two slices of turd bread.

The third and final segment is the most bizarre.  I kind of feel like the director thought the first two would make up a full-length film, but came up short and added this to beef it up with an extra 20 minutes.  A dirt bike racer with the world’s shittiest bike borrows money from his boss at his day job at the local fashionable menswear boutique to enter some big race.  In order to pay back the loan he is forced to work weekends tending the lawn of an elderly lesbian couple who believe their garden is enchanted by gnomes, sprites, and ghosties.  Nevermind that they’re paying him more than enough to cover the loan, he finds it necessary to rally his poser bike gang to rob the ladies of their riches.  Seems like it should be an easy enough heist to pull off, until they get attacked by blinking lights and an oompah loompah.

The fourth ‘segment’ of course is the back story tying all these together.  Again, you get the feeling that this was pushed in as part of a last second re-write.  The ending is supposed to be the most powerful part of any movie; there’s no way this is the director’s first choice for a climax, right?  It’s too hilariously dumb not to include here, so, spoiler alert coming up.  First, the turkey-eating hooligan is all of a sudden strangled by a random arm that pops out of the tv screen – they actually give that part away in the trailer.  Then the second hooligan, who snuck off for some hanky panky with the lady friend sometime between the second and third segments, becomes yet another helpless and willing victim of the Mr. Punch puppet and his ruler of death when it pops out from underneath the covers.

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“I knew that wasn’t just your leg down there!”

Overall: 4

Screamtime was kind of a fun movie to watch; I usually like these anthology movies because you get a good variety of short and sweet scares.  Unfortunately, aside from the middle segment, the stories in this movie were beyond stupid.  I just can’t believe that you put a bunch of guys in a room with the task of coming up with 3 really creepy short segments, and 2 of them end up being killer puppets and fairies.

Hellgate (1989)

hellgate
About

A girl is captured and killed by a biker gang led by Frank Zappa.  Years later her grieving father is given a rock that uses laser power to either raise the dead or blow things up (it’s hit or miss).  Of course he uses it to resurrect his daughter, who comes back to life jonesin’ for some hot lovin.  A middle-aged guy playing a college student gives the zombified cutie a ride in his car, and she leads him to her dad’s roadside attraction ghost town. Just as they’re about to do the dirty her dad chases him out with his laser rock.  He meets up with his friends at a cabin and, after a couple of hilariously off-putting love scenes, convinces them to follow him back and rescue the girl from an overprotective dad.  Bad jokes, head scratching dialogue, and a non-committal zombie chase ensue before the director finally runs out of film and calls it a wrap.

Review

There are good-bad movies, there are bad-bad movies, and then there is Hellgate.  The fact that all the producers in the opening credits were Indian names was an early sign that something was amiss.  This movie was incredibly boring.  The plot that was all over the place, making it impossible to follow any sort of story line.  By the time any action came around, mostly towards the end, I was half asleep and ready for this tripe to be done with.

The worst thing about this movie, by far, was the atrocious acting.  I realize that ragging on the acting in a horror movie is a lot like complaining about the quality of food at a gas station, but I was legitimately dumbfounded at how someone could fail so thoroughly at eliciting even the slightest bit of convincing dialogue.  And the way the director had these guys interacting with each other made no sense.  He tried to show a little humor by creating inside jokes for the characters, but they made no sense at all and were about as effective for comedy relief as Jar Jar Binks.

Since anyone who reads this site (Hi, Dad) will rightly refrain from seeing this, I feel I need to at least describe one scene that was 1 part hilarious, 1 part awesome, and a million parts ridiculous: When a maintenance man working for the ghost town goes into a mine on the property, he’s freaked out by a rubber bat being dangled by a string and proceeds to whack the shit out of it with a shovel.  Immediately after, he discovers the magic rock, which shoots a laser beam at the bat, bringing it back to life.  The man approaches the owner in his mansion as he gazes lasciviously at an enormous glamor shot of his dead daughter.  After giving the dad the rock, the old croon shoots a laser at a goldfish in a bowl, which goes all peep-in-the-microwave and balloons to the size of a beach ball before violently exploding.  The old man then directs the rock laser at a stuffed turtle, which comes to life and for some reason begins bawking like a chicken.  The old guy thinks this is real rich and begins losing his shit, laughing like a nut, when the turtle moves in and bites his face off.  End scene.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Update: Hey, I found this scene on youtube! Enjoy!

Sadly, that one scene is as good as it gets.  Gratuitous boobage toward the end is not enough to save this flick, and even does so much as contribute to its misery; the only scary thing about this movie is a boob job that was performed by Dr. Frankenstein.

Overall: 1

I really hope this ends up being the worst movie I review.  I’d hate to think that somewhere, lurking in the shadows, there exists a movie worse than Hellgate.

Night of the Creeps (1986)

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About

The movie takes place in 1986, but opens with a back story 27 years earlier.  An alien spaceship jettisons a canister that crashes into Earth.  A guy and his gal speed off from make-out point to investigate.  Meanwhile an escaped mental patient on a murderous rampage just so happens to be hiding out in the area.  Fast forward back to the present day and we’re at Cormin University.  Heartsick (name) is pining over the campus hottie and convinces his buddy JC that the best way to impress girls would be to join a fraternity (chicks dig guys who can drink a beer through their butt).  The two bungle an initiation test, accidentally unleashing brain-infesting space slugs that turn their hosts into zombies.

Review

This film was written by director Frank Dekkar as a tribute to the horror genre, and is a real treat as it mashes together elements from zombie, alien, and slasher movies.  Perceptive viewers may even notice that several characters are named after some of the pioneers and pillars of horror film.

This is about as campy as a movie can get.  First, the dialogue is really top-notch.  The hilarious blend of tongue-in-cheek humor and general 80s speak is half the fun.  It goes from good-bad to good-absurd until it is finally capped off at the end with a slew of over the top one liners spoken before a zombie greasing, that make little to absolutely no sense:  “It’s Miller Time!”

almost as good as the “Tap the Rockies!” kill scene

Speaking of zombie deaths, the weaponry used to purge the invading gastropods is diverse and crude and makes for some excellent splatter scenes.

Again, the best part of this film is its subgenre diversity.  Killer space slugs would seemingly pigeon-hole this flick into the ‘alien/sci-fi’ category, until you add in the zombies and the axe-toting maniacs (both pre and post zombification).  Secondly, this film adds another dimension that allows us to get into the back stories of the characters and shows us the relationships they have with each other in a way that many horror movies either fail or don’t even try to do.  And if that’s not enough to tickle your fancy, there’s also a scene with soaped-up boobs!

Overall Score: 9

This is exactly what I’m looking for in a cheesy horror movie.  The gore was intense and plentiful, the plot holes were negligible, and the boobs were soapy. Hats off to you, Night O’ the Creeps.

BONUS: Check out the alternate ending available on some of the DVD releases: