The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Twenty: Psycho Cop 2 (1993)

Psycho Cop 2

 

Oh, shit, here comes Psycho Cop again!

 

In 1989, some asshole mental patient escaped from his hospital and “infiltrated” the police force. He was crazy, he was a Satanist, he killed people. Really, this dude was all kinds of fucked up. After attacking a bunch of teens partying it up at a posh mansion getaway in the woods, get took a giant wooden spear to the chest and died.

 

Or did he?

 

The answer is no. No he didn’t.

 

Thanks to…the powers of darkness Joe Vickers AKA Gary Henley AKA Psycho Cop is back on the beat. While stuffing his face with donuts at a coffee shop, he overhears two white-collar yuppie types planning an illicit, after hours bachelor party at the office. One dude is a smartass, wiseguy type, the other’s a dork. Smartass loudly asks Dork about the sweet, sweet Mary Jane in Dork’s briefcase. Psycho Cop perks right up. People having fun and not dying? Not on my watch!

 

He follows Smartass and Dork to their office, Dork all paranoid because Psycho Cop’s following them, and Smartass blowing him off, because of course he would. At the office, they hook up with the groom-to-be (this fat, sweaty slob) and, after everyone’s gone home, they bribe the night watchman to look the other way while they sneak in booze and strippers. Also in the building is this chick named Sharon who’s working late and an adulterous couple living an Aerosmith song. Psycho Cop tricks the night watchman into letting him in, kills him, and then goes after the others. Slob and a stripper wind up dead on the roof, the adulterous couple get theirs, and Dork, Smartass, Sharon, and the remaining two strippers are confronted by the realization that all the bodies they keep finding are being made by Officer Vickers. Smartass and the strippers die, Dork is seriously wounded (twice), and Sharon manages to make it out of the building where Vickers corners her and starts whipping her ass. A bunch of patrons in a bar across the street see, and then gang up on Vickers while some weirdo films it all from a balcony (The Revenge of Rodney King, take one!). In the end, Sharon, Dork, and Vickers are in the same hospital. Vickers, using that ol’ black magic, kills the guards posted to his room and bursts through the door to kill again.

 

The first Psycho Cop was an all-around shitfest. It was generic, it was uninteresting, it was like a thousand other slasher movies no one cares about. And the guy who played Vickers…ugh. I’ve seen better acting at kindergarten theater productions. Psycho Cop 2, on the other hand, is not a bad movie. The guy who played the smartass (I’ve looked for his name, but I can’t be bothered to find it…I can’t even remember the name of his character) was actually a pretty fun guy. The smart aleck shows up in a lot of horror movies, and usually gets on your nerves. This guy, however, delivered a couple genuinely funny lines. I also liked the setting. I know there have been horror movies set in office buildings (I can’t think of one off hand, though), but it’s something you don’t see all that often. Summer camp? Yeah, yeah. College campus? Sure. Suburbia? Totes. Office building…that hasn’t been done to death. The characters are also a little older than your typical cannon fodder. Thirties, I’d say, give or take. All that office space made for a rousing game of cat and mouse as Sharon tried to hide from the onslaught that was Vickers.

 

Speaking of Vickers…maybe I was used to it at this point, but his shtick wasn’t as godawful this time around. Then again, I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to movies. I can overlook or even embrace bad acting if I’m having fun. If it’s a snooze cruise to Suck City, I’m libel to be less than nice.

 

When it comes to the Psycho Cop series (do two movies constitute a series?), skip the first and just watch this one. They got it right with Psycho Cop 2…or as right as they could. At the very least, it’s better than both Maniac Cop movies put together, so there’s that.

 

Now off to finish putting together by Joe Vickers cosplay. The other neckbeards at Stokercon are gonna flip.

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Nineteen: Psycho Cop (1989)

Psycho Cop

 

 

Some movies are more memorable for the performance of their casts than for, well, anything else. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 would be a footnote if not for the astronomically bad overacting of the lead. Sleepaway Camp 2 would be just another unremarkable late eighties slasher pic if it weren’t for the chipper, upbeat killer Angela played by the inimitable Pamela Springsteen.

 

And Psycho Cop would be nothing without Robert R. Shafer.

 

Psycho Cop is closer to Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 than Sleepaway Camp 2. Pamela Springsteen was a great actor. Shafer, on the other hand…

 

The movie opens with a newly married couple being brutally murdered in a secluded spot by Joe Vickers, a policeman is who a fucking Satanist (and possibly a psycho). Sometime later, a group of good looking yuppies arrive at a rural mansion to do a spot of partying. On the way there, they incur the wrath of Vickers, who follows them in his squad car.

 

Vickers picks the kids off one by one, starting with the caretaker and working his way down. Several of his victims are beguiled by his uniform. Certainly a cop will protect us from the murderer loose among us! Wrong!

 

A couple of good cops do eventually show up, and reveal that Vickers is really Gary Henley, an escaped mental patient who managed to join the force. Gee, do they just give anyone a gun?

 

Vickers is eventually killed and that’s it.

 

There isn’t much to the plot, and what’s there is basically a rehash of the same basic story that slasher directors had been telling since Halloween in 1978: Crazed man kills teenagers. Guys like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and Sean S. Cunningham realized that you have to take that basic premise and dress it up to get noticed. Whether it’s great acting, crazy gore, good writing, a unique villain…every slasher movie needs something to set it apart, because they all tell the same story, and if you have fifty people telling the same story at any given time, you’re going to have to do something to break out of the pack.

 

Psycho Cop does nothing to break out of the pack. It is generic, boring, and poorly acted. I mean, the idea of a cop killing people is interesting. That basic thumbnail has my attention. But you need more than just a premise. You need to go somewhere with it.

 

I mentioned Robert R. Shafer earlier. Shafer is the only reason this movie is not completely buried and forgotten…and he achieved that by delivering one the worst performances I have ever seen from an actor. A big, fucking lumbering tree trunk could have done better. He delivers all of his lines in this cheesy monotone, and his one liners suck. Most one liners do, mind you, but this asshole takes the cake. I don’t know what graveyard the filmmakers dug him out of, but they should have left his dead ass there.

 

Yet, I was intrigued enough to watch the sequel. And you know what? I actually liked it…

 

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Eighteen: Drive-In Massacre (1977)

drive in

 

 

It’s been my experience that any movie with “massacre” in the title is worth a watch. Even if it’s not great, it’s never downright awful (at least in a bad way). Drive-In Massacre continued that trend.

 

A drive-in original (yes, movies were made to show exclusively at drive-in theaters back in the day…apparently), D-IM opens with a couple getting it on in the front seat of a sweet ‘70s ride at a California drive-in. The chick wants to bang, but the dude wants to watch the opening of “the picture” because, even though he’s seen it four times, it’s apparently that damn good. While he’s reaching out the window to grab the clip-on speaker (if there’s another name for it, I don’t know it; I’m a millennial), someone comes up and lobs his head off with a sword. The effects were good enough that I was like, “Oooo, shit.” The lady gets it next, right through the throat.

 

The next day, a pair of overweight homicide detectives show up at the drive-in to question the employees. There’s the manager, Austin Johnson, a big, bald, Anton LaVey son of a bitch who pisses and moans more than a woman on the rag (“My name’s Austin and I have to work for a living, wah-wah-wah”) and Germy, a simpleton who sweeps up. Before being turned into a drive-in fifteen years ago, the land was a circus; Germy was a sword swallower and Austin dealt with knives too, it’s revealed later, but he was never any good at it…how can you swallow a blade when you’re too busy bitching?

 

That night, another couple is killed while a peeping tom looks on. Well, the peeping tom doesn’t actually see the crime, but, he was peeping a moment before. Germy had previously mentioned the guy to the detectives, saying he “moved around” a lot and never stayed in one spot. The night of the second murder(s?), Germy gets his tag number and passes it onto the detectives, who pay the owner a visit. I forget the dude’s name. I think it was something like Dingleberg (Dingleberg….). Dingleberg has a rap sheet (apparently for sex crimes), and while being grilled by the fuzz, admits to peeping into the car, saying “I only wanted to beat my meat!” Twiddle-Dee and Twiddle-Dum (I forget their names too; I’m bad) search his car and find a sheet covered in blood, prompting Dingleberg to run. He says he hit a dog, but don’t they all? Turns out he was telling the truth.

 

Sometime later (that night, probably), the Fuzz Brothers set up a stake-out at the theater and watch Dingleberg doing his thing. While they’re distracted, a woman sitting alone in a car after her boyfriend stormed off (she wouldn’t put out) is decapitated, and Dingleberg’s throat is cut, eliminating him from the suspect pool.

 

The case gets a break, however, when some psycho wipes two people out with a machete and takes a little girl hostage in a warehouse. The cops show up, blast him, and pat themselves on the back for a job well done, but, uh-oh, the psycho escaped from a hospital that morning, making it impossible for him to be the killer.

 

Deciding it must be that miserable bastard Austin, they fly to the drive-in. Germy, who Austin previously fired, shows up before them demanding his back pay and goes into the projection booth. Shadows on the movie screen show Austin being killed with a sword (Germy mentioned having a sword collection before he went into the booth). It’s him, right? Nope. Fat and Fatter find Austin dead…and Germy dead too. Text appears on the screen explaining that the killer was never captured and that murders have occurred at other drive-ins across the country. The movie ends with a voice claiming to be “the manager” and telling everyone to remain calm, but a killer is loose in the theater.

 

Look, I liked this movie. The acting was good enough that it never broke my suspension of disbelief, the gore scenes were realistic enough, and the overall story itself was enjoyable enough. Austin was such a miserable malcontent that I couldn’t help but like him. I bitch a lot too. I was hoping he’d have more screen time.

 

The sequence at the warehouse drags, though. We get a good ten minutes of the crazed guy chasing the girl around, then the cops show up, then they chase him, then they all exchange gunfire. I read online that that scene was added to pad the movie’s runtime (the finished product was only, like, 75 minutes). It was stuck in and it feels like it. The ending with the text and voice loses whatever punch it may have packed when you’re watching it on a cellphone in bed, but this was a drive-in movie and, as such, I took the ending in context and appreciated it for what it was. William Castle did a lot of similar stuff in the sixties. I remember reading about one movie where these creatures got into your back and tingled or something, and in theaters, the seats were rigged to vibrate and a voice implored everyone to scream, as screaming killed the creatures. It’s hokey, but, you know, novelty’s nice every once in a while, and getting the audience involved makes for an actual experience, even if it’s kind of dumb.

 

Overall, this was a fun little movie. Definitely worth the price of admission, if only for a man wailing “I just wanted to beat my meat!” in self-disgust.

 

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Seventeen: Terror at Tenkiller (1986)

Terror at Tenkiller

 

There’s a video out there of an early NASA test launch probably from the early sixties. In it, the rocket falls over and explodes on the launch pad.

 

That’s Terror at Tenkiller, a cinematic failure so dull that I was considering abandoning ship halfway through. In it, two college girls named Jana and Leslie (Jana looks like she’s pushing forty, but maybe she’s just an older student?) drive out to Jana’s father’s cabin on Tenkiller Lake. Leslie is dealing with drama from her caveman boyfriend, Josh, and Jana figures a summer away would do her good. After they arrive, Jana tells Leslie a fanciful story her father (apparently a writer) told her about why Tenkiller Lake was called, well, Tenkiller Lake: An Indian maiden was wronged by another tribe (it’s been less than twenty-four hours since I saw it, but I can’t remember how) and responded by killing ten of its bravest warriors; the last, she drags to the bottom of the lake until they both drown, presumably shouting “Allahu akbar!”

 

Tenkiller Lake is a nice place and all, but the summer vacay is ruined by two things: Josh keeps calling and harassing Leslie and Jana, for one, and for two, some psycho is running around killing people. In fact, the movie opens with a woman named Denise getting her throat slit.

 

The killer is revealed to be this dude who works at the marina named Tor, whom Jana takes a shine to. Knowing fairly early on who the killer is robs this lametastic crapfest of any suspense it may have possibly gained. Slasher films work best in my estimation if the identity of the killer is concealed until the last possible minute.
Anyway, Jana and Leslie receive a number of disturbing phone calls from someone they assume to be Josh. The caller (Tor, as we know) apparently has a thing for Leslie. In the end, Tor kills Jana and takes Leslie hostage, talking this big game about loving her and how she’s sweet and perfect and ugh, yuck, blah. She belts him and runs. Meanwhile, Josh tracks her down and arrives just in time to get his throat cut. Good. Fuck him. Tor knocks Leslie out and loads her into a dinky ass rowboat. She revives, purposely tips the boat, and swims away while Tor drowns. In a voiceover, Leslie posits that Jana’s Indian maiden dragged Tor down to his death. Oooo. Spooky. Except that’s not it at all. Dude obviously drowns. He fails around like he’s never seen water before, which is funny, considering he works at a marina and boats every day.

 

Aside from being boring and predictable (I figured Leslie would drown herself and Tor like the Indian maiden, and while that didn’t happen, it came close), Terror at Tenkiller is just so generic. And it plods. Oh, and we can’t forget the terrible acting. Really, there’s nothing to recommend it. No good effects, no interesting or unique kills/settings/premises/etc. It’s like canned squid. It’s on the supermarket shelf, but really has no reason for being.

 

 

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Sixteen: Three on a Meathook (1973)

meathook

 

This movie should have been awesome. It’s grainy, it’s early seventies, it’s inspired by Ed Gein, it’s got the word “meathook” in the title, and the last time I saw a meathook in a horror movie, it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, one of the best movies ever made, genre notwithstanding (come to think of it, TCM was grainy and early seventies too).

I first heard of this movie about five years ago when I was writing an article on Ed Gein and the films he inspired (if you don’t know who Gein is, look him up; I don’t have time to recount his whole case history). I didn’t watch it, but from the title and the movie poster alone, I imagined a highly psychological horror film about a Gein-like killer holding a girl (or girls) hostage and showing them the depths of human depravity.

 

That’s not what happens at all.

 

Three on a Meathook opens with a gaggle of college girls spending the weekend at a lake (actually it opens with two people screwing, but that doesn’t matter). As they’re frolicking topless in the water, a creeper passes by in a rowboat.

 

On their way back, the girls break down and who should come along in his old piece of shit truck but the creeper. His name is Billy and he’s a gangly, not entirely handsome good ole boy. Seems nice enough. He offers to let the girls stay the night with him and his pa on the family farm. When they arrive, Pa doesn’t seem too happy about the guests, telling Billy “You know what happens when you get around women.” Billy promises to sleep in the shed.

 

Even so, the girls are butchered in the night. Pa finds them and goes to Billy, who doesn’t remember the murders. Pa promises to “take care of everything” and sends Billy into town to see a movie. After stopping by his mother’s grave and asking for her guidance (saying that if he’s killing people, he should be put away), he hits a bar and meets a lovely waitress named Sherry. After a day of bonding with Billy, Sherry promises to come out to the farm on Sunday with a friend.

 

When Billy tells Pa, Pa gets upset, fearing more carnage. Even so, Sherry and her friend Becky arrive on Sunday. Pa, visibly drunk, treats the girls hostilely but serves them dinner; his famous meat (he has a special way of smoking it). That night, Pa slips into Becky’s room and murders her. I knew it! The next day, while looking for her friend, Sherry goes into a locked shed and finds a bunch of women hanging from meathooks. She runs inside and finds Pa chopping up a human limb. When asked what he’s doing, he replies, “Making supper,” and attacks her. Billy appears and struggles with Pa, who knocks him down. Just as Pa is about to bring a meat cleaver down on Billy’s head, a random old woman runs in and winds up getting hit instead.

 

Billy: “M-Ma?”

 

What?

 

The last scene is a psychological exposition ala Psycho where a head doctor explains to Billy that while Billy was away for a summer years ago, Ma got sick with cannibalism (didn’t know that was a disease) and Pa, being the loving husband that he is, buries an empty coffin and keeps Ma locked away, feeding her human parts. Pa’s a sensitive man. His mind snaps at what he’s doing, and he convinces himself that Billy’s the killer. Doesn’t make sense, I know.

 

Here are my complaints:

 

1) I don’t know if it was the quality of the upload (I watched it on Youtube) or what, but there were a couple times the picture started rocking back and forth. What, was this thing filmed on a boat?

 

2) Pa sends Billy into town and mops up the mess about twenty minutes in. For the next twenty to twenty five minutes, we see Billy in town, picking up some supplies for the farm, going to see The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman, and going to a bar where there’s this long and boring sequence of a band playing seventies music (and not the good kind). It got on my nerves. I wanted to see more about Billy, Pa, and the murders, not a bunch of assholes in sequin suits. It really bogged down the movie.

 

3) The twist was stupid. I mean, I didn’t see it coming, but that doesn’t make it a surprise, it makes it totally random and head-scratchingly lame. “The nature of your mother’s disease is cannibalistic.” What fucking disease? What disease turns people into cannibals? What, it’s a zombie movie now? I get they were trying to rip Psycho off, but damn. Funeral Home did it better. The twist wasn’t a twist to me because it didn’t blow my mind. It made me rub my eyes in disbelief. Maybe I’m being too hard on it, but that’s how I felt, rational or not.

 

I suggest seeing it because it’s there, but you can skip it and be ‘ight.

 

Uh...I can explain.

Uh…I can explain.

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Fifteen: The Last House on the Left (1972)

last house

Wes Craven. The man responsible for A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, and Scream, arguably three of the greatest horror films ever made.

 

Then there’s The Last House on the Left.

 

TLHOTL (that’s an ugly acronym, I’m sorry) was Craven’s first film, so I’ll give him a pass. Still…I can’t really say I liked it.

 

I know, it’s a classic, and no, I’m not some shit for brains millennial talking out of his ass. As you can clearly see from my prior posts here, I’ve seen a butt ton of old school horror movies. I cut my teeth on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Fulci’s Zombie, and others. Hell, I was watching shit when I was seven years old. Seventies and eighties horror movies are…they’re home, you know?

 

I say that because anytime someone rips a classic, there’s libel to be some push back, and being twenty-five, I’m a prime target for the “You don’t get it, you grew up on crap” lecture. Or something.

 

The Last House on the Left feels like someone’s first movie. It feels like something a young, callow director would do. When I close my eyes and think of Craven doing this movie, I see a teenager fumbling to take off his girlfriend’s bra. And the poor bastard just can’t get it.

 

The movie starts with Mari, a pretty seventeen year old, and her friend Phyllis going to a concert in the city. Mari’s parents don’t approve of Phyllis or the neighborhood where the concert is being hosted, but allow their daughter to go with a warning to be careful.

 

On their way to the city, Mari and Phyllis hear a radio report of two violent convicts escaping from a prison with the help of “an animal-like woman” and one of the convict’s sons. Next we meet the gang. There’s Krug (David Hess, who would later play the same exact character in The House on the Edge of the Park – they even dressed him the same, lol!), Weasel, Sadie, and Krug’s kid, Junior (AKA Junkie, because Krug got him hooked on brown as a power play). Krug was in the slammer for killing a preist and two nuns (Craven was really trying to make him a bad dude), and Weasel was in for molesting kids, “peeping tomism,” and assaults. Sadie’s a psycho and Junior looks a lot like Hess…I wonder if they were actually related.

 

Anyway, Mari and Phyllis meet Junkie on the street and try to score some sweet grass off of him. He leads them into the apartment the gang is holed up in and hands them over to Krug in exchange for some H. Krug, Sadie, and Weasel strip Phyllis and rape her while Mari looks on.

 

The next morning, the gang hits the road, while Mari’s parents worry over her not coming home; they call the local police, and are rewarded with two dumbasses who couldn’t find their own assholes with a both hands, a flashlight, and Google Earth.

 

As fate would have it, the gang breaks down literally in front of Mari’s house. They take the girls into the woods and brutalize them. In a bid to escape, Mari gives Junior her peace sign necklace and promises to be his friend. Krug shuts that shit down real quick, raping Mari and shooting her.

 

Later, they seek refuge with Mari’s parents, claiming to be on a business trip. They quickly discover that their most recent victim lived there.

 

Junior goes into withdraws and winds up bent over the toilet. Mari’s mom helps him to bed, noticing the necklace. She then overhears Junior asking Krug for a fix and saying that they had to get out of there. “If they find out we killed their kid…”

 

Smooth move, Ex-lax.

 

Mari’s parents find their daughter’s body and bring her home, resolving to get revenge. The first to go is Weasel, who wakes up and finds Mari’s mom having a drink (presumably to calm her nerves). He comes onto her, and she takes him outside for a bout of middle-aged sex. Weasel claims that he can make love to her with his hands tied behind his back. Mari’s mom ties his hands with his tie and sucks his dick. Only instead of a happy ending, Weasel got a sad ending. A very sad ending.

 

She bit it off, is what I’m saying.

 

While all this is happening, Mari’s dad grabs a shotgun and sets up some Home Alone style traps. Krug and Sadie wake to the sound of Weasel’s shrieking, and find Mari’s dad aiming the gun at them. Krug cuts the lights, but Mari’s dad fires, catching him in the arm. Krug and Pops proceed to work each other over. Junior comes out with Krug’s pistol and threatens to shoot him, but takes his father’s advice and shoots himself instead (Jesus). Mari’s dad slips away and returns with a chainsaw.

 

Sadie attempts to flee, but Mari’s mom tackles her and they fight. Sadie eventually falls into a pool and Mari’s mom cuts her throat as, inside, Pops pulls a Leatherface on Krug just as the police arrive.

 

Oh, I forgot to mention. Those two dumbasses saw the gang’s car stalled on the side of the road as they pulled away earlier, but ignored it. A call came across the wire describing that car to a T, and they rush back to Mari’s house, only to run out of gas on the way. They literally spend the rest of the movie trying to get to the house. First a carload of hippies fake-offer them a ride and then flip them off, then an old black woman in a pick-up truck loaded down with chickens offers them a lift – but they have to sit on the roof, and the truck won’t go with their added weight.

 

My main complaint with this movie is those cops. Their scenes are totally inappropriate and just kill whatever tension Craven managed to build up before cutting back to them. Not only are these scenes inherently silly, they’re fucking scored with, like, slapstick music. It’s like if every time we see Leatherface chasing someone in TCM, we get the Benny Hill theme. It’s the dumbest shit. I also feel like Craven should have spent more time on Mari’s parents exacting their revenge. It was over so quickly. The whole movie builds up to it, and it’s, like, five minutes long, and is basically Krug getting chainsawed to death.

 

Speaking of Krug, I’m going to single David Hess out (just like I did with The House at the Edge of the Park). That man was a fucking genius at playing scumbag psychopaths. He really was. The dude who played Weasel wasn’t half bad, either. Now, he looks like the bastard love child of Christopher Walken and Mr. McMahon, but he’s a good actor. And boy can he scream.

 

Look, The Last House on the Left isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s amateurish. It reminds me of all the stupid-ass stories I wrote ten years ago and have locked in a drawer. Those things were the work of a young, inexperienced writer, just like The Last House on the Left is the work of a young, inexperienced director. Craven got better, though.

 

There’s hope for me yet.

 

Three and a half middle fingers.

 

PS. Having seen this movie now, it’s clear to me just how much they ripped it off in The House on the Edge of the Park. Like I said, David Hess was basically the same dude in both movies, right down to his black shirt. Was he the same character in every movie he was in?

 

I didn't screw Brett...Brett screwed Brett.

I didn’t screw Brett…Brett screwed Brett.

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Fourteen: I Drink Your Blood (1970)

I Drink Your Blood

In the summer of 1969, a group of hippie cultists embarked on a grizzly murder spree in Los Angeles, claiming roughly a dozen victims, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. Symbols and words were written in blood at the scene of two murders. RISE. A black power fist. HEALTER SKELTER.

By the end of the year, former convict and drifter Charles Manson and several of his nomadic “Family” were in custody, and the world reeled at the lurid details of the case: Sex, LSD, politics. A typical day in the late sixties, really, save for all the murders.

 

Meanwhile, a remote village in the mountains of Iran was beset by rabid wolves, with several people being bitten and turning homicidal. Two unrelated cases, yeah, but as a creative type myself, I can safely say: Two unrelated ideas colliding on the freeway of the mind are how some of the best art is made. In this case, the two cases merged to inspire I Drink Your Blood, a nasty little gem from 1970 that is perhaps best remembered for being the first movie to receive an X rating for violence alone.

 

I Drink Your Blood was the brainchild of David Durston, who had been contacted by the CEO of a production company to make a movie. Durston wanted to make the most violent horror movie eveah, and he didn’t want no punk ass vampires or anything. The Manson Family trials were much in the news at the time, and Durston somehow heard of the rabies outbreak in Iran. Well, those two ideas came together and BAM, a movie is born.

 

I Drink Your Blood finds a group of roaming Satanist hippies (including Lynn Lowry…she’s always in some wild shit) crash landing in a small, dying town and taking up residence in an abandoned hotel. While worshipping naked in the woods, they are discovered by a local girl, who runs away. The leader of the cult, Horace Bones, orders the girl stopped. Now, to a normal person like me or you, that means “Kill her so she can’t tell the squares how fucked up we are.” To a few of the tripping cultists, it means “Beat her and up and rape her for good measure. Then leave her alive so she can tell on us.”

 

The girl survives her ordeal and stumbles home, finally telling her grandfather what happened. I forget his name, but he wore his pants up to his chest, so we’ll call him Highwater. Highwater grabs a shotgun and goes to confront the cultists. They get the drop on him, pump him full of LSD, and make sport of him. Highwater’s ten-year-old grandson Chubs shows up and takes grandpa home. Having heard about rabies, Chubs kills a rabid dog in the woods, draws some of its blood, and injects it into some meat pies for the cultists to eat, because fuck what they did to Highwater, yo.

 

Anyway, the cultists eat the pies and get sick.

 

Then the fun begin.

 

After Horace wigs out and starts killing people, the cultists scatter to the wind. One of them, a chick, winds up in the camp of some construction workers. Drunk and apparently not caring about the far out shit that happened back at the hotel, she lets the construction workers run the train on her, and they all catch teh rabids. Pretty soon, rabid, homicidal maniacs are everywhere, and Chubs and his sister team up with a local shop owner and her boyfriend to survive. In the end, the state police show up and the day is saved. Woot woot!

 

I Drink Your Blood is, if you ask me, the definitive exploitation, drive-in horror movie. It’s bloody, it’s got boobs, it’s interesting, it’s unique, and it’s pretty well written and put together. There’s even a nod to that Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in Vietnam, so, it’s like, history class. Technically, all the infected people multiplying counts as math class too. This movie’s virtually a high school!

 

If only my high school had been this dope…

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Thirteen: Sleepaway Camp 2: UnHappy Campers (1988)

sc2 p

She’s baaaack!

 

1983’s Sleepaway Camp, in case you’ve forgotten, featured a transgendered serial killer named Angela Baker who was raised as a girl by her nutcase of an aunt. Her circumstances led to a psychotic break and a wicked rampage that claimed the lives of, like, eight people. Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers finds an adult, post-op Angela working happily as a camp counselor. This chick is serious about camp. Roasting marshmallows, going on nature walks, singing dopy campfire songs (C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E S-O-N-G song!). Unfortunately, most of the campers are more interested in drinking, fucking, and doing drugs. This offends Angela’s puritanical sensibilities, and she begins “sending” people “home.” Not home to their parents, but, like, home to Jesus. Her continually shipping people back home without permission pisses off the camp director, who cans her ass, leading her to run wild like Hulkamania. She whacks everyone she can get her hands on save for this girl named Molly, who Angela likes because she’s a goody two shoes, and Molly’s little boyfriend, Sean: She holds them hostage in a cabin and eventually chops Sean’s head off. Molly escapes, but Angela follows. After a chaotic chase, Molly trips and smacks her head. Beleiving she is dead, Angela sadly leaves her and walks out, eventually getting a ride with a crude old lady in a truck. Molly wakes and stumbles to a dirt road, where she flags down a passing truck. Angela, wearing the old lady’s stupid little cowboy hat, pokes her head out and gives Molly a big Texas “Howdy!” Roll credits.

 

The first thing you have to know about Sleepaway Camp 2 is this: It’s not as serious as the first movie. Some might even call it “campy,” and not just because it’s set at a summer camp. There’s definitely an air of dark humor, but I wouldn’t say it’s “campy.” Then again, I have a hard time calling the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels “campy,” even though some of them totally are. Freddy Krueger was so much of a wiseguy in a few of those movies, he made Joe Pesci’s character from Goodfellas look like a fucking priest. Angela cracks wise a little too, but what really makes her for me is her unfailingly perky attitude. She’s always so upbeat. You can tell she’s doing what she loves. She’s never annoyingly perky, though, which is pretty impressive: There’s a very thin line between what kind of perky is acceptable and what kind of perky is not, and Angela manages to walk that line like a circus acrobat.

 

The actress who plays Angela (Pamela Springsteen, the Boss’s little sis) makes this movie. Like I think I’ve said before, a slasher movie (or any movie, for that matter) has to have one thing that sets it apart from everything else. Maybe a unique setting, or a highly original premise, or a cool villain. It can be hackeneyed everywhere else, but as long as it has that One Thing, it’ll pass. Pamela Springsteen in Sleepaway Camp 2’s One Thing.
Of course, that’s not to say there’s nothing else to SC2. There’s a pretty cool scene where Angela makes this stuck-up bitch crawl into the business end of an outhouse and literally drowns her in poop. She also throws battery acid in this dude’s face. That was pretty satisfying, because dude looked just like Joey from Full House, and I fucking hate Full House.

 

SC2’s strong suit, I think (aside from the tremendously talented Pam Springsteen) was it’s glossing over of Angela’s gender. After the first film, you’d expect it to be central to the story, but the movie skips over it and gets right to the campy fun. It is mentioned twice (once by Angela herself) that she “had an operation.” Move along. Nothing to see here. Hey, look at this set of tits instead!

 

Whether you’re of the opinion that the trans aspect was revolutionary or insulting, it’s nice to put away heady sociopolitical subjects and watch teenagers be gruesomely murdered. That’s something we can all enjoy.

 

After finishing this movie, I decided that Angela Baker was one of my favorite slasher villains. Behind Freddy, but ahead of Jason and Michael Myers. Why she didn’t appear in thirty movies like Jason’s dumb, silent ass, I’ll never know.

 

At least there’s part three…

 

I see you fornicating...

I see you fornicating…

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Twelve: Summer Camp Nightmare (1987)

Summer

This movie catfished me.

 

See, I mistakenly believed that a movie with the title “Summer Camp Nightmare” would be about some asshole in a mask killing people. I know, what a maroon, right?

 

Actually, Summer Camp Nightmare was adapted from a 1961 novel by William Butler called The Butterfly Revolution. In it, a sociopathic but charismatic teenager orchestrates an uprising at a summer camp; the lame ass counselors and the uptight owner are locked in a cabin and the kids run wild. The leader of the “revolution” (Franklin Riley) creates his own little East Germany on American soil, Party this, revolution that, minister of propaganda blah blah blah.

 

I haven’t read the book, but I have read a summary, and the movie’s fairly faithful, so here’s what happens.

 

Riley establishes a virtual dictatorship of the proletariat after the uber-religious and no fun admin (Chuck Conners, of Tourist Trap fame) shuts down all the fun. Riley and his cohorts liberate the nearby girls camp, and the fun begins. Partying, dancing, doing whatever the hell you want. A couple of Riley’s henchmen grab Chucky C. from the brig and take him to the rec hall, where a wild party is in session. Feast thine eyes, gramps!

 

While being escorted back, the Chuckmiester makes a break for it, and winds up getting accidentally stabbed to death.

 

As days pass, Riley becomes increasingly tyrannical. A boy rapes a girl, and Riley, to quell the anger among the girls, makes him shimmy across a broken down bridge, saying that if he makes it, he’ll survive. He makes it, but the girls carrying him off and lynch him in the woods.

 

Meanwhile, one of Reilly’s underlings, this nerdy little fuck named Donald, has second thoughts, and teams with this kid named Chris to overthrow Reilly. Donald is captured and made to walk the plank, arrr, but an anti-Reilly counterrevolution breaks out. Chris arrives with the police, and the movie ends with Reilly cooling his heels in the back of a cop car. Take that, you commie bastard.

 

I honestly did not expect something like this when I started watching. I saw the title, a tiny little version of the VHS cover (is that dude holding a gun? Sweet!). Suffice it to say, I was surprised…mostly in a good way. Though most of the cast had to be, like, seventeen or so, they did well, especially the dude who played Riley. He was able to convey his character’s sociopathy just by fucking existing. That’s a good actor.

 

Now, if you want to be anal, Summer Camp Nightmare is a pretty obvious ripoff of Lord of the Flies; I picked that vibe up just as soon as I saw which way the wind was blowing. I don’t mind that, just so long as the end result can stand on its own, and I think this movie does. It’s certainly not your typical eighties slasher fare. It’s nowhere near as profound as LOTF, to be sure, but it makes you think, if not about sociology, then about the basic premise: People forging their own, alien society in a familiar world; Americans cutoff from the rest of the world, left to themselves, living under their own rules. Fascinating, no? There’s a long history of that in this country, and it never fails to interest me, the idea of a society within a society. The mob, outlaw bikers, the Amish, hippie communes…all groups famous for going it alone, for building their own world with their own values, culture, and customs. And these groups aren’t out in some far-flung corner of the globe, they are here, in the good ole U.S of A, ostensibly governed by the same laws as us and apart of the same mooy-gooy melting pot. But they aren’t. They exist outside of our society. Here but not.

 

Or maybe I’m full of shit. That’s possible too.

The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Eleven: The Crazies (1973)

cray

George A. Romero is at his (commercial) best when he’s directing zombie movies. Maybe not Diary of the Dead, or Survival of the Dead, or…wasn’t there another one? I forget. I saw Diary of the Dead and pretty much bailed on Romero’s Dead Series. Though GAR is an icon in the horror community…he needs to hang it up. I mean, you can’t hit homeruns forever. Eventually you have to step down and rest on your lurals (unless you’re The Rolling Stones…those dudes will never retire).

 

Anyway, like I said, Romero’s most commercially successful movies have been about zombies. He may have done great movies not featuring zombies (Martin comes to mind), but zombies pay the bills, ya know?

 

Maybe Romero had that in mind when he did The Crazies. It’s not a zombie movie per se, but it is. It starts with an army cargo plane crashing in the hills surrounding a small town and releasing a biological agent that turns people…crazy, hence the title (it’s a horror movie, people, not rocket science). The army quickly moves in and quarantines the town while a small group of people led by a sheriff’s deputy attempt to escape. Romero is a master of building tension and exploring the human side of horror. While the military elements conduct themselves like full-fledged Blackshirts (and lesser minds simply see that and go “har har har, r-me bad!”), you quickly find out where they’re coming from: This bug could end life as we know it. It might be distasteful to round up and in some cases summarily execute American citizens, but you have to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet, and in this case, the omelet is called “NOT LETTING THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE FUCKING DIE.” Same thing happened in Stephen King’s The Stand. A government engineered superflu is released from a facility and spreads across the globe. In the earlier acts, the military goes full fascist, but it’s either that or everyone dies and end of story (their efforts were in vain).

 

Romero is deft at human conflict. He’s also great at creating characters that seem like total wastes of human space on the surface, but who, on further inspection, have a point. Think Harry Cooper in Night of the Living Dead. Cooper was abrasive and something of a bully, but he was right: The basement was the safest place to hide. Captain Rhodes in Day of the Dead was the same way. He seemed like a tyrannical fascist at first glance, but when you look a little more closely, you find that if he is a fascist, he’s the weakest, most limp-wristed fascist ever….and more reasonable than he’s given credit for. He’s an asshole, but he’s not 1D cartoon villain twirling his mustache and laughing about how dastardly he is.

 

But I digress. The Crazies is fascinating as both a horror film and a human drama. For me, the most memorable scene includes Richard Liberty (before he became Frankenstine) and onscreen daughter Lynn Lowry (who’s always in some funky shit)…getting a little too friendly, if you catch my drift. They were both infected and one thing led to another…you know how it is. I’ve read a few essays on the film that say he “attempted” to have sex with his daughter. Oh no. He totally did. Unless the blood on her thigh meant something else than a popped cherry…

 

The Crazies is, in my opinion, Romero’s third best zombie movie, behind Night, Dawn, and Day.

 

 

A movie the whole family can enjoy.

A movie the whole family can enjoy.