Blood Harvest (1987)

Blood Harvest (1987) UK VHS cover

director  Bill Rebane
viewed: 07/03/2018

Tiny Tim Wayne Gacy.

A certain type of person, ie me, has a film like Blood Harvest on a bucket list.

A killer and sexual sadist using fast-acting chloroform is troubling a small Wisconsin town. A town, already troubled by the repossession of many family farms by a local capitalist. But more than anything he’s troubling Jill (Itonia Salchek) who has returned home to find her parents missing and an old flame brooding. (The old flame (Dean West) vaguely looks like Jeffrey Combs when he’s pouting.)

And middle-aged Tiny Tim, prancing about in clown make-up, apparently gone dotty over the slaughtering of family pets.  He’s genuinely disturbing, or maybe just annoying.

The film, though turns out to be essentially one about a demented stalker, an obsessed young man tormenting his fixation (Jill) and all of those around her. Their relationship is actually creepy in a real way.

As a slasher, it’s pure oddity, from the mind of Bill Rebane and the farmlands of the Badger State.

Don’t Go in the Woods (1981)

Don't Go in the Woods (1981) movie poster

director James Bryan
viewed: 06/13/2018

I’m just going with my random notes for my Don’t Go in the Woods write-up.

Despite the cheapness, the folks seem like genuine annoying regular people stuck in each other’s miserable company.

Dick and Cherry and the love van.

The comedy is a sight scarier than the scares.

Even without the killings, could be a good “why to never go camping“ movie.

Quite misanthropic and critical societal constructs – terrible law enforcement.

The color pink.

The comedy at the expense of the wheelchair guy is really odd.

Surprisingly prototypical for backwoods horror redneck stuff.

Night School (1981)

Night School (1981) movie poster

director  Ken Hughes
viewed: 06/06/2018

Night School is a  1981 slasher that plays more like an American giallo. Shot in Boston, the film makes great use of the city, a pretty, but gritty place that I wonder if it’s still recognizable today.

The script by Ruth Avergon highlights a classic trope of toxic masculinity, the lecherous professor who sleeps with all of his female students. Drew Snyder is quite the Frasier Crane type (they could be brothers), and he’s got girls from his school showing up around Boston with their heads all chopped off, and oddly enough left in water.

Leonard Mann is the cop on this case. With Joseph R. Sicari as his Armenian, wise-cracking underling. A very gorgeous Rachel Ward is the professor’s main squeeze.

The killer is a motorcycle-riding figure in all black, with some pretty creative means of decapitation with a fancy Nepalese knife.

There’s a lot to like here. At least for me.

Daughter of Dracula (1972)

Daughter of Dracula (1972) movie poster

director Jesús Franco
viewed: 05/02/2018

Daughter of Dracula is a little confusebslls but what good Jesús Franco flick isn’t? It does, however, feature a more substantial acting role for Jess than in a lot of other films of his.

What is it about Jesús Franco that makes him compelling? Not simply that he cranked out movies prodigiously more than competently. Per IMDb, Daughter of Dracula is one of nine films he directed in 1972 alone. He displays sometimes amateurish skills, heightened by passion and aesthetics, often incoherent but sometimes cohesive yet still inconsistent. 

A lot of people seem to see Daughter of Dracula as more giallo than horror. True, it’s got a detective working a series of killings. It’s also got a girl turned vampire upon her mother’s deathbed confession relating a family history and then, yes, Dracula (Franco stalwart Howard Vernon). And lesbian sex scenes.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Franco. I just can’t articulate why exactly.

Beyond the Darkness (1979)

Beyond the Darkness (1979) movie poster

director Joe D’Amato
viewed: 04/13/2018

The things we do for love…

Joe D’Amato’s Beyond the Darkness takes several elements of Hitchcock’s Psycho to their logical(?) extremes. With a few twists and turns. And a dead baboon.

Unlike fellow taxidermist Norman Bates, Frank Wyler (Kieran Canter) had a real life love. But she is killed via voodoo by Iris (Franca Stoppi), his housekeeper-cum-wet nurse. Frank and Iris’s relationship is far more wrought and perverse than Norman and his mother’s. Iris understands when she finds that Frank has uninterred his dead wife, pulled out her guts, has eaten her heart, and taxidermied her. She’s also cool with the killing and dissolving of other women Frank brings home.

At heart, Beyond the Darkness is a love story, or a twist of two love stories, mixed with hatred, jealousies, retributions, and an inevitable dance toward mutual death.

Nightmares Come at Night (1972)

Nightmares Come at Night (1972)

director Jesús Franco
viewed: 03/26/2018

The nonsensical montage that runs through the title sequence of Nightmares Come at Night is quite the preview of the nonsense to come in the film.

It’s psychedelia-cum-psychosis-cum-psych-out. A psychotic break as art film and artsy nudity. And Jess Franco at his most narratively challenged and still primed on LSD?

Amazingly awful English dub, both in words and acting rounds this one out.

“Life is all shit”

Indeed.

Raw Force (1982)

Raw Force (1982) movie poster

director Edward D. Murphy
viewed: 03/09/2018

Raw Force is The Karate Kid‘s older brother who took a lot of PCP, hung out with the wrong crowd from the Burbank Kung Fu Club in a room covered with posters from girly magazines while scarfing Filipino junk food. And dabbled in human trafficking and cannibalism.

Also, monks and zombies? A Nazi villain? And the most unflappable exotic dancer of all time.

“God forbid we should run out of liquor.”

Truly, one for the ages.

The Final Terror (1983)

The Final Terror (1983) movie poster

director Andrew Davis
viewed: 02/12/2018

Yeah, Rachel Ward, Daryl Hannah, Joe Pantoliano, Akosua Busia, and Adrian Zmed are notable names in The Final Terror, but my first person of note was, “Hey, that’s the dad from the Twisted Sister video!” And sure enough Mark Metcalf it is. And though he’s had quite the career and been in lots of other stuff, I find him most recognizable from “We’re Not Going to Take It”.

Director Andrew Davis seemed maybe less intent on a slasher film and maybe more on a thriller. Because, though there are lots of elements of the former, the film plays out a lot more like the latter. And considering the career that Davis went on to, like The Fugitive (1993), this doesn’t seem too surprising. In fact, it kind of makes sense.

I guess I had the benefit of encountering the cleaned-up version of this film, because I wasn’t aware of muddy night shots but was rather impressed with the camerawork and cinematography. Davis really got the most out of the redwoods setting of this backwoods horrorshow. And he also got the benefit of some fine casting. I actually thought John Friedrich, who apparently quit acting after this film, was good too.

Nightmares (1980)

Nightmares (1980) print ad

director John D. Lamond
viewed: 02/08/2018

It can be hard to get your Nightmares straight. Such a generic title has fallen on many a movie. This Nightmares is from 1980 Australia, a slasher-cum-giallo featuring a killer with a penchant for shards of glass.

Like a more classic slasher, killer Cathy (Jenny Neumann), punishes fornicators. Her Freudian moment came early at life (and early in the film), catching her mum being sexually active and then causing the car crash that killed her.  Sex and death, sex and death, sex and death.

It’s decent stuff, if also rather unremarkable. This Nightmares may continue to get mixed up with other Nightmares…for me anyways.

Demons 2 (1986)

Demons 2 (1986) movie poster

director  Lamberto Bava
viewed: 01/31/2018

Kooktacular.

Meta-horror moves from the movie theater into the home via television in Lamberto Bava’s sequel, Demons 2.

Watching horror films apparently makes them come to life in mid-Eighties Berlin. At least we have a pretty solid “alternative music” (what it was briefly dubbed round about that time) soundtrack to go die to.

A lot of people seem to diss or dismiss this movie, but I thought it was hilarious and entertaining.