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


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.

Turkey Shoot (1982)

Turkey Shoot (1982) movie poster

director Brian Trenchard-Smith
viewed: 01/23/2018

Quintessential Ozploitation from Brian Trenchard-Smith, the most likely auteur of the genre. Turkey Shoot is admittedly derivative of I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang and The Most Dangerous Game, but in a dystopian future and a lot of random nudity and dismemberment.

In other words, quintessential Ozploitation.

Also, Olivia Hussey: so gorgeous.

The Alchemist Cookbook (2016)

The Alchemist Cookbook (2016) movie poster

director Joel Potrykus
viewed: 12/29/2017

Interesting and off-beat, The Alchemist Cookbook is not bad. Though there are only a couple of characters, the narrative is intentionally oblique. Which I usually like. But here it feels like something is missing.

I don’t know.

Succubus (1968)

Succubus (1968) movie poster

director Jesús Franco
viewed: 12/29/2017

It’s worth noting that it was LSD that opened Federico Fellini to his embrace of surreal fantasy.

Janine Reynaud, who would go onto star in Jess Franco’s Sadist Erotica and Kiss Me Monster, leads here in Succubus, Franco’s great leap from Spanish cinematic censorship into pop avant-garde. That and tapping deeply into his own obsessions and eccentricities.

S&M theater, the most Jess Franco of Jess Franco scenarios opens this picture which blues into slightly trippy surrealism and free association nonsense. Quite evocative if also kind of tedious, Succubus isn’t so much Franco’s 8 1/2, but might be quite formative in his rapacious cinematic outpouring.

Screamers (1995)

Screamers (1995) movie poster

director Christian Duguay
viewed: 12/16/2017

1995’s Screamers has got a lot going for it, so its failure is kinda disappointing.  Though highly bastardized, the plot emanated from a Philip K. Dick story, the first version of the script by Dan O’Bannon. And you’ve got Peter Weller, still warm from his RoboCop movies. And the story is kind of interesting, with these evolving killing machines.

Screamers is such a 90’s movie, in its strengths and weaknesses, the latter being not just poor execution but a reliance on non-top of the line digital effects in an era when top of the line digital effects already look dated and cheap.

I saw this back in the day, and I think my feelings about it are about the same.

“It’s not an animal, it’s an upgrade.”

The Wraith (1986)

The Wraith (1986) movie poster

director Mike Marvin
viewed: 12/16/2017

I think I’ve found the inspiration for every episode of Regular Show. Creator J. G. Quintel’s entire aesthetic is based on the 1980’s: pumpin’ hair rock numbers, supernatural or extraterrestrial intrigue, and cars. While there are doubtless many such touchpoints, 1986’s The Wraith has it all in spades.

Kicking off with an awesome opening of celestial lights zooming across the the high desert cactus-studded night, it almost seems like The Wraith is going to be good stuff. When all that culminates into a motorcycle-helmeted figure and fantasy racing car, I guess unless you’re J.G. Quintel, you’re going to wind up disappointed.

It’s got an interesting cast. Two of Hollywood’s now insane tweakers, Charlie Sheen and Randy Quaid appear, the latter a decent actor. There’s also Nick Cassavetes and Sherilyn Fenn, but the best performance is by Clint Howard’s hair.

While it’s definitely not great, I liked aspects of The Wraith. The specificity of its locations, the desert roads, the burger shop, the swimming hole, the airplane graveyard, all offer a character to the enterprise. I could imagine someone who saw this at a certain point in their life finding it to be their favorite movie (I’m looking at you, J.G. Quintel!!!)

For the rest of us? Who knows?

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

director Shinya Tsukamoto
viewed: 12/06/2017

They don’t make ’em like they used to.

Shinya Tsukamoto’s bombast bomb blast of body horror surrealist industrial phantasmagoria, Tetsuo: The Iron Man not only holds up almost 30 years later, but in my viewing, is even better.

The last time I saw Tetsuo was in film school back in the Nineties. Though visual images, ideas, and impressions were deeply emblazoned on my brain, I had really forgotten what a radical visual effects, editing, and pacing of the film. Also, how little explication is given to the narrative.

I love moviemaking that incorporates so much such tactile techniques. This is totally 16mm film and from the stop-motion animations and other pre-digital effects, you can almost feel the crew making this with their hands on the actual film. When editing was editing actual celluloid strips of photo-exposed images.