Artwork of the Day: America 3000


America!

Back toe beginning?  Of just the country or of humanity itself?  Judging from this poster, it looks like both.  Are there any post-nuke adventures that aren’t outrageous?  It’s a legitimate question, I think.

Anyway, this is a poster for a film that came out in 1989.

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Artwork of the Day: Terror From Under The House


This poster is for a 1971 film called Terror From Under The House.  I haven’t actually seen this film.  Normally, I would look at this poster and assume that it must be about a monster living in a basement but this is 70s exploitation that were talking about.  Just because its featured on the poster doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to be in the film.

Apparently, Terror From Under The House was just one of the many titles used by this film.  It’s also known as:

  1. Revenge
  2. Behind the Cellar Door
  3. After Jenny Died
  4. Inn of the Frightened People
  5. I ekdikisis (which means “The Revenge” in Greek)
  6. Il passo dell’assassino (which means “The Killer Steps” in Italian)
  7. Miedo sangriento (“Bloody Fear” in Spanish)
  8. Violence en Sous-Sol (“Violence in the Basement” in French)

The main thing that I noticed about this poster was that apparently, audiences were forced to accept the “Free Screaming Teeth of Terror” as proof that this movie was so frightening that watching it could lead to death.  I’m not sure what exactly that means but this film was rated PG so, honestly, how scary could it be?

Someday, I’ll watch it and let you know.

Artwork of the Day: The Bonnie Parker Story


 

This poster is for the 1958 film, The Bonnie Parker Story.  That’s right — this film predates the better known Bonnie and Clyde by about 9 years.  Dorothy Provine was cast in the title role and, judging from this poster, it looks like her Bonnie was even more dangerous than Faye Dunaway’s!  Apparently, in this film (which I haven’t seen yet), Clyde was renamed Guy.

(Bonnie and Guy doesn’t quite have the right ring to it, does it?)

Anyway, it’s a good poster, one that is direct and in your face.  That’s something I always appreciate about any film poster.  Plus, there’s that tag line!

Cigar smoking hellcat of the roaring twenties!

Hell yeah!  Now that’s a tag line!

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: I Don’t Want To Be Born (dir by Peter Sasdy)


“I don’t want to be born!”

“That’s too bad, kid!  YOU’RE COMING OUT!”

Now, admittedly, that dialogue is never heard in the 1975 British horror film, I Don’t Want To Be Born.  However, if I had heard that particularly exchange in this film, I would not have been surprised.  That’s just the type of movie that I Don’t Want To Be Born is.  It’s a thoroughly ludicrous, totally ridiculous movie and what makes it all the more memorable is that it doesn’t seem to realize how silly it all is.  This is a batshit crazy movie that tells its story in the most serious way possible.  This damn film is almost somber, it’s so serious.

Lucy (played by Joan Collins) is a stripper who performs her act with a perverted dwarf named Hercules (George Claydon).  When Hercules tries to force himself on Lucy, he is tossed out of the club by Tommy (who is played by John Steiner, a good actor who somehow always turned up in movies like this one.)  After she and Tommy make love, Lucy is confronted by Hercules who curses her, telling her that she will have a baby “as big as I am small and possessed by the devil himself!”

Oh, Hercules, you weirdo.

9 months later, Lucy’s life has somehow completely changed.  She’s no longer a dancer.  Now, she’s married to a rich Italian named Gino (played by Ralph Bates, speaking in a bizarre accent).  When Lucy has her baby, it’s a long and difficult delivery.  The baby is huge!  Not only is he huge, but he also has a bad temper and unnaturally sharp nails.  The first time that Lucy holds him, he attacks her.  Whenever the baby is introduced to anyone new, he responds by biting them.  When Tommy drops by to take a look at the baby that might be his son, he ends up with a bloody nose!

But that’s not all this baby can do!  Anytime he’s left alone in a room, the room ends up getting destroyed.  Eventually, he apparently figures out how to climb trees and how efficiently slip a noose around the neck of anyone who walks underneath him.  And don’t think that you can escape this baby simply because you’re taller and faster.  One unfortunate person is decapitated, even though he’s standing at the time.  How did the baby reach his neck?  Who knows?

Does this baby need an exorcism?  Lucy’s sister-in-law, Sister Albana (Eileen Atkins), certainly believes that it does!  As Lucy thinks about whether the baby’s behavior is in any way odd, she glances over at the baby and — OH MY GOD!  The baby has Hercules’s face!

And it just keeps going from there.  Again, I feel the need to repeat that this film is meant to be taken very seriously.  The script may be full of awkward and clichéd dialogue but most of the cast attempts to act the Hell out of it.  Speaking of the cast, there’s a lot of familiar horror people in this one.  Along with John Steiner, there’s also Caroline Munro and Donald Pleasence.  Those three give performances that somehow manage to remain credible, perhaps because they had the experience necessary to understand what type of movie they were in.  But the rest of the cast … you feel bad for them because they’re just trying  so hard.

It’s a terrible movie but it’s so weird that I have to recommend that everyone see it once.  If for nothing else, see it for the scene where Hercules responds to an attempt to exorcise the baby by swaying drunkenly on the stage.  It’s weird and it’s hard for mere words to do it justice.

“No wonder this baby didn’t want to be born!”

That line is also nowhere to be found in this movie.  It’d be nice if it was, though.

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Hard To Die (dir by Jim Wynorski)


 

Do you remember how, a few days ago, I reviewed a silly little movie called Sorority House Massacre II?

Well, it turns out that there’s a sequel and it’s on YouTube!  Both films were directed by Jim Wynorski and featured pretty much the same cast, despite the fact that a few of them were playing new characters.  It was released under several different titles.  Hard To Die is the one that I’m going with for this review.  However, the film was also known as Tower of Terror, which makes sense when you consider that the majority of the film takes place in a hi-rise office building.  It was also apparently released in some places as Sorority House Massacre III, despite the fact that there’s no sorority house in the movie.

Actually, it’s debatable whether or not Hard To Die is actually a sequel.  It’s true that Orville Ketchum (Peter Spellos) does make another appearance.  In the first movie, Orville was the creepy neighbor.  In Hard To Die, he’s the janitor at the office building.  Orville tells the exact same story, with the exact same flashbacks, that he told in Sorority House Massacre II.  (Those flashbacks, of course, were lifted from a totally unrelated movie called Slumber Party Massacre.  There were apparently a lot of massacres in the 80s and 90s.)  The evil spirit of Hockstadder returns as well, though this time he comes flying out of a box that was accidentally delivered to the office building as opposed to a Ouija board.  And, of course, there’s an abundance of lingerie, awkward dialogue, and cheap gore effects.  (At one point, a bucket of fake blood is literally splashed on a wall.)  However, Hard To Die also tells almost exactly the same story of Sorority House Massacre II.  There are so few differences that I’m actually more tempted to say that Hard To Die is a remake of Sorority House Massacre II than a sequel.  The only problem with that theory is whether or not a second movie can be considered remake when the first movie literally came out the exact same year.

(One of the reasons that I love my work here at the TSL is that it allows me to obsess over minutia like this.)

Anyway, the main difference between Hard To Die and Sorority House Massacre III is that there’s no sorority house in Hard To Die.  Instead, Hard To Die takes place in a lingerie shop that just happens to be located on the 7th floor of a skyscraper.  The hard-working employees are spending the weekend doing inventory but it’s not going to well.  For one thing, the sprinklers accidentally go off so everyone decides to take off their wet clothes, put on skimpy lingerie, and order pizza.  Personally, I probably would have waited for the pizza to arrive before getting naked but then again, I’ve never worked retail or dated a pizza deliveryman.

The pizza does eventually arrive but no one gets to eat it because the deliveryperson gets set on fire and ends up falling several floors to her death.  That’s a waste of good pizza, which is kind of depressing.  Meanwhile, Orville keeps trying to warn everyone about Hockstadder but, instead, he keeps getting beaten up.  The end credits of Hard To Die promised that the next film would be called Orville In Orbit.  Apparently, it was never made but I do hope that Orville got a vacation after all of this.

Anyway, Hard To Die is an extremely silly movie but it’s just so sincere in its silliness that it feels somewhat churlish to be too critical of it.  If I had to choose whether to be in Sorority House Massacre II or Hard To Die, I would probably pick Hard To Die because, at least in that movie, I’d get to shoot a machine gun.  Hard To Die is so blatantly and unapologetically over the top that you can’t help but be amused by it all.

6 Trailers For Halloween


Welcome the final October edition of Lisa Marie’s Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!

I’ve enjoyed reviving this feature for October.  I’m not totally sure if I’ll continue it because, as I said way back at the start of the month, there are only so many trailers on YouTube and I don’t want to spend too much time repeating myself.  We’ll see!

These are trailers for 6 of my favorite horror films:

  1. Lisa and the Devil (1973)

From the great director, Mario Bava.  This film is like a cinematic dream.  Plus, the main character is named Lisa!

2. Suspiria (1977)

This trailer is creepy, though it really doesn’t do the film justice.  Check out my review here!

3. The Shining (1980)

This is one of the few films that scares me no matter how many times I watch it.

4. Near Dark (1987)

Vampires in Texas!  Hell yeah!

5. Two Orphan Vampires (1997)

From the brilliant Jean Rollin.

6. The Cabin In The Woods (2011)

I don’t care how many hipster douchebags disagree.  This movie is absolutely brilliant.

Happy Halloween!

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Sorority House Massacre II (dir by Jim Wynorski)


Some movies just force the viewer to ask, “What would you do?”

I mean, just consider what it would be like to be in the scenario that’s presented to us in the 1990 film, Sorority House Massacre II.  You’re a college student.  You’ve got your entire future ahead of you.  The president of your sorority has just purchased a new sorority house and she wants you and three others to spend the weekend helping her fix the place up.

You arrive at the house and you discover that it’s literally on the verge of collapsing.  There’s no electricity.  There’s no telephone.  (And remember, this is back when people just used landlines.)  There’s no hot water.  Soon after arriving, you’re informed that there’s two reasons why the house was being sold at such a cheap price.

First off, there’s the neighbor.  He’s a creepy, kinda pervy-looking guy named Orville Ketchum.  When Orville comes over to meet his new neighbors, he announces that he has the keys to the basement.  He reaches into his pants to retrieve them.  Ewwww!

Secondly, it turns out that the house isn’t just any deserted house.  It’s the old Hockstadder Place!  Years ago, Mr. Hockstadder killed his daughters before dying.  Orville witnessed the whole thing.  As he tells the story, you might notice that the flashbacks are lifted from a film called Slumber Party Massacre, despite the fact that you’re starring in Sorority House Massacre II.

Despite all of that, you still enter the house.  A storm is rolling in and, whenever you look out the window, you see the same lightning stock footage that has appeared in a countless number of cheap horror movies.

When you and your friends decide to explore the basement, you find a Ouija board.  You know that Ouija boards can be dangerous but everyone else wants to run upstairs and use it.  Someone suggests that maybe the board can be used to contact the spirit of Hockstadder.  After all, according to Orville, Hockstadder swore that his murderous spirit would never leave the house and would possess anyone who tried to move in.

At this point, you have two options.

Do you say, “Okay, obviously, it’s not a good idea to contact the spirit of a murderer — especially one that said he would possess anyone who tries to contact him — so I’m going to go ahead and leave now?”

or

Do you light some candles, strip down to your underwear in front of a bunch of open windows (despite the fact that weird old Orville is right across the street), sit on a filthy floor, and try to communicate with the spirit of a homicidal maniac?

The smart option would be the first one so, of course, the characters in Sorority House Massacre II do the exact opposite.  Then again, nobody in Sorority House Massacre II appears to be that smart.  For one thing, they’re all in their 30s and they have yet to graduate college.  Trust me, I wish I could have stayed in college forever but, at some point, you really do have to either graduate or drop out.  Tuition’s not cheap.

Anyway, Sorority House Massacre II is one of those movies that just amuses me to death.  There’s absolutely nothing subtle about it.  It’s such a blatant exploitation film that you can’t help but admire it for not pretending to be something that it isn’t.  (At the same time, it’s rather tame when compared to the movies that we’re used to today.  Whenever someone is killed, obviously fake blood is squirted on a wall.)  This may be a stupid movie but it’s very sincere in its stupidity and there’s something to be said for that.

Add to that, Peter Spellos is memorably weird as Orville.  The way he delivers his lines makes Orville into the neighbor that everyone would dread having next door.  In the end, though, it’s a good thing that Orville was there.

Finally, there is one surprisingly effective moment.  The movie starts with the “final girl” huddled in a dark room, begging the unseen killer to remember who they are.  The movie then flashes back to that morning, with the girls standing in front of the house.  The abrupt cut from darkness to the bright and sunny morning is surprisingly effective and feels almost dream-like.  Though one gets the feeling it was probably unintentional, it’s still works far better than you’d expect.