6 Good Horror Films That You May Not Have Seen Yet


Halloween City by Karl Pfieffer

Well, Halloween’s fast approaching and that means that it’s time for people to start thinking about what they’re going to watch on the big night.

Now, of course, you can always watch the old favorites, like Halloween or Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street (or any of their numerous sequels, remakes, and reboots).  In fact, if you’re expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters, I can understand why you might want to go with the old dependables as opposed to trying to focus on something that you haven’t seen before.

However, if you’re looking for a new film to watch on Halloween, here are 6 good horror films that, sadly, don’t seem to be as well-known as they deserve to be.  If any of these movies are new to you, October 31st might be just the day for you to experience them!

1. Strange Behavior (1981)

This is a horror film that I recommend to everyone.  It’s a slightly satirical story about college students being turned into homicidal murderers.  Along with all of the blood and the expected jump scenes, Strange Behavior is also a quirky portrait of life in a small town.  It’s the type of film where a collection of 1940s character actors (including the great Charles Lane) share the screen with 70s character actors like Michael Murphy and they all try to figure out how a seemingly dead scientist is programming the town’s children to be murderers.  The dialogue is frequently witty, the soundtrack is amazing, and there’s even an impromptu dance scene that comes out of nowhere!

2. Messiah of Evil (1973)

This is another film that I frequently recommend to my horror-loving friends.  This is perhaps the most surreal zombie/vampire film ever made.  A woman comes to a town to visit her father and she soon discovers that everyone in the town is acting strangely.  This one features plenty of hippie action, a surprisingly large amount of clips from a Sammy Davis, Jr. film, an albino who eats rats and talks about how much he loves “Wagner” (which he pronounces with a “W” instead of a “V”), and some of the strangest imagery that you’ll eve see in a low-budget horror film.

3. The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972)

Shirley MacClaine is a spoiler socialite who discovers that her younger brother, Perry King, has been possessed by the spirit of a murderer.  Though this film is often dismissed as being just another Exorcist clone, it actually came out before The Exorcist and, in many ways, it’s even more disturbing than the seminal shocker.  The ending will give you nightmares.

4. Martin (1977)

George Romero takes on vampires and the end result is unlike any vampire film that you’ve seen.  Martin thinks he’s a vampire.  His grandfather thinks he’s a vampire.  Is Martin really a vampire?  In the end, the film suggests that it might not really matter.  A disturbing and sad film that has unexpected moments of humor, Martin also features Romero himself in the role of a well-meaning priest.

5. The Grapes of Death (1978)

From the great Jean Rollin, it’s France’s first zombie film!  In this one, people are being turned into zombies by contaminated wine.  How many of your friends would become zombiefied as a result?

6. Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1983)

Finally, if you just have to watch a slasher this Halloween, why not check into the Mountaintop Motel?  Evelyn will be more than happy to check you in and check you right back out.

“Happy Halloween!”

Horror Film Review: Strange Behavior (a.k.a. Dead Kids) (dir by Michael Laughlin)


I want to tell you about one of my favorite horror films.  It’s a strange one and I think you might like it.

It’s a movie from 1981.  It was filmed in New Zealand, even though it takes place in a small town in the American midwest.  It was directed by Michael Laughlin and the screenplay was written by Bill Condon, who has since become a director of some note.  This was Condon’s first screenplay.  In Australia and Europe, this movie is known as Dead Kids.  In America, the title was changed to Strange Behavior.

Here, watch the trailer:

It’s a pretty good trailer, actually.  That said, as good as the trailer may be, it doesn’t even come close to revealing just what an odd film Strange Behavior actually is.  If David Lynch had followed up The Elephant Man by directing a slasher movie, chances are the end result would have looked something like Strange Behavior.

Here’s another scene that I want you watch.  It’s kind of a long scene, clocking in at 7 minutes.  But I want you to watch it because, in many ways, this scene is the epitome of Strange Behavior:

Strange Behavior is perhaps the only 80s slasher film to feature a totally random and totally choreographed dance number.  It comes out of nowhere but, in the world that this film creates, it somehow feels totally appropriate.  Of course, the nun is going to announce that she’s not wearing any underwear and then pretend to stab a guy in the back.  Of course, the cowboy’s going to throw up and then want to go out to his car with his date.  And of course, a bunch of people in costume are going to end up dancing to Lightnin’ Strikes.  In Strange Behavior, the strangest behavior is the only behavior that makes sense.

As for the film itself, it’s a mix of small town melodrama, slasher horror, and gentle satire.  Teenagers are being murdered by other teenagers and no one is sure why.  The chief of police, John Brady (played by character actor Michael Murphy, who gives a quietly authoritative performance that counters some of the weirdness of the rest of the movie), is trying to solve the crimes while trying to cope with the mysterious death of his wife.  His son, Pete (Dan Shor), is going to the local college, where classes are taught by a professor (Arthur Dignam) who died years ago but who filmed a few lectures before passing.  To make extra money, Pete does what many of the local teenagers do — he volunteers for medical experiments.  Researcher Gwen Parkinson (Fiona Lewis) oversees the experiments, handing out pills and occasionally administering a hypodermic needle to the eyes of a test subject.  Gwen is always cool, calm, and collected.  When one irate father draws a gun on her, Gwen quips, “I can’t stop you.  I don’t have a gun.”

But there’s more to this movie than just medical experiments and murder.  Strange Behavior is full of wonderfully eccentric supporting characters.  Other than John, there’s really nobody normal to be found in either the town or the movie.  Pete’s best friend, Oliver (Marc McClure), is cute and dorky.   Barbara (Louise Fletcher) just wants to marry John and live in a town where dead bodies don’t turn up in the middle of corn fields, propped up like scarecrows.  John’s best friend and fellow cop, Donovan (Charles Lane), has been around forever and has a great, no-nonsense approach to even the strangest of things.  When it becomes obvious that John is not going to be able to solve the murders on his own, big city cop Shea (Scott Brady) shows up and wanders ineffectually through the movie, spitting out hard-boiled dialogue like a refugee from a 1930s gangster flick.  And finally, receptionist Caroline (Dey Young) sits at her desk in the clinic, gossiping about the patients and smoking cigarette after cigarette.  Caroline is probably the smartest person in the movie.  As an administrative assistant, I appreciated that.

It’s an odd little movie, which is why I love it.  Laughlin, Condon, and the entire cast created a world where everything is just a little off-center.  It makes for terrifically entertaining and weird movie, one that works as both satire and straight horror.

Strange Behavior is a film that deserves to much better known than it currently is so my advice is go watch it and then tell you friends to watch it too.

6 More Terrorific Trailers


Hi there!  It’s time for yet another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation film trailers!  Today, we’ve got six trailers that are terrorific!

Now, I know what you’re saying.

You’re saying, “Dammit, Bowman, terrorific is not a word.”

Well you know what?

It so totally is a word.

And with that settled, here’s this week’s collection of trailers!

1) Strange Behavior (1981)

This is one of my favorite films of all time!  This is a horror film that includes zombies, knife-wielding maniacs, and an elaborate dance number for no particular reason.  What more could you want?


2) The Beast Within (1982)

Agck!  This film is so scary that its trailer starts out with a warning!

3) Holy Terror (1976)

This trailer features a truly terrorific mask.


4) Sisters (1973)

Someday, me and the Dazzling Erin are going to star in a remake of this film.

5) Rawhead Rex (1986)

I’m tempted to make a really tasteless comment about the title of this film…

6) The Lift (1983)

Agck!  This trailer makes me glad that I always take the stairs at work.  Cardio for the win!

What do you think, Trailer Kitty?

6 Trailers From The Girl With Bronchitis


The girl with bronchitis would be me and, I have to admit, I nearly didn’t do a trailer post this week because I was feeling so bad.  However, then I had to stay home from the Richardson, Texas Christmas Parade for the first time in like forever and I thought to myself, “Bronchitis took away my parade but it won’t take away my trailer post!”  So, on that defiant note, here’s the latest edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers.

1) Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker (1992)

Since it’s the Christmas season and I featured the trailer for Silent Night, Deadly Night last week, I wanted to include the trailer for Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 in this edition.  Unfortunately, a YouTube search for Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 just led to me seeing a lot of video clips of this guy going, “Garbage Day!”  However, I did finally find this trailer for Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker.

2) Moon 44 (1990)

Before Roland Emmerich made the worst film 2011, he made this film.

3) Strange Invaders (1983)

From the same people who brought you Strange Behavior.

4) Leviathan (1989)

Agck!  Underwater horror.

5) Ghost in the Machine (1993)

I saw this on HBO when I was like 11 or 12.  I’ve been scared of microwaves ever since.

6) From Hell It Came (1957)

Finally, here’s some old school tree-related horror with From Hell It Came.

6 More Wonderful Trailers


Here’s the latest installment of my series on some of my favorite grindhouse and exploitation trailers.

1) Death Has Blue Eyes This is actually a really, really bad Greek movie, a movie that is not only generally incoherent but deadly dull as well.  Of course, some of my reaction has to do with the fact that I’ve only seen a scratchy, fuzzy version of it on an imported VHS tape.  This film is also known as The Para-Psychics but I think Death Has Blue Eyes sounds so much better, don’t you?

2) Massacre Mafia Style — I haven’t seen this movie and, unlike Death Has Blue Eyes, coming across the trailer didn’t fill me with any real desire to track it down.  I really don’t even care much for the trailer but I’m including it here because its just so over-the-top and violent.  How many people get killed over the course of this trailer?  I lost count.

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3) The Boogeyman (1980) — This is actually a pretty good and atmospheric little horror film.  Not to be confused with the terrible Barry Watson movie that came out a couple of years ago.

4) The Pack — This trailer once again establishes that I am right to be scared of dogs.  According to my paternal grandmother, Joe Don Baker is somehow related to me but I’ve never been sure how.   I’ve always been more interested in just how exactly grandma became a Joe Don Baker fan.

5) Switchblade Sisters — One of the ultimate “girl gang” films and a perfect example of how a movie can both be grindhouse and feminist at the same time.  I love this movie.

6) Strange Behavior — Finally, let’s wrap up this installment with the trailer for one of the greatest film’s ever made, 1981’s Strange Behavior (a.k.a. Dead Kids).

10 (Plus) Of My Favorite DVD Commentary Tracks


It seems like I’m always taking a chance when I listen to a DVD commentary track.  Occasionally, a commentary track will make a bad film good and a good film even better.  Far too often, however, listening to a bad or boring commentary track will so totally ruin the experience of watching one of my favorite movies that I’ll never be able to enjoy that movie in the same way again.  I’ve learned to almost always involve any commentary track that involves anyone credited as being an “executive producer.”  They always want to tell you every single detail of what they had to do to raise the money to make the film.  Seriously, executive producers suck. 

However, there are more than a few commentary tracks that I could listen to over and over again.  Listed below are a few of them.

10) Last House On The Left (The Original) — Apparently, there’s a DVD of this film that features a commentary track in which stars David Hess and Fred Lincoln nearly come to blows while debating whether or not this movie should have been made.  The DVD I own doesn’t feature that commentary but it does feature a track featuring writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham.  The thing that I love about their commentary is that they both just come across as such nice, kinda nerdy guys.  You look at the disturbing images onscreen and then you hear Cunningham saying, “We shot this scene in my mom’s backyard.  There’s her swimming pool…”  Both Craven and Cunningham are remarkably honest about the film’s shortcomings (at one point, Craven listens to some of his more awkward dialogue and then says, “Apparently, I was obsessed with breasts…”) while, at the same time, putting the film’s controversy into the proper historical context.

9) Burnt Offerings — When Burnt Offerings, which is an occasionally interesting haunted house movie from 1976, was released on DVD, it came with a commentary track featuring director Dan Curtis, star Karen Black, and the guy who wrote the movie.  This commentary track holds a strange fascination for me because it, literally, is so mind-numbingly bad that I’m not convinced that it wasn’t meant to be some sort of parody of a bad commentary track.   It’s the commentary track equivalent of a car crash.  Curtis dominates the track which is a problem because he comes across like the type of grouchy old man that Ed Asner voiced in Up before his house floated away.  The screenwriter, whose name I cannot bring myself to look up, bravely insists that there’s a lot of nuance to his painfully simple-minded script.  Karen Black, meanwhile, tries to keep things positive.  The high point of the commentary comes when Black points out that one actor playing a menacing chauffeur is giving a good performance (which he is, the performance is the best part of the movie).  She asks who the actor is.  Curtis snaps back that he doesn’t know and then gets testy when Black continues to praise the performance.  Finally, Curtis snaps that the actor’s just some guy they found at an audition.  Actually, the actor is a veteran character actor named Anthony James who has accumulated nearly 100 credits and had a prominent supporting role in two best picture winners (In the Heat of the Night and Unforgiven).

8 ) Cannibal Ferox — This is a good example of a really unwatchable movie that’s made watchable by an entertaining commentary track.  The track is actually made up of two different tracks, one with co-star Giovanni Lombardo Radice and one with director Umberto Lenzi.  Lenzi loves the film and, speaking in broken English, happily defends every frame of it and goes so far as to compare the movie to a John Ford western.  The wonderfully erudite Radice, on the other hand, hates the movie and spends his entire track alternatively apologizing for the movie and wondering why anyone would possibly want to watch it.  My favorite moment comes when Radice, watching the characters onscreen move closer and closer to their bloody doom, says, “They’re all quite stupid, aren’t they?”

7) Race With The Devil Race with the Devil is an obscure but enjoyable drive-in movie from the 70s.  The DVD commentary is provided by costar Lara Parker who, along with providing a lot of behind-the-scenes information, also gets memorably catty when talking about some of her costars.  And, let’s be honest, that’s what most of us want to hear during a DVD commentary.

6) Anything featuring Tim Lucas — Tim Lucas is the world’s foremost authority on one of the greatest directors ever, Mario Bava.  Anchor Bay wisely recruited Lucas to provide commentary for all the Bava films they’ve released on DVD and, even when it comes to some of Bava’s lesser films, Lucas is always informative and insightful.  Perhaps even more importantly, Lucas obviously enjoys watching these movies as much as the rest of us.  Treat yourself and order the Mario Bava Collection Volume 1 and Volume 2.

5) Tropic Thunder — The commentary track here is provided by the film’s co-stars, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Robert Downey, Jr.  What makes it great is that Downey provides his commentary in character as Sgt. Osiris and spends almost the entire track beating up on Jack Black.  This is a rare case of a great movie that has an even greater commentary track.

4) Strange Behavior — This wonderfully offbeat slasher film from 1981 is one of the best movies that nobody seems to have heard of.  For that reason alone, you need to get the DVD and watch it.  Now.  As an added bonus, the DVD comes with a lively commentary track featuring co-stars Dan Shor and Dey Young and the film’s screenwriter, Bill Condon (who is now the director that Rob Marshall wishes he could be).  Along with providing a lot of fascinating behind-the-scenes trivia, the three of them also discuss how Young ended up getting seduced by the film’s star (Michael Murphy, who was several decades older), how shocked Condon was that nobody on the set seemed to realize that he’s gay, and why American actors have so much trouble speaking in any accent other than their own.  Most memorable is Young remembering the experience of sitting in a theater, seeing herself getting beaten up onscreen, and then listening as the people sitting around her cheered.

3) Imaginationland — As anyone who has ever listened to their South Park commentaries knows, Matt Stone and Trey Parker usually only offer up about five minutes of commentary per episode before falling silent.  Fortunately, those five minutes are usually hilarious and insightful.  Not only are Parker and Stone remarkably candid when talking about the strengths and weaknesses of their work but they also obviously enjoy hanging out with each other.  With the DVD release of South Park’s Imaginationland trilogy, Matt and Trey attempted to record a “full” 90-minute commentary track.  For the record, they manage to talk for 60 minutes before losing interest and ending the commentary.  However, that track is the funniest, most insightful 60 minutes that one could hope for.

2) Donnie Darko — The original DVD release of Donnie Darko came with 2 wonderful commentary tracks.  The first one features Richard Kelley and Jack Gyllenhaal, talking about the very metaphysical issues that the film addresses.  Having listened to the track, I’m still convinced that Kelley pretty much just made up the film as he went along but its still fascinating to the hear everything that was going on his mind while he was making the film.  However, as good as that first track is, I absolutely love and adore the second one because it features literally the entire cast of the movie.  Seriously, everyone from Drew Barrymore to Jena Malone to Holmes Osborne to the guy who played Frank the Bunny is featured on this track.  They watch the film, everyone comments on random things, and it’s difficult to keep track of who is saying what.  And that’s part of the fun.  It’s like watching the film at a party full of people who are a lot more interesting, funny, and likable than your own actual friends.

1) The Beyond — This movie, one of the greatest ever made, had one of the best casts in the history of Italian horror and the commentary here features two key members of that cast — Catriona MacColl and the late (and wonderful) David Warbeck.  The commentary, which I believe was actually recorded for a laserdisc edition of the film (though, to be honest, I’ve never actually seen a “laserdisc” and I have my doubts as to whether or not they actually ever existed), was recorded in 1997, shortly after the death of director Lucio Fulci and at a time when Warbeck himself was dying from cancer.  (Warbeck would pass away two weeks after recording this commentary).  This makes this commentary especially poignant.  Warbeck was, in many ways, the human face of Italian exploitation, a talented actor who probably deserved to be a bigger star but who was never ashamed of the films he ended up making.  This commentary — in which MacColl and Warbeck quite cheerfully recall discuss making this underrated movie — is as much a tribute to Warbeck as it is to Fulci.  Highpoint: MacColl pointing out all the scenes in which Warbeck nearly made her break out laughing.  My personal favorite is the scene (which made it into the final film) where Warbeck attempts to load a gun by shoving bullets down the barrel.  The wonderful thing about this track is that Warbeck and MacColl enjoy watching it too.