Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.19 “The Eighth Seal” (dir by Jon Cassar)


Tonight’s episode of Baywatch Nights, The Eighth Seal, was originally broadcast on April 26th, 1997 and it features David Hasselhoff getting possessed.

You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen David Hasselhoff play possessed.


Cinemax Friday: Operation Cobra (1997, directed by Fred Olen Ray)

Interpol agent Kyle Connors (kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson) is sent into a tailspin when his partner, Trevor (Rick Hill), is apparently killed during a failed operation.  Connors’s boss (played by the film’s director, Fred Olen Ray) orders Connors to go on leave so Connors promptly heads over to India.  Connors is planning on capturing Daveed (Evan Lurie), the drug dealer who Kyle blames for murdering Trevor.

While searching for Daveed with the help of an honest (and obviously doomed) cop named Ravi (R. Madhavan), Connors has several battles with a group of Indian ninjas who are intent on capturing a mysterious woman named Shallimar (Deepti Bhatnagar).  Connors also meets yet another mysterious woman, Callista (Tane McClure), who claims to be an intelligence agent and who tells him that Daveed’s boss is actually the enigmatic Victor Grayson (Michael Cavanaugh).  While Connors is tracking down Grayson, he finds out about yet another shadowy crime boss known as The Hydra and a computer disk that can apparently be used to hack into computer in the known world.

Can you guess who The Hydra actually is?

As any aficionado of late night Cinemax can tell you, Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Fred Olen Ray are a match made in heaven.  If you were growing up in the 90s, you knew Don “The Dragon” Wilson was cool because everyone who talked about him used both his given name and his nickname.  He was never just “Don Wilson” or “The Dragon.”  Instead, he was Don “The Dragon” Wilson.  Though Wilson never had much screen presence, he was a good on-screen fighter and the fact that he wasn’t a typically muscle-bound action hero made him more interesting than an ‘actor” like Steven Seagal.  Fred Olen Ray, meanwhile, was smart enough to get out of the way and let Wilson kickbox his way through the movie.  Though the story is nearly impossible to follow, a few good fight scenes more than make up for it.  Ray understands that is what most of his audience (maybe all of his audience) is going to be watching for.

Though the plot of Operation Cobra never makes any sense, most people will know what they’re going to get when they see who directed it and who is starring in it.  Even though the film wasn’t shot in the most photogenic areas of India (because that would have cost too much money), it still makes good use of its location footage and it’s hard not to be entertained by a film features Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Tane McClure, Rick Hill, and Evan Laurie.  That’s B-action movie nirvana.  I also liked that it was never entirely clear what the computer disk actually did but that it was extremely important than it not fall in the wrong hands.  It was the ultimate MacGuffin and because the film was made in 1997, it wasn’t necessary to go into details.  All that had to be said was that it had something to do with computers and that automatically made it a big deal.  That’s just the way things were in the 90s.

Amanda Returns: Scorned 2 (1997, directed by Rodney McDonald)

Released in 1993 as a part of the 90s Skinemax explosion, Scorned was one of the best of the many films to co-star Andrew and Shannon Tweed.  The story of a vengeful widow (Tweed) hellbent on destroying Stevens’s family proved to be so popular that it was inevitable that there would be a sequel.  Four years later, the mayhem continued in Scorned 2.

Tane McClure takes over Shannon Tweed’s role as Amanda, who has amnesia and can’t remember anything about her previous life as a sex-addicted sociopath.  Amanda is now married to psychology professor Mark Foley (Myles O’Brien) but she’s haunted by nightmares (which are made up of scenes lifted from the first Scorned) that provide clues to her former life.  While Amanda seeks help from a hypnotherapist, her frustrated husband ends up falling for one of his students, Cynthia (Wendy Schumacher).  Cynthia already has a boyfriend but she’s willing to screw a professor if it will help her grades.  When Amanda discovers that Mark is cheating on her, she snaps and reverts back to her old ways as she seeks revenge on everyone who she feels has betrayed her.  Further complicating things is that Alex Weston (Andrew Stevens, reprising his role from the first Scorned) has recently arrived on campus and is seeking revenge for the death of his son.

Scorned 2 was made during the dwindling days of Skinemax, long after the heyday of late night cable’s popularity.  It even featured a scene in which Cynthia’s boyfriend explains how computer passwords work, which is not something that anyone had to worry about when the first Scorned or its many imitators were initially released.  Unfortunately, Shannon Tweed did not reprise her role as Amanda.  Tane McClure was not a bad actress and bore a superficial similarity to Tweed but she just didn’t have Tweed’s ability to make even the stupidest dialogue sound natural.  Andrew Stevens did return but his character is largely wasted.  The real star of the film is Wendy Schumacher, for giving a credible performance while showing how far one student will go to keep up her grades.  Considering the cost of college, can you blame her?  Today, as with many of the films of that era, the main appeal of Scorned 2 is one of nostalgia.

Film Review: Crawlspace (dir by David Schmoeller)

Before moving into a new place, always do a little research.

That would seem to be the main lesson that one can take from the 1986 horror film, Crawlspace.  As the film begins, Lori Bancroft (Talia Balsam) thinks that she’s found the perfect little apartment.  It’s clean.  It’s roomy but cozy.  It’s got space for all of her stuff.  It’s perfect for hosting friends.  You can bring a date back to the place without feeling embarrassed.  The apartment even comes with a charmingly eccentric landlord, an older German gentleman named Karl Gunther.  Gunther is played by Klaus Kinksi and….

Wait …. he’s played by who?

Klaus Kinski?  You mean the infamously difficult actor who appeared in not only a countless number of horror films and spaghetti westerns but also Doctor Zhivago?  Would this be the same Klaus Kinski who was briefly Werner Herzog’s muse?  That Klaus Kinski?

Uh-oh.  That’s not good.

It soon turns out that Gunther is not quite the friendly man that he pretends to be.  Gunther’s got some issues.  For instance, he spends a lot of time intentionally burning his hand and then smiling afterwards.  And there’s his habit of playing Russian Roulette.  Throughout the film, we see him sitting at a table and putting one bullet in a gun, just so he can then point it at his head and take his chances.

Gunther also has a thing for ventilation shafts.  He loves to crawl around in them, specifically so he can spy on his tenants.  When we first meet him, he’s obsessed with Sophie (Tane McClure) but he soon turns his attention to Lori.  Often, he’ll release rats into a tenant’s apartment.  When Lori merely laughs at the rat as opposed to screaming in fear, Gunther is impressed.

Of course, Karl Gunther wasn’t always a landlord.  He used to be quite a respectable doctor.  Of course, then all of his patients started dying and Gunther’s career went downhill.  Gunther, of course, claims that he only murdered his patients because they were in pain and suffering.  However, it could be more likely that his actions had something more to do with the fact that Gunther’s father was a Nazi war criminal, a doctor who justified his crimes with the same excuses as Gunther.

If all that’s not enough to convince you that Gunther’s got some issues, you should just take a look in the attic.  That’s where Gunther spends most of his time, writing in his journals.  It’s also where he keeps jars that are full of body parts.  One jar has a tongue in it.  A pair of eyes float in the other.  There’s a finger in another.  The attic is also where Gunther keeps one of his previous tenants in a cage.  Gunther says that he likes to talk to her, despite the fact that he long ago removed her tongue….

Plot-wise, Crawlspace is pretty much your standard low-budget 80s horror film.  There’s not much here that could really be called surprising but director David Schmoeller does find some creative ways to film all of the expected mayhem and the frequent shots of Kinski crawling through the ventilation shafts are genuinely creepy.  Kinski, giving a performance that’s even more unhinged than usual, is the best thing about the film and the main reason to see it.  By making Karl Gunther the self-loathing son of a war criminal, Schmoeller and Kinski bring an interesting subtext to the film.  Gunther is more than just a slasher movie villain.  Instead, he’s the embodiment of Hitler’s hateful legacy.

As I mentioned at the start of this review, Klaus Kinski was a legendary for being difficult.  Years after both the release of Crawlspace and Kinski’s own death, director David Schmoeller released a 9-minute documentary about the experience of making a film with Kinski.  The title of that film: “Please kill, Mr. Kinski.”  Apparently, this was a request that several members of the crew made to Schmoeller over the course of filming.  (Interestingly enough, Werner Herzog would make his own Klaus Kinski documentary — My Best Fiend — in which he mentioned that, during the shooting of Fitzcarraldo in Brazil, a native chief offered to have Kinski killed.)  Please Kill, Mr. Kinski is a fascinating look at not only low-budget exploitation filmmaking but also what it’s like to have to work with a talented monster.  As of this writing, it can be viewed on YouTube.


Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.19 “The Eighth Seal”


Did y’all know that there used to be a TV show that featured David Hasselhoff as a paranormal investigator who battled supernatural monsters on the beaches of California?

Well, don’t feel too bad because, up until my boyfriend told me about it last night, I didn’t know either.  But apparently, there was and it was called Baywatch Nights!

And here’s an episode of it for tonight’s excursion into the world of televised horror!

The Eighth Seal was originally broadcast on April 26th, 1997 and it features David Hasselhoff getting possessed.  So, there’s always that.