Well my movie loving children of physical media. It’s tme once again to go back on a journey that takes us into the depths of the 80s into that forbidden land known as the genre section of the good old videostore. The one part of the shop that if you begged your parents enough they would let you go in that dark corner of your local shop and check out what the latest horror and bizarre titles were waiting to grab your attention as you worked hard to convince your mom or dad to rent them for you.
If I was a betting man I would say 1 out of every 3 genre flicks rented in that era were from the now defunct NEW WORLD PICTURES. You just knew when that logo appeared they would be offering something unique for better or worse during this golden age of VHS cinema and today I thought I would take a look back and give you guys a few examples of some of the standout films the company gave us and titles that still live on thanks to other companies picking up the rights and reissuing them. But none the less it was NEW WORLD that first exposed those movies to us and I thought I would show them some love today as I once again ramble on about movies. So let’s dive in shall we?
Now New World Pictures had been around since the 70s distributing many films they did not produce themselves or in part only co-produced or co-distributed. Most of the Roger Corman films were first introduced to our VCRs thanks to them. Titles such as Humanoids From The Deep, Slumber Party Massacre, and Death Race 2000 were given life in part thanks to this company. But I’m here only to talk about the actual films they were 100 percent responsible for delivering to our local videostores. With many to choose from I selected the ones that stood out and still stand out to this day. So let’s go back in time and revisit some beauties…
Oh Larry Cohen. You were a beauty that inspired many DIY filmmakers. I personally loved listening to him on his commentaries on his reckless ways to get a shot done. Permits? Please. Odds are if you lived in the state of New York in the 70s to 80s you might have been an extra in a Larry Cohen movie without ever knowing it. Always remember when watching one of the man’s films that in any outdoor or busy street scene none of the background people knew they were being filmed because, you know, you would have to pay them then. Anyways, this brings us to 1985’s THE STUFF.
Right from the opening scene we know we are in for something special as some workers discover an oozing goo emerging from the ground and without hesitation one of them decides to taste it because, you know, that seems like the right thing to do. And wouldn’t you know it? It is absolutely delicious! And soon enough this goo that came from the bowels of the earth gets transformed into the world’s best selling snack known as “The Stuff”. Now other snacking companies are worried about their products being financially killed by it so enter Private Investigator Michael Moriarty to get to the bottom of what is actually in the stuff.
With the help of SNL Allumi Garret Morris as “Chocolate Chip Charlie” not only do they discover this product did not have to pass any tests for the good of humanity and is highly addictive but literally starts turning people into zombie like addicts and eventually begins to eat you from the inside out.! Crazy shit indeed.
With some wild special FX and an insane over the top performance by future Oscar winner Paul Sorvino as the militant Col. Spears who knows the product is a crime against the american people the movie is simply a fun ride in the most bizarre junk food snacking way.
The important thing that can be lost in a film this bizarre is that Cohen was always making points about society with his movies and The Stuff literally dealt with the products that we were shoving in our bodies that we, as people, become dependant on on a daily basis regardless of the harm it can cause us and how the corporate companies give no shit about anything except for the all mighty dollar in the end. Yes, this message is clear and straight forward in The Stuff but as a kid it was all about that crazy goo. Now excuse me while I go for a cigarette before I continue writing because, umm, addictions. Don’t judge me!
One of my personal favourites from director Steve “Friday The 13th 2 and 3” Miner. HOUSE is such a fun ride following the journey of horror author Roger Cobb who is staying at his recently deceased aunt’s old house to work on his new book about his experience in the Vietnam War. But this is also the house that his young son went missing in and caused his marriage to fall apart shortly after.
What follows is the reality that house is indeed alive and might hold the key to finding Roger’s son. But that mission will not be easy with some of the strangest and oddly funny and frightening designed creatures coming out of hiding to torment Roger. Obviously falling into the perfect time of practical effects there are some great moments in this film. One that always stands out for me is Roger using a shotgun on a reanimated swordfish attached to a trophey wallmount. Not sure why that moment stands for me but it does.
Another great layer added on this movie are the supporting characters. At the time of release two of the biggest comedy shows on TV were Cheers and Night Court so to have George “Norm” Wendt as Harold the nosey neighbour and Richard “Bull” Moll as Big Ben, Roger’s old vietnam buddy, in it was sweet. Wendt is simply great as the neighbour and the sequence where Roger needs his help to catch a “racoon” is worth the price of admission alone.
House is a movie that at times is quite creepy as a haunted house movie but also works as a fun adventure and mystery movie that at times almost turns William Katt’s Cobb character into Ash when he battles the monsters. This is the kind of movie that today’s parents may wanna show to get their kids into horror films without traumatizing them too much. As strange as it sounds I feel this movie is a film the whole family can enjoy. Well, a certain kind of family anyways.
Wait. A timetraveling Warlock that jumps 300 years ahead in time only to still be followed by witch hunter Richard E Grant to the year 1989!? I’m in! And from the same director as the previously mentioned “House”? Bonus. Yes, Steve Miner made this as well and casting Julian Sands as the villain was perfect.
Sands is the Son of Satan and is on a mission for his old man to track down the three parts of Devil’s Bible. You see, if he manages to do so the book contains the true name of God and he can use it to undo the world that the almighty has created. Now that is one way to impress your dad for sure.
But fear not because there is hope as our witch hunter GIles Redferne (Grant) along with a plucky 20th century lass Lori Singer will do their best to track down the warlock and stop his evil plans. There is some fun chemistry between Singer and Grant to balance out the more dark tones of this film like when the Warlock kills an unbaptized child to boil the boy’s fat and to eat so he can fly. Twisted shit indeed.
The reality is some of the FX feel a bit dated to be sure and the tone of the film could have stuck to a dead serious one to feel more effective as the Devil’s Son is here to end mankind but overall I still love this film. Even the sequel had some great moments. The less said about part 3 the better. I will just state the obvious. No Julian Sands. No Warlock. Simple as that.
From The Mind Of JOHN CARPENTER! Yup, that was the best tagline this movie could have used to get me to watch it. In the 80s Carpenter was king for giving us something different everytime and even though he did not direct BLACK MOON RISING this little gem is fun romp with some enjoyable performances by both Tommy Lee Jones as former thief Quint and the great Linda Hamilton as part of an auto thief circle named Nina.
The FBI has hired Quint to steal some incriminating tapes from an evil corporation but they get lost in the shuffle and hid on the new experimental water fueled car called Black Moon. This vehicle has the ability to reach 325 mile per hour! Crazy! Anyways, Quit soon needs the help of professional car thief Nina to recover the Black Moon and these tapes the FBI desperately want without being killed by the corporation bad guys and double crossed by the same FBI that hired him! So much is going on for poor Quint.
As always the to make a movie like this work you need some solid supporting characters happening and we get it with the deliciously evil Robert Vaughn playing our baddie Ryland and from football and Police Academy fame Bubba Smith playing FBI agent Johnson. There was something about the 80s action, doublecross, mystery, evil corporation, don’t trust the goverment movies that were never without giving us entertainment.
Also if you watch the film almost every wise crack coming from Tommy Lee Jones was made up by him on the spot and not in the script. You can judge for yourself if they land or crash. Bottomline, if you call yourself a John Carpenter fan and wish to see all of his work never forget about the BLACK MOON RISING. The tagline on the VHS case did it’s best so you would not.
You know in the late 70s early 80s NEW YORK CITY through movies was the scariest place to live. Murder. Rape. Gangs. Drugs. No Police. Just shady and sketchy as fuck. The last thing needed was another reason to be terrified of this city but then along came CHUD. And we never looked at manholes the same way.
When homeless people start disappearing off the streets of the city at night the rich people are happy. Actually no, that’s real life but this is a movie. No my friends, actually in this world there is great concern as to why and who is doing this. And it’s up to a photographer played by John Heard and a man of the people ,Daniel Stern, to get to the bottom of it. Could it be a killer? Could it be the mayor trying to swipe away the ciy’s riff raff? No, it’s far worse than any of that. It, in fact, is the nasty result of toxic chemicals that flow through the sewers of the Big Apple turning regular people in Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers!
As a kid the monster design alone scared the crap out of most of us and while the movie takes a bit to get going because of character developement and investigative reporting of corrupt goverment bad doings the film has many great creatures moments that are a good time in a shady city where the monsters roam. And ofcourse I can never get the Home Alone connection out of my head when watching with Stern and Heard co-starring together.
And on a fun note never forget the young John Goodman cameo as apolice officer just before the CHUDs crash the party at the local diner. Depending what version you watch you either only see the aftermath of the massacre or you can see the scene of carnage included with the Arrow Video edition. If you enjoy this jam feel free to watch the sequel as you ask yourself “Why is this called CHUD 2?”
OUTLANDER! In the 80s every company was jumping on the Stephen King gravy train and NEW WORLD was no different by adapting the short story written by King of a town of evil as shit religious cult kids that pretty much figure once you hit the age of 18 you have had a good enough life and it’s time to piss off and die.
So basically this small town in Nebraska is visited by one creepy ass boy preacher named Isaac who convinces all the other children to kill all the adults and the harvest will be plentiful supllied by an ancient god. Ahh….cults. They are the best for cinema. Infact you could make the comparionship with sacrifice, harvest, cult leaders that this movie has more in common with the amazing Wicker Man than I even though.
So basically after the first massacre of grownups has happened a few years go by when couple Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton come driving through. You see, they end up hitting a poor kid who was trying to get away from all this crazy stuff but since he’s unconcious they decide to go into town and find a doctor. Big Mistake! Where are the adults? Why are there these bizarre ritualistic objects scattered around town. And those damn kids are creepy.
Like the Wicker Man once captured the kids decide to sacrifice Sarah Connor for more good vibes in their adult free town. But all hell breaks loose when there is turmoil among the children themselves as a group of them are getting sick and tired of Isaac preaching bullshit. Like a capatin on a ship a mutuny is in the air. While not one of King’s most praised films it is a good little flick that still works today because these kids are just wrong. How creepy are they? Well Courtney Gains portrayal of Malachi was good enough that Joe Dante would cast him years later as the creepy son of the Klopeks in The Burbs. To be cast as a Klopek says it all. And if you wanna continue the journey of the Corn you can watch the following 8 sequels, 1 prequel, and remake if you are bored. Or not.
Taking a turn for something different NEW WORLD delivered other genres of goodness. My love of the 80s was also influenced by the world of martial arts in film which brings me to NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER which is a god damn masterpiece of ridiculous. I mean. what other film can you have JCVD playing a russian bad guy AND the ghost of Bruce Lee training his number one tennage fan?! Seriously!
So basically we got Jason, a kid who loves Bruce Lee and wants to be just like him. Add on to that his dad who runs a dojo but is soon put out of business as an evil thug gets his JCVD to kick the crap out of dad forcing him to sell the place to the baddie and having father and son move to Seattle where dad has now given up teaching the arts to become a bartender and makes Jason promise to give it up as well.
Well Jason has no choice but to keep on fighting as some high school bullies (all these guys look 30 by the way) start messing with him and his pursuing of a lovely lady that might be out of his league. Jason soon joins a new martial arts club but wouldn’t you know it the same evil thug and Van Damme have traveled to town to take over this club as well.
Well cutting to the chase after much back and forth debate on what to do, a falling in love with the lady of Jason’s passion, dealing with the bullies with the help of his break dancing best friend (it was the 80s), and convincing his dad that fighting is sweet again the big showdown is set up. If Jason can beat JCVD in the big fight they will keep the club. But first Jason needs some spiritual training and who better than his dead hero.
Yup, in a sequence of WTF the ghost of Bruce Lee helps Jason train to find his mojo. And with that he is ready to face the big bad Russian in the ring.
This movie was the perfect popcorn mess of cinema. I can only imagine the writers sitting around drinking heavily and asking themselves what movies are the kids into? Rokcy IV? Yup. The Karate Kid? Absolutely. Breakin and Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo. Hell Yes! Fuck it, let’s just take all those plot points and throw it in our movie. Brilliant! Oh, and don’t forget the cheesy Stan Bush type of song at the freeze frame ending after the fight. Done and done. Seriously. I can not recommend this movie enough.
Rutger Hauer. Nuff said. When have a story dealing with an ex-CIA agent desperately asked to rejoin the agency to hunt down a terrorist responsible for blowing shit up in Los Angeles only Rutger could be the man to fill the shoes of that role.
The classic tropes are all here. He’s retired man from the world of violence…sort of. Nick Randall is still a bounty hunter working freelance but is only doing it so he finally can save money to build his boat and sail all over the world with his lady. Honestly, I would a watch a movie all about that just because it was Rutger Hauer. Anyways, his old buddy, a cop, hires him to help track down the crazed bomber Gene Simmons but soon things go bad as not only is cop friend killed but his lady as well.
Well shit. Now you just pissed off Nick Randall and he’s out for revenge and also trying to stop Simmons from causing the death of over a hundred thousand people with his latest terrorist plot. But mainly revenge. That’s why he’s doing it.
This movie is just pure action badass fun. It does not claim or want to be anything more than that and like many movies of the time as a kid watching you just wanted to grow up and be as bad ass as Nick Randall. It was a different time. Different story telling. And whole lot of shit blowing up including the beautiful “grenade in the mouth gag”. Bless this movie.
I make no apologizes. I loved and still continue to love TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000. Call it childhood nostalgia or call it…ummm….no, let’s just go with that. The fact is I saw this movie many times on VHS, BETA, and in the theater. Dumb, juvenile, lowbrow humour. Yup. But I saw it at the right age where all this seemed fresh and laugh out loud brilliant to me and my friends.
Following the silly adventure of young Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr. as two “journalists” that work for a gossip rag looking to uncover the facts to see if the monsters of movie myth could actually be real is just stupid in the best kind of way. To see the calibre of talent involved in this film saying such stupid shit and in a stupid premise warms my heart.
As our heroes look for clues in the small village in Transylvania they must deal with colourful characters such as the mayor (Jeffrey Jones), the mad scientist (Joseph Bologna), the crazed couple that work the hotel (John Byner and Carol Kane), the mad butler (Michael Richards), and one sexy vampire played by the gorgeous Geena Davis.
Add into the mix the bizarre versions of Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolfman (played by Donald Gibb from Bloodsport and Revenge Of The Nerds) and you feel like you are watching an old Abbott and Costello movie but for me that’s the charm and it works on the very silly level they are going for. This flick is not for everyone but on a late night with a drink in your hand after a long day this movie is the perfect solution to forget about…everything.
And I have to mention when watching this slice of cinema focus on Michael Richards’ character of Fejos. The story goes that before filming Richards hit a shop in town and bought a bunch of random props to use in the movie. He basically ad libbed his entire scenes and look carefully when dealing with Goldblum. The actor who one year later would reteam with Davis in Cronenberg’s THE FLY can not keep a straight face dealing with Richards off the wall actions. You can see in his face that he has no idea what the hell is going on and that my friends is worth watching for alone.
Contrary to what some might think this movie has no relation to the much earlier film HORROR HIGH. No, the title RETURN TO HORROR HIGH is meant to relate to the actual plot of some horrible murders going down in this high school so many years later a crew of filmmakers return to the location to make a film about the events. But of course as always in stories like this one by one crew and cast start vanishing giving the idea that there is another or same killer still stalking the hallways of Crippen High School and it’s happening all over again.
This is a unique movie that is now finally getting credit for actually being ahead of the times. Until Scream came out in 1996 this 1987 movie was the closest meta horror/ comedy to have come taking the piss out of the movie industry, slasher flims, and old movie troupes in general. Shot in a non-linear fashion the movie shows near the beginning that there was another massacre at the high school during the filming of the movie as bodies and police are everywhere outside. What the hell happened here? Well, through flashback after flashback we start seeing the pieces form the puzzle known as “how not to film a horror movie”.
Having just recently rewatched this at the shop I am pleasantly surprised how well it’s aged and even though it does become a “guess who the killer is and why” the making of the film stuff is a lot of fun with some great gore gags involved and some some fun if not one dimensional performances. But now that I think about it that might have been the director’s intention. I was surprised to discover this was Bill Froehlich’s only feature film directing job as his other work was TV (Freddy’s Nightmares and MacGyver). Look I make no bones. The charm of an 80s slasher film always works for me even with the worst movies. And throw in the discover the whys and who could actually be killing everyone along with a few red herrings and it’s silly popcorn good time at the movies that was perfect for NEW WORLD PICTURES to put out.
And yes, this was one of George Clooney’s first film roles. His screen time is short as Clooney plays Oliver, an actor who quits the production because he was offered a TV role (I wonder if it was Facts Of Life, Roseanne, or ER?) and soon after leaving gets bumped off. Around the same time he would come back in another genre flick that starts with “return” in Return Of The Killer Tomatoes. Who knew how his career would end up decades later.
The first horror movie I remember seeing was CREEPSHOW. I think I was maybe 7 years old and it scared the crap out of me. Those five stories of terror were a lot to take on for the mind of kid. Hell, even the The Lonely Death Of Jordy Verrill freaked me out back then. Anyways, jump to 1987 and Stephen King and Uncle George Romero gave us three new stories to feast our eyes on. Overall it did not live up to the original in my humble opinion but there was a lot of good stuff going on. Maybe because it was two stories shorter than the first film there was less to choose from. But let’s focus on the good here…
I loved to opening set up with the young boy eagerly awaiting his new issue of Creepshow to show up because let’s face it, that was us. That was every horror movie kid in the 80s so we all could relate. I enjoyed seeing Tom Savini playing the Creep character to deliver the goods too. Like a nice horror nerd easter egg back in the day. After this the animated wrap around story was okay but I’m guessing maybe they did it for budget reasons. I would imagine filming a giant Venus Flytrap eating school ground bullies might have been pricey let alone building the Creep’s lair where he told his tales.
So we were off to the races with Old Chief Wood’n Head. Honestly this might be the weakest of the three but with George Kennedy involved I always have a soft spot for it. The guy was literally in every disaster movie in the 1970s, I mean everyone. And when it comes to revenge movies you need a greasy villain and Holt McCallany who many of us love today from David Fincher’s Mindhunter is perfect as the man with hair to take him to Hollywood Sam Whitemoon. After killing poor old George and his wife Martha at the General Store the wooden symbol known as Chief Wood’n Head comes to life to take it’s revenge on Sam and his two bumbling friends. Enjoyable stuff.
I always find when talking to many customers regardless which Creepshow movie they prefer they always state the segment “The Raft” is usually one of their favourites. I find it funny that a beloved short tale like this, which has some amazing tension, doom, and bad mojo going for it in the best way possible has easily one of the cheapest made villains ever. Guys, it’s literally garbage bags floating in the lake. Love it! Anyways, with another simple plot of four college kids swimming where they should not be an oozing oil looking creature hunts them down with all the patience in the world. Literally telling them “Make your move human, I got all day”. With atleast one shocking scene that freaked me out as a kid that teaches the lesson to NOT be a pervert when the girl you have a crush on is asleep The Raft is simple, to the point, and thrilling in it’s short running time.
A common theme in movies, especially horror films, is “Adultery is Bad”. In third segment of Creepshow 2 “The Hitchhiker” drives that point home very well. A woman who is fooling around behind her husband’s back sleeps in with her paid lover and needs to get home before husband does. In her speedy attempt to get there she hits and runs a man just looking for a ride. What happens after is the “dead” man returning and returning to her as she continues her drive. Trying to hit and kill him over and over again until he finally dies her sanity is tested to it’s limit and knowing what kind of stories these are it will not end good. “Thanks for the ride, lady.” Again fun, simple, to the point. That’s all you could ask for in a good horror anthology. Just always remember…there is no Creepshow 3, there is no Creepshow 3.
And here I was about to move on without mentioning the always brilliant cameo by Stephen King to show off his acting chops. In this film he would come to us as a trucker who blocks off the area where the hit and run took place until police can come. Excellent work as always sir.
If someone went back in time and told the people at New World Pictures that there would be 10 HELLRAISER films to date but they would only have the honour of releasing the first two they might be bummed out. But then you would tell them don’t worry about it because the two you guys release are the only ones people will really give a shit about over 20 years later and rightfully so.
Honestly what can be said about 1987’s Hellraiser and 1988’s Hellbound that has not been said in the past. Clive Barker being very much involved in both films (directing and writing respectively) shows greatly compared to the following sequels. What is made very clear is Pinhead and crew are not the villains. Infact the combined screentime of the iconic horror figure is basically 12-13 minutes between the two films. No, the villains are human as always with lust and desire being the motives that get the cenebites involved in the first place. The shocking imagery and groteque beauty of the films are what make them cherished still all these years later.
I always tell my fine customers that wish to rent Hellraiser 1 to grab part 2 as well. I sometimes give them a 2 for 1 deal because in the end I look at this double feature as simply one long 3 hour journey. Where the first one keeps the scale small with a simple affair turning to murder and going to the depths of depravity with consequences that will follow the sequel raises the bar of visuals and the history of the cenebites and even giving us the glimpse of Barker’s vision of hell itself.
The beauty and long lasting appeal of the franchise is no doubt Pinhead but the absolute love and dedication of the first films especially are because of memorable characters like Kirsty, Julia, Uncle Frank, and Dr. Philip Channard. No one really remembers the sleazy club owner in part 3 or the corrupt cop in part 5. No, to make Pinhead and company shine you need an energy and purpose filmed, written, and acted on the same level for the human sideof characters. Only Hellraiser and Hellbound have done that in this franchise.
You’re into horror movies. You are a preteen. Hormones are growing bigger ans bigger and so you can not help but have your eyes focused on the 80s and still to this day amazing horror hostess Cassandra Peterson aka ELVIRA. Back then Elvira was everywhere and given her personality and assets we’ll just say giving her her own movie was a no brainer. The minute MISTRESS OF THE DARK hit the videostore shelf it was gone before it even got there.
Crazy to think but with all her sex appeal the characrter of Elvira was super popular with yourng boys and girls getting into a horror movies but needing a guide. She had that charm of not taking herself too seriously and was filled with little inside jokes that adults would get but kids would still be delighted with. Having Peterson take that host character into her own movie could have been looked at as a novelty but looking back Mistress Of The Dark surprisingly was filled with those kind of afterschool special life lessons that mean something to kids. The basic just because you are different from the others does not make you wrong or bad is pretty obvious with the film.
With a plot that is pretty cut and dry involving Elvira losing her show, needing money, inheriating a mansion, and being judged by the uptight conservative people of the town she is stuck at times the movie could have been a real eye rolling experience BUT it is Cassandra Peterson’s lively and go for it performance as the hostess with the most that still makes this film a guilty pleasure.
The movie gets to the point where the town decides to burn Elviria at the stake because witchcracft is still outlawed there and thanks to trying to deal with her evil warlock uncle her powers, with the help of a magic spell book, have been exposed. But fear not my friends because this PG movie was catered for a younger audience and life lessons would be learned and apologizes would be said with a big happy ending musical number to boot!
Like shows and films like The Addams Family and The Munsters this movie really hammers home being unique and different is just fine. As silly as it sounds with a woman who really reminds us constantly through puns and jokes of her large “goods” the mistress of the dark actually has a bigger heart and just wants all of us to get along and bring joy to world. Now don’t tell me when you look at Elviria that that’s too much to ask for? Seriously…just look at her.
All you young kids might not remember who Grace Jones was but back in the 80s she was an enigma of a person. Model, Singer, Designer, Actress, and someone that marched to their own beat so when the horror/comedy/vampire flick VAMP came out we did not know what exactly to expect from it or her for that matter. But seeing those fangs on that VHS cover there was no denying I was taking it home on a night where good cheesy blood pouring movie viewing was needed.
Now plot wise Richard Wenk’s Vamp might seem slightly familiar to fans of 1996’s From Dusk Till Dawn, A group of people go to a stripclub only discover it’s run by vampires. Hmm. But honestly that’s where the connection ends. In this movie that starts like John Hughes film college friends Keith and AJ wanna drive into the city and go hit the “After Dark” Gentlemen’s club. Now desperate for a ride the get Duncan, the only guy on campus they know with a car, to tag along and more importantly be their ride. Once the boys get to the club things go bad.
Now dealing with vampires is bad enough especially when Robert Rusler’s AJ becomes victim to Grace Jones and her hypnotic vampire moves but add to that a crazy biker gang led by elbino Billy Drago and you know this night is not gonna go well for the boys at all. But the question remains will it go well for us as the viewing audience? Well honestly I would say yes.
Realistically the movie will always be known as “That vampire flick with Grace Jones” but she is a bit player in more of a buddy horror comedy than anything else. To be honest it’s Billy Drago that presents the greatest threat in the film and that is probably because they guy’s acting track record is pretty solid with great gigs in The Untouchables and the legendary Takashi Miike episode of Masters Of Horror “Imprint”. I mentioned a John Hughes opening vibe to the movie and maybe it just felt that way with the casting of Gedde Watanabe as Duncan. After all the man did play the amazing Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles so maybe that’s the reason. Who knows? Either way like a many genre crossing films at the time the downside I suppose is it never quite could figure out if wanted to lean more towards horror or comedy. But honestly there is enough good stuff going on in this movie that it works out in the end. Did I mention Grace Jones is in it?
Okay gang, you have a small budget. You know your story is stupid. The actors will not gonna win any awards. The production design looks like a bad 80s TV cop show. The music made for the movie sounds like a bad 70s cop show. What can you possibly do to make your money back and get people to watch this film? GROSS THE FUCK OUT OF THEM! With 1988’s SLUGS that’s exactly what happened.
Now it has to said right out of the gates that director J.P. Simon made the 1982 film PIECES. If you know me and my tastes that movie is god damn masterpiece in trash cinema so expectations were high with SLUGS. While the gore and gag meter are op notch on the scale in this film the “characters” are lacking much more than in Pieces. Atleast with that film the motives, line delivery, and overall acting were so ridiculous that it was entertaining where here it’s just kind of bland but fear not dear viewer because HERE COME THE SLUGS!
The plot is basic. People start dying in this rural town. No one knows what the hell is going on. Enter health worker Mike Brady who thinks it’s “killer slugs”. Naturally he’s laughed off by the cops and the mayor ofcourse. Basically Mike Brady is Chief Brody from Jaws. Hmm…Brady, Brody? Just saying. Anyways, and just like in Jaws it takes an out of town expert to back Mike’s crazy killer slug idea up but by then the damage has been done these slugs are loose and to be honest disgusting.
I mean once these slugs are out they are out. Growing up watching all the killer bug flicks from the 70s and 80s they automatically made you lift your legs off the ground. You could not help it. There was no CGI. Those things were real. It really did not matter if the movie was good or not because those damn evil bugs messed your head and eyes and these slimy slugs were the worst. They found them in salads, in drinks, making a guy cut his own hand off. Like seriously, having them coming through the drains and toilets it was nasty. And this movie captured all of that. Again to the point where you forget about the bad acting.
The insanity of this film is great and the moment that sticks out the most is a young couple entering a perfectly normal bedroom, like a clean and polished set, and literally within 5 minutes of getting it on on the bed they look to discover that they are surrounded by thousands of slugsaround them on the floor. As they try to figure out an escape they eventually fall off the bed and become killer slug victims in a gruesome manner. Bravo indeed!
Again, the plot is not important. Just go in hoping to laugh at the acting but then getting grossed out at those damn slugs. Eating during the film is not recommended. Wait, what’s that? How do you kill the slugs? I don’t know. Try fire. Blow them up. Sure. Why not?
Prime time for Slasher films and New World’s THE INITIATION was coming to get us with a mix of sorority girls, their not so bright boyfriends, a naughty break in, and two horror movie royalty actors showing up with Vera (Psycho, Psycho 2) Miles and Clu (Return Of The Living Dead, Nightmare On Elm Street 2) Gulager. We also have the lovely Daphne( Spaceballs) Zuniga in the lead as Kelly. The young woman who has been plagued with horrible nightmares of a man burning her entire life. Why? Who knows…moving on.
Now while dealing with her dream issues Kelly really wants to get into the cool sorority house and has to go along with a pledge night prank and that is to break into a department store, her dad’s, and party with the other girls and their boyfriends. One problem. Once they get in there is no getting out as they are locked down tight. Crazy right? To make matters worse there is a killer lurking and the bodies start piling up slowly but surely.
Who is the killer? Why is Kelly’s dream still happening? Is there some secret family history we do not know about? Will every die? Will the reveal of the killer make you shake your head? Well they always say it’s about the journey and not the destination right?
I’m keeping my lips sealed on the ending because I have found even my best regulars who love all things 80s and slasher have somehow missed this one so if you are reading this and have not seen I do recommend it. It gets forgot about very often which is understandable since it came out in 1984, the same year as Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (The BEST!). But seriously, give this one a spin in your player for those much needed slasher vibes.
Roddy Piper Is Sam Hell. In a post-nuclear war world most of the male population has been wiped off the earth leaving women desperate to find any virile men that can help re-populate the planet before it’s too late we get Sam Hell. This scavenger has been put on a mission to rescue a group of the very women that have been looking for a man like him. The problem is they themselves have been kidnapped by a humanoid group of frogs. God I love the 80s!
Now the important thing to remember in this future is that women do indeed rule it and they capture Sam forcing him to save their fertile fellow women back. The kicker is there will be no trying to escape for him as the women have attached a steel jock to her lower area. If he is more a hundred feet away from his captures it will explode. Ouch…
The great former WWF superster will always be loved for his role in John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE so sometimes this film is overlooked as they did both come out the same year. As much fun as Hot Rod had making They Live you can tell with Frogtown he really let’s himself even more so loose and that makes sense. Honestly, They Live has some pretty strong social undertones going for it and being directed by Carpenter I’m sure Piper wanted to impress. With something like Frogtown it’s so out there and bizarre that having a good time making it seemed more on the cast and crew’s mind and why not?
I was always felt sad that Piper did not get more acting gigs that could have kept his star rising. He had the peronality, the fighting chops, the likability, and deserved to be in more films that actually hit the cinema. Those with far less talent have been in more theatrical released action flicks. But atleast we will always have They Live and Hell Comes To Frogtown as a brilliant 1988 double feature. To you Hot Rod!
Sticking with some more New World Pictures action how about a double shot of goodness! First off is The Annihilators. The 80s were as much aboout vigilante flicks as slasher movies. So why not make a flick that gives us old school vietnam buddies coming back home to their town they grew up in where soon they realize it’s turned to shit with violence and crime and they might be the only ones that can clean up the garbage!
While a plotline we have seen dozens of times this movie still works because that plotline is timeless and we love to see a good ass kicking to those that deserve it. And if I’m being honest as a big Welcome Back, Kotter fan grewing up it was great to see one of the vigilantes in the flick played by none other than Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington! Yup, I just aged myself pretty bad there. Whatever…
The Punisher. Since this movie came out there have been 3 other actors have taken on the role of Frank Castle with various degrees of success. But whenever Dolph Lundgren’s Punisher is brought up it sometimes gets laughed off by certain critics. Well to hell with that. I know at the time Lundgren’s acting ability was still quite raw especially coming off of Masters Of The Universe but in his portrayal of Castle he was great in my opinion. Sure, his beard looked sprayed on but what can you do. Easily the lowest of all the Punisher budgets there is still some great stuff going in this flick. From having the villainous Yakuza being as ruthless as ever with a strong female baddie that shows no fucking mercy. I mean, kidnapping the kids of all your rivals with the plan to eventually kill them or sell them off when all is said and done. EVIL! And force Frank Castle to team up with his enemy to take them down knowing when it’s over one will die. Badass! And let’s not forget Oscar winning Louis Gossett Jr. as Frank’s former partner. Okay, in fairness they did kind of waste him but you can’t win them all. And if you wish to revisit this New World beauty do yourself a favour and watch the new Import Blu Ray release from Australia which has the director’s cut on it adding even more 80s carnage.
Look I’m not gonna lie. I always figured it was David Cronenberg that ruled the whole demented and twisted genre cinema of Canada and no movie could quite come close to his standard of uncomfortable and WTF vibes. Well, back in 1988 a little slice of canadian goodness came out and did just that asking myself to this very day “Why The hell did I watch this flick at such a young age?”.
Ah Pin. You see “pin” is the name of the perfectly anatomically correct medical dummy that Dr. Frank Linden uses to teach kids about things. Did I mention it was perfectly correct in it’s anatomy so showing this to young kids could have some uncomfortable moments or, I don’t know, watching it happen as a movie fan. Anyways, the good doctor has a son named Leon that we meet at a young age and thanks to the mother poor Leon does not get much of a chance to out and be a normal kid so naturally he starts making friends with….Pin. Even at 18 years old Leon is still talking to Pin which troubles his father naturally but before the good Doctor has a chance to remove the dummy after witnessing such odd behaviour from his boy both him and his wife are killed in a car crash which Pin was also inside of. Hmm..
So now Leon and his sister Ursula have inherited everything and Leon can continue to talk with Pin. From this point on things get even more strange and we keep hearing the voice of Pin talk to us in that disturbing calming tone. The movie cruises at a nice pace and all I wanna say after this point is the great Alfred Htchcock would be happy with a film like this and the ending truly felt inspired from a very famous film I shall not mention. PIN is an underrated psychological horror movie that deserves to be rediscovered not just by fans of canadian horror movies but horror movies in general. Sadly we still await a new re-issue to come out as I personally made the mistake of selling the DVD copy from the shop years ago. Come on movie gods! Hook us up!
And now I have one more New World Picture I wanna talk about because to this day it remains one of my favourite guilty pleasure good time movies. I actually don’t even know why I call it a guilty pleasure. When it comes to cop buddy/ comedy/horror/zombie/crime movies this might be the best of them all. Ofcourse I’m talking about DEAD HEAT!
Starring Treat Williams and Joe Piscapo as your usual straight face cop along with the unconventional goofy wise cracking partner the two are out to solve a series of robberies. The criminals involved here though don’t seem to wanna die when they get shot. After doing some investigating they think there is a chance that they don’t die because they were already dead and checkout a place that might be making such a reanimation drug or device.
While there crazy shit goes down causing Roger (Treat Williams) to be killed. Doug (Piscopo) discovers the machine bringing the dead back and zaps Roger back to life. The only problem is the effect is temporary as in less than a day Roger will be dead again from decay. So with the end coming Roger does what any undead cop would do. Get the bastards that did this to him before he dies…again. And for good.
The rest of the plot is just there to have some fun times, some very cool creative FX (one in a chinese butcher shop being the standout) and enjoy the banter between the two leads. For good measure we even get a nice small role from the genre legend himself Vincent Price. Look, when you love a movie you love a movie. No critique on the acting, plot, etc. can hurt your love of it and in the fall of 1988 when I put this movie in my VCR I was excited, giggling, in awe of the action, and over all knew I was on a fun ride. You can tell me as a grown up I’m wrong and that’s cool but 12 year old Kevin that lays somewhere inside my mind knows he’s right. This is a B-Movie trashy masterpeice and he wants to share it with the world.
Well guys, as always thanks for reading and supporting the shop. I’ll see what movie ramblings come to my mind soon enough but till then see you at the videostore and keep on looking for the cinematic gems of the past out there. Just dig deep on those dusty shelves and good stuff will be discovered. I promise. Cheers!