Friday, June 25, 2010


Mr. "Boobs, Blood, and Bad Words" himself, Daniel Fried, called me out last night about the infrequent number of updates here at VHS Summer recently. And if you must know why things have slowed down over the last few weeks, I'll tell you. About ten months ago, I ran out of shelf space in my den. All my acquisitions since then have formed precarious towers that sway to and fro in the A.C. current like rigid palm trees. I keep having nightmares where one of these structures topples onto me, leaving me crippled in a tomb made of VHS. Plus, I'm getting really fucking tired of having to play a game of Jenga any time I wanna watch "Warlock."

That said, I've had to shell out some bucks for some renovations, so I can finally re-organize this mess. Money and time have been scarce, but I'll try to manage at least one update a week. Here are just a few of the titles I've gotten in recently.


Based on the word “psychic” in the title, I was expecting some proto “Patrick” action. However, what we get is something slightly more original, with a killer using astral projection to get back at the people responsible for his wrongful imprisonment. A familiar name to anyone who knows shit about sixties and seventies television, this gem was directed by Ray Danton. Somehow, he manages to make this feel like TV horror in the process, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is a recommended but roughly made film with a unique centerpiece subject.


Through the seventies and into the early eighties, there was a major wash of horror and sci-fi that zeroed in on industrialization's impact on the ecological system. The formula was simple. Greedy humans pervert nature indirectly with their unscrupulous activities, and nature strikes back viciously. I call it "hippie horror," and while "Slugs" is a later effort in that sub-genre, it wields the same "will we ever learn" moralist edge. This was directed by Juan Piquer Simón, best known for his Frankenstein-meets-chainsaw-massacre epic "Pieces." This particular film is probably the only other thing he's done worth seeing though. Most eighties horror develops a camp sheen with time, but this sucker slid out in an afterbirth of nacho cheese.

RATS, also known as DEADLY EYES (1982)

More hippie horror bullshit, here, as rats get into grain contaminated by growth hormone and go into a 'roid rage. This is high on my viewing priority list primarily because it was directed by the late Robert Clouse, who helmed both “Enter the Dragon,” and Bruce Lee’s posthumous “Game of Death.” This is unique in that Clouse is the only Bruce Lee director to go on to direct a Bruceploitation flick. Clouse is responsible for a bevy of other cultish martial arts films, including "Black Belt Jones," "Gymkata," and Cynthia Rothrock's “China O’Brien" films. He also worked on the incredibly underrated TV show, “The Master,” in which Lee Van Cleef teaches Timothy Van Patten how to be a ninja. I briefly touched on another film he did a few months ago, entitled "The Pack," which is also kind of hippie horror-ish. “Rats” also stars Scatman Crothers in a breakout role as a doddering old negro. Check it out.


Holy shit, this looks fucking incredible. Peter Weller moves into a dream home with his family only to find it is occupied by an army of rats. Weller soon becomes obsessed with ridding his abode of this rodent infestation, often resorting to destructive lengths in order to win the colony war. On top of that, it was directed by the dude who did "Cobra!" And underneath it all, there simmers a disdain toward corporate America. I knew virtually nothing about this film until I found a copy at a used book store earlier this week, but I'm looking forward to seeing this more than any of the tripe in theaters this Summer. Jack THAT off, Jaden Smith.


Cancerously inept technical ability results in a poorly executed film, which, strangely enough, enhances this sequel’s dark humor. I have no doubt that tongue almost tore through cheek when the marsupial variation of the lycanthrope was pitched. This is a grossly misunderstood film, trampled by more austere horror fans who approach this sequel like it's some kind of black tie affair. Drenched in satire and with visuals verging on psychedelic, "The Howling III" is so bizarre it can be off-putting to most viewers. Most horror fans have a stick lodged firmly up their a-holes, which makes it impossible for them to lighten up. Have a couple beers, sit back, and don't try to somehow tether this sequel to the other films in the series, and you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

A side note: the "Howling" films were based on a trilogy of novels by horror author Gary Brandner. None of the films have been overtly faithful to his work, but I always thought it was hilarious that Brandner’s novels usually sat right beside the novelizations for the films which are based on his original novels. That’s some Escher painting shit right there. If you’re interested in revisiting the series, I’d actually recommend you pick up Brander’s books from Amazon first. Almost every film struggles in its own strange way to borrow elements from his work, and it's kind of cool to see how each film corresponds with all three books. Hopefully someday someone will produce a Howling trilogy that’s faithful to the actual novels, which are actually pretty awesome.


Christ, this is a phenomenal piece of work. The most BAFFLING thing about this movie is that it was directed by Oscar winner Robert Wise, who did one of my favorite films of all time, "The Haunting." This is the motherfucker who also did "West Side Story" and the "Sound of Music" here, directing some vaguely post apocalyptic New York tale of hip hop dancing roof top dwellers at odds with a neighborhood drug dealer. I mean, this piece of shit is so bad, that I'm shocked Mario Van Peebles wasn't somehow involved. The film follows a protagonist, played by Jason Geddrick of "Iron Eagle" fame, as he copes with relationship issues. Hilariously, he’s also the top dog on the street in the art of combat, which is like the bastard child of capoeira and sumo wrestling. Strangely, Geddrick’s character later encounters a capoeira troop in the film. He quickly manages to pick up the martial art in spite of being totally shit hammered, not that it matters, because he barely uses it in the film. This movie is just a tangled mess of half-assed concepts, many of which go absolutely nowhere in the end. The result is some mighty powerful camp that leaves you slack-jawed.


There is no way you can make a faithful film version of Quinn and Vigil's "Faust" that does not include multiple close ups of full on vaginal and anal penetration and at least six actual on-screen deaths. I mean, this is a comic book that somehow made snakes coming out of pussies germaine to the plot. When I was a kid, the original "Faust" comic was a taboo title they kept locked away behind the counter with the rest of the jerk-off material. And it wasn't just Vigil's excruciatingly detailed depiction of deviant sex that made it the most transgressive title of its day, but it was the fact that all of it was draped in occult-brand gore. Every issue sold like hotcakes, to the point that multiple pressings were necessary. Over the years, there were a lot of rumblings of a "Faust" film, but most of them disintegrated. Back in 2002, I was actually blind-sided by the box for "Faust: Love of the Damned" while browsing a local video store. I had no idea a film had even been made. If someone had actually made a film that was loyal to the comic, it would be the most ass-kicking titty-fest ever. And then I saw Brian Yuzna's name on it and kept walking. To me, Yuzna is the John Russo to Stuart Gordon's George A Romero. Fuck that guy. Nevertheless, I think I'm finally ready to sit through this piece of shit.


Alright, assholes, let me clear this up for you. This is Bill Forsythe in an episode of one of the greatest TV shows known to man, C.H.i.P.s, performing the smash hit "Pain" with his band Pain.

Okay, firstly, why has no one covered this song yet? Secondly, Bill Forsythe kicks ass. Know him. Fear him. In fact, his name isn't Bill Forsythe anymore. It's "Holy shit, it's Bill Forsythe!" Get it together, alright? That said, Holy Shit, it's Bill Forsythe! is in this movie, which automatically means it rules. However, it gets better. See, action movies used to kick ass until Al Qaeda turned everyone into sensitive Seals and Croft loving faggots. Some of the stuff that happens in this movie is incomprehensible by today's standards. For instance, you will never again see an un-manned motorcycle crash through the top floor window of a capital building, and hit a helicopter, causing a mid air explosion that drops and destroys a bunch of cop cars. Kinda makes you cry a little, doesn't it?

The movie stars football legend Brian Bosworth as Joe Huff, a man so badass that even his fucking leather jacket has a mullet. I'm not lying. Anyway, Huff is his own dude with a prejudice against the rules. After interrupting the opening scene from "Cobra," Huff is fired for making Stallone look like an Elizabethan pussy. The FBI is so impressed with his inability to follow orders that they enlist him to infiltrate a contraband dealing biker gang run by leathery Lance Henriksen. But when Joe finds his cover compromised by some stupid hoe, and he is forced to put the titties down and take justice into his own hands by making every fucking thing blow up.

Ever know one of those guys who everyone suspects is gay because he goes out of his way to prove he's not gay by making fun of other gay dudes and calling everyone queer? Well, this movie is a lot like that guy. It tries very hard to be macho, and you know what? I totally buy it.

A year after "Stone Cold" was released, a surprisingly lesser known film best known by the title "Beyond the Law" went straight to cable. Starring Charlie Sheen, the film follows the story of a law enforcement officer who's fired for his unorthodox procedure, and then recruited by the FBI to go undercover with an outlaw biker gang to help make busts. This film was actually based on the true life account of officer Daniel Saxon, who was initiated into the inner circle of a notorious biker gang for the FBI. The similarities between both films, plot-wise, are striking, and I have no doubt that both films are a treatment of Saxon's story. The major differences between both films are that "Stone Cold" is ridiculously over the top and coursing with testosterone, while "Beyond the Law" plays the story from a more dramatic angle. Also, Charlie Sheen's jacket doesn't have a mullet.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Look, this isn’t opinion. It’s totally observational. When most people see a retarded person they gawk from the corner of their eye in utter revulsion. Meanwhile, their parents get the sympathetic smile and condolencing nod for their pitiable luck in the breeding pool. Served low-grade nausea by prejudice, most people will go out of their way to avoid interacting with Down’s syndrome children, objectifying them as nature’s misfires. But, if you’ve given them the opportunity to be humanized through basic interaction, you know they aren’t without charm. Generally innocent to a T and incapable of cynicism, their presence can be both refreshing and invigorating. Too simple to judge or deceive, I look at this good natured breed, which accepts anyone and everything with open arms, and I can’t help but think that a lot of the well-born motherfuckers are more handicapped by their cunning and selfishness than these people ever will be. Sorry, people, but retarded is right. So very few will ever understand the redeeming qualities of a retarded child by choice. In order to exist, antipathy requires a safe distance from its focus.

That said, Hitler probably would have steam shoveled my entire VHS collection into a mass grave on the basis that most of these movies are by average definition “flawed,” and therefore unredeemable. I have a strong belief that if Adolph had been provided a dissertation on the joy of bad movies, it would have saved a lot of lives. In the realm of cinema, flaws can redeem. They can be endearing. They can even entertain on a subtle level. People are similar in that respect. Now, don’t take that out of context. I’m not saying that the Jews are the human equivalent to “Blackenstein.” Besides, I’d rather sit through "Blackenstein" any day than endure some critically lauded bullshit like "Gone With The Wind." Perfection can be dull, honestly.

I’ve referred to the tapes in my den as orphaned children. I should clarify that my “orphanage” specializes in deformed and retarded children. These are “special needs” movies, so to speak. Given enough patience and understanding, even their manic pants shitting fits become part of their overall charm. True love is warts and all.

Of all the howling mongoloids lining my shelves, "Rock N’ Roll Nightmare" has demanded more time than many others, and I’ve learned to cherish this movie to the bone. A slim eye-over might yield the opinion that not much is going on underneath this movie’s jagged seams. I’d counter by insisting that this is an odd masterpiece of incompetence. The fact that this thing somehow reached some form of completion is miracle. This movie’s sheer ineptitude approaches the genius level. Its general clumsiness arouses a bizarre feeling of innocence and naivety that overshadows its adult nature. Sheer enthusiasm, unbridled by the pretense of how to make a good film, adds up to a euphoric mess. Technically, “Rock N Roll Nightmare” qualifies as the cinematic equivalent of “Botchamania.” Every fucking spot in this movie is totally blown, and to this day, after dozens of viewings, I’m still picking out things I hadn’t previously noted.

To really appreciate a movie like this you have to purge your mind of the negative connotation behind the word “mistake.” Whenever I watch this with friends, we acknowledge every flaw, but it’s not in a critical manner. To rectify any error in this film would greatly compromise its appeal. Indeed, every fuck up in "Rock N’ Roll Nightmare" is celebrated like the familiar face of a beloved friend.

The film launches into tedium almost immediately as rockers Triton wheel through the Canadian countryside toward a reclusive destination. Finally landing at a quaint farm house, we’re introduced to the band members and their hideous girlfriends. Everything works up into a supernatural game of ten little Indians, with band mates, girlfriends, and groupies falling victim to a sinister force. All this sounds simple enough, but then comes an ending that can only best be described as proto M. Night Shyamalan horse shit.

I’m going to ruin this for you, so stop reading if you really want to be “swerved.”

So, at the film’s conclusion, John Triton, played by the inimitable Jon Mikl Thor, is confronted by Satan, who kind of looks like Colonel Sanders. It is Beelzebub who has been bumping off his band mates in classic slasher fashion. Triton then reveals that he’s actually an ARCH ANGEL sent to smoke the Devil himself out by using HOLOGRAMS based on horror movie archetypes. Yes, that’s right, Satan fell for the bait! After a lesson in Mesopotamian Demonology, Jon Milk Thor CLASHES with his great nemesis in a battle that’s as close to epic as you can on a 50,000 dollar budget.

So, after sitting through seventy or so minutes of bullshit character interactions, we find out NONE OF IT REALLY HAPPENED. It’s the ultimate middle finger in the face of the audience, and it’s totally hilarious.

The main thing that continually blows me away about “Rock N’ Roll Nightmare” is just how poorly edited it is. I often tell people that watching terrible movies has taught me more about writing and directing than any fine cinematic achievement ever has. This is almost a text book example of what NOT to do, in terms of editing. I’m not sure what the fuck was going on in that cutting suite, but I suspect a lot of weed was involved. And I mean A LOT of weed. I’m talking pounds of ‘Lumbo, dude.

There are MOUNTAINS of unnecessary establishing shots littered throughout this thing, with characters walking from the house to the barn, and from the barn to the house. And they’re fucking long, too! There’s an establishing shot of groupies walking to the house, which is immediately followed by yet a SECOND establishing shot of them walking toward the same fucking house! And they’re like five minutes long! If you cut all of these shots out, the movie would probably clock in at around sixty minutes, so I suspect a lot of these drawn out back-to-back shots were probably there to pad the running time.

But it doesn’t stop there. The continuity is totally fucked. The audio mix is awful. The guy who did the score tries to pull some Bill Conti shit by overlaying his score over the soundtrack selections, only he has no fucking idea who Bill Conti is. The boom mic should have gotten a credit for all its screen time. The script is littered with illogical dialog, including this gem:

“That sounded like it came from down here... (without pause) Let’s go up stairs.”

Even the songs don’t make sense!

So, let me get this straight. Energy takes you where you want to be, and she’s where you want to be, because she gives you energy? How the hell does that even work? How do you get the energy to get where she is if SHE has the energy in the first place? What kind of mind games are you trying to play here, Thor?

And then there are the women. Jesus Christ, did you get a look at that keyboard? Looks like Rocky Dennis inseminated Sheila E. The fact that Jon Mikl is the hottest chick in this movie does not bode well for the prospect of female nudity.

I may kid Thor a lot, but he’s a super nice guy, and he’s still touring with a band. I’ve seen the guy perform twice, and it’s always a ton of fun, especially if you’re familiar with his catalog. Granted, his stage show has tamed considerably, and you won’t see him bending metal bars with his teeth or a precession of eighteen white horses, but it’s a beer drinking good time.

“Rock N’ Roll Nightmare” was directed by John Fasano, who was also behind the superior horror metal opus “Black Roses.” “Black Roses” is certainly a more competent production, but in spite of being vastly superior, technically, it’s still just as charming and enjoyable as Frasano’s first effort.

Surprisingly, 2005 saw the release of a sequel titled "Intercessor: Another Rock N' Roll Nightmare," once again featuring Jon Mikl Thor as arch angel Triton. I've never seen the movie, but fans seem divided on its worthiness. But considering that Evan "Pantsfish" Wade hates it, it can't be all bad, because that guy doesn't know shit.

Quote of the month:whenever I see you doing something so domestic my boner can’t help itself.”

Friday, June 11, 2010


Most church leaders prefer to be addressed by their surname as a means of commanding respect amongst their congregation, but ours insisted he be known by his first. So, we all called him Pastor Sam. The moniker had a less formal ring, and it was certainly the perfect counter-balance to the dose of frothing conviction we'd get every Sunday. He was a man with power, but he was accessible at the same time. Terrifying behind the pulpit, his flip-side soothed. He had a gentle smile and voice that matched. Children felt comfortable enough to ask for rides on his shoulders, and he'd always oblige with a laugh. His stature always made the ride a little scary, but there was never any fear that he might drop you.

After service, the men would lineup for casual macho banter revolving around Cadillacs and sea bass, and the wives would hang back, their breasts a'flutter as their men got the rub from this towering amalgam of John Wayne and Billy Graham.

That was the scene every Sunday, and I rarely stuck around to eavesdrop. But this time, I'd been instructed to take a number. I sat on the front pew for several hours, pumping my velcro sneakers and staring at my Skeletor action figure. I tuned out the adult yammering by focusing on the empty ocular sockets in his face and contemplated the relevant topic of how he could see anything while fighting He-Man. That always bothered the shit out of me.

I've always been more compelled by villains. After all, they had a mystique. Rarely did they ever explain what made them so bad, and so I was often left to contrive origins for them in my own little brain. The hero always required less imagination to exist, and was therefore always far less engaging. So, naturally, Skeletor and his band of sinister flunkees were the center of the plastic universe on my bedroom floor. Besides, without the villain, what was a hero anyway? If not for Skeletor, He-Man would have just been another Ken doll in S&M gear; an unemployed gay bartender turned drifter, existing only for Ponch and John to pull over and harass before telling him to move onto the next town, where he would inevitably blow his brains out in hotel room painted with semen and Wild Irish Rose.

Gene Simmons once sang a dower little tune, denouncing a world without heroes. But if you ask me, a world without villains would be void of color and purpose. Indeed, without the good fight, there would be little other to do than turn on each other until there is no one left and all there is to do is lay down and die. All that said, fuck KISS. Congratulations on the pussiest use for a flying V ever, assholes.

So, finally, the sycophants all clear out, and I'm nudged to my feet. I approach Pastor Sam, Skeletor in hand. My grandmother says, “Pastor Sam, my grandson would like to show you something.” Sam looks down at me, smiles and kneels. I hand Skeletor over. Pawing at his blue skin, a concerned expression evolves. I remember vividly as he removed Skeletor’s little purple staff. Plucking the accessory from kung fu grip, he held it up and asked me, “Max, do you know what this means?” I shook my head. Pastor Sam paused for a moment, and told me, “this is a sign of the devil.”

It was possible. After all, Skeletor was the embodiment of all that was evil. He was a bad guy, so it seemed pretty natural. I didn't have a problem with it really since Skeletor was supposed to be the guy He-Man stomped the shit out of. Now, if the role model had a cod piece with a pentagram on it that pissed goat blood (I want one), it might have been a totally different story from my child-like point of view. At that point, all Pastor Sam had done was assure me that the bad guy was actually... well, a bad guy.

Later that night, I stood in the parking lot of the Foursquare Church, crying as several birthdays and Christmases worth of gifts went up in smoke. I watched Castle Gray Skull morph and twist into a puddle while Pastor Sam, high on toxic plastic fumes from his cleansing bonfire, slurred through “Hosanna in the Highest.” I’m positive that night set in motion a rebellion within me that only further encouraged my keen interest in morbid subject matter. Raised into pacification through material objects, the destruction of my entire toy collection was far more damaging than any Catholic handjob ever could have been.

Since every school I've ever attended was of some religious variety, I encountered kids who were either similar, or even more fucked up than I ever could have been. Repression rears a mean brat, drawing kids toward taboos at hyper speed, and heroin too. By the eighth grade, bum wine and teenage pregnancy were mostly passé. What really cheesed the penguins off was finding spell books in the school yard. The first time I laid eyes on a book of magic was in the Saint Thomas Aquinas boys’ room. We passed it around in awe like most well-adjusted kids would a smut magazine.

Throughout the eighties, the Christian fundamentalist right was popping off to anyone who’d listen about the approaching thunder of an underground Satanic network. According to them, the devil’s followers were running our day care centers. They were in our local government. They were the policemen covering up cattle mutilation. They were taking the white man’s scholarships and women. They were also corrupting the youth of our country through heavy metal music and horror films. Even Parker Brothers had aligned itself with the dark one, and was mass marketing witchcraft under the guise of traditional board game fun.

According to elders, this mass-produced piece of cardboard, known alternately as the “mystic oracle,” was a spirit world walkie-talkie. We were warned against using the board, for it may yield dire repercussions, inviting unseen forces into our homes, and possibly even our bodies. That wasn’t a hard sell to a bunch of rebellious pubescent kids. And while Sunday morning rants and news reports made us all aware of the existence of this portal to evil, one movie taught us all how to actually use the thing. Of course, I speak of the 1986 Kevin Tenney classic, “Witchboard” – a varitable primer for Ouija Board use.

When I was a kid, no single social gathering was complete without a bunch of stupid, doe-eyed girls standing under the red hue of the bathroom's heat lamp, chanting "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary" into the mirror. Retrospectively, games like light as a feather epitomize teenage innocence despite the fact that we all thought we were toying with cataclysmic forces that could rend us limb from limb. And of course, there were the Ouija Board sessions, which always told me who had and had not seen "Witchboard." Of course, the board must be used by two people only, and it must rest on their knees since it acts as a spiritual conduit. The people using the board should also have clean systems, meaning, they shouldn’t drink or do drugs. Everyone generally shrugged that one off. And of course, no one should EVER use it alone, lest they end up the victim of "progressive entrapment."
Every culture has had its own variant of the spirit board for thousands of years. Widespread house hold usage, rather than Satanic corporate conspiracy, is to credit for the board’s industrial reproduction. The Ouija Board’s popularity has waned only slightly over the past two decades, drifting into the realm of kitsch for some. Nevertheless, it remains a potent piece of pop culture iconography, thanks largely to "Witchboard" writer/director Kevin Tenney, who is perhaps second only to Patience Worth when it comes to propagating the board's popularity in modern culture. This film is to the Ouija Board what "The Outer Limits" was to the Betty and Barney Hill alien abduction case. Both have influenced a culture’s perceptions on their respective topics on a potentially subliminal level, and are perhaps even responsible for a low grade of hysteria regarding both abduction and encounters with the spirit world. In fact, I’m pretty sure almost every psychic ham out there probably owes Kevin Tenney royalties for using whole verbiage to make a living.

The story starts off at a banging house party, where some yuppie assholes attempt to bring the fun to a crashing halt with theological debate. Amidst this mess, we’re introduced to Linda, her low-brow drunkard boyfriend Jim, and their respectively estranged lover and best friend Brandon Sinclair, “of the Sinclair vineyards!” As the party winds down, the spiritual debate takes a turn for the best when Brandon breaks out his trusty Ouija Board, providing us with a short lecture on its origins. Brandon, along with Linda attempt to contact the spirit of a little boy named David, who is apparently attached to the board since it was made on the approximate date of his death. During the low-rent séance, Jim tells some awesome jokes to piss the spirit off, which leads to the destruction of Brandon's tires. Sinclair leaves in a huff, conveniently forgetting his Ouija Board, which Linda discovers while cleaning up the next day. She contacts David once again, and develops a bond with the little boy’s spirit. Brandon warns her about using the board alone, but Linda is a free-thinking 80s kind of gal and continues using the Ouija. Soon, a swirl supernatural foreboding and death threatens the trio as Linda falls deeper into progressive entrapment. Jim and Brandon are forced to put their friction aside to fight something far more sinister than originally suspected. Check out the trailer, dudes.

Tawny Kitaen is probably the most recognizable face here, and she actually turns in a surprisingly solid performance as the Ouija-addicted Linda. Other notables include Rose Marie ("The Dick Van Dyke Show") as Jim and Linda’s landlady, and Kathleen Wilhoite ("Roadhouse") as annoying psychic hippie punk Zarabeth. Lastly, Soap opera fodder Todd Allen and Stephen Nichols play the men in Linda’s life. It’s hard to say whether these guys help or hinder the movie, but they do provide for some unintentionally hilarious moments via melodramatic delivery better suited for "General Hospital."

However, for my money, James W Quinn, who plays Jim’s best friend, Lloyd destroys every actor in this entire fucking production. Once in a while, there's just some guy who stands out in spite of the fact that his part is inconsequential. Jim is one of those guys. If Tenney is out there, I'd like to urge him to make a fourth "Witchboard" movie, starring James W. Quinn as both the hero and the villain, and perhaps even playing a few supporting roles. Quinn also did a lot of the demonic voice work in Tenney’s “Night of the Demons” films. Here, though, we get him in the flesh. It’s a shame this guy never got a comedy feature, because he’s solid gold here. Never have I been so distraught at the death of a supporting character. Every time Lloyd dies, a piece of me goes with him.

Overall, this film achieves a genuine and compelling atmosphere. Tenney aptly constructs true suspense, and in the process never really resorts to using gore, which makes this anomalous for the period, but ultimately far more accessible. "Witchboard" is due recognition as a unique artistic accomplishment since it barely abides by any genre standards of the time. Let's face it, there aren't a slew of movies out there about Ouija Boards, though it does seem like such an obvious niche. Lastly, though, it deserves a heap of credit for it's influence on popular culture. Even if you dislike this movie, chances are, you've been infected by it somehow.
Tenney followed up with “Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway” in 1993, but the film never quite achieved the same level of acclaim as the original, more than likely due to the fact that it’s not really a true sequel. Another sequel, “Witchboard 3: The Possession” followed only two years later, and while I own it, I’ve never bothered to watch it.

Are you awesome enough to take the VHS Summer “Witchboard” Drinking Game Challenge? Don't be a pussy! Take a drink any time any of the following things happens. And, remember, Pabst Blue Ribbon is the official beer of the VHSS.

  1. Someone says the word “OUIJA.”
  2. Lloyd appears on screen.
  3. We see Jim’s chest hair.
  4. Anyone says the phrase “PSYCHIC HUMOR.”
  5. Any time there is sexual tension between Jim and Brandon.
  6. Any time Tawny says a bad word.
  8. Tawny’s shower scene.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Our Texas sun is blazing like the nail on God’s middle finger, slicing through homeless flesh like a potato peeler and murdering central air-illiterate elderly with a searing “fuck you.”

Any time it breaks so much as 90, my piece of shit mailman decides to head on down to the creek. According to him, the credo doesn't cover extreme heat, so while he’s frolicking in shaded waste water, hundreds of my dollars are melting in his Hitler oven Jeep. Between rain and humidity, I haven't received many tapes in the mail over the last two weeks. And though this latest batch is small, it offers an abundance of train wreck-like intrigue.

"Saturday the 14th"'s title is an obvious rip on the "Friday the 13th" franchise, but this farce borrows far more from the classic Universal brand of horror than anything from its own period. After a family inherits an old dark house, they find themselves at odds with a vampire played by the wonderful Jeffrey Tambor, who is desperately seeking a tome of evil hidden somewhere in the home. The kids stumble upon the book and end up uncapping dark forces which boil to a head during a house warming party. Similar in plot to William Castle's original "13 Ghosts," this sucker goes for Zucker & Abrahams style laughs rather than suspense. This is a particularly noteworthy film for cult fans since it was written and directed by odd-ball Howard R. Cohen, whose writing resume includes "Emmanuelle V," several of the "Deathstalker" movies, and the "Rainbow Brite" tv series. The fact that they'd let a dude who wrote shitty soft core and bad fantasy anywhere near something that might influence children is just totally awesome.

For some reason, Cohen decided to return seven years later with "Saturday the 14th Strikes Back." I don't know why this sequel happened, but I'd speculate this film was solely funded by some ruthless Arab millionaire with horrible taste who thought the first one was the proverbial "القرف." I can't quite explain it, but this movie seems to illicit a violent reaction from most viewers. In fact, it's probably been responsible for a mountain of child and spousal abuse cases. It's kind of like the cinematic equivalent of "Gloomy Sunday." The sophomore follow-up is also, ironically, a hotbed of sophomoric humor. While it manages to assail the viewer with more stupid, punny bullshit revolving around Universal monsters, they do include some up-to-date cultural references. More of a re-imagining than a true sequel, this story follows the Baxter clan as they move into a house located over a portal of evil. Now, admittedly, I own some movies for strange reasons. While I am a fan of Cohen's, I like this movie mainly for Jason Presson, whom most will recognize from awesome 80s sci-fi fantasy film "Explorers." I became a fan of Presson's following his stand-out performance in the phenomenal and often overlooked "Lady In White." He's one of those actors who didn't really do much, but still managed memorability. Even when he was in something bad, I loved the guy. Also, I could be wrong since I haven't seen this in over twenty years, but I do seem to recall a weird Angus Scrimm cameo, where he plays an evil umpire here. Correct me if I'm wrong, folks. That said, here's the trailer for this piece of shit.

The sadly over-looked "Sisters of Death" also arrived this week. Shot in 1972 for cheap, this proto-sorority slasher features a lot of interesting ideas long before they became cliché by 80s standards. In this story, sorority sisters are invited anonymously to a reunion years after an initiation resulted in the death of a pledge. The production design is particularly pleasing, and helps achieve a distinct and compelling atmosphere. No trailer, but you can watch the entire film here:

I still have vivid recollections of USA Network’s pre-Up All Night premier of "Mausoleum." I mean, they really beat this piece of shit over our heads non-stop. This thing was to USA what "Beastmaster" was to TBS. "What's that? The dog show got rained out? Throw on 'Mausoleum'!" This is your typical 80s possession fodder, but it still manages to be fun, and has developed its own sense of camp with time and perspective. There is just one thing that this supernatural thriller has going for it that no other does. That thing, of course, is MARJOE FUCKING GORTNER! Hands down, Marjoe makes everything fucking awesome. He is the golden calf of shitty movies. When I went to go see "American Ninja 3" on opening day, and I realized Michael Dudikoff was not in the movie, I got so pissed that I tried to start a fire in the theater. And then Marjoe appeared on screen, and all was right with the world. Kind of like that scene in Selena, where Selena calms the riotous crowd in Mexico with that awesome split screen bullshit. So, really, fuck Mausoleum. Bobbie Bresee can go to hell with her ridiculous stories about the producers setting up bleachers so the crew could watch her during her sex scene. They were there to WATCH MARJOE!

"Revenge of the Radioactive Reporter" sounds too much like a "Toxic Avenger" ripoff if you ask me, and maybe that's how it wound up in the Troma archives. So, some journalist ends up pissing off the wrong people when he ventures to expose a nuclear power plant's environmentally hazardous practices. The corporate baddies toss the asshole into some toxic ooze, and voila, he comes back with a fucked up face and an appetite for vengeance. I've never seen this one, and quite often it goes for ridiculous prices on eBay. Somehow, I lucked out and snagged a very pretty copy for four bucks or so. The up-side to drug abuse is that tweakers with cool stuff sometimes get desperate for cash. Check out this best-of-kills clip.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Like the Pharaoh to the Jew, and whip-cracking slave driver to the cotton pickers of yore, today there suffers a new minority under the tyrannical thumb of an ultimate oppressor. Daily, this outnumbered troop’s will is ground to brine beneath the dark heels of giant Jack-boots. Drunken on blood from the stone, this force mocks the groveling of its mass victim with cruel laughter and probably a middle finger, too. Of course, the dispirited group of which I speak is non other than yours truly, and this domineering entity which keeps me from truly realizing my potential is better known as the local police department. Seriously, if I weren't accountable for my actions, I would sally forth on a holy crusade from coast to coast, baptizing pubescent shit heads in a tide of correctional violence that would ultimately make the world a better place for you and I both. If only, my friends, If only…

Anytime I bring up the fact that teenagers have reached a flamboyant apex of shittiness some dirty hippie starts going on about how every round of adolescents baffles their elders with their attempts to differentiate their generation from the previous one. Sorry Wavy Gravy, but I call bullshit. Need proof? Here you go.

Years ago, PETA managed to get an injunction passed against hunting season somewhere in New Jersey. Subsequently, the deer population boomed over the next few months. Shortly after, a PETA van struck a deer as it bolted across the highway, totaling the vehicle. Naturally, being that PETA are idiots, they decided to sue the county for failure to control the deer population.

This parallels the Columbine shooting in some ways. Those dorks in the video above are kind of like the deer PETA were trying to protect. After bullying was cited as the catalyst for the Columbine massacre everyone suddenly developed a zero-tolerance policy toward nerd-bashing. Well, congratulations assholes. Now the nerd population is totally out of control and kids are lamer than ever before.

People need to realize that bullying builds character. A little adversity goes a long way. I’ve always thought there should be something along the lines of a bar mitzvah, where when a kid turns eighteen he gets punched in the face really hard. Everyone needs to be humbled at least once in order to be a decent human being if you ask me.

Instead of an outright ban there needs to be a quality control for bullying. We need to set some standards and regulations. For instance, if a kid is wearing eyeliner and a dog leash, and telling people he’s a werewolf, beat the living shit out of him. However, if the kid is like Clint Howard in "Evil Speak" and just a little awkward, but otherwise good natured, just let him be. He’s got it hard enough.

"Evil Speak" is not so much an indictment against bullying as it is a cautionary tale outlining the differences between tough love and sadism. Set against the cold façade of a fancy lad military academy, Stanley Coopersmith is the target of classist abuse at the hands of both students and administration alike. Credited with defeat at a school soccer game, Stanley is punished with the foul task of cleaning out the campus chapel’s cellar. While schlepping through cobwebs, Coopersmith stumbles upon the campus’ occult wing. Why the fuck is there an occult wing? No idea. Rifling around, Stanley finds a Satanic Grimoire, which he begins to decode with a Commodore computer. No shit.

Eventually, after being debased one time too many by classmates, clergy, and even the janitor, Stanley snaps and pledges allegiance to Beelzebub, who imbues him with the power of flight, a sword, and flesh-eating hench-pigs to wreak appropriate vengeance on the assholes who killed his puppy.

Most reviewers cast "Evilspeak" off as below-average loser-strikes-back flick, but there’s a primary difference between this movie and others of a similar ilk. For one, this thing comes off as pro-Satanist, mainly because the film’s protagonist is completely wholesome and innocent. Films like "976-EVIL," which feature immediately unlikable pervert nerds who gradually shift into power-mongering demon hosts, are usually the standard for this sub-genre. "Evilspeak"’s Coopersmith is both likable and sympathetic, and the villains are so vicious that you crave to see them destroyed. Most of the bullies in nerd revenge flicks never do something so bad that they deserve to die, so when the punishment exceeds the crime it totally paints the protagonist in an evil hue. The bullies in "Evilspeak" deserve worse than death.

I’ve also seen reviewers discard this as a forgettable waste of time. Such a statement is an admission of delusional psychosis, because seeing Clint Howard fly around on wires while slicing military cadets to pieces with a Conan sword is easily one of the most memorable things I have ever seen in any movie. Seriously, what kind of fucked up shit have you seen through your diseased mind’s eye to have been desensitized to that sort of imagery?

There’s also a shockingly well-produced prologue featuring Bull from Night Court as a fallen priest who’s ex-communicated from the church for his nudity-laden Satanic antics. The first few minutes of the movie actually look and feel better than anything else in the film, but the finale is so gonzo that it completely eclipses anything else, good or bad.

That said, the acting here is far better than average for the genre and period, and we’re treated to some familiar faces here as well. Haywood Nelson of “What’s Happenin!” fame plays Coopersmith’s outcast friend. Don Stark, better known as Bob Pinciotti from “That 70s Show,” also turns in an apt asshole performance as Bubba, the ringleader of the tormentors. Cinema dorks will also mark out for Charles Tyner’s appearance as hard-ass Colonel Kincaid here. The real star of "Evilspeak," though, is the strangely adorable Clint “Leon” Howard as the maligned hero. His performance here isn’t as over-the-top as most would have you believe. In fact, dramatically, it’s pretty sound.

There are apparently NUMEROUS cuts of this film floating around today, ranging anywhere from 92 minutes to 103 minutes, all depending on the country the release was intended for, as well as the format. I own the 92 minute original VHS release, and from what I understand at least 12 minutes of violence and gore has been omitted. Twelve fucking minutes! That's insane! There is at least one particular scene cut to sate the censors where it kind of backfires. In the director's cut, when Miss Friedemeyer is attacked in the shower by the Satanic pigs, she is obviously being devoured. However, in the ultra-censored version the attack plays out more like a pig-rape, which is way more fucked up than simply having your entrails eaten if you ask me.

While "Evilspeak" may not qualify as fine cinema, it’s still more entertaining and endearing than most five star snoozers and it’s certainly worth a look.