Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Video Dead (1987, Robert Scott)


Released around the same time as Sam Rami’s classic The Evil Dead II, Scott’s The Video Dead is a low budget zombie film in a long line of low budget zombie films. What I dig about his movie is that it’s gory, raw, creepy and entertaining despite its clear limitations and the poor acting. I can admire the level of dedication it takes to get a movie like this made and how hard it was to achieve a pure vision without the proper funds. This is one movie that could have been a classic with just the right budget. Although I guess that never stopped George A. Romero or Sam Rami. Still Scott had an original idea, one that I rather like.

Zombies emerging from a cursed TV set is both fantastic and rather eerie. The hapless brother and sister duo that are faced with an nameless ancient evil must battle the undead horde that is terrorizing their neighborhood. I liked most of the kills, with one murder being properly gruesome. The zombies themselves are decaying and ugly, appearing as if they did truly emerge from their graves to prey upon the living. That’s some quality makeup work for a film that took a year to make due to lack of funding.

The DVD copy I found of this film was a two pack, with The Video Dead being parterned with another solid underrated cult horror film, Terrorvision-thanks to Scream Factory, a division of Shout! Factory. Which is a cool double bill, one I would love to see on the big screen. The Video Dead also has a bone chilling ending and is a reliable addition to the zombie subgenre. I realize it’s funny how every time I think I’m getting tired of zombie films I find another one that surprises me in a good way.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Pumpkinhead (1988, Stan Winston)


Special effects wizard Stan Wizard unfortunately only directed a few films, chief among them being Pumpkinhead. Its dated as most 80s movies are, yet its also rather well made and rather creepy. The monster itself is beyond ugly and murders its victims in a horribly gruesome and violent manner, operating on the orders of people who have summoned it for revenge. However as real life and many films attest to, revenge is not a clean and easy matter. Usually it possesses people, turning them into primitive beasts hellbent on getting retribution at all costs. Lance Henriksen’s farmer, a simple man who makes his living off the land, witnessed the unholy creature Pumpkinhead at an early age, and after suffering a fate worse than death proceeds to go to an evil woman and force her to bring forth the beast to get him justice.

The problem is though that what happened was an accident, and only too late does Henriksen’s Ed Harley understand why others warned him against bringing to life an undead and foul monstrosity. Although the creature effects are old school 80s style, Pumpkinhead itself still looks fantastic and disgusting, inspiring fear and terror. Considering how the movie ended I’m surprised there were sequels, although it seems that the horror genre creates franchises out of just about everything. This is more like one of the darker 80s films instead of the usual entertaining horror ones, and it benefits from playing the material straight.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Nomads (1986, John McTiernan)


Man what a mess of a film. McTiernan is capable of giving us good movies and has done so, however I’ve heard that when he fails he does so in spectacular fashion. Which is probably one of the reasons he is no longer making movies in Hollywood, although I am aware of his legal troubles too. Sad considering that this is the man that gave us some really good and even great films. Nomads had a good movie in there somewhere, and in the second half I saw a couple of things that I really liked. However this is still a ridiculous movie and not in a good way-I actually started laughing by the end of the film, and that’s not what you want in a movie that is supposed to be a horror thriller where the comedy is not intentional. Yikes.

The entire cast deserved better, and I’m guessing that Pierce Brosnan did this while he was still wrapped up in Remington Steele on TV. Lesley-Anne Down is given very little to do except act crazy, and therefore didn’t even need to be in this movie. Nomads needed more second half chase and weird goings on excitement, and less pointless current events drama. In fact I would have just dropped the format and gone with straight flashbacks instead, building up to when the past converges with the present. I’m not saying it would have resulted in a better movie, but its a decision that would have improved some of the film at least.

Oh and the nomads themselves aren’t creepy at all or even interesting, acting like rejects from a Mad Max film. I actually did enjoy the last shot, but it belonged in a much better film and one that wasn’t so damn stupid. Roger Ebert God rest his soul was right about this movie, yet its all the more fun to visit a film he hated and discover for yourself just how awful it really is. Well sometimes.

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