Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Deathdream (1974, Bob Clark)

Bob Clark gave us A Christmas Story, yet his main body of work lies in the horror movie genre. Deathdream is a really good horror movie that reminds us to be careful what you wish for. It just might come true and make things worse. Much worse. Lynn Carlin is fantastic as Christine, a mother who wishes for her son Andy (Richard Backus in a freaky and creepy performance) to come home from the Vietnam War. He was reportedly killed, and yet one night he shows up, to the amazement of his mother, father (John Marley) and sister (Anya Ormsby) who all thought he was dead.

They choose to ignore the fact that he’s home, although his father starts to notice that Andy is well, different. A lot different! What occurs next is a series of brutal murders and the realization that while Andy is still walking, he’s not exactly human anymore. That’s for sure in what reminds me not only of The Monkey’s Paw (the inspiration for the flick) but also Stephen King tales as well.

I’m not sure if Andy is a zombie or a vampire, yet the scenes where he attacks people to drink their blood are pretty suspenseful and freaky. Clark made a low budget movie that is still well put together anyways, and he focuses on the negative impacts of the Vietnam War upon a local community literally less than a year after the US pulled out of the conflict. I do wish the movie had lingered on those aspects a bit more, yet Deathdream is a really effective drama horror movie that did burrow itself into my brain a little. Viewed thanks to Tubi, and a reminder that the 1970s had some of the best horror the genre had to offer.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blood Suckers from Outer Space (1984, Glen Coburn)

Blood Suckers from Outer Space came out the same year as Night of the Comet and a year before Return of the Living Dead. It makes both of those fun, great movies appear in the same breath as Citizen Kane by comparison. Yet I did like certain aspects of this movie, and I’ll admit it was made on a budget that can’t even be described as low budget. More zero budget, really, as if the budget was appropriated and gathered from funds raised via yard sales. I believe the creatures in this movie are similar to the ones in Lifeforce where they’re zombie vampires that inspire other zombie vampires. That or the film’s quality doesn’t really give me too many insights into what is happening. The French New Wave folks would be quite pleased with this movie’s lack of emphasis on plot, yet this movie still attempts to have one.

I’ll give this movie a sort of A for effort, as parts were really funny and the romance at the center of the movie isn’t actually half bad or half baked. I’m assuming that Glen Coburn was attempting a zombie comedy parody of other zombie horror movies, and he was ahead of the curve in that regard since after this Re-Animator, Night of the Creeps, and Return of the Living Dead came out. Plus the horror comedy Evil Dead II. What he lacked in um, talent or money he attempted to make up with gore, wonderfully silly film moments, and a conclusion that is equal parts gutsy and amusing. I wonder if this movie inspired it’s later, much better companions although I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t just that the other directors had their own ideas first and only got around to making them into reality later.

Should one view Blood Suckers from Outer Space? I watched it thanks to Tubi and I’ll probably forget I saw the movie by next year, although that’s more likely due to viewing way too many movies every year these days. I say check it out, leave your expectations behind and abandon your brain as well, and things will end up just fine.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: I Come in Peace aka Dark Angel (1990, Craig R. Baxley)

Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben are mismatched partners in Craig R. Baxley’s cult camp early 1990s movie I Come in Peace, which also had the better sounding title Dark Angel. Betsy Brantley also stars as the love interest of Lundgren’s Jack, a battle hardened cop who begins fighting a local drug cartal and ends up battling a drug dealing alien. One who creates his own drug from the fluids of people. I’m still in awe that this movie exists.

Sure this is a goofy and even humorous mix of action, sci-fi, horror and buddy cop genres, still it all works to a certain effect. This movie has the look and feel of an 1980s flick that snuck into the early 1990s, and the evil alien mostly looks and sounds as if he’s a normal person with certain exceptions. I was fine with that, and this movie wields explosions so many times you could turn it into a fun drinking game.

Honestly I’m bummed they never made a sequel to this one, as it called for one and Dolph Lundgren should have been a much bigger action star. Seeing two aliens battle it out is also pretty radical, and sure the plot works if you check your brain at the door. Explosions! Aliens! Government agents! They don’t make em like they used to.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975, Juan López Moctezuma)

Cristina Ferrare is the title slasher villain/vampire in Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary which is a pretty solid entry in the genre. In fact I was reminded of both Martin and The Velvet Vampire as well. The murders in this movie happen fairly quickly and Mary is being followed by an eerie stranger (horror legend John Carradine) who may have a link to her bleak past. I won’t say more, just that despite being goofy at times I was fairly engrossed in this flick and I rather liked it a lot despite the obvious B-movie limitations.

David Young is also great as the caring boyfriend who of course has no idea his special lady has a thirst for blood that is never ending. Juan López Moctezuma even throws in a frantic and wild car chase for good measure, just to pad out the movie. I think 1970s campy vampire movies are among my favorite things from the decade at this point.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Zombies of Mora Tau (1957, Edward L. Cahn)

Despite wanting to enjoy Zombies of Mora Tau, this whole thing felt as if someone decided to make their own spin on I Walked With a Zombie, only without the style and talent of that movie. Also this is supposed to be set in Africa, yet there is nothing to indicate that is the case. At all. The underwater zombies were indeed neat, yet they don’t have the look of the undead all that much. Plus the movie whimps out by not having the main character be an anti-hero or even a bad guy like he should have been. Weak.

The female characters are decent in this one, yet they are not enough to save the movie which also lacks a real satisfying ending. Still Cahn’s flick does have its moments, primarily one where the film’s ship wreck robbing characters face down a den full of the undead. More of that would have been welcomed in this movie, yet alas it’s a lackluster disappointing effort. The underwater scenes are good however and points and props to this movie featuring zombies emerging from the sea before Carnival of Souls did it 5 years later.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Flesh For Frankenstein (1973, Paul Morrissey)

Udo Kier also played Frankenstein in Paul Morrissey’s other campy cult horror flick, Flesh For Frankenstein. I think I like this one a bit more than his Dracula one, and it has plenty of nasty and bloody moments. Joe Dallesandro also pops up in this one, and the movie even has a weird yet fitting commentary on eugenics that never made its way into any of the Hammer Studios Frankenstein movies for whatever reason.

The last act is insanely gruesome and pretty shocking even for a Frankenstein movie. Kier hams it up in this one, too, yet I liked his performance better in this flick than in Dracula. This one also has tons of sex to go along with the mayhem, which seemed to be a major aspect of 1970s Euro horror flicks. I think this is a fairly decent addition to the rest of the Frankenstein movies that Hollywood has been making since the dawn of cinema.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Turkey Shoot (1982, Brian Trenchard-Smith)

The Aussies are pretty good at making their own brand of apocalyptic dystopia movies and Turkey Shoot is one of those movies. Brian Trenchard-Smith does a fine job of creating a movie that is equal parts sci-fi, action and horror movie. With plenty of yellow jumpsuits, of course. Steve Railsback and Olivia Hussey star as two people struggling to stay alive at one of those ruthless concentration camps that mirrors ones from fascist regimes in real life.

This one is a re-education camp, yet the leaders have decided to select a small group and hunt for sport. This is very The Most Dangerous Game and predates Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, of course. Sure Turkey Shoot, also known as Escape 2000, is one of those cheesy 1980s violent cult films that people still talk about. And with good reason-it has no qualms about who lives or dies, and it’s subject matter is not too far out of the realm of modern possibility.

Did I think this was a great movie? No, yet I’m glad I still watched it. Too bad the budget restrictions limited the film quite a bit, and yet despite those Turkey Shoot is a good and horrifying movie. We can dream of a Star Trek style future, yet more than likely something as nasty as Turkey Shoot is more plausible to me knowing human nature. I don’t know what color the jumpsuits will be, though.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Frankenhooker (1990, Frank Henenlotter)

James Lorinz may be the main character of Frankenhooker, yet Patty Mullen is the real star of the film. When Lorinz’s maniac and wacky amateur scientist Jeffrey revives his dead girlfriend, Elizabeth, the movie really changes into a different and very amusing, gear.

However what occurs before all that is also insane, outrageous and very much in a spirit of a movie like this one. Frank Henenlotter, responsible for the also entertaining and pretty far out movies Basketcase and Brain Damage gives us in Frankenhooker another fun, gory and quite adult movie. Which is why I like all of those films I’ve seen from him so far, especially since these days PG-13 horror seems more the norm.

If you want to see exploding hookers, this is your kind of movie. If a horrific lawnmower accident either makes you laugh or wonder why it’s not even more violent, this is a movie for you. I didn’t think it was a great film, still I was engaged and I even laughed at times. This is definitely not your average movie, and in this case that’s a good thing.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Here Comes Hell (2019, Jack McHenry)

Before anyone pounces on me, I wanted to really like Here Comes Hell. The title is neat, the trailer made it seem fun, yet it took me almost a week to muster the effort to finish the movie. Here Comes Hell is not a bad movie, yet I cannot recommend the film to people. I am very disappointed, especially since whenever I discover a quality low budget cult film I eagerly sing its praises.

I did like the cast, and the actors give it their best shot. The film takes way too damn long to get going considering the short run time, and each reference or homage just made me wish I was viewing that movie instead. It does not help that Ready or Not came out the same year and does what this movie wanted to do much better. Not to mention The Lighthouse was a far superior tribute to classic early half century horror, as well. Also from the same year. Yes I know both had bigger budgets, still that didn’t stop a lot of great horror movies in the past.

Jessica Webber was likable enough in the main role, yet I feel that Margaret Clunie as the sister of the man responsible for the events of the film had better screen presence and would have made more sense as the lead final girl. Oh and Tom Bailey from The Thompson Twins is in this movie and is the only male character I even remotely cared about or liked. Skip this, watch the original The Old Dark House instead.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: All The Colors of the Dark (1972, Sergio Martino)

Edwige Fenech has that wide eyed, haunted look down pat, and she channels her character’s nightmarish journey in Sergio Martino’s cult film All The Colors of the Dark. One thing I liked about this movie is how you are not sure if anything is real, if Fenech’s Jane is going mad or if she is falling prey to evil. Martino clearly has an eye for visuals and he also is able to craft a film that has a high level of strange, the eerie just dwelling beneath the surface of what appears to be reality. There is a reason I enjoy giallos so much: they feature stylized violence but also make the viewer pay attention by offering up scenes that are engaging even if they do not add to the film’s overall plot. Well that and they have scenes that sometimes do not make any sense.

Despite being a tad dull at times I really enjoyed this movie, and I think another viewing is in order to discuss it’s twists and turns. Midway through the movie goes down a strange and rewarding path, and the ending was nicely done if a bit expected. I got some Rosemary’s Baby vibes, however I was also reminded of the belief that if it happens in a dream, it can happen in real life. While I don’t believe that, I often wonder if perhaps I am mistaken. Is it a nightmare if you are wide awake and it is happening before your very eyes? Are we doomed to create new mistakes that echo those of the past? And why in horror movies is it often always fall weather? Watch this movie and find out. Maybe.

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