Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Maniac Cop (1988, William Lustig)


Eventually the 1980s would feature an undead cop who wasn’t really dead. Maniac Cop is more Frankenstein’s monster anyways, as the titular police offer seeks revenge against the system that put him away for being a psycho. Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Richard Roundtree, Robert Z’Dar and Laurene Landon headline a really good cast that elevates what is basically a trashy slasher flick with a cop as the killer.

The movie doesn’t really try to hide that aspect, even though it obscures the full truth from its main characters. The kills are brutal enough and the final act is really entertaining. Maniac Cop is not as interesting as William Lustig or Larry Cohen’s other films, and I don’t think it really deserved to be a franchise. Still I liked it well enough, and once again the 1980s shows a part of New York City I never got to experience.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Nightbreed (1990, Clive Barker)


A good way to tell if you are in a horror movie is that David Cronenberg is your psychologist. Plus you are having recurring nightmares of murders and a place that is not found on any map. If you also encounter a strange man who ends up carving off his own flesh and speaks of a mystical place known as Midian, the very place you have been searching for, well you are most likely in a horror movie. Clive Barker created a cult film in Nightbreed, a twisted yet oddly captivating and moving fantasy horror movie about a man’s search for a place to call home.

Boone is the name of that young man, troubled because he is being framed for crimes he has never committed. Midian happens to be something truly else, a community that is almost out of this world. Only Barker, the creator of so many gruesome and yet intriguing films and books could give birth to something as inspired and fascinating as this film. Lucky for me Netflix had the director’s cut which was released by Scream Factory, and thus I was able to witness Barker’s vision as intended. Studios never care about the artist and what they are trying to accomplish.

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Even after I saw this film I still was not sure what the creatures of Midian were, and I’m not sure if they were really good or not. Compared to a twisted mask wearing serial killer, rednecks and corrupt local law enforcement the beings of Midian are saints. Also its too bad that Craig Sheffer never became a big star, as he’s great in this movie as Boone. Matching him rather well is Anne Bobby as Lori Winston, his girlfriend, who does not understand what is going on with Boone and searches for him despite it clearly not being a good idea. Cronenberg manages to be rather creepy as Boone’s psychologist, Dr. Decker-although I cannot say more about what occurs-and he really should have been in more movies, as he is that rare director who can act.

I also liked how the film uses so many different creature effects, and of course Doug Bradley, who famously played Pinhead, makes an appearance in this movie. I also prefer the alternative ending, which is the one that is used for the Netflix copy of this film since it is the director’s cut. I know of the original ending and it sounds weaker by comparison. Although just like Hellraiser this film falls short of greatness, I still think of both films rather highly and I have so far enjoyed Barker as a director. Its worth noting that both Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions were both meant to be franchises, and yet it was Hellraiser that ended up being the series, for better or for worse.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Critteriffic


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Sure this was supposed to be part of my viewing from last year. Doesn’t matter because I do what I want anyways. Critters 3 and 4 came as a double bill part of a four pack that I found at my local library. Neither are particularly good, yet I actually dug one a little bit. I like to finish franchises anyways, for better or for worse. The series isn’t Oscar worthy but it is fun to watch. For some reason the 80s and 90s had a lot of franchise horror, although that seemed to be the norm for Hollywood, period.

Critters 3 is not a good movie. It’s easy the worst of the series and is mostly notable for featuring a young Leonardo DiCaprio in one of the main roles. As the son of a douche bag who wants to drive off his tenants so he can build a shopping mall or something. After having the Critters take over a farmhouse and a small town an apartment building is a huge step down. Imagine if this had been a big budget film where the Crites invade a whole city. Too bad that never happened.

Still this film does have its moments and the cast isn’t bad for a poor showing. They make this crappy movie watchable and I did like some of the kills. Also for some reason (SPOILER) The film ends on a cliffhanger. I like that Terrence Mann and Don Keth Opper appear in all of the series. That’s welcomed consistency.

Now oddly enough Critters 4 was a step up and works okay as an ending to the series. Well at least it was supposed to be, since nothing ever seems to end in Hollywood. Opper and Mann return along with new additions Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett as members of a crew that finds Charlie in space. I overlooked the obvious Alien/Aliens ripoff moments and sat back and enjoyed the fact that for the first time ever the Crites were actually in space. And that this movie has a few surprises, including one I did not see coming.

Even though like the rest of the series the low budget feel is quite apparent, I still enjoyed the fourth movie. The first two entries in the series are the best, however I still recommend even seeing the last two, just to see how things shake out. Also I am a fan of even bad sci-fi, especially since we don’t get too much of the actual stuff these days. Comic book movies don’t count.

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