Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Deadly Blessing (1981, Wes Craven)


Deadly Blessing is Wes Craven ironing out some more kinks before he started on his run of quality 1980s movies that kicked off with A Nightmare On Elm Street. However despite being very campy and odd, this movie works in spite of itself. The cast helps, as does the movie embracing the goofy plot, the multiple use of “Incubus!” (not to be confused with the band) and the fact that the countryside setting is creepy. After all, you are alone out in the middle of nowhere, and as the local cop reminds the trio of women at the farm, no help will arrive in time.

Perfect setting for what is equal parts a slasher flick, demonic flick, and sinister religious cult next door flick. Ernest Borgnine leads the religious fanatics who live next door, and he relishes the opportunity to ham it up as much as he did in The Devil’s Rain (hey I saw that too-neat). Maren Jensen is the woman who made the mistake of marrying his son and taking him away from a life of no electronics and tons of switch beatings. A pre-Hollywood stardom Sharon Stone and Michael Berryman add to the proceedings quite a bit.

I also liked Susan Buckner and Jeff East, though. They had nice chemistry in this flick, particularly since East plays the other son of a man not afraid to beat the fear of God into people. The final act is a strange molding of the supernatural and slasher, resulting in something that I might actually remember months later. Say what you will about Wes Craven, his movies never seem to be dull. Also feel free to turn people saying “Incubus!” into a fun drinking game. I forgot to mention that the James Horner score is fantastic, too.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Contamination (1980, Luigi Cozzi)


Even though the 1980 cult horror sci-fi movie Contamination has been called a rip off of Alien, I found it to be more of a lost, more gorier episode of Doctor Who. Particularly since the main enemy had been possessed by an alien species, and that aspect usually formed the basis of many a Doctor Who episode. Even though it’s low budget qualities are obvious, I rather enjoyed Contamination. The Italians and the Germans in the 1970s and 1980s made films that were destined to be grind house style classics beloved by those who journeyed to rundown cinemas to view the latest splatter fest. Now a days they are the kind of movie watched by horror fanatics (myself included) online (in this case, Shudder) or via physical media supplied by companies such as Arrow Bay or Shout! Factory.

Once again Ian McCulloch pops up as the sturdy hero, although in this movie he is more a haunted burnt out astronaut recruited by others to stop the invasion of earth by exploding eggs. Louise Monroe and Martin Mase fill out the rest of the cast, and provide the film with a weak love triangle that it jettisons the moment the film needs more violence. Naturally this movie ended up as a video nasty, which embellished its reputation and caused more people to want to see it, not less. Honestly Contamination is nothing more than a fun movie, although perhaps that is enough in this case, and due to changes in cinema and budgets a film like this wouldn’t be made today. The B-movie is dead, long live the B-movie.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Humanoids From The Deep (1980, Barbara Peeters)


Produced by the legendary Roger Corman Humanoids of the Deep is a wonderfully trashy camp film that was more in tune with the 80s despite being made at the start of the decade. What you basically have is women being attacked by rape monsters from the sea who want to mate. Gross. The special effects are not half bad even though the storyline is rather weak. Also the last act consists solely of gory and entertaining monster attacks at a carnival. Which happens to be a good setting for an orgy of gore and mayhem.

Doug McClure is the well meaning hero of the film while Vic Morrow plays the local big shot racist and Ann Turkel is the scientist who knows what is really going on. Unfortunately Peters, the film’s director, did not approve of the changes that were made to this film by Corman. Still a woman directing any film, much less a horror movie, was an even rarer thing back in those days so even though Humanoids is a cheesy camp fest at best I still kind of like and enjoy it. Those types of films are really not made now a days and the cult film seems almost dead sadly. I would like to get my hands on the Shout! Factory 30th Anniversary copy as I viewed this movie on Netflix.

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.

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