Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Meatcleaver Massacre (1977, Evan Lee)


Shudder must not have gotten the version of this movie that at least had Christopher Lee at the beginning, cause I didn’t see that part at all. Not that it matters since Meatcleaver Massacre is an exercise in insomnia, a mostly snooze inducing production that offers nothing new or interesting. If this hadn’t been made in the 1970s people would have forgotten it already and it wouldn’t have even been featured on Shudder or Tubi, which I believe also has this movie. I know that I shouldn’t be that guy but honestly I advise people to skip this flick and watch something way more interesting. Anything at all, really, and besides if you’re in the mood for a decent 1970s flick that are tons of giallos and better slasher movie offerings from the decade out there.

I didn’t care about any of the characters and this movie wastes a decent/solid premise: a college professor calls on this ancient demon to avenge his murdered family. Even the murders aren’t particularly notable, and I’m already forgetting them as I type this. The only decent thing I can recall is some neat dream sequence that feels as if it was ripped off from a much better movie. If you don’t think you can make a movie though, view Meatcleaver Massacre and realize whatever you have planned can’t be any worse than Evan Lee’s turkey. If it didn’t have violence and gore this would easily be featured by now on MST3K and honestly they’re on streaming so they could probably get away with an episode making fun of one of the worst movies from the 1970s.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Watch Me When I Kill (1977, Antonio Bido)


Hurray for more Italian giallo, which is one of my favorite horror sub-genres. Watch Me When I Kill is a semi sleazy, pretty brutal, film directed by Antonio Bido that also works as an effective murder mystery. Which is of course all giallos, and that’s why they’re fun to watch. Trying to guess who the killer is while people are being horribly slaughtered is an old giallo pass time that never gets old to me.

The bathtub kill is rather nasty, as is the face into the stew murder that ends with the lady getting her throat cut. The conclusion wraps up everything quite nicely, and the film has multiple surprises that I didn’t expect. While not as good as some of the more famous or better made giallos, this is still worth a view. I saw it thanks to Shudder, which may be my favorite streaming service.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Nadie oyó gritar aka No One Heard the Scream (1973, Eloy de la Iglesia)


No One Heard the Scream is as much a Spanish take on Hitchcock movies as it is a giallo, and it’s a pretty well made giallo that I really liked. Based on what I’ve seen from Eloy de la Iglesia I like him as a director, and the man had his own flavor and style that worked. The plot would make the Master of Suspense grin, as it entails a woman being forced to help her neighbor dispose of a body. Is he a killer or is something else at work? That and she ends up becoming his all too willing accomplice.

Carmen Sevilla is the woman and Vicente Parra who was also in Cannibal Man is the man. They enter into a twisted game of criminal activity, lying, romance and of course, sex. I also like how de la Iglesia makes the viewer guess who the victim was-naturally I’m not telling, watch the movie people! No spoilers!

The ending made me grin and while this is at times a slow burn the film burns brightly and envelops you, making you wonder if the characters will get caught or not. I prefer this one over Cannibal Man and I look forward to viewing more of Elroy de la Iglesias’ films in the near future. Viewed thanks to Shudder which has a nice collection of foreign horror movies.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: La Semana del asesino aka The Cannibal Man (1972, Eloy de la Iglesia)


Cannibal Man has multiple other titles, yet I’m sticking with that one because it sounds the coolest. It also is a lie of sorts, in that Marcos (Vicente Parra) is not a cannibal, although how he ends up deposing of his victims certainly leads to a form of cannibalism in a twisted way. Marcos kills a cab driver by accident while trying to defend his girlfriend, and this leads him down a horrifying and tragic path of death, deceit, and finally insanity. He didn’t mean to become a murder, yet circumstances and his situation turn him into one, and the movie goes from you, the viewer, being sympathetic to you, the viewer being horrified by his actions. Eloy de la Iglesia put his own stamp on the serial killer movie, however this is as much a drama as it is a horror film, and that’s what makes it such a good movie.

I’m amused that this ended up on the Video Nasties list considering that most of the movie is a slow burn punctuated by the killings that happen. There is also a tender friendship that develops between Marcos and his neighbor, who despite having his own suspicions continues to hang out with Marcos anyways. That guy must be super lonely, and yet that’s what the movie chooses to focus on : Marcos’ crushing loneliness and isolation. The movie even has a surprising and open ended conclusion of sorts, refusing to take the easy way out which is admirable. I’m wondering if my rating will go up on a second viewing, yet for now I find this to be a pretty good movie for now. Viewed thanks to Shudder, which is currently my favorite streaming service.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: The Toolbox Murders (1978, Dennis Donnelly)


The Toolbox Murders first half contains murders that make even a gorehound like myself feel uneasy. Too bad the last half of the movie turns into a bottle episode that slows the movie down until the rather creepy finale. I’m reminded of a steak that appears tasty at first until you start cutting away and realize there’s too much fat inside. I prefer my slasher movies a bit leaner and meaner than even what this one has to offer.

Still Dennis Donnelly’s likely most famous creation works as a movie, and it did have some wonderfully nasty surprises up it’s sleeve. Cameron Mitchell gives a freaky and evil performance, fully taking over the movie by the middle of the flick. Pamelyn Ferdin also does a fine job of being the so called final girl, although she doesn’t get much to do for a lot of the movie.

The Toolbox Murders fits in well among the other 1970s sleeze type horror movies that were a big part of that decade. Some of those movies are fantastic and a few are even classics. I wouldn’t label this one anything other than a decent grindhouse B movie that was unfortunately inspired by real events. People tell me reality is more terrifying than onscreen, and they have a point.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Uncle Sam (1996, William Lustig)


William Lustig and Larry Cohen got together in the 1990s to give us all a slice of 1980s style cheese known as Uncle Sam. This movie has some cool kills, yet too many of them were hampered by the budget and more likely the MPAA. I loathe those censoring bastards. Anyways this movie probably should have been longer and more fleshed out, and Joe Bob Briggs does have a point that some elements are randomly left unexplained when they probably warranted some exposition.

However Darcy the Mail Girl is correct in that this is a fun horror flick, and plus it’s a rare one set around the Fourth of July. I’m a sucker for holiday related movies in general and honestly one of our most celebrated holidays should have more flicks based around it. Plus I’m down with a movie that gleefully takes aim at how much war is glorified by people in this country, and how Hollywood is partly to blame in that regard.

That smarts!

Christopher Ogden is quite good as young Jody, who slowly learns the awful truth about his Uncle Sam, who he worships at first. Isaac Hayes has a great monologue in this movie where he tells Jordy not to join the military, where as Timothy Bottoms and Robert Forster show up to be major character actor victims. P.J. Soles even makes an appearance although I barely recognized her. There is a scene where one man is killed by fireworks and then this leads to another man being impaled on the American flag in what is probably one of the most impressive displays of cheesy slasher movie violence I have ever witnessed.

Honestly you could probably remake this movie now, yet it wouldn’t be quite the same although perhaps the gore would be more present. Add in an even more pointed takedown of military propaganda and you would have yourself a great movie instead of a merely decent one. Still check out Uncle Sam for a slice of 1990s comedy violence that fits well with Small Soldiers for a nice double bill.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989, Richard Friedman)


When Shudder revealed they were adding Phantom of the Mall to their July lineup, I had to check it out. It’s a late 1980s slasher movie take on the classic old school tale, and this one has a bizarre charm to it that works in it’s favor and makes it better than most 1980s slasher movies. What helps is that Derek Rydall is perfect in the title role, although I’m not sure why they needed to include Eric’s Revenge in the title. I think we can figure that out after he starts killing people.

Kari Whitman also stars as Melody, Eric’s former love, who Eric continues to pine for in-between kung fu workouts and horribly killing people at the mall he’s hiding out in. Pauly Shore appears in this movie too and he’s actually the amusing comic relief and the helpful friend all at the same time. Rob Estes and Morgan Fairchild round out the other major players, so this movie actually has a fairly reliable cast which helps.

Is most of this movie’s appeal Eric getting his revenge? Sure thing. Does all of the material work? No, yet it oddly works all the same anyways. The finale is also exciting too, and Jonathan Goldsmith adds plenty of sleeze too as the mall owner with his own dastardly secrets. Ken Foree even pops up in this movie briefly as a security guard, which is nice. I’ll gladly champion Richard Friedman’s effort as one of the better 1980s slasher movies, and as one that helped close out the decade as that sub-genre was in decline.

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: Invaders From Mars (1986, Tobe Hooper)


I think I’ve seen some of the original cult flick Invaders From Mars which came out in the 1950s. What I saw of that was good, yet dated. You can make the same argument about Hooper’s remake, still I rather liked this one well enough. The ending is gusty, the cast is good, there’s some awesome freaky moments and the movie is very 1980s. Which is fine as Hooper did some pretty good work during that decade and became further established in his own right.

However compared to other 1980s remakes this one isn’t as good as the other ones, although I definitely prefer it over Not Of This Earth, which was not a good movie. Louise Fletcher is wonderfully sinister in this movie, the parents are played by famous actors Timothy Bottoms and Laraine Newman, and Karen Black has a prominent hero role as the school nurse who believes the kid protagonist. Hunter Carson is quite good as young David, the hero, and James Karen plus Christopher Allport pop up as high ranking soldiers who come to David’s aid.

There are several pretty cool sequences too, particularly the one in the saucer alien lair yet also one involving a swirling sand vortex of doom. Stan Winston and John Dykstra do a fine job with the special effects, and even though the movie drags a bit in the middle the finale more than covers for the weaker aspects. I’ll have to view the original in it’s entirety to compare the two, however for now I’m very satisfied with the remake.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Without Warning (1980, Greydon Clark)


Alright hear me out: an alien comes to earth to hunt people and faces off against a group of people in the woods. Sound familiar? Well this isn’t Predator, it’s Without Warning, a cheesy early 1980s movie that definitely inspired Predator. Even though it is not as good as Predator (not really in the same ballpark, actually) I still enjoyed this cheesy and quite violent sci-fi horror movie. The cast is largely made up of young people you’ve never heard of, save for a pre stardom David Caruso, yet the flick does have some heavy hitters to assist with the kind of flimsy plot.

You have Jack Palance as a gas station owner who in typical horror movie cliche fashion warns the young people to go home. They ignore him of course. Martin Landau plays a crazy veteran who ends up being just as dangerous as the alien-I feel his character wasn’t necessary and could have been cut from the movie. Ralph Meeker, Cameron Mitchell and Neville Brand appear as movie veterans who aren’t a big part of the movie yet offer it some character actor gravitas.

Funny enough Kevin Peter Hall also played the alien in Predator and he does so here as well, and I liked that the movie only bothers to show the alien later for mass effect. Despite lagging a bit in the middle, this is still a solid and entertaining killer alien movie. The alien sucker things the alien throws at it’s victims are creepy to me, and the movie wisely does its job and concludes. This was part one of a triple alien feature I decided to do via Shudder a month ago.

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