Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Roadgames (1981, Richard Franklin)


This movie’s title is either Roadgames or Road Games, but that doesn’t matter because it is a highly effective, well crafted and even gorgeous horror thriller from Australia. Richard Franklin makes a really good movie that I should probably rate higher, and the cast helps him out: Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis, who play a trucker and the hitchhiker he picks up on the dusty backroads of the Australian Outback. Keach’s Pat is tired and in an hurry to make some money, yet along the way he ends up possibly driving behind a man who could be a serial killer. That or Pat is just sleep deprived and going crazy, which is something even he entertains at one point. Curtis’ Pamela believes him to a point, or perhaps she just is eager for a ride and some adventure. Roadgames is Hitchcock in the Australian wild, yet it’s done with style, beautiful cinematography, and some nicely executed set pieces.

My favorite thing about this movie is how the police keep thinking Pat is the killer, which is something that Hitchcock loved to do in his movies. Franklin also made Patrick, which is just as good as this movie, and he went on to a pretty solid Hollywood career. Yet this movie stands out I’m sure when people think of his filmography, and for good reason. Keep watching for the bleakly amusing ending, which has a final shot that I’m sure made people jump in the movie theater. Good times. Also any movie that has a dingo and doesn’t kill it off will get tons of points from me. Viewed thanks to Tubi, which is my favorite free streaming service. If you don’t mind the ads, that’s the one for you.

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: 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 2017 Presents: Alice, Sweet Alice (1976, Alfred Sole)


The late Alfred Sole gave us one of the more underrated and chilling 1970s slasher cult classics in Alice, Sweet Alice, which has a memorable killer outfit, gruesome murders and a pretty surprising finale even by 1970s standards. The movie is very grounded in the Catholic religion, and thus religious themes of guilt, murder, sex and punishment are all depicted in very strong fashion. I’ll never forget the eerie mask that the killer wears the entire movie, or how many of the film’s victims meet their own ends. If there was ever a movie to cause the viewer to fear or distrust anyone donning a yellow raincoat, it would be this movie.

Young Alice (Paula E. Sheppard) is part of a family where the mother is divorced; she is jealous of her sister (Brooke Shields in an early role) and loathes some of the tenants of the building she lives in, although one who attempts to molest her definitely warrants such hate. Whether or not she is guilty of the murders that start to occur from the earliest scene onward remains to be seen, and the movie operates as an American style giallo and a slasher movie. The ending is quite chilling and very shocking, and there is one death by falling that forever sticks out in my mind as well for being rather unexpected.

One thing I really love about this movie is how even though it is low budget the cinematography is still quite good, and the direction and pacing work very well. Never once was I bored, and Sole gives you reason to notice and care about the characters, even the more nasty ones. The film has an appropriate body count for maximum effect, and I really wish I had seen a better print of this movie than the one Tubi possessed at the time. Sometimes free doesn’t always work out, although I suppose I could buy this movie from one of the many cult movie distributors currently out in force today. Check it out.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: You’re Next (2013, Adam Wingard)


Adam Wingard’s You’re Next was the second Netflix Instant Viewing pick on Halloween night. After this I fell asleep watching Barton Fink and dragged my drunk ass into bed when I woke back up to use the bathroom. Good times, heh. This movie is literally Home Alone as a slasher movie, which honestly Home Alone felt like a slasher movie in the second one anyways. The kids version of one, to say the least. Wingard did better than this one later on but it’s still a pretty great modern horror flick.

Barbara Crampton headlines a really good cast that make up a rich family meeting at a remote estate that is of course not close to any major population centers. Sharni Vinson is also excellent in this movie as the heroine who battles the killers. This is definitely not a movie for the faint of heart or those who cannot handle gore, because there is plenty of that and most of the kills are quite brutal.

From what I recall I was a tad mixed about the final act, yet the cell phones being jammed was a decent touch. The killers wearing animal masks was cool although I’m sure other movies have done that before. Still the masks were really wicked looking and the last scene is funny in a pretty bleak way. This concludes Horrorfest 2014 finally although I will link reviews to the movies I didn’t get to back then as I watch them in future Horrorfests. Cheers!

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000, Michael Cooney)


Look I enjoyed the first Jack Frost even if it wasn’t a great movie. The sequel is hilariously awful in a fun way that still means it sucks. Yet I didn’t hate this movie cause it made me laugh and I found the whole thing to be watchable in a bad fun movie way that requires booze. I didn’t have any booze at the time though. Also the reason for Jack Frost still being around is dumb in that usual slasher movie villain way.

Too bad that this sequel lacks the self aware comedic value of the first movie. Yes the kills are fun and this movie wisely follows the sequel rules of a higher death toll. However I can’t recommend this flick even to die hard slasher movie fans. It’s that bad and really it’s not surprising they never made a third movie. Which is also for the best if this is what they cobbled together for the sequel.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: The House That Screamed (1969, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador)


Although The House That Screamed is a slow burning movie, the movie still has plenty of violence and mayhem to satisfy fans of giallo and slasher movie type films, of which this movie is clearly both. I’m glad that I was unable to guess the identity of the killer, and I really liked this movie despite the characters being the user paper thin clichés that populate these types of movies. The boarding school setting works very well in the movie’s favor, and this flick is probably best known to fans of Elvira, as she featured the movie on her show back in the 1980s. Unfortunately this movie due to including a mother smothering her own son resulted in The House That Screamed being unfairly compared to Psycho, which is silly considering the two films are quite different in style and in tone.

The murders in this movie are pretty brutal, and there is one shot that is particularly gorgeous. You have issues of voyeurism, lesbian overtones and the oppression of those in charge of the school, all which come to a head at one point or another. I’ve seen better foreign slasher movies sure, yet The House That Screamed is a good slow burn and offers a fantastic and super creepy finale. I’ll never forget that ending, that’s for sure. Oh and I’m pretty convinced that Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s film inspired or had an influence on multiple later, better slasher movies down the road. Alas there is a lack of house screaming, which is made up for human screams. Lots of human screams.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Pledge Night (1990, Paul Ziller)


If Pledge Night wasn’t on a streaming service, I never would have seen it. Then I would have been spared one of the worst horror movies I’ve ever seen in years. It’s really awful, which is too bad since the main villain is ok by slasher movie standards. Oh for some dumb reason Acid Sid doesn’t even show up until way too late in the movie. How can you have a slasher movie where no one gets killed until the flick is almost over? Lame.

I didn’t care about the people in this movie, and I guarantee in about a month I’ll forget I even watched this movie. The title is also dumb considering that the movie takes place over the course of multiple days. Imagine Animal House’s Kevin Bacon gets spanked scene only stretched out longer. Bad slasher movies such as this one do serve only good purpose: they make me appreciate the way better ones.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Hellmaster (1992, Douglas Shulze)


Poor John Saxon really needed a quick paycheck and this appeared in Hellmaster, a prime argument for those who dislike 1990s horror movies. I’ve often defended the decade, yet this flick is just awful in a hilariously inept way that must be viewed for one to believe. The characters in this flick not only fully embrace terrible decision making, they also have dialogue so bland even I couldn’t ignore it. I can envision someone finding Hellmaster at the local video store back then, renting it and wanting their money back soon afterwards.

This movie even has a halfway ok plot, yet the movie never fully realizes that potential. There are some good creepy moments, yet they are lost in the film’s inability to not swerve from scary to camp, often in the same scene. Pick a lane, movie. I already don’t recall the final woman, or why she takes the superman drug yet is perfectly fine while others mutate. There’s no logic in this movie, even by horror movie standards. I could see Netflix remaking Hellmaster and creating their own terrible mess in the process.

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