Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1973)

As far as I am concerned, this movie started out with two strikes against it. First, it's a vampire movie and I hate vampire movies (with one exception). Especially Dracula vampire movies. Second, this is a movie from famous British studio Hammer Film Productions, and I am not a fan of their movies at all.

A bunch of old guys have set up some kind of Dracula cult, of which most of the members are young 70s guys in fur jackets, riding motorcycles. We begin the movie with this one guy waking up in the cult headquarters and he makes a daring escape, winding up back at some kind of 1970s British X-Files organization, where he has just enough time to pass over his information before dying.

It turns out that a bunch of VIPs, ranging from politicians to rich guys, are trying to revive Dracula so they will have even more power. It is up to a bunch of secret agents and also Professor Van Helsing to fix all of this!

Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride was originally titled The Satanic Rites of Dracula, but you know how we Americans are with our intense fear of satanic rites. It's too bad, because there are a lot of satanic rites in this film(the vampire bride is kind of an afterthought at the end of the movie) and I'm a big fan of movie titles that are honest, and also serve as concise plot summaries. They should have called this Dracula 1974... this would have been awesome because this movie is the sequel to a movie called Dracula AD 1972!

Sadly, this is not the Dracula movie that is going to win me over. It's boring and filled with your typical hissing vampires and even the cult aspect is not interesting. I will hand it to Hammer though, they are really good at making excellent looking films on low budgets. But then again, what kind of budget do you need for a vampire picture? Just throw a cape on a guy and tell him to hiss at everything. Most of your money is going to go towards getting those blood capsules so your vampire can bite people and syrupy blood can trickle out.

I've heard that Dracula AD 1972 is pretty excellent in how ridiculous it is, but this movie has none of that (maybe they decided to rein it in a bit this time), so I really can't recommend it unless you just really are in love with the concept of Dracula being resurrected and glaring at people.

Halloween (1978)

Halloween opens with a point of view sequence, where we follow a young woman up into her bedroom and then stab her to death. We run outside and there are the girl's parents, who unmask us... the camera pulls away and the murderer is a little kid, named Michael Myers! The murder victim: his big sister, Judith!

Years later we find that the kid has been institutionalized, under supervision of Dr. Loomis, who is desperate to not let Michael out onto the streets. According to Loomis Michael has spent the last fifteen years in a catatonic state so I don't even understand why he is concerned... do they routinely let psycho killers out who have spent the last fifteen years staring at a wall ("looking past the wall" as Loomis dramatically explains to anyone who will listen)? Anyway, Michael obviously manages to escape, or there wouldn't really be a movie would there? So Michael goes home on Halloween night, as prophesied in the movie poster, and he just really has this urge to kill a bunch of babysitters.

Everyone who knows anything about horror movies knows about this movie and realizes that this is a classic of the genre. I've watched it many times, and this last time I decided to try to figure out why this movie in particular is lauded, while something like Friday the 13th or Nailgun Massacre is seen as exploitative trash.

It's a difficult question to answer. Halloween is a formulaic slasher, but it basically created the sub genre so we can't hold that against it. But the fact of the matter is I have probably seen Halloween six times in my life, and the sixth time I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time, perhaps even more. Whereas with something like A Nightmare on Elm Street, every time I watch it I hate it a little more.

Slashers are generally slow movies, with lots of suspense building, jump scares, false starts, red herrings, and what have you. The suspense works because you don't know what to expect... so your second time through the movie, the suspense building is just kind of annoying. But Halloween works because it has so much to show you. The photography is fantastic and whereas with lesser slashers you would be fast forwarding through all the slow parts, with Halloween no matter how many times you watch this thing the wonderful photography, the masterful direction, it all draws your interest. The sixth time I watched this movie I had a book with me assuming that I would want something to do during the slow parts, but I could not tear my eyes away from the screen.

The characters are all interesting and likable, and the dialog (for the most part) sounds natural and you have to wonder how much of it was written beforehand (apparently all of it), and how much was made up on the spot (apparently none of it). The girls all give you the impression that they are friends, and it almost doesn't matter that they are all 20 year olds pretending to be high school girls. Unfortunately there aren't just 20 year old high school girls in this movie. Dr. Loomis and the sheriff have some outrageously corny lines to deliver, and no matter how talented they are there is no way to say, "DEATH... has come to your little town, sheriff" and not sound ridiculous.

But the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad, and I would happily watch this movie a seventh time.


Martin (1977)

I hate vampire movies. They aren't scary, they aren't cool, and the whole concept is boring. Vampires are like sexy zombies that aren't gross and violent. I just can't get behind that. I want my monsters to be hideous. Lacking that, I want my villains to be extremely violent, leaving hallways full of gore behind them as they pursue that one last girl.

However, every time I watch Martin, I can't help but to be impressed with it. This was George Romero's first horror movie after the classic The Night of the Living Dead, and it is absolutely amazing.

We open with a train speeding through the night. A young boy sneaks into some woman's cabin, holding a kit complete with syringes and other things. He bursts in to find her in the restroom. Waiting patiently by the door, he strikes the minute she steps into the room, injecting her with something. "I won't hurt you. It's so you'll fall asleep. So you won't feel anything!" he explains, though she is of course panicking. They struggle and she eventually succumbs to the drug, whereupon the young man slits her wrists with a razor and starts drinking her blood. This young man is Martin and he may be a vampire.

Martin has been sent to Philadelphia to live with his insane cousin Cuda, who upon meeting the young boy tells him, "I will save your soul. Then I will destroy you." Interestingly, while Cuda is an old man Martin appears to be extremely young- under twenty definitely. At first you will think, "that makes no sense" but trust me, it will be explained to you later.

Cuda escorts Martin from the train, hissing "nosferatu" at him. When they arrive home, Martin meets cousin Christina, who is in some kind of unhappy relationship with Arthur, who due to the poor economy in the area is unable to pursue his dream of becoming an auto mechanic. Cuda has set up his house with all the traditional anti-vampire stuff: crosses, garlic, what have you. None of it has any effect of Martin, who at one point corners a cowering Cuda in his bedroom, takes a dramatic bite of garlic and spits out, "There is no magic."

Cuda continues to antagonize Martin, while Martin is content to adjust to his new neighborhood. He works in Cuda's shop delivering groceries, and eventually meets up with lonely housewife Ms. Santini, who is really lonely. It turns out there are a lot of lonely housewives in this neighborhood, and the interesting thing is that this is not just a means to provide Martin with victims. A decent portion of the script concerns how the economy has ruined the neighborhood and sometimes it feels like all the vampire stuff is secondary to this. In fact, Romero spends a lot of his time behind the camera showing us slow shots of various run down buildings. The town is as much a character in this as Martin or Cuda is.

So this is a really fascinating movie. I find it a little hard to review, first of all because it is so good, and second of all because in my reviews if I mention the name of a movie I bold it and this is really strenuous since the title of the movie is also the name of the main character. There aren't any stupid lines to make fun of, and there aren't really any plot holes to point out. If I really want to be mean I could mention how the flashbacks that Martin experiences seem pretty cheesy, but they have their reason for being in the movie.

Martin is a fantastic horror film that is not afraid of taking its time to show you what it wants you to see, and on top of that you get an amazing ending that comes at you suddenly, but you definitely won't feel cheated or tricked. The best vampire movie I have ever seen.


Werewolf Woman (1976)

A young woman, driven crazy by being molested as a child (described in this movie as "an unfortunate incident"), thinks she is a werewolf and goes around, guys trying to force themselves on her absolutely everywhere, and then she bites those guys to death. You read this summary and immediately you think, "this must be an Italian movie from the 70s" and you would be right.

This movie starts out pretty interesting, with that fantastic overacting and poor dubbing and fountains of blood you'd expect from a movie of this caliber, but then all the sadistic sexual stuff enters the picture and you basically just have a totally sleazy exploitation movie for the rest of the running time. It's really bad. And, being an exploitation movie, the intent is not to explore the effects of sexual violence, the intent is to show it all in a way to excite the audience. So if you think a woman being attacked by literally every man (and one woman!) she runs across is exciting, this is the movie for you.

Medusa (1973)

We begin Medusa with Jeff (played by George Hamilton), playboy heir to a massive fortune, laying dead on a bed in a boat with some lady. In disembodied voice form, he tells us he died three days ago and now he is going to review the mistakes he made in his life. Any movie that starts like this is pretty much destined to be terrible.

The first mistake Jeff feels like reviewing is crashing his sister Sarah's wedding (by the way, it turns out the woman he was laying in bed with was his sister). He's dressed as Elvis and is drunk and this is basically the start of Hamilton's embarrassing mugging and hammy acting. Jeff is supposed to be crazy and carefree and so Hamilton portrays this by basically doing totally random things mixed with horrible impersonations of celebrities, delivering lines of dialogue that completely fall flat. Every single thing this guys says and does is gonna make you want to punch him.

It turns out that Jeff and Sarah may or may have not been cut out from the latest will of their dead father, and since they need that money, something has to be done. Sarah is just used to living the high life, but Jeff owes money to a mobster, Angelo, who borrowed the money from the mob. Meanwhile, there is a hilarious and creepy police detective piecing this all together. He's this really hairy balding Greek guy with the kind of mustache that only grew back in the 70s. And he says things like, "I am like a spider, or a flame. I wait for my prey to come to me." And then he walks backwards, disappearing into the darkness. I think he might be Dracula.

So all this is happening and it's a little hard to follow along because first of all the film is so dark and it's hard to see who people are or what they are doing, and second of all you have the constant distraction of Jeff all over Greece for the entirety of the movie. At one point tries to pick up a girl by introducing his dog to her with this unbearably hot pickup line gem: "It's Part Cocker Spaniel and Part Poodle. Some Call It a Cockerpoo...I Call It a Spadoodle." It works.

Anyway, as it turns out, Jeff and Sarah have had or are having some kind of intimate relationship but the movie would be exactly the same if she was just some girl he used to date but then she got married to some guy, yet they are still in love. So obviously that was just thrown in to give the movie some kind of sleazy edge, which I guess works. But you already know how it ends (they die), since the movie opens with them dead, so what's the point?


Don't Go in the Woods (1980)

I have a quest. I must see all the horror movies that begin with "Don't..." What can I say, I like being told what not to do. Don't Go in the Woods. Don't Go in the House. Don't Look Now. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Is there anything I can do, horror movies?

A bunch of people ignore the helpful advice the movie has given them, and they go into the woods. Then, a lot of them are savagely murdered by a maniac. End credits. Unlike Memorial Valley Massacre, the characters in this movie are not outrageous personifications of all that is awful about mankind. This is both a blessing and a curse. Since they aren't particularly awful, you feel bad about them getting killed which I guess is the point of the horror film. On the other hand, watching nasty people getting killed by maniacs is so fun. So while Don't Go in the Woods is definitely creepier than Memorial Valley Massacre, I can barely remember any of the characters since they are so bland and normal. Some characters are introduced solely to have them murdered seconds later. It is madness.

The murders are brutal and actually pretty scary. There is one scene with a girl trapped in a sleeping bag hanging from a tree and she just has this tiny hole in the sleeping bag through which she can see and then the maniac shows up to attack! It's filmed very well. There is also an awesome trap out of nowhere that gets sprung and I was cheering.

There are quite a few things that set Don't Go in the Woods apart from other slashers. First of all is the soundtrack. It's really effective and creepy and is kind reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange (really). The music is all synthesizer stuff but goes well with the dreamlike atmosphere of the movie.

That's the second interesting thing about this movie. It's so dreamlike and even for a slasher it has so little story. Totally unrelated things just happen to a bunch of people and yeah there are some police around and of course we've got a fat sheriff but the police do absolutely nothing. They don't even try! They just show up in one scene, play some pinball at the bar, and you don't see them until the end of the movie when everything has been already taken care of.

Finally, the nature photography in this film is wonderful. I couldn't get enough of it. If you check out the director online, it turns out he did some work for National Geographic, and it shows.

Unfortunately, while the first forty minutes of this movie are amazing, you get a dry spell for another half an hour and that thirty-minute dry part is really boring. It's definitely worth fighting to stay awake though, because it picks up again during that last ten minutes. Besides what else have you got going on in your life?

Memorial Valley Massacre (1988)

A bunch of annoying people gather to go camping at a site in Memorial Valley, which has just opened. Unfortunately, the construction is way behind schedule and there is no running water and a bunch of other problems so it is not a fit site for camping, but the slimy owner of the site forces George, the head ranger, to open the camp up regardless because he has a lot of money riding on this project! And then the owner's son shows up for work and George is not happy at all. And...little do they know... there is a caveman, too!

So basically what we have here is Jaws, on a campsite, with a caveman. In other words, a high concept movie. When the writers of this script sold the idea to the producer or whatever, they probably used this exact phrasing to describe it. The poster even rips off the tag line from the Jaws 2 poster!

It takes a little while for the caveman to start killing people. Until then we have to put up with a bunch of awful people:

Bikers: Three bikers and their women, all of whom are totally uncool and past their prime. At one point the head biker is like "I'm just no fit to lead this pack anymore man" and all the rest of the gang gather around him and are like "no, don't say that!" I guess this is the new breed of sensitive biker, the kind that fishes for compliments and enjoys the loving support of his pack.

Awful Family: This family is just nasty all around and it takes way too long for them to die. The kid is this fat manboy who is into petty crime and really enjoys riding his ATV. Cavemen don't like ATVs by the way. They think they are dragons or something.

Teenagers: Two guys and their girlfriend. They are nasty to everyone for no reason and totally out of control! There is a part where they all have a huge party in the rain under a tarp and she just really has to dance! And she does a laughable sexy dance in the rain in her tight T-shirt and oh man the late 80s.

The Couple in the RV: Their plan is to sit in their RV all weekend and watch VHS tapes while drinking whiskey and eating steak. These are my kind of campers.

Love Interest: She's not pure evil like every other character, and only kind of nasty to people being nice to her. So you know she's gonna be okay.

Like most slashers in the 80s, you are watching this to see awful, nasty people getting butchered by a maniac. The characters in this movie are indeed horrible people, but the maniac is pretty lame. He's not even the good kind of caveman (the kind that thaws out after millions of years and looks like a gorilla)! Actually, he's not even a caveman at all! He turns out to just be some kid that got left in the woods and grew up feral and lives in a cave. Hm. So I guess that does technically make him a caveman.

But regardless of his status as a caveman, he just isn't very brutal. Most of the time he just breaks necks. Come on. He does set a bunch of traps all over the place, most of which are awesome spike pits, but nothing like the amazing trap masterpiece in slasher Don't Go in the Woods! However, I wouldn't expect a mere caveman to engineer such a trap, so I'll let it pass.

The Beyond (1981)

Widely seen as Lucio Fulci's horror masterpiece, The Beyond begins long ago- so long ago the video is sepia-toned- with a man named Schweick staying in a hotel in Lousiana, painting some weird painting. A mob of people storm the hotel and before you know it they murder him. And I mean, murder him. It's almost ridiculous. They beat him nearly to death with giant chains. Then nail him to the wall. Then dump acid all over him. Why didn't they then cremate the remains and then dump the ashes in the ocean and then blow up the ocean, just to make sure? Well, I guess they just aren't that mean.

We then travel through time to the present day, and here we meet Liza, who has inherited this hotel. Having failed to settle into a comfortable career back in NYC, this hotel is basically her last chance, she tells us, regardless of the fact that she is young and healthy and could go work in an office or go back to school or anything really. But when life hands you old hotels, you turn them into renovated hotels and hopefully get rich. And if not, I guess you just give up because there's nothing you can do.

One by one all the people she has helping her out start dying increasingly hideous deaths. One guy falls off the roof. The next guy has his face torn apart by a zombie. Another guy gets slowly eaten to death by tarantulas. I felt like there should have been a death a little less out there between the roof and the zombie, because the vast gulf of horror between "roof" and "zombie" is a little too much. You gotta do these things more gradually.

In the meantime Liza meets the ruggedly handsome John, who is a doctor at the town hospital. Nothing really happens with them. He's just there to run around shooting the zombies that are destined to appear in a movie like this, since you know, Liza is a girl and also this is an Italian movie, so she is just going to be grabbing her head and shrieking once all hell breaks loose. His secondary function is to tell Liza over and over how crazy she is when she tries to tell him all the weird stuff that is happening. Italian guys in the 80s, those kooks.

The Beyond has very little of what might be called a plot. It's more of a bunch of special effect extravaganza death scenes linked with spooky haunted house stuff. What sets this film apart from, say, A Nightmare of Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, is that The Beyond is gorgeously shot. There are so many scenes where the composition of the screen is so striking you will never forget them, like the scene where Liza meets the creepy blind girl Emily and her dog for the first time.

Another great thing about this movie is that from the minute bad things start happening until the end, it does not let up. There aren't really any jump scares or drawn out suspense scenes. The pacing is so quick that you have no time to breathe and it's like an hour long nightmare. I can't think of higher praise.


Death Rage (1976)

"Keep your mind on what you're doing. Not on what you've done."
-Peter Marciani

This is a quote from Italian crime thriller Death Rage. It is a quote that I retroactively have lived by, except I also don't keep my mind on what I will be doing in the future. Lots of times I also don't worry too much about what I am doing currently. So this movie really resonated with me.

Death Rage opens with scene after scene of guys getting assassinated. Your hear a shot, a guy's hand leaps to his gut, his face scrunches up, and he falls. One of these assassinations takes place at a horse racing track, and the guy that was killed had a deal to split his winnings with Angelo, a young guy who desperately wants to get involved with organized crime. He sneaks into police headquarters. He hangs out with strippers. Then he ends up meeting with Marciani, retired hit man for the mob played by legendary original bald badass guy, Yul Brynner.

Marciani is having bloody visions of his brother getting murdered, rendered with a cool overlay effect of blood running down the screen over a still image of his brother's face. I probably don't have to tell you that Marciani will have to come out of retirement just this one last time.

Angelo is trying everything he can to convince Marciani to be his buddy, but Marciani isn't interested. He fixes a horse race in Marciani's favor. He tries to convince his stripper friend Anny to sleep with Marciani, but she is having none of that. Then she meets Marciani at the strip club and falls in love and ends up sleeping with him anyway. And then Marciani allows Angelo to be his assistant hitman, so I guess it all works out.

The direction is not particularly stylish or anything, but it gets the job done. At its heart, Death Rage is a movie about a kid who wants to be a toughguy hitman, gets a taste, is appalled, but then ends up getting into it anyway. I love how carefree and irresponsible the messages are in this movie. Crime life may seem glamorous and awesome but it's really awful and killing people is a horrible thing, but god damn it hitmen are awesome!! And whatever you do, don't think about what you've done, only about what you're doing!

Of course Yul Brynner is awesome. He's old but awesome and all the best quotes come from him, the best of which is his reaction to Angelo's pathetic whining about how killing guys is horrifying: "You don't hate it. You don't even kill it, because it's been dead ever since you took the contract." That Yul Brynner, so crazy.

Overall this is a very entertaining movie, but what is it doing in my Chilling Classics set? There is nothing chilling about this movie.

Sweet Home (1989)

Sweet Home is a long-lost Japanese splatter horror masterpiece released in 1989, with amazing special effects by Dick Smith, who is the guy that did the makeup for The Exorcist.

A bunch of people go to an old deserted mansion in the woods to film a documentary about some paintings the previous owner of the mansion made:

Kazuo: The producer of the documentary. He has brought his daughter Emi with him. He kind of looks like Japanese Jackie Gleason but sadly does not threaten to punch any people to the moon. His wife is dead and while he isn't looking for a new one, Emi is desperate for a new mom.
Akiko: The director. She has feelings for Kazuo but can't admit it.
Emi: Kazuo's awful daughter, tagging along with her dad on her summer vacation. She spends most of her time fawning over Akiko and asking her to become her mom. She is supposed to be a young schoolgirl, but in real life the actress playing her is 26 years old and looks like it, which makes her scenes with Akiko sort of creepy. It would be like me walking up to some 45 year old guy and begging him to be my daddy.
Ryo: The cameraman. He's annoying enough that you don't mind when he dies horribly.
Asuka: The "reporter" who will be presenting the documentary. She goes around acting like a prima donna, so you can probably tell ahead of time what is gonna happen to her.

They all arrive at the mansion, find the paintings and start filming but pretty soon Asuka goes crazy and digs up some old dead baby from out in the yard. Everyone knows that when you find one of those, well, you treasure it like the... er... treasure that it is. And so she does, which makes everyone else pretty uncomfortable.

This crazy old guy down at the gas station ends up telling Akiko that the spirit of Madam Mamiya, who lost her baby to a fire, is haunting the mansion so they should all get out of there. Of course they don't, and before you know it Emi is running around going, "Mom... is that you?" at every shadow she sees, like girls do in these kinds of movies.

I can't describe how much this bothers me when it happens in horror movies. Some lady will be exploring a hidden cave underneath the ocean and then the sea monster will take the form of her favorite uncle who died in a freak accident where he fell into a vat of acid and then the acid vat exploded and then the building the vat was in burned down in flames thirty years ago and she will be like, "Uncle Bob! Is that you???"

But the good thing is that after this Emi is pretty much gone until the end of the movie, so we can get on with watching people getting dissolved to death by evil ghost shadows which is where this movie excels.

So the special effects are amazing, it's genuinely scary, the acting (with the exception of Emi) is fine, and at just over 90 minutes the pacing is perfect. So why is this movie so rare? It is because it is a cursed movie and if you watch it you will die in seven days! Just kidding. It's because immediately after it was released on VHS and LD the director sued the studio and so now the rights are all over the place and I guess the movie will never be officially released again. Now we have to watch bootlegs, so thanks a lot, guy that directed this movie.


Kung Fu Arts (1980)

Sadly the picture is cropped and this masterpiece of Chinese cinema loses a lot of its impact. Curse you $20 50 Martial Arts Movies DVD set!!!

King Chi, loyal General of the Emperor of China, seemingly attempts to assassinate the Emperor, but in the confusion ends up throwing a poison dart at the Princess, who he was in love with! She only has three days to live and none of the imperial doctors have a cure, so the call goes out: anyone who can cure the Princess can have her hand in marriage!

And then this chimpanzee shows up and everyone is chasing him, and the chimp is holding some medicine and it dawns on me: the chimp is gonna save the princess and marry her! The monkey does indeed cure her, so she has to marry him and she makes a big scene, but the Emperor is a man of his word and soon they are making preparations for the ceremony. Of course, the Emperor is grief-striken and cannot bear the the thought of his daughter being married to a monkey so he does the only thing he can. He decides to put her and the monkey adrift in a boat, where they will surely be eaten to death by sharks.

Commander Pai is made successor to the throne, Commander-in-Chief of all China, and then what a coincidence, the Emperor is killed. Pai blames King Chi, and if King Chi were not already in big trouble for the whole Princess thing, he surely would be now! Some time later, we find that the Princess and her monkey made it safely to an island, where they are living a happily married life together, and Princess is even pregnant!

So the movie could go pretty much anywhere from here. King Chi is still alive, but on the lam. Emperor Pai is really suspicious. Princess is surely about to give birth to a half-human, half-monkey monstrosity. And there is gonna be Kung Fu in this movie, trust me! It just takes a while to get to it.

This is one entertaining Kung Fu movie. You can take nearly any movie, add a chimpanzee to it, and it will end up hilarious. But the combination of poor dubbing, Kung Fu, and a chimpanzee is probably as good as it gets when it comes to simian cinema. If that's not a recommendation I don't know what is.


The New Barbarians (1982)

It is the year 2019. The world is a wasteland, with warriors... barbarian warriors the likes of which you've never seen, since they are so new.

The entire world has been reduced to a couple of groups of people and some guys that are just kind of wandering around. On the one side you have some religious settlers. On the other: the Templars, a gang of fanatics ruled by One (that's his name!) who believe that humanity was fated to die off during the nuclear apocalypse but somehow this group of worthless settlers (and the Templars) cheated death and so it is up to the Templars to kill them (the settlers).

You also have Scorpion, a former Templar who gave up his fanatic ways to spend more time with his awesome car; Nadir, a madman with a bow that shoots explosive arrows; and some annoying kid to fix all their stuff.

Scorpion ends up crossing paths with the Templars and One is really unhappy about that and when they finally get Scorpion in their dirty little fanatic hands, let's just say that the punishment he receives is probably the last thing you would think it would be.

So I probably don't have to say any more than this to convince you of the absolute quality of this film. It is not only compelling but also mesmerizing and fascinating and amazing. The best parts of this movie will leave you with your mouth wide open, as all your cinematic expectations are broken down, dragged across the wasteland behind a future car, left bleeding on the ground only to be saved by Nadir and his wonderful arrows and born anew, stronger and better and wearing see-through body armor!

The slow parts- the slow parts!- are still filled with guys on motorcycles jumping off of things, and guys having their heads exploded by Nadir's arrows, or at the very least totally awkward 1980s Italian movie sexy talk between Nadir and the only black girl left in the whole world which he fortunately just happens to find (you see, Nadir is black and this movie was made in 1982...)

If I have to complain about something, I guess it would be that Nadir's arrows only sometimes directly explode people. Other times, there is just an explosion behind a couple guys and they go flipping in the air. That is just unacceptable. And if I have to nitpick, Fred Williamson as Nadir is pretty awful in this. I don't know what was going on with him in this movie because he was good in some other Italian ripoff movies I had seen before. And man what is up with that annoying kid? I hate that guy.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

Freddy is back, and his power has grown so much that he has rendered Springfield childless, and all the adults of that town are suffering some kind of mass psychosis.

So that is what Freddy has done. What is his plan going forward? To use the power of his child, who was taken from him back when it was discovered he was a child murderer, to breach into other towns. This works because every town has an Elm Street, as Freddy dramatically tells us, though he doesn't really get into why that matters or how having a kid to help out changes the rules set in the previous movies.

But it's okay, because this is an excellent entry in the series so no matter how stupid and nonsensical the premise is I love it. This movie is barely a horror movie. It's like a live action Warner Brothers cartoon (watch for the part where Freddy pushes a bed of nails into place so a falling kid will land right on them) and there were several scenes where I actually chuckled.

Not is all wonderful, however, in the land of Freddy's Dead. The dialog is embarrassing and nearly every character is absolutely detestable. They argue and bicker like old people constantly. They couldn't die fast enough!

I really don't have a lot to say about this movie. It's not nearly as good a movie as Freddy's Revenge, but it's hilarious and a ton of fun, which is more than I can say for the first and fifth movies.


Blood Freak (1972)

This movie is fascinating. It is the only anti-drug Christian splatter slasher movie that exists (I think). I think I could probably watch this movie any day, any time and I would sit there, unable to look away. Truly a compelling film.

Herschell, a big hunk of a guy on a motorcycle, is just kind of riding around when he encounters Angel, whose car has broken down. He fixes things up for her and in return she invites him to her gorgeous sister Anne's drug party full of filthy hippies.

Neither Angel nor Herschell are interested in drugs, and Angel just sits there lecturing people about how awesome Jesus is. Herschell is totally spellbound, so no matter how many times Anne tries to seduce him, he is just not interested. After a little bit of this, they leave. What they were trying to accomplish, I don't know.

Herschell gets a job helping around the house and then one fateful day Anne is just sitting there in her swimsuit and Herschell has had just about enough of her pestering so he gives in and smokes a joint and is immediately and hilariously addicted, complete with a scene where he goes a couple of days without a joint and is on the ground shaking, demanding a hit, man.

But that is the least of Herschell's troubles! A lethal mixture of pot and experimental turkey meat turns his head into a chicken head and now he has an incredible urge to drink human blood! Like a chicken does! And when he kills, the same three second audio clip of a lady screaming is played over and over and over and oh my god it is so funny.

So needless to say there is a lot going on in this movie. Can Herschell turn back to normal? Will Anne get over the fact that her boyfriend has a chicken head (she doesn't seem to mind so much once she gets used to it)? What happened to Angel?

Every once in a while the director of the movie shows up onscreen to tell you about how bad drugs are stuff, all while smoking like a chimney. At one point he starts coughing so badly he cannot finish his sentence and you just sit there watching, hoping he doesn't die right there on camera.

So that's that and you should watch this any chance you get.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

Alice and her boyfriend Dan are back! One year later, everyone has graduated from high school and Alice has even managed to make a whole new group of quirky friends: Greta, who is being forced by her mother to become a supermodel; Yvonne, who is good at diving; and Mark, token awkward weird 80s kid who really like comics.

Freddy is back too, and of course you know you are gonna be watching Alice trying to convince everyone of this for at least the first half of the movie. It gets pretty annoying. She will wake up from a dream or whatever and go, "OH MY GOD IT'S FREDDY WE HAVE TO STOP HIM!!! HE'S BACK!!" You would think after the fifth time she gets the evil eye from whoever she is babbling at she would wise up and be a little less hysterical. Luckily for her, all her friends are killed by Freddy and so eventually people start listening to her. Who's laughing now you jerks?!

As you may recall from the previous entry in the series, Freddy needs to use Alice to get to other kids because he can only kill the original Elm Street kids. Alice isn't an original Elm Street kid, but her friend Kristen, who was, gave Alice the Dream Master power before being killed. You may recall that the Dream Master power allows you to bring your friends to Freddy to be killed, regardless of what street they are from.

But wait! Alice doesn't sleep ever so how is this happening? Well, the Dream Master power is apparently hereditary and it has passed down to Alice's ugly unborn baby. And since babies are useless and all they do is sleep all day that gives Freddy plenty of chances to kill Alice's new friends in fitting and ironic ways. Well Mr. Comic Guy, I hear you like the comics. How much would you like comics if you were killed by them??

This is the general level of creativity that goes into this film. You like ____? Well I'm gonna kill you with ____!

This is possibly the worst movies in the series. The characters are all pretty annoying, though it's not quite at the level where you hate them all instantly. The direction and colors and pretty much everything are such a huge step down from The Dream Master, which is the best looking film in the series. There was only one way to go from here, and that was the way of ridiculousness. But that is a story for another day.


The Witches Mountain (1972)

I had so much trouble following this movie and it terrified me for a brief moment at the end. More about that later.

Some lady comes home and finds a wig with a knife in it on the ground. And there's her cat under the covers of her bed, dead and bloody. And then some little girl shows up and they quarrel. And the the garage bursts into flames and we get the title screen!

Suddenly we get two totally unrelated people. Mario the photographer, with his amazing mustache, and his girlfriend or something. She wants to patch things up and Mario does what people do in that kind of situation and right in front of her face gets on the phone and furiously demands his boss to send him on some photo shoot. Take that, commitment! You'd only get in the way of my roaming photographer lifestyle baby!

Mario meets a girl on a beach, takes her photo without asking but is way too manly and cool to lie about it when she confronts him. He makes up for it by asking her out on a date, which she accepts. Then we get about sixty minutes of them driving around, getting their car stolen, staying at an old castle with some crazy old lady, etc.

Mario is the kind of guy who doesn't take none of that hocus-pocus superstition bullshit. When weird stuff happens, he always tries to rationalize it. As he says, "everything has a rational explanation." Everything.

This is the kind of movie where the protagonists are constantly splitting up for no reason. Every time either one of them needs to go do something they completely insist on doing it alone. And every time either of them go alone to do something, it always ends up with someone having hallucinations or something and passing out in the wilderness for hours. They keep doing this over and over! I know that sounds awesome but trust me... the whole middle sixty minutes is like a blur to me.

Look, I can't explain this movie to you. There is no plot per se and nothing happens, except for the very beginning (which has nothing to do with the movie) and very end (which is just something suddenly happening to our heroes involving witches on a mountain). There is a part where the camera lingers on this thing like it's some big revealing twist or something but damn it I couldn't even recognize what it was, but it was really scary!

I think that is a good way to describe this whole movie. The intro made absolutely no sense to me until I watched it again in hilarious fast forward mode so that everyone sounded like chipmunks. Even then, I'm not sure what causes the garage to explode, but it was really funny. I looked it up and people are saying that the woman douses the whole place in gasoline but when?


The Wasp Woman (1959)

Oh man, it's the 1950s so here comes another black and white horror film where the first hour of the movie is a bunch of talking and theorizing and then someone turns into a monster and there's a fight.

I could just cut and paste that intro into any number of horror and scifi flicks from the 50s. I probably will from now on. But for now, let's talk about The Wasp Woman.

Dr. Zinthrop has discovered a way to reverse the aging process through his work on wasps. Upon telling his boss that he has discovered the greatest scientific breakthrough of the 20th century which will change all of humanity forever, his boss chews him out for spending, like, $1000 last month man and besides they aren't paying him to change the course of human development, they are paying him to get royal jelly from wasps.

So Zinthrop gets hired by a cosmetic company in deep trouble because the founder, Janice Starlin, is way too old at 32 to be considered attractive anymore so people have stopped buying their makeup. Janice decides to be Zinthrop's guinea pig, and within weeks she looks like she's 23 (i.e. she looks exactly the same but has taken off her old lady glasses).

I don't think it's spoiling much to tell you that Janice overdoses and turns into a hideous monster, half-woman and half-wasp. Note that the movie poster is nothing but a filthy lie: Wasp Woman has a wasp head and a human body. Before you know it Wasp Woman is sucking the blood of out people. You know, like wasps do.

The biggest problem with this movie is the pacing. There are multiple boardroom meetings where they just talk about how old Janice is. I wanted to protect her, but Janice and I are fated to be star-crossed lovers since she is in movieland fifty years ago and I am an realland now. Everything takes forever. Walking, driving, looking at things. The first scene, where Zinthrop is talking to his boss about wasps is excruciating and it took all of my Dream Powers to get through it. And that is pretty much a high point bursting with excitement and high-fives in comparison to the middle part of this movie. It doesn't pick up until the lame fight at the end, which is your typical 1950s zero-choreography grappling in a shadowy lab/office kind of fight.

They should definitely remake this though, now that all the Japanese horror movies and classic 1970s and 80s slashers have all been done. If they do it, they should make the Wasp Woman like the one in the poster. That would be creepy.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Kristen is back (though played by a different actress), along with Kincaid and Joey, both of whom somehow survived the previous movie regardless of their general uselessness. Out of the crazy house, they are living normal lives, going to school with all their awkward late 80s classmates, the most awkward of which is Kristen's boyfriend who also happens to be the brother of Kristen's new friend Alice. Kristen has made some other friends too, so don't worry! When Freddy is resurrected there will be plenty of kids to kill in grotesque and ironic and/or fitting ways.

Freddy kills the remaining Dream Warriors very quickly and that would have been the end of things, but Kristen calls Alice into her dream, apologizes, shoots some magic ball of light at Alice and yells "I GIVE YOU MY POWER." The power to call other people into her dreams. To be killed by Freddy. Thanks Kristen, what a pal.

So like I mentioned above there is a lot of the 80s in this movie, right down to the cool but weird outsider who wears a trenchcoat and sneakers to school (he ends up fighting Freddy with karate!). The script is really bad, and there is some nonsense about Alice inheriting the abilities and mannerisms of her friends as they die.

However, the script is not bad enough to take away from the awesome direction, particularly the scene where Kristen is drugged with sleeping pills and the camera, swooping all around in one single amazing take, follows her as she runs to her bedroom, eventually falling asleep.

By now, A Nightmare of Elm Street is basically an effects film because there is absolutely nothing scary about this one, but the effects are amazing. Freddy turns one girl into a cockroach and squishes her; a far cry from the horrific death of Tina in the first movie, where she is dragged screaming and bloody across the walls and ceiling of her room in front of her horrified boyfriend, but the cockroach transformation is sufficiently gross and impressive.

Overall, not as good as the second film, but a definite close second. Starting with the next movie the series becomes an absolute joke, with Freddy on a skateboard, Super Freddy, Freddy playing video games, and more.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Like most kids in Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Kristen starts having dreams about Freddy. She is the last of the children of the people who burned Freddy alive, so you can understand that he's still angry about that and so that is why he wants to kill her. And so our movie begins.

The first Nightmare on Elm Street buries its excellent concept under a heap of poor dialog and hammy acting. But it gave us Freddy so I will forgive it. The second Nightmare movie is just a great movie, and as far as I am concerned is what an Elm Street movie should be. It's scary and the script is surprisingly good.

So what does Dream Warriors bring to the table? Well, it brings Dream Warriors. Nancy, from the first movie, comes back as a dream doctor or some nonsense like that, and teaches the kids to use their Dream Powers.

Kristen has the ability to bring other people into her dreams (and can also jump around), and luckily for her she is in a mental asylum, surrounded by quirky misfit kids who all have amazing powers:

-Kincaid: Power of Strength!
-Taryn: Power of Beautiful... and Bad!
-Phillip: Power of Getting Killed First!
-Jennifer: Power of Jumping Headfirst Into Wall-Mounted TV To Death!
-Will: Power of Dungeons & Dragons!
-Joey: Ultra-Specific Power of Screaming To Break Mirrors Freddy Has Pulled Your Friends Into!

Somehow, half the kids manage to make it through the movie and anyway the extremely awkward and embarrassing scene where they all explain their new found powers to each other is wonderful.

This is the Elm Street movie where they started not only tailoring the death scenes to each character, but also telegraphing those scenes constantly up until they happen. So the girl that used to be a junkie on the streets and has scars all over her arms from needles... you can be sure that Freddy is gonna use that in some way to kill her.

So in other words, this is where the series turned off horror street, and took detours down groanworthy oneliner avenue, grotesque death scene boulevard, and awesome special effect lane. The special effects are amazing! I will never trust CGI effects: the minute you trust them, bam, there goes your wallet and now your fish are dead. But you can trust puppets and matte paintings and guys covered in slime. You can trust them forever!

So is this movie any good or what? Well, as I mentioned before Nancy is back and Wes Craven from the first movie is involved, so it has more in common with that than it does with the awesome second movie. So for every amazing scene of some guy being controlled like a puppet with his own veins torn from his limbs, you get a scene of Nancy empowering the kids with her crazy dream logic. Oh Nancy, all your friends died in the first movie and you didn't even manage to kill Freddy with your laughable Home Alone booby traps. Why should we listen to you?


The War of the Robots (1978)

This movie is TERRIBLE.

It starts out fine. You've got your future guys in miniskirts and civilization sufficiently advanced to build robots that look just like people and can walk and fight, but not sufficiently advanced enough for those robots to not talk like "PLEASE.COME.WITH.ME.HUMANOID."

All the characters call each other by their first names, which is hilarious. Captain John will be like "I need to stop you Lois! For Julie's sake!" Speaking of Captain John, he is basically Italian Captain Kirk. He is sent to chase some aliens (really robots!) who have kidnapped a genetics scientist, because only that one scientist has the code that apparently stops the nuclear reactor back home from randomly melting down on some schedule. (Little do they know that the code was always with them.. in their hearts.)

So this is an Italian ripoff of Star Trek, with some lightsabers thrown in just in case. Like Star Trek there are tons of scenes of people sitting at starship controls talking on and on about coordinates and vectors and stuff. And there are horribly choreographed alien (actually robot) fistfights. That would all be great, but this movie suffers from reused footage and filler. I can't tell you how many times they show this one scene where they are trying to pretend an alien spaceship is approaching, but all they do is zoom in slowly on the spaceship toy with their camera. There is a thrilling space dogfight, but instead of showing awesome scale models shooting lasers all over the place, 95% of the footage is of Captain John's big head in a space helmet looking at you and telling you about how overwhelmed he is.

When they fight the robots the first time, it takes FOREVER. They shoot the same three guys over and over but shoot it from different angles to make it seem like there is an army of robots. It gets stupid the first time. By the third time they are fighting these robots, you've just about had enough.

Man, what is this movie doing in my Chilling Classics collection? It's on the same disc as Oasis of the Zombies, and while that movie may not be great, you can at least make the argument- on a theoretical level- that, if you were to plot them out far enough on a graph, zombies and general chillingness interact at some point. There is nothing chilling about The War of the Robots. It is just bad.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

All aboard the Freddy Express! Next stop, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge.

Unlike the first movie, NoES2 is generally seen as one of the poorer attempts at a Freddy movie. This is unfortunate, because not only is this film the best of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, it's just a great horror film overall.

Jesse Walsh and his family are having a rough time. Jesse can't sleep without having shriek-inducing nightmares, the air conditioning doesn't work, their pet bird explodes, and then it is revealed that they are living in the house Nancy, the heroine from the first movie, went crazy in. Eventually Freddy starts telling Jesse to kill his friends for him, and it just so happens that Freddy's glove is still in the basement so it's not like Freddy is even asking him to do anything particularly inconvenient.

But for whatever reason, Jesse has a problem with this and it's up to him, his rich girlfriend Lisa, and his best friend Ron to figure things out.

Nightmare Part 2 avoids all the awful stuff from Nightmare the first. The script is much better and I found myself ashamed to like horror movies only a couple of times the whole ninety minutes. The acting is good all around, and Jesse's descent into madness is handled very well (though pretty sudden). This is the third or fourth time I've watched this movie, and I was glued to the screen the entire time.

If there is one thing people will not shut up about when it comes to this movie, like it or hate it, it is the gay subtext. Even the wikipedia article has a section about it, and the font size is the same as that of Cast and Production, which means according to wikipedia the gay undercurrent of this movie is just as important as everything else about it. So I can't avoid it.

Jesse spends most of his time shirtless with his pal Ron, and avoids talking to, looking at, or touching his girlfriend throughout the movie. Then there is the part where he goes to the gay S&M bar, meets his gym teacher, and then they go back to the gym for pushups and showers (this actually happens). So rather than referring to this movie as "that Freddy movie with the gay subtext" it's almost better to call it "that gay movie with the Freddy subtext."

But maybe that is why this is such a good movie. The other movies in the series are unquestionably about Freddy and the kids he kills, and when it comes to that kind of movie you are going to have a hard time outdoing a Friday 13th or a Halloween. This movie, Freddy is just kind of around. And I think it's better off that way.


A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street is pretty much seen as a horror classic. I guess if you compare it with something like Sister of Death or Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory it is indeed an amazing movie. However, beyond an amazing concept and the solid introduction, where you watch Freddy making his gloves, I have a lot of problems with this movie.

I almost feel like I am insulting your intelligence for having to sum up the plot for this movie, but I'm gonna do it. Nancy and her boyfriend Johnny Depp, and Tina and her boyfriend Rod are having nightmares about a guy with knives for fingers in an old beat up sweater, which is of course the famous Freddy Krueger. All is fun and games until Tina gets killed in her dream. Of course all the adults won't believe anything their kids say no matter how much evidence there is. At one point Nancy brings back Freddy's hat from a dream while in a controlled environment (a lab!!!) and her mom is wondering where she really got that hat from. Yeah, great thinking mom. Nancy probably ate the hat and then regurgitated it while you guys were watching her sleep but you forgot or something. That makes sense.

On top of that, all the adults know all about Freddy and his scissor hands and whatnot but of course they don't say anything about it until the end of the movie. In fact, they pretty much leave all the kids to die, even though each kid is killed in a more and more fantastic way. Even after one kid is reduced to a fountain of bloody giblets shooting all over the ceiling of his room.

But this is not the only frustrating thing about A Nightmare on Elm Street. Oh no, it also relies way too much on jump scares, and the sound effects that accompany the jump scares are just laughable. I know this was the whole point, you'd go to the theater with your girlfriend/boyfriend and Freddy would jump out and go "RARRR" and you'd have your popcorn and then after the movie you'd go stick baseball cards in the spokes of your bicycle and race your buddies and play marbles, or whatever it is kids did back in 1984 before we had video games or DVD players or cars or civilization. But I'm not in a theater and Freddy jumping out and growling just doesn't cut it when you have films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre of even Friday the 13th.

But I guess you need the jump scares because while all the kids (even that psychopath Rod) are likable and Nancy is cute, the script is terrible. I mean, italics terrible. I can't blame the actors. We all know Johnny Depp is great, but with this awful script, what can you do? At one point Nancy is talking to her mom about how bright it is outside and her mom says some nonsense about, "It's gonna burn off soon or it wouldn't be so bright." What does this even mean?!?! Is she talking about the sun? Is this something anyone would ever say about anything? The script is filled with this kind of embarrassing nonsense. Watching A Nightmare on Elm Street makes me pine for the nearly Shakespearean-in-comparison Friday the 13th, which has a script mostly consisting of laughable sex talk, macho posturing, screaming, or all of these at once.

Sisters of Death (1977)

Six sorority sisters hold some kind of secret ritual which involves firing an unloaded gun at the new sister (!). Of course, the gun is loaded and the new girl dies. Thus we have the aptly named Sisters of Death.

I have pretty much nothing to say about this movie. It was apparently a made for TV movie or something, or maybe the version I watched is extremely censored, because nothing cool happens at all. Sure, some guy gets electrocuted by the fence regardless of the helpful warning sign the evil insane killer has put up. And I think one girl gets killed by spiders? I might have hallucinated that.

There's one part where these two girls get into a huge fight over whether or not to take a shower. One of the girls decides if she doesn't take a shower, right in the middle of this situation where they are all trapped in a compound being picked off one by one, she will go crazy, so of course she takes a shower and gets killed. Whether or not she would have been killed regardless is an interesting thought experiment for a philosopher of the highest order, but we don't have time for that right now.

Except for that high point, I really have nothing to talk about. The Chilling Classics set has been so good to me up until this past week! What happened?

The Snake People (1971)

Boris Karloff as a Voodoo priest. Midget guy acting weird. Lady dancing with snakes. A guy that brings his dead girlfriend back as a zombie, leading to plenty of jokes about how she is better as a zombie because she can't sass him.

All this and more is to be discovered in The Snake People (aka "Isle of the Snake People," aka "La Muerte Vivente")!

Some guy goes somewhere to investigate some zombie and voodoo stuff or something. Some other guy's niece shows up to try to drum up support for her little temperance movement, which goes as well as you would expect that to go on Voodoo Island. Of course she falls in love with the alcoholic police guy who, in reaction to all the voodoo troubles relaxes shirtless on a hammock and drinks rum all day.

So that is The Snake People in a nutshell. It's an entertaining movie, don't get me wrong, but there is not a lot to say about it. It's not bad enough to laugh at, but not good enough to go and tell everyone about. But check out the movie poster, which has the best Jeopardy answer ever.