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July 31st, 2016 Movie – Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

dawn of the dead 1978

Ten years after Romero’s landmark debut film, a sequel was finally released. Collaborating with Italian director Dario Argento (of Inferno and Demons fame) and having Tom Savini handle special effects and make-up, Romero took his vision of an apocalyptic, zombie plagued future to new heights. The first time I saw anything regarding this movie was actually in a special concerning special effects in horror movies and they featured some scenes from this movie and the next one in the series when they were talking about Tom Savini. Having seen Night Of The Living Dead, and being a massive horror movie junkie at the time, I knew that I was going to need to watch this movie. Of course, it would also entail me buying a copy of it as well, which is what bring us to today’s movie, Dawn Of The Dead.

The plot: At a television station in Philadelphia, Francine Parker is trying to help keep the station running as more and more people start leaving due to the zombie outbreak in the city. As a federal doctor and a news anchor are arguing on TV about what is going on, Francine is approached by her boyfriend Stephen Andrews, who tells her to meet him on the roof at 9 that night and they will take the news helicopter and leave the city. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia SWAT team is at a housing project to deal with the tenants, who refuse to hand over their dead bodies for disposal. When some of the tenants start shooting at the police, they are quickly killed and the SWAT move in to escort the rest of the people out of the building. When one of Roger’s teammates starts killing people at will, Roger tries to stop him but the man easily knocks Roger aside and goes to kick in another door when he is killed by a member of another SWAT unit. When some zombies start attacking the cops, Roger kills some of them and then sees a police officer commit suicide after being bit. Heading down to the basement level to get some air, Roger runs into the officer that killed the crazed SWAT member, who introduces himself as Peter Washington, and Roger tells him about leaving with his friend in a helicopter. When a priest tells them that the tenants stored the dead bodies in the basement, Roger and Peter go down and take care of them, then head to the airport to meet Stephen and Francine. As they fly overhead, they witness the National Guard and a bunch of hunters dealing with the zombies out in the woods. The group stops at an abandoned airfield to refuel the helicopter and get attacked by some zombies but manage to escape. As they argue about where they should go, they fly over a mall and decide to land on the roof and find an empty store room where they can rest. As they are sitting there, Roger and Peter decide to head down in the mall and get some supplies, finding some keys to all the stores as they make their way down. Stephen, who had been sleeping when Peter and Roger left, decides to go down after them but runs into a zombie and ends up attracting some of them to the stairwell they entered from. Peter goes and rescues Stephen, taking him back to the department store that they were in and while most of the zombies follow after them, one of them starts making it’s way upstairs. As Peter, Roger, and Stephen try to figure out their next movie, Stephen shows them some maps of the store he found and they find an access tunnel in the elevator shaft that will take them around the stores. They use it to get back to the stairwell and manage to rescue Francine from the zombie, then start bringing up the supplies. As they are eating, Stephen tells them that Francine is pregnant and they decide that they will be able to stand a better chance of surviving if they find a way to seal off the mall and kill the zombies inside. Stephen uses the helicopter to fly them to a nearby truck yard and Roger and Peter start using the trucks and trailers to block off the entrances to the mall but Roger gets reckless and ends up getting bit by some zombies. After tending to Roger’s wounds, Peter and Stephen make their way to the hunting supply store to grab some guns and ammo, then the four of them work together to lock all the entrances, then kill the zombies that are left inside. Peter and Stephen work on building a wall to hide the stairwell and dispose of all of the zombie corpses, then the 4 manage to reap the benefits of their hard work but Francine starts pushing Stephen away as she deals with the hormones during her pregnancy. Roger starts succumbing to the effects of the bites and while Francine and Stephen watch a TV broadcast where a scientist tries listing their possible options, Peter stands watch over his body as it starts to rise and he shoots Roger in the head. Months go by and the zombies continue to come to the mall and they start making plans to travel up north to Canada and start loading up the helicopter. As Stephen give Francine lessons in flying the helicopter, they are spotted by some scouts for a large army of looters, who make plans on raiding the mall. Peter, Francine, and Stephen hear the looters talking over the radio and realize that they won’t be able to stop them so Peter and Stephen head into the mall to put the gates down to the stores to make it harder for them to get in. The looters break into the mall and start looting the place and Stephen, getting upset that they will lose the mall, starts firing at them. As Peter and Stephen are forced to fight with the looters, and Stephen ends up being shot in the arm as he hides in the elevator shaft. With the doors open, the zombies pour into the mall and start to overwhelm some of the looters and manage to attack the injured Stephen. As the looters leave, a zombified Stephen exits the elevator and heads towards the stairwell and begins tearing at the fake wall, eventually breaking it down with the help of some other zombies. As Stephen leads the zombies up the stairs, Peter shoots Stephen when he enters the room, then tells Francine to leave. As zombies start to enter the room and make their way to the roof, Peter contemplates killing himself but at the last second, changes his mind and makes his way to the roof and get in the helicopter with Francine. As they leave the mall, Peter asks how much fuel they have left and when Francine tells him not much, they resign themselves to facing an uncertain future together.

In spite of the gore, Dawn Of The Dead met with high praise from the critics, holding a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “One of the most compelling and entertaining zombie films ever, Dawn of the Dead perfectly blends pure horror and gore with social commentary on bourgeois society.” This would be the second collaboration between Romero and Savini, although Romero had wanted Savini to do the effects on Night OF The Living Dead but was unable to as he was drafted to serve in Vietnam as a combat photographer. Originally, Peter and Francine were scripted to die and some of the setups to these deaths were left in the finished film but Romero decided to change it. The movie was a box office success, earning $55 million off of a $1.5 million budget.

This is, without a doubt, my all time favorite zombie movie. The acting was good, with everyone going through a myriad of emotions throughout the movie; from hopeful to despair and all the stressful moments between the two. The story was good, continuing to showcase Romero’s vision of an undead apocalypse and it’s effects on society, only on a larger scale with this starting out in a city. Tom Savini’s effects were pretty good for the most part but I will admit that there were some times where they did look pretty fake. All told, a fantastic zombie movie whose story is as long lasting as it’s undead stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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July 30th, 2016 Movie – Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

night of the living dead 1968

For those of you that know me, you know that I am going to really enjoy the next couple of movies I watch. I honestly don’t think anyone had any idea just how much of an impact George Romero would have on the movie industry when he released this movie in 1968. First and foremost, even though they weren’t actually called zombies in the movie, it basically redefined the definition of the word as prior to this movie, a zombie was generally the term used for someone enslaved by a Voodoo witch doctor but now stands for the undead, flesh eating monster that everyone knows. It also changed how people made horror movies as some of them would begin to have more gore in them, eventually giving rise to the slasher genre. So given my love for horror movies, this would naturally be something I would want to watch and I fell in love with Night Of The Living Dead after my first viewing of it and I have been a fan of Romero’s films ever since.

The plot: Barbra and Johnny have driven up to a rural Pennsylvania cemetery to visit their father’s grave on behalf of their mother, though Johnny complains about it the entire time. As it starts to thunder and lightning, Barbra starts getting nervous and Johnny teases her about it, saying “They’re coming to get you , Barbra.” Noticing a man approaching them, Johnny pretends he is a monster and leaves Barbra alone but as Barbra follows Johnny, the man attacks her. Johnny pulls the man off of Barbra and struggles with him but is knocked unconscious when he hits his head on a grave marker. The strange man continues after Barbra, who gets back into the car but when she is unable to start it, she releases the emergency brake and the car starts rolling down the hill. When it crashes against a tree, she sees the man still pursuing her and starts running, eventually reaching a nearby, and seemingly deserted, farmhouse. Heading inside and locking the door, Barbra starts to explore the house and tries to use the phone to call for help but finds the phone lines are dead. Seeing more strange people approaching, Barbra heads upstairs only to see a dead body at the top of the stairs and she runs outside, but runs into Ben, who rushes her back inside. Ben starts asking Barbra questions but she is starting to go into shock so when she doesn’t answer, Ben decides to try and find some food in the house and then they can leave. When two of the creatures start smashing the headlights on Ben’s truck, Ben runs out and hits them repeatedly in the head with a tire iron, killing them, then heads back inside and kills another one that had been sneaking up on Barbra. Ben takes the body outside and, seeing more creatures approaching, sets it on fire, which seems to keep the creatures at bay. Heading back inside, Ben finds some tools and tells Barbra to help find some wood they can use to board up the doors and windows so they can hold out until help arrives. As they are working, Ben starts talking about his first encounter with the things and how they attacked a diner he was at and Barbra talks about the cemetery and then starts demanding they go look for Johnny but after Ben tells her Johnny is dead and slaps her to get her to stop panicking, she passes out. Ben turns on the radio and continues working on securing the house, while the news broadcaster talks about the murders, with people calling the killers assassins, and Ben pours some lighter fluid onto a chair and takes it outside and sets it ablaze to keep the creatures away from the house. Finishing securing the house, Ben looks around and finds a rifle and some bullet and tells Barbra, who is coming around, that he is going to check upstairs but to scream if she sees anything. After Ben heads upstairs, Barbra notices the cellar door opening and screams when two men, Harry Cooper and Tom, come out and tell Barbra to calm down. Ben comes downstairs and yells at the two men for hiding in the cellar and not helping them but Harry argues that they were safe down there and didn’t want to risk those things getting them. After explaining the situation, Harry says they should all head back to the cellar where it is safe but Ben argues that it is a death trap since there is only one exit and that they should stay upstairs and only go to the cellar when there is no other choice. When a zombie manages to reach through one of the boarded windows, Ben shoots it but it keeps trying to get them until he manages to shoot it in the head. Harry again says they should go in the cellar and says that he won’t open the door again but Tom decides to stay with Ben and tells his girlfriend Judy to come upstairs as well. Harry goes back in the cellar, despite Tom pleading with him that they stand a better chance working together. He talks with his wife Helen, who was tending to their injured child Karen, and when Helen hears that they have a radio upstairs, she argues that they should go upstairs and finally convinces Harry to do so when Tom says Judy can watch Karen for a while. Ben finds a TV upstairs and has Tom help him bring it downstairs, where they watch a news broadcast about what is going on. The news reporter says that people are coming back to life and killing and eating people. Speculation starts to form among the reporters about if a space probe that was detonated in the atmosphere when it was detected to be contaminated with a strange radiation. When the reporter announces that safe houses are being set up for people to seek shelter at and Ben says that if they can get the key to the fuel pump in the back, they can fill up the truck and head to the safe house. Ben and Tom head out to the fuel pump while Harry tosses moltov cocktails at the zombies from a second floor window. As Ben and Tom head out, Judy decides to go with them and they make their way to the fuel pump. At the pump, Tom accidentally sets the truck on fire and as he tries to drive it away from the pump, the truck explodes, killing Tom and Judy. Ben makes his way back to the house only to find the door locked and Harry unwilling to open it so Ben is forced to kick it in, then he and Harry work on securing the door. Once finished, Ben proceeds to punch Harry for leaving him out there while outside, the creatures begin feeding on the dead bodies of Tom and Judy. As they watch a news report, the reporter tells them that destroying the brain or setting the ghouls on fire is the only way to kill them as the news then goes to a mobile reporter who is talking with a police chief leading a hunting party that is going through the area killing the ghouls and searching for survivors. When the power suddenly goes out, the ghouls start swarming the house and trying to get in and Harry panics and grabs the gun but Ben struggles with him and ends up shooting him in the gut. Harry stumbles downstairs into the cellar while upstairs, the ghouls start breaking through the barricade. Barbra snaps out of her shock long enough to rescue Helen but when she sees Johnny has become one of the ghouls, she starts screaming as Johnny grabs her and drags her outside to be swarmed by the rest of the creatures. Helen heads downstairs and finds Karen feeding on Harry before she approaches Helen and kills her then heads up the cellar to try and attack Ben. Ben is forced to give up on the house and heads to the cellar and barricades the door, then kills Harry and Helen as they start to come back to life. The next morning, Ben wakes up to the sound of approaching dogs and gunfire and he cautiously makes his way upstairs to see if help has arrived but ends up being shot in the head when one of the rescuers mistakes him for a ghoul and his body is tossed onto a bonfire with the rest of the ghouls.

Night Of The Living Dead met with some criticism when it was first released but has since become considered a film classic as shown by a certified fresh rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “George A. Romero’s debut set the template for the zombie film, and features tight editing, realistic gore, and a sly political undercurrent.” The movie was notable for several things, including being the first movie to have an African-American as the main lead in the movie as well as the last movie to be screened before the MPAA rating system was put into effect. The movie was a box office success, earning $30 million worldwide off of a $114,000 budget and is considered one of the most profitable independent horror movies of all time. The movie has always had a spot on all time movie lists and was preserved in the National Film Registry in 1999 for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. The movie would go on to spawn five sequels, several remakes of the film as well as remakes of some of the sequels.

Night Of The Living Dead wasn’t without it’s share of controversy when it was first released. The movie premiered a month before the MPAA rating system was put into effect and so when it was shown, lots of children wound up seeing the movie in theaters. Roger Ebert chided parents for letting their children watch this movie, saying, “I don’t think the younger kids really knew what hit them. They were used to going to movies, sure, and they’d seen some horror movies before, sure, but this was something else.” Some Christian fundamentalist also protested the movie, saying that filmmakers were “Satanically-inspired ” for their portrayal of the undead eating flesh.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, a must see movie for anyone, even if they are not a fan of horror movies. The acting was really good, with Duane Jones doing a fantastic job as Ben and Karl Hardman (Harry) turning in an equally impressive performance. I know some people might criticize Judith O’Dea’s performance as Barbra but I thought she did a good job of showing someone that is almost completely shut down from shock over everything that is going on. The story is very dark and grim, and encompasses a lot of social tones that were going on at the time, whether that was intentional or not. Having Ben being shot by an all white posse without being given the chance to prove if he was human or zombie probably had a bigger racial tone than intended since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr was still fresh in people’s minds. The special effects were pretty good involving the zombies makeup and body parts that were being eaten and while this was considered a very gory movie when it was released, it would probably be considered pretty tame compared to more recent films. So if you want to see a great movie from one of the great horror directors, than definitely watch this movie.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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July 29th, 2016 Movie – Night Of The Lepus

night of the lepus

Have I got a horror movie for you guys today. From the dark times of the giant monster movies known as the 70’s, comes one of the worst movies of the genre. Oh yeh. Giant killer rabbits are definitely the scariest thing on the planet. When I first saw this movie years ago, the first thing that honestly went through my head was “What is Bones from Star Trek doing with a mustache?” Then of course, I watched the rest of the movie and….well….you will just have to see for yourself as I review today’s movie, Night Of The Lepus.

The plot: A TV news anchor talks about how in Australia, rabbits have become a menace to the population due to their rapid reproduction and eating all of their crops and then mentions that the same thing is happening in the American Southwest. In Arizona, rancher Cole Hillman is forced to shoot his horse when it breaks it’s leg after stepping in a rabbit hole. Walking back to his ranch, he calls and visits Professor Elgin Clark to discuss the problem, but doesn’t want to use the same guy that dealt with the coyotes as he is the reason for the surge in the rabbit population. Elgin goes to see Roy and Gerry Bennett, visiting scientists that are working on using bats to deal with insect problems and convinces them to help out Roy before Cole and the other ranchers are forced to use poison on them. Heading out to Cole’s ranch with their daughter Amanda, Roy and Gerry talk with Cole and find out how long they have to work on the problem and take some captured rabbits back to the lab with them. At the lab, they work on altering the rabbits’ hormones so they won’t have as many offspring but when that doesn’t seem to work, they try a new serum on one of the rabbits but the one they used is a rabbit that Amanda is fond of and when they aren’t looking, she switches the rabbit with one from the control group. When Gerry goes to collect some more rabbits from Cole’s ranch, Amanda goes with her and brings the rabbit, which Roy had given to her as a pet, but Jackie, Cole’s son, grabs the rabbit and releases it, where it heads down into a nearby burrow. Later, Roy and Gerry notice that the serum has caused the rabbits to start growing and Cole decides to burn the vegetation on his land in order to stop the rabbits. Some time later, the Bennetts are riding around Cole’s ranch with Cole and Jackie when they notice a strange track near a pond. Jackie takes Amanda to see Captain Billy, an old prospector that owns a gold mine nearby but when they get there, they don’t see him around. As Jackie looks around his cabin, Amanda looks in the mine and sees Billy’s body and starts screaming. Amanda is brought to Cole’s ranch and the doctor says she is suffering from mild shock but when they ask Jackie, he says he didn’t see anything. That night, a truck driver pulls over to check his cargo and is attacked by the giant rabbits. A police deputy finds the truck in the morning and calls in the sheriff to look at the body and they get word of Billy, as well as a family of 4 that have also been killed. When they hear about what is going on, Roy, Gerry, and Elgin go with Cole and some of his workers to the mine. At the mine, they plan on using dynamite and gas to deal with the rabbits. Roy and Cole go inside the mine so Roy can get a picture of the rabbits and find a horde of them inside and quickly run out of there. Outside, one of the workers is attacked by a rabbit but Gerry manages to shoot it and scare it off. When Roy and Cole exit the mine, the worker sets off the dynamite and the mine is collapsed on top of the rabbits. That night, the surviving rabbits burrow free from the mine and make their way towards Cole’s ranch. Sensing the rabbits, Cole’s horses break free from their corral and run off but they are attacked by the rabbits. Cole, Frank, Jackie, and his housekeeper hide in the cellar but Jack, the worker that was attacked at the mine, drives off in a truck but when he sees the rabbits, he turns around and heads back to the ranch but is killed after he wrecks the truck. The rabbits continue their rampage, attacking the general store and another farmhouse and killing the people inside. The next day, Roy sends Gerry and Amanda to a nearby town and heads off with Elgin to meet Sheriff Cody and go look at the mine, where they find a hole that the rabbits dug to escape the mine. Meanwhile, Cole walks into town and finds the rabbits inside the store and garage and manages to flag down a car to get a ride so he can call Sheriff Cody. The national guard are called in to help and they try to figure out what to do before night falls and the rabbits start moving again. Roy comes up with a plan to electrify a portion of the railroad tracks near town to use as an electric fence to keep the rabbits at bay, allowing the military, police, and everyone else to kill them. Having had no contact with Gerry and Amanda, Roy goes in the helicopter to look for them and finds where they had gotten stuck in the sand and Gerry is fending off the rabbits with flares. Roy heads back to the train tracks just as the rabbits start showing up and between the electrified train tracks and the gunfire, they are all killed. Some time later, Cole meets with Roy at the university and tells him that things seem to be back to normal and invites Roy and his family to visit the ranch again, which Roy happily accepts.

Night Of The Lepus was heavily panned by the critics, holding a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics pretty much lambasted everything from the acting, the story, and the special effects. The studio did their best to keep the animals a secret from the audience before the movie was released but they kind of let the secret out of the bag when some promotional materials with rabbit’s foot themes on them. The movie has become a cult film, eventually getting released on DVD 33 years after it hit theaters, and has been featured on Rifftrax, the movie spoofing series hosted by former MST3K members.

Definitely one of those so bad it’s good movie. The acting was ok but considering some of the people starring in the movie, you would have expected better. The story was weak, but I will give props to the studio for trying to make rabbits appear to be ferocious killers. The special effects are as bad as you have ever heard, with several scenes using rabbits next to models while close-ups involved people in costumes. Some of the scenes of rabbits killing people were pretty laughable, such as them killing the general store owner and her screaming when nothing was really happening. Despite all the terrible aspects involved in this movie, this is still a fun movie to watch because of how bad it is.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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July 28th, 2016 Movie – Night Of The Demons (1988)

night of the demons

The problem with having a lot of movies is that it can be difficult keeping track of what you have. I have all of my movies listed in an exel file but even then, there have been times where I miss a movie because for some reason or another, it didn’t get added to the list. Take today’s movie for instance. I knew for a fact that I owned this movie and had actually grabbed it with the other movies to watch this week but for some reason, it was not on my list. So as I kick myself for my lousy bookkeeping (again), I might as well go ahead and watch today’s movie, Night Of The Demons.

The plot: Stooge, Helen, and Roger are on their way to a party when they pass by an old man carrying some groceries and Stooge decides to moon him. As the old man is yelling at them, another kid, Sal, runs up and scares him, causing him to drop his grocery bags. As he is picking up his groceries, Judy offers to help him but when he yells at her, she leaves and he continues picking them up, muttering that those kids will get theirs as he is holding an apple an a box of razor blades. Judy gets home just as her boyfriend Jay calls and tells her about a party that Angela is throwing at an old mortuary called Hull House and she reluctantly agrees to go. Jay picks her up, then they go pick up their friends Max and Frannie, and head to Hull House, passing by Stooge, Helen, and Roger who have stopped to deal with a flat tire. When they arrive at the house, they look around for a minute and Jay wants to scare Stooge and the others when they get there but as he goes to hide in a coffin, he ends up being scared by Sal, who had heard about the party from Judy’s brother. With everyone there, the kids start having the party and dancing until the radio suddenly goes dead. Angela decides to do a seance type game but needs a full size mirror to do it and Stooge and Roger manage to find one. Angela has everyone sit down and stare at her reflection in the mirror and it suddenly turns black but someone makes a comment that causes them to all look away. When Helen looks back at the mirror, she sees a demonic face appear and she screams, just as the mirror falls and breaks. As Judy goes to try and comfort Helen, the group hears a noise coming from the basement. Down below, in the crematorium, the furnace door opens and something emerges and ends up possessing Suzanne. As Roger and Helen both want to leave, being freaked out by what is going on, Suzanne tells them to take Angela’s car and leave. Jay, Judy, Max, and Frannie decide to explore the rest of the house and Suzanne asks Stooge to escort her to the bathroom, then kisses Angela before she leaves, causing Angela to become possessed as well. Jay, Judy, Max, and Frannie find another room and Max tells a legend concerning the land that Hull House is buried on before Jay signals Max to leave them alone so Max and Frannie leave. Jay tries pressuring Judy into haveing sex, believing she has done it with Sal before, but when Judy refuses, he goes off and leaves her alone in the room. Outside, Roger and Helen find that the gate they came in has disappeared and a brick wall now surrounds the property. As Roger tries to find a way through the wall, Helen mysteriously disappears and Roger, hearing something call out his name, runs and hides in Stooge’s car. Back inside, Suzanne goes into the restroom and locks Stooge out, then she suddenly ages and disappears when Stooge breaks into the room. Meanwhile, Sal notices Angela starting to act weird when the music and strobe light starts back up and she begins to dance. Stooge returns to the room and Sal decides to leave as Stooge dances with Angela. Angela asks Stooge to kiss her and when he does, she bites his tongue off, causing him to become possessed. Sal finds Suzanne in the bathroom with make-up all over her face and decides to leave but finds the door locked and when Angela, who had stuck her hands into the fireplace, starts approaching him, he turns and runs. Jay comes across Suzanne and she seduces him into having sex with her but her face suddenly changes and she gouges Jay’s eyes out. Max and Frannie are having sex in a coffin and hear Jay’s scream but think it is just a prank until a demonic Stooge shows up, breaks Frannie’s neck and then kills Max by repeatedly slamming the coffin lid on him, severing his arm. Roger had fallen asleep in the car when he is roused by a jolt and finds Helen’s dead body on the roof. Heading back inside, he sees a demonic Angela and runs from her, only to run into Sal, who is also trying to find a way out. The two manage to find Judy and free her from the room she is in but when Angela approaches, Roger runs away while Sal grabs Judy and hides in a room. They find Suzanne cradling Jay’s dead body and Sal tells Judy to run as Suzanne knocks him through a window. Judy finds herself trapped in a hallway and when she sees an open door, she heads inside, only to find the dead bodies of Max and Frannie, which suddenly come alive and try to grab her. Trying to find a way out, she comes to a doorway closed off by iron bars and sees Roger on the other side but Stooge shows up and tries to catch them. Running into Suzanne, Judy makes her way upstairs and out onto a balcony and sees Roger below but Angela shows up and tries to strangle her. Sal managed to climb up the water pipe and save Judy but as they are struggling, they end up falling off the balcony and Sal ends up impaled on a stake below. Judy tries climbing down the wall but when Stooge appears she falls but Roger catches her and they run when Stooge follows them. Judy and Roger end up in the basement, Judy hears the demons talking and realizes that if they can manage to survive till dawn, then they will be free. When the demons start pulling the pins from the door, Roger panics and cowers in the corner but Judy manages to break one of the gas pipes free and use it as a makeshift flamethrower to burn them. Judy and Roger try to leave but when they run into Jay and a burned Angela, Roger panics and jumps through a window. Judy follows him and says they have to get past the wall. Roger uses some of the barbed wire to scale the fence then leans down to help Judy climb it. When Angela and the others show up, Roger ends up falling over the other side but climbs back and succeeds in pulling up Judy and they fall over the fence to safety as dawn breaks and the demons return to hell. As Roger and Judy walk back home, they pass by the old man’s house and the old man sees them and comments about them going to hell for being out all night. When he goes back inside, his wife brings him a piece of homemade pie and when he asks her what she used, she tells him she used the leftover apples. The old man ends up being killed as one of the razor blades that he had placed inside the apples slices his throat and his wife kisses him on the head and says “Happy Halloween, dear.” as she drinks her coffee.

Night Of The Demons met with mostly negative reviews in it’s initial release but has sense received more positive reviews, currently holding a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the favorable reviews praised the special effects as well as the campy humor found in the movie. The movie only received a regional release but it made over $3 million at the box office, making it a box office hit given it’s $1.2 million budget, and had it opened nationwide, it was projected to have earned over $13 million it’s opening weekend, which would have made it one of the highest grossing horror movies of the decade. The movie would become a cult hit and spawned two sequels as well as a remake in 2009.

I always felt like this was one of those underrated teenage horror movies and having watched it again, I still feel that way. This is not your usual horror 80’s horror movie but it is pretty good. The acting was a mixture of good and bad, with veteran Scream Queen Linnea Quigley doing a great job as Suzanne. Cathy Podewell (Judy), Amelia Kinkade (Angela), Alvin Alexis (Roger), and Billy Gallo (Sal) also did good jobs but I have to admit that Harold Ayer (the old man) was really funny. The plot was pretty simplistic but did a good job with the set to make it feel a lot scarier while adding a dose of typical teenage humor to keep it from being too serious. The special effects were pretty good and did help with making the movie scarier, especially when they were used for some good “jump” spots. A good, fun horror movie that is worth a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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July 27th, 2016 Movie – Night Of The Creeps

night of the creeps

Another day, another zombie movie but this particular one happens to be one of my favorite zombie movies. This was also my first experience with a movie having different endings. See, when I first saw this years ago as a teenager and only caught the last half of the movie. When I rented it a few weeks later, I noticed that the ending was different from the one I saw on TV. Years later, I would learn the reason behind that but it wouldn’t make much difference because there was no way that I wasn’t going to buy Night Of The Creeps.

The plot: Inside an alien ship, two aliens are chasing after a third alien, trying to stop it from taking an experiment off the ship but they are two late as the third alien places the tube with the experiment inside a garbage chute and launches it into space. At the same time, in 1959, a college guy, Johnny, is picking up his girlfriend Pam from her sorority at Corman University and they go up to a hilltop to park. After Pam’s ex-boyfriend, who happens to be a cop, tells them to head home, the two see a shooting star and Johnny decides to go looking for it. Driving close to where it fell, Johnny leaves Pam to go look for it but she gets scared when she hears a news report about an escaped mental patient and realizes that they are in the area he is said to be heading. Johnny continues through the woods and finds a strange tube with something moving inside and as he gets closer, a slug-like creature breaks out of the tube and enters his mouth. Meanwhile, Pam continues to call out for Johnny to come back, unaware that the mental patient is sneaking up behind her until he strikes her with a fire-axe. 27 years later, it is Rush Week at Corman University and freshman Chris Romero is complaining to his friend J.C. about his lackluster love life when he falls in love with a girl standing outside a frat house. When she heads inside, Chris and J.C. head in after her and when Chris is to insecure to talk to her, J.C. decides to go talk to her and learns that her name is Cynthia Cronenberg. Chris figures that in order to talk to her, he needs to be in a fraternity so he and J.C. speak to Brad, the president of the Betas, about joining. Brad decides to test them by having them steal a corpse and place it at a rival fraternity but after they leave, Brad tells the other frat members that he doesn’t intend to let them join as Cynthia, his girlfriend, walks up and kisses them. Chris and J.C. head down to the medical building and manage to sneak into an experimental lab, where they find the body of Johnny being kept in cryogenic storage. J.C. manages to open the chamber and as they approach the body, it suddenly grabs J.C., causing the boys to run, knocking over a grad student in the process. The grad student goes to see if they did anything in the lab and ends up being attacked by Johnny. Detective Ray Cameron is called to the crime scene and after finding out the details of what is going on, is shocked to learn that Johnny’s body has disappeared. Johnny makes his way to Pam’s old sorority, which happens to be the Kappa Delta sorority that Cynthia belongs too, and makes his way to Cynthia’s window, where he tries to get in and Cynthia watches as his head explodes and dozens of slugs fall to the ground and slither away. The police are called and Ray looks at bodies head and thinks it could have been done with an axe but his partner tells him to stop living in the past as the psycho disappeared 27 years ago. The next day, Brad and the Betas confront Chris and J.C. about the body but J.C. tells him that it was his idea and they didn’t go through with it. Cynthia tries to stop him but Brad kicks J.C.’s crutches out from under him and when Cynthia flicks him off, he and the other Betas leave. Cynthia apologizes and says she believes Chris and J.C. but before they can say anything, the police pick them up for questioning. In the interview room, Ray introduces them to a night janitor at the med lab, who saw them leaving the lab, and Chris admits that they were in the lab but that they didn’t take the body and confirming the story, they are let go. At the morgue, the body of the grad student suddenly comes back to life and walks out of the police station and heads back to the medical lab, where he attacks the night janitor. Cynthia goes to see Chris and J.C. and tells them about a sorority sister’s cat having been killed and buried but somehow coming back to life and that the body had come up to her window. Chris decides to walk her back to her house while J.C. goes to the bathroom but while he is in the bathroom, the night janitor enters the restroom and his head bursts open to release dozens of slugs while the body collapses to the floor. J.C. manages to kill one of the slugs by setting it on fire with a book of matches but when one crawls up his pant leg, he falls off the toilet and tries crawling away only to see a slug crawling strait towards him. Chris and Cynthia reach her house and Cynthia asks Chris to be her date to a formal the next night and Chris accepts but as he is leaving, he runs into Ray, who had been following the two for a while. Ray takes Chris back to his house, and tells Chris what happened to his high school sweetheart and how he tracked down the killer, killed him, and buried him where the Delta Sorority’s house mother’s cottage now sits while at the cottage, a pounding is heard coming from the floor and the corpse of the killer breaks free and proceeds to kill the house mother. When he gets a call about what happened, Ray leaves Chris there while he grabs his shotgun and heads to the sorority. When the police locate the killer, Ray heads to the alley where they have him cornered and when he sees the rotting body, he shoots it in the head, causing the head to explode and slugs to fall out and slither away. The next night, Chris is getting ready for the formal when he sees a mini tape recorder on J.C.’s desk with a note saying to listen. Playing the tape, he hears a message from J.C. telling him what happened and that he is going to the boiler room to kill the ones in his head as heat will kill them. Chris runs down and sees J.C.’s body and the dead slugs and goes to see Ray, who is sitting in his house attempting to kill himself, and after telling him what happened to J.C., Ray agrees to help him. As the Deltas and Betas get ready for the formal, a drunken Brad is walking outside the Delta house and when he sees one of the slugs go by, he bends down to take a closer look when the house mother’s dog comes up and a slug leaps from it’s mouth into Brads. The dog then heads down the road and causes the bus carrying the Betas to the Delta house to crash, and it goes inside and proceeds to release slugs to infect the bodies inside. Chris and Ray head to the police station and grab a flamethrower, then head for the Delta house, where Chris manages to save Cynthia from an infected Brad. As the zombie Betas head towards the house, Chris and Cynthia work on killing them while Ray goes inside and kills the ones that manage to break in through the back, as well as killing the sorority girl who had been infected by her cat the night before. After killing all the Betas outside, Chris notices the slugs heading to the Delta’s basement and asks Cynthia what is down there. Realizing one of the girls stored some brains there for her biology class, Chris and Cynthia tell the girls to leave while they go to the basement. They find Ray there dousing the place with gasoline while a huge mound of slugs lies against the far wall. When Ray starts counting down, Chris realizes what he plans on doing and he and Cynthia run for it while Ray turns on the gas flow in the basement and lights his lighter to cause the house to burst into flames. As they watch the house burn, Chris and Cynthia kiss each other while elsewhere, the burnt body of Ray is seen walking away. It collapses in front of the cemetery and some slugs burst out of his head and head inside when suddenly, a bright light is seen shining on the cemetery as an alien ship passes overhead looking for the slugs.

Night Of The Creeps met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics liked the comedy and horror that was seen as a tribute to the horror movies from the 50’s. Director Fred Dekker used every B-movie cliche he could think of when he wrote the script and originally wanted to shoot the movie in black and white. While the ending listed above was the original ending, the ending shown in theaters had Cynthia, after kissing Chris, bending down to pet the house mother’s dog when a slug leaps out of it’s mouth towards her. The movie didn’t fare well in theaters, as it only earned a little $591,000 at the U.S. box office but quickly became a cult favorite among horror fans.

This is such a fun movie to watch for a variety of reasons. The acting was pretty good, with Tom Atkins doing a fantastic job as Ray Cameron while Jason Lively (Chris), Steve Marshall (J.C.) and Jill Whitlow (Cynthia) doing equally well in their roles. The story was great, with a lot of nods to classic movies like Night Of The Living Dead and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers being given an 80’s twist that makes the movie very enjoyable. I also liked that the names of the characters were nods to various directors, such as George Romero, James Cameron, John Carpenter, and more. The special effects were pretty good although I will admit that the aliens did look pretty silly. A fun horror/comedy that is worth watching for some light-hearted humor.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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July 26th, 2016 Movie – Night Of The Comet

night of the comet

The internet can be a great tool to help you remember movies you haven’t seen in years. For instance, years ago, I was reading an internet list of top 30 zombie movies, and using it as a guide for buying some of them. Today’s movie happened to be on that list and it made me think because I had watched the very beginning of this movie on TV a long time ago but never watched the whole thing and I didn’t remember seeing any zombies in it. Feeling the urge to watch it, I find a copy on DVD and had a lot of fun reliving my childhood and watching Night Of The Comet again.

The plot: When a comet is scheduled to pass by the Earth for the first time in 65 million years, a group of scientists take precautions and take shelter in a bunker but the rest of the world chooses to make the event into a party. The night of the comet’s passing, Regina Belmont is playing a video game at the movie theater she works at and after putting her initials in, she notices that someone with the initials DMK has knocked out one of her high scores. The theater manager tells her to go walk through the theaters but Regina instead heads up to the projection room where he boyfriend works, where they make plans to spend the night having sex in the projection room. Regina calls her house and when her sister Samantha answers the phone, she tells her to lie to their stepmother Doris about where she will be but Doris tells her to come home after work. Samantha and Doris get into it after Samantha comments about Doris’ fooling around with their neighbor while their dad is overseas and Doris punches Samantha and heads outside to the party. As the comet passes by, the sky starts changing color and the next morning, the sky is red and the streets are all empty except for clothes covered in red dust all over the place. At the theater, Larry is pissed off that a movie reel that he loaned out has not been returned so he decides to go and get it back but as he goes to leave, he is attacked by a zombie and dragged outside. Regina decides to go play the video game and remove DMK from the high score, then heads outside to look around, noticing the sky as well as the piles of clothes in front of the theater. When she accidentally gets locked out of the theater, she tries to get in through the side door and notices Larry’s keys on the ground next to a bloody wrench. Heading towards Larry’s motorcycle, Regina is confronted by the zombie that killed Larry but she manages to knock it down and rides off on the motorcycle. Heading home, Regina is surprised to see Samantha still alive, who tells her she spent the night in a lawn shed after her fight with Doris, but when Samantha starts talking about what she plans on doing that day, Regina tells her that everyone is gone, showing her the clothes from Doris and all the party guests outside as proof. When they hear a DJ talking over the radio, the girls head over to the radio station but when they get there, they find that the DJ was merely a pre-recorded series of tapes set to play automatically. The girls are confronted by Hector, a truck driver that came to the radio station because of the broadcast. Hector tells them that he was travelling with a girl he picked up and when they saw one of the zombies eating a cat, the girl ran and Hector found what was left of her several minutes later. Realizing that the same thing probably happened to Larry, Regina heads to the bathroom and while Hector goes to check on her, Samantha disables the recording and starts broadcasting live. Regina and Hector start talking and after checking his pistol, Regina says they are going to need more weapons and suggests heading to Edwards Air Force Base to get some guns from there. Samantha suddenly bursts in the room and says she received a call on the radio hotline but when they get back to the DJ booth, the caller hung up. As Regina and Hector ask Samantha for details about the call, they unknowingly broadcast it out over the air, where they are heard by the scientists in their bunker. One of the scientists, Audrey, disapproves of the other scientists plan on collecting the girls but she is overruled. Back at the radio station, Samantha tells Hector and Regina that the caller had said that what happened to the people was the same thing happening to the zombies, only much slower and it was driving them insane. Hector leaves the girls to go check on his family in San Diego but promises to come back to the radio station to get them while Regina and Samantha get a couple of sub machine guns to use for defense and test them out on a nearby car. Back at the lab, Audrey is writing down symptoms of the infection when she is approached by Carter, the head scientist, who says they have found more survivors and wants Audrey to run blood tests on them but Audrey is horrfied to discover that the survivors are children. Hector makes it to his house and finding it empty, starts getting some of the Christmas presents to take back to the girls when he is attacked by an infected boy and forced to make a run for it. Regina and Samantha decide to go to the mall and get some new clothes but while they are having fun, a group of infected stock boys attack them, forcing them into a firefight but they both end up captured. The leader of the stock boys starts threatening to shoot Samantha but before he does, the girls are saved by a strike team sent by the scientists to rescue them. As the girls are celebrating being rescued, one of the scientists, Oscar, believes Samantha is infected and Audrey offers to stay behind to kill her and Oscar decides to stay as well. Telling Samantha they are staying behind to wait for Hector while Regina goes on ahead, Audrey comments about Samantha’s rash and Samantha says it is hives, which she gets when she is stressed. Audrey gives Samantha a sedative, then kills Oscar before she heads to the radio station to wait for Hector. When Hector arrives, Audrey tells him her memory is going but she wrote everything down on a notepad, saying that the scientists were all exposed to the comet because they left the ventilation ducts open, then injects herself with an overdose of sedative in order to commit suicide. At the lab, Regina is being questioned by Carter about her medical history and when another scientist, Wilson, asks to talk to him, Carter tells Regina that Samantha is dead. Hector and Samantha head to the lab and after knocking out one of the guards, they sneak inside and Hector plants explosives on the vehicles while Samantha goes to look for Regina. Regina manages to escape briefly and finds a room full of survivors that have been rendered brain dead and are being harvested of their blood for use in a serum. Regina is captured by Wilson and as they are walking away, they meet up with Carter as the lights go out. When Carter and Wilson leave, Regina overpowers her guard and then stops two scientists from putting the kids to sleep. Samantha finds them and they escape with the children and meet up with Hector. Hector drives off but stops outside the gate and taunts the scientists, who go to follow them but are killed when the cars explode. As Hector, Regina, and Samantha get out of the car to stare at the wreckage, one of the infected scientist, who had already become a zombie, tries to grab the girl from the car but the girls save her and Hector kills the scientist. Some time later, it starts raining and the rain washes away the dust from the Earth. Regina and Hector have become parental figures for the children in an attempt to rebuild society. Samantha feels left behind and unappreciated and when she mocks their waiting for the light to change before crossing the street, she walks across the street and almost gets run over by a car. The driver does a u-turn and pulls over next to Samantha, who is happy to see another boy is still alive. When the boy asks if she wants a ride, she quickly agrees and asks his name, which is Danny Mason Keener (DMK), and the two drive off, while Hector, Regina, and the kids play in the street.

Night Of The Comet met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics enjoy the mix of humor and horror that was prevalent throughout the movie. The movie has become a cult film and Kelli Maroney’s character (Samantha) was one of the influences Joss Whedon used to create Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie was a box office hit, earning $14.4 million off a $700,000 budget.

This is a really fun movie to watch because it tends to poke fun at the stereotypical apocalypse style movies. The acting was really good, with Catherine Mary Stewart (Regina), Kelli Maroney (Samantha), and Robert Beltran (Hector) all doing a good job in mixing humor and seriousness in their roles. The story was pretty entertaining, taking the usual end of the world theme and making the survivors being a couple of teenagers acting like teenagers. The make-up on the zombies wasn’t top of the line, given the limited budget, but the explanation in the plot made the zombies seem more realistic than the average zombie movie. I also love how full of 80’s culture this movie is, and by full, I mean covered head to toe in it. A fun movie to watch that is still enjoyable today as it was when I saw the first part of it years ago.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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July 25th, 2016 Movie – Night Of The Blood Beast

night of the blood beast

I have found that a good way for me to start the week is to watch a Roger Corman movie. Ok, that might not be entirely true but I was pretty happy to learn that I would get to watch a Roger Corman produced movie today. This movie is also funny because a clip of it is on a compilation of B-movie monsters on YouTube that I have used as a list for movies to buy/own. It’s funny because the clip just showed a monster jumping into some bushes and everyone in the comments was asking about it. I realize this might not be the best way to talk up a movie but I thought it was funny so let’s get right into today’s movie, Night Of The Blood Beast.

The plot: A rocket ship carrying astronaut John Corcoran is launched to orbit the Earth but as it is making it’s descent for re-entry, something malfunction and the ship comes into fast, causing it to crash and killing John. Dave Randall and Donna Bixby head out and locate the wreckage and report in to the rest of the team (Dr. Alex Wyman, Steve Dunlap, and John’s fiance Dr. Julie Bensen) that Corcoran is dead. Wyman tells them to get pictures of the wreckage but as they start to photograph it, Donna notices a strange mud on the ship but doesn’t see something moving through the mud and into the nearby brush. When the rest of the team get there, they are shocked to see that a hole in the ship had gotten wider and that John’s body doesn’t show any sign of rigor mortis. Taking the body back to the lab, Wyman and Julie start doing tests while Dave tries getting in touch with Cape Canaveral but the radio doesn’t seem to work so he goes outside to check the tower while Steve keeps trying to transmit. Meanwhile, Julie discovers that John’s body has normal blood pressure so they take a blood sample to check. As Dave is checking the radio tower and generator, the power in the building suddenly goes out and Dave is attacked by a large creature and Dave manages to fire a few shots into it before he passes out. The others go to check on him and as he tells them what happened, they hear a loud crash from inside the building. Heading back inside, they stop to grab a lantern and some weapons before heading into the medical room, where they find a busted window but John’s body is still there. As Dave and Donna check on the lack of power, Julie studies John’s blood sample and sees a strange cell that does not match the normal red or white blood cells. Deciding they need to contact help, Wyman suggests Steve head to the nearest town and call Cape Canaveral but Steve is unable to get either of their vehicles to work. Checking people’s watches, Dave realizes that they are in some sort of magnetic field, which is why the power has gone out. When the group decides to get some sleep, Dave is woken by something moving around outside the room and they find the decapitated body of Wyman hanging from the medical room. They believe the creature has taken John’s body too but are surprised to find that he has regained consciousness but doesn’t know what happened. When they recheck the blood sample, they find the alien cells are gone from the sample but when they examine him under another machine, they find the cells have become lizard-like embryos. Steve and Dave want to kill the embryos but John says they can’t as they are keeping him alive and says it won’t let you, just before the creature bursts through the door. Steve and Dave begin shooting it but when the bullets don’t seem to faze it, Steve notices the creature’s reaction to Donna’s lantern and grabs a second one to throw at it, setting part of the wall on fire and frightening the creature off. Steve wants to go after the creature the next morning and armed with flare guns, he leaves with Dave and Donna. Heading out, they notice that their watches are running again and believe the creature is heading back towards the rocket crash. Heading there, Dave fires a flare into the ship and they notice his watched stopped again just as the creature grabs Donna. Dave and Steve give chase and manage to scare the creature off and rescue her. Back at the lab, John empties the flare gun that was left for Donna and tells her that he believes the creature is not evil and just being misunderstood and they should communicate with it and not kill it. When the others return, John pleads his case that the creature is not evil and says he thinks he can find the creature as they are somehow connected. Dave and Steve aren’t sure if they can trust John and decide to make some moltov cocktails to use as weapons against the creature. Heading out, John leads them to a cave that the creature is hiding in but runs off into the cave to try and communicate with the creature. Inside, he finds that the creature is now able to talk and it says that it is there to help save mankind. John leads the creature out of the cave, where it talks to the others and say it is not there to harm them. The creature says that the first of it’s kind will be born soon and will be able to multiply and take over the mankind in order to save them from their own self destructive tendencies. John realizes the creature is evil and tells the others to kill them both but when the creature grabs him as a hostage, he commits suicide in order to kill the embryos inside him. Dave and Steve then throw the moltov coctails at the creature and set it ablaze with the flare guns but as it dies, it warns that others of it’s species are still in space and will make their way to Earth eventually.

Night Of The Blood Beast is a bit distinctive not so much for the movie itself, but the events that happened behind the scenes. The movie was written by Martin Varno, who was not a member of the Writers Guild at the time. Unhappy with the way the Corman’s treated him, Varno was encouraged to talk to the guild and ended up joining them and filing arbitration over not being payed enough and writing credits. Varno won both suits but Roger Corman refused to pay Varno, and was forced to use non-union writers for several years until he finally relented and paid so he could have a union writer work on one of his movies. In spite of winning the suits, Gene Corman is still listed in the film as the writer, due to it costing too much to recall and change all the prints at the time and Varno allowing it to stay as is.

This is a short, interesting movie to watch. The acting was pretty decent, with Michael Emmet doing a good job as the confused John Corcoran and John Baer (Steve) as the somewhat de facto leader of the group. The story was interesting, though not entirely original, and moved along pretty smoothly. The effects were on the cheap end, which you kind of expect from an early Corman movie, but they did a good job with what they had. The monster design was a little odd and, after reading a reviewer’s description of it, I honestly can’t get the image out of my head that it does kind of look like the San Diego Chicken that was covered in tar. A short and simple movie that is good for a B-movie or Sci-Fi pick me up.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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