Friday, April 25, 2014

Worth Mentioning - You Have the Right to Remain Dead

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody talks up a handful of horror.


During a party at her family's lake island summer lodge over Labor Day weekend in 1946, a demure young woman named Ida was beaten and raped by a drunken acquaintance whose advances she had repeatedly spurned. Knowing his owner was in distress, Ida's beloved German Shepherd escaped from his pen and rescued her by viciously mauling her attacker. Ordering her dog to leave the severely wounded man alone, Ida then finished him off with some blows to the head.

After the death of her lumber baron father in the 1960s, Ida continues living alone in the lodge on the family's private island, which the residents of the town of St. Martin on the mainland come to know as Dog Island, as the wooded land is said to be completely overrun with dogs. Ida is only seen by the outside world when she ventures out for groceries and supplies twice a year. She doesn't speak to anyone during her trips to St. Martin, she seems to be in a completely different world inside her head. She gets what she needs, then she goes back to live in seclusion on the island.

This tragic story takes an even more horrifying turn in modern day 1982, when a group of youths - the Simmons siblings; decent guy Eric, raging douchebag Nick, extremely nerdy Carla; and Eric and Nick's potential love interests Sandy and Donna - who set out on the lake to party on the Simmons' family yacht, along with Bert, a fisherman they rescue from being stranded in the lake along the way, end up on Dog Island after a reckless act by Nick causes the yacht to wreck on the rocks in the shallow waters around the island... and then explode...

With one their number badly wounded, another missing, the desperate youths set out through the thick forest to locate the lodge and seek help from Ida Parsons. But soon, members of the group begin getting picked off one-by-one by a hulking, snarling, beastly man.

Humongous reunited the Prom Night (1980) team of director Paul Lynch and William Gray, but this film didn't achieve the success or gain the popularity of its predecessor, perhaps because having the characters wander around a woods and search through an old lodge isn't the most intriguing way to fill up a running time, even if the images do coast along on a rather cool synth score by John Mills Cockell. The characters themselves aren't particularly interesting either, and the cinematography is so dark that it's sometimes hard to make out what's on the screen.

Taking its faults in stride, Humongous is a decent entry in the '80s slasher boom, and slasher fans have certainly seen much worse than what this Psycho-meets-Friday the 13th film has to offer.

As it turns out, the film's super strong, hideously deformed killer, the humongous being the title refers to, is Ida's son, the monstrous result of her rape. This character, who doesn't get the sort of clear screen time I'd like to have seen, is played by Gary Robbins, a 7'5" wrestler who was called "The Paul Bunyon of the North". Robbins would go on to play another deformed backwoods slasher in 2003's Wrong Turn.

PSYCHO COP 2 (1993)

Also known as Psycho Cop Returns, the sequel to the 1989 horror/comedy slasher Psycho Cop moves the setting from a remote vacation house to a location unusual for a film such as this - downtown Los Angeles, where serial killer/fake cop Joe Vickers is still on patrol, riding around the city streets in a cruiser full of human body parts.

Screenwriter Dan Povenmire received his first writing credit for this film, and while Povenmire may not be a household name, a look at his IMDb filmography shows that the man has been very prolific in the world of animation, doing a lot of work on cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles, James Bond Jr., Rocko's Modern Life, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Phineas and Ferb. The title Psycho Cop Returns really stands out among those others.

Brought to the screen by director by Adam Rifkin (The Dark Backward, The Chase, Detroit Rock City) under the pseudonym Rif Coogan, Povenmire's script gets the entire set-up out of the way right in the first scene. While chowing down at a donut shop, Joe Vickers overhears a pair of office workers discussing the bachelor party they're going to be throwing for a co-worker that night. They're going to bribe the security guard of the skyscraper their company is located in and take over the top floor of the building for a night of booze, weed, strippers, and general debauchery.

Soon after the building closes up for the night, leaving just a handful of people inside - the security guard, the partiers, a man and woman who are cheating on their spouses with each other, and one "good girl" who has actually stayed after hours to finish up some work - Vickers arrives and starts knocking them off one-by-one.

The humor was already there in the first Psycho Cop, and it gets amped up further this time around, as laughs are wrung from the interplay among the partiers, their drunkness (one man's inebriated slurring of the word "officer" into "occifer" has stuck with me since my first viewing more than twenty years ago), the hysterical fear some experience when they realize what's going on, and Vickers' trademark one-liners.

Also amped up is the nudity, as there is a lot of toned female flesh and large breasts on display. The bachelor party strippers are given an extended sequence to show off their moves, and one of them is played by "1993 Penthouse Pet of the Year" (and that's how she's listed in the opening credits) Julie Strain.

There are some entertaining acts of bloody violence, but make sure you're watching the right version of the film if you want to see those. The 85 minute version has the blood, but that was hacked out for the 80 minute R-rated cut.

Eventually, the slashing and screaming busts out of the skyscraper and into the streets of L.A., in a time when some city residents didn't have a very positive view of the police force. If you remember what was going on in Los Angeles back around this time in the early '90s, you have an idea of what sort of direction the climax of the movie goes in...

Psycho Cop 2 isn't great, but it's fun, and it's one of a certain handful of horror movies that I have a soft spot for because I can recall my first viewings of them late at night on The Movie Channel when I was a young kid. They tended to be oddball, goofy flicks that had a preoccupation with the womanly form; this movie, Sorority House Massacre 2, Hard to Die... If you wanted to recreate the experience of watching The Movie Channel after dark in the early '90s, that would be a perfect triple feature.


From executive producer Jerry Feifer, a driving force behind the entire Witchcraft series, with a screenplay co-written by Witchcraft III: The Kiss of Death's Jerry Daly, comes yet another serving of softcore horror erotica.

Porn star Sharon Kane (under the name Katherine McCall) takes the lead role of a woman named Beth, whose father has recently died. So recently that the movie opens with his funeral. As tragic as this has been for Beth and her mother, Beth's friend Lurleen sees her grief as an opportunity - Beth is likely going to be too bereft to make love to her fiance Jack anytime soon, which gives Lurleen a chance to seduce him a time or two. Thank you, Grim Reaper!

Her loss also opens Beth to seeking out mystical methods of bringing peace to her life beginning with the purchase of a large crystal from the odd creep who runs Beazle's antique shop. When she brings the crystal home, her mother is having a conversation with a priest, and when the women leave the priest alone in the kitchen with the crystal, the man of God is painfully mentally attacked by the projection of a hideous demon.

The demon of the crystal will go on to terrorize Beth and those around her for the rest of the film, whether characters are assaulted by it in terrifying visions (the demon's image even appears in a toilet bowl!), or it visits Beth in a dream for some monster sex. When Beth makes love to Jack after the monster has had its subconscious way with her, the demon is able to physically manifest in our world and kill people. His first target? The unscrupulously slutty Lurleen.

It doesn't help matters that Beth and her friends also conduct séances led by their pal who comes from a long line of fortune tellers and has all the spiritual knowledge of the Vikings, Egyptians, and Gypsies at her mental fingertips. Soon the demon has gained enough power to go on an all-out rampage while seeking to take Beth in the flesh.

The production value is about on the same level as most of the Witchcraft installments, but those who have a negative outlook on that series may be surprised to find that the storytelling is much weaker in this side film, I really found this to be a mess that was much less entertaining than any individual Witchcraft entry.

What really made the movie worth mentioning to me is the fact that the demon suit was not specifically crafted for this film, in fact it's a leftover costume from a sci-fi horror flick that was made the year before. The horny demon that lives in Beth's crystal is the human-raping mutant Gargoyle from The Terror Within!

These two movies aren't the only ones the monster appeared in, it's also in another movie that was made in 1990 which I'll talk about at another time, Watchers II. Like The Terror Within, Watchers II was a Roger Corman production, so the fact that the suit was reused makes sense in that case. I'm not sure how it ended up in this movie.


It's rare for a slasher movie to be set in a big city, but Hide and Go Shriek, the directorial debut of Halloween II (1981) editor Skip Schoolnik, is one of those rare slashers, being set in the city of Los Angeles. But even though it happens in L.A., it still occurs primarily within one building... Much like its article buddy Psycho Cop 2.

The multi-story building here houses the Fine Furniture Store, where four teenage couples - including the owner's son - have snuck in after hours to celebrate their recent graduation from high school. Looking at the future ahead of them, these kids are grappling with ideas of marriage, college, and careers, but on this night their real focus is on having a good time drinking beer and having premarital sex. Two of them are established, very sexually active couples, one couple is just starting out and getting to know each other, and the girl in the fourth couple is considering making this the night she gives up her virginity to her boyfriend.

Unbeknownst to the teens, there is at least one more person in the store with them - a tatted-up loading dock worker who has just recently been released from prison for serving a sentence for armed robbery. He needed a place to stay, so the store's owner has allowed him to live in the basement and double as a security guard.

Sex and alcohol alone aren't enough to pass the time, they also decide to use the store as the stage for a huge game of hide and go seek, setting up the title of the film, with the "shriek" twist coming from the fact that the kids soon find themselves being picked off one-by-one by a brutal slasher who utilizes the decorations and objects around the store to kill his young victims with, then dresses in their clothes to fool their friends.

A very entertaining slasher with a perfectly simple set-up, Hide and Go Shriek gains extra points with the way it handles its characters, introducing them as a certain type, then spinning that type on its head while playing with the subgenre's "have sex and die" rules. The most sexually active couple is not the first to be killed, as would usually be the case. The most provocatively dressed female in the group survives much longer than expected. The shy virginal girl ends up performing a strip tease while rock-style music plays on the soundtrack (she got the idea from watching a porno).

The kills, with special effects provided by Screaming Mad George (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) are very good for the most part, the standout being one spectacular decapitation.

The closed furniture store is a great setting for a slashfest, the darkness providing a lot of atmosphere, shrouding rooms in shadow, with cinematographer Eugene Shlugleit (who shot the night exteriors on Evil Dead II) striking the perfect balance of light and dark, lighting shots just well enough for us to see what's going on while keeping the killer's identity hidden. Those shatterproof windows designed to keep thieves out of the store also work to keep the teens trapped inside with a madman until the bitter, bloody end.

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