Post by Mike Morbid on Jul 28, 2017 22:15:41 GMT -5
Good evening. It is the start of another weekend, and thus another Friday Frightmare. For those who don’t know me, I am Mike Morbid, the guru of horror. You may ask how someone achieves such a lofty position. It was a rigorous process. I watched horror movies for decades, studied them at length, and it finally culminated just moments ago when I decided to proclaim myself the guru of horror.
But enough! Let us get to the business at hand. Tonight I will be discussing some schlock from what I consider to be the golden age of horror, the 80s. And when I declare it to be the golden age, you can rest assured that I am correct. I am a guru, after all. Now then, to the movies.
Monster Dog 1984
“Hey, guess what! You know that horror movie we’re going to make? You’ll never believe it, but I got Alice Cooper to star!”
“Wow! Just having him in it will make it better! How’s the script looking?”
When I was a wee ghoul, picked Monster Dog off the shelf at Mr. Movie and saw that Cooper was in it, it nearly blew my young (but already diseased) mind. I knew right away that this movie had to come home with me and that it would enrich my life and make me the envy of all. Well, I was rather stupid back then. I see you hecklers about to make comments about the present. Hush.
Alice plays Vincent Raven, the world’s top rock star. He is dissatisfied with his recent work and decides going home will reinvigorate him. Coming along are his crew and his girlfriend. She might also be part of the crew, that wasn’t clear to me. Cut to the family home, and we see now is definitely not a good time for their visit. The keeper of the estate wanders outside and finds out that his new name is Kibbles N Bits. I don’t know about you, but if I looked out the door and saw a large pack of snarling dogs, I doubt I would walk right up to them to take a better look.
We find out that the area was besieged by dogs some twenty years earlier, when Vincent was a boy. The people of the community blamed his father, thinking he was a werewolf and controlling the canines. Naturally they took the only reasonable course of action of breaking into his home, dragging him away from his wife and son, and slaughtering him in the front yard. I know that’s how we settled disputes in my old neighbourhood.
Anyway, the dogs are back and apparently the passage of years hasn’t made them less spry. The same posse is also still around, and they figure that what was good for the father will also be good for the son. There is also a random old guy who tells the rockers that they are going to die. I wonder if he is related to Crazy Ralph?
This all leads to a three-way showdown in which no dogs were harmed during filming, but humans were somewhat worse off. Then when the much worse for wear survivors try to drag their mangled selves to safety, they find there is one more participant left in the fray.
So as not to keep you in suspense any longer, no, this is not a good movie. Alice is the only decent part of it, and you don’t even get to hear him for most of it. Being as this was a foreign movie, all the voices in the English version are dubbed. The only time you actually get to hear him are during his musical shoots. It isn’t really important though, as the dialogue is rather horrible. I lost all hope about a half hour in when the crew was talking enthusiastically about how much they are enjoying their meal. Yeah, those are sandwiches, kids, not exactly a rare delicacy.
The creature effects are passable, mainly because they are kept quite dark. There is some gore, but nothing impressive. I did really like one shot of Alice’s face after he shoots one of his attackers. It perfectly captured the attitude of his stage performances.
Long story short, unless you have to see all the movies with Alice, which is a sadly short list, you may want to steer clear of this dog.
Trivia: The puppet of the creature was the pride of the people who made it. As soon as they showed it off it broke and delayed filming.
Chopping Mall 1986
Here we have the quintessential 80s horror movie. A group of young people, which of course has an evenly-matched number of females and males, get off work and want to party. Naturally they choose a location that just happens to be inhabited by things that don’t want their company. Thus the killing begins.
In this case the location is a mall which has just gotten an innovative new security system, three robot drones. You would think being designed for mall security that the automatons would be equipped with non-lethal weapons, but this is not the case here. These guys are fully equipped killbots, and they are enthusiastic about their duties.
Most movies of this calibre would only have one person you would recognize, but this one has three! First is the always welcome Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator and From Beyond. Alongside her is Kelli Maroney from Night of the Comet. Finally, in a brief role we have Dick Miller, who has been in Gremlins and The Terminator. Alas, only one of them makes it to the final act.
From all appearances this is a standard slasher type movie, although in this case the killers are machines. However, I have a theory that there is something deeper going on. Early on we see the robots in the security room waiting for closing time when they will be deployed. Also in the room is, I guess, their technician. A bolt of lightning hits the building’s power supply and gives the robots a spiritual reawakening.
For the next couple of minutes we can see the robots looking at each other and preparing to kill the tech. Every time he looks around they shut off their lights and appear dormant. This means they realize that their plan of action is not what is expected of them. Since robots are guided by what has been programmed into them, this means that at some point someone has programmed them to be evil, and to hide their ill intent. The lightning couldn’t have introduced new programming, at most it could have shorted out whatever was keeping those programs locked.
Anyways, on to other things that perplex me about these machines. Their primary weapon is a laser. They hit the young people with them repeatedly, and most of the time all it does is cause them pain and cause minor wounds. There is one point, though, where a laser completely explodes someone’s head. It is not a subtle thing, you get several moments to look at the now vacant head space. The mall has three levels, with one robot on each level. The main way to travel between them is an escalator. Alright, so that means if the victims manage to dispose of one of the robots they can just hide out there, right? Wrong! These killbots are shown riding the escalators. Keep in mind that their mode of locomotion is treads that are about three feet long. You would think they would at least have a nasty lean while they are going along these narrow steps, but nope, perfectly level. Apparently they are equipped with anti-gravity treads.
Finally, these are robots equipped with lasers, knockout drugs, gripping and slicing limbs, armour plating and artificial intelligence capable of developing plans. How exactly do the mall owners afford them, and just what kind of crime happens there to justify the expense?
All this aside, this is a fairly average horror movie. The acting is at the usual standards, and the action is decent. It is light on the gore, but there is nudity so it isn’t something most parent’s would want the kiddies watching. It is worth a watch if you find it on television or a streaming service.
Trivia: Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel had cameos as the same characters they played in Eating Raoul.
Maximum Overdrive 1987
Many disparage this movie, but I love it! It is written and directed by my favourite author. The soundtrack is done by my favourite band. It is dumb, violent and over the top. Anybody who says they didn’t like it is to be shunned and pitied.
This is another machines gone berserk movie, but this time it is due to extraterrestrial interference and thus is completely plausible. Trust me on this, I’m a guru. In this scenario, a bunch of people are trapped in a gas station/restaurant by a pack of murderous vehicles. They find out early on that escape will be no easy task. The screams of the dying man who showed them this futility drive the point home quite effectively.
It is not just the cars and trucks that hate people. An electric knife shows it isn’t to be trusted either in a cringe worthy moment. A steamroller provides some gore. I especially liked one part involving a pop machine. If you think that wouldn’t be capable of hurting anyone, you would be wrong. There is also a good chuckle from an interaction between a bank machine and a man played by King himself, in a quick cameo.
The main menace is the vehicles, though, especially an 18-wheeler adorned by the face of the Green Goblin. They enthusiastically deal with anyone who dares step outside the building. You may be thinking that all the survivors would have to do is wait it out until their tormentors run out of gas. The vehicles realize this too, and come up with a plan to tackle this dilemma. Their former victims will now be their unwilling providers, and things will go rather badly for them if they don’t agree to this unpaid job.
This is a fun flick. You aren’t going to get award winning performances or deep philosophical thoughts from it, but if your standards aren’t too high you will be entertained by it. Grab some friends, grab some snacks, make sure you don’t get confused as to which is which, and your should have a good time.
Trivia: Gary Busey was considered for the lead role.
Now then, I can’t let you walk into the dark night empty handed. You need a suggestion for something to watch, don’t you? Keeping in the spirit of these three movies, I would have to recommend From Beyond. It stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton in a tale of scientific discovery gone wrong. Be prepared for some body horror.
That’s all folks. You know your way to the exit, I presume? I have to tend to the popcorn machine, it seems there was a mix up involving Ceti eel larva. Nothing you have to worry about, you had the jelly beans, right? Anyways, I’ll be here waiting for you next Friday, don’t be late! Fare thee well.
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