TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: GRAVE ROBBERS (1989)

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GRAVE ROBBERS aka LADRONES DE TUMBAS (1989)

Another Mexican horror from Rubén Galindo Jr. This one opens in Mexico at the time of the inquisition. The church’s executioner (Agustín Bernal) has turned against God to worship Satan and himself is killed by his own axe before he enacts a sinister ritual. With his last breath, he proclaims that some day he will return and finish what he started. In modern (well…1989 Mexico) times, a group of youths are robbing graves and stumble upon the treasure filled crypt of the monks and the executioner. They remove the axe from his chest and soon he is walking the earth once again, slaughtering anyone in his path, while searching for a virgin to complete his ritual. The only one standing in his way is local police captain Lopez (Fernando Almada), a descendant of the archbishop who originally slew the executioner, whose virginal daughter Olivia (Edna Bolkan) is exactly the maiden the fiend is looking for.

Fun and gory horror is directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. from a script with Carlos Valdemar. Much like their Cemetery of Terror collaboration, this flick is atmospheric, very bloody and very 80s. Galindo knows his tropes well and we get creepy old graveyards, cobweb filled crypts, fog shrouded churches and an abundance of well rendered gore. The plot is a bit loopy, with an axe wielding walking corpse looking for a maiden to knock up in Old Scratch’s name, but Galindo directs it seriously…but not too serious…and simply knows how to present the horror traditions well. The 80s fashions and electronic score give the film some fun 80s nostalgia, and even if it gets a bit silly, it is visually atmospheric and does have some very spooky moments, along with some gruesome kills. The undead executioner makes for a solid fiend/villain complete with supernatural powers and the cast are all fine for this type of horror hi-jinx.

Grave Robbers might a bit goofy at times and it’s story might be more silly than scary, but it’s the skilled direction of Ruben Galindo Jr that keeps it spooky and bloody fun. He is very aware of the classic horror film traditions and knows how to use those elements very well. The film takes itself seriously, but not too serious to not have a good time. The film is visually impressive and atmospheric, the cast just fine for what they have to do and the gore effects are abundant and well done. Another solid Mexican horror from Ruben Galindo Jr and another obscure title available on Blu-ray from the awesome folks at Vinegar Syndrome.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) axes!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CEMETERY OF TERROR (1985)

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CEMETERY OF TERROR aka CEMENTERIO DEL TERROR (1985)

Mexican horror takes place on Halloween night with a group of youths going to an abandoned house to party. In the house they find a book of occult rituals and spells and as a prank, decide to steal a body from the morgue and try to raise it from the dead at a local cemetery. What could go wrong? Of course, the teens pick the body of Satan worshipping serial killer, Devlon (José Gómez Parcero) and soon Devlon is back from the dead and slaughtering the partiers back at the abandoned house. The only person who stands in the way, as a group of young trick or treaters finds themselves in the undead killer’s path, too, is Dr. Cardan (Hugo Stieglitz), a professor who knows all about Devlon’s powers and might be able to stop him.

Flick is directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. from his script with Carlos Valdemar and while it is a hodge-podge of films we’ve seen before, it is spooky fun. Galindo knows the trappings of a horror flick, especially one set on Halloween, and fills the flick with creepy trees, fog, spooky old houses, tombstone filled graveyards and plenty of gore. There is a lot of blood and the FX are well rendered and Devlon is a scary enough villain along with his horde of zombies, which burst out of their graves in the last act. It’s nothing new, but is a lot of fun and is also very 80s. Part Spookies and part Halloween, this is an entertaining horror for All Hallows Eve, as long as you don’t mind subtitles and that the switch of focus from teens to kids, in the last act, makes the film more kid-centric for it’s finale.

Cemetery of Terror might evoke some flicks you’ve seen before, but is made by a filmmaker who knows how to have a good time with the familiar tropes and use the familiar story elements well. Dumb, sex crazed teenagers, reanimated killers, zombies, gore and graveyards are all put to good use in this tale of horrors on Halloween night. We have both kids and teens in peril and the Mexican version of Dr. Loomis racing to the rescue. It’s a good time Halloween horror from South of the Border that fits in nicely with any All Hallows Eve flick. Available on Blu-ray from the awesome folks at Vinegar Syndrome.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack o lanterns!

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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2!

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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2!

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Five years after the events of Friday the 13th, a new group of camp counselors line up for the slaughter!

40 years ago this weekend, 4/30/81 to be exact, Friday the 13th Part 2 was released in theaters and a classic horror icon was born! Jason arrived to avenge his mother, in this installment, and thus his iconic character first came to life! HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2!

MZNJ PERSONAL NOTE: Saw F13P2 opening night at the Hackensack Drive-In Little Ferry, N.J.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-26-at-8.55.19-PMJason arrives to avenge his mom and horror history is made!

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Life lessons to be learned in F13P2! Fun-loving Ted (Stuart Charno) survives the movie by staying at the bar and continuing to get drunk!

-MonsterZero NJ

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RANDOM NONSENSE: JUST BEFORE DAWN ARRIVES ON BLU-RAY!

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JUST BEFORE DAWN ARRIVES ON BLU-RAY!

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The cult classic slasher Just Before Dawn came out on a new edition blu-ray on 1/12/21 and mine arrived from Amazon today! It’s currently only $19.95 and comes with a nice selection of extras. Not only does it have the original uncut version, but an extended international cut that is about 10 minutes longer. It has interviews from 2019 with cast members Gregg Henry, Chris Lemmon and Jamie Rose, along with Producer David Sheldon. It also features a vintage featurette with actors Chris Lemmon, Jamie Rose and John Hunsaker, along with co-writer Mark Arywitz and producer David Sheldon. Last but not least, it includes the original trailer. There will be a full review for the disc once I get to check it out, but it already sounds like a bargain!
Check out MonsterZero NJ’s review for this flick here

MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)

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SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Slaughterhouse is a late 80s backwoods horror that has severe Texas Chainsaw Massacre envy. Flick finds the slaughterhouse of one Lester Bacon…that’s is his actual name here…falling on hard times and falling into disrepair. Lester (Don Barrett) blames his attorney (Lee Robinson) and former partner (Tom Sanford) for betraying him to get his land. Along with his dim-witted and deranged, mountain-man of a son, Buddy (Joe B. Barton), Lester plans to kill those seeking to buy him out to save the only way of life he knows. Bonkers Buddy is way ahead of him, as he gleefully murders anyone who trespasses on the property. As Lester and Buddy started carving their way to revenge, a group of teenagers, including the sheriff’s daughter (Sherry Bendorf), decide to pay the spooky old slaughterhouse a visit.

Flick is written and directed by Rick Roessler and is his only movie. He tries to recreate the off kilter tone of Tobe Hooper’s classic and give it that same undercurrent of dark humor, but it just comes off as goofy at times. The acting, from a cast of unknowns, is pretty poor, as is the dialogue and all of the teenagers here look like they are in their 30s. On the plus side, the run-down slaughterhouse location is effective and there is plenty of well executed gore, as Buddy and his Pa rack up quite a body count. There is no suspense or scares and Buddy and Lester are more comical than scary, with Barrett’s overacting as Lester and Barton’s dialogue basically being exaggerated pig noises. There is some entertainment value to all this, though for all the wrong reasons. Despite the film not being well received upon it’s limited release, it has garnered an affectionate cult following, in all the years since and has had a couple of respectable blu-ray releases in recent years.

Overall, this is not an outright classic by any means, but is now considered a cult classic by some. It is not a good movie, per say, but there is entertainment to be had in the gory kills, hilarious overacting, goofy dialogue and unintentionally silly situations. It definitely used Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a template, but Tobe Hooper has nothing to fear…and neither do we…as scares is one thing this silly flick doesn’t evoke. Worth a watch for 80s completists and can be fun with a few brews to accompany it. Currently streaming free on Tubi, if you want to give it a look and available on blu-ray from Arrow Video.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) chainsaws.

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE PREY (1983)

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THE PREY (1983)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Routine slasher finds a group of young people camping deep in the Rocky Mountains. Of course there is a deranged maniac roaming the woods, a disfigured survivor from a forest fire three decades earlier. Soon the campers are being picked off one by one, murdered in horrible ways. Will any of them survive?

Film is directed by adult film director Edwin Scott Brown, from a script he wrote along with his wife, Summer Brown. It’s directed fairly by-the-numbers, moderately paced and offers nothing new to the genre. The film follows the slasher formula very closely with a tragic backstory for our killer and plenty of attractive young victims for him to kill. There is some decent gore, the traditional nudity and sexual hi-jinx, and the Colorado locations do look very nice. There is little suspense, but at only 80 minutes long it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The killer is kept mostly off camera, but the burn make-up does it’s job in the few shots we get when finally revealed. It all leads up to a climax that actually is a bit disturbing and an effective end to a fairly forgettable slasher.

The good looking cast are adequate for this kind of slasher. Debbie Thureson makes a sweet heroine and the imposing killer is played by none other than seven foot tall TV and movie veteran Carel Struycken, who is most famous for playing Lurch in the 90s Addams Family movies. Ironically, Jackie Coogan, who played Uncle Fester in the original 60s Addams Family TV series, also stars in this, his final film role, as a forest ranger. The rest all play killer fodder and do so adequately enough.

Overall, this is not an impressive slasher, though isn’t a terrible one either. It’s slow paced, but does deliver the formula, murder, mayhem and ample amounts of nubile skin. The killer is effective enough for this kind of flick and the locations are filmed quite nicely by former porn cinematographer João Fernandes and Gary Gero. Worth a look for 80s completists. Currently streaming free on Tubi!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) axes.

 

 

 

 

 

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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: SHAWNEE SMITH as MEG PENNY in THE BLOB (1988)!

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Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks. They’re femme fatales and final girls whose sexy stars shined only briefly, not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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SHAWNEE SMITH as MEG PENNY in THE BLOB (1988)!

Shawnee Smith as Meg Penny in The Blob (1988)!

I am going to admit that on this installment of Cult Classic Cuties I am cheating a bit. Actress and singer Shawnee Smith is no stranger to horror and after starring in Chuck Russell’s criminally underrated 1988 remake, she went on to be featured in a number of horror related projects, such as two Stephen King TV mini-series adaptations, a Wes Craven produced remake of Carnival of Souls, an episode of The X-Files and she was a reoccurring character in the Saw movies. Sure, that makes her a straight up Halloween Hottie, but her Megan is such a great character, in this fun 80s remake and now cult classic, that I am going to break my own rules to feature her in this installment!

(You can read my full review for The Blob by clicking the highlighted titles or on the poster below)

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As the film begins, Meg Penny is an average teenager, cheerleading at football games.

A dream date turns into a nightmare, as Megan first meets The Blob!

With no one believing her, she turns to local rebel Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon) for help.

Megan risks all to get friends and loved ones to safety!

From cheerleader to warrior as Megan takes the fight to the gelatinous invader!

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So, I cheated here to feature this talented California born actress in the Cult Classic Cutie category, even though she has had a prolific TV and movie career and done a number of horror related projects. It’s just Chuck Russell’s remake is finally getting the respect and following it’s always deserved and Smith’s Megan is a strong part of what makes this cult classic work. So forgive my indulging myself and breaking format, but to me, Shawnee Smith and her cheerleader with an M-16 will always be a Cult Classic Cutie!

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Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here for the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: FRANKENHOOKER (1990)

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FRANKENHOOKER (1990)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Horror/comedy was released in 1990, but is very 80s. It’s the story of New Jersey resident Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz), who is a failed med student that now works for the power company. When his self-conscious girlfriend Elizabeth (Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen) is killed in a freak lawnmower accident, Jeffrey plans to put both his medical knowledge and high voltage know-how to use, to bring her back to life. On a quest for body parts, a series of unfortunate events finds Jeffrey decimating the entire stable of NYC pimp Zorro (Joseph Gonzalez) and using the body parts to build Elizabeth the perfect body. Jeffrey’s work, however, is far from perfect, as she is a patchwork of various limbs whose mind retains the memories of all the previous owners of those parts. His twitchy creation soon escapes and returns to NYC to start plying the world’s oldest profession…with hilariously lethal results.

Flick is produced by James (Exterminator, Shakedown) Glickenhaus and directed by Frank Henenlotter (the cult classic Basket Case) from his script with original Fangoria editor Bob Martin. It’s a sleazy grind-house style comedy that may be an acquired taste, but is a lot of fun, if it’s up your 42nd Street alley. There are cheesy gore FX, lots of pretty ladies and boobs and of course, plenty of homages to Frankenstein and other classic horror tales. It’s low budget and that adds to the charm and the NYC locations are delightfully sleazy. The film wouldn’t work as well as it does, though, if it weren’t for a hilarious performances by star Patty Mullen. She is simply a hoot as the twitchy Frankenhooker, who has no idea that her professional skills are now quite dangerous. James Lorinz lays it on a little thick as Jeffrey, but in a flick like this, over-the-top is certainly not out of place. The film’s not perfect. Not every joke is funny, some of the supporting cast’s acting is pretty bad and quite a few of the FX are a little too cheesy for their own good. The whole movie has an amateur vibe to it, despite being Henenlotter’s fourth film. Otherwise, it’s an amusing midnight movie and the type they don’t make anymore in these overly sensitive times.

A cult classic in itself, Frankenhooker can be fun if you like 42nd Street grind-house style flicks, which this is, through and through. It has it’s flaws. Henenlotter’s films always kept a very amateur style to them, which the filmmaker never grew out of, or chose not to. On the plus side, Mullen steals the film with a hilarious, yet sometimes poignant, portrayal as Jeffrey’s girlfriend/creation, who just wants to turn some tricks. A fun midnight movie for those who appreciate sleazy, cheesy amusements. Also stars Louise Lasser as Jeffrey’s mom and 80s-90s porn star Heather Hunter as one of Zorro’s girls, Chartreuse.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) twitchy Frankenhookers.

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: MAKING CONTACT (1985)

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MAKING CONTACT (1985)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Making Contact is a West German supernatural chiller with severe Poltergeist envy. The story focuses on young Joey (Joshua Morell) who has just lost his father. Not only is Joey starting to show telekinetic abilities, but is starting to get messages from his deceased dad on his toy phone from beyond the grave. Joey’s abilities and dabbling in the paranormal, draw him to an underground maze and a ventriloquist dummy that is possessed by a demonic spirt. Of course, the boy brings it home and the supernatural hi-jinx begin.

Flick is directed by Independence Day director Roland Emmerich from his script with Hans J. Haller and Thomas Lechner. The three conjure up a story that is very much like Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg’s classic fright flick, including directly lifting quite a few scenes, such as flying Star Wars toys and a horde of paranormal investigators invading Joey’s home. It deviates from Poltergeist in the end with a climax set in the underground maze with Joey and his schoolmates battling the dummy, who uses their own fears against them. This evokes an appearance by Darth Vader himself, which also evokes the question as why the abundance of Star Wars imagery and merchandise (Joey’s room is full of it) didn’t evoke a lawsuit. The flick is slow moving, even at only 98 minutes, the FX are delightfully cheesy and the cast all extremely bland. You know somethings up when the best character in the movie is a toy robot named Charlie. The dialogue is equally blasé and the scenes of supernatural activity are very ho-hum, though there are a few entertaining moments and the dummy is quite creepy. Despite all the negative aspects, the film does amuse in an 80s curiosity kind of way and when it does do it’s own thing, those few touches are interesting enough.

This isn’t a great flick, but it does entertain with all the 80s nostalgia and the blatant recreation of scenes from Poltergeist that do invite chuckles. The dummy can be creepy and the few times it has original ideas they are interesting enough, such as the maze finale. The cast and dialogue are equal parts bland and wooden and the FX quite cheesy, but that does add some charm in an 80s nostalgia kinda way. Worth a look as a curiosity if nothing else.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) demonically possessed ventriloquist dummies for 80s nostalgia and cheese.

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE STUFF (1985)

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THE STUFF (1985)

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Horror comedy finds a new dessert taking the world by storm. The devastated ice cream industry hires industrial spy Mo Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) to find out what this mystery treat actually is. What Mo discovers is more horrifying than he could ever have imagined, as The Stuff is a living organism that bubbles up out of the ground and takes over anyone that eats it. Now Mo teams with Nicole, the pretty creator of The Stuff’s advertising campaign (Andrea Marcovicci), and disgruntled snack food icon Chocolate Chip Charlie (Garrett Morris) to try and put a stop to this hostile takeover from within.

As written and directed by the legendary Larry Cohen (Q: The Winged Serpent and the It’s Alive movies), flick is a satirical mash-up of The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Food of the Gods. It may have elements of many a sci-fi film, but it’s sights are clearly aimed at American consumerism. It’s mainly a critique of advertising, hype and the public buying frenzy that usually follows, when corporate America convinces us that we all have to have something. And it’s all wrapped in an amusing sci-fi/horror coating. It’s a low budget film with some very amusing practical SPFX ranging from some well rendered make-up prosthetics, as well as, some delightfully old fashioned model work to portray the carnage created when The Stuff finally comes out of human hiding and reveals itself. It’s a goofy movie and did not do very well when first released, but it has gained a following and received more appreciation, all these years later. It’s also bolstered by some nice 80s nostalgia and the humor and satire hits more than it misses.

The actors all get the material and walk a nice line between taking the script seriously, yet still having some fun with it. Moriarty plays his Mo as a very eccentric fellow. Don’t let his sarcasm and devil-may-care attitude fool you, he can be a hero when he needs to be. Andrea Marcovicci is pretty as Nicole and does get in on some of the action, so she isn’t just arm candy or a side kick. Comic legend Garrett Morris has a good time as dethroned chocolate chip king Charlie. He is part Famous Amos and part Dolemite. Paul Sorvino is also fun as a right-wing militia leader whom Mo turns to for help. Rounding out is Scott Bloom as a kid who discovers the truth about The Stuff and is now on the run from his own family. There are also some fun cameos, so keep your eyes peeled.

This isn’t a great flick, but it is clever and it’s satire well aimed and intended. It’s a fun movie and the cast has a good time, though without turning the material into an outright joke. The FX are charmingly old school by today’s standards and it’s messages about mass consumerism still apply.

MZNJ Personal Trivia: Saw this flick in a theater when it came out in 1985 and was disappointed, as the advertising had me expecting far more of a straight-up horror film. Watching it again with different expectations, I can now appreciate what Cohen was going for- MZNJ

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) pints of The Stuff.

 

 

 

 

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