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)

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

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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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: DEDEE PFEIFFER as ALLISON in VAMP!

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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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DEDEE PFEIFFER as ALLISON in VAMP!

Dedee Pfeiffer as Allison/Amaretto in Vamp!

This installment of Cult Classic Cuties focuses on an actress who starred in only two horror flicks, both in the 80s. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer may be Michelle’s sister, but she carved out her own niche in the minds and hearts of horror fans as Amaretto/Allison, the new waitress at the vampire infested strip club in Vamp! Allison may be oblivious to her bloodsucking coworkers, but when her childhood crush walks in and pisses them off, the adorable Allison finds herself on the run from these creatures of the night!

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

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New waitress Amaretto is a blast from the past to our hero Keith (Chris Makepeace).

Allison/Amaretto may be oblivious that she’s surrounded by vampires, but that’s part of her charm!

Allison finally realizes rekindling a grade school romance is dangerous when your paramour pisses off vampires!

A bazooka probably won’t stop a vampire, but can’t blame a girl for trying!

Vampire queen Katrina (Grace Jones) regretting hiring that new waitress maybe?

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Dedee Pfeiffer made one more straight-up horror flick, The Horror Show with Lance Henriksen in 1989. Since then she’s enjoyed a busy career in movies and TV and even done a couple of direct to video thrillers and science fiction flicks in more recent years, though never returning to straight up horror. Wherever she takes her career, Dedee will always be remembered by horror fans for her role in Vamp and certainly qualifies as 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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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO FRIDAY THE 13th!

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The woman that started it all, Jason’s mom, Mrs. Voorhees!

40 years ago today the original Friday the 13th was released in theaters and a horror classic, a legendary franchise and a horror icon were born! Sure, Jason didn’t come along as the killer till part 2, but this is the installment were his iconic character first came to life! HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FRIDAY THE 13th!

-MonsterZero NJ

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COOL STUFF: VAMP (1986) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

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VAMP (1986) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

 

Vamp (1986) (full review HERE) is an 80s vampire flick that was sadly overlooked when first released. A smaller budgeted movie than the other vampire flicks of that era, but one that finally is being discovered and given the credit it deserves. After all, it presented the story of a queen vampire and her nest of followers being located in a strip club, a full decade before Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn. In this 2016 special edition Blu-ray from Arrow Video, Vamp can now be watched in all it’s original gory glory.

 

As for the disc itself….

The high definition transfer of this 80s vampire flick looks really good considering it is over 30 years-old. The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and there is some grain in the picture, but the neon colors are bright and vibrant and the images are sharp. The sound is the original mono track and while that may disappoint home theater enthusiasts, it’s certainly sufficient and should please purists who want to hear it in it’s original presentation. Probably as good as it’s ever going to look.

 

Now on to the extras….

The extras included are better than one might expect for what was a bit of an under-the-radar release back in 1986 and should please fans of this film. It starts out with a new documentary made at the time of this disc’s release in 2016 called One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp. It features new interviews with director and co-writer Richard Wenk, stars Chris Makepeace, Dedee Pfeiffer, Robert Rusler, Gedde Watanabe, the late Billy Drago and cinematographer Elliot Davis. It’s fun and informative, from the universal praise for Deedee Pfeiffer from cast and crew, to Grace Jone’s being both very enthusiastic to work on the film, yet perpetually tardy getting to the set. A cool documentary. There is also rehearsal footage, Richard Wenk’s 1979 comedy/musical short Dracula Bites the Big Apple, a blooper reel, TV spots, trailers and a photo gallery. While there are oddly no audio commentary tracks, there is a nice info-filled souvenir booklet inside the case. A solid special edition from Arrow Video, who also did the really good BloodThirsty Trilogy Blu-Ray set.

 

Vamp was not a huge box office success when first released on July 18, 1986, but wasn’t a bomb either. It has developed a well deserved cult following since and is now recognized as a cult classic. It was kind of the overlooked 80s vampire flick, released between Fright Night and The Lost Boys, but now is finally getting the attention and treatment this underrated little flick deserves.

On a personal note, I actually saw in a theater back in 1986 and this special edition really brought back memories and was a great way to revisit it. Highly recommended if you are a fan.

Available on https://arrowfilms.com or from Amazon.

-MonsterZero NJ

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: MUTANT (1984)

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MUTANT (1984)

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

Story for this flick is simple. Brothers Josh (Wings Hauser) and Mike (Lee Montgomery) are on a bonding getaway when they are forced off a rural road by a group of locals. This leads them to staying in a small town, one unfortunately close to a chemical dumping site. The chemicals are slowly changing the locals into vicious killers and when Mike disappears, Josh joins forces with cute teacher Holly (Jody Medford) and alcoholic sheriff Will (Bo Hopkins) to investigate. Soon it becomes a fight to survive as the infected locals multiply and overrun the town, killing everyone they come across.

Mutant is basically a zombie flick as directed by John “Bud” Cardos (The Day Time Ended, The Dark) from a script by Peter Z. Orton, Michael Jones and John C. Kruize. Cardos’ direction is rather straight forward and by-the-numbers, though it moves well enough. For a zombie film, it’s got minimal bloodshed, despite a high body count and really doesn’t crank up the action till the last act. It’s still a fun horror flick and there is plenty of 80s nostalgia now, all these years later. The zombies, or infected, are fast moving and their touch burns their intended victims, much like in the 1980 flick The Children, which also featured toxic chemical zombies. They also have an aversion to bright light and can be gunned down easily without the necessity for a head shot. There is also the usual out-of-towners vs redneck locals subplot, here, too, especially before anyone starts believing Josh that something is terribly wrong. Add to that a conspiracy/cover-up sub-plot that works well and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The last scene at the gas station is pretty intense and makes for a solid climax. On a production level, the film looks good and makes good use of it’s rural Georgia locations. The make-up FX, including some cool Howling-esque transformations, are well done. The zombies look scary and Cardos isn’t afraid to have children fall victim to them or become them. There is a low gore quotient, but the attacks still have impact. Flick also has some atmosphere and overall is a good time.

It has a fun cast. Wings Hauser is his usual bug-eyed self and it’s fun to see him play a good guy, as he is best known for portraying the psychotic pimp “Ramrod” in 1982’s Vice Squad. Jody Medford makes for a very likable heroine as local school teacher and bartender, Holly. Despite being attractive and charming, she only did one other movie, Chained Heat. Veteran actor Bo Hopkins is also solid as the drunk sheriff, who sort of transforms into a noble hero over the course of the film. The supporting cast are all fine in their roles, including Lee Montgomery (Burnt Offerings) in the brief role of Mike and Close Encounters of the Third Kind’s Cary Guffey as student Billy.

In conclusion, this was a surprisingly good time on the revisit. Actually caught this flick in a theater in 1984 and was disappointed, back in the day, that it wasn’t more in the style of Dawn of the Dead or Zombie. With those expectations gone, it’s now a nostalgic and fun monster movie and one of the earliest films to portray it’s zombies as more fast moving and vicious. Cardos may not have been the most stylish director, but his workman approach suits the small town setting and rural local characters and keeps the film grounded. A fun zombie flick that does things a little different.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) permed and bug-eyed Wings Hausers.

 

 

 

 

 

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EQUINOX and EVIL DEAD I & II: A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

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EQUINOX and EVIL DEAD I & II: A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING! In order to properly compare these three films, I have to give DETAILED SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen Equinox, or Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW for each film. You have been warned!

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For years horror movie fans have debated as to whether or not the 1970 low budget horror Equinox was an influence on Sam Raimi’s 1981 Evil Deadthough there are also strong similarities with it’s 1987 sequel Evil Dead IIas wellSam Raimi has never mentioned seeing it, though Evil Dead FX man Tom Sullivan has. We may never know for sure and it’s up to us then to decide for ourselves. So read on to take a look at just how these flicks compare…

(Click on the highlighted movie titles to go to the full length reviews and on the photos to enlarge them!)

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THE STORY

Equinox finds Four college students David, Susan, Jim and Vicki (Edward Connell, Barbara Hewitt, Frank Bonner and Robin Christopher), venturing into the woods to meet a Prof. Waterman (Fritz Leiber), who, unknown to them, has discovered an ancient book of evil. They find his cabin destroyed and once acquiring the book from a creepy old man (Irving L. Lichtenstein), soon have the devil himself after them to get it back. In this film the evil has already been unleashed when our main characters arrive.

Sam Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead has five young people, Ash, his sister Cheryl, his girlfriend Linda, Scott and Scott’s girlfriend Shelly (Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich and Theresa Tilly), going up to a secluded cabin in the woods for a weekend of partying and fun. When they get to the rundown cabin, they find an old book and a tape recording in the creepy cellar that claims it is the book of the dead and wrapped in human flesh. Thinking it’s all a joke, they play the recording, which includes someone reading from the book, and find out the hard way that it’s all too real, as they unleash horror beyond their imaginations.

Evil Dead II finds Ash, now alone, trapped in the cabin with the forces of evil trying to get at him. Ash is soon joined by the daughter (Sarah Berry) of the archeologist, who formally inhabited the cabin and is the finder of the book. She and her party (Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley and Richard Domeier) first think Ash has murdered her parents. Soon enough, though, the evil in the woods makes itself known and Ash joins forces with his new companions. Their numbers start to dwindle as the evil lays siege to the cabin and Ash must face this ancient terror in a final showdown.

There are some differences in plot details, but all three flicks have a cabin, a book of evil discovered by a professor and a group of unsuspecting characters, being attacked by an ancient evil. All three have demons and demonic manifestations from the book. All three have a story or backstory that is revealed by way of a reel to reel tape recording.

 

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THE EVIL

Equinox has the devil himself in the human disguise of park ranger, Mr. Asmodeus (theatrical cut director Jack Woods) pursuing the four characters to get the book back. He can take on the guise of one of the other characters and appears in a flying demon form near it’s climax. He also sends various minions to get the book, such as an octopus-like creature, a mutant ape and a blue giant. His minions appear to be able to be killed by conventional means, while he can be warded off with protection symbols from the book.

The Evil Dead Films feature ancient evil spirits known as Deadites, that are unleashed when either the book is read from directly, or a recorded reading from the book is played back. They want the souls of all those in the cabin and possess and torment the occupants claiming them one by one. Raimi’s film requires the possessed victim be totally dismembered to render them harmless. The Deadites seem to hail from somewhere around ancient Sumer and there are, like in Equinox, some creature-like minions in Evil Dead II. The Deadites appear to be only able to attack at night, while Equinox‘s evil is active both day and night.

 

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THE HEROES

Equinox’s ill-fated hero is college student David Fielding (Edward Connell). He’s a clean-cut all-American college student who is forced to come up against some supernatural odds. He’s resilient and brave and is pretty much the strongest and quickest thinker of his group of friends. Poor Dave ends up doomed and in an insane asylum, but before all that, he stands up to some intimidating evil.

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is the Evil Dead franchise’s beleaguered hero. The now iconic Ash is a mild mannered fellow and a little on the cowardly side in the first film. He leaves it up to alpha male Scott to hack up his possessed sister Cheryl and generally do the hero stuff till the Deadites get Scott, too. This leaves Ash all alone to man-up and battle the Deadites. It’s not till the sequel that he starts to take on the mantle of a hero, although an arrogant and bumbling one.

 

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THE SETTINGS

Here, settings differ slightly though both include cabins and woods. The cabin we are traveling to in Equinox is already destroyed by the time our characters get there and the film takes place primarily after that in the surrounding forest.

Both Evil Dead and Evil Dead II take place primarily inside the cabin with a few unsuccessful sojourns out into the woods.

The cabins in all three films were previously occupied by professors who found the books of evil in question.

 

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THE BOOKS

All Three movies contain books of evil that trigger the horrific ordeals the respective films’ characters endure. Equinox‘s book is discovered in the Persian Gulf by a Prof. Waterman and it is his examining the book and it’s contents that opens a portal allowing the evil to enter this world and seek the book’s return. It is described as a bible of evil.

The book of the Evil Dead films is the Naturan Demanto or Necronomicon…the book of the dead…and is described as Sumerian in origin and thus is discovered by a Professor Knowby (John Peaks), also in the Persian Gulf area.

Both books are filled with cryptic languages and spooky illustrations and are not only filled with dark rituals, but also ways to protect from the evils evoked.

 

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THE OPENING SCENES

Equinox opens interestingly at it’s climax with David on the run through the woods from the demonic evil and finding himself in a hospital after being hit on the road by a driverless car. A year later he’s gone insane and a reporter named Sloan (James Philips) investigates the story to find out what happen to him. It’s his reviewing David’s initial taped testimony that sets us on a flashback to what happened.

The Evil Dead opens with the camera racing through the woods with some ominous growling heard as it reaches the car carrying our main protagonists. It is quick and to the point, but sets the tone right away that something bad is going to happen to our five unsuspecting travelers as they head towards the cabin.

Evil Dead II simply picks up where the first left off, after a brief recap, with the evil attacking and briefly possessing Ash, who is saved by the rising sun. So, there is little similarity here.

All three films’ openings are perfect for setting us up for what is to come, starting us off with an atmosphere of fear and foreboding. Though there are only minor similarities here between Equinox andThe Evil Dead, none really with Evil Dead II…except, of course, for the woods setting each share.

 

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THE ENDINGS

In terms of their climaxes, all the films have endings that resonate.

Equinox ends with David in the asylum screaming for his cross which “accidentally” is now in the hands of reporter Sloan. It’s a year and a day after the incident at the park, the day the demon predicted David’s demise. As Sloan leaves the building, David’s dead girlfriend Susan is seen walking into the hospital. As we hear David’s cries for his cross over the soundtrack, a wicked smile appears on Susan’s face. Ominous and spooky, a last chill before you leave the theater.

The Evil Dead ends with Ash having barely escaped a vicious assault from his possessed friends by burning the book in the fireplace resulting in a roller coaster bloodbath of gore. As the sun starts to rise, he limps out the door only to have the camera race towards him growling like in the opening and coming right at his face as Ash utters a horrible scream. The film cuts to black and ends with the credits rolling; Ash apparently not as triumphant as he believed. It is ferociously quick and very effective, a last jolt before you leave the theater.

Evil Dead II comically has Ash being sucked into a vortex and deposited in the Middle Ages, where, at the moment, he is seen as a deliverer come to defeat the Deadites. Again as with the opening scene, no similarity here to Equinox other than the visual of a castle.

…though all three endings do involve screaming.

 

 

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MISC.

Here, pictures speak louder than words, with these visual similarities…

 

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IN CONCLUSION…

So, we have one flick that is a horror masterpiece and one of the greatest horror flicks of all time and another that is a cult classic, midnight movie from a decade earlier that may…or may not…have inspired it. Both were derived from short films. Equinox was re-edited with new footage added from the original The Equinox … A Journey into the Supernatural, a 70 minute film expanded for theatrical release. The Evil Dead was created from the short film Within the Woods, a thirty minute version of the same story made to attract investors. They both feature some startling SPFX on incredibly small budgets and took three or more years to finally hit theaters. Both are also first films made by young aspiring filmmakers, that made an impression and got careers off the ground for some of their makers and stars.

We may never know the actual truth as to whether Sam Raimi saw and was inspired by Equinox, but the story and visual similarities make for a striking argument. At this point it’s up to you to decide as to what you believe. Did Equinox inspire The Evil Dead, or is it just a cinematic coincidence? Either way, they are both horror classics in their own rights that are now held in high regard.

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: GHOST STORY (1981)

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GHOST STORY (1981)

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1981’s Ghost Story is a combination of supernatural chiller and mystery based on a book by Peter Straub. It tells of the Chowder Society, four elderly men who have known each other since college. Sears James, Edward Wanderley, Ricky Hawthorne and Dr. John Jaffrey (John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Fred Astaire and Melvyn Douglas), all gather together once a week to tell horror stories. One of their spooky stories comes to life, when the ghost of a mysterious woman (Alice Krige) starts to haunt them and their kin. Soon members and family members are dying tragically and Edward’s son Don (Craig Wasson) comes home to investigate after the death of his twin brother. What he finds is a mystery fueled by a terrible secret, the one grim story the Chowder Society won’t tell.

Classy flick is directed by John Irvin from a script by Lawrence D. Cohen, based on Straub’s book of the same name. It’s atmospheric and very old fashioned and has a great cast of actors. Sadly it’s also a very dull and slow paced flick with the scares few and far between and a mystery which isn’t very hard to figure out. There is some nice SPFX make-up from the legendary Dick Smith and it is relatively bloodless, despite the era it was made in. The performances from the veteran cast are all good. Krige is very sexy and mysterious as the spectral femme fatale, though Wasson seems a bit miscast, especially in his scenes as twin brother David. Despite all the talent in front of and behind the camera, the film just plods along and takes almost two hours to reach a conclusion we all already know is coming. There is also the edition of two characters, escaped lunatic and son Gregory and Fenny Bate (Miguel Fernandes and Lance Holcomb) that add nothing to the story. It would have flowed smoother without them, even if they were in the book. A well intended film, but also a bit of a misguided one as well. It simply should have been consistently scarier and perhaps with a director more comfortable with the supernatural elements…elements Irvin almost seems to try to avoid.

In conclusion, it’s a noble effort with a lot of talent involved, but one that unfortunately fails to deliver the chills. It’s atmospheric and looks good, by way of Jack Cardiff’s cinematography. It has a few spooky moments and the score by Philippe Sarde is very effective. What really holds this flick back is simply a far too pedestrian pace, taking longer to tell the story than needed and a director just not taking full advantage of the trappings of such a tale. Definitely a movie that hasn’t aged well either, despite a very classy cast of legendary actors.

-MonsterZero NJ

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

 

 

 

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