TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (1980)

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HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (1980)

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He Knows You’re Alone is a ho-hum early 80s slasher that has it’s killer targeting brides to be. We find out early on, that the unhinged Ray Carlton (Tom Rolfing) murdered his ex-girlfriend on her wedding day. She was the fiancé of Detective Len Gamble (Lewis Arlt) who is now hot on the trail of the serial killer, who targets women engaged to be married. Carlton has picked pretty Amy Jensen (Caitlin O’Heaney) as his next victim and now Gamble races to stop him as Amy’s friends start to meet gruesome ends, leaving a trail of bodies that lead to her.

Flick is directed very flatly by Armand Mastroianni from a script by Scott Parker that is obviously inspired by Halloween. It’s opening murder even resembles Michael Myers’ slaughtering of his sister in that film’s opening moments. This film though, rarely generates any suspense or scares and has a very unremarkable killer as its villain. It’s also very slow paced and while a moderate pace was normal for early 80s slashers, this seems more on the lethargic side. There isn’t really much to talk about in the acting or dialog categories either, though lead Caitlin O’Heaney is cute and likable and there is the first feature film appearance of one Tom Hanks, who is a psychology student that starts dating Amy’s friend Nancy (Elizabeth Kemp). The body count is fairly small and the kills are rather tame and while there is some blood, there is little gore save for a badly rendered severed head. There are a couple of scenes that work somewhat. There is a decent sequence set in a dark house as Amy’s friend Joyce (Patsy Pease) and her married professor, lover (James Rebhorn) fatally meet Carlton. The end chase scene in the tunnels under the city morgue, where Amy’s ex-boyfriend Marvin (Don Scardino) works, has a little pep, but the fact that such a small building has such an extensive labyrinth of tunnels beneath it, makes it kinda odd and amusing. Other than that, the film is fairly uneventful and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the bride-hating killer to be murdering Amy’s friends. Does he hate bridesmaids, too? On a production level the film looks low budget and the score by Mark and Alexander Peskanov also has a very Halloween vibe to it. The low budget did work in the film’s favor, as it made almost 20x it’s budget back in theaters.

Sure there is some nostalgia, though it’s a bit more 70s-ish than 80s as this was filmed in 1979. The opening sequence in an old style movie theater is especially quaint and nostalgic for those born before the era of the multiplex. The acting is nothing to talk about, though some of the characters are likable. The killer and his kills are dull and there is little suspense leading up to them. There are a few sequences that work, though, overall, it’s rather lifeless and tame.

One of the earliest of the Halloween inspired slashers, but unfortunately one of the least remarkable save for the first film appearance of future Academy Award winner, Tom Hanks.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 knives.

final exam rating

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SQUIRM (1976)

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Squirm-1976

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SQUIRM (1976)

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

Squirm is another of exploitation studio American International Pictures “nature gone amok” films that were popular in the mid 70s along with Frogs and The Food Of The Goods. It’s story begins when a freak storm hits the rural, coastal town of Fly Creek, Georgia and it knocks down electrical power lines sending thousands of volts into the ground, driving the local worm population into a maddened frenzy. And since the local worm population consists mostly of  “pinworms and blood worms” it explains the gruesome fangs our featured worms have to pick their prey clean, right down to the skeletons. This is not good for the local human population, most of whom make their living selling said worms for bait. Looks like the tide has turned! And if that’s not bad enough, pretty Georgia peach, Geri (Patricia Pearcy) and new boyfriend Mick (Don Scardino) not only have an avalanche of murderous worms to contend with, but the jealous attentions of simpleton, handyman Roger (R.A. Dow) who is also driven crazy by a face full of angry blood worms. This is going to be a very bad day for Geri, Mick and the citizens of Fly Creek.

Written and Directed by Jeff Lieberman, who also made the trippy Blue Sunshine, Squirm is a pedestrian paced horror that takes a really long time to get going, but does provide quite a few creepy moments simply due to the nature of it’s slimy villains. The body count in this low budget thriller is fairly low with most of the deaths happening off-screen, though there are a few gruesome moments courtesy of make-up FX master Rick Baker. Lieberman does gives us a number of skin-crawling moments though, with tidal waves of worms and having the slimy critters come pouring out of shower heads at the least opportune moments. If those scenes won’t get you creeped out, the numerous close-ups of fanged shrieking bloodworms certainly will. Throw in some nice 70s nostalgia and the film does provide some entertainment though, it’s low budget, slow pace and anti-climactic ending keep it from really being the B-Movie treat it’s premise promises.

The acting is fairly wooden across the board with everyone, including pretty lead Pearcy speaking in a slow, monotone, Southern drawl. Actor Peter MacLean overacts a bit as the local jerk of a sheriff, but it’s not enough to score points in the camp department, though some moments from R.A. Dow’s ‘Roger’ do…especially when he’s acting with a face full of worms. And as for the worms, they clearly are the most effective performers and elicit quite a few “Ewwwww’s” when they appear, especially in large flowing numbers.

Overall, Squirm is a moderately creepy and amusing “nature run amok” flick with a few gruesome moments and plenty of slimy worms to get us through it’s slowly paced 90 minutes. It is a cult classic and it’s waves of carnivorous worms do stick with you, but it’s not quite the gross-out treat it could have been with a bit larger budget and a director who could instill a little more life into the proceedings. Certainly worth a nostalgic look and definitely works within an evening of like features, but a little disappointing if you were expecting more. You might find the MST3K version far more entertaining!

2 and 1/2 fanged blood worms… ewwwww!.

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