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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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

THE BLOB (1958) and THE BLOB (1988): A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

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THE BLOB (1958) and THE BLOB (1988): A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING! In order to properly compare these two films, I have to give DETAILED SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen The Blob (1958) or The Blob (1988), there are MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW for each film. You have been warned!

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Comparison In Horror is back!…and in this installment the comparison is between the two versions of The Blob. One, of course, is the classic 1958 original, the other being the 1988 remake. Remember!…In order to discuss these flicks in-depth, the are some very important plot details that will be revealed, so if you haven’t seen one, the other, or both, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS! Otherwise, on to the comparison!…

(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

The Blob 1958 features a meteorite landing in the woods near a small Pennsylvania town. It carries within it a gelatinous space creature that absorbs anyone it comes in contact with. As it descends upon the town, getting bigger with every victim, teens Steve Andrews and Jane Martin to try to find a way to get the townsfolk to believe them and stop it.

The Blob (1988) takes place in the ski town of Arborville, California. What appears to be a meteorite crashes in the nearby woods and carries inside a gelatinous creature that eats anyone it comes in contact with. While the monster is quietly invading the town, a shady paramilitary containment group arrives, suspiciously soon after. It’s up to teens Meg Penny and Brian Flagg to outwit the military and try to find a way to stop the creature.

The initial story for both films are extremely similar, at least to start. The 1988 remake opens things up adding in the caveat of the military containment group and a conspiracy element about the creature’s origin. The remake also has a larger cast of characters.

 

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THE BLOB

The Blob 1958 is a gelatinous creature from space that comes to earth in a meteorite. The creature is a formless mass that can squeeze in and out of almost any place and gets bigger the more people it absorbs. The Blob in this version seems to be a mindless organism simply in search of sustenance. It retains a somewhat globular shape. The creature is impervious to almost all weapons, except it has a sensitivity to cold, which is finally used to subdue it.

The Blob (1988) is also a gelatinous creature, but though it falls from space, it’s very earth-born in origin. It starts out as a germ created by the military as a weapon, being sent into space in a satellite, as part of an experiment. This mutates it into an aggressive multi-celled organism. The creature is a formless mass that can squeeze in and out of almost any place and gets bigger the more people it absorbs. This incarnation of the creature is given hints of an intelligence and described as a predator. It also seems to be able to form limb-like tentacles, or even a gaping maw, based on it’s needs. This also implies a form of intelligence. Any parts cut off, become it’s own monster, which is not addressed in the original film, but is in it’s 1972 sequel. The creature is impervious to almost all weapons, except it has a sensitivity to cold, which is finally used to subdue it.

 

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Heroes and Heroines 

In The Blob 1958 our hero is teen Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and our heroine is his date, Jane Martin (Aneta Corseaut). Steve is a typical teen male of this time period, interested in girls, rock n’ roll and drag racing. He has a sense of honor and of doing the right thing, so when authorities don’t believe him, he sets out to find a way to warn others and stop the invading creature. Jane is more of a damsel here. She is loyal and bravely tries to help Steve, while keeping her too curious little brother Danny (Kieth Almoney) out of harm’s way. She mostly follows Steve around and supports whatever he decides, while playing babysitter to Danny.

In The Blob (1988) writer/director Chuck Russell makes the roles more contemporary and throws us a curve as to our leads. It starts out giving the impression that our hero and heroine will be high school football player Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) and his date, cheerleader Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith). Paul is killed off early, however, and instead leather-jacketed, juvenile delinquent, Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillion) becomes out leading man. Flagg is a bit of a troublemaker, but he seems to care more than he lets on and goes up against The Blob and the military authorities to save the town and Meg. As for for Meg Penny, this girl is no damsel. She’s tough, a fighter and while also has a little brother (Michael Kenworthy) that needs kept out of danger, she’s not afraid to grab a fire extinguisher, or an M-16 to go up against the monster.

In comparison, Jane and Steve are the wholesome all-American teens of films of this era. Steve being the hero and Jane the loyal sidekick. Meg and Brian are more representative of movies of their era, with Meg being a spunky fighter and Brian, the rebellious bad boy with a heart. They are equals in the action, with Meg even stealing some of the heroic thunder in the last act, when she rescues Brian from the creatures clutches.

 

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THE SETTINGS

The setting for the classic original is a small, rural Pennsylvania town…the name on the diner implies it’s called Downingtown, which is a real PA town and one of the movie’s filming locations. Whatever the name, it’s the quintessential Norman Rockwell town with quaint houses, small local grocery store, movie theater and diner. The police force is minimal and the worst that usually happens is high school pranks and drag racing. There doesn’t seem to be a medical facility other than the town doctor.

The setting for the remake is the fictional ski resort town of Arborville, California, though it was filmed in Abbeville, Louisiana. Same can be said of this town as Blob 1958’s, in that it is the ideal picture of Americana. It also has a small police force, the whole town shows up for football games and everyone knows each other. Arborville is a town that relies on the ski season and has it’s own hospital, so it might be slightly larger than the home town of Steve Andrews and Jane Martin.

 

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THE OPENING SCENES

The Blob 1958 opens with a silly theme song over an animated background and it’s playful credits are a bit off-putting to the serious and scary tone of the movie. It wastes no time with us meeting Steve and Jane at a local make-out spot and having them witness the meteorite crash land. Within seven minutes, including credits, the old man (Olin Howland) gets The Blob on his hand and Steve and Jane find him and take him to the doctor’s office. Right to the action.

The Blob (1988)  opens with far more ominous credits, with moody electronic music accompanying images of space and then takes us down to earth and introduces us to the streets of Arborville. It takes a few minutes to introduce us to the town and some of our main characters, before homeless “Can Man”(Billy Beck) gets The Blob on his arm at about fifteen minutes in. There’s a few more minutes of character interaction again, before Paul, Meg and Flagg find him and get him to the hospital.

Both openings serve their respective stories well. The original’s goofy opening song is an odd choice for the more serious toned action that follows. The film recovers quickly, as like many films of this era, it’s economical and gets it’s story started right away and the scene of the old man meeting the extraterrestrial invader is very effective. Blob (1988) benefits from setting a mood with more ominous opening credits and giving us a little introduction to the characters and town. It’s equally effective when Can Man gets “blobbed” and the more contemporary (at the time) FX make the scene intense and disturbing. Both films open effectively, though the remake takes a little more time to let us know our leads and setting before starting things up.

 

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THE ENDINGS

Both films end with it’s respective Blobs frozen solid.

In the original, when Steve and Jane are trapped by The Blob in a supermarket, they hide in the freezer. The Blob is repulsed by the cold and thus they discover it’s weakness. Once it engulfs the diner, the fire department and Steve and Jane’s high school classmates, converge on the distracted Blob and freeze it with fire extinguishers. The last scene is the Blob being deposited at the North Pole to hopefully remain a Blob-sickle. The words THE END appear across the screen and a question mark appears after it. There was in fact a more humor-laced sequel Beware! The Blob in 1972 where a polar oil pipeline employee brings home a sample of something he hit with his bulldozer…guess what!?

The remake has Flagg and Meg trapped in the freezer at the diner and learning the creature’s aversion to cold in the same way. The climax here is on a far larger scale as the military and townsfolk are battling the massive Blob in the center of town. Flagg attacks it with a snowmaker and an M-16 bearing Meg straps explosives to the tank, dousing the monster in a storm of snow. The last scene of this version, shows the scarred Reverend Meeker (Del Close) preaching end times scripture in a tent, where it is revealed he still has the frozen Blob samples in a jar he took from the diner, only now they are quite active. Despite the set-up, the remake never got a sequel, though there has been talk recently of yet another remake, that hasn’t materialized yet.

 

 

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MISC

The Blob 1958 is directed by Irvin Yeaworth from a script by Theodore Simonson and Kay LInaker, based on a story by Irving H. Millgate. The remake is directed by Chuck Russell from a script by he and Frank Darabont, based on the original film. They both share key scenes, such as the old man getting Blob on his hand, a diner attack scene and a theater attack scene. While the original climaxes at the diner, the remake has the diner attack about half-way through. The original cost a mere $110,000 to make, while the remake cost an impressive at the time $10 million. The original grossed around $4 million and was a hit, while the remake grossed only $8.5 million and was considered a box office failure. Both films were the second feature films for their respective directors and obviously 30 years of movie FX progress allowed the remake to be far more graphic with it’s Blob carnage and have a much bigger scale to the action. The original opens with an amusing song called Beware of the Blob sung by Bernie Knee (billed as The 5 Blobs) and the remake ends with a very 80s metal song Brave New Love performed by the band Alien. The original Blob was made for general audiences, while the remake was R-rated and quite gory. Would have it been more of a hit with a teen friendly PG-13? Who knows? The original clocks in at around 86 minutes, while the remake is about 95 minutes in length. 

 

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IN CONCLUSION

Both films are very entertaining in their own right. The original is considered a horror/sci-fi classic, while the remake has taken years to develop a well deserved cult following. The original is a perfect example of what films back then were like in terms of characters, settings and story, while the remake is very 80s with it’s hair and clothes styles and characters, most notably it’s female lead getting far more physically involved in the action. Let’s not forget the cheese metal end credits song. The remake also took a little extra time for character and story development, including adding a conspiracy sub-plot, that was not in the original. Story-wise and character-wise the remake has a bit more of an edge, as the original’s bare bones approach, left little development in either area. The original doesn’t even have an appearance by any sort of scientists to at least give some speculation on what this creature is. In the remake we have the sinister Dr. Meddows (Joe Seneca). Budget and technical advancements obviously also give the remake an edge, but the original was and will always be the first version of the story to be filmed. One can love both equally.

-MonsterZero NJ

Check out more editions of A Comparison In Horror here!

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COOL STUFF: THE BLOB (1988) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

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THE BLOB (1988) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

 

The Blob (1988) (full review HERE) is an 80s remake of the 1958 classic, that sadly underperformed at the box office when it was released on August 5, 1988. The film has gained a strong cult following all these years later and is finally getting the respect it deserves. No more evidence of this is Scream Factory’s recent collector’s edition, which gives this fun flick the proper treatment.

 

As for the disc itself….

The transfer of this 80s monster movie is great and the print looks fantastic. The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and as it is over three decades old, there is some grain in the picture, but that is to be expected at this point. The colors are bright and vibrant, which makes the gelatinous creature all the more effective as a colorful beastie it is. The sound is in HD DTS 5.1 or DTS 2.0 and makes this action/sci-fi/horror really come alive, as the sound design on the film is already very strong. Once again Scream Factory gives a film the royal treatment all films deserve and if you are a fan of this flick, the technical presentation is reason alone to have this.

 

Now on to the extras….

The extras included are generous and features some fun stuff. For starters, there is an extensive two-part interview with Chuck Russell. In the first part he describes his journey into being a filmmaker, from his early days with Roger Corman, working on Hell Night, to his directorial debut on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. In the second part, Russell goes into extensive detail on filming this 1988 remake. A great interview! Other interviews include, production designer Craig Stearns, FX man Chris Gilman, cinematographer Mark Irwin, FX man Peter Abrahamson, FX man Mark Setrakian, SPFX expert Tony Gardner and cast members, Candy Clark, Jeffrey DeMunn, Donovan Leitch and Bill Mosley. That’s a lot of personal insight into the making of this film! Be advised though, the box art also lists an interview with star Ricky Paull Goldin, but it does not appear with the extras. There is also some new commentary on the film, with Russell, Mark Irwin and Tony Gardner with a second solo commentary track featuring star Shawnee Smith. Scream Factory has also included a previous commentary with Chuck Russell and producer Ryan Turek. Rounding out the extras are some behind the scenes footage and, of course, the traditional theatrical trailer, TV spot and still gallery.

 

The Blob (1988) was sadly a box office disappointment when first released. A shame, as this is a fun, energetic and chilling monster movie with a lot of inventive filmmaking done to bring it’s creature to life. Today, the film has finally been recognized by genre fans and now has a well-deserved cult following. Thanks to Scream Factory, that following finally has a great way to enjoy it. Highly recommended!

 

-MonsterZero NJ

MONSTERZERO NJ’S 31 HORROR FLICKS FOR THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!

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While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October…these are a mix of classic favorites and recent horrors that I feel are especially perfect to watch during the Halloween season!

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(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT
  26. HELLIONS
  27. TALES OF HALLOWEEN
  28. THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
  29. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  30. HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
  31. THE HILLS RUN RED

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: CHRISTMAS EVIL and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT

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Tis the season!…

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CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)

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

Few movies can make the distinction of being both laughably bad yet, remain very disturbing, but Lewis Jackson’s yuletide horror is bizarre and creepy enough to be both. Story opens with young Harry (Gus Salud) seeing Santa coming down the chimney and delivering presents for he and his brother (Wally Moran). His love of Christmas is shattered, though, when he catches that same Santa…actually his dad in a costume…going at it with his mother. Many years later the adult Harry (Brandon Maggart) is a lonely introvert who works at the bargain basement Jolly Dreams toy factory and is obsessed with becoming Santa Claus…an obsession that drives him over the edge and turns Harry into a Santa-suited homicidal maniac.

Written and directed by Lewis Jackson, this is both a hysterically bad flick and one that, somehow, remains really disturbing. Harry is just a very creepy person with his spying on neighborhood children, to see if they are good or bad and his deeply unnerving obsession with Santa Claus and Christmas. The fact that he is so determined to be seen and loved as the real Santa Claus drives him to kill anyone who laughs or makes fun of him, leading to his being hunted by neighborhood citizens actually bearing torches. It’s like Transylvania though, the film takes place in New Jersey. It’s all very funny to watch Harry snap and slaughter three obnoxious yuppies in front of a church and it’s parishioners and his Santa themed apartment brings the appropriate chuckles and chills. But the film is also very creepy in it’s portrayal of a man who psychotically wants to be loved by all as the most famous holiday icon of all-time, enough that he will kill anyone who doesn’t buy into his delusion. Jackson may not be a skilled filmmaker, but there’s no denying this flick entertains in both it’s badness and ability to present you with a truly unnerving main character. Credit has to also be given to Brandon Maggart for giving his Harry some strong creep factor while the rest of the cast are adequate at best. There is a very off-putting quality to this film that works with the camp factor far better than it should and I’ll wager quite by accident. A happy and horrifying accident, as the film does have a ‘made up as it goes along’ quality to it.

So, if this type of flick is your bloody cup of egg nog, enjoy this movie for what it is. It’s a strange and sometimes laughably bad movie that still has the ability to creep you out with it’s disturbed main character and some gory kills all within it’s yuletide setting. There is something unnervingly real about Harry that makes you believe that there might be someone like him out there, yet, the film itself can be almost surreal with it’s torch bearing New Jersey residents and the fact that kids really seem to like Harry’s Santa despite their parents knowing something is really off about this guy. This film has developed a bit of a cult following and I can see why as it is definitely midnight movie material, especially if it’s midnight on December 24th. Recommended for those looking for something weird, unsettling, but very amusing!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 campy and disturbing Christmas trees.

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SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

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

This Christmas set 80s slasher isn’t very scary, but it is a lot of fun. It has a very devious sense of humor and certainly isn’t afraid to involve little children in it’s holiday horrors and blood soaked Christmas clichés.

The story opens in 1971 with five-year-old Billy (Jonathan Best) not only being frightened out of his wits by Santa horror stories from his demented grandfather on Christmas Eve, but witnesses the brutal murder of his parents by a thief dressed in a Santa suit. Three years later we find Billy (Danny Wagner) in an orphanage where a cruel nun is trying to force his fears of Christmas out of him by forcing Christmas on him. We finally cut to ten years later where a now eighteen, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) gets his first job…at a toy store…at Christmas! And to make matters worse he is chosen by his boss to play Santa and when he catches a co-worker forcing himself on his store crush Pamela (Toni Nero), Billy snaps and a yuletide murder spree gruesomely begins. Will anyone survive the holidays now that a Santa suited Billy is killing anyone he deems naughty…which is pretty much everyone he encounters!

As a horror film, this flick has very little scares or suspense, but as directed by Grizzly Adams creator Charles Sellier…from Michael Hickey’s sadistically clever script…the film is a lot of gruesome fun that definitely isn’t afraid to cross some boundaries, especially when it gleefully involves little kids in it’s horrible holiday hi-jinx. If the things little Billy experiences aren’t enough, the deliriously horrific scene of an orphanage full of little kids witnessing the gunning down of a priest in a Santa suit, by an overzealous cop, will have you giggling out loud. Sure we know who our killer is without question and his victims are fairly random Santa fodder, but the fact that Sellier so happily makes a bloody mess of one of the most beloved holidays, makes up for the fact that their really isn’t much to chill us other than watching the plentiful and well orchestrated blood and gore spatter all over the screen like spilled eggnog. It’s good, gory, campy fun and makes no excuses that it is breaking some taboos and is proud of it.

The cast, including 80s scream queen legend Linnea Quigley as a victim, are all delightfully bad. They are all mostly unknowns, except for TV actress Tara Buckman who has a brief role as Billy’s hot but ill-fated mom. Wilson just basically carries out his villainy with a blank and evil stare, but it’s enough to work even if he is not an overly strong psycho. Actress Lilyan Chauvin is actually a lot scarier as Mother Superior who tries to torment the love of Christmas back into the young, mentally scarred Billy and Gilmer McCormick is sweet and likable as Sister Margret a young nun who takes pity on Billy, even when he turns stone cold killer.

This is a deviously fun slasher though, admit-tingly, as a horror, it is kind of weak. It makes up for a lot of that weakness by delighting in breaking some movie taboos and pouring blood over as many Christmas traditions as possible in gleeful fashion. It’s an entertaining enough slasher though, it is far more campy than creepy and that’s just fine. Obviously recommended during the holidays when endless showings of A Christmas Story drive you to want to kill. Billy will be happy to oblige for you.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 31 HORROR FLICKS FOR THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!

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While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October…these are a mix of classic favorites and recent horrors that I feel are especially perfect to watch during the Halloween season!

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(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT
  26. HELLIONS
  27. TALES OF HALLOWEEN
  28. THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
  29. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  30. HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
  31. THE HILLS RUN RED

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

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SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

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

This Christmas set 80s slasher isn’t very scary but, it is a lot of fun. It has a very devious sense of humor and certainly isn’t afraid to involve little children in it’s holiday horrors and blood soaked Christmas clichés.

The story opens in 1971 with 5-year-old Billy (Jonathan Best) not only being frightened out of his wits by Santa horror stories from his demented grandfather on Christmas Eve, but, witnesses the brutal murder of his parents by a thief dressed in a Santa suit. Three years later we find Billy (Danny Wagner) in an orphanage where a cruel nun is trying to force his fears of Christmas out of him by forcing Christmas on him. We finally cut to 10 years later where a now 18, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) gets his first job… at a toy store… at Christmas! And to make matters worse he is chosen by his boss to play Santa and when he catches a co-worker forcing himself on his store crush Pamela (Toni Nero), Billy snaps and a yuletide murder spree gruesomely begins. Will anyone survive the holidays now that a Santa suited Billy is killing anyone he deems naughty… which is pretty much everyone he encounters!

As a horror film, this flick has very little scares or suspense but, as directed by Grizzly Adams creator Charles Sellier… from Michael Hickey’s sadistically clever script… the film is a lot of gruesome fun that definitely isn’t afraid to cross some boundaries, especially when it gleefully involves little kids in it’s horrible holiday hi-jinx. If the things little Billy experiences aren’t enough, the deliriously horrific scene of an orphanage full of little kids witnessing the gunning down of a priest in a Santa suit, by an overzealous cop, will have you giggling out loud. Sure we know who our killer is without question and his victims are fairly random Santa fodder but, the fact that Sellier so happily makes a bloody mess of one of the most beloved holidays, makes up for the fact that their really isn’t much to chill us other than watching the plentiful and well orchestrated blood and gore spatter all over the screen like spilled egg nog. It’s good, gory, campy fun and makes no excuses that it is breaking some taboos and is proud of it.

The cast, including 80s scream queen legend Linnea Quigley as a victim, are all delightfully bad. They are all mostly unknowns, except for TV actress Tara Buckman who has a brief role as Billy’s hot but, ill-fated mom. Wilson just basically carries out his villainy with a blank and evil stare but, it’s enough to work even if he is not an overly strong psycho. Actress Lilyan Chauvin is actually a lot scarier as Mother Superior who tries to torment the love of Christmas back into the young, mentally scarred Billy and Gilmer McCormick is sweet and likable as Sister Margret a young nun who takes pity on Billy even when he turns stone cold killer.

This is a deviously fun slasher though, admit-tingly, as a horror, it is kind of weak. It makes up for a lot of that weakness by delighting in breaking some movie taboos and pouring blood over as many Christmas traditions as possible in gleeful fashion. It’s an entertaining enough slasher though, it is far more campy than creepy and that’s just fine. Obviously recommended during the holidays when endless showings of A Christmas Story drive you to want to kill. Billy will be happy to oblige for you.

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE BLOB (1988)

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THE BLOB (1988)

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

Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of the 1958 classic The Blob is simply a really fun monster movie that takes the spirit and basic structure of the original film, but adds it’s own twists to keep it fresh…how a remake like this should be done. It’s also now filled with 80s nostalgia which adds to the entertainment.

The film takes place in the small town of Arborville, California where the biggest concern till now, is if it’s going to snow enough to support the upcoming ski season…which fuels the rural town’s economy…or asking out the hot cheerleader. When a fiery object falls from the sky, a kindly homeless man (Billy Beck) goes to investigate and gets a corrosive, jelly-like substance on his arm. He’s discovered by local rebel Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon with amazingly 80s hair), hot cheerleader, Meg (Shawnee Smith) and her date, Paul (Donovan Leitch) and taken to a local hospital. The poor man is eaten alive by the goop and the rabidly growing substance takes out Paul, too and escapes into the woods. Despite local law enforcement being skeptical of this monster story, a strange biological containment team arrives along with the mysterious Dr. Meddows (Joe Seneca). Soon the town is quarantined, as the protoplasmic ‘space monster’ beings to prey on the locals, growing larger with each meal. Can Flagg and Meg save the day, or become happy meals for the viscus invader?

With a script co-written by The Walking Dead’s Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell delivers a really action-packed and entertaining horror-thriller that does not skimp on the gore, or spare anyone from the hungry, predatory title creature. He keeps just enough of the story and spirit of the original, including some key scenes, like the movie theater and the monster’s aversion to cold, but crafts his own monster flick. He makes good use of a bigger budget and what was then, more advanced SPFX, to open things up and have a little more fun. He takes his subject matter seriously, but turns the smaller scaled 50s monster movie into a larger scaled sci-fi/action flick and gives us some nice suspense, a fast pace and some very gory demises to make this more of a popcorn entertainment and it really works. On top of the suspense, action and bloody kills, we get some well-rendered FX sequences, though not all of them work perfectly. At the time, the blood, gore and creature work on display here was pretty impressive, though, at this point in time, some haven’t all aged that well. There are still quite a few sequences, though, that hold up quite nicely. Sad that it bombed back in the day, as it is an underrated monster movie, though thankfully it’s recognized as a cult classic now. On a personal note…I was there in my seat in 1988 and had a real blast with it, even before the 80s nostalgia set in and the practical SPFX added a sense of old school charm.

As for the players, the cast all take their roles seriously, but also appear to be having a good time. Kevin Dillon might be a bit too much of a pretty boy, with his shoulder length, permed hair, to initially be taken seriously as ‘rebel without a cause’, delinquent Flagg, but he gives the role his all and we go along with it just fine. Shawnee Smith is very pretty, but also very tough and resourceful, as the cheerleader turned monster fighting heroine and she kinda steals the film from Dillon to boot. Joe Seneca makes an appropriately sinister government scientist, who knows far more about ‘The Blob’ than he lets on and Candy Clark is very sweet and likable as the sassy town cafe owner. The supporting cast, like Del Close as Reverend Meeker, all get the tone of the material and give us some nice secondary characters to root/care for along with our leads.

In conclusion, I really like this movie a lot. It echoes and honors the original, yet does it’s own thing as an 80s monster movie and does it well. It’s played seriously, but has fun with it’s monster story and not all the FX may not have withstood the test of time completely, but are still competently made and being a bit dated only makes them more charming. Add in the 80s nostalgia and this is still a really fun flick even today. A good time creature feature that now comes with some nice added nostalgia!

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) gun toting cheerleaders.

blob_1988 rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)

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NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)

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

This is another 80s horror written and directed by Kevin Tenney (Witchboard) and is a predominately silly flick with some the gore and scares sharing time equally with the laughs and goofy humor. While the film has more of a horror movie feel than the soap opera-ish Witchboard, it still is far too goofy to really be scary despite some effective and plentiful gore.

The film takes place on Halloween night at a party being thrown at an abandoned funeral home by high school goth chick and suspected black magic user, Angela (Amelia Kinkade) and her friend Suzanne (Linnea Quigley). An assorted group of party goers arrive including Judy (Cathy Podewell), party animal Stooge (Hal Havins) and nerd Roger (Alvin Alexis). Of course no party in a former mortuary can be complete without a seance and before you can say “not a good idea” Angela and Suzanne are possessed by demons and begin to gorily dispatch the assorted party guests who themselves rise from the dead as vessels for demonic entities.Will anyone escape this Halloween party alive?

I’m not really a big fan of this film. Despite the amusing premise and the plentiful blood and gore, It’s a very slow moving horror/comedy that is not particularly scary and not all that funny either. Tenney seems to want the best of both worlds here from Joe Augustyn’s script and while the set-up was ripe for some Halloween fun, the film is directed very by-the-numbers and is far less clever than it thinks it is. Maybe the reason is that the story is pretty thin and probably would have been better served as an episode of a TV show than stretched out over 90 minutes. Once the girls are possessed the slowly isolate others and dispatch them rather methodically dispensing tired one-liners as they gruesomely off their victims. There is little suspense as our characters wake up to what’s going on and try to find a way out and it’s pretty obvious who are there to become corpses and who are there to be our survivors. It’s just a matter of sitting through the weak comedy and equally weak attempt at scares till it all plays out. There is some heavy 80s nostalgia at this point and at least David Lewis’ cinematography makes this look far more like a horror film than Tenney’s WitchboardDennis Michael Tenney once again does the music and it is a bit atmospheric though, not very remarkable.

The cast are all weak. Cathy Podewell tries hard as our final girl/heroine Judy, but the rest of the cast are pretty wooden including Kinkade as Angela and that hurts the film which needed a stronger villain to work better. Havins is just annoying as frat boy-like Stooge though, in his defense, his dialogue is terrible. Quigley is there to show her boobs and when she does speak, her line readings are far flatter than her cleavage and her demonic form is not very threatening. Roger is a stereotypical cowardly nerd who finds his courage and is probably one of the more successful characters in the flick. The rest are generic and unmemorable demon fodder and there is no attempt to really make the characters anything more than the two dimensional cliche’s they are.

In conclusion, I was never all that fond of this flick, though respect that it is a cult classic with a following…I’m just not one of the following. I do appreciate the 80s nostalgia and it is heavy with that, but overall find the film a dull and by-the-numbers horror/comedy that is not all that successful at being either. It’s a silly flick that has the benefit of some well executed gore and make-up FX and otherwise not much else to recommend. It’s almost a mystery as to why it’s premise had so much more potential for a fun time than Witchboard yet, is half as fun. Also a good example of how light and silly horrors got in the later half of the 80s. (For my article on the subject of the tonal change of horror through the 80s, go here!)

2 unimpressive actresses with impressive surgically enhanced racks.

night of the demons rating

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