TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WARLOCK (1989)

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WARLOCK (1989)

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

Flick opens in 1691 New England with a captured Warlock (Julian Sands) awaiting his execution. Dark forces arise to free him and the evil conjurer is cast some 300 years into the future. He lands unconscious in the home of waitress Kassandra (Lori Singer) and her roommate Chas (Kevin O’Brien), who mistake him for a wayward drunk and give him shelter (Really? Who does that?). This questionable decision proves fatal for Chad and thrusts the ditzy Kassandra in the middle of an ages-old battle, as The Warlock is tasked by Satan himself to reassemble the pieces of the Grand Grimoire and witch hunter Giles Redferne (Richard E. Grant) travels across time to stop him.

While not a comedy, film is directed with a bit of a humorous touch by Steve Miner (Friday The 13th Part 2 and Part 3) from a script by David Twohy (The Arrival, Pitch Black). There certainly are a lot horror elements present, like torn out eyeballs, potions made from a human child’s body fat and cut out tongues, but it is far more similar in tone to Miner’s House than his Friday the 13th films. There is entertainment to be had, but the film probably would have been more effective if the tone remained a bit more consistent one way or the other. The more humorous elements sort of fade in and out and thus it makes it a bit uneven tonally. Most of the humor centers around Singer’s Kassandra, Her lighter, oddball character doesn’t seem quite right as The Warlock and Redferne are played very seriously. The FX haven’t aged well, though were probably not considered top notch back in it’s day, either. The make-up FX look a bit rubbery and the visual FX, such as The Warlock’s flight abilities and animated spells, are quite cheesy. There is some unintentional silliness, too and as a whole, the film hasn’t aged all that well, either, though there is enough nostalgia to make it fun, even if it’s not quite the classic one remembers it to be.

The film has a good cast though the character tones are as uneven as moments in the film. Julian Sands smartly plays The Warlock very straight and sinister and it gives the film a lot of it’s effectiveness. He oozes malice and will drink a potion made from the body fat of a murdered child with relish. He makes a strong villain. Grant also plays his witch hunter seriously and this also helps make the character effective as the “Loomis” to Sands’ magical Michael Myers. The two play off each other well. Lori Singer plays “Kassandra with a K” with a more light touch and a lot of the film’s humorous elements center around her. The character doesn’t to quite fit in with the more serious take that her co-stars’ characters have and it almost feels like her waitress is from another movie, a romantic comedy perhaps. Script and director are probably more to blame than the actress. Despite being portrayed as a bit flighty, Kassandra is not a woman without her cleverness or resolve. She is very likable. The film also features an appearance by cult movie legend Mary Woronov as a medium.

A bit of a cult classic in some circles and it can be fun, if not a bit tonally uneven. It’s not a comedy, but doesn’t feel like a straight-up horror either. It is nostalgic, though also a bit dated and it might have been more of a treat had it been played a touch more seriously. The cast perform well, though Singer’s Kassandra seems a bit out of place in the proceedings, as she is played with a bit of a humorous touch, while the male leads play it completely straight. Worth a revisit for those who saw it back in the day and worth a watch for those discovering the horror flicks of the 80s.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) time traveling warlocks.

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980)

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BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980)

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

Never one to pass up an opportunity to make a buck on a trend, Roger Corman put this space opera into production with the hopes of capturing a little of the Star Wars lightening in New World Pictures’ bottle. The story finds the inhabitants of the peaceful planet of Akir, under siege from Sador of the Malmori (John Saxon), a ruthless warlord who conquers worlds and uses spare body parts to keep himself young and tyrannical. Not able to defend themselves, village elder Zed (Jeff Corey) sends the rebellious young Shad (Richard Thomas) out to hire mercenaries to defend their planet against the invading army. Can Shad find warriors bad and brave enough to take on Sador and his planet-destroying Hammerhead starship?

As you can tell by the story description, this is more a take on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai than a retread of George Lucas’ box office titan, though Star Wars rip-off it shamelessly still is. No more obvious than the planet name Akir, which is a tribute to the legendary Japanese director, whose story is being appropriated here. The fun script is by John Sayles (Piranha, The Howling) and it’s directed with a comic book flare by Jimmy T. Murakami, who previously had experience in animation. The film never makes a joke out of the proceedings, but is loaded with humor and plenty of innovative SPFX on a small budget, as designed by James (Terminator, Aliens, Avatar) Cameron. The action is fast and furious, there is a variety of ships to go along with the motley group of mercenaries and it’s all a good time as intended. Sure it’s only got about a fifth of Star Wars’ budget, but the film has loads of heart and the hard work and imagination of everyone that worked on it shows through. The FX can be cheesy and there are a few spots where things slow down a bit, but otherwise it is a cult classic in it’s own right and how can you not like a movie that has a spaceship with a set of boobs…only in a Roger Corman flick, folks!

The cast really make this work especially well. All the actors get the tone and none of them treat the material like a joke, yet still have a good time with their roles. Richard Thomas makes a noble hero as Shad. A young man willing to risk all to save his world and people. Darlanne Fluegel is pretty and resilient as Nanelia, who joins Shad on his quest and becomes his first love interest. John Saxon is simply on target with his portrayal of Sador. He gives him a sense of malice and villainy, yet is careful to never carry him too far into over-the-top territory, so he stays threatening. As our warriors, we have George Peppard as “Space Cowboy” a space trucker caught up in the fight, Robert Vaughn as Gelt, an outlaw on the run, Sybil Danning as the beautiful but arrogant warrior woman Saint-Exmin, Morgan Woodward as the reptilian Cayman, who has a personal grudge against Sador, as well as, a heat communicating duo called The Kelvin and a group of five clones, who act and think as one, called The Nestor. And let’s not forget Sador’s army of patchwork mutants, too. A colorful and diverse group of characters if there ever was.

A cult classic in itself, this is a fun low budget space epic with loads of heart. Sure, the sets are cheesy, as are some of the SPFX, the dialogue corny and the pacing a little erratic, but this movie is a lot of fun. The cast all get the material and give it their all. The imagination of James Cameron and his FX crew is up on screen and it has one of James Horner’s best scores. A Roger Corman cult classic that may have been inspired by George Lucas’ surprise blockbuster, but has earned an identity and place in B-movie history all it’s own.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) Sadors.

 

 

 

 

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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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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: RETURN TO HORROR HIGH (1987)

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RETURN TO HORROR HIGH (1987)

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

Ho hum horror/comedy is most notable for having future A-lister George Clooney in a small role and being a good example of how silly and self aware a lot of horror flicks got at this point in the decade. (for more on that subject click HERE). Flick tells the story of a film crew filming a movie about a series of murders that occurred a few years earlier at the now abandoned Crippen High School. They are filming at the actual site of the murders, despite that the killer was never found and now someone stalks the cast and crew, killing them off in gruesome ways.

Directed by Bill Froehlich from a script by he and three other writers. It’s understandable that to be a parody of slashers you kind of have to basically be one but this flick fails at both. It’s fractured narrative doesn’t help, going back and forth between the aftermath of the murders and back to the killings as they happen, letting us know right off the bat who survived and who didn’t, eliminating any suspense, if they were even attempting any. The deaths are bloody, yet nothing really special and the comedy mostly falls flat. Even the 80s nostalgia can’t really help other than seeing a very young Clooney and The Brady Bunch’s Maureen McCormick, as a female police officer who seems to love her job a bit too much. The acting overall is deliberately over-the-top and even the big multiple reveals at the end don’t really shock or surprise. It’s hard to tell just how much it was supposed to be horror and how much it was supposed to be a parody as the mix is uneven and it goes back and forth between the stale jibes at traditional slasher film tropes and it’s attempts to actually be one. All that criticism aside, it’s also simply kinda dull and predominately unfunny.

As much as I love 80s slasher/horror/sci-fi flicks, this one did little for me. Clooney doesn’t last long enough to really make it worth sitting through and the jokes fail far more often than not. The attempts at being a real slasher mix unevenly along with the satire and aside from abundant bloodshed and a multiple reveal ending, Return To Horror High is a horror/comedy which one may not feel the need to return to, even with the 80s nostalgia. Also features a small role from 80s flick babe Darcy DeMoss as…no surprise here…a cheerleader.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 knives

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SPACE RAIDERS (1983)

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SPACE RAIDERS (1983)

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

Actually saw this fun little Roger Corman flick in a theater back in 1983. It’s a slight departure for Corman as it was more kid friendly in tone and came with a PG rating. It tells the tale of a young boy named Peter (David Mendenhall), who while playing in the warehouse of his father’s company, gets caught in the middle of a firefight between security and a band of pirates. Peter hides in the very cargo ship the pirates wind up stealing and now is trapped with them as they flee. He slowly endears himself to the band of thieves as he and they are pursued by both bounty hunters and a massive robot warship.

While basically void of the usual blood and boobs that Corman’s flicks were notorious for, this flick does have his thriftiness, as it’s effects are basically recycled from Corman classics like Battle Beyond The Stars, Galaxy Of Terror, Forbidden World and Android. The James Horner score is lifted from Battle Beyond the Stars and Humanoids From The Deep as well. Written and directed by Howard R. Cohen, the film makes the most of it’s minuscule budget and what it can’t accomplish with modest action and recycled battle scenes, it does with heart. Despite not being big on action and having seen a lot of the space battles before in the film’s mentioned, the movie is harmless and fun in spite of it’s economical approach, in a time where big budget space adventures were becoming common. It’s loaded with charm, as were most of Corman’s flicks, even if it couldn’t possibly compete with the same year’s Return Of The Jedi.

The cast also give this a bit of spunk, too. Mendenhall is cute and likable as the wide-eyed Peter who is having the time of his life with a crew of pirates. While on the subject, the likable band of rogues is captained by Vince Edwards as Hawk. Edwards, who was doctor Ben Casey on TV from 1961 to 1966, plays the ex-soldier with a heart of gold with the appropriate grit and grizzle. He is joined by soap stars Thom Christopher and Patsy Pease as Flightplan and Amanda respectively, with Drew Snyder and future Ghoulies director Luca Bercovici rounding out the crew. B-Movie icon Dick Miller also appears. Everybody takes the material seriously enough to make it work, but appear to be having fun.

This is not a great movie by any lengths, but it has a charm and heart and that makes it fun despite the low budget limitations. You have to give Corman credit for getting another movie out of SPFX, sets and music from past productions and having his filmmakers show some restraint to deliver a more kid friendly flick. One of the last of Corman’s New World Pictures productions before he sold it.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) recycled spaceships from Battle Beyond The Stars.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ANDROID (1982)

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ANDROID (1982)

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

This 1982 Roger Corman production tells the story of android Max 404 (Don Opper, who co-wrote with James and Will Reigle). Max’s advanced programing causes him to form human emotions, but not the capability to completely control them. His creator, Dr. Daniels (Klaus Kinski) becomes wary of this and plans to destroy Max once his more advanced replacement, Cassandra (Kendra Kirchner) is activated. When three fugitives, including a woman (Norbert Weisser, Crofton Hardester and Brie Howard) come aboard their isolated space station, it gives Dr, Daniels a female test subject to finish Cassandra and Max an infatuation that may send he and his newfound emotions over the edge…dangerously over the edge.

Android is an entertaining diversion from the typical Corman fair, there is violence and nudity, but it is with restraint and serves the story and not for the usual exploitation purposes. Director Aaron Lipstadt directs this sci-fi Frankenstein tale with a far more sensitive hand then most Corman flicks and gives us a character story driven more by emotion than action. We feel for Max as he tries to cope with his emotions and root for him even when they drive him to do morally questionable things. And since Max is surrounded by people of questionable morals, we don’t totally blame him for his responses to the situations that Dr. Daniels and the fugitives provoke. The low budget production is made with the usual Corman thriftiness, but looks good enough to support it’s story and the FX aren’t bad. There is also a cool and very 80s electronic score by Don Preston to support the atmosphere director Lipstatdt gives the film.

Director Lipstadt gets good performances from his cast, especially Opper who portrays Max’s naivety and confusion very well and Kinski who makes a perfectly slimy and obsessed scientist. Also, Norbert Weisser’s Keller is a somewhat sympathetic bad guy while Hardester’s Mendez is a cliché bully/douchebag. And as for the ladies, Brie Howard is tough and yet sweet as Maggie and Kirchner does fine as the Bride Of Frankenstein-ish Cassandra, who turns out to be more then anyone bargined for.

Android is an interesting attempt by Corman and Co. at a sci-fi flick with a bit more substance and succeeds far more than it fails. It may be a bit slow paced and somber, but at a tight 80 minutes it’s never boring and does entertain us just fine, as well as, tell it’s story. The film was released as a midnight show in art houses to emphasize that this was something a bit more unique than New World normally produced and I had the pleasure of seeing it at such a show at NYC’s Waverly theater in Greenwich Village when it opened in 1982.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Max 404s.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: AVENGING ANGEL (1985)

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AVENGING ANGEL (1985)

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

Sequel to New World’s exploitation hit Angel was rushed into production and released just under a year from the 1984 original…and it shows. The story has Molly/Angel (now Betsy Russell) off the streets and in college for four years, thanks to Lt. Andrews (now Robert F. Lyons). When Andrews is gunned down by a group of mobsters, Molly returns to the streets as Angel to track down his killers. Helping her are her old street ‘family’ Kit (Rory Calhoun), Solly (Susan Tyrrell), Yo-Yo (Steven M. Porter) and witness Johnny Glitter (Barry Pearl).

While the creative team of writer/director Robert Vincent O’Neill and co-writer Joseph Michael Cala return, lead actress Donna Wilkes and actor Cliff Gorman did not and it hurts the continuity of the flick. Add to that a new cinematographer, Peter Lyons Collister, giving it a different look and new composer, Christopher Young giving it a new score and you get a film that barely registers as a sequel if not for Calhoun, Tyyell and Porter to give it a familiarity with the first flick. That aside, the exploitation elements are really watered down and it feels like a TV movie. O’Neill gives it none of the style and fun trashiness of the original and the story is very uninspired. There seems to be an effort to clean it up for more mainstream consumption to the point of a baby being added to the proceedings, which is completely unnecessary. It’s got none of the energy the first flick had either, nor the atmosphere of the streets that the first flick used so well. The acting is very wooden, except for the delightfully energetic Calhoun and Tyrrell and despite being quite a fox, we don’t endear to Russell’s Angel as we did with the sympathetic teen street walker of Wilkes’s incarnation. It feels like a totally different film and a totally different kind of film, as it tries to be more action flick than exploitation movie…and being an exploitation movie was part of what made the first film work. A high school hooker being hunted by a serial killer is sleazy fun, some college girl avenging a friend’s death in fishnets and a miniskirt, not so much.

I actually saw this chapter in a theater and it was very disappointing. The original Angel nailed the exploitation tone perfectly for a story about a high school student turning tricks as a Hollywood hooker and this film tries to downplay it’s sleazy roots and go for a more mainstream low budget action flick and fails. None of the style or trashiness that made the first flick so enjoyable is there and one wonders if writer/director O’Neill wanted to do this movie at all and was just accepting a paycheck. If not for a few supporting characters being present and acted by their original performers, this would not feel like a sequel to the 1984 hit. When you throw in the baby and a lot of broad humor, it almost isn’t. Despite under-performing at the box office, there were two more sequels with two more actresses as Angel. Avenging Angel also stars Escape From New York’s Frank Doubleday as a mobster’s arrogant son.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) hot, but yet, not Angels.

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COOL STUFF: ESCAPE FROM N.Y. COLLECTOR’S EDITION on BLU-RAY

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ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK COLLECTOR’S EDITION Blu-Ray

Escape From New York is one of my all time favorite films (see full review here). It’s the film that cemented John Carpenter as one of my favorite directors. A starkly original idea featuring one of the greatest, and sadly underused, film anti-heroes of all time. There have been a few editions of the film on VHS, DVD and even a feature-only blu-ray, but, now Scream Factory has delivered this classic flick in a special 2-disc edition loaded with extra features that gives this quirky Sci-Fi adventure the treatment and respect it deserves!

The print is a new remaster from the original negative and is absolutely gorgeous. The image is crisp and clear and the colors are vibrant without betraying the look and feel intended by the filmmakers. The movie has never looked better and having seen it on screen, on VHS, on DVD and on previous blu-ray, I can say that with the utmost confidence. It’s never looked better. The audio is DTS-HD 5.1 and sounds great. It’s like seeing and hearing the movie again for the first time. It’s a beautiful presentation of this classic movie. Now on to the fun stuff…

We get some nice audio extras… not one but, three commentary tracks. There is a new track featuring actress Adrienne Barbeau and cinematographer Dean Cundey. Also, previously released tracks from Joe Alves and Debra Hill, as well as, the classic John Carpenter and Kurt Russell commentary, which is almost as entertaining as the film. More on-set insight than you could ever hope for. As for video treats and featurettes, the second disc holds a mix of new and previously released material. The first featurette is new and is a really cool look at EFNY’s SFX. It contains behind the scenes stills and interviews with Dennis and Robert Skotak, who worked at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, which did the visual effects for the film. The Return To Escape From New York documentary from the MGM collector’s edition DVD is also included here and is filled with interviews from all the principles. We get the now legendary deleted bank robbery/arrest scene with an added new interview with actor Joe Unger, who played Snake’s partner Taylor in that deleted sequence. There’s a fun new look at scoring the film and the legacy of the soundtrack, with co-composer Alan Howarth. There is a great interview/slide show with on-set photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker, who recently released a book (review here) featuring her work as a photographer on a number of Carpenter’s films. We get an interview with filmmaker David DeCoteau, who was working as a PA with New World Pictures at the time and got to visit the EFNY set. The disc then finishes up it’s extra’s section with theatrical trailers and two photo galleries on top of all the rest of the features. A great selection of extras to compliment the film.

As fan of Escape From New York, you couldn’t ask for a better special edition. The film looks great, sounds great and there is a nice selection of nostalgic and informative features and interviews to bring you back to 1980 when the film was being shot. I personally had the opportunity to see this flick in a theater…my beloved Oritani Theater…back in January of 1981 and it instantly became one of my all time favorites. Now I can enjoy it like never before thanks to this newly remastered, extra-filled, loving tribute from Scream Factory.

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ANGEL (1984)

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ANGEL (1984)

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

Angel is a fun exploitation flick that is not only very 80s, but the first movie released by New World Pictures after being sold by Roger Corman…and it was their first hit, grossing almost six times it’s original cost back.

The film tells the story of 15 year old Molly Stewart (Donna Wilkes), a scholarly prep school student who supports herself, after being abandoned by her mother and years earlier by her father, turning tricks on the Hollywood strip. Hooking under the name Angel, Molly is working at a dangerous time. There is a serial killer (John Diehl) on the loose targeting the ladies of the night and more than one of Angel’s friends have been slaughtered. Worse still, is that Angel has seen his face and is now a target herself. Will Angel be just another victim or will the resourceful teen turn the hunter into the hunted?

Flick is directed by Robert Vincent O’Neill, who co-wrote with Joseph Michael Cala and despite being an exploitation flick through and through, O’Neil manages to give it some heart. He surrounds Angel with an eccentric group of colorful friends, such as former cowboy star Kit (Rory Calhoun), foul mouthed dyke Solly (Susan Tyrell) and transvestite Mae (Dick Shawn). There is actually a bit of a sweet element to the story, underneath the blood and boobs, as Molly yearns for the day she can get off the street and the sympathetic cop (Cliff Gorman) who would like to see her succeed. Sure the story is cliché and we know the moment it begins, her life as a hooker with a heart of gold will be discovered at school, but O’Neil does have fun with his story without ever making fun of it. He also does provide some suspense and generates some sympathy for the killer’s hooker victims. This because the street people are portrayed as human beings who are a community among themselves and it is only a somewhat bland killer that fails the film a bit. That and his unintentionally funny…or maybe it was intentional?…choice of disguising himself as a Hare Krishna, when on the lam from the cops and on the hunt for Angel. Otherwise the film achieves what it sets out to do in grand exploitation style.

The cast won’t get any awards, but fill their parts well. Cutie Donna Wilkes was 24 when hired to play the 15 year old Molly and she’s fine. She gives us a sweet but very tough young girl who refuses to be a victim. She could have had a bit more range, but for a B-Movie like this, she’s more than adequate. Same can be said of Gorman’s tough cop. His character is a bit of a bland cliché, but works in the context of the film. Again, the silent killer (he only speaks once) played by Diehl is a bit bland, but is creepy enough to make it work. The supporting characters really shine as Calhoun, Tyrell and Shawn all add some life to the proceedings with their eccentric portrayals of some of the lost souls of the Hollywood Strip. They also do well in creating a foster family for Angel and they look out for her and their affection for each other seems genuine. Also worth mentioning is Donna McDaniel who gives her hooker Crystal a very likable personality in her brief screen time.

This is not Shakespeare, but it is fun. It’s an exploitation flick and knows it and never apologizes for it. It gives it’s cliché story a bit of a heart and treats the story with respect even if it is a B-Movie about a teenage hooker and a serial killer. It’s not a great flick by any stretch, but it is entertaining for what it is and gives us some surprisingly sympathetic and likable characters. Add a lot of fun 80s nostalgia and you have a perfectly suitable Saturday Night flick on the couch with some of your favorite poisons. Box office gross of Angel generated 3 sequels, none of which equaled it’s success.

MonsterZero NJ extra trivia: Cinematographer on this flick was Andrew Davis who went on to direct Chuck Norris in Code Of Silence, Steven Seagal in Under Siege and Harrison Ford in The Fugitive!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) Angels.

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