Archive for the Lost Classics Category

Why late night television will never be the same. Remembering USA’s Up All Night, USA’s Saturday Nightmares and TNT’s MonsterVision

Posted in Lost Classics on September 28, 2010 by jamesdunn81

You know, sitting down and watching television now isn’t quite all that enjoyable compared to when I was a kid. Maybe that can be said about allot of things. But growing up with kick ass cable shows made every evening feel like a night at the movies.

I remember having Rhonda Shear with USA’s Up All Night talk to me about her favorite flicks like Return to Horror High, 976-Evil and Chopping Mall. I loved how not only I eagerly awaited these shows but felt such a connection with these great and sometimes awesomely bad movies. Even though it only ran from 86-98, their are allot of us out there who truly appreciate having another late nite show us flicks that would normally ever see the light of day. Here are some videos I found of USA’s Up All Night.

Sticking with the USA channel, they also had another great show called Saturday Nightmares. I honestly think that for a period of time USA was way ahead of its time. It had kick ass programing on a daily basis and had great shows for us monster movie insomniacs. The show ran from the late 80’s to the early 90’s. I wanna say it came on around 9pm, but I could be wrong. One thing I really dug about USA’s Saturday Nightmare was that they showed episodes of The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Ray Bradbury Theater and thats on top of the movies they showed. On a side note, I HIGHLY recommend you watching these shows. They are truly amazing and gems of the genre.

Some of the flicks I remember seeing are The Video Dead, Twice Dead (which needs to come out on dvd!), Halloween II and House. I will forever remember being taken down a hallway with murals of Frankenstein, Dracula, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. Ahhhhh USA network, I don’t care what you have become now, but you will always have a place inside my heart.

Last but not least, we come to one of my favorite shows of all time. TNT’s MonsterVision. Hosted by the one and only Joe Bob Briggs, TNT’s MonsterVision ran from the early 90’s all the way to 2000. One thing that really made this show stand up and beyond every other show was the way Joe Bob Briggs broke down the flicks, which he usually showed two a night. Briggs would host the segments from inside and outside a trailer and was visited by his mail girl, Rusty, who is very easy on the eyes. Before each film, Briggs would usually give the “drive-in totals,” a list of what he considers the high points of the movie. For example, in his introduction to Phantasm II, Briggs said:
“Twelve dead bodies. Exploding house. One four-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Dwarf tossing. Ten breasts. (Of course, those are scissored out of the TNT version). Embalming needles plunged through various parts of various bodies. One motor-vehicle chase, with crash-and-burn. Ear-lopping. Forehead-drilling. Wrist-hacking. Bimbo-flinging. Grandma-bashing. Devil sex. ( I laughed so hard when he said that.) Crematorium Fu. Flamethrower Fu … Four stars. Check it out.”

MonsterVision would occasionally stray from horror and science fiction in showing western, blaxploitation, kung-fu, dramas, comedies and other film genres. But one thing that made this show great was I throughly enjoyed all the flicks. If its one thing Joe Bob Briggs knows, its movies, and that sir is no lie. Bottom line, cable television will never be the same. I really think its a damn shame we don’t have shows like these anymore late at night. Television will never be cool again. Thats the truth.

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Slaughter High 1986

Posted in Lost Classics on March 18, 2010 by jamesdunn81

Ahhhhhh Slaughter High, a slasher flick through and through! This is a flick that really took me back. Here is the setup, Marty ( Simon Scuddamore) is a high school kid that has no luck. His nerdy appearance makes him an easy target for a group of popular teens at Doddsville County High. One April Fool’s day, brunette bombshell Carol (Caroline Munro) comes onto Marty in the girls locker room. Marty of course falls for it, but soon finds himself naked in front of his tormentors as they video tape and chant “Where’s the beef?” and dunk him head first into the toilet. The torment doesn’t stop there, later they give him a spiked joint in which he smokes and then leads to a horrible accident in which the school lab goes up in flames, leaving Marty severely burned.

Ten years later, invitations are sent out for a high school reunion with everyone to meet at the old school, the only thing is, the ones who use to pick on Marty are the only ones invited. After waiting around too long for others to arrive, the restless group breaks into their old abandoned school where they party and reminisce about their glory years. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are not alone and it was no coincidence that only they were invited. Soon, they begin to drop one by one at the hands of a vengeful Marty.

Slaughter High is a vastly over looked film but not for good reason: I remember this being hard to track down actually. Well, amazon.com aside, it still kinda is. With inventive kills like the one I call the “beer drinking gut burst” or the “electrocuting orgasm bed” and with a decent amount of gore for it‘s time, this film could find a whole new audience if re-released today. It may be a tad too slow at times and the ending is sure to leave you with more questions than answers, but the fun factor never fades, making this flick worth your time!

Initiation 1984

Posted in Lost Classics on March 18, 2010 by jamesdunn81

The past couple of weeks I have taken it upon my self to watch an absurd amount of slasher flicks. I will be posting a couple of noteworthy ones here in the next couple of days.  But to start it off, I want to mention this lost classic I found call Initiation. This film really does take in every aspect of a classic slasher flick.

Take a central female character (Daphne Zuniga) with a dark and mysterious past, put her in a college with a load of fellow sex-starved students and then take those students and lock them in a shopping mall for the night with a madman on the loose. That’s pretty much the scenario of this film, if you’re looking for something more profound then you’re in the wrong genre. What you have here, to cut it down to basics, is lots of teens having sex, goofing around and getting slayed one-by-one. There are better examples of the genre, but this is enjoyable. There’s really nothing new here, but the ending caught me out, I have to admit. I really hadn’t figured that one out, not that I’m going to give anything away, you’ll just have to find out for yourself!

Oh, there’s plenty of gratuitous nudity, bad dialogue and reasonable gore (though not excessive) to keep most trash fans happy. Though watching this flick will only make you appreciate the other classics even more. It is pretty hard to find on the dvd shelfs now a days, but if you do manage to see a copy. It’s worth the five dollar pick up.

The Crazies (1973) aka Code Name: Trixie

Posted in Lost Classics on February 26, 2010 by jamesdunn81

George A. Romero, whose career has now spanned more than 40 years, is much more than just “the godfather of zombies.” He’s an overtly political filmmaker whose films comprise a veritable scrapbook of the times in which they were made. But I don’t want to spoil your fun. He’s also a pulpy, subversive madman who delights in giving us blood and gore to make the real-life horrors he feeds us more visual. The horror of racism goes down easier when hungry zombies ease the pain; the horror of war goes down easier when hungry zombies ease the pain; the horror of a consumer driven society feeding on itself goes down easier when, well, hungry zombies ease the pain. His 1973 film The Crazies contains echoes of horrific events such as the Vietnam War, and the betrayals of the Nixon presidency. But, here, Romero’s not in a giving mood. There are no zombies, or anything else, to soften the blow

Thinking about government soldiers breaking into your house at night while you are asleep while wearing specter white hazmat suits and World War II esk gas masks is creepy enough to get your skin to crawl, but thats just one visual Romero shows in this underrated movie. The simple, pastoral life in Evan’s City ( Which is mention in Night of the Living Dead, remember that Evan City was five miles from the farm house in NOTLD 1990), Pennsylvania, is totally destroyed when a government-engineered biological weapon is accidentally detonated outside of town. An extremely contagious virus, code-named Trixie, has been released. When a person catches “the bug,” as it’s called, the best-case prognosis is incurable, violent insanity. Before the townsfolk know what’s happening, their sleepy little hamlet has been invaded by the army and martial law has been declared. Though the government hopes to find an antidote, it’s quietly understood that the whole town will most likely be destroyed to contain the contagion. As the public panics and begins to fight back, it becomes harder and harder for the occupying troops to tell who is and isn’t infected.

Normally, movies so “of their time” seem dated when viewed decades later, but The Crazies manages to sidestep this hurdle because its themes still hold true today. Romero seems one director who’s medium truly hold true with the passing of time. Let’s just hope he can’t see into the future, a world run by zombies is one thing….a world run by scary dressed government agents with engineered biological weapons is another. Wait…….

Dead and Buried (1981)

Posted in Lost Classics on February 21, 2010 by jamesdunn81

Some films develop cults around them and some films wash away in the tide of film history so quickly that they never have time to develop a proper following. Directed by Gary Sherman and written by Dan O’Bannon (who directed one of my all time favorite flicks Return of the Living Dead), the low-budget chiller Dead & Buried probably should have been more popular than it was. However, now is as good a time as any to get acquainted with this minor masterpiece. Dead & Buried was largely ignored during its original theatrical run and it’s a shame it isn’t more widely known today. The film has so much going for it including some atmospheric cinematography and some grisly gore effects by the late and great Stan Winston. The storyline is also an interesting and original concept especially considering the slasher film was all the rage at the time. Sherman’s movie has quite a lot going for it and the performances only reinforce this notion. The three main principle leads are all very good here and bring with them an air of believability to the creepy supernatural shenanigans permeating the plot.

Potter’s Bluff, Rhode Island: a quiet little New England burg where everybody knows your name, where going out to eat invariably means the greasy spoon on Main Street, and where you’re likely to meet the most eccentric personalities. Of course, if you’re an outsider, you’re also likely to meet your untimely demise. Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) has two grisly murders on his hands, and the pieces just don’t add up. With the assistance of local coroner (Jack Albertson), Gillis finds himself inexorably drawn to questions with deeply unsettling answers.

Dead & Buried is a film that, thankfully, no longer reflects its title. It’s alive and out there, waiting to thrill the next unsuspecting viewer. After sitting down and watching this film again, it truly is a great piece of celluloid. Such a quaint and enigmatic film is rare and should be appreciated now in case it falls off the radar once again. Please check out this flick, and once you do, send me an email and let me know what you though about the ending!

Just Before Dawn (1981)

Posted in Lost Classics, Movie Request of the Week on January 9, 2010 by jamesdunn81

So we got an email a while back asking for a serious slasher flick of the 80’s, this is the first film that came to mind. Ok, you already know what I’m gonna say. Just take a look at the year the movie came out, 1981 will forever be known as one of the best years for the horror genre. With that being said, thats all I will say on the topic. Just Before Dawn is hands down a kick ass slasher film with hands down “no pun intended”, one of the coolest death scenes towards the end of the film. One of the many great horror films to come out in the year……uhhhhh, dammit, I almost started talking about how great 1981 was again.

Just Before Dawn is truly a lost classic of the slasher genre. With some many other great flicks coming out around the same time, I think this flick just got lost in the shuffle. Which is truly a sad case. Just Before Dawn is a teens-in-the-woods slasher with something a little different going for it. For one, the teens are there to mountain climb and survey the land, not screw and smoke pot. For another, there is a creepy mountain family that lives on the property. And for another, George Kennedy lives down the road, where he talks to plants and kisses his horse all day. After an excruciatingly long period of “chase and follow” (which includes some genuinely frightening and admirably restrained scenes), the redneck killer makes his presence known and the kids start dropping left and right.

So what’s so special about this film? A few things. First, the location and atmosphere are fantastic. This is no Camp Crystal Lake, these folks are in the middle of nowhere. (although either there are a lot of waterfalls on this mountain or they happened to come across the same one several times in their trek) Second, there is a feeling of casualness to the scenes that has been all but lost in our polished, tech heavy thrillers of today. The kids talk about nothing. Sometimes they don’t talk at all. We enter scenes at the end of jokes, sometimes barely hearing the conversation, as if we were eavesdropping. I honestly have not seen many films where this has been done to better effect (think Burstyn and Blair’s dialogue scenes from “The Exorcist”). Plus, the fright elements are tucked within shots with the characters, not announced with cuts or fanfare (the man swinging onto the back of the camper is a shiver inducing example), and the results are unsettling. Even the “twist” ending doesn’t seem like a ripoff because the idea was fairly introduced early on, in a bit of banal mood setting dialogue. Very effective.

Bottom line, this movie delivers. It was the Wrong Turn of the 80’s before there even was a Wrong Turn. After viewing it, you will realize allot of people stole ideas from this movie. Which makes me even more upset it truly doesn’t get the credit it deserved. Be sure to watch this along with Rituals for a fun filled night. After watching both these films, you really, really will not want to go camping.

The Hanging Woman (1973)

Posted in Lost Classics on December 30, 2009 by jamesdunn81

The more Karen and I watch Paul Naschy movies, the more we see a resemblance to Lon Chaney Jr. It’s a shame Paul Nashy had to pass away early this December, but his amazing catalog of work is still here for us to take in. We here at Murder Legendre HIGHLY recommend you start checking out his body of work, it is very impressive. The man has an acting range second to none, and can any part to the tee. From Priest, Gravedigger, Murderer, Werewolf etc. he pulls it off with such ease and grace, I’m hard pressed to understand why people weren’t talking about him prior to his death. Bottom line, please look into checking out his flicks, you wont be disappointed.

The Hanging Womans plot is truly something to behold. The plot involves a guy named Serge Chekov (Stelvio Riso), a swinging chap with a killer ’70s coiffure who shows up in Scotland to score an inheritance. He’s in for a rude introduction to the lovely culture, when he accidentally stumbles upon the hung corpse of a woman. This is only the start of his troubles, though, as it’s soon clear the family he’s gotten involved with is fucking crazy. You’ve got a scientist messing around with re-animating the deceased, a wacko gravedigger named Igor (Paul Naschy), some Satan-worshippers, and a witch who likes to have intercourse on a Ouija board type table. It all equals awesome!

Obviously, there are some  bizzaro moments to be found in The Hanging Woman, but this is very much reminiscent of a Hammer film—the time period, the setting, the methodical pacing, the emphasis on dialog, a central mystery, a dude named Igor. If that’s your bag, then there is plenty else in this film to keep you interested.

While not among the elite Spanish gothic offerings, The Hanging Woman is still unique and entertaining enough that it distinguishes itself from the pack, making it a worthwhile viewing for fans of the genre as well as horror aficionados in general. If you’re a Naschy fan (if not, we hope you will be), this is a no-brainer, and the striking imagery throughout should please the discerning cinephile’s eye.