Gacy: Serial Killer Next Door (2024)

TriangleI don’t think John Wayne Gacy needs much of an introduction, but I’ll give a quick one anyway. When we’re not talking about Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein or Henry Lee Lucas and numerous other well-documented psychos, he’s known for being the most notorious serial killer of all time in America. Yes, THE most of ALL time. Ever.

 

So we’re more or less talking about the king himself of the serial killers’ hall of fame – an average bulky and outgoing man living in an ordinary house in the suburbs who was loved by the community and who gladly entertained the locals with his iconic clown persona Pongo under festive circumstances. Also a top tier master manipulator who appeared like a wolf in sheep’s clothing like most of his like-minded in the life of serial killing. At night, he spent his double-life by living out his murdering fetish fantasies as a closet gay and picking up male prostitutes to take home and show them his infamous handcuff trick. He killed up to over thirty young men and buried them under his house crawlspace during the late 1970s, until the smell couldn’t be held back much longer. He got sentenced to death by lethal injection and got executed on May 10, 1994, notably the same day Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized in prison.

 

Gacy was 52 when he met his maker and his last words were short, sweet and simple: “kiss my ass!

 

There are three or four films based on John W. Gacy, as far as I know. And while we’re at it, I can mention two earlier films I’ve seen so far that are based on the killer clown. The first one is To Catch a Killer from 1992, a low-budget miniseries in two parts made for TV. This was made while Gacy was still alive, and he didn’t like hearing the news that a film based on him was in the works. And the one and only interesting thing here is that Gacy wrote a letter to actor Brian Dennehy and begged him not to portray him. Dennehy didn’t respond and, to Gacy’s relief, I suppose, the three-hour long miniseries hardly focuses on Gacy at all. What we have is a complete nothing-burger where we follow a dull, sleepwalking police lieutenant with the personality of a bread who tries to collect enough evidence to finally catch him. Gacy himself appears almost as a guest here and the whole thing is so dreadfully boring and something that David Fincher would make while being in a deep coma. Why this one is so highly praised by the majority is beyond me.

 

The second one is Gacy from 2002, here with Mark Holton in the title role. If he had a few pounds less, he would look exactly like Gacy. Nothing more to say about this one other than it was a boring, unfocused mess.

 

Gacy: Serial Killer Next Door

 

Gacy: The Serial Killer Next Door is the newest one, released back in January – written and directed by Michael Feifer, the unknown brother of Saul Goodman. And judging from the trailer, this one at least seemed to be entertaining with the funny-bad vibes bouncing all over the place. Good enough for me. Here we follow the teenager Bobby who lives across the street from Gacy in a quiet, boring suburb. Bobby knows that there is something off with this guy as he’s witnessing Gacy taking young men into his house at night, who never seem to leave. He’s glued to his bedroom window to spy on him and tries to convince his parents that the police have to check this shady neighbor. The parents just scoff it off and don’t believe any of it because he’s just a dumb teenager who has seen too many movies.

 

The plot starts to thicken when Gacy knows that Bobby knows and Bobby has to do whatever he can to finally expose him before becoming the next victim.

 

Even though the film has a polished look, the thick layer of amateurish overtones reeks all over the place as much it does from Gacy’s crawlspace. It’s very low-budget with acting that smells like wet farts filled with laughable NPC dialogue. The film’s protagonist Bobby (played by Mason McNulty) does the best he can while his parents are not believable for one second. And I could not avoid getting distracted by the over-sized upper lips of the actress who plays Bobby’s mom. I don’t wanna be mean, but seriously… Enough with that plastic surgery boolshit!

 

We have a couple of scenes where Bobby hangs out with his friends to convince them about Gacy, also after he has witnessed one of his murders. And woof, the acting here is really rough with some bonkers dialogues:

 

What is it like to see someone die?

It’s really… it’s not like the movies. It’s really sad.

 

Is it? Really? Aww. Bobbe also have the balls to sneak into Gacy’s graveyard crawlspace where he tries to take some pictures for evidence. Here we see some glimpses of the most fake, clean plastic Halloween prop skeletons lying around. I don’t think the police would be very convinced.

 

The only slightly positive thing here is Mike Korich as Gacy. But that’s only on the surface level. His scenes where he’s dressed as Pogo and laughing in the victim’s face look more like a parody and there’s not much more character depth to explore. Still, Mike Korich is the only reason to give the film a watch, as he at least seems to have some fun here. I also see what they tried with Disturbia (2007) and The Summer of 84 spin, but it didn’t land well at all as the last portion of the film couldn’t be more predictable. Not the most memorable film, but lowbrow entertainment with enough of the funny-bad moments to kill some time with as long as it lasts. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

Gacy: Serial Killer Next Door is available on Tubi.

 

Gacy: Serial Killer Next Door

 

Writer and director: Michael Feifer
Country & year: US, 2024
Actors: Mason McNulty, Mike Korich, Brock Burnett, Caia Coley, Gordon Hinchen, Shelby Janes, Nick Stellate, Michael Boutell, Izabellah Diez, Lilo Baier, Ashley Ray Keefe
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt23736318/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kuso (2017)

KusoI LOVED this earthquake! It was the best one I’ve ever seen. All my enemies are DEAD! HAHAHAAA…!

 

And the earthquake we’re talking about is the one that took place in Los Angeles in 1994. One of the survivors from that brutal event was the eleven-year old Steve Ellison, aka Flying Lotus. 23 years later he would release his first feature film which took a lot of inspiration from the trauma of being an earthquake survivor as a child, and his overall fear of skin diseases and probably a laundry list of other phobias that followed. He also wanted to show how ugly people could be. Show their ugly asses, as he said. And ‘boy, he sure fucking did. This is the type of film that people like John Waters and Harmony Korine would gladly show on their first dates. Take that as a warning, if you will.

 

So, what’s Kuso really about? What’s the plot here? Uhm… yeah, good question. We’re in a trippy and surreal post-apocalyptic world where people have gone completely batshit insane while having their faces infested with big, nasty zits. The world of Mad Max is a walk in Disneyland in comparison. Here they don’t eat dog food straight from the cans but rather things such as a solid menu of stomach-turning “food” that includes worms and…bodily waste. Scat porn, several viewers say, and that’s not so far from it. This is juicy body horror to the extreme, disgusting and revolting, and if you have some certain boundaries when it comes to such, take also this as a warning. At the same time, it’s all done with a pitch-black sense of humor, so it’s not to be taken seriously. Still, there are moments here that even got a little too much for me, and my melted brain felt the after-effects while I slept through the following night.

 

But what is it really about? We follow a group of people who deal with their separate meaningless lives in their own post-apocalyptic environment. The film works more or less like an anthology with four vignettes which we bounce back and forth from: Royal, Mr. Quiggle, Smear and Sock. In between the segments we have some insane acid-trip scenes that even Terry Gilliam could be jealous of. It’s all dream logic and if you could livestream someone’s deepest cocaine-filled fever dream on a monitor screen, I wouldn’t be too surprised if this was the result. I don’t see much point in even trying to break down the segments. I would also lose the little I have left of my own sanity if I did. It’s just pure, perverted, unfiltered, experimental art-house madness where you can never, ever guess what’s about to happen next. Very graphic and visual, filled with details and even more unpredictable what-the-fucks you can imagine, and as far from mainstream audience-friendly as it can get. An overall unique experience for the senses that you would never watch with your mom and dad. And just to quote the director himself: This is definitely a movie for a certain kind of person.

 

Kuso was first distributed by Shudder and is also available on a DVD/Blu-ray combo on Amazon. The film is here reviewed from a very rare DVD edition from Sweden, just to point out.

 

Kuso Kuso Kuso

 

 

Director: Flying Lotus
Writers: David Firth, Flying Lotus
Country & year: US, 2017
Actors: Hannibal Buress, George Clinton, David Firth, Arden Banks, Byron Bowers, Shane Carpenter, Angel Deradoorian, Regan Farquhar, Pretty Ricki Fontaine, Zack Fox, Tim Heidecker, Bob Heslip, Anders Holm
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6131712/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Galaxy of TerrorAfter making fifty-plus films since 1955, Roger Corman was tired of directing and stepped down as a producer. The guy is now 97 years old and is still working in the business. Salute! With his company, New World Pictures, he hired young talents who would later work in big Hollywood films. And Galaxy of Terror is more or less his trademark film with the ingredients Corman got notoriously known for: schlock and awe with tons of entertainment value. Galaxy of Terror had a budget of 1.8 million dollars and was filmed in Roger Corman’s backyard in Venice, California.

 

The film starts with a space guy who runs from someone, or something, in a spaceship which has crashlanded on the mysterious planet Morganthus. He gets brutally killed by an unseen force which we soon learn comes from a huge, futuristic-looking pyramid not so far from the crashing site.

 

We’re not on Earth, however, but on planet Xerxes where an obscure ruler called Planet Master whose face is covered with a red, gloving dot is ordering the crew of the spaceship Quest to go on a mission on the same planet we saw in the beginning. Why? That’s a good question. We meet our crew of ten: Cabren, Alluma, Kore, Baelon, Ranger, Dameia, Quuhold, Cos, Captain Trantor and Commander Ilvar. The two most familiar faces we see here are Sid Haig, 22 years before he became a more household name as the killer clown Spalding. The other one is Robert Englund, three years before he wrote film history with his killer glove.

 

As the crew lands on the planet, they are quick to discover the pyramid, which they decide to investigate. And what they encounter as soon as they even touch the pyramid are not scary aliens, but a manifestation of their own deepest fears which are ready to kill them in the most brutal ways.

 

Visually, the film takes a lot of inspiration from Alien and copies the style of H.R. Giger with some mixture of 1950s sci-fi. So it’s no wonder it’s been called a rip-off of that film. But that’s only on the surface. Plot-wise, Galaxy of Terror goes in its own unique direction whereas Event Horizon took the concept to the more extreme.

 

The most remarkable thing here is the set-design and overall look of the planet, which was constructed by a young workaholic by the name James Cameron. He worked day and night on the set, also as a second-unit director, to prove himself, and so he did. Much of the visual style was also used some years later in Aliens which explains some of the similarities. The spaceship hallways were set up in Roger Corman’s own house.

 

And with that being said, the film has enough of schlock and fun B-movie moments to get entertained by. There’s some very wonky and eye-rolling dialogue here and no one can blame Sid Haig for demanding to play his character as a mute. That was only until he had to say his one line I live and I die by the crystals.” And sure he did. RIP. The acting is overall decent and they do the very best of what they had to work with. We have some great and fun death scenes that include a victim getting sucked by some tentacles with the most cartoonish slurping sound effect. Robert Englund fights an apparition of his dark self (an early glimpse of Freddy, perhaps?) while the others among the crew get burned alive and blown to pieces.

 

And, of course, what is Galaxy of Terror without its classic rape scene? And not just any rape scene, but with a huge, slimy maggot! Director Bruce Clark refused to film it, so Roger Corman had to step in and do it instead. He’d already gotten some flak for filming a rape scene in Humanoids From the Deep the year before where a fish monster fucks one of the victims. So this was clearly right up his alley. The blonde actress Taaffe O’Connell got the pleasure of almost getting killed when the thing almost squeezed her to death, completely naked and covered in slime, during filming. Luckily, she survived and looks back at the incident with a great sense of humor. This scene had to go through the editing process three times before it got an R rating instead of an X. This was originally meant to be a morbid love scene where Taaffe moans like a porn star and literally dies of an orgasm overdose. Anyway, it became the film’s big money shot, which Robert Englund can tell when a film critic in a suit and tie once came to him shortly after the release and said: You were MARVELOUS in that film where the giant maggot FUCKED THE GIRL!”

 

Galaxy of Terror Galaxy of Terror Galaxy of Terror

 

 

Director: Bruce D. Clark
Writers: Marc Siegler, Bruce D. Clark
Country & year: US, 1981
Actors: Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston, Bernard Behrens, Zalman King, Robert Englund, Taaffe O’Connell, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie, Jack Blessing, Mary Ellen O’Neill
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082431/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popcorn (1991)

976-EvilPopcorn is the title and popcorn is what you get – with a lot of cheese and confusion. On the surface, if not judging by the movie poster itself, this may look like one of the numerous slashers from the mid 1980s. It managed to trick me until the very distinct early 90s hip-hop music hit the speakers.

 

Popcorn starts off with some strange nightmares from the head of the young teenager Maggie (Jill Schoelen, The Stepfather‘s girl, here at age 28) about a younger girl who gets trapped in a fire and chased by some guy who tries to kill her. This is not just some random nightmare, however, as Maggie has subconsciously developed psychic abilities. Unlike her lost twin sister, Lydia Deetz, she can’t see dead people, though. But yeah, her nightmares and visions have some more relevance later in some way or another.

 

But enough of dreaming, because a big event is just around the corner. You see, Maggie and her film student classmates are preparing for an all-night horror movie marathon-screening at the old local and out-of-business movie theater, Dreamland. Here they’ll show a bunch of schlocky public domain films in the hope of funding some money for the university’s film section. To make it more eventful, they’re adding some inventive gimmicks in the purest William Castle style with three of the films. We have Mosquito in 3-D with a big mosquito model that flies on strings over the audience. The second is The Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man with the use of “Shock-o-Scope”, or simply called electrical “buzzers” in seats. The third one is called The Stench with Smell-O-Vision and you can just imagine that one.

 

The theater also has a dark history of the film director Lanyard Gates, who killed his own family while he shot the final scene of the film The Possessor –  a short, cryptic avant-garde reel that looks much like the nightmares Maggie has recently been having. So, the question is why and how. Well, she’s soon to find out when a killer is lurking around the theater, who’s also stealing the victims’ faces.

 

Popcorn had a troubled production, which shows more and more as the film progresses. The film was first helmed by Alan Ormsby, a veteran who’s already worked on films such as Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972), the Ed Gein flick Deranged (1974) and Cat People (1980). After the first weeks of shooting, he was gone, just poof, and replaced with first-time (and last time) director and Porky’s actor Mark Herrier, of all people. Uhm…okey, then. Porkman does a steady job, though, despite the hiccups and a script that gets more convoluted. The third act is quite messy where we have twists and turns with a Saturday Morning Cartoon goofball of a villain that I would guess came out of the fart pipe of Freddy Krueger while he was playing Nintendo. We also have an intermission in the middle where the audience gets entertained by a reggae band to keep the party-mode going. Quite fitting considering that the whole film was shot on location in Kingston, Jamaica.

 

That Popcorn was released in a time when the slasher genre was more or less dead, didn’t do the film much favor. Despite the box-office failure, the film has since grown a cult-following and was also an inspiration for films like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), In The Mouth of Madness (1995) and Troma’s Shock-O-Rama (2005). In other words, Popcorn is overall an entertaining and fun little oddball flick with an original take on the genre. It’s also far more light-hearted and jovial than the average slasher with little to no blood n’ guts. With a theater packed with teens, you’ll have some expectations, but the film doesn’t grab that opportunity, sorry to say. What we have is a scene where a body count gets stabbed by the mosquito model with its stinger and a cheesy electrocution scene just to add an extra flavor to the gimmick shtick. But what really does the film is that we get the pleasure to see some scenes from the films featured in the theater. Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man is already a personal favorite where a manic Bruce Glover alone steals the whole show. I’d love to see the full version of that film.

 

Popcorn Popcorn Popcorn

 

 

Directors: Mark Herrier, Alan Ormsby
Writers: Mitchell Smith, Alan Ormsby
Country & year: US, Canada, 1991
Actors: Jill Schoelen, Tom Villard, Dee Wallace, Derek Rydall, Malcolm Danare, Elliott Hurst, Ivette Soler, Freddie Simpson, Kelly Jo Minter, Karen Lorre, Ray Walston, Tony Roberts, Bruce Glover
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102690/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Resurrected (1991)

The ResurrectedCharles Dexter Ward is showing increasingly bizarre behaviour, and his wife Claire hires a private investigator to look into his strange affairs. The investigator, John March, starts peeking around the isolated farmhouse which Charles recently started using after uncovering his family history and discovering that this abandoned farmhouse belonged to his ancestor. Said ancestor’s name was Joseph Curwen, to whom Charles bears an uncanny resemblance. John notices that there are numerous deliveries made to the place, and upon asking Charles himself, he explains that he is undertaking some chemical tests where he uses animal cadavers. While certainly showing off eccentric behaviour, there’s nothing John can use here to offer any explanations to the worried wife. Then, after a man in a neighboring house ends up brutally murdered, where his remains have been attacked and eaten as if by a crazed animal, John starts to believe it’s not a coincidence. He brings Claire with him to the farm in order to confront Charles, but find him in a state where he ends up committed to a hospital. The doctors find that his metabolism is inexplicably high, which causes him to become extremely hungry, and his cravings are for blood and raw meat. John decides he must uncover the secrets of the old farmhouse and what Charles was doing at the place.

 

The Resurrected (aka The Ancestor and Shatterbrain) is a 1991 horror film directed by Dan O`Bannon, and it’s an adaption of the H.P. Lovecraft novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The screenwriter, Brent V. Friedman, had developed a version of the script which was titled Shatterbrain, while O`Bannon wrote his own ideas and had imagined the title to be The Ancestor. Friedman’s script was mainly used, but O`Bannon also incorporated some of his own ideas into the movie. Interstar Releasing planned for a wide theatrical release in 1991, but they went bankrupt before it could happen and thus it ended up straight to video in 1992. This movie was O`Bannon’s second and final movie as a director, after his directorial debut in 1985 with The Return of the Living Dead.

 

The Resurrected is not the first film to be based on Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. In 1963, Roger Corman made a film called The Haunted Palace, starring Vincent Price, which also provides a take on this story but very loosely and mixed with the Edgar Allan Poe’s story by the same name as the film. I haven’t yet seen this one, so can make no comparisons here. I have read the Lovecraft novella, and while it should go without saying that movie adaptions rarely manages to capture the essence of horror and wonder in Lovecraft’s stories (there are, of course, exceptions), this movie actually does follow the original story for the most part, just setting it in more modern times. Many Lovecraft adaptions tend to change so much that the original story is barely recognizable, and some just doesn’t really do the original stories justice. However, this is something I’ve come to terms with a long time ago, I don’t expect any Lovecraft adaption to be on par with the source material. I just want to be entertained. And some of the movie adaptions (both the decent and the bad ones) often manages to do exactly that, so I’m not gonna complain.

 

Now, most horror movie fans are well aware of O`Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead, and have most likely witnessed some of his screenplay work in several of the movies in the Alien franchise, and other horror films like Lifeforce. Just like the original Lovecraft story, it starts in a mental asylum where Charles is incarcerated, and then the story moves backwards in order tell what happened. It’s set up a bit like a detective mystery, with a pretty blonde wife begging the investigator for help and all. Set in the modern times, which were the 90’s when the movie was made, works well enough. The opening scene which includes a bit of blood and gore before getting a scene where the investigator starts retelling his experience, helps fuel the story as the next parts are, unfortunately, a little bit too slow before it finally picks up the pace and delivers.

 

While there were some issues with the pacing, the viewing experience was upheld by a constant feeling of mystery. You keep wondering what Charles has been doing at the farmhouse, but it takes a little too much time to actually get there. Once secrets are revealed we get some really nice shots of monstrous creatures and a hellish underground basement lab. While apparently trying to veer away from your typical B-Horror cheeseflick with a more serious approach, there’s no doubt that once the blood, guts, and otherworldly creatures fill the screen we get to see that this movie doesn’t stray too far away from the B-movie range. And I mean that in a positive way, of course. Originally, O`Bannon actually planned for the movie to have more humor, but it was re-edited and re-cut which removed this, much to his disapproval.

 

Despite a few flaws, The Resurrected is a decent horror film with an ominous mystery-fueled atmosphere, great creature-effects by Todd Masters, and a fitting music score by Richard Band.

 

The Resurrected The Resurrected The Resurrected

 

Director: Dan O’Bannon
Writer: Brent V. Friedman
Country & year: US, 1991
Actors: John Terry, Jane Sibbett, Chris Sarandon, Robert Romanus, Laurie Briscoe, Ken Camroux-Taylor, Patrick P. Pon, Bernard Cuffling, J.B. Bivens, Robert Sidley, Des Smiley, Eric Newton
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105242/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

976-Evil (1988)

976-EvilIn this directorial debut of Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund, we dial the number 976 to hear our horrorscopes. Yes, with three R’s. And anyone who dials this cursed number will hear a voice by Satan himself as he speaks in riddles how you’ll die in just a few moments.

 

In real life, 976 was an actual premium-rated telephone number that allowed people to call services of everything from Tech support, overall entertainment to phone sex. And, of course, having your horoscope read (with one R). The service also charged extra, which was every parent’s nightmare when they got the next phone bill.

 

Fun fact: Robert Englund still meets fans at comic cons who tell him that their worst grounding by their parents was when they called Freddy himself on a 976 number where Englund laid down a bunch of stock replies. He would also on occasions answer the phone for people all over America for an hour. This was at the peak of Freddy mania. Fun times.

 

One of the callers we meet here is the teenager Hoax (Stephen Geoffreys). He’s an awkward nerdy introvert on the spectrum of mentally retarded. He lives across his cousin Spike (Patrick O’Bryan), who is the polar opposite of Hoax: cool and a badass pussy magnet. And Hoax looks up to him as Spike has to protect him from being bullied. He also lives with his crazy, religious mom who doesn’t make things easier. And Spike can’t protect his sorry ass every minute as he also has a girlfriend to be with. Hoax gets frustrated, angry and now wants to show the bullies and even his mom that he’s no longer to be messed with. After a Satanic ritual and a 976 call, he gets slowly possessed by Beelzebub, develops supernatural powers and big claws to have his sweet revenge.

 

The first forty minutes or so in this “anti-bullying film” (as Englund calls it) are pretty slow and clunky, and with a script co-written by Brian Helgeland (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Highway to Hell, Mystic River), I expected some more insanity, for lack of a better term. We have a weird love/hate relationship between the cousins Hoax and Spike to build up some dramatic tension. Unfortunately, their chemistry isn’t quite there. Spike also has a girlfriend, Suzie, who mostly looks bored until she gets attacked by spiders. We have a detective, who investigates the source of the cursed 976 call, who looks even more bored. The only one who stands out among the flat characters is the clumsy goofball Hoax as he wears the same nerdy outfit throughout the whole film, except some scenes where he’s wearing a cute pajamas.

 

The real fun is when Hoax starts to get possessed through several stages with some really tasteful make-up effects by Kevin Yagher, who also worked on the original Child’s Play and several of the Elm Street films. We also have some clever use of miniatures, and a climax with set-designs which look like something from a dream sequence from the already mentioned franchise. The direction is mostly solid with colorful, vibrant cinematography in the purest 1980s style. Robert Englund is of course the one behind the evil 976 voice, where he does his very best to not sound like Freddy Krueger. The gore is very minimal, as low-budget as this is, but the little we have is at least well done.

 

As much as we love the cheesy and distinct corniness of the 1980s it must be said how ridiculously dated the film is. Such as being a nerd in that decade was the most “gay and uncool” thing ever. The concept with payphones and if not novelty phones where you actually had to get your fat ass from the couch to dial the number to the local pizza delivery. Could anyone born after the 2000s even grasp to imagine? My oh my, the ole’ days… It’s funny how Robert Englund had to repeat himself during the commentary track on the Blu-ray to remind the Gen Z how insanely different the world actually once was.

 

976-Evil overall is a very mixed bag that maybe works best just as a curiosity to see how our favorite boogeyman from the 80s is as a director. Slow first-half, full popcorn entertainment with some extra cheese during the rest. The film was released on Blu-ray from Eureka Classics in 2020 with an extended version and commentary track by Robert Englund and his wife Nancy Booth, which both met on the set of the film and has been married since. How cute.

 

976-Evil 976-Evil 976-Evil

 

 

Director: Robert Englund
Writers: Rhet Topham, Brian Helgeland
Country & year: US, 1988
Actors: Stephen Geoffreys, Jim Metzler, María Rubell, Lezlie Deane, J.J. Cohen, Patrick O’Bryan, Sandy Dennis, Darren E. Burrows, Gunther Jenson, Jim Thiebaud, Robert Picardo, Paul Willson, Greg Collins
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094597/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat’s Eye (1985)

Cat's EyeThis feline adventure starts with a stray tabby cat which is getting chased by a dog, and ends up hiding in a delivery truck. This truck drives to New York City, where the cat sees the vision of a young girl through a display window. She pleads for the cat to come and help her, but then a guy comes and pick the cat up and puts it in a cage, and here the first story of this film starts. The cat is taken to a clinic called “Quitters, Inc.”, where smokers are coming in order to kick their smoking habit. Dick Morrison, a smoker who has been advised by a friend to join Quitters, is signing up before he knows anything about what he’s in for: he’s told that from now on, every time he fails holding back the urge and smokes a cigarette, horrors will befall his wife and child. The sadistic counselor shows him a room, where Dick gets to see the tabby cat inside where electric shocks comes from the floor, causing the cat to jump around in fright and pain. After this display, he says it will be his wife in that room if the smokes just one cigarette from now on. If he fails a second time, it will be his child. And if he fails a third time…well, I’m not even going to say what he claims they’ll do to his wife then. What could possibly go wrong from here… but at least, in the end, our cat hero manages to escape the place so we can get to the second story of the film.

 

Next, the cat manages to leave Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, and ends up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he once again sees the disembodied image of the girl asking for his help. But then, the cat is taken home by a crime boss and casino owner, Cressner, whose wife plans to leave his abusive ass for another man named Norris. Cressner has Norris kidnapped, blackmails him, and gives him the chance to get away if he manages to successfully circumnavigate the exterior ledge of Cressner’s penthouse. Nothing goes smoothly for the people involved in this story either, of course, but once again the cat manages to get away of course.

 

Then we get to the final story, where the cat gets on a freight train and ends up in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he finally meets the girl that he’s been seeing visions of. Her name is Amanda, and she eagerly adopts the cat and names him General. The mother tries to protest, because she’s afraid the cat will harm their parakeet Polly. What they don’t know is that something else has gotten inside the house that will harm not only Polly, but Amanda as well: a malevolent little troll who kills the parakeet with a tiny dagger. Guess who gets the blame for that. But the troll is also after Amanda, trying to steal her breath while she sleeps, and General is the only one who can save her.

 

Cat’s Eye is a 1985 anthology fantasy horror film, directed by Lewis Teague and written by Stephen King. Teague also directed Cujo (1983), another film based on a Stephen King book. The three stories included are Quitters, Inc., The Ledge, and General. The first two are based on two short stories from Night Shift, while the third story was written for the film. It had a budget of $7 million, and grossed a little over $13 million at the box office. It was nominated for the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film in 1987. The theatrical trailer for the movie actually claimed that this was Stephen King’s first motion picture screenplay, but that’s actually incorrect, as he previously wrote the screenplay for Creepshow (1982). This being a movie based on Stephen King’s stories, it comes as no surprise that it’s stuffed with several easter-eggs from King’s other stories, where the dog chasing the cat in the start of the movie is none other than Cujo himself, and the cat also nearly gets run over by Christine. The child actor who plays Amanda, Drew Barrymore, previously appeared in Firestarter (1984).

 

Now, Cat’s Eye is pretty much exactly what you would expect: fun, whimsical and overall very entertaining. It’s filled with 80’s magic. Prior to watching the movie, on a blu-ray release from 2022, we were greeted with a notification saying “Please note that this film reflects historical attitudes which audiences may find outdated or offensive“. Now, this ghoul woman is certainly not a youngster anymore and literally grew up with movies that are considered offensive today, but I honestly had problems finding what could be so offensive here. The smoking, perhaps? Er, well, whatever. Offended people will be offended, I guess. Talking about the smoking parts, there are some scenes in that story that is truly over the top where the smoke-craving guy starts hallucinating and sees a dude blowing smoke out of his ears while making train noises, and cigarette packs walking around the place with lady legs. Jeez! Overall the movie has a very lighthearted tone, despite a couple scenes that are rather dark, and it mixes the fantasy elements with the horror and humor quite well.

 

The effects are solid, where they used huge props for the girl’s room in order to make the little malevolent troll appear small. While the final story with the troll is a lot more cheesy and fantasy-themed compared to the other two stories, it still fits surprisingly well with the rest as the quirky tone from the very get-go makes us expect pretty much anything to happen. It’s fun, charming, and could easily make you purr over the fanciful 80’s nostalgia. The movie also includes a synth-score by Alan Silvestri, which bears some resemblance to his score for Back to the Future which was also released the same year. And who can resist the catchy theme song!

 

Cat's Eye Cat's Eye Cat's Eye

 

 

Director: Lewis Teague
Writer: Stephen King
Country & year: US, 1985
Actors: Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King, Kenneth McMillan, Robert Hays, Candy Clark, James Naughton, Tony Munafo, Court Miller, Russell Horton, Patricia Benson, Mary D’Arcy, James Rebhorn
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088889/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troll 2 (1990)

TrollTroll 2 is a film that examines many serious and important issues. Like eating, living and dying. – Director Claudio Fragasso

 

And speaking of dying, dear grandpa Seth is dead. RIP. Even though it’s been six months after his funeral, the ten-year-old kid Joshua has regular meetings with his ghost in his room before bedtime. Grandpa Seth sits in a rocking chair as he tells goodnight stories about goblins and witches who turn people into trees, bushes and everything green.

 

Because you see, once upon a time there were goblins who were vegetarians, and the only way for them to eat was to turn people into everything green. But this is actually not any fairytale. Oh no, these goblins actually exist. So beware. Now, sleep tight and have a good night.

 

The brilliant idea of vegetarian goblins came from Rossella Drudi, the wife of Claudio Fragasso, who co-wrote the script. Here’s a quote from Best Worst Movie, a documentary from 2009 about the making of Troll 2:

I didn’t want to write your typical horror movie. So, I came up with a story about troll (goblins) who were vegetarians. Because at that point in my life, I had many friends who’d all become vegetarians, and it pissed me off. So I had the idea of replacing the vampires in the vampire story with vegetarians (like Duckula).

 

Only Joshua can see grandpa Seth (of course) and no one believes him. His mother has grown tired of him talking to his ghost and has a quick, serious conversation with him:

 

Troll 2

 

Banish him, you hear, boy? And yes, this is the actual piece of dialogue that was written which Josh’s mom says to him with the most dead and soulless eyes ever, as if she was straight from The Westboro Baptist Church. Good night and sweet dreams. Brrr! I prefer the ghost of grandpa Seth, thank you very much. With a script written like this, also by two Italians with very little to no knowledge of the English language, one would assume that the whole script was written in Italian and roughly Google-translated with no corrections. In reality, the script was written in such broken English that even the actors suggested to director Claudio Fragasso that they should at least ad-lib the lines to prevent the dialogues from sounding as retarded as it did on paper. Fragasso, the maestro that he is with an ego bigger than Jupiter, flat-out refused as his script was set in stone and perfect as it was.

 

But this little flavor of absurdity we just saw here is only the very top of the iceberg of this incompetent circus of a horror movie. It gets really batshit, to say the least, and it’s the reason why Troll 2 is praised by the same audiences who almost died from laughing at modern so-bad-it’s-good-classics like The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror and all the films of Neil Breen.

 

Back to the film: Josh’ parents are taking him and their teen daughter Holly on a summer vacation trip to a small country, hillbilly town in the state of Utah, called … Nilbog. And the place looks like a complete ghost town which has seen better days. Grandpa Seth is still here, though, watching over Josh’s shoulders. They swap houses with a family that welcomes them with a ready dinner table. Talk about hospitality. But that’s not real food, Grandpa Seth tells Josh. It’s Goblin food which will turn anyone who eats it into vegetables – the favorite food of the goblins! Grandpa Seth displays some of his magic ghost force to stop the time for a brief moment, so Josh can prevent them eating the food. He has only ten seconds. The tension and suspense is unbearable. Josh stands on the table while the rest of the family is frozen-out, opens his zipper and – you guessed it – pisses on the food.

 

Or in Claudio Fragasso’s own frustrating words while trying to explain to a confused ten-year-old who didn’t understand the context of the scene, and who the hell could blame him:  – You don’t worry, you jump on table, you unzip zipper, we cut, piss on table!

 

Aha, okey then…

 

His dad, Michael (played by Aaron Eckhart’s doppelganger, George Hardy), gets furious and carries Josh up to his room where he delivers his famous line:

 

Troll 2

 

And yes, this is the actual dialogue. This is also the line that George Hardy used in his audition for the film. In full seriousness, he shouted You can’t piss on hospitality in front of nine cigar-smoking Italian casting agents. And they didn’t understand a word he was saying. The only reason he got the part was because they liked his energy.

 

Like in the original film, we get introduced to a witch by the name Creedence Leonore Gielgud. And this one is from the west and as evil as a Saturday Morning Cartoon character. She lives in a small church where she brews a green, magic, toxic potion that turns people into vegetables, so she can feed her goblins.

 

Alice Cooper was apparently busy feeding his Frankenstein, so the role of the witch went to Deborah Reed. And ‘boy, her performance is a trip. I have not before or after Troll 2 seen overacting on such an absurd animated level, as we see here. It’s all up to eleven and beyond, and I bet she must have burned some calories after reading her goofy lines the way she did. I’d love to se her audition reel and the reactions of the nine cigar-smoking Italians. Reed died last year due to cancer at age 73, but she will always be remembered in her iconic role. RIP.

 

Troll 2

 

The Oh My God clip is the most flawless piece of cinema put together. The way that the music is synchronized with his delayed scream is just perfection, not to mention the fly on the guy’s forehead. That’s Stanley Kubrick-level of perfectionism right there when it comes to subtle details with hidden meanings.

 

Then we have the creature designs, or the goblin costumes, the pure definition of schlock that even makes the creatures from the original film look like something from Stan Winston.

 

Troll 2

 

Troll 2 was filmed during thirty chaotic hot summer days in Utah where all the cast and crew were Italians who, of course, didn’t speak English. The actors were local amateurs, the one worse than the other, and all of whom auditioned to star as extras, but somehow instead ended up in the main roles. That also explains one thing or two. Michael Paul Stephenson, who plays the annoying kid Josh, already had the (un)pleasure of starring in another film by Claudio Fragasso, with Beyond the Darknes (a.k.a La Casa 5), released the same year as Troll 2. He also made the documentary Best Worst Movie.

 

The original title was Goblin, but was released as Troll 2, because that’s what Italian distributors always do to shamelessly cash in on the success of other films.

 

Troll 2 was one of the lost gems, also called The Holy Grail of bad movies, that were rediscovered many years after its release. It wasn’t until the comedy theatre group Upright Citizens Brigade started to screen the film at their base in Los Angeles that the phenomena that was Troll 2 spread throughout the United States like a turkey on fire, and soon after globally. Then the now legendary Oh My God clip was shared on YouTube and the rest is movie history.

 

Director Claudio Fragasso was also curious about the buzz and how the Americans had finally rediscovered his masterpiece, and flew to the states with his wife to get a sense of the phenomenon. Too bad he seems to have zero sense of irony. I’d earlier had an assumption that the guy was a first-class troll (no pun intended), like Birdemic director James Nguyen, but after re-watching some clips from the documentary Best Worst Movie, I’m not so sure. The clown really believes deep down that he made a genuine solid piece of cinema with Troll 2, and during an awkward Q&A after a screening of the film he looks completely lost, confused and irritated, and is about to implode. People were laughing too much at his film, even at parts that weren’t meant to be funny. Uh-oh! And he didn’t like that. His spicy narcissism and true colors really shine at the end of the documentary where he gets jealous of the actors’ popularity, giving them the death stare and even calling them dogs and liars. Classy.

 

Troll 2

 

There are many factors why Troll 2 ended up like it did for all the wrong hilarious reasons, but the main one is on none other than Claudio Fragasso, or the pseudonym of Drake Floyd he was credited as here. It’s the typical Ed Wood syndrome, just with an even more bloated ego, pompous arrogance, insanity and a head stuffed so far in one’s own delusional fantasy-butthole while refusing to hear a single input than your own bubbling farts. And to be fair, Fragasso hardly directed the film, costume designer Laura Gemser did, the one and only on the crew that spoke English fluently and translated the director’s directions to the actors. He also looked down on having any assistance from any English-speaking crew or cast because he was too lazy to learn some of the language himself. Mamma mia. Working on the set of Troll 2 must have been such a pleasant experience. I would like to see a biopic about the making of this turkey, like The Disaster Artist. Leonardo DiCaprio would be a great fit to play Fragasso.

 

There’s far worse movies than Troll 2, surprisingly enough, and at the end of the day, Claudio Fragasso has unintentionally managed to put together one of the best unhinged horror comedies of all time (if not the best) with not a single boring moment followed by a whole notebook of quote worthy lines. That’s a great skill and an achievement in itself. And that the guy to this day seems to be ultra-bitter about the films’ cult status and never seems to come to peace with it, is a bit sad. But that’s what happens when your ego becomes your own worst enemy.

 

There wasn’t made a Troll 3… or maybe it kinda was if we use our imagination a bit. We actually have two titles that were released with a.k.a Troll 3. The first one is Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990), an Italian fantasy film by Joe D’Amato. If the alternative titles wasn’t head-scratching already, this one is also known as The Hobgoblin and Ator III: The Hobgoblin. The other one is The Crawlers (1993), also a Joe D’Amato production about killing plants and was also filmed in the same area in Utah where Troll 2 was filmed.

 

Troll 2 Troll 2 Troll 2

 

 

Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writers: Rossella Drudi, Claudio Fragasso
Country & year: US, Nilbog, 1990
Actors: Michael Paul Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie Young, Robert Ormsby, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, David McConnell, Gary Carlston, Mike Hamil
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0105643/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dentist (1996)

The Dentist I am an instrument of perfection and hygiene. The enemy of decay and corruption. A dentist. And I have a lot of work to do. –

 

His name is Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen). And he’s about to have his worst day at the office. So are his patients, and co-workers – and everyone around him. On the surface, like a shallow Instagram page, he seems to have the perfect life with a big house with a swimming pool and all, and a seemingly loving wife.

 

And if the cold shoulders from his more and more distant wife wasn’t a bad start of his day already, he smells cigarette smoke from her mouth. Fuck. Now he has to brush his teeth again before he goes to the office. Because: Nothing, how matter how good or how pure, is free of decay. Once the decay gets started, it can only lead to rot, filth, corruption. –

 

And with that statement it makes me wonder if he has any politicians as clients. Anyway, we quickly learn that Dr. Feinstone is already a mentally sick man with a head filled with schizophrenia and delusions which he always battles to keep in check. But the stream of negativity which also triggers his severe OCD is going to push him over the edge any minute.

 

He finally hits the breaking point when he sees his wife cheating with the pool cleaner guy as she sucks his cock in the garden in broad daylight – on their anniversary day, even. Oof. And he’s already late for work. Now he just sees filth left and right. The floodgates of filth are open.

 

– Filth, filth everywhere. Especially children! They’re spoiled rotten! –

 

Dr. Feinstone is now on a mission. He will rip the filth out of people, tooth by tooth if it’s necessary. Cut off the tongue also while we’re at it. Get rid of all the filth. And you’d bet he has some special plan for his wife on the anniversary night.

 

Two police detectives, played by Tony Foree and Tony Noakes  get involved as soon Dr. Evil Feinstone leaves his trails of blood. Feinstone’s day isn’t getting any better when Mr Goldbum (Earl Boem), an agent from IRS, is on his neck for not delivering his taxes.

 

The Dentist is directed by low-budget-cheese meister Brian Yuzna (the mustached brain behind 90s cult-classics like Society, Return of the Living Dead III, Bride of Re-Animator and Faust: Love of the Damned) made for HBO TV with a budget of $700,000. Most of it was filmed in a residential home (Yuzna’s, I guess) where the whole budget went to decorate the dental operation offices. Even with the tight budget, which would be advisable for a simple premise like this, they actually managed to get over the budget, leaving Yuzna unhappy with the finished production design. The gore effects seemed to be a second thought.

 

With that said, the film looks even lower on the budget and filled with restrains, but the always energetic Corbin Bernsen saves it from mediocrity with his manic, over-the-top performance. We spend a lot of time in the dental office where patients drop like flies under pretty suspect circumstances where the FBI would normally raid the building in a heartbeat. Dr. Feinstone is a crazed loose cannon who does his best to keep it together and not getting caught for doing kinky shenanigans with one of his drugged-out patients. If his day and his mind wasn’t a complete shitstorm already, it’s about to get worse.  So open wide and say fuuuuuuuck.

 

There’s some clever camera work and cinematography here despite some very dated “trippy” visuals which are as 90s as it can get. The effects, with its flavor of body horror, are nicely done in the unique schlocky way we’re used to seeing in a Brian Yuzna film, but the film’s highlight with the oversized mouth stretch, gets old old pretty fast. More time on the effect department would do the film a bigger favor. As a-madman-on-the-loose with a falling down psychosis, The Dentist is silly entertainment as long its lasts where Yuzna does the best of the little he had of resources.

 

The sequel The Dentist 2 (1998) is pretty much a nothing-burger with lazy and lackluster kills, filled with tedious drama where the trip to the actual dentist is more entertaining. Watch Stepfather II instead. Both films are available on a 2-disc Blu-ray from Vestron Video with audio commentary from director Brian Yuzna among other extra features.

 

The Dentist

 

Director: Brian Yuzna
Writers: Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon, Charles Finch
Country & year: US, 1996
Actors: Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, Michael Stadvec, Ken Foree, Tony Noakes, Molly Hagan, Patty Toy, Jan Hoag, Virginya Keehne, Earl Boen, Christa Sauls, Mark Ruffalo, Lise Simms
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0116075/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body SnatchersA parasitic alien race is abandoning their dying planet, in search of a new place. They travel to Earth, and take form as small pink flowers which look innocent enough and won’t cause any suspicion. The laboratory scientist Elizabeth Driscoll brings one of these flowers home, unaware of their origins, and the next day she wakes up finding her boyfriend Geoffrey behaving like a totally different person. He is cold and distant towards her, and she gets the paranoid feeling that her own boyfriend might actually be an impostor. She confides in her colleague and friend, Matthew Bennell, who advises her to talk to a psychiatrist. Soon, they start encountering other people who believes their loved ones have been replaced by impostors, and everything escalates from there as the alien duplicates seem to be taking over the entire world.

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1978 science fiction horror film, directed by Philip Kaufman. It is based in the 1955 novel The Body Snatchers which was written by Jack Finney, and which was previously adapted into a 1956 film by the same name as this film. Upon its release it received varied reviews from the critics, which has gotten more favorable over the tears. It grossed nearly $25 million. The director had been a fan of the 1956 film, and had the cinematographer Michael Chapman try and capture the film noir feel of the original, just in color. The sound editor, Ben Burtt, who had earlier worked on some of the sound effects on Star Wars the year before, added to the film’s ambience where natural sounds mixes with the city’s industrial noises. And of course the famous “shriek” the aliens give off then spotting a real human, which was composed of many elements, including a pig squeal. The film also has a number of cameo appearances, including Kevin McCarthy who played Dr. Bennell in the 1956 movie, and that film’s director, Don Siegel, who appears as a taxi driver.

 

The film holds nothing back when it comes to any mystery, as we know already from the first scene that there are aliens coming to Earth to take over the place. Exactly how this is done is probably the only kind of mystery, and we do indeed get some gorgeously nasty scenes involving this process. It’s a bit of a slow burner at times, focusing on setting an atmosphere of paranoia and underlying terror, but overall it’s a fun popcorn-flick. The horror and science fiction elements work in a perfect combination, and while there never is any mystery as to what is happening, we still feel a certain tension when wondering how the characters will fare when meeting a world soon to be completely overruled by something that isn’t human. Everyone is going through feelings of distrust, panic and anxiety as they no longer know who to trust, and the duplicates are turning into beings devoid of any feelings and completely emotionally blunted, like a bunch of Zoloft-zombies. The cast is also pretty decent, with Donald Sutherland playing the role as Dr. Benell being the most recognizable here, as many of you have probably already seen a certain iconic scene or image from the movie starring him…

 

Overall, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a good sci-fi horror movie, telling the story of an unlikely yet still chilling alien invasion which goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Like in many other alien invasion movies where they come in giant motherships causing total mayhem, this one on the other hand is using a subtle kind of attack. It’s an invasion that could happen right under our noses, without any sign of what is going on until the damage is done and there’s no way back. I honestly find that concept more disturbing than a bunch of greys coming to wreak havoc…

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invasion of the Body Snatchers

 

Director: Philip Kaufman
Writer: W.D. Richter
Country & year: US, 1974
Actors: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy, Art Hindle, Lelia Goldoni, Kevin McCarthy, Don Siegel, Tom Luddy, Stan Ritchie, David Fisher, Tom Dahlgren
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0077745/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul