Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in a Manhole (1988)

Guinea pig: Devil's experimentI smell rotten fish.

 

A man credited as The Artist has recently lost his pregnant wife to cancer and lives alone in his crampy, depressing crib somewhere in the urban jungle of Tokyo. The only thing left in his vacant life is his art painting and two gossiping neighbours living in the apartment under him. To keep his sanity and inspiration going he often visits the nearest sewer system, something which we artists all do. One day while visiting the sewer, he stumbles upon a young mermaid, whom he instantly gets attracted to. Who wouldn’t. He immediately starts to draw her before he takes her with him to his apartment where he puts her in the bathtub. And it’s all kawaii from here on with a cute love story which’ll make everyone’s heart melt. Uhm, well, not exactly.

 

Because there’s something really wrong and messed up with this mermaid, you see. The Artist tells us that there once was a river where the sewer system was built on, which the mermaid seems to have been stranded on. And it appears she’s been stranded too long in the sewer which has infected her, and her body starts to fall apart in very grotesque ways because of that. The Artist is anxiously optimistic though, and does whatever he can to nurture and save her.

 

And there’s only that much I can say without spoiling the whole thing given its one-hour runtime with an actual story to tell. This is also the second last film in the Guinea Pig series which steered completely away from the snuff/found footage-style of filmmaking to the traditional approach. We have the other films in the series which focused more on splatstick comedies filled with cringe kindergarten-level humor aimed for six-year olds, and no one seemed to take this seriously other than Hideshi Hino. In other words; Flower of Flesh and Blood and Mermaid in a Manhole are those two in the series that’s worth watching.

 

Like Flower of Flesh and Blood, it’s based on Hino’s manga with the same title, and open for any interpretation as it’s sprinkled with metaphors all over the place which will leave you down in the deepest mental rabbit hole, and lost far under any icebergs. On the surface level, the film works as a tragic and morbid body-horror love story with its plenty of gore, bodily fluids and lots of worms, projected from a deep psychotic feverdream by David Cronenberg – and is a perfect watch while enjoying sushi. Yum!

 

A box-set of the Guinea Pig series was released first time on DVD outside of Japan twenty plus years ago by Unearthed Films. It’s of course out-of-print and only available if you’re willing to pay an insane ridiculous fuck off-price. As much as I’m a supporter of physical media I can’t say with a good conscience that it’s worth it. Nope, sorry. They’re not on any streaming services, but all of the films are on YouTube and a playlist can be found on archive.org.

 

Guinea pig: Mermaid in a Manhole

 

Writer and director: Hideshi Hino
Original title: Ginî piggu: Manhôru no naka no ningyo
Country & year: Japan, 1988
Actors: Shigeru Saiki, Mari Somei, Masami Hisamoto, Gô Rijû
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0161638/

 

Related posts: Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985) | Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (1985)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)

Guinea pig: Devil's experiment Flower of Flesh and Blood, the second installment in the Guinea Pig series, was made simultaneously with the first one, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. This one is written and directed by Hideshi Hino who had already established himself as a horror manga artist with his nihilistic and misanthropic one-shot comics Hell Baby (1982) and Panorama of Hell (1984). Besides of making horror comics Hino was also interested in working in the film industry, and directing a short film under the Guinea Pig banner, based on one of his own comics, would be a perfect arena to test the bloodsoaked waters.

 

It’s night in Tokyo and a young woman is being stalked by a car as she walks down the street. A person comes out of the car and kidnaps her. She then wakes up in some torture chamber with bloodstains on the wall while tied to a bed and it’s all bad vibes, to put it that way. We then get introduced to the killer – a ghastly-looking man with a pencil mustache, white face painting, red lipstick, a demonic grin and he’s dressed like a Samurai. Welcome to your worst nightmare. If she wasn’t terrified enough already he gives her a quick foretaste to come by holding a chicken, cuts its head off and tosses it at her as he says This is your fate! He then jabs her with a big dose of some strong drug which knocks her right into wonderland before he gets ready for the killing ritual. The only thing missing is some classical background music.

 

To keep some of the snuff elements, the killer looks at the camera as he breaks the fourth wall by saying something to the viewer in a disturbing poetic manner. It’s all in Japanese with incoherent subtitles from google translate but let’s just pretend he says something like:

What you are now about to witness is hundred percent real! No fake amateur bullshit!

The one who took the bait was Charlie Sheen, of all people, after he got a VHS copy of Flower of Flesh and Blood from the film critic Chris Gore in the early 90s. This story is widely known and legendary but here’s a breakdown: When Sheen saw the film, he got shocked as he thought he’d just witnessed a real snuff film, and reported it to the FBI. They confiscated Sheen’s copy and launched an international investigation to track down those who was involved in the film, including the American distributor and Fangoria writer Chas Balun. FBI eventually found Hideshi Hino in Japan who then showed them a making-of documentary of the film while he probably laughed his ass off and were forever grateful for the global hype and free advertisement, thanks to Charlie Sheen.

 

Compared to the first one, Devil’s Experiment, this is on a whole another level on all aspects like day and night, with the same runtime of 40 minutes, and works so much better for its purpose. This one is also shot like a more traditional film with use of different camera angles, competent use of lighting to create a rotten atmosphere and a great showcase of really impressing shock effects which will make every weak stomachs turn to pure panic attack. Even though there’s some cheesy and out of place sound effects here, this is overall a nasty piece of straight-forward horror gore show and top tier torture porn with a flavor of visual stylishness, plain and simple. Not for everyone (no, you don’t fucking say) which could as well share the same universe as Nacho Cerdà’s wet’n sticky necrophilia dream Aftermath (1994). But for us lower level horror ghouls with a more morbid appetite for sick undergroundish stuff like this  and just want to see a cute and drugged-out Japanese girl being brutally dismembered to the unrecognizable with as real-looking effects as can be, wrapped up with a nice dessert of maggot-infested body parts, well … this is a perfect gore meal – just for you. Itadakimasu!

 

Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood

 

Writer and director: Hideshi Hino
Original title: Ginî piggu 2: Chiniku no hana
Country & year: Japan, 1985
Actors: Hiroshi Tamura, Kirara Yûgao
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0161635/

 

Related posts: Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in a Manhole (1988) | Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (1985)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (1985)

Guinea pig: Devil's experimentIn the mid-1980’s the amateur filmmaker Satoru Ogura wanted to shock and disgust with a series of grotesque films. Sounds cool enough. His first (and only) film was Devil’s Experiment, a 40 minute faux snuff film which became the start of the notorious, bizarre, goofy and overhyped Guinea Pig film series.

 

In the Devil’s Experiment we witness a young woman being tortured by a group of people while someone filming the whole act handheld in found-footage style. The torture happens in several stages/segments. They start soft by smacking her in the face while being tied to a chair. After she’s been bruised up they kick and throw her around the floor like a rag doll. In the next segment she sits on a rotating chair as they are spinning her a hundred times or so, which seems more like a harmless prank than torture, but whatever. They shove a bottle of whiskey down her throat to make her puke so we can go over to the next segment.

 

And already some minutes in there ain’t a single moment of realism here and I have a hard time to believe that anyone who saw this on VHS in the 80s thought they were witnessing a real snuff, because … bro, c’mon, seriously… This is amateur hour-boolshit on its lowest to such extent that it just made me shake my head and chuckle. This shit was actually promoted as a real snuff film when it circulated on the VHS market in Japan, you see, and still to this day it rises concerned questions from naive numbskulls if this is authentic or not.

 

Then there’s the acting, and oh my lord, haha …

 

The lady who portrays the victim couldn’t care less. She seems bored most of the time and acts more as if she’s sitting on a vibrating chair on The Howard Stern Show while she makes some cute moaning sounds such as:

uuhh iuuing uhh tahh iiimghh

 

Then they peel her skin and rips off her fingernails with a plier. An her only reaction is:

ahh ehh uhn … 

 

There’s also a moment where she smiles. Director Ogura auditioned a bunch of women who was eager for this role and this was the best he could pick.

 

In another segment they pour some frying oil over her while she’s tied to a bed. Her reaction is some orgasm and growling sounds. She’s either the worst actress of all time or she’s supposed to have a larger pain threshold than Rambo. I’d guess my first assumption.

 

They also toss some fresh animal intestines on her while they laugh and giggle like a bunch of schoolyard bullies. Watching blurry still images of this scene would make every gorehound cream in their pants and assume she’d been brutally butchered up, but don’t get fooled.

 

The scene with the eye at the end was well done though, I give it that. But besides from that the whole package is so bad, sloppy, tame as a newborn duckling and downright laughably inept that it actually makes Hostel look like a legit snuff film straight from the deepest dark web. Woof.

 

Guinea pig: Devil's experiment

 

Director: Satoru Ogura
Original title: Ginî piggu – Akuma no jikken
Country & year: Japan, 1985
Actors: A group of uncredited amateurs
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0161634/

 

Related posts: Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in a Manhole (1988) | Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial KillerHenry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole were two middle-aged fugly-looking serial killers, which I would never guess after glancing at a picture of them. Huh… looks can be deceiving. Henry had the distinct dead rigor mortis eye and his epic Bugs Bunny grin, while Ottis looked like a white trash side character from a Rob Zombie film that I would guess had liked to dip his mosquito-nibbled penis into a chicken’s butthole. And among most of the classic and glorified serial killers like Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and let’s also throw Fritz Honka in the club while we’re at it, they eventually got their hook in the mainstream pop-culture with a dedicated fanbase. Because serial killers fascinates us and we can’t get enough of them, it’s as simple as that.

 

Henry was especially a popular figure in Japan. A four-hour long documentary split into four episodes was released in 2019, titled The Confession Killer, where we see a film crew from Japan that were totally starstruck by finally meeting the legend. They even gave him a present after shaking hands and the ecstatic fanboys were all smiling ear to ear until Henry said I’ve been in your country, too. Har har. Henry was eventually proven to be a compulsive liar (wow, what a shocker) who hadn’t been in an airplane once in his life and didn’t even know that Japan is an island nation. The documentary is available on Netflix.

 

Henry Lee Lucas Henry has already been in and out of prison like a ping-pong ball, once for killing his mother at age 24, before he met his boyfriend and partner-in crime Ottis Toole in the mid 1970s. Their victims were mostly women as Henry hated them with a passion. If we put on the Dr. Phil glasses for a second we can assume that his hatred for women may stem from him allegedly being abused as a kid by his mother. Together the couple killed over hundreds of people, which Toole claimed after being arrested in ’83. When Henry got arrested some months after, he took the confession a bit further, to put it mildly, by claiming he’d killed well over 600 (!) people and went on a quiet bizarre confession-circus tour around the country with the law enforcement dangling clueless by his tail, all of which left more questions than answers. Only three (yes 3) of his victims were found and the whole thing happened to be a big, monumental prank/scam by Henry just to get more juicy media attention by falsely confessing a bunch of killings while the police wasted god know how much time, money and resources. A complete shitshow. Ottis died in 1996, age 49 while Henry got his last laugh in 2001, age 63.

 

Fun fact: Henry was one of the very first who got the serial killer description after the FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler coined the term in the 1970s.

 

Henry: Portrait of a Serial killer starts direct and brutal with some graphic images of Henry’s recent victims who’s suffered painful deaths, as we dive straight into his grim world filled with depravity, rage and nihilism. We spend the first ten minutes with Henry (played by the young aspiring actor Michael Rooker in his first movie role) as he’s roaming the suburban streets of Chicago with his rusty car, scouting for his next victim like an emotionless Terminator. He finally catch a victim when he picks up a hitchhiker, a young lady with a guitar. And that’s good for the day. The next thing we see is Henry entering his apartment – a crampy, stinky shithole he shares with his friend Ottis (Tom Towles). He’a an older dude with a comb-over and bad teeth. They’re not a gay couple here though as they were in the real life, just some buddies who met in prison. When they’re not out to fuck some hookers in their car, who normally ends up getting killed by Henry’s lack of impulse control, they have at least a TV to watch, only until Ottis, that clumsy buffoon, smashes it.

 

Anyway, Ottis’ sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) comes to stay for a while after being on the run from a violent relationship. As Henry and Becky both shares trauma, they connect and she gets aroused by hearing how Henry killed his mother. This monologue alone, which starts with she was a whore shows what a top tier and intense actor Michael Rooker is by displaying his inner, explosive rage just with facial expressions while showing vulnerability like a lost child.

 

Ottis has never killed anyone but that’s about to change when he one day gets punched in the face by a teenage kid. I wanna kill somebody he says to Henry who then takes him out for a killing spree to teach him how to be a serial killer. It builds up to a home invasion scene where Henry has gotten the absolute worst out of Ottis as he snaps some woman’s neck like a deranged caveman in a pure gleeful psychosis and starts to show some tendencies of necrophilia, which even gets too much for Henry. A nasty scene that truly rips, much because of how we see the whole act through the grainy lens of Ottis’ camcorder like a snuff film.

 

The film is not heavy on plot, like most of the films in this subgenre, as it works more like a slice of life and death, and a psychological study of serial killers’ empty and nihilistic existence from their own perspective. We see the daily (and nightly activity) with Henry and Ottis as the time goes by, all filmed handheld on 16mm like a pseudo-documentary with a layer of unfiltered grittyness, surrounded with urban decay and dark, piss-smelling alleys – where also two serial killers happen to be lurking around, killing people just for the thrills. Nothing but bad vibes all over the place and not so far from William Lustig’s Maniac (1980) when it comes to the vacant tone and the overall grim atmosphere. Both Michael Rooker and Tom Towles are just fabulous in their role as a deadly and self-destructive duo, the one more sick in the head than the other, with a fucked-up dynamic which makes them amusing and entertaining to watch, just like two train-wrecks coming together with Ottis’ poor sister Becky being a clueless passenger.

 

And like Henry would say to sum up it all up in only three words: Fuck the Bears.

 

Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

 

Director: John McNaughton
Writers: Richard Fire, John McNaughton
Country & year: USA, 1986
Actors: Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold, Mary Demas, Anne Bartoletti, Elizabeth Kaden, Ted Kaden, Denise Sullivan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0099763/

 

Related post: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part 2 (1996)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Dog (1984)

Monster DogAlice Cooper was already at the peak of his musical career in the late 1970s with fifteen studio albums in his discography, having sold several Platinums, lived a wild rock’n roll life and outlived his first drinking buddy Jim Morrison. Alice Cooper has been quite transparent about his alcoholism and the bumpy journey on the yellow brick road to sobriety throughout the last four decades, and how he was just few drops away to join his former drinking-buddies six feet under. After he got caught up in the cocaine blizzard, which has wiped all his memories of the recording of his three final albums (also called the blackout albums), he got into rehab for one last time before he’d risk ending up as a corpse looking like a combination of an emaciated Auschwitz victim and a horrifying drag-show version of Bette Davis. While it all just sounds like a cliché synopsis for a biopic, he was far from ready to tour again and just the thought of performing on stage in full sobriety seemed to be the most frightening thing ever. He was now in his mid 30’s without any record label, and thus back to square one. So, now what …

 

Well, why not kill some time by starring in an Italian low-budget horror film? Seems fun enough, right? Alice wanted the film to be cheap and sleazy, and that’s what he got. He also got to play a musician, not so different from himself and even record a music video for the film. However the film ended up, if it was released to cinemas or straight to VHS, wasn’t important to him. The one and only thing that mattered was if he was able to work while being sober which he hadn’t been for fifteen years. And with that being said, he couldn’t have picked a better director than Claudio Troll 2 Fragasso. Monster Dog became his rehab movie, so to speak, and the segway to his next life-chapter with his comeback tour The Nightmare Returns. And as I’m writing this, the guy is 75 years old, still active and let’s hope he’s kicking it for five more years so he can celebrate with the song I’m Eighty.

 

Monster Dog starts off with a music video of a rather catchy song Identity Crisis by the new age rocker Vince Raven (Cooper) who is heading for his childhood home with his wife and crew to shoot a new music video. And to be honest, I don’t see much point in trying to explain the plot here, because there isn’t much. People get attacked by dogs, people having nightmares, we have several foggy night scenes, more dogs appear before the film slides into more obscurity as a gunslinging western. Claudio Fragasso also co-wrote this with his wife Rossella Drudi, just to mention it.

 

Given that we’re talking about a Claudio Fragasso film it has to at least be entertaining, right? Yeah, most of the known trademarks are here with bad acting, cheesy effects that goes from half-decent to absolute pure dung that has no business being on screen, and overall filled with 80s schlock all across the board. And except for Alice Cooper, who walks through the film with a stone cold face, the rest of the cast  acts like silly cartoon characters, all of which are Spanish with laughable English dubbing. The dubbing of Alice Cooper done by Ted Rusoff is the only convincing thing here. Yeah, he actually fooled me big time. Applause.

 

All us ghouls love Alice Cooper and I really wish I could say that he is worth the film alone. But that isn’t much of the case here. Although he appears in most of the scenes, the guy seems bored, withdrawn and apathetic. And yeah, fifteen years of daily alcohol abuse does that to you. He says his lines and couldn’t be bothered with the rest. It’s quite the opposite of what we’re used to see when he’s on a stage feeding his Frankenstein, to put it that way. It isn’t before the final act when Alice seems to loosen up and having fun when he gets to shoot some badguys straight in the skull with a shotgun. Even though this is his only major role in a feature, he later appeared in other films with minor appearances and cameos, such as a creepy mute hobo in John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness (1987), Freddy Krueger’s dad in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), and as himself in Wayne’s World (1992) and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (2012).

 

And with all this said, I’m not so sure that the director is fully to blame for the incoherent final cut here though, as the film was completely cut to pieces in post-production by the producer Eduard Sarlui. He cut out as much as 20 minutes, reconstructed the scenes, assumingly with blindfolds or in pure resentful spite towards the director, and the whole thing was a mess that got Fragasso heartbroken when he saw it. It was at least a big triumph for Alice who got through the whole filming process clean and sober with Coca-Cola.

 

Monster Dog did never get an official DVD release expect a couple of cheap bootlegs with shitty VHS quality which explains the muddy screenshots below. For a far more watchable viewing, look for the 2016 Blu-ray release from Diabolik DVD.

 

Monster Dog

 

Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writers: Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi
Original title: Leviatán
Country & year: Spain, USA, Puerto Rico, 1984
Actors: Alice Cooper, Victoria Vera, Carlos Santurio, Pepa Sarsa, Carole James, Emilio Linder, Ricardo Palacios, Luis Maluenda, Barta Barri, Charly Bravo, Fernando Conde, Fernando Baeza, Nino Bastida
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0087616/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angst (1983)

Angst
I just love it when women shiver in deadly fear because of me. It’s like an addiction, that will never stop.”

That’s a real quote said in front of the judge by the Austrian triple-murderer Werner Kniesek, which this film is based on.

 

In Angst we follow a young man on a crispy day in November as he gets released from a ten years-prison sentence after killing a 70-year old woman. We don’t know his actual name, so we just call him K (short for killer). And prior to this he’d already been behind bars for four years after a failed attempt to kill his mother with a knife. The film starts with his last minutes in prison before he gets released to the society. We hear a voice-over narration that speaks his thoughts while he walks through the streets of the local town. We learn about his dark past, how he started off killing animals as a kid, and that he’s the same killer he always was. And he’s eager as a kid on Christmas to find a new victim. That’s all that matters. To torture someone.

 

Not a single form of treatment seemed to have been given to this man. It’s as if Ed Gein was to be released the day after he got prosecuted, only with a quick slap on the wrist, hoping he would behave and finally clean up his house. Ha-ha! If this was a subtle message to the psychiatric healthcare in Austria, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised if so.

 

Anyway: Mr. K is already scanning the surroundings for a new victim. There’s no time to waste other than visiting a coffee shop to eat a big sausage with a chunk of mustard (serial killers have to eat too), while giving two young ladies some creepy death stares. He then jumps into a taxi, and after a clumsy and failed attempt to strangle the female driver with a shoelace, he runs out and flees hysterically through some wooded area, like a headless chicken. As most of the serial killers come across as calculated and with a certain sense of control, and a manipulative charm to their great advantage, this guy is the straight opposite. He’s a frantic loose cannon with zero social skills, driven by a legion of inner raging demons, probably on crystal meth mixed with a toxic cocktail of explosive compulsive disorders and the intense urge to terrorize whoever he can – and make his victims feel what he chronically seems to feel: Angst.

 

But it seems to be his lucky day, after all, as he breaks into a house where his three new victims live. Needless to say, it gets really ugly from here on.

 

On paper, Angst seems as a pretty straight-forward home invasion thriller/slasher with few surprises. That being said, what makes this one stand out is much thanks to Erwin Leder as Mr. K. I haven’t seen a more perfect individual playing a role like this. He makes an electric performance and looks like a sickly and more ghoulish version of Bill Skarsgård, and his face alone with its intense, creepy eyes is an epitome of horror. An interesting trivia is that Erwin grew up in a mental institution where his parents worked. Throughout his childhood he would play and hang around with several patients, and there’s no doubt he must have taken some inspirations from these experiences. The most surprising thing is that he was able to keep his sanity. Or did he, really..? He has before and since this film been a dedicated working actor, most known on the mainstream surface with Das Boot as an mental unstable mechanic, and as a mad Lycan scientist in Underworld.

 

Another strong aspect is the visuals. Director Gerald Kargl and the cinematographer Zbigniew Rybczyński experiments a lot with the camera which is mostly handheld. In several scenes the camera is attached to the antagonist which gives us a view of him in all angles. A pretty unique technique that also gives us a sense of the chaotic, frantic nature of the killer. The soundtrack by Klaus Schulze (RIP) from Tangerine Dream enhances the bleak and isolated atmosphere with the use of ambience and electronic tunes.

 

Overall, Angst is a raw, nasty, morbid  and frantic experience with not a single moment of peace. It’s filled with an atmosphere of bleakness from the very start, which expands quickly into a downward spiral of dread, nihilism, misery and pure hell with uncontrolled mental illness on full display. It will, regardless of how prone you’re to the genre, trigger one or another angst-related emotion in you. For my own part, as the cynical misanthrope I am, I couldn’t avoid to feel mostly for the dog, the family’s little dachshund. He sporadically shows waddling around in the house while the killer is causing hell. He’s just a random, defenceless observer, trapped in the middle of the mayhem, and all you can do is hope for the best. That dog seemed to be a champ during filming, and also earned his own IMDb page, credited as Kuba. The rest of the few actors also does a great, convincing job, by the way, considering buckets of pig blood was used during the most brutal scenes.

 

Director Gerald Kargl stated that he did his very best to avoid any form of entertainment since his view is that such elements through stalk & slash would be cynical. Huh, okey… if this is entertainment or just pure anti-entertainment, is always up the the viewer to decide. Gaspar Noé, the master provocateur himself, is a huge fan, if that tells you something. But anyhow, if the sub-genre of home invasion is your thing, this will for certain entertain and thrill you for sure. If Henry: Portrail of a Serial killer (another great film in its own right) was more than enough for you to handle, you wouldn’t sit through this one, I can bet my angsty, sweaty balls on that.

 

The film has been an obscure rarity for decades, but is now available both on Blu-ray and DVD from Cult Epics, packed with extra stuff. Note: The booklet only arrives with the Blu-ray.

 

Angst

 

Director: Gerald Kargl
Writers: Zbigniew Rybczynski, Gerald Kargl
Country & year: Austria, 1983
Actors: Erwin Leder, Robert Hunger-Bühler, Silvia Ryder, Karin Springer, Edith Rosset, Josefine Lakatha, Rudolf Götz, Kuba, Renate Kastelik
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0165623/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightbeast (1982)

Welcome to Z movie hour. Today we take a look at a micro-budget and campy sci-fi schlockfest with an evil alien and his lazer gun, made by amateur filmmaker Don Dohler, starring his neighbours, brother-in-laws, himself, and his two sons.

 

Nightbeast opens with a small spaceship that gets hit my a meteor and crashlands spectacularly in the woodsland of Maryland. And there went the whole budget, I would guess. Out of the burning spaceship comes a hideous-looking alien (Nightbeast). He looks like a skinned gorilla and always has a sadistic, evil grin on his face, which clearly tells us that he’s not here in peace.

 

Some of the locals get sheriff Cinder to show the crashlanding area, and he then says with a deadpanned face:j e s u s ! Must have been lightning.”  Nightbeast has no time to waste, and starts killing off some local hunters with his tiny lazergun that makes them disappear into thin air. He then kills uncle Dave and chases his two nephews (played by the two sons of director Dohler) through the woods where they hide in a car. Hah, as if that helped! Nightbeast zaps the car and it vanishes with the kids inside. There’s no mercy with this alien. And besides of his beloved gun, he uses his hands to rip out the entrails of his victims, which gives us some decent gory moments.

 

After thirty minutes of almost non-stop cheesy guns-and-lazer-action scenes with some really hilariously bad effects, the movie gets to a halt with a pointless sideplot with some biker called Drago. He’s just a scumbag who likes to hit women, and you can’t wait for him to be killed off.

 

And we have a pool party, shot in the back of Don Dohler’s house with his friends, family and a bunch of extras, neighbours I guess, who’s probably not aware they’re a part of a film. All seems to be invited, except for Nightbeast. What happened to him, you ask? He’s still around and lurking, even in the daylight. And just before you know it, he pops up and encounters his next victim with a jump scare and… how can I describe this…well, he taps on the victim’s arm which then falls off. I believe we’re supposed to believe that he rips his arm off, but no, he just taps on it and Don Dohler tries his best to hide the poorly made effect in some quick, inept editing. It’s Z movie schlock at its finest!

 

The two sheriffs Cinder and Lisa is determined to chase the alien, and the film of course shoe-horns a love interest between these two. And then we eventually get to the love scene in some motel room, and God almighty, this is the most cringey and awkward thing ever. As if they weren’t amateur actors already who have zero ability to convey any emotions in front of camera, it starts the scene with Lisa half-naked after having taken a shower and says to Cinder: “I better get dressed now, huh?” Cinder then says with his deadpanned face: No ….. You are a very attractive girl, Lisa …….. I guess I never really noticed it before.”  Some romantic piano music plays and … next! The film at least ends with a fun and action-packed bang with some more spectacular cheesyness. And yes, don’t you worry about our woman-hitting biker Drago, which you probably have forgotten about already, he will get his karma.

 

And of course, I have to mention that the synth soundtrack is composed by a 16 year old kid, named Jeffrey Abrams, later known as JJ Abrams. And this is his first screen credit. Nightbeast was originally released by Troma in 2004, which seems to be out of print. It’s now available on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

 

Nightbeast Nightbeast Nightbeast

 

Director: Don Dohler
Country & year: USA, 1982
Actors: Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karin Kardian, George Stover, Don Leifert, Anne Frith, Eleanor Herman, Richard Dyszel, Greg Dohler, Kim Pfeiffer
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0086013/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redneck Zombies (1989)

redneck zombies

Redneck Zombies is probably most known for being one of the first films that was shot entirely on videotape (VHS) and released direct-to-video. Combined with that the film was shot on video and the result being what it is: a complete trashy home-made schlockfest with amateur actors and a script that seems to have been scribbled on toilet paper as they went along, didn’t impress the distributors very much. They basically told director Pericles Lewnes to fuck off, and after having enough rounds of rejections, he finally decided to try his luck with Troma – which is pretty odd he didn’t do in the first place since Redneck Zombies feels like pure Troma from start to finish, and just the title itself could probably give Lloyd Kaufman an instant hard-on. Most of Troma’s trademarks are all over the place: the outlandish over-the-top looney tunes acting with dialogues that are so stupid you’ll lose some braincells while watching, a demented plot which makes no sense, blood, greasy gore, puke, and I wish I could say tits. Whatever.

 

The plot goes something like this: It’s a regular day in the middle of redneck-nowhere in ‘Merica where the soldier Tyrone is transporting a barrel full of toxic waste. As he drives along the bumpy hillroad, smokes a joint and talks shit to his passenger dog, the barrel suddenly rolls off the jeep and further down a valley. The valley of redneck Hell no-go zone that is. When he tries to retrieve it, he immediately gets gunpointed by Ferd, a redneck slob who wants the barrel, since it already trespassed on his “land”. After Ferd scares him away with a warning shot, in true second amendment-style, he trades the barrel with a clan of imbecile inbreds who mixes the waste with moonshine and starts to drink the damn thing like there’s no tomorrow. And you can’t in a million years guess what happens next … the liquid turns them into zombies. Who could possibly know. But they are not some  regular zombies, no-no, they’re REDNECK zombies! Good lord.

 

At the same time, a group of city slickers are camping nearby, which seem to have the same level of IQ as the rednecks, or they are just as bad actors. The only thing that differentiates the rednecks from the “civilized people”, to use that word loosely, is really the dress code. And to no surprise they eventually stumbles upon the redneck zombies and a lot of weird, retarded, crazy shit happens. I can mention the scene where the rednecks start to drink the waste and the TV screen goes into a full psychedelic acid-trip, and the effects are just horrendous.

 

While the plot seems seemingly straightforward, the film throws in a lot of random filler scenes that gives us some nuggets of what the heartland has to offer, and to give a more authentic impression of the redneck community. Here we learn that The Elephant Man himself is still alive and well, but still covering his head with a burlap sack with one hole in it to peek through. The rednecks calls him Tobacco Man, since he sells tobaccos from his vendor van. He’s also some kind of a prophet which the rednecks worships, and rambles some weird, crazy nonsense with a dark baritone voice.

 

There’s also a complete random parody of the hitchhiker scene from Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Well, why not. And we get some scenes of a redneck lady with her beloved Perky the Pig, where she promises him that he won’t end up as bacon. When we thought we’ve seen it all in redneck hell, we jump right into a scene where two dudes are watching chickens getting slaughtered on TV, and who have a girl in the living-room, wrapped in duct tape. Of course. There’s some scenes that are shot like it was a sitcom where the only thing missing is fake laugh tracks. This film has some serious symptoms of schizophrenia, and I believe even Dr. Phil would agree on that.

 

The gore delivers, for the most part, at least. Heads are being scalped, beheaded with a shovel and crushed with bare hands, eyes gouged out, limbs ripped apart and so on. It’s juicy, greasy and at times, a little gruesome. Some looks cheap, others looks almost too competent for a film like this. It’s also hilarious that the zombie make-up was made by cornflakes. Yes, really.  My final verdict? Get drunk, pretend to be a young teenager and you’ll probably have a blast with this one.

 

Redneck Zombies

 

 

Director: Pericles Lewnes
Country & year: USA, 1989
Actors: Steve Sooy, Anthony M. Carr, Ken Davis, Stan Morrow, Brent Thurston-Rogers, Lisa M. DeHaven, Tyrone Taylor, Anthony Burlington-Smith, James H. Housely, Martin J. Wolfman, Boo Teasedale, Darla Deans
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0093833/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Cannibal ApocalypseWe’re in the jungles of Vietnam where two American POWs are being held captive by some natives. A group of troops, lead by Norman Hooper (John Saxon) is about to rescue them. While they succeed after a tirade of bulletstorm, flamethrowing and throat-slicing, the two captives seems to have been turned into cannibals by some virus. And those who gets bitten leaves people with serious cravings for human flesh like a hardcore heroin addict. Or just zombie cannibals, if you will. The next who’s to be infected is Norman, when he gives out a helping hand to get them out of the hole they’re trapped in.

 

This was a flashback nightmare, by the way, and Norman wakes up sweaty besides his wife in their home in Atlanta, Georgia, and now struggles daily to not get his cravings and triggers by looking at raw meat, and fears ending up a cannibal himself. He especially struggles not to take a bite out of the teenage girl next door, who has a crush on him.

 

Things doesn’t get better when Norman receives a phonecall by Charles Bukovski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) who wants to hook up for a drink. He’s one of the guys who’s gotten turned into cannibalism, and Norman smells Bad News and says “another time”. Charles seems to have lost his mind completely, as he’s just hunting for his next fix and wanders around like a deranged serial killer. He goes into a movie theater, where he can’t resist it no more when a coupe starts to make out in front of him. He bites the chick’s neck like Dracula, and the Zombie Apocalypse has just started.

 

I hadn’t heard of this film until it suddenly popped up on Netflix (Norway) of all places, fully uncut and ready for the whole family to watch on a Friday night. I remember there was a time when films like this was totally banned in most countries, and you had to import a VHS copy from US to watch in the basement with friends while the parents were far out of sight. Yeah, things have changed. This film was also on the Video nasty list because of two seconds where a sewer rat is getting torched by a flamethrower.

 

And no, as you’ve probably already figured, this is not your typical cannibal flick with confused half-naked natives running around sunny jungle surroundings, big turtles getting ripped apart, penis severing/castration, et cetera… We’re in a gritty urban setting where the police, and some angry bikers, gets involved to hunt down the cannibals through the streets and sewers. It’s more action-packed with some really great tension filled moments, and of course a bit of the mandatory Italian sleaze. Not the most complicated plot, really, but overall an entertaining Grindhouse flick with an interesting take on the cannibal genre and a crazy, unhinged character. But I’ll never  get used to hear saxophone music during killing scenes, though…

 

Also known as Invasion of the Flesh Hunters and Cannibals in the Streets.

 

Cannibal Apocalypse

 

Director: Antonio Margheriti
Original title: Apocalypse domani
Country & year: Italy, Spain, 1980
Actors: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis, Tony King, Wallace Wilkinson, Ramiro Oliveros, John Geroson, May Heatherly, Ronnie Sanders, Vic Perkins, Jere Beery, Joan Riordan, Laura Dean
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0080379/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body Count (1986)

Body Count
Hey, take a look at this: An 80s teen slasher made by the director of Cannibal Holocaust himself. Wow, you don’t say… This has to be something else, right?

 

Well…

 

The plot could be summarized as the first drafts of  any Friday The 13th film synopsis: In Body Count we meet (surprise, surprise) a group of teenagers who’s on their way to a campside to party and do stupid random shit. And guess what: a serial killer is on the loose who wears a ghoulish Halloween mask and body counts the teens one by one.

 

I wasn’t expecting much when it came to the visuals, after watching the trailer. It’s as trashy as it’s looks with some really shoddy editing choices which I refuse to believe was done by a sober person. The killing scenes are lazy and not much to be excited about, and the acting is just laughable. I can especially mention one scene where one of the dudes finds his recently murdered girlfriend,  and reacts as if he was watching his favorite football team losing. Hilarious!

 

It’s quite impressive that it took five screenwriters to come up with such an unoriginal plot and screenplay like this. Anyone with half a brain could make this on a long weekend, and not let the director’s name fool you. Ruggero Deodato either made this as a quick, half-baked attempt to cash-in on the 80s slasher mainstream, or just for shits and giggles and a a big portion of ironic distance. Not easy to tell. The film’s only strength is the simple, yet catchy soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti, with its distinctive 80s-electronic tunes.

 

I had a fun time watching Body Count, though, much thanks to the funny-bad acting and its sheer schlocky sillyness. It has enough so-bad-it’s-good moments to pick apart while watching it, and I honestly got was I was hoping for. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

It’s (as we speak) available on streaming at Filmrise, Tubi TV, Hoopla (and for us Norwegians) on Amazon Prime. The original title is Camping del terrore!

 

Body Count

 

Director: Ruggero Deodato
Original title: Camping del terrore
Country & year: Italy, 1986
Actors: Bruce Penhall, Mimsy Farmer, David Hess, Luisa Maneri, Nicola Farron, Andrew J. Lederer, Stefano Madia, John Steiner, Nancy Brilli, Cynthia Thompson, Valentina Forte, Ivan Rassimov, Elena Pompei, Charles Napier, Sven Kruger, Lorenzo Grabau, Stefano Galantucci, Clelia Fradella, Fabio Vox
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0090788/

 

 

Tom Ghoul