Redneck Zombies (1989)

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)

We’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)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Satan’s Slave (1982)

The film starts off at a burial ceremony with an upper-class family who’s lost their mother to a mysterious illness, and sets the eerie tone right off with Islamic chants and the feeling that there’s something wicked in the air. That same night, the family’s son, Tomi, receives an unexpected visit from the dead mother in a ghostly form, who knocks on his window and hypnotizes him to go out in his pajamas, while his sister Rita is witnessing the incident. Tomi goes to a fortune teller (who is wearing some really big sunglasses) who can tell through his tarot cards that Tomi’s life is full of darkness, and that the coffin his mother was buried in is suitable for the whole family, and that they are all in danger – and that he must defend himself with black magic.

 

In his bedroom, Tomi makes a small altar with a little red box, using horror comics and cheap satanism paperbacks as decorations. No one but Tomi takes this seriously, and his sister thinks he’s losing his mind. Since the father of the family is a stressed and busy entrepreneur with bloodshot eyes, he hires a maid (Darminah), who looks pretty much like the fortune teller we saw minutes earlier, only without the big sunglasses (Uh-oh, nothing shady with her, of course not). At the same time, Tomi has upgraded his altar down in the basement, and this time he’s decorated it with candles and and several Halloween masks by famous Universal monsters. He is also being haunted with night terrors where he is sacrificed by a satanic cult. And that’s not far from a premonition when the sisters receive some creepy phone calls, and the house caretaker, Karto, starts to die slowly of asphyxiation.

 

I see people comparing Satan’s Slave to Phantasm (1979) and yes, there are some similarities to spot here, without diving to much into comparisons . The eerie and slightly surreal atmosphere is all over the place, and it mixes traditional superstition with some more obscure Asian folklore that we have to thank  Wikipedia for being able to understand. I can mention the image we see of their dead mother, which is actually a “Kuntilanak”, a mythological, vengeful female astral spirit who’s associated with – yeah, take a wild guess – black magic. Sadako from Ringu could also be placed into a similar category, just to mention a more known example. And even though writer and director Sisworo Gautama Putra took some obvious influences from Phantasm, the film has its own unique distinctiveness.

 

And no, just to make it clear, this is not at the same level as the acid trip Mystics in Bali , which came from the same country the year before Satan’s Slave. The plot is pretty straight-forward and far more conventional than expected, really. The downside is that it doesn’t manage to get especially scary, and maybe the laughable goofy acting is to blame for that, especially during the second act. The film looks really great, though, filled with atmosphere, haunting visuals and a fitting synth score. The make-up effects are also great. There’s some obvious fog machines hiding on the set which can make it look somewhat outdated, but will for others just add more to the good ole’ retro charm. So overall, if you don’t take it too seriously, Satan’s Slave is an entertaining flick, with a lot of ghoulish fun that’s perfect to add on a Halloween-playlist.

 

Thanks to the acclaimed remake that came in 2017, Satan’s Slave was for the first time released on DVD and Blu-ray from Severin Films with polished quality. It’s also available on Shudder.

 

Satan's Slave Satan's Slave

 

Director: Sisworo Gautama Putra
Original title: Pengabdi Setan
Country & year: Indonesia, 1982
Actors: Ruth Pelupessi, W.D. Mochtar, Fachrul Rozy, Simon Cader, Siska Widowati, H.I.M. Damsyik, Diana Suarkom, Doddy Sukma, Ali Albar, Adang Mansyur, Moesdewyk, S. Parya, Dewi
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0281048/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




The Hidden (1987)

It’s apparently a regular sunny day in Los Angeles, where the random middle-aged guy Jack DeVries (Chris Mulkey) brutally robs a bank and storms off in a black Ferrari. He drives in full speed like a madman through the famous Echo Park, hits an old geezer in a wheelchair while he headbangs to some hair metal on the radio, and goes pretty much into full GTA-mode. His crazy adventure is quickly going towards an end when the police blocks the road, blows his car to flames, and… the guy walks out of the burning car and gets bullet-stormed by the police. He miraculously survives and…Nothing to see here, folks, move along. He gets brought to the hospital while the police scratch their heads and struggle to come to a conclusion as to why this man, with no criminal record, suddenly snapped…and how the hell he’s still alive. On top of that, he had during the last two weeks killed twelve people, stolen six sport cars, robbed eight banks and six supermarkets, four jewelry stores and one candy store. He even murdered two kids with a butcher knife. Good Lord…

 

DeVries wakes up in the hospital, gets out off the bed and approaches the unconscious patient next to him where he spews out a slimy parasite-like creature into his mouth so he can transfer to another body and continue the killing spree journey of looting and mayhem. The police officer Tom Beck (Michael Nouri) teams up with the FBI agent Lloyd Gallager (Kyle MacLachlan) to get to the bottom of this what-the-holy-fuck case that quickly gets weirder and weirder.

 

The Hidden is really what you could call a hidden gem, and it’s pure fun from start to finish. Director Jack Sholder is probably most known for Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and the hilarious Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, and even though The Hidden is more action driven with elements of dark comedy, drama, and a dose of 80s political incorrectness, he does a great job stitching it together to a fast-paced and highly entertaining B-movie. With a budget of five million dollars, which is basically nothing in today’s standard, there’s many well-crafted scenes with some wild car chases, gunfights, explosions, and of course a parasite-possessed stripper going berserk while fucking a guy to death in his car. While I wish we could see more of the alien itself, our partners Lloyd and Tom makes up for it with some great and somewhat bizarre buddy-cop dynamics, which manages to drive the quite simple plot fast and steady (or furious, if you will.) It’s also worth to mention that Kyle MacLachlan brought a lot of the character in The Hidden over to his most known role in Twin Peaks as Agent Cooper three years later, and the similarities are quite striking.

 

And yeah, a direct-to-video sequel was made in ’93, and it looks like… well, see for yourself.

 

The Hidden

 

Director: Jack Sholder
Country & year: USA, 1987
Actors: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Claudia Christian, Clarence Felder, Clu Gulager, Ed O’Ross, William Boyett, Richard Brooks, Larry Cedar, Katherine Cannon, John McCann, Chris Mulkey, Lin Shaye, James Luisi, Frank Renzulli
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0093185/

 

 

Tom Ghoul