When you think back to the 80’s, the true golden age of horror, there are certain films that define their sub-genre. I’m thinking of Fright Night and The Lost Boys defining the Vampire sub-genre. And the ones that (for me at least) defined Werewolf films are the likes of An American Werewolf in London and The Howling! One of the downsides from making a genre defining film though, is that there will invariably be a sequel (or sequels) that just can’t live up to the original’s quality. This has happened with Howling II …Your Sister Is a Werewolf.
After sleazily making his way to the London Underground from the sex district, James Manfred, OBE, some big shit… shot, at the Ministry of Defense, or something, confronts a woman waiting on the platform at Russell Square tube station. “How much?” he asks. “Look darling, god knows if you are worth it… but fortunately I can afford to find out.” Her response? A swift knee to his gonads before running away! As Manfred winces in pain, something catches his eye emerging from the underground tunnel…
“Mind the doors!”
This late 90s vampire tale is an essential watch for any fan of low budget indie gore and Hammer classics. Lilith Silver is the ‘girl power’ embodiment of modern vampires. In skin tight PVC, Silver is an ass-kicking, sexually confident vampiric hit woman, using her undead attributes to carry out the most daring executions. But life is never simple and her choice of career brings her to the attention of occult group The Illuminati who are hell bent on preserving their own existence against whoever is hiring her to eliminate them. Armed with their skills in dark magic and with Mason-like influence in the police and government, The Illuminati set out to take down Lilith ‘The Angel of Death’ Silver, in a gory, sexual game of cat and mouse.
“Part Seductress. Part Assassin. All Vampire.”
Remember the days when films were captured on, well, film? You don’t? Whippersnapper. Respectable and reserved editor Eddie Swenson does. So when he’s transferred from his quiet, restrained art house section, to the brash, blood soaked vistas of the splatter and gore department, he realises why watching hours and hours of video violence may cause one to lose their head. You see, his predecessor went out with an, errrm…bang, after chowing down on a hand grenade. So Ed’s boss Samuel Campbell ‘promotes’ him to a domain that produces the ‘Loose Limbs’ series.
“It’s a no brainer.”
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: I love Rob Zombie. From his early days in White Zombie, his carnival-like album covers, concerts and music videos, right up until his 1st feature film in 2003, House Of 1000 Corpses. This was further enhanced by the excellent and gritty The Devil’s Rejects. Then came 2012’s The Lords of Salem a refined, mature mixture of his previous attempts that has not only made me change my opinion on where Zombie was headed, but also on what I now expect from cinema itself every time I sit down to watch a film with a low-to-modest budget.
“Heretic. Witch. Devil.”
After the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, many a movie that moulded together slasher thrills and supernatural chills was rushed into production – from Slaughterhouse Rock to The Horror Show and Wes Craven’s own Shocker. None, however, were quite as notable nor as notorious as the bombastic blood-spiller Bad Dreams from 1987, which roped in its own Freddy Krueger alumni with sexy scream queen starlet Jennifer Ruben.
“When Cynthia wakes up, she’ll wish she were dead…”
Umberto Lenzi had quite a career during his time as a film maker. Lenzi started law school, then decided his true passion lay with movies and attended the prestigious Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. His resume’ included peplum, westerns, giallos and mysteries, all typical of Italian cinema of the time. He later retired from cinema and wrote a series of detective novels. Then in 1972 Lenzi made what many consider the first true, cannibal film, Man from the Deep River. The work contained many of the attributes of future cannibal movies; violence, sex, the consumption of raw, human flesh… The movie established Lenzi as a director of turgid, offensive films.
“The nightmare becomes reality.”
In the mid-1990s there was a void in horror cinema. When Wishmaster was announced, it was met with excitement. This was a horror movie created by horror fans for horror fans. Executive produced by Wes Craven, directed by special make-up effects artist Robert Kurtzman, starring horror icons Robert Englund, Angus Scrimm, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Joseph Pilato, and scored by Harry Manfredini, Wishmaster appeared to have the ‘killer’ team. What could go wrong?
“Be careful what you wish for.”
It would not be an exaggeration to call Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of the strangest movies ever produced. Looking to cash in on Jacqueline Susann’s deliciously trashy novel (and subsequent trashy big studio film) the movie is by turns funny, amateurish, gross, distasteful, misogynistic, exploitative and brilliant.
There are so many back-stories and interesting behind the camera plot-lines that Russ Meyer himself would be hard pressed to invent similar tales. Distinguished film critic Roger Ebert helped write the screenplay, surprising because, while Ebert would praise [the] occasional exploitation film, he generally held a dim view of horror and slasher cinema.
“This is not a sequel. There has never been anything like it!”
Adapted from the Bram Stoker novel of the same name, The Lair of the White Worm was written and directed by Ken Russell (The Devils, Gothic), and released in 1988 by Vestron Pictures. Based upon the North East English ‘Lambton Worm’ legend, revolving around John Lambton and his battle with a gigantic ‘worm’, The Lair of the White Worm was the last novel released by Stoker before his death in 1912.
“Now, if you’re sitting comfortably, I shall tell you why you must not be afraid to die. To die so that the god may live is a privilege.”
Sam Peckinpah achieved prominence as a director and writer by showing us the savagery and the effect violence had upon human beings. The Wild Bunch, a revisionist, neo-western epic. The movie shocked critics and audiences alike with an opera of bodies torn apart by various weapons and the wholesale killing of women and children. The Wild Bunch thus became the essence of a Peckinpah film, one against all his other movies were judged.
“Why is his head worth one million dollars and the lives of 21 people?”
The Green Inferno is the horror director’s homage to the Italian cannibal films of the 1970s and 1980s. Those films, such as Cannibal Holocaust, Make Them Die Slowly and Eaten Alive were in turn influenced by the sub-genre of Mondo films. These films showed actual executions, animal slaughter and other graphic scenes of barbarity. While these movies portrayed indigenous and primitive peoples in an unflattering light, the invading Western protagonists also committed unspeakable acts of violence, leading the audience to wonder who the real savages were.