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This is one of six 3-D films released in the 1980s by a man named Earl
Owensby. They're all very fun movies, but also very hard to find. All
but one are VHS-only films. Your best bet of finding them (assuming you
haven't thrown out your VCR,) is to go to the website
www.earlowensby.com and buy them online. The films are:
CHAIN GANG (1984) HIT THE ROAD RUNNING DOGS OF HELL HYPERSPACE*
*This is the only film in the group that has been released on DVD.
(There is also another 3-D film Owensby released called HOT HEIR a.k.a. THE GREAT BALLOON CHASE, however it's not available for purchasing.)
This anthology horror/comedy film is presented to us in a cemetery at night by a living, rotting corpse who calls himself Igor and speaks from his open grave. He is also accompanied by some talking vultures who are modeled after the Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy. The three stories are:
Two people who work at an adoption center, Dudley and Ms. Markette, are called over to a mansion at night near a graveyard by a couple who call themselves the count and countess. They speak with Transylvanian accents, and the Count wears a red and black cape. Dudley doesn't like the looks of them, but Ms. Markette finds it somehow impossible to refuse their requests to adopt a child, especially when the count gazes directly into her eyes. Soon the vampire couple have gotten custody of a young boy. What the two vampires don't know is he's an even more terrifying monster than they are...
In the second story, two men, Charlie and Freddy, meet with a gravedigger, Nigel, seemingly friendly. In fact they are using Nigel to get info on where and when someone rich has died and taken some valuable jewels to the grave with them. Later in the night they go dig up the grave and steal the jewels. Then Charlie gets a plan for a really big score. He's heard of some underground catacombs where there's supposed to be lots of valuables hidden underneath. The two go re-visit Nigel, and Charlie is able to force Nigel to tell them where the entrance is. What neither of the two grave robbers know is the underground tomb contains some deadly surprises...
In the last story, two young children, Dennis and Suzie, are sent to spend the holidays with their grandmother while their parents go on vacation in Hawaii. What no one else knows is grandma needs to be on medication to stay sane, otherwise she goes dangerously crazy...and she's almost run out of pills.
If you like horror mixed with broad comedy, this is a great film to watch. Again, though, the previously-mentioned website may be the only place now to get it, and you'll need a VCR.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The opening wraparound segment of this is cute and fairly atmospheric, even if the stupid and annoying Laurel and Hardy and Three Stooges parody vultures make it feel like a kids' movie. Although I do love the skeleton named Igor who speaks like Rod Serling and rises from his grave to regale the audience with three spooky stories one dark misty night. He's honestly kind of creepy, I love the puppetry that they did with him, and it looks like they may have used a real skeleton for the prop... Wouldn't be the first time such a thing had been done for a horror movie. So the first tale is about a boy who's adopted from an orphanage by two eccentric weirdos who are quite obviously vampires right down to the hokey cliché ~"Good evening my darrling"~ Translevanian accents! Don't fix what ain't broke I guess.. Unfortunately for the would-be killer fanged fiends, the whole setup is some kind of a trap and the boy is a supernatural being as well, as they soon find out as the moon is full! The story's okay but I find it a bit stiff and cheap and drawn out with too much exposition. There's a Tales From the Crypt episode called "The Secret" that tells near-enough the exact same story only ten times better. The second story which is about greedy grave robbers who dig into deep underground tombs for jewellery and wind up unearthing more than they bargained for, was the story that I liked the least, I found it boring for the most part and the music was really horrible, although the set design of the flooded grave catacombs was well presented. It appeared to be a slight adaptation of the classic Henry Kuttner short story "The Graveyard Rats." Then there was the third segment which was fast, funny, frightening, and it really made up for the blandness of the previous two. It's very Christmassy and festive and blurs the fine line between scary-hilarious and disturbing. It's about two sweet little kids who go to spend Christmas with their loving old granny - or at least she would be if she hadn't happened to have just ran out of her sanity Meds! At first she just acts a little mildly strange, but as it gets closer to Christmas Eve she goes full-blown completely batshit bonkers bananas off her rocker and attacks them both with a double-barrel shotgun, which is so surreal and scary as she chases them from room to room in her whirring electric wheelchair! The lady playing was so hilarious and she brought such a great sense of fun that you can't help but laugh as she grows outrageously crazy and cranky and downright mean as she makes the kids believe that their parents have died in a plane crash, and plays a Gothic booming rendition of "Silent Night" on her organ, and tells the kids her own special demented macabre version of "A Night Before Christmas" at bedtime! Even though it's awful slapstick and turns into a complete cuckoo clock as she and the poor kids race around all sped up for a moment like in a Scooby Doo cartoon, it's still alarming when she points and blasts the shotgun at them! And then when she finally corners them and it appears that their Christmas goose is really cooked, there's a truly odd twist in the tale as jolly old Saint Nick himself shows up and the psycho granny is definitely on his naughty list as he uses his mighty Santa magic to send her flying up out the chimney and into outer space!!! In all my years of watching movies I've never seen such a thing and I just couldn't stop laughing an such a hysterical and awesomely bizarre spectacle! That tale just made the whole movie and I wish all of them could have been so much fun. It's an okay picture, nothing that will leave a strong impression but it is fun enough, just don't expect anything too great.. It's a neat little retro curio that's worth checking out if you are able to find it. Ho ho horror!!!
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