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ObscureCinema101

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28 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
No Classic, But Does Provide Some Goofy Gory Entertainment, 9 June 2012
6/10

It seems like everywhere you turn there's some horror movie that's trying to be a throwback to the golden age of eighties slashers. However, none that I've come across have perfectly captured the magic that can be found within a VHS of something like BLOOD RAGE or ROCKTOBER BLOOD. Some have come close (CLUB DREAD), and others have failed miserably. So which category does THE GREENSKEEPER fall under?

Allen is the assistant greens keeper at a lush country club, which his mother and stepfather/ex-uncle own. Some snobby young adults convince him to let them in after the place is closed for a little party. However, someone wearing a greens keeper's outfit begins picking them off in various creative and gruesome ways. Is it Allen, who's had enough with the snobs that tease him? Is it Otis, the head greens keeper who's a little loopy? Or is it Allen's father, back from the dead?

The only thing that saved THE SLEEPER from being complete bottom of the barrel trash was the kills, which really brought be back to the methods of murder in classic late twentieth-century slashers. The same almost applies for THE GREENSKEEPER. Most of the kills are reserved for the last half-hour or so, and they are SUPERB. They're gory, funny, and creative, with each utilizing the golf-theme to a tee (pun not intended). Nails are put in one of those automatic tennis ball shooters, tees are forced through someone's forehead, some gets beaten to death with a nine-iron (I think), and you know those golf ball washers? A DIFFERENT kind of balls is put in it. Ouch.

However, some of the characters in THE GREENSKEEPER are likable, including Allen, Otis, and even Allen's stoner friend. You get a sense that these are real people and they come across as very likable. The snobs that get in, however, you want to see die immediately. This is where it fails as an eighties throwback. Typically in eighties movies, we follow the group for most of the time. Here, most of the time is spent on Allen, and him getting most of the attention causes the movie to drag a tad.

However, I loved the killer's disguise, the ridiculous reveal of the killer (as well as his death), the motive, etc. There are some intentionally funny moments during the first hour or so, but as a whole, it felt very blah before the kills began. It was a bit of a chore to sit through, but the brilliant deaths made up for it.

Overall, I liked it. It's nothing special, but it's a decently fun watch if you want to get your slasher kicks. It's far from a perfect slasher, but it's really not that bad as far as entertainment goes.

Don't go in expecting a new classic, but you could certainly do worse.

A Trip Back To When Films Could Scare Without Resorting To Cheap Shocks, 9 June 2012
8/10

I have seen many a horror movie in my day, and few have actually succeeded in scaring me. I will go to the grave with my opinion that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was terrifying, as well as parts of both versions of THE WOMAN IN BLACK. THE CHANGELING was recommended to me one day by a bearded man with an eye patch (who was a complete stranger) at a book store. Needless to say, I watched it ASAP.

John Russell is a composer who has recently lost his wife and daughter in a truck accident and decides to move into a huge, old mansion. Soon, strange things begin going on and John begins to dig into the history of the house, discovering its shocking history.

I went into THE CHANGELING expecting just your standard, things-go-bump haunted house story. I knew it could be scary, but I didn't know anything about it. I also saw it was 115-minutes long. "That's way too long!" I proclaimed. "How are they going to keep this running?" Well, as it turns out, there's a whole lot more to the story than I expected, and I loved it. I can't say much about what separates this from other haunted house movies because half the enjoyment I got out of it was being surprised at where it went.

There aren't any jump scares in THE CHANGELING (from what I remember it). It's all creepy things like doors opening by themselves, strange noises coming from the attic, and a child whispering. However, it's not limited to just these things, which are creepy enough. There's one scene where a woman just stops and stares up a flight of stairs, and then we get to see what she's staring at and it scared me to death!

THE CHANGELING is certainly very professionally made as well, with likable characters, great acting, very spooky atmosphere, fantastic camera shots, and a solid pace. It may seem slow by most standards, but the time really flew by when I watched it. It's one of the few films that have actually made me afraid to go near my closet for fear of what might be inside after watching this.

This is essential viewing for all horror fans, even if it's not a film you'll find yourself revisiting every week. It's a good nostalgia trip back to the days when films didn't rely on blood, gore, or even cheap jump scares to frighten audiences.

Quintessential viewing for all ages.

Far From Great, But Decently Entertaining, 7 June 2012
5/10

Sometimes, I come across a movie that feels like it shouldn't exist, but it's just THERE. It serves no purpose, no one notable is involved, the film doesn't DO anything notable; it's just filling up space. BLOOD SISTERS is one of those movies.

For its initiation, the leader of a sorority takes seven pledges to an abandoned and supposedly haunted brothel in the middle of nowhere. Soon, someone dressed as a whore begins killing them off one by one.

It's really hard to talk about BLOOD SISTERS just because it doesn't really do anything worth talking about. It does have one or two original thoughts in its otherwise brainless head, but it fails miserably. However, it does manage to entertain despite itself.

As far as originality goes, the only somewhat inventive idea is that the whorehouse really is haunted, and maybe we're supposed to assume the killer is possessed by the spirits (maybe). I might say the lack of answers is intended and meant to get the audience thinking any other day of the week, but here, it just feels like lazy writing.

The film takes a really long time to get to the kills, and the hour that isn't spent on deaths is spent on a scavenger hunt the pledges must take part in. When we get to them, he kills aren't too original or even gory for that matter, which aids in BLOOD SISTER's "What's the point?" feel.

It also has some really laughable moments as well, including one shot where we see what looks like an action figure wrapped in black paper fly past a character while on a clearly visible string! It's never explained what this is, but I think we're supposed to assume this is supposed to be one of the ghosts. Then there's the stupid characters that always split up, the obvious dummy falling down the stairs, the classic line "Eat my shorts, tampon breath! I really saw something!" and the very stupid killer reveal.

The film fails on nearly all levels, from fleshed out characters, to suspense, to likable characters, and even to deaths. Director Roberta Findlay even admitted that this was done solely by the studio's request to make money. The final product certainly shows it. It's not as bad as other reviews would have you think, but it's far, FAR from top-quality material.

Don't take this as a warning to stay away; just don't expect much. I went in with low expectations and I enjoyed myself. Hopefully, you will too.

Ticks (1993)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Can't Go Wrong With Clint Howard And Mutant Wood Ticks, 7 June 2012
7/10

I am of the opinion that eighties monster movies were the best monster movies. I know the fifties is typically the popular choice, but the eighties had THE THING, THE OUTING, FRIGHT NIGHT, BRAIN DAMAGE, and more than I can name. So an early nineties monster movie like TICKS ought to capture some of that magic…right?

Tyler is a nerdy redhead whose father signs him up for an "inner city nature retreat" (or something like that) because his drunken father left him in the woods for a while and Tyler's been scarred ever since. So a bunch of inner city kids head out to the woods where, unbeknownst to them, marijuana farmers have been operating. However, the growth steroids they use for their marijuana have caused the wood ticks in the woods to grow to huge sizes. So now, the group faces a triple threat of the giant man-eating ticks, the hostile marijuana farmers, and the forest fire drawing closer.

TICKS is one of those movies where it feels like the director was given a 2-hour time slot to fill, and after he shot an hour of material, the studio came to him and said now he had to fit it in an 85-minute time slot. The movie seems to focus more on the marijuana farmers and character interactions for the first hour instead of the ticks, and finally, with about twenty-five minutes to spare, the ticks actually begin to attack the whole group.

Therein lies my biggest complaint; I love a little time being spent to flesh out the characters, but in a monster movie, most of the time should be focused on the actual monsters! The characterization does pay off, as we do get a lot of likable and well fleshed out characters. However, I thought the quiet Asian girl was really superfluous because she really doesn't contribute anything. Oh, and Clint Howard is in this, and he acts exactly like you expect him to as a backwoods marijuana farmer. He even spews the movie's classic line, "I'M INNFEEEESSSSSTTEEEEEEDDDD!!!" It also features Alphonso Rebeiro (Carl from THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR) as the "bad" kid (who's pretty likable), Panic.

However, the final siege on the cabin with the ticks is really entertaining! The practical effects are fantastic (they were done by the renowned KNB effects) and some of the gore is really good. However, it began to wear on me because it was so repetitive and I realized what it needed. Then, as if my prayers had been answered, what the film needed was included. And it was awesome.

TICKS is an alright watch, but it's far from perfection. It tends to drag considerably in the middle and it really isn't that original. But then again, lack of originality is better than throwing everything at the audience and hoping something works a la THE UNNAMABLE. It has good acting, likable characters, fantastic effects, good gore, and it's just FUN. It may bore you, but in the end, everything is all right.

Take a look.

They Just Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To, 6 June 2012
8/10

As part of my "revenge-movie-catch-up," I knew that I HAD to see SAVAGE STREETS. Not only did this have glowing reviews from exploitation fans, but it looked totally amazing as well!

Brenda is the toughest girl in her high school who usually goes out with her posse and her sweet, deaf younger sister for some fun. One night, they decide to get back at a gang called the Scars (whom have been hassling them) by jacking their car and then filling it with garbage. The Scars respond by gang-raping Brenda's sister and throwing her pregnant and bride-to-be best friend off a bridge. Brenda decides it's time to adopt the principle of "an eye for an eye," loads up her crossbow, and goes out for some payback.

SAVAGE STREETS is classic exploitation at its finest. It has the standard formula (first hour is building on characters, last half hour is payback) and does it very well. This was during Linda Blair's "exploitation days," where it seemed this Oscar-nominated actress would take just about any role as long as the pay was good. I think she did a great job with the role, which surprised me because of how innocent she usually looks (one of my complaints about HELL NIGHT (1981) was that she looked "too Cherubian").

John Vernon makes an appearance as the tough as nails and completely AWESOME principal and spews the classic line about what the gang should do with an iceberg. The actors who play the gang are all over-the-top, but they do come across as despicable people and that's really all that matters.

However, my problem here is my problem with most revenge movies: they just wait too long to get to the payback (and awesome) part. But trust me; considering how great that last half hour was, the wait was worth it. A lot of people complain about how a lot of that hour is high school drama where the boyfriend of the head cheerleader keeps hitting on Brenda, but I thought that was all really entertaining (the head cheerleader is just as despicable as the gang members, in my opinion).

It's no surprise this was directed by Danny Steinmann, a porn director, because of the abundance of female nudity in it. It was completely unnecessary, yet thankfully, it doesn't really make the film drag like in other movies (THE INVISIBLE MANIAC). The film also features Marcia Karr in a role before she played Rhonda in the phenomenal KILLER WORKOUT (1987) as one of Brenda's friends, as well as everyone's favorite eighties scream queen, Linnea Quigley, as Heather.

Even the soundtrack to this movie kicks all sorts of butt, with loads of classic eighties tunes, including the unforgettable "Justice for One." The protagonists are all likable and I really didn't want any of them to die, and as previously stated, the antagonists were all very unlikable and just itching to get an arrow through the throat.

SAVAGE STREETS isn't perfect (it skims the surface of being that, though), but there's no arguing that this is a great exploitation movie. Loaded with over-the-top violence, gratuitous nudity, entertaining characters (John Vernon, baby!), likable characters, good suspense, a fast pace, and a great soundtrack. Yes sir, they just don't make 'em like they used to.

Essential viewing for everyone.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Could Have And Should Have Been Much Better, 6 June 2012
5/10

It's really hard to screw up an H.P. Lovecraft story. Even if your movie is low-budget and you can't afford too many luxuries (i.e. good effects, acting, etc.), the film would probably still end up entertaining just because the man's work is so entertaining in itself. Unfortunately, not even that could save THE UNNAMABLE.

Two college couples decide to check out the old Winthrop place for initiation into the fraternity/sorority. However, they discover that a hideous monster resides in the house and it soon begins to kill them off one by one. Can they stop it before it's too late?

Granted, I have not read the seven-page short story by Mr. Lovecraft, but I'm rather certain something got lost in translation here. I mean, almost everything about the film is great, with great gore, great effects, a great score, good actors, and good camera-work. The problem is that the film simply cannot utilize all these things productively. The score is good, but completely out of place. The gore was good, but the deaths weren't too inventive. The monster effects are good, but the monster is not frightening. The actors are capable of good things, but the writing they have to work with is putrid. And the camera-work…well, that can't be the saving grace for a film.

What angers me about THE UNNAMABLE is that it could have been great. There was a time in the beginning where I began to feel fear, but the score completely ruined it for me (at times it sounds exactly like Zelda). Also, the film just cannot decide whether it wants to be a fun popcorn flick or a serious horror movie, which leads to scenes that should either be fun or scary, and I can't tell which. Overall, this gives the film a very bland feel.

Towards the end, the film takes a bizarre left turn into stuff like magical spells and even underground skeleton attacks! It sounds fun, but its relevance is never explained and it all happens in the blink of an eye! Then there's the non-reactivity of the characters. One girl sees a boy with his throat ripped out, and when help comes, she begins asking the other boy why people are more attracted to her friend than to her (?!?). Hello; you just saw someone BRUTALLY KILLED! REACT!!!

Overall, THE UNNAMABLE is just a monster movie that's trying too hard to stand out, when all it needs to be entertaining is just play it like a straight monster movie. It's like those inspirational movies where someone goes looking for happiness when all that person really needs is right under his/her nose. Only THE UNNAMABLE never discovers that, and the audience pays for it. Fortunately, there's a sequel that looks, and, from what I have heard, is better than this.

For the moment, this one's alright if you have nothing better to do.

It's More Than An Exploitation Movie, 5 June 2012
9/10

One sub-genre of film that I have been neglecting for quite some time is the revenge movie. Sure, I've seen the EXTERMINATOR movies and DEATH WISH 3, but that was about it until I decided to watch CLASS OF 1984. It wasn't a film I'd wanted to watch; one night I just spontaneously decided to watch it for no reason. Boy oh boy was I surprised.

Andrew Norris is a young music teacher who has just accepted his first teaching position at Lincoln High School. Norris is shocked to find that Terry, a fellow teacher, carries a gun in his brief case and there are metal detectors at the doors. He soon discovers this is with good reason, given the amount of gangs and gang violence in the school, mostly by Peter Stegman, a punk whose drug-pushing gang "owns" the school and who just so happens to be a brilliant pianist. Andrew stands up to him, which leads to full-on war between the two until Stegman goes too far and pushes Norris over the edge.

CLASS OF 1984 is exploitation cinema at its finest, but the film is so accomplished that it almost feels too classy to be exploitation. The acting is nothing short of fantastic, featuring breakout performances by Perry King as the caring Norris who slowly begins to lose his patience, the always incredible Roddy McDowell as Terry, the man who has lost all hope in his teaching abilities and dreams of actually making a good change in these kids lives, and, of course, Timothy Van Patten as Stegman, who plays the role with a mix of suaveness, psychosis, and even tragedy at his wasted life. Oh, and Michael J. Fox also makes an early appearance as a good kid trapped in such a miserable world.

The film does a good job of building the antagonists up as completely despicable so by the final showdown between Norris and the gang, you are itching for them to die, yet they are sympathetic in a way. The film's pacing is superb as well, with each passing scene continually mounting the tension until the blood-soaked climax.

The film also captures quite aptly the total hopelessness some teachers face with their students, and even if you're not a teacher, you can still relate to it because we've all had that a-hole in our class that would never give the teacher a break. Only here, in classic exploitation fashion, these guys go beyond that. They actually set fire to Norris's car early on and slaughter all the animals in Terry's biology class.

But have no fear exploitation fanatics! This isn't exactly an art house film, as it is filled with full-frontal nudity and some graphic violence towards the end.

CLASS OF 1984 was a real surprise for me. I was expecting a gritty, grindhouse exploitation movie, and in most ways, that's what I got. However, the film is more than that. It's very professionally made, it's smart, and it's emotional. It really is depressing in some scenes building up to the climax, and I like that. The finale will quench any exploitation fan's quench for violence. Great acting, great characters, great story, great pacing, great violence, just great EVERYTHING all around.

Don't pass this one up; seek it out immediately.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Huge Letdown, 4 June 2012
5/10

I always thought Alexandre Aja's 2010 remake of Joe Dante's classic PIRANHA was a bit overrated. However, I was still excited for the sequel. I mean, it had David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager, Christopher Lloyd, and Ving Rhames in the cast and was set at a water park, so how could they possibly screw this up? Enter PIRANHA 3DD.

The prehistoric, carnivorous piranha from the first film have swam out of Lake Victoria and find themselves in a lake just outside of The Big Wet, a sleazy water park. The lecherous owner decides to use water from that lake for his water park to save money, and unwittingly unleashes the piranha on the patrons at the park. Can his step-daughter, her love interest, and even the Hoff himself put a stop to the ensuing carnage?

PIRANHA 3DD should have been great. It should have been the best movie of the summer. But it wasn't. It was one of the biggest letdowns I have ever come across. But it wasn't ALL bad. The inclusion of the Hoff and Busey was entertaining in itself, even if Busey isn't really given anything to do. I mean, if you get Gary Busey to be in your film, why not make him, well, crazy, seeing as that's what he's known for? David Hasselhoff was easily the best part of the entire thing because of how hilarious he was. There's even a montage of him running in slow motion to save a ginger kid from the piranhas!

Actually, all the events leading up to the big massacre at the water park were really unnecessary. You could have just shown the beginning and the end water park scene, and the whole thing would still make perfect sense.

Probably the worst thing about it is how hard it's trying to replicate the original. Much like MEN IN BLACK II, it tries to be like the original by over-exploiting the good things about the first. The first was taken somewhat serious with an underlying humor, but here, there's absolutely no seriousness. There are a lot of dumb jokes that just do not work, and a lot of situations that are just trying way too hard to be funny instead of just being naturally humorous like the first.

Even though the water park massacre was the best part of the movie, it was still a letdown! Remember how the first PIRANHA 3D actually had some funny and interesting death scenes? Not here. It's just piranhas nibbling on swimmers. That's it. Oh, and a piranha gets stuck between a guy's crack. That's the kind of humor we're dealing with in this movie. They could have done so much with the water park setting, and they waste it all.

PIRANHA 3DD had some fun moments, but as a whole was pretty stale. It tries WAY too hard to replicate the original and be funny, and loses half the entertainment value along the way. This one might get better with future viewings, but right now, it's pretty moldy.

I was never that big of a fan of the original, but now, I see that it could have been a whole lot worse

Joysticks (1983)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining In A Stupid Kind Of Way, 4 June 2012
7/10

I love eighties movies of all kinds, yet I have been neglecting the great eighties sex comedy for a while. I decided to finally catch up on some of them, and I figured JOYSTICKS wasn't a bad place to start.

The local video arcade is the greatest hot spot in town for the teens, but it's not too popular with the richest man in town. Can the manager's grandson (who runs the place, since his grandfather is out of town), his nerdy co-worker, and the arcade's gaming champion stop him from shutting it down for good?

Even if it's not the greatest, JOYSTICKS still manages to entertain despite itself. It's your stereotypical eighties comedy, with lots of sex jokes, boobs, and all the caricatures you'd expect to find (the fat guy, the nerd, the suave guy, the punk, etc.). This kind of familiarity gives JOYSTICKS a very comfortable feeling, like homemade cooking.

Fans of eighties nostalgia will have a lot to love as well, with a classic soundtrack filled with cheesy tunes (including a title song), as well as all (or at least most of) the arcade games you can remember. The film does have its funny parts, and they're funny in the "that's-so-stupid" kind of way.

However, for every funny part, there are at least two jokes that fall flat on their face. This leads to some groan-worthy moments where you wonder why they would even put a joke like that in the film. For one, there's the rich guy's daughter, who they try to make funny by making her voice squeaky and making every third word she says, "Like." There are also the bumbling nephews who go into the arcade incognito with one of them dressed in drag.

JOYSTICKS really isn't that great, but it provides for a fun night of late twentieth century nostalgia. I'm being really generous by awarding it a 7/10, but no one can deny how fun it is.

There are obviously better eighties comedies out there, but this one will still entertain in a C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE C.H.U.D. kind of way.

Mirage (1990)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Amazing Lost Slasher Gem, 3 June 2012
9/10

I've seen some really obscure slashers in my day, but MIRAGE has to be one of the hardest to find. Never released on video in the US (no idea why not), it's near impossible to find on the internet or elsewhere. Sometimes, with certain movies, the obscurity is understandable (HEAVY METAL MASSACRE), but here, I am very perplexed.

Three couples decide to head out to the middle of the desert for a little R&R. However, they soon begin being menaced by a black truck and an unknown driver. Then the mysterious driver begins bumping them off one by one. Who is this man? What does he want with them? Is he real, or is it all just a mirage?

I imagine MIRAGE came about when someone thought to his/herself, "Say, I wonder what would happen is Steven Spielberg's DUEL was a straight-up slasher, and with a group of teens instead of Dennis Weaver?" Well, that idea culminates here, and it's actually not as campy as you would think. Sure, the acting isn't the best in certain spots, and some of the characters do dumb things, but those can easily be forgiven through what good things MIRAGE has to offer.

I've always said that in order to create a perfect (or at least near perfect) slasher is spend thirty minutes on character development and maybe one or two murders, forty to fifty minutes on stalk and slash, and ten to twenty minutes on killer confrontation. MIRAGE follows this nearly to a tee and it works wonders for it.

The characters were all likable and believable, and even the "jerk" character was likable to a degree. The setting doesn't feel forced (it doesn't feel like these characters came here just to get killed), as they actually partake in believable activities instead of just constant sex. They also act like they're all friends, as opposed to just non-stop bickering. There's also some entertaining montages, such as them playing football or one of the couples making love in the back of a pick-up while a weight presses on the gas as they roar across the desert.

The kills in MIRAGE are all gory and well-done, even if they aren't too creative. We get to see the aftermath of a messy meeting of a head and a grenade, an arrow through the head, a dismemberment, etc. However, don't think that the kills are all MIRAGE has going for it. There are some brilliant suspense sequences involving the truck menacing the final girl and whoever else is with her. The desert is one of my favorite underused slasher settings, and it's done to perfection here. They make this desert seem so vast and endless, which really builds on the isolated atmosphere.

I don't think it would be too much of a spoiler to say that the killer is someone completely random, however, one might get the feeling the film is trying to be a whodunit because of how the audience never sees his face until the final ten or so minutes. There is some good suspense when he gets out of his truck and chases the final girl around some rocks while taunting her. There's also a twist ending that I didn't care for, but oh well.

I love this movie with all my heart. It has nearly everything I look for in an entertaining slasher flick: Likable and fun characters, good gore, great pacing, lots of suspense, a phenomenal setting, and good acting to boot. I just wish they had used the concept of mirages more.

Highly recommended, if you can find it.


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