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Miami Golem (1985)
Not as bad as you think. Quite enjoyed it! Classic Italian Cheese: Eighties Style.
Miami Golem aka Miami Horror is a saucy little mish mash of adventure. It's not horror, action or sci-fi; it's really a tacky combo of Hollywood elements &cliches sort of strung together logically. Stars David Warbeck and Laura Trotter put together solid performances. And the rest of the cast is up to task as well. At the end of his career, Albert DeMartino directs what is essentially a cornball script quite well. Some great photography of Miami is exploited by the filmmakers, in order to hammer home the concept that, this is indeed Miami. Which brings us to the issue of the other word in the title; golem/horror. Now, this little fella is ridiculously silly in appearance, yes. But so was Miami in the 80's and did I mention the script? Hilarious. As for the music, other reviewers have noted the obvious borrowing of Beverly Hills Cop motifs. But this happens only during the opening credits montage. The rest of the score works very well for helping to propel the corny script. Why the composer Detto Mariano so blatantly "borrowed" Axel's Theme is anybody's guess, but again, this is only during the very beginning of the freaking movie, so its not as big a deal as other reviewers have noted. Other musical passages are very dramatic and/or intense. Miami Golem is worth a look if you enjoyed such films as Devil Fish, Pod People or Puma Man. It is a charming little action movie that has ambitions which are reached for with endearing failure. Also I think it is interesting to note that Warbeck & Trotter each appeared in perhaps the 2 most special of all the Italian Horror films released in 1981, The Beyond & Nightmare City, respectively. In my mind these films represent the pinnacle of Italian Horror during the final part of its most amazing era. Although Miami Golem does not come near the level of visceral engagement those films create, it is nonetheless solid, this may almost be top notch entertainment.
The Final Alliance (1990)
"an adventure that mixes justice with revenge for explosive results"
The back of the box did not lie- "an adventure that mixes justice with revenge for explosive results" -BOOM! I just watched this hidden gem of a movie. Hasselhoff stars as Will Colton, an ex-marine who returns to his hometown in Texas. A gang of weapons dealing biker creeps killed Hasselhoff's family years back and he is back for revenge. He gets help from a local lady who has also been terrorized by these thugs. The gang includes the police chief, played by Bo Hopkins, which gives the movie some redneck credibility to the rural Texas setting. Actually, I would guess that this film is Italian or South African. The dubbing involved is of the 80's Italian style. Also it stars John Saxon, who is in a lot of the Italian action movies of this time. Also, it has an Italian director. One thing is for sure, it was not made in Texas. But anyways, this movie has some very good action sequences, a good cast, and an unintentionally hilarious script. Hasselhoff has some great conversations with his pet cougar that are awesomely cheesy. And John Saxon as the leader of the pack seems kind of embarrassed to be wearing such a lame looking wig, but he puts together a menacing portrayal of creepiness.
There is a some good motorcycle violence, a cougar, a short love scene featuring Jeannie Moore, a load of European synthesizers futile mimicking honkytonk boogie music, and an Albino Motorcycle . If you happen upon this thing, give it a try. This is a lost classic.
The Toolbox Murders (1978)
Come for the grisly deaths, Stay for the deranged psychology!
The Toolbox Murders is one of the top 3 American Horror films of the 1970's (along with The Hills Have Eyes, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) IMHO. Like the other films I just mentioned, 'toolbox' has a gritty low budget realism that helps the general atmosphere of the picture to no end. All of these movies deal with ordinary people besieged unexpectedly by deranged psychopaths, whose motives only become apparent as the stories unfold.
What makes 'toolbox' special is an absolutely masterful performance by Cameron Mitchell. Although the highly original death scenes are shocking and horrific, it is Cameron's portrayal of a crazed madman that is really unsettling. He really gets behind his motivation to create a flawed man living in an imperfect world. Without giving too much away, I should also note that the plot is very clever, with all kinds of unexpected turns toward the end. Sure, there are some bad scenes here and there, a lame disco lounge, plot holes, and unnecessary characters, but these are all pre requisites of low budget 70's cinema. The Toolbox Murders is recommended for anyone who likes great gore, or even fans of psychological drama.
Dracula's Dog (1977)
"Dear I know how you feel about guns, but on a camping trip they are an absolute necessity, OK?
A great obscure B movie of the late 70's, Zoltan The Hound of Dracula is actually very well made. The music (which is practically constant) is very creepy, and the eeriness of the cinematography is super cool. I gotta tell the world about this masterpiece of cheese. The real laughs are not only experienced during the hilarious scenes of Zoltan sucking the blood of humans and dogs (and of the bat turning Zoltan into a vampire), but also with Michael Pataki's overblown delivery. The guy has probably got a bad temper in reality. Also, you gotta love the major padding that takes place when the family sets out on their camping trip "dogs and all" in their groovy motor home. Actually their are a couple scenes like this, where people are just driving from one location to another, dominated by happy synth pop that sounds really cool. You can't help but chuckle at how easily the people let their little puppy wander off, and how quickly they give up when the adult dogs get lost. "Oh well" our pure bred German shepherds are out there somewhere. "Oh Well" our prized puppy just bit the dust, we'll just bury the thing and continue with our fun vacation sitting around in a ugly looking vacant field just off the highway (some camping trip) These are just minor plot details that add to the ridiculousness that other writers have already noted. Other favorite scenes of mine include the rising of the vampire puppy from its fresh grave, and the gory mauling of a 70's hiking dweeb.
Anyways, thought I should also mention the top notch job Anchor Bay did with remastering this thing. The picture is exceptionally clear, and the sound is immaculate. It should also be mentioned that everything is played totally straight, as if this was a very important film. Reggie Nadler is one creepy looking dude. This movie should appeal to anyone who likes horror movies that take themselves all serious when the scripts are completely hokey to begin with. I won't give away the ending, but it very far fetched and ridiculous. Whoever trained all the numerous dogs did a damn good job! A classic!
Toolbox Murders (2004)
Shouldn't Have Been Called "Toolbox Murders", not bad though...
First off, if you are interested in the title and/or premise, seek out the newest version of the original Toolbox Murders, put out by Blue Underground. It is a grisly low budget 70's gore fest, in the tradition of Tobe Hooper's own Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Speaking of which, that movie was remade just before this one came out. What is ironic is that although reviled by some longtime fans of the original "Chainsaw", the remake of that film is much more true to its source material than this bizarre little thriller.
Like the "Chainsaw", the original Toolbox Murders was loosely based on real events. Both of those movies have a minimalist, almost documentary cinematography and production design shot in real locations. Both movies are also profoundly disturbing. This movie makes the mistake of straying from that approach, adding supernatural elements and multiple plot twists and plenty of unnecessary characters that have nothing to do with the original. Furthermore, the lead actress is unappealing. But the score is solid and Tobe Hooper knows how to direct gore though, and this movie has just enough of that to earn it 5 stars. Fans of any of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films will definitely enjoy the original more.
Had this movie been titled something else, I wouldn't have judged it a rip off of the Toolbox Murders. Being a Tobe Hooper film, and given the somewhat obscure status of the 1978 movie, I don't think it helped much by calling this the Toolbox Murders. It really does have a completely different plot and characters.
9 Stars! The most underrated Nightmare sequel.
The 9 stars may seem excessive, but I am a big pt 3 fan (watched it a dozen times at least), and in some ways this is a better film. It is kind of funny how fellow Freddy followers all seem to be in agreement about the great ones (pt 1, pt 3, new nightmare) and the bad ones (pt 2, freddy's dead). This one falls into a third category along with pt 5, and freddy vs. jason where it seems to be very objective. Some people love those movies, some people can't stand 'em. I put this up there with pt 3 and 1 for sheer watchability, so maybe I am a little bit crazy...
I hadn't seen this for a couple years, and that was on DVD. I just got an old VHS copy, and I must say that it is more enjoyable on this format. When it's all cleaned up and remastered it kind of loses some of the magic for me. Anyways, just had to comment on the great direction from Renny Harlin. He had a very stylish flair. There are some great camera angles, quick cuts, odd close ups, and kind of a kinetic feeling throughout. The film is very fast paced. He was trying to emulate the music video style, but that is not the result. The result is a very engaging, relentless visual display that almost seems like an art film, because scenes that would have been shot more traditionally most of the time take on a very bizarre character in this movie. There are great sfx throughout, and all of Freddy's many kills are well choreographed and original. The grand finale of the film is possibly the best use of sfx ever IMHO.
The detractors of this film usually point to the weak acting, and the more comedic Freddy. Let's not forget though, Freddy had some pretty comedic moments back in pt 3 ("Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!"). The acting is a little amateurish, and definitely on par with pt 3, but that may have been down to the focus being on sfx.
In summary, Nightmare On Elm Street pt 4 is excellent.
The Paper Boy (1994)
If you see 1 movie about an evil paperboy, let it be this movie!
Wow, where do I begin?. I had to give this 8 stars because it is a VERY good bad movie. In other words, it is so bad that it is extremely entertaining in its earnest ineptitude.
The plot involves a sadistically evil paperboy who just wants to be loved. He kills his elderly next door neighbor because he thinks that her daughter, Melissa is hot, and he just happens to need a new mommy. He knows that she will have to come to her mother's house for the funeral. All of that is revealed in the opening scene where the paperboy kills the old lady by covering her head with a plastic bag. The daughter comes back to town, brining with her her own daughter, the bubbly young Cammie, and the paperboy proceeds to worm his way into their lives with hilarious results. He soon wears out his welcome, meanwhile Melissa and Cammie are getting acquainted with the one and only Greatest American Hero, William Katt. The paperboy continues to kill various people in the neighborhood, including his own dad. Will his bloodthirsty behaviour take lives of Melissa and Cammie too? The production style is what makes this especially hilarious. It has the feel of a lifetime network movie. You know the type, very serious, soft focus camera work, emotionally ripe music throughout, solid if heavy handed acting, and a psychologically probing tone overall. It seems like these movies are made very quickly by well trained casts & crews that just want to get them over with. But this movie was not made for TV, because there is a little bit of nudity (Cammie's horny babysitter, who is of course murdered by the paperboy).
Some of the dialog is just hilarious, and much of it delivered in a heavy Canadian accent. As I said, it is all done completely straight, without a hint of irony or satire. William Katt seems embarrassed to be walking around in a sleeveless v neck sweater. And don't forget about the old lady from Seinfeld, you know the one who gets her bread stolen by Jerry, she's even more mistreated here. She dies of a heart attack when she thinks that she sees the paperboy beat her little dog to death with a baseball bat, but really he was just beating up a giant side of beef with glass jars placed inside it. (another reviewer failed to notice that the dog was NOT murdered even though the paperboy pets it and feeds it after the old lady passes on!).
There are many more scenes in this thing that are supposed to be disturbing, but come off as just being goofy. The movie is entertaining all the way through, which is sort of uncommon for Good Bad Movies. In summary, The Paperboy is a hilarious piece of film making that should not be missed.
Def-Con 4 (1985)
Better than you might think...excellent vibe & music
Def Con 4 is one of those movies that is pretty much unique in the world of B grade cinema. First off, why do so many imdbers dislike this? There are thousands, perhaps millions of movies far worse off. The acting and special fx are actually pretty good for such a low budget film. The beginning of the film has a great sense of dread. The music by Christopher Young is awesome! There is some over top emoting from the lead actors that is slightly lame, but overall a good relic from the cold war. This may be one of the more underrated Canadian sci fi movies of the 80s, although much of the plot and characterizations goes way lame in the second half. In summary, it's a good bad movie that is more good than bad.
The Devonsville Terror (1983)
Kinda slow paced, but still a good bad movie for sure. Influenced by Rush?
Like another reviewer said, this one is actually better the second time around. Ulli Lommel and Susana Love are much better known for the Bogey Man, but I like this one a little better. It is charming little witch story, with some truly unintentional laughs thrown in (i.e. the Convenience Store Guy). It is crudely produced, but it manages to work up an understated feeling of mystery and tension.
The supporting actors, I assume many of them are local rural Wisconsin folk, manage pretty good, in earnest amateur way. Were there ever supposed to be witches in Wisconsin? In the town of Rhinelander there is a legend of a prehistoric dragon like creature called a hodag which has nothing to do with this movie, but when I saw that this was made in Wisconsin, it reminded me of a vacation from long ago. Anyway, this movie is about the curse of Devonsville, where a few hundred years ago some townsfolk slayed some witches in mildly horrific manner (cue Rush's Witchcraft from Moving Pictures 1981). Fast forward to 1982 and some outsiders come to Devonsville and are perceived by the local intolerant inbred as evil/sexy/a threat to their collective blandness. Menace ensues, followed by an awkwardness. Will they also meet their doom in ways that mirror the earlier deaths, or will they triumph over these dullard yokels?
Susanna Love is great as the confused outsider. As is the case with The Bogeyman, she exudes a certain naive warmth. Donald Pleasance is pleasing as always. Like Ms. Love he has a very mannered way of delivering his lines that is kind of fun. And the aforementioned towns people are obviously dedicated to the project, if a little green. Say what you will about Ulli Lommell, at least he made a solid effort with this little picture. Solid entertainment if you like this kind of thing.
Going back to the Rush song, is it possible that the filmmakers heard the song and thought it would make a good movie? Probably not.
Watch out for this one, AKA Female Space Invaders
I am very confused as to whether this thing deserves 1 or 10 stars, so I guess I'll "crash" down with 5. Like many IMDb reviewers have noted, it is a shameless rip off of Star Wars, no doubt. For an Italian movie of the golden age of their exploitation movie industry, i.e. 70s-80s, it actually has a pretty substantial budget. Relatively speaking, you needed a lot of money back in the late 70s to make a sci fi epic like this. I would guess that the producers could have made 5 or 6 average horror movies for the price of this. I read an interview with director Luigi Cozzi who basically said the budget still wasn't enough.
So what is good about it? The special effects are ambitious, but they fail to deliver. For instance, the stop motion golems, spaceships, slow motion laser explosions, and opticals are very fake. But by overextending their grasp with so much frequency, the sfx become almost hypnotic. The music is really effective. The great John Barry added a score that is very derivative of Star Wars, but very well orchestrated, and it runs almost continuously through the whole film. Also, as another reviewer pointed out, the beautiful actress Caroline Monroe is easy on the eyes, and is seen in a variety of attractive costumes. The sets and costume design is really top notch, with that distinctive Italian flair. The story is not all that bad, although very derivative and hokey. L the robot is a lot cooler than C3PO, basically he is a stupid redneck most of the time. His friendship with Caroline is believable. Finally, the pace is jacked up pretty high; a lot of stuff happens in a lot of weird locations.
If you enjoy this check out Luigi Cozzi's Contamination (AKA Alien Contamination)
Another Fulci Classic!
I am a big Fulci fan, but I will be the first to say that some of his lesser films are endearingly lame (Aenigma, A Touch of Death, Demonia, etc). Luckily this sword and sorcery epic does not belong in that group. Instead, this film is just shy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the all time Fulci zombie classics (The Beyond, City o' the living Dead, Zombie, etc.). In other words, Fulci made some bold choices throughout his prolific career involving genre, as well as the actual content of the films (obviously). The fantasy/barbarian category may seem like an odd choice considering his other films, but this is a crossover type project that is very successful from an entertainment point of view. Although some may view this as a "genre" or "exploitation" movie, in my view Fulci was able to bring his stylistic flair to a different place. The result is a film that is very soulful for a Fulci film, in as much as this is about honorable warriors who are involved in a quasi-mystical quest involving magic weapons, animal rights and what not. Yet he still continues the gore and the general feeling of menace mixed with tension and chaos that permeates the aforementioned Zombie movies. There is a considerable amount of bludgeoning and rather disgusting body fluid squirting here. But the action sequences themselves have a somewhat frenetic choreography that Fulci does well with, all the battle scenes were much more enjoyable because I was invested in the characters and the spirit of the thing. The wolfpeople masks and costumes are also kind of clever, as are the swamp people. Special mention should be made of Claudio Simonetti's perfect synthesized score. The music adds a lot of depth to the characters and the great locations, adding a little sophistication to what is essentially a very simple and well told tale. During the briefly sluggish pace of the middle portion of the film, the music saves the picture from losing steam. The acting and dubbing were also better than average, and I don't want to give up the ending, but I will say that it had me engrossed and guessing. Actually the end was the best part for me, which is not usually the case with me. The Blue Underground DVD that I watched looks excellent, not to mention the Dolby 2.0 Surround Mix that is perfectly mixed. In summary, I really liked this a lot, I think most hardcore Fulci watchers should at least give it a look.
The Spell (1977)
What a piece of boring garbage, even for TV!
This movie is sooo boring. I had yet to see a bad 70's horror movie that I did not like, there is a first for everything. It has already been noted that this is a quickie TV ripoff of Carrie. I knew that by the box art. I was not expecting much gore, but c'mon you gotta give the audience at least 1 likable character. I hated everyone in this boring movie. I love the occult, telekinesis, etc. if you are a director making crappy movies in the 1970's, you can do no wrong by me if you put that kind of thing in your movie. But this movie is the exception, other than the mom, all the actors are lousy. I really wanted the dad to die, but he did not. I really wanted Helen Hunt to die but she did not. If you are looking for a good Carrie rip off, check out Lucio Fulci's Aenigma, it is the exact opposite of this thing, which could be the prototype for every other Lifetime Network movie that followed. I'm not saying all of the Lifetimes are bad, some are OK, but the ones that are boring are very pedestrian like this turkey trot. But where is the moral?
Worth a look for Fulci fans, really....
I am not surprised to see mostly negative reviews for Fulci's 1987 "Carrie" inspired "Aenigma". It does not stand up to his late 70's/early 80's gore epics that you all are familiar with. But wait, let's remember that Fulci is still visually inventive in 87, with lots of great camera moves and flair. The man knew how to tell a story, folks. He may have been a jerk to his colleagues, but what a great craftsman. He was trying to make a US style teenager quasi slasher popcorn movie here, a lighter less horrifying type of deal. I think it should also be said that this was well cast. The beautiful college girls each play their roles with unique personalities, something you won't find in most US films of this type. The geeky girl in the red dress is a hoot, and so is the famous snail scene. Best of all is the English new wave/pop sappy romance song that sets up the audience perfectly. It's an interesting and engaging story, even if it is clearly inspired by Carrie. And unlike so many other horror films, the ending is rewarding, logical AND suspenseful. I still haven't seen a Fulci film that I don't like, and this is no exception...check it out!
The Greatest Movie of all times? Perhaps....
Just saw this shocker last night, and my knee jerk reaction is that it is the best movie ever, at least the best i've seen. I've seen so many Italian/Spanish horror movies over the last few years that the gore usually has little effect on me, I'm mostly interested in the music and "feel", but this one had me squealing, literally. Incredible. The atmosphere is perfect, as is the music and cinematography. A lot of IMDb users have commented on the "girl puking out her guts" and I must confer that this is extremely effective shock material, as is the drill through the head, etc. Funny how this film gets far less attention than Zombie or The Beyond, or even House By the Cemetery, films that I saw years ago and liked very much. I've gradually been finding other Fulci horror films, and I've enjoyed all of them (even Demonia, which can't hold a candle to this), but I must tell everyone that this is the best thing he has ever done. I can't say it enough, I love this movie. I'm going to watch it again tonight to try and make more sense of the odd ending, and to witness the carnage once more. But even if there are some plot/continuity problems, as many writers have commented on, it doesn't really matter. In the interview book "Spaghetti Nightmares" Fulci describes his film-making as "pure cinema". The whole point of watching his movies is to enter an inescapable nightmare world for a little while. And he delivers that here better than ever. Wow.
The Demon (1979)
The demon is decent
Most people reviewing this movie panned it. Fair enough, the plot is clichéd, not much gore, kinda slow. But I liked the atmosphere, and the dialog, especially the Cameron Mitchell stuff, is good for sampling. "The time of the demon, our demon is close at hand" "she's high, high up, she's floating, floating" And unlike others, I found that the filmmakers made good use of the South African location. All in all, a creepy atmospheric cheese ball of a movie, well written, well acted and well filmed on an almost nonexistent budget. I feel as if i now know how it feels to be a young south African school teacher being stalked by a shadowy creep in the late 70's.