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Pop Eye.


3 Stars  1975/89m

“A blinding vision of horror.”

A.k.a. The Secret Killer

Director: Umberto Lenzi / Writer: Felix Tusell / Cast: Martine Brochard, John Richardson, Ines Pellegrini, Andrés Mejuto, Mirta Miller, Daniele Vargas, George Rigaud, Silvia Solar, José Maria Blanco, Marta May, John Bartha, Verónica Miriel.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “Are you saying the killer’s a sadist?” / “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

That this film begins with a tour guide saying: “Coming up on the left now is Barcelona’s bullfighting arena,” when it’s on the right sets things up awesomely.

Fun little giallo shot on location in and around Barcelona (where I’ve spent a majority of the last year) where a bus chock full of American tourists provides a victim pool for an eye-gouging killer who favours plucking peepers from various nubile young girls. Beware a few minor SPOILERS.

I’m not particularly well-versed in giallo classics, but I’ve seen enough to spot the standard hallmarks in play: Mystery glove-wearing killer, many-a fast zoom into character’s faces as something suspicious is said, “Americans” with Euro-accents, amusing translations and clunky dubbing.

*sigh* I miss the 70s... Oh wait, I wasn't there.

*sigh* I miss the 70s… Oh wait, I wasn’t there.

Being a pre-American slasher product, Eyeball nevertheless presents itself with more than a few 80s teenie-kill aesthetics: There are POV shots as the killer floats towards his next unsuspecting victim, boobs-a-plenty, and a short but sweet final girl sequence – with, shock, a black final girl!

So, Paulette is on the tour and her boss/lover Mark, has run out on his disturbed wife to catch up and romance the hell out of Paulette. This is scuppered by the onset of the killings – first a local girl at La Ramblas, then one of the tour group is murdered on a ghost train, a waitress at a bar they all visit is dispatched while she feeds the pigs (!), and so on.

Naturally, all the men are suspects and it’s down to retirement-nearing Inspector Tudela and his young successor to solve the case before he embarks on a life of trout fishing. Fun. Aside from Mark, there’s a creepy Reverend, the boring husband of a restless wife, a cigar-chomping Texan, and the pervy tour guide, who likes to prank the young girls with his array of crappy fake spiders and rodents. Each of them is afforded more than a handful of the zooms-of-suspicion at one point. Even Jessica Fletcher would be dumbfounded by the sheer number of potential loons on this vacation.

eyeball2Spain is presented in lush colours and inimitable 70s fashion choices, which lends the film a pleasantly diverting quality, as if you’re taking a holiday from the same-old American slasher film conventions.

Nothing really lets Eyeball down, it just suffers from the ridiculousness that haunts the whole sub-genre, with a motive so whacky I had to re-watch to ensure I’d actually not misunderstood it.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual: The females are all super hot and super killed, while the only male victim is old and creasy-faced, and killed off-camera. The men can be slimy, sleazy, and annoying but still survive intact, which is a general motif in most Italian body-count horror.

There’s a curiously long exchange about mud on footwear: “It’s elementary, as I’m sure you’re aware that simple walking can get a pair of shoes quite dirty.” There are eyes in a box, daggers conveniently monogrammed with the initials of a suspect, secret photographers and rolls of film with aaaaall the answers. Eyeball has it all. You won’t be bored.

eyeball1Blurbs-of-interest: Brochard and Richardson were reunited in 1981’s Fear; Umberto Lenzi was later fired as director of Welcome to Spring Break but stuck around to assist his replacement, and also the unsettlingly creepy Ghosthouse.

2015 Halloween Spectacular Part 2: Zombie Nightmare

zombie-nightmareZOMBIE NIGHTMARE

1.5 Stars  1987/80m

Director: Jack Bravman / Writer: David Wellington / Cast: Adam West, Frank Dietz, John Mikl Thor, Manuska Rigaud, Shawn Levy, Tia Carrere, Allan Fisher, Hamish McEwen, Manon E. Turbide, Linda Singer.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I’m old enough to be your older sister.”

And I wanted my 666th slasher movie to special! Kinda got what I wished for.

Serving as a kind of resume urban legend for some of the big names involved, Zombie Nightmare‘s IMDb rating of 2.2 (up from around 1.8 and a place in Bottom 100) provides a fairly accurate reflection of what to expect…

BUT… bad movie lovers amongst us will enjoy this veritable feast of How Not To Make A Good Movie, from drastic changes in hair, clothes, and even actors mid-scene.

I would reckon zombie movie fans have picked up this one excitedly in the past, only to painfully discover that, title aside, and just like Zombie Island Massacre, this ain’t nothin’ but a punk ass slasher movie.

zn5Anyway, after a baseball game, the Washington family walk home, and big dad Bill tries to help a young girl being harassed by two punk ass teen, uh, punks. For his trouble, he gets himself stabbed in front of wife and young son.

Years later, young son has grown up into be-mulleted hunk Tony (Thor, of the band Thor), all round great guy, who looks after mom and is nice to all, or so we assume from his few minutes of screen time. Tony is sent to fetch groceries from the couldn’t-be-more-stereotypical Italian shopkeep, who is later referred to as Hank Peters (!). During his errand, more punk ass punks attempt to rob the store (Hank gasps “Mamma Mia!”) and Tony beats up their punk asses but is then run over by yet another group of punk ass teen punks, who just drive away. They have no collective remorse, with the guy at the wheel even saying he got a buzz from it.

zn3Shopkeep takes Tony’s body to his mom’s house and then suggests they call the police, but she has better ideas, calling in a favour from local Haitian Voodoo Priestess Molly Mokembe, who can resurrect Tony in zombie form long enough for him to seek revenge on those responsible.

So it goes, the quintet of teens are hunted down by the hulking zombie, initially sporting the same mullet but later cropped down to sensible Ken-doll hair, while he breaks necks, impales with baseball bats, or just smashes skulls into walls n’ shit. Curiously, the nasty teen most responsible – big blown out, feathered hair – goes fairly early on, leaving Tia Carrere and boyfriend to be stalked to the last.

Tony: Before and after

Tony: Before and after

As if this weren’t awesome enough ingredients for the best film y’ever saw, halfway through Adam freakin’ West turns up as the police captain, whose detective (Dietz) is hot on the trail of the killer. The murders are somehow being reported as drug-infused suicides. Of a victim, the Captain says: “He ran with a bad crowd… Running red lights, getting drunk, smoking marijuana – you know the usual bad stuff.” Yeah sounds like an epidemic.

Tony eventually rids the world of the punk ass teen punks and is free to rest in peace, but not before Zombie Nightmare plays its ace card: Adam West is one the punk ass punks who killed his dad!

zn-westBut, hey, wait a sec… The M.E. says that an earlier victim was aged around 43, whereas West was pushing 60 in 1987 – and how many years were supposed to have passed between Tony’s dad being murdered (by “teens”) and Tony being grown up? 10? 20?? 30???

Nothing really makes a lot of sense in Zombie Nightmare. At one point, things just grind to halt so we can watch two people play tennis for several minutes. But at least there’s pre-Wayne’s World Tia Carrere as one of the teens, and the ringleader was played by Shawn Levy, who went on to direct the Night at the Museum films along with numerous other Hollywood titles, whereas Zombie Nightmare‘s director, Jack Bravman, later gave us the even worse Night of the Dribbler.

  • Elsewhere, why does the priestess talk like a sheep singing a Belinda Carlisle song?
  • Why does Zombie-Tony look like he’s doing interpretive dance in the final scene?
  • Why does a near rape victim think that saying: “I’ve had enough of your childish sexual advances – go away!” would ever work?
  • Who is the hero in this film, seriously? Zombie Tony? The detective?

zn4The thrash metal soundtrack, with songs from Motorhead, Thor (of course) and a load of other bands I’ve never heard of, seems to be where the budget went. Come for the music, stay for the hair and the comedy.

2015 Halloween Spectacular Part 1: Rocktober Blood


Happy Halloweeeeeeen

As a festive [trick or] treat, VeVo gives you THREE awesome* reviews throughout the day. Let us start with the imitable 1984 metalsploitation flick, Rocktober Blood


rocktober-BloodROCKTOBER BLOOD

1.5 Stars  1984/88m

“He’s back from the dead with a message from hell!”

Director/Writer: Beverly Sebastian / Writer: Fred Sebastian / Cast: Tray Loren, Donna Scoggins, Nigel Benjamin, Renee Hubbard, Cara Cockrell, Ben Sebastian.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “I want your hot, steaming pussy blood all over my face.” Eww.

Necessary spoilers await thee…

Conceptually, Rocktober Blood should, well, rock: Billy Eye, squealy vocalist of the titular band, flips one night at the recording studio and murders a couple of employees before trying to kill on-off girlfriend and backing singer, Lynn.

Two years later, we’re informed that Lynn’s testimony sent Billy to the execution chamber and she’s just about ready to tour with the band, now renamed Headmistress. The same manager is on side, she’s got gal pals, and all manner of dodgy hair-metal wigs. What could go wrong?

Well, Billy could somehow return from the grave and torment her for one… Made up in the same sub-Kiss style, Billy appears at the studio, at a random lake house she goes to, telling her he’s back for revenge.

rb5Now, most plot summaries of Rocktober Blood will tell you that undead rockstar picks off the members of his old band one by one. This is not so, undead rockstar limits his prey to Lynn’s female friends – one is drowned in the hot tub, the other has her throat slashed with an iron (!?) – and random dancers at the climactic concert, where the audience think it’s all part of the show, but he impales two of the chicks and cuts the head of a third and lobs it at the crowd!

The so-called twist is nothing but the sad old Evil Twin gag – it’s not Billy, Billy is well and truly dead. They even dig up his corpse to prove it to Lynn, but find the world’s fakest looking skeleton instead.

No, the killer is the secret identical twin John, who is jealous Billy got all the credit for his songs and so just, y’know, kills people. At the end, he captures and drugs Lynn and places her in a casket on the stage, getting the dose just right so that she’s fit to belt out her number when released, which she just does. Consummate professional I guess, but the killer is there on stage with her!?

Very little actually happens in Rocktober Blood. There’s overlong metal performances (though ‘Rainbow Eyes’ was quite the jam), Lynn is chased about five times, has several baths, which enable her to be shown totally starkers as she very slowly towels herself dry.

rb6rb7But with three of the seven murders committed in the space of the penultimate song, two others at the start, the main body of the film just lags with the three girls at the lake house doing high energy aerobics in Olivia Newton-John-esque leotards.

A strange film, really quite boring unless you happen to be a fan of ‘metalsploitation’, with a woefully unfrightening killer, too few characters, actors who murmur their lines, and no real sense of cohesion or creativity. About as terrifying as a Michael Bublé concert. Actually, no it’s not.

You mentioned something about a closet…?

The-Dark-Side-of-Midnight-1984THE DARK SIDE OF MIDNIGHT

0.5 Stars  1984/89m

A.k.a. The Creeper

Director/Writer/Producer/Star/Caterer/Janitor: Wes Olsen / Cast: James Moore, Wes Olsen, Dave Bowling, Sandy Schemmel, Rocky Jackson, Susan Frawley, Dan Myers.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “He broke her neck and crushed her skull with his bare hands – we’re dealing with a psychopath.”

To understand the experience that was watching The Dark Side of Midnight would be like trying to glean from somebody what it was like to survive something truly, truly terrible. However, if you go on to the film’s IMDb page there are a couple of posts from people who were in it, one of which states that the lead actress burst into tears when she saw it, and the composer walked out of the screening, never to return.

Doling out a half-star rating is as rare as a full five stars, as it should be in the bell curve that is film appreciation, although The Dark Side of Midnight made me laugh more than a few times, there’s no way in hell I could ever give it anything more.

dsom1A girl is murdered by a fiend hiding in her closet. The police investigate. The local mayor wants stories played down in case it effects the possibility of a university being built in their small town.

Soon after, a babysitter is stalked at her job, but survives, which is more than can be said for the six-year-old boy she was looking after, who is found in his bed with his throat cut, the only gore in the entire film! A dead child.

This is what ensues when the lead detective and hotshot profiler guy go to interview her:

  • Girl: “There was a man in the closet.”
  • Detective: “What closet?”
  • Girl: “Timmy’s closet. Timmy told me there was a man living inside his closet. I didn’t believe him. There was a man in his closet.”
  • Detective: “Timmy told you that a man lived in his closet?”
  • Girl: “Yes.”

1965453The mayor, pissed that the murder of a six-year-old makes the papers, devises an evil plan to get rid of the police chief so he can frame some homeless schmuck and secure the green light for the college build: He fakes a fall saying his sister is at death’s door in Canada.

Of course, the killer, now known to be The Creeper, wanted in Detroit for twelve murders, strikes again after the arrest, then goes after the chief’s daughter, who is dating the hotshot profiler guy.

Eventually, profiler guy’s knowledge of typewriters leads him to the killer, who lives in a small scale balsa wood model house and, well, y’all know how flammable that shit is.

The Dark Side of Midnight was made for around $10,000, which reportedly came from the director, who cast himself as hotshot profiler guy, and is a pure exercise in ineptitude at every level. Local theater actors with little to no in-front-of-camera experience shout their dreadful dialogue, move their eyebrows and bob their heads a lot, amplifying every nuance in case the people at the back can’t see it – oh wait, it’s a film, not a play.

“You can’t come bursting into my office!” yells the mayor at somebody who just calmly walked through an already open door.

What else? Oh yeah, nearly everyone in the film has a mustache:

dsom-mustaches…even the killer’s rocking one!

dsom-killer…which makes it all look a bit like some gay porn film gone wrong…

dsom-gaypornVery possibly the go-to worst movie ever made, with absolutely no redeeming qualities beyond how bad it manages to be, and that sweet exchange of dialogue about the fucking closet.



2 Stars  1991/85m

“When fantasy becomes a deadly reality.”

Director/Writer: W. Douglas Robertson / Writer: Kurt Andrew Swauger / Cast: Brien Blakely, Blake Pickett, Ethan Adler, Brad Hanks, Leslee Lacey, Bently Tittle, Tim Hubbard.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lyrics: “In a haunted house on a Hauntedween, is the biggest party there’s ever been, it’s time for rocking heads to roll, we’re just dying to start the show.”

There are some things you should know before approaching HauntedWeen in any way, shape, or form. Firstly, it was shot as something of a student project in a Kentucky college town. Secondly, many of the actors and extras were students and/or locals. Thirdly, the budget was clearly not high.

These things being so, I still had an awesome time watching HauntedWeen and, sadly, to convey said awesomeness, SPOILERS are necessary.

What’s the story then? A Halloween walk-through house of horror thing attracts folks. Ticket-collector Eddie is told he’s “too young to work the house” by the MC, who then goes home even though he’s just that second let some people in. Eddie sneaks into the house and finds a lost young girl he then torments until she impales herself. He caps it off by decapitating her and flees the scene. His Mom soon finds him and tells him they’ve got to go.

Behind you!

Behind you!

Beside you!

Beside you!

Twenty years later – never nineteen, never twenty-one – Old Mom keels over from a heart attack and Big Eddie decides to return to town.

Meanwhile, local Frat house Sigma Phi has learned that it’s about to be kicked out of the Greek system thingy for paying too little into the membership. Or something. They need money fast. Hmm…

Bizarrely, instead of HauntedWeen unfolding how we expect, given that Frat President Kurt and his suspect-robot girlfriend Mel stumbled upon The Old Burber House. Instead, Eddie goes to the Frat house and gives them the fucking keys, telling them it’d be a great idea! A goal-oriented psycho.

With a poster this awesome, why would anyone miss it?

With a poster this awesome, why would anyone miss it?

Kids of various dreadful fashion woes fix up the place and camp out. After dark, one of them tells the story of the Eddie-vs-Little-Girl incident, while two others go skinny dipping. Randomly, HauntedWeen tosses out a pretty good camera move, with the dude’s body pinned to a tree, it pans across nicely and adjusts focus to his girlfriend entering the lake. Very Friday the 13th.

tree-guyThe next night – assumed to be Halloween, though nobody ever mentions it – the kids put on their show. Locals come, scream unconvincingly, and Eddie grabs a few laggers for a special live edition. While teens scream “Don’t you people understand!? It’s not fake! He’s really killing us! Help us!” the audience bays for blood and their wishes are granted accordingly.

Eventually, Kurt and Mel, who’ve been having relationship problems (“you don’t pay enough attention to me!”) are in jeopardy, it takes one random patron to shriek “oh my God – it’s real!” for a stampede of people to flee the house, all to the poppy beats of an 80s aerobic workout bop.

HauntedWeen fails on almost every level in terms of horror: It’s neither scary, nor suspenseful; The gore is sloppy and tame; The title alludes to a supernatural element that does not exist; Most of the main cast survive, including the super annoying comic relief guy:

hanksSo it’s bad in almost every conceivable way, why haven’t I rated it one star? The short answer is hair.

Most people credit the 1980s for being the decade of bad clothes and hair, but it was still around in 1991, especially in Bowling Green, Kentucky, it would seem. I loved the early 90s, a shitfest for slasher films though they may have been, it was a great era.

Here’s a few of the delights I found in HauntedWeen:

bangles-wannabePost-Bangles super coif and pastel to match. I hope she played bass in a high school garage band. The guy behind her had a mullet but moved too fast to capture.

mullet-1…but here’s another mullet a couple of minutes later. Eeeeshk.

earrings-ladyThe lesser remembered coral reef look of the early 90s.

mullet-specsThis guy yells “Hang ‘em! Yaaaah!” during the fake-not-fake killings. Then about ninety-seconds later the same piece of footage is shown again, so we get double the mullet n’ mustache treatment. Yay us.

badhatandbracefaceMy favourites, Bad Hat and Braceface: These two kids spur on the killer in maniacal glee. She with her Wilson Phillips bowler, he with a penchant for massively overacting. I’d guess they’re approximately my age now, gotta get on Facebook and befriend.

In conclusion – see this film.

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