Tag Archives: the 80s

“Keep that weird man away from my girls!”

basag ang pula 1984

BASAG ANG PULA

3 Stars  1984/118m

Title Translation: Crazy

Director: Ben G. Yalung / Writer: Tony A. Calvento / Cast: Maria ‘Snooky’ Serna, Ace Vergel, Liza Lorena, Armida Siguion Reyna, Angela Perez, George Estregan, Bomber Moran, Arnold Mendoza, Debraliz Velasote.

Body Count: 16


Despite some years backpacking, I never got as far as the Philippines so know next to nothing about the place – go see the awesome Kaijunu at Sticky Red to learn things. But wonderful site comment-depositor Jenny Lo alerted me to both the existence of this film, and where to watch it.

Like some Indian and Pakistani films, this is presented largely in its regional language – Tagalog – with maybe 15-20% of dialogue uttered in English. Tagalog sounds a little similar to Spanish. Is it? I dunno.

Anyway, a couple of people are murdered and their moustached, itinerant killer, Fernando, who then attacks some necking teenagers, but only succeeds in killing the boy, while the girl alerts the cops and the hunt is on. He hides out in a school bus, killing the driver and hiding at the back, with the body, while numerous perky schoolgirls clamber aboard for a graduation trip.

basag ang pula 1984

For reasons not explained in English, they all get off the bus and wait for morning to go, by which time Fernando has decided to pose as the driver to flee town, and accompanies the class to a remote camp where they’re going to learn to grow as people n’ shit, under the guidance of strict headmistress, Nida.

Fernando is transfixed by nice girl Chiqui, who either is, or looks like a girlfriend of his from before. I think the latter. There’s a flashback where Fernando is shot by some gangsters who try to rape her.

He eventually flips and kills some of the girls and a boyfriend who rocks up. Meanwhile, Nida is having weird sub-lesbian encounters with a girl, while the others squeal over a ouija board as a storm rages outside.

The next night, one of the teachers catches Fernando in the act and we have about 25 schoolgirls running and shrieking at once. He’s kidnapped Chiqui, and there’s a very, very long dialogue scene – all in Tagalog – which I took to be her saying he needed to chill the fuck out. This gives the police time to come, and the final 20 minutes consists of marksmen hunting Fernando through the woods.

basag ang pula 1984

High bodycount, blood (though the version I saw was very aged and drained of colour), teens smoking pot, playing with spirit boards, lesbian teacher-student goings on… Basag Ang Pula ticks just about every box its American counterparts did, and were it a US production, it would doubtlessly be viewed as a classic. As it is, the film is so obscure it doesn’t even have the minimum five votes on IMDb. Super fun.

 

El asesino y los zombies y los adolescentes en Halloween

cemetery of terror 1985CEMETERY OF TERROR

3.5 Stars  1985/91m

A.k.a. Cementerio del TerrorZombie Apocalypse

Director/Writer: Rubén Galindo Jr. / Cast: Hugo Stieglitz, Raúl Meraz, José Gómez Parcero, Cervando Manzetti, Edna Bolkan, Andrés Garcia Jr., René Cardona III, Erika Buenfil, Jacqueline Castro, Eduardo Capetillo, María Rebeca, Usi Valesco, Leo Villanueva, César Adrian Sanchez, César Valesco.

Body Count: 9


I can only hope/imagine that early production meetings for this project when kinda like this:

Señor Producerio: “Let’s do a zombie movie!”
Señor Investorio: “No, slasher movies are where the $$$ is. We’re doing one of those!”
Señor Producerio: “Zombie!”
Señor Investorio: “Slasher!”
Rubén Galindo Jr: “Amigos! Por favor… Let’s do both?”

80s horror movies don’t come much more fun than this kitchen-sink Mexican export, which shamelessly decides to throw basically everything into the pot and gleefully play in the mess. Though the a.k.a. title Zombie Apocalypse is a stretch and probably pissed off more than a few z-fans.

A stubby-fingered Devil-worshipping psycho killer known as Devlon is finally shot and killed by cops after claiming one last victim. His ex-Doctor is blamed by the police Captain for everything, but the Doc is hellbent on seeing the body cremated before anything else can occur. Nobody listens. Sigh.

cemetery of terror 1985

Meanwhile, three teen couples go waterskiing on a lake and then the boys arrange a private party at a mansion house to try and get into their respective girlfriends’ pants. Turns out they miss-sold the fiesta, and it’s actually just the six of them in the Mexican sister home to Garth Manor. Massively unimpressed by this, the girls demand to leave, but Jorge finds a creepy old book belonging to Devlon in the attic, and convinces his buddies to try a little Halloween night seance. Oh yeah, it’s also Halloween.

Elsewhere, some children are going trick-or-treating and plan to visit the cemetery, one of whom sports an awesome jacket with Michael Jackson on the back. More from them later.

The stupid teens drive to a morgue and choose guess which body for their prank? For reasons unknown the girls play along as Jorge reads from the book with the body lying on a grave back at the cemetery. Then it begins raining, so they bail. Too late though as Devlon has been resurrected and doesn’t take kindly to the home invasion of big-haired teens and their loud party choons.

Meanwhile, the five children arrive at the cemetery and explore.

cemetery of terror 1985

Re-meanwhile, Devlon begins eliminating the sexy-teens one by one, slashing them up with his bare hands, disemboweling some, and using some spooky mojo to possess an axe into whacking another guy in the face. These scenes pleasantly reminded me of Hell Night for some reason: Primal killer with claw-fingers, spooky old mansion house…

The Doc and the police Captain spend forever driving around when El Capitan is informed by his missus that their kids are missing. Doc steals the car and goes off looking for Devlon. The next few times we see him he’s just driving around achieving nothing while people are dying all over the place.

The children are soon spooked by a sudden flashfire coming from a grave and peg it, only for the dead to start rising around them at every turn. Why this happens now I’m not sure, maybe Devlon did something with the book? But the kids run to the house, find bodies, scream, doors lock themselves, Devlon appears, they run back into the cemetery, more zombies… It goes on a bit, this section, until the Doc rocks up (finally!) and informs the kids they need to destroy the book.

cemetery of terror 1985

Cemetery of Terror is like a 91-minute parody of 80s horror movies, with almost every cliche checked off the list (bar nudity, curiously) but boring it is not. In spite of the overlong scenes of the five kids running and shrieking – Galindo should’ve gone all out and killed one or two of them off – this is one full salad, with a full moon, creepy mist, a storm, falling trees, mausoleums and crypts galore. Throw in the gratuitous over-acting and it’s like a cross between a Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ segment and one of those interactive Halloween walkthroughs done right.

Blurb-of-interest: Galindo also directed Don’t Panic.

Los Chicos Cero

trampa infernal hell's trap 1989

TRAMPA INFERNAL

3 Stars  1989/77m

A.k.a. Hell’s Trap

Director/Writer: Pedro Galindo III / Writer: Santiago Galindo / Cast: Pedro Fernandez, Edith Gonzalez, Toño Mauri, Charley Valentino, Armando Galvan, Marisol Santa Cruz, Adriana Vega, Alfredo Gutierrez, Alberto Mejia Baron ‘Alfin’.

Body Count: 7


Prior to this, the only other Mexican slasher film I’d seen was Don’t Panic, directed by Rubèn Galindo, Pedro’s grandson, way back in the mid-90s. Suckfest.

Fortunately, Trampa Infernal - ‘Hell Trap’ – is a far more interesting little cut n’ shut of The Zero Boys and The Final Terror, with a bit of Elm Street thrown in.

I can read and speak enough Spanish to get by, but the tempo at which it’s spoken often leaves me lagging, so I was happy to find that I could translate the subtitles on the video into English, presenting me with some awesome stuff about Aimee Teegarden, one million peso horses, Barack Obama, and all manner of confused sentences of the “scattered rainfall has admitted that very good principle and raped the last video viaduct” quality. Amazing.

trampa infernal 1989

It mattered not, the subs were just about decipherable enough to work out the basic plot: Big-haired Nacho (!) and Mauricio are paint-ball enemies. Yeah, that’s a thing. So pissed is Mauricio that Nacho beats him during their last round, he challenges him to a hunt-off: A bear that has slain a few hunters in the woods is the target – first to kill it has the biggest balls ever, etc. Nacho’s girlfriend Alejandra is against it, but goes anyway, as does his tubby pal Charly, and Mauricio’s buddy, plus their ditzy girlfriends.

Naturally it soon transpires there is no bear, but an insane war-vet who wears a mask not a million miles removed from Michael Myers’, and stalks the woods with a razor-fingered glove (!!), guns, and other teen-obliterating items.

trampa infernal 1989

The subtitles ceased to exist once the teens reached the forest, but it was pretty simple to follow that they started getting wasted – ditzy girls first – and then when escape proved futile, fought back, numbers dwindle more and so on and so forth, until the predictable ones are left to save themselves and stop the killer, who it seems is named Jesse? Ooh, frightening.

In spite of its dire lack of originality, there’s still some good stuff going on here. Bad-ass opening credits come with a mock ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma sound effect; The murder in the truck is well done and quite brutal; And you can’t help but laugh as a girl wanders about the trees yelling ‘Nacho’ over and over. Plus clocking in at 77 minutes means it doesn’t get boring.

trampa infernal 1989

I doubt I’ll remember much of this one in a decade, but as far as pass-time A-Teamy Mexi-horror goes, this is a fun romp.

City of the Doll

Cult of Chucky is pending. I noticed I’ve only reviewed two of the other films in the series, so let’s countdown to the release by rectifying that…

Day One:

 

child's play 1988CHILD’S PLAY

3 Stars  1988/15/84m

“You’ll wish it was only make believe!”

Director: Tom Holland / Writers: Don Mancini, John Lafia & Tom Holland / Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Dinah Manoff, Brad Dourif, Jack Colvin.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “He said Aunt Maggie was a real bitch and got what she deserved!”


The inauguration of a horror icon begins here with the hokey but fun enough debut, which gives us all the information we need as to how the spirit of the Lakeshore Stranger – Charles Lee Ray – projects his soul into a talking Good Guy doll using voodoo mumbo jumbo.

Said talking doll is purchased from a homeless guy by hard-up widow Karen Barclay, for her six-year-old son Andy’s birthday. Andy is overjoyed with his new friend, and soon begins relaying the slightly odd things Chucky is apparently telling him. This is bad news for his babysitter, who receives a blow to the face from a toy hammer and tumbles out of an apartment block window.

The homicide detective from the Strangler case is assigned and immediately suspects Andy of the killing and the death of the Strangler’s accomplice soon after. Andy is packed off to a clinic for observation, blaming Chucky who, of course, just prattles off his three phrases.

child's play 1988

Karen is quick to discover that there is more to Andy’s story when she finds the batteries that came with the doll are still in the box, in what’s easily the film’s creepiest scene. She tries to convince the detective but his instinct is to believe she’s just trying to protect her son from the consequences but then stumbles upon some coincidences between the case and that of the Strangler. Da-da-daaaaa!

Chucky himself finds that the longer he stays a doll, the harder it will be to find rebirth into a human soul and the more vulnerable to harm he becomes, and the only viable soul is that of the first person he revealed his true self to – Andy.

Relatively high-end production values distinguish this film from the dying slasher genre at the end of the 80s, raking in decent profits as Jason, Freddy, and Michael experienced diminishing returns. Child’s Play achieves its distinction – and probably a chunk of its success – to avoiding most slasher movie rules, at least in this first one, with murders by accident or voodoo as opposed to the doll-with-a-blade in the sequels.

child's play 1988 hicks sarandon

A fair amount of debt should be owed to Freddy Krueger, as Chucky soon becomes efficient with his potty-mouthed one-liners in Brad Dourif’s inimitable drawl. Imitators soon appeared in the shape of Puppetmaster (and its ten sequels!), Demonic ToysDolly Dearest, and even the more recent Annabelle, proving a degree gold had indeed been unearthed.

A lot of weight also rests on the shoulders of Alex Vincent who, aged just seven, does well with the dark material without descending into territory of annoying child who the audience secretly wants to see thrown into a meat grinder (see Absurd for that kid). He also gets to utter that awesome climactic line: “This is the end, friend!” For her part, Hicks does a great job as his beleaguered Mom and defacto final girl.

child's play 1988

Mancini’s original script was far more psychologically based, with the doll serving as an excuse for Andy’s psychosis and a critique of the marketing-to-children boom in the greed-obsessed 80s. Everyone remembers the urban legend about Cabbage Patch Kids right? As it is, despite the final act descending into outright parody as the doll that just won’t fucking die, something of a modern classic in spite of itself.

Blurbs-of-interest: Hicks was another Mom-on-the-run in 1982’s Death Valley, which featured another pre-teen kid as the lead; Alex Vincent returned for the next film as well as Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky; Brad Dourif was also in Chain LetterColor of NightDead Scared, Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, Trauma, and Urban Legend.

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 10-1

Whoop! Here we go – who is numero uno?

Go back and see: #50-41; #40-31; #30-21; #20-11

10: Deep Red (Italy, 1975)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 7.7

deep red 1975Psychic Helga Ulmann senses the nearby presence of an unhinged psycho and begins to take notes in the hope of identifying them, only for them to come and cleaver her to death. This is witnessed by her musician neighbour, who then teams up with a plucky reporter to uncover the identity of the loon.

I saw this one quite late so much of its effect had blunted due to so many body count movies, but the amazing revelation that we actually have seen the killer’s face earlier on is nothing short of excellent.

*

9: Dream Home (Hong Kong, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

dream house 2010

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities, and affording a penthouse with a view of its admittedly stunning harbour is of such crucial important to bank employee Sheung, that she decides a spate of murders in her desired apartment block will force the prices to drop.

Sometimes staggeringly and disturbingly violent (the murder of the pregnant woman especially), but also darkly funny in part, this slasher satire is unflinchingly forthright with its grue and handsomely produced with an engaging non-linear narrative.

*

8: Opera (Italy, 1987)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.1

opera 1987

When the diva breaks her leg after being hit by a car, ingenue opera star Betty is given her big chance but finds instead that she is stalked by a psychotic black-gloved murderer who is obsessed with her and tapes needles beneath her eyes to force her to watch as he kills various people in her life in Argento’s usual grisly ways.

At least partly inspired by Stagefright (and also featuring the lead actress Barbara Cupisti), this is less of a straight-up body count affair – as is always the case with DA – but nonetheless features some icky demises and the usual overdose of awesome visuals.

*

7: Anatomie (Germany, 2000)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.1

anatomie 2000

A classy combo of 70s thriller Coma and Urban Legend, brilliant anatomy student Paula becomes suspicious when a classmate who had a rare heart condition ends up on the slab before her with gum-like blood. Some investigation uncovers a secret group of doctors who dissect living patients to get a closer look at diseases before they claim their victim’s life.

Amidst mucho medical chatter, there’s a solid slasher film at work, with some particularly awesome chase scenes towards the end.

*

6: Tenebrae (Italy, 1982)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.2

tenebrae 1982

Argento again, as a famous American writer promoting his latest novel in Rome seems to be at the centre of a series of grisly razor blade slayings. With the help of his young protege, he investigates a possible suspect while countless sexy young women are hacked and slashed to ribbons as usual.

Tenebrae could be the most ‘American’ of Argento’s films (not that I’ve seen them all), with B-movie fixture John Saxon playing the agent of the main character. Wait for the inventive way the killer is modern-arted to death at the end.

*

5Julia’s Eyes (Spain, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

julia's eyes

Julia (Belen Reuda) has a degenerative sight disorder that is slowly blinding her. After her twin sister Sarah – ahead of her in the sight-loss department – apparently hangs herself, Julia suspects somebody else assisted, but every avenue she investigates seems to result in the deaths of people around her.

Mucho giallo posturing takes place in this Spanish gem, with an entirely creepy moment where a blind woman says to Julia: “There’s someone else here with you – he’s right behind you.”

*

4: A Bay of Blood (Italy, 1971)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

bay of blood 1971

Arguably the most important Italian giallo movie, a body count bonanza more than a little responsible for Friday the 13th‘s general outlook: Various people drawn to the home of a recently deceased countess are targeted by a killer or killers hungry for money, land, inheritance, whatever.

Nobody can be trusted and almost everyone is capable of killing to get their way, which sucks when you’re just one of a quartet of sexy teens who have no interest in any of it and just wants to party!

This has a veritable phone book of alternate titles around the world.

*

3: Haute Tension (France, 2003)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

haute tension 2003

While the French take credit for inventing cinema and I sat there in my film screenings wondering what the hell all the fuss was over Amelie, it can’t be denied that they scored most of a home-run with Haute Tension (a.k.a. Switchblade Romance), a straightforward slasher tale so brutal and so edge-of-your-seat it’s just wiser to sit on the floor from the beginning.

College girls Marie and Alex go to the latter’s farmhouse home for their break and the family are assaulted in the night by a nasty psycho who drives the creepiest truck this side of Duel. He offs the family and takes Alex away for nastier pursuits, unaware that Marie was even at the house. She follows to rescue her friend and spends the next hour dodging detection.

But then there’s that twist, so divisive it could end marriages. Personally I didn’t mind it, but would’ve preferred them not to try and be so clever.

*

2: Cold Prey II (Norway, 2008)

VeVo: 4.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.2

cold prey ii 2008

Showing the world how to do a proper sequel, Cold Prey II not only manages to get the leading lady back for another round with the Fjellmannen, but even has the other cast members back to play their corpses in a genuinely heartbreaking morgue identification scene.

Going down the Halloween II route, sole survivor Jannicke recovers while foolish authority types try to resuscitate the killer, who rises from his slumber to break necks, slash throats, and pulverise faces with extinguishers anew. A heartbeat behind the original in terms of tension.

*

1: Cold Prey (Norway, 2006)

VeVo: 5 Stars
IMDb: 6.4

cold prey 2006Shocker. Squeezing kilometres out of tried and tested methods, Cold Prey is quite rightfully holder of the crown of best non-American, non-Canadian, non-British, non-Irish, non-other-English-speaking-nation, non-foreign-but-pretending-to-be-American slasher movie.

Five young snowboarders take shelter at a seemingly abandoned ski-lodge after one of them breaks his leg, but find that it isn’t abandoned at all, and a hulking Jason-like figure lives there, who doesn’t take kindly to intruders.

Everything that happens has pretty much happened before in another film, but it’s all brought together so perfectly in Cold Prey you have to wonder why that Jason-in-winter Friday the 13th episode has never been forged ahead with.

* * *

So there we have it – Norway apparently produces the best non-English language slasher films. I’m a tad disappointed it was so obvious, and that both #1 and #2 were occupied by sibling films. Hey-ho.

Since starting this, there’ve been a number of other foreign language films that entered my life, and so these adorables would’ve surely featured too:

Basag Ang Pula (Philippines, 1984) – thanks to Jenny Lo!
Bloody Reunion 
(South Korea, 2006)
Cemetery of Terror (Mexico, 1985)
Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp (South Korea, 2010)
Trampa Infernal (Mexico, 1989)

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