Sunday, September 11, 2016

VHS Memories XXXXII: The Amazon Prime Edition

I use Amazon Video for much of what I do for the blog and Amazon Prime is especially useful when there is a movie you don't necessarily want to pay money to watch. With that in mind, here is a stack of four movies that for the most part are better off watched free of charge, if at all.*

*In other words, I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay three bucks to watch New Year's Evil! I don't care how much I love old school Cannon Films! You hear me? I ain't getting paid for this at all! Not shi-!

Ahem, sorry about that. Let's get started.

 Speaking of which, our first contestant is this sleazy slasher from Cannon Films about a woman-hating maniac who promises a woman who does a show on the punk/new wave scene (ah, the early 80's) he'll kill one woman every hour on New Year's Eve, right as it hits midnight in the correct time zone. Not a bad plan as far as diabolical murder spree plots go but it never works at all in the film, nor do we ever learn why the killer is going to all this trouble. All we learn is that its her husband doing the killing and he has some serious issues with women (played by Kip Niven) and her son probably also has some mental issues (he's the obligatory red herring who we see little of ). There is a fair amount of 80's cheese on display and the killer is enjoyably ridiculous (the first scene where he taunts the lead over the phone has him using a voice scrambler that makes him sound silly and in general his murder spree sees him going from, disguise to disguise which would be done better in Terror Train) but the overall film is sloppy (see the lack of motivation for the killer which could come off as scary in a better movie), poorly acted and generally dull to watch. Cannon's later slasher Hospital Massacre is better.

 David Gale of Re-Animator fame plays another mad scientist in this 1988 horror flick which sees him as an insane TV show host who has a giant alien brain he uses to control his followers. Naturally, the only ones who can stop him are a couple of teens since this is a late 80's horror movie. This is a low budget Canadian film from the tax shelter days and it has a cheerful, spoofy sense of humor that makes it rather endearing. Performances are about one would expect with Gale coming off the best and the giant brain is a fun, cheesy special effect.

This is a really, really (deservedly) obscure British comedy from 1983 that stars Tony Curtis as an inventor who wants to sell his latest invention (a laser skywriter) and ends up having to deal with a dinner party for potential buyers put non by his wife. The buyers range from Erik Estrada as a gangster (with Peter Lawford in his last role) to Donald Pleasence as a Scottish guy to Orson Welles as a gypsy who appears in the last ten minutes. The eccentricity is through the roof in this one and in general, that makes for a rather painful viewing experience if not handled well. Sadly, in spite of having a very good director on board (Terence Young did three of the first four James Bond films), this just ends up being wacky for the sake of being wacky and its a little hard to take, really. Curtis is a mess of anxieties (he's broke and a hypochondriac), his wife is an oddball and the rest of the cast... Well, you can imagine given the short descriptions I gave how subtly they play their parts. Granted with material this bad I wouldn't blame them if they were all plastered during the shoot but still! Just painfully unfunny, it's not hard to see why it wasn't given either a UK release or an American one. I couldn't get through this one without skipping ahead.

Lastly, we have this delightfully odd, cheesy flick from the late, fairly decent William Girdler. This was his last film, sadly but boy is it one hell of a film to go out on! Susan Strasberg plays a young woman who is worried about a growth on the back of her neck that is growing and eventually turns out to be the reincarnation of a 400 year old Native American medicine man who is more than slightly pissed off at the white man. He is opposed by Tony Curtis (for some reason, my brain always wants to write Tony Randall whenever I think about the guy) as Strasberg's ex-boyfriend who is a phony psychic and Michael Ansara as another medicine man. What ensues is essentially The Exorcist with a Native American spin until the last few minutes when it turns into a bizarre light show as Strasberg starts shooting laser blasts at the evil medicine man and his spirit boss. It's quite the showstopper and one hell of a fun good.bad film. I was going to save this for a future studio seri4es piece but it's just too good to pass up.

That's all for now, until next time.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.