Tuesday, January 20, 2015

This is Almost Enough to Make Me Subscribe to the PLAYBOY Channel!

Did you love John Waters' commentary track on the CHRISTMAS EVIL DVD and Blu-Ray?

Wouldn't you love to sit down and watch a bunch of movies with the PINK FLAMINGOS director and get his take on them?

The PLAYBOY Channel – which I didn't know still existed – is going one better and has hired Waters to host screenings of a series of vintage porn films that will air on Saturday nights beginning this month. (Unfortunately, this received so little press that we've already missed the first week!)

Waters is slated to host screenings of such groundbreaking and legendary skin flicks as DEEP THROAT, THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, CANDY STRIPERS, TELL THEM JOHNNY WADD IS HERE and DEBBIE DOES DALLAS.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Vinegar Syndrome Goes Digital... And You Can Help Make It Happen

We've come a long way from walking into the video store and mulling over the mangled boxes lining the shelves, hoping that the likes of GRADUATION DAY or RAW FORCE would be available to rent.

Help the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome get their streaming channel off the ground and get some sweet rewards in the process.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Last Minute Holiday Horrors with TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980)

2014 has been an interesting year for ballyhooed video releases of less heralded slasher flicks. And while I was thrilled to see GRADUATION DAY get its due thanks to the folks at Vinegar Syndrome, I must admit to being somewhat underwhelmed by lovingly restored versions of both PROM NIGHT and CURTAINS. Unfortunately, you can add the David Hess-helmed Holiday Horror TO ALL A GOODNIGHT – out now on Blu-Ray and available from Amazon – to that list of so-so slashers.

Opening with a genre trademark pre-credit "accidental death" at a girls school, TO ALL immediately jumps ahead two years as a half-dozen or so students stay behind during Christmas vacation. One girl invites her rich boyfriend and his pals to fly up – thanks to pilot Harry Reems! – so she can spread, uh, some Christmas joy and drink some PBR while the filmmakers pad the list of victims.

From here on out it's a largely plotless endeavor as the killer knocks off students, Ralph the Red Herring Gardener, a horny cop sent to protect the girls – and by "protect" I mean "screw" – and so on until the "ah, what the hell" ending that feels more pulled from thin air than usual.

Granted, these same complaints about plotlessness (is that even a word?) and half-assed endings can be leveled at scores of mindless horror outings to which I've been much kinder. I get that. But TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT commits a far greater sin than simply being moronic (a trait I am definitely willing to overlook)... it's downright tedious.

Sure, HOSPITAL MASSACRE (aka X-RAY) may be as dumb as a post, but at least Boaz Davidson fills the hospital setting with freaks and weirdoes spouting insane dialogue while Barbi Benton runs around in her undies. In other words, I was never bored by it.

What came as the much bigger surprise was how tame TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT ended up being. While I've never been a huge fan, director Hess' filmography as an actor features sleazy turns in such flicks as Wes Craven's THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and Ruggero Deodato's trashy HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK. In his first – and only – feature behind the camera, Hess fails to deliver anything memorable from a sleaze/gore standpoint and the flick is largely remembered – aside from a killer in a Santa suit – thanks to the appearance of Jennifer Runyon as milk drinking sometimes peeper Nancy.

Runyon, who made her debut in this flick, would go on to a film and television career highlighted by a recurring role on 'Charles in Charge', stepping in as Cindy Brady on the tv movie A VERY BRADY CHRISTMAS (co-starring Jerry Houser of SLAP SHOT fame as brother-in-law Wally), and appearing in drive-in fare like UP THE CREEK and CARNOSAUR (exec produced by uncle-in-law Roger Corman).

Successful as neither a slasher nor a holiday-themed horror, TO ALL A GOODNIGHT deserves a big ol' lump of coal in its stocking. If you want holiday-themed sleaze that delivers the goods, treat yourself to the likes of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT or DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor of Exploitation Retrospect and the food and drink-themed zine/website The Hungover Gourmet. A contributor to such publications as Weng's Chop and Monster! (both available at Amazon) he is also the co-host of Cinesludge: A Mangled Media Podcast with David Zuzelo.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Horrors Returns with HOME SWEET HOME (1981)

Be careful what you wish for this holiday season, my friends.

Longtime readers of ER are well aware of my love for "holiday horrors" – heck, a screening of the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT over Thanksgiving weekend in 1984 is what set co-founder Lou Goncey and me on the wild and crazy path to zine publishing/blogging/podcasting.

And while you can't swing a dead elf without hitting a half-dozen Christmas-themed horror flicks, other holidays – like Thanksgiving – aren't quite as well represented. Oh sure, there's 1987's classic BLOOD RAGE (aka NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS) in which a Thanksgiving meal touches off a killing spree as an escaped mental patient tries to clear his name, but there's not many more.

The most well known example of on-screen Thanksgiving slaughter is probably 1981's HOME SWEET HOME, long unavailable on domestic video in any legit form and the subject of a lengthy flea market and thrift store hunt by yours truly. Thanks to Cinesludge's very own Evil Monk #2 I was able to get my hands on a copy for Thanksgiving Eve viewing.

Uh... thanks?

For those of you that loathe any kind of set up, HOME SWEET HOME will be right in your wheelhouse as a pre-credit radio bulletin alerts us to the presence of a homicidal maniac – yep, that's BIG BROTHER JAKE star Jake Steinfeld – who has escaped from a home for the criminally insane eight years after bludgeoning his parents to death. As if the sight of the ripped, curly-haired, hulking "Body By Jake" pitchman isn't enough to strike terror in your hearts, well, he might also be on PCP.

After stealing a station wagon and running over an old woman TRUTH OR DARE style, Body By Jake finds himself in the vicinity of the home of Bradley, a failed record executive played by Don Edmonds (yes, the same Don Edmonds who brought us ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS and ILSA, HARMER KEEPER OF THE OIL SHIEKS). With friends and family gathered for a Thanksgiving meal, Bradley and Co. make easy pickings for Body By Jake (billed as The Killer) as he crushes, strangles and bludgeons his way through the guest list.

Unfortunately – like some Thanksgiving recipes I've encountered over the years – HOME SWEET HOME sounds much better on paper than it does in reality. The presentation certainly doesn't help as the transfer is dark-bordering-on-incomprehensible while cars break down, people walk around the woods and Body By Jake cackles like, well, a lunatic on PCP as he thins the herd.

As for the Thanksgiving setting, I'm not even positive the holiday is actually mentioned. There's a turkey on the table and one guest is incensed when the power goes out, thus limiting his access to the big game he has a bet on, but for all the talk of the Thanksgiving theme it could really be any weekend during the fall.

But no review of HOME SWEET HOME would be complete without a nod to Peter De Paula as The Mistake – simultaneously the best and worst thing about the flick. Dressed like a new wave mime (?!), the cruelly nicknamed Mistake bops around the proceedings playing riffs on his portable electric guitar and doing magic tricks to amuse Angel (a young Vinessa Shaw who would go on to a lengthy career in film and TV including Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT). The Mistake – who seems to be Bradley's son from an earlier marriage? – even gets pegged as the killer when bodies start piling up. You can't wait for him to get killed but when he's not on screen you'll be begging for him to relieve the boredom.

And that may be HOME SWEET HOME's most egregious sin. Like a bone-dry Thanksgiving turkey, HOME SWEET HOME takes the high concept of a Thanksgiving murder spree and dumbs it down to the level of your most generic slasher.

Do yourself a favor... if you're truly in the mood for a Turkey Day terror treat yourself to the truly whacked out BLOOD RAGE instead. You'll thank me later. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor of Exploitation Retrospect and the food and drink-themed zine/website The Hungover Gourmet. A contributor to such publications as Weng's Chop and Monster! (both available at Amazon) he is also the co-host of Cinesludge: A Mangled Media Podcast with David Zuzelo.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Batter Up! Slash, Dash and BILLY CLUB Bash with the Evil Monks of Cinesludge

Baseball may be over but it's always Slasher Season for the Evil Monks of Cinesludge!

In the latest episode, David Zuzelo of TOMB IT MAY CONCERN and I wax nostalgic about our discovery of and love for the much-maligned slasher genre and even offer up a list of some of the genre faves we return to again and again and again. (Hint: None of them are HALLOWEEN flicks and at least three include Edmund Purdom... THREE!)

Plus, we take a largely spoiler-free look at the newly-minted-but-feels-like-the-90s baseball-themed slasher neo-classic BILLY CLUB, in which a tormented tween comes back to wreak havoc on the Little Leaguers whose hijinks landed him in the loony bin. Where they appear to have no intramural baseball team.

So grab some stale popcorn, an overpriced beverage and your nail-filled Louisville slugger and listen in as two HorrorDads take a break from their daily routine to chat about their favorite cinematic comfort food.

Cinesludge: The Mangled Media Podcast is available via Cinesludge.podbean.com as well as on iTunes.

If you have any questions for the Evil Monks, comment below or drop us a line at editor@dantenet.com and we'll be happy to answer them in an upcoming episode.

For the latest Cinesludge news and giveaways, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter via @CinesludgeMedia.

Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days of Fright Feature 2: Troma Does Giallo with EYES OF THE CHAMELEON

It wouldn't be the final day of 31 Days of Fright without a post from longtime ER contributor and tireless curator of trash, Doug Waltz. Be sure to check out the latest issue of Doug's zine Divine Exploitation at CreateSpace.

EYES OF THE CHAMELEON starts with a psychotic older man screaming at a boy in a pit. We are informed that it is the 70s. The man is so foul that you really feel for the kid even though he never comes in to the pit after the kid.

Flash forward to the present where we meet Sara who has a dead end job in a casino in Vegas. She feels like her life is a waste of time so she spends a lot of time drinking, smoking dope and snorting cocaine.

Then a bizarre, violent encounter with a gypsy palm reader starts sending Sara's world out of control. Casual sex coupled with increasing drug use would be enough to bring anyone down that spiral, but Sara has a kicker to all that.

Someone is slaughtering everyone she knows: from her boyfriend to the corner deli guy. A person, hidden from view, is cutting them all to ribbons. And Sara could be next.

EYES OF THE CHAMELEON gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling when someone gets it right. This flick would fit into the Something Weird catalog without missing a beat. It shows us a grimier side of Vegas and Anne Teal (Sara) takes over the screen whenever she's on it. But, she does it in a clever way. At the beginning of the flick we just see this girl, but as the film goes on she becomes this unstoppable presence.

The fact that this micro-budget flick has some of the hardest softcore sex scenes I have seen in quite sometime is amazing. And when the movie is over it leaves you with a 'What did I just watch?' feeling. I'm still not sure and I might have to go back and check it out with the commentary.

The gore effects are well done. Anne Teal makes this her picture and Vegas looks more down to Earth than ever before. This isn't about what happens on the strip. This is about the people who inhabit the tourist trap and how things can be a little rotten beneath the shiny veneer.

The only extras are a slide show and a commentary by director Ron Atkins which I will definitely be listening to on a second viewing. Troma puts their usual block of fun filled nonsense on the disc and they designed the DVD case to make it look like an old school giallo, which I thought was cool.

EYES OF THE CHAMELEON is one of the sexiest, goriest, kinkiest flicks I've seen in recent years and Ron Atkins is a guy who gets the most out of a tiny budget and a very well done script. – Doug Waltz

Doug Waltz is a longtime contributor to Exploitation Retrospect and contributed a variety of reviews to ER #52 (available from our website).

EYES OF THE CHAMELEON is available from Amazon.


31 Days of Fright Feature 1: You Don't Have to Go to David Zuzelo for a PORN SHOOT MASSACRE

I hope you've had time to settle into your seats now that the trailers are over. And speaking of coming attractions, who better to see if PORN SHOOT MASSACRE delivers on its title than Cinesludge's own Evil Monk #2 (cue the "Mwuhahahaha!"), David Zuzelo...

"What the hell is that? It's not a sex toy... It's a weapon. Oh, God."  

With a title like PORN SHOOT MASSACRE I went in expecting a little sex, a little violence and hopefully a few chuckles. Not exactly popshotting for the moon, I put the disc in and right away got a pleasant surprise. Wrestling fans and Goth Chick aficionados may remember Ariel (Shelly Martinez) from WWE's iteration of ECW fondly. Maybe her role as Salinas in TNA? Or how about Cle-Ho-Patra in Womens Erotic Wrestling? Ahem...well, you get LOTS of nude n' sudsy Shelly to start the flick off right and I'll cop to it, I was one happy viewer. And then...THEY KILL HER! Lamely. That means there's more talking, gesturing, acting and stuff to come.

Sigh.

But like the cool jock-strappy masked maniac of the film, I took this line of dialog to heart: "Brute...finish the task."

Once we watch Martinez blow off a porn producer for a new guy in town, it's time to get to it. A variety of attractive women show up for a porn shoot (I saw that coming) and they end up getting massacred in a variety of ways. I saw that coming, too. From the bitchy dominatrix to the hot woman told to really make LOVE to her companion, nobody is safe as brutish Brute pops up to off the ladies.

The story does get a little more complicated as we go along, especially the character of the false mustachioed director who looks like he jumped out of a spankhouse special of the 70s such as THE SEXUALIST. There is a final girl (and you have to watch for her almost final walk alone as a crew member attempts to hide behind a fence!) and she's accompanied by the repentant cinema generating scuzzbag to the final battle with BRUTE. It's here where the film actually works for a few scenes as the duo come up with the best possible slasher plan I'd never thought of. Yes, our sexy siren comes up with this line... "OK, I'll shoot him while he's killing you!"  

Now that is a plan! And it works... kind of. You have to watch it to find out.

PORN SHOOT MASSACRE benefits by delivering enough skin and sin blended with a few really silly stalkings and off-screen deaths that look solid on the technical level. The editing actually generates some tension and the score by Mark Palmieri gets props for balancing out the sexy sounds and the screamy electrobooping with a pretty even hand.

If you WANT to watch PORN SHOOT MASSACRE, I have faith that you will be satiated by the stuff you come for. If you are in the mood for a themed massacre, I'd stick with Texas, or a Sorority House or Slumber Party. But if you're like me, you finally got to see Kevin Thorn's valet naked... and that is good enough for this viewer! – David Zuzelo

David Zuzelo is the titan of TOMB IT MAY CONCERN and one of the muck-wallowing monks of CINESLUDGE. You can find his media mangling at both those spots as well as here at Exploitation Retrospect, where he is a regular contributor. Check out our latest issue for David Z's look at a handful of installments of the Nikkatsu Erotic Film Collection as well as other slices of sinema.

PORN SHOOT MASSACRE is available from Amazon.



No Tricks, Just Treats... New Horror Anthology Has Ties to New Episode of CINESLUDGE

While bouncing around the web this morning I ran across some exciting news about TALES OF HALLOWEEN, a new horror anthology flick that will start shooting next month.

I love horror anthology flicks and it's a topic we'll be covering in Exploitation Retrospect #53 (slated for next fall), but the talent involved with this one gets my juices flowing even more than usual.

Not only will we get segments from Neil Marshall (THE DESCENT, DOG SOLDIERS), Mike Mendez (THE CONVENT, BIG ASS SPIDER!) and Axelle Carolyn (whose Marshall-produced SOULMATE is one of our current DVD giveaways), but John Skipp – whose 'The Light At The End' is one of my fave horror novels – is teaming up with Andrew Kasch.

And Joe Begos – whose entertaining "lumberjack on a murderous rampage" flick ALMOST HUMAN is discussed on the new episode of CINESLUDGE – is also directing a story. Swing on over to Podbean or check us out on iTunes to give it a listen as Evil Monk #1 and Evil Monk #2 talk Mack Bolan, men's adventure novels, ALMOST HUMAN and the recent Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horrorthon VIII.

31 Days of Fright: Trailer Trash or Essential Comp? A Look at GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1

Happy Halloween to all you creeps, maniacs and things that go bump in the night! Though over horror coverage continues all year, today marks the end of our annual 31 Days of Fright feature and we'll be celebrating with a triple bill of terror, a pulsing trio of sinema to scare the pants off you... or, if you're lucky, your date! But no screaming, er, I mean "screening" is complete without some coming attractions, right? So let Chuck Francisco walk you to your seat while he shares some thoughts on the recently released GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1... 

The boulevard of retro trash cinema trailers is a brightly lit thoroughfare of promises. Those gravelly voiced storefronts promise action in spades and explosions by the baker's dozen. Ladies of the night, the day, the jungle, the prison, the basement, and the dark alley pry at the wallet with their supple skins. Evocative displays exploit plate glass propositions in promises so fantastical as to defy expectations. These two-minute movie muffins offer all of the calories of a full filmatic meal without the filler of an additional eighty minutes' content. And in many cases we're better off simply strolling this lane of loud promises, well-to-do and dapper, without ever being taken for a ride by a false siren's call. Ninety minutes of wall-to-wall trailers is an hour and a half of non-stop action, titillation, perversion, laughs, and exploitation.

But this has also been an amazingly well-traveled avenue over the past decade or so. If an overwhelming feeling of "been there, done that" pervades the new GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1 compilation, it's probably because we have walked these streets a million times, seeking the short stack of thrills offered by competing maple syrup sweet discs. It's not that Grindhouse Trailers Classics chose poor trailers, put them in unfortunate arrangements, or neglected some specific spice of schlock in assembling their trashy offerings. On the contrary, everything is button-up tails and top hats to the nines, but it's a borrowed ensemble, worn better by trailer compilations who beat Intervision Picture Corp to the punch by many years' time. The highly successful 42ND STREET FOREVER series is a much more solid proof of concept, as is the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE'S TRAILER WARS release, both of which include HD Blu-Ray versions as a tremendous step up.

Another scuff on the fancy wing tipped shoes of GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1 is obvious pixilation scattered about the run time. It doesn't effect all of the trailers, but more than a few deteriorated into the tell tale signs of low-resolution posers, those detestable wanna-be fancy gentlemen trying to put on the Ritz, sadly failing to pull it off. About the only brightly luminescent streetlight along this boulevard is the lengthy Grindhouse expose, BUMP 'N GRIND, a wonderfully wicked and snarky slide down the sleazy cinema aisle of indulgence. This feels fresh and fun, while being whip smart and spot on.

I'd like to stress that this isn't a bad release, only that full-on exploitation fans have already paid to visit these attractions many times, and likely still own the forbearers to this release. Newcomers to the slime bowl of schlock will find this to be a solid adventure that potentially unlocks a world of disgusting and weird in their brainpans. Longstanding perverts and weirdoes need not apply, though, as you likely already live here (and have for some time). – Chuck Francisco

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania.com, writing Shock-O-Rama. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. An avid beer brewer, rock climber, and video gamer, you can hear him drop nerd knowledge on the weekly podcast You've Got Geek, and follow him on twitter @CyanideRush. He recently wrote about Nazi Zombies, Spaghetti Westerns and American Hippies for Exploitation Retrospect 52 (available from our website).

GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1 is available from Amazon.

CONTEST: What's In Your Horror Movie Survival Crate?

We've all been there... you're watching a horror flick and you simply can't believe what the characters on the big (or little) screen are doing.

Whether they're going back into the creepy house or deciding to explore that "strange noise" coming from the shed where all the power tools are, we all think we're smarter than the victims du jour.

But would you really survive an encounter with a knife-wielding maniac, possessed prom queen or alien-inhabited lumberjack? Maybe if you had a chance to plan ahead, imagine what you'd need to last till the end and get it all in a big crate that would arrive at an opportune moment?

Here's your chance to show how much smarter than stock horror movie characters you are! Use the comments section below to name up to five things you'd want to receive if you were a character in a horror movie. They can be as creative or practical as you want (like a really slow sidekick or maybe some extra gas for that chainsaw you just know is going to konk out at the wrong time).

On Wednesday, November 5, 2014 we'll select a comment at random to receive a crate of goodies from ER HQ. Okay, "crate" might be the wrong word. How about a "box" of goodies including the new films INSIDE, SOULMATE (executive produced by Neil Marshall) and ZOMBIE HOOD, copies of Exploitation Retrospect 51 and 52 and more.

And speaking of crates, check out the cool gifts available at ManCrates.com that inspired this contest. I once spent a summer working in a warehouse opening crates of sheet music with a crowbar. If you've never opened a crate with a crowbar, you're missing out on one of life's little pleasures.

Unfortunately, all the crates we opened had sheet music in them. And the occasional slice of geriatric porn somebody at the other warehouse stuck in there to "shock" us. They never contained anything cool like bacon, old school toys, or everything you'd need to survive a few extra days in the coming zombie-pocalypse.

IMPORTANT! Anonymous comments will be removed since we have no way of contacting you if you win!



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days of Fright: Slashers, Sleaze and Losing My Milligan Virginity, or, An Exhumed Horrorthon VIII Recap

For the last eight years, the holidays have arrived early here at ER HQ. And no, I don't mean Christmas or Thanksgiving – though I do love the opportunities they present to eat, drink and gather with family and friends (and maybe even offer up some Holiday Horrors).

No, I'm talking about Halloween, or, more precisely, the annual Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horrorthon. Launched back in 2007 to celebrate the DelVal film group's 10th anniversary, they have treated (and occasionally tricked) us with eight 'round-the-clock cinefests designed to delight, shock, scare and enthrall us... and 2014's edition was no exception. (For more on Exhumed VIII including some live sound check out Cinesludge episode 3.)

After spending Friday evening handing out hundreds of pieces of candy – and winning the pumpkin carving contest – at my daughter's grade school Boo Bash (think Trunk or Treat held inside), I downed a few beers and hit the hay to embrace the last sleep I'd get until late Sunday afternoon. With Horrorthon partner-in-crime Bruce Holecheck (of Cinema Arcana) along for the ride we made our way to Philly, ditched the car in the over-priced hotel garage, though secure in the knowledge it would be there for a quick, painless departure the next day.

Our approach to the show has changed over the years. The first year was truly uncharted territory and friends called us "crazy" for going. Until we reported back how fun the event was and, oh yeah, that we saw PIECES, BURIAL GROUND, DEMONS and PHANTASM – just to name a few – on the big screen. I remember drinking gargantuan amounts of coffee and Mt. Dew that first year and stashing a small pizza under my seat for late nite noshing.

These days my "go bag" is packed with bottles of water, Cliff Bars and 100 calorie packets of roasted almonds for when hunger hits at an inopportune time. Even my beloved Wawa Italian hoagie has been replaced with a chicken salad sandwich on rye with bacon and I drink more water than coffee. But it certainly paid off this year as the urge to doze was far less frequent and I only snuck out for fresh air and caffeine twice, but more on that later.

The pre-show line is always fun as you end up chatting with the folks around you about the event's secret lineup – films are not announced in advance and a program (and ballot) with vague clues is your only insight into what's in store. After seven years of pathetic shots in the dark I've given up on making guesses and handed my ballot over to Bruce. I've seen a lot (A LOT) of movies in my day, but I don't possess an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure gore and insane slashers... plus, I tend to convince myself that every clue is really going to finally for reals mean a showing of a beloved flick like LIFEFORCE, BLOODSUCKING FREAKS or NIGHT OF THE CREEPS.

Quick "hellos" to pals like Doc Terror and Chuck Francisco complete, we're in our seats for announcements (Most Important: No talking! This isn't your living room and, despite what you may think, you're not a writer for MST3K.) and door prizes, anxiously awaiting the first of – gulp – 15 flicks over the next 24 hours and change.

1. THE KEEP (1983)
Previous fests have typically launched with more of a straight horror flick, so this atmospheric slice of WWII horror/sci-fi from writer/director Michael Mann was a bit of a departure. I hadn't seen THE KEEP since the days when it played PRISM (Philly's local movie/sports pay cable channel) but I remembered it had a rocky road to the big screen and online reports suggest that about half its original running time was chopped for theatrical release. While the studio interference certainly shows, the cast is great, the Tangerine Dream score is haunting and brought to mind Mann's MANHUNTER, and it features a somewhat good guy-esque role for the usually villainous Jurgen Prochnow. Available on what looks like a grey market DVD.

2. BLACK MAGIC (1975)
Martial arts star Ti Lung headlines this 1975 Shaw Brothers classic complete with battling magicians, countless potions, erect talisman, a supporting German Shepherd and rice-encased privates. A rich schemer sets her eyes on a young, engaged engineer and hires a sinister magician to cast a love spell. Followed a year later by the even crazier sequel, BLACK MAGIC 2 (aka REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES). Available on DVD.

3. GODZILLA'S REVENGE (1969)
I vaguely recall having seen this kiddie-oriented Godzilla flick when it aired on UHF back in the 1970s, but doubt I've seen it since. A latchkey kid daydreams of trips to Monster Island, where Godzilla lives with his son Minira and a bevy of other kaiju critters. The kids and a subplot about some bank robbers are a little annoying but even recycled Godzilla flick footage is a treat on the big screen. The flick's moral seems to be that the path to happiness is fighting and pulling pranks, and that just seems odd. Available on DVD.

4. LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3 (1990)
I've never been a fan of Tobe Hooper's over-the-top, Cannon-financed sequel, much preferring Jeff Burr's take on the family of cannibal killers roaming the dark back roads of the Lone Star State. Featuring Viggo Mortensen, Ken Foree and Kate Hodge in her first starring role, LEATHERFACE is a perfect example of late 80s/early 90s horror cinema, complete with dated styles, quippy dialogue, a hard rock soundtrack (Laaz Rocket!) and – unfortunately – harsh MPAA cuts to achieve an R rating. Still, even when neutered this is a fast-paced and occasionally harrowing minor classic. Available on DVD with R-rated and Unrated versions.

5. BLUE MONKEY (1987)
Each Exhumed Horrorthon contains at least a couple flicks I simply never, ever expected to see on the big screen. This year featured several of those "Whoa!" moments, the first of which was William Fruet's 1987 paean to the big bug monster flicks of the Atomic Era (reviewed on our website many years ago). An innocent finger prick ends up producing a monstrous bug – thanks to a growth agent added by some too cute kids – and it's up to off-duty cop Jim Bishop (Steve Railsback) to save the day with the help of an ER doc and her entomologist pal. Shifting effortlessly between comedy, action and goo-drenched horror, BLUE MONKEY also features SCTV regulars Joe Flaherty and Robin Duke as comic relief and a pre-teen Sarah Polley (DAWN OF THE DEAD remake) as one of the kids. Available on VHS only.

6. PET SEMATARY (1989)
The Stephen King novel that inspired this stiff, stagey flick may have been the last book I read from the prolific author – and I recall not being able to put it down. Maybe that's why I've never warmed up to this adaptation and always preferred the way over-the-top sequel featuring Clancy Brown as the world's craziest living dead sheriff. At least that flick knows what it is and embraces it... PET SEMATARY wants to be taken seriously (Dale Midkiff is ponderous as the lead) while its attempts at horror produce more titters than terror. Sometimes, Wawa is better and once I was sure we were getting this overrated entry I made my way down the street for coffee and fresh air, knowing I'd get back in time for the meat of the flick and that killer title tune from the Ramones that plays over the end credits. "I don't wanna be buried... in a pet cemetery..." Available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

7. THE GATE 2 (1990)
The festival's 80s block comes to a conclusion with Tibor Takacs' follow-up to his 1987 metal-and-monsters original (which opened the 2012 Horrorthon). Louis Tripp returns as Terry, the metal-loving teen intent on giving another go at conjuring the demons that emerged from the titular gate in his friend's backyard years earlier. When he's joined by a trio of delinquents, they find themselves able to grant wishes... until it all turns (literally) to shit. Co-star/love interest Pamela Adlon (billed here as Pamela Seagall) went on to a prolific career as a voiceover actor, even winning an Emmy for her work as Bobby Hill on the beloved KING OF THE HILL. "All sloppy... and no joe." Available on VHS only.

8. LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET (1977)
With the Horrothon nearing its halfway point, the tone shifted dramatically from the more innocent late 80s/early 90s to the dank, dark and dangerous 1970s thanks to the very "WTF?!" LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET, an orgy of sleaze and violence that makes Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT look like a Disney flick. Directing as Victor Janos and starring under the name Steven Harrison, gutter auteur Roger Watkins packs this surreal head-scratcher with images of sex and pseudo-snuff that put it miles ahead of similarly "controversial" flicks like SNUFF. I'd be hard pressed to synopsize LAST HOUSE but suffice it to say that it kept the audience in stunned silence for its mercifully short running time (and I mean that in the best way possible). Available on DVD.

9. GURU THE MAD MONK (1970)
To be frank, I'm not sure exactly what could provide an adequate palette-cleanser after the sensory onslaught of DEAD END STREET, but this Andy Millgan "period piece" was probably as good a choice as any. Surprisingly, despite wallowing in the cinemuck for 40 years (?!) I have never had the "pleasure" of watching an Andy Milligan film. Oh sure, I've read about his work in everything from FILM THREAT to SLEAZOID EXPRESS, but I never pulled the trigger on one of his polarizing, anachronistic epics. As Bruce put it while the credits rolled, "it's like a filmed stage play put on by insane people". I'm not sure I can do GURU more justice than that – and I'm not sure I'll be seeking out more Milligan in the future – but I'm glad I can finally say that I'm no longer a Milligan virgin. Available on DVD.

10. BOG (1983)
Looking every bit like it was filmed in the 1970s – because it was! – BOG has the dubious distinction of being the one flick that desperately wanted to seduce me into a late night snooze. I wasn't sure if it was the timeslot or the movie itself (Bruce insisted on the latter), but BOG's long takes, geriatric love story and deliberate pacing kept wanting me to accept sleep's sweet embrace. "Be gone, harlot!," my brain screamed as I fought to stay awake and cross the threshold from that dangerous 2 AM to 5 AM slot into the sinematic homestretch. And once BOG's creature was defeated – or was it? – I got a second (or, perhaps, third) wind. Available on DVD.

11. MOTHER'S DAY (1980)
People have asked me if the Exhumed Horrorthon features breaks to grab dinner, use the bathroom or simply stretch your legs from the International House's not quite comfortable seating. And while the answer used to be a qualified "yes", recent years have seen the show feature little more than five to ten minutes of trailers jammed between flicks. In other words, just enough time to use the john, grab a smoke or hike down to the nearby Wawa for a sandwich and coffee. Naturally, it's wise to wait and see what film begins next, so when the trailer reel after BOG suggested that the "satirical" horror on tap was from the folks at Troma, I waited with bated breath. Was this the year that my beloved BLOODSUCKING FREAKS would finally appear on that big ol' screen? Or, was it going to be a more likely candidate such as the mean-spirited, though at times intentionally funny, MOTHER'S DAY. Unfortunately, it ended up being the latter so I waited through the opening 20 minutes or so and ducked out for some invigorating 5 AM in Philly air, returning in just enough time to see the trio of gals from the "Rat Pack" take their revenge on mama and her boys. Available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

12. HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT 2 (1987)
The homestretch of any Exhumed Horrorthon is always dicey. At that point you've fought off sleep, rounded the corner towards home, gotten your xth wind and can kinda see that finish line. But will you sprint across, propelled by the power of LADY TERMINATOR, THE CHILDREN, PIRANHA and RE-ANIMATOR (a la 2009) or be dragged kicking and screaming like 2011's quartet of BLOOD DINER, THE BURNING, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE and MEET THE FEEBLES? (Full disclosure, that was the only year I actually left the event before the last film was over, embracing a hazy ride home over Peter Jackson's ho-hum puppet flick.) This year's closing quartet definitely delivered the goods, kicked off by this supernatural – and in my opinion – superior sequel to the more ballyhooed original (recently reviewed by Chuck Francisco). Barbecued prom queen Mary Lou Maloney possesses the body of good girl Vicki Carpenter (who may be afraid of what's happening to her but isn't afraid of some full frontal nudity) and even sets her sights on former beau Billy Nordham (Michael Ironside), now the school's principal and the father of Vicki's boyfriend. This flick is absolutely 80s and absolutely one of my underrated faves, though I can't believe there are two more PROM NIGHT flicks! Available on DVD.

13. NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS (1987)
Probably better known under the title BLOOD RAGE (which apparently sports a different cut of the film), SHADOW WOODS is a rare Holiday Horror set on Thanksgiving. Set off by seeing his mother (Louise Lasser) hook up at the drive-in, a young boy murders another patron with an axe and promptly blames his twin brother, who gets locked away for the crime. Fast forward to Thanksgiving night when the locked up (but innocent) brother escapes from the mental facility and mom announces her engagement to Brad the apartment complex manager. Evil twin Terry – now a college student – is set off by the announcement and begins butchering his way through friends, family and hospital staff sent to retrieve his brother. Never quite by the numbers, SHADOW WOODS benefits from performances by the quirky Lasser and Mark Soper (as both of the a bit bonkers brothers), plentiful gore, some nudity, early 80s fashion crimes (it was filmed in 1983 but not released until 1987) and a script that isn't afraid to repeatedly use a blood/cranberry sauce gag. I'd love to see this obscure gem get a nice release. Available on VHS.

14. KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977)
I still remember my skin crawling when I watched this NIGHT GALLERY-worthy tale of aggressive spiders attacking a remote Arizona town when it hit UHF back in the late 1970s. And unlike some horrors of the period, KINGDOM holds up extremely well, benefitted greatly by a top-notch B-cast headlined by William Shatner, Woody Strode and David McLean. Shatner – as veterinarian Rack Hansen – never overdoes it as the horseback riding hero and the whole cast plays the grim tale straight. The final shot is haunting and reminds you of a time when ending horror flicks on a down note was a-ok. Available on DVD.

15. NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986)
"Thrill me." I've been waiting almost 30 years to see Det. Cameron (Tom Atkins in a movie-stealing performance) utter those words on the big screen and the wait was totally worth it. Part of a personal 80s Trinity that also includes RE-ANIMATOR and DEMONS, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS remains one of my favorite horror films ever made and – for me, at least – one of the few horror-comedies that deftly juggles exploding heads and one-liners with equal aplomb. I rated it five stars upon seeing the VHS back in the 80s and it ranks that high to this day. And, thanks to the guys at Exhumed Films, I can cross another masterpiece off my Theatrical Bucket List. Available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

So there you have it – a quickie recap of a great event featuring one of the most solid Horrorthon lineups to date. Kudos to the entire Exhumed Films crew who bring together a great annual event that comes off almost seamlessly, though I know that there are probably plenty of hiccups along the way.

I just have one request for next year or the next or even the next. BLOOD! SUCKING! FREAKS! In the meantime I suppose I can settle for the new Blu-Ray...!