Some of my friends say I'm crazy. They're right. My late older brother is one of the main reasons. Another is my late grandmother Beatrice (who I called Grandma Fly, because everyone else called her Bea). My brother was 8 years older than me. When we would stay the night at my grandma's house, they would take me to Showplace 3 to see some fucked up shit. The year was 1982. This was my first movie theater. It was a block from my grandma's house. We would walk there at night. It was in this shopping center next door to Book Exchange (one of the craziest places you can imagine hanging out in as a kid) and the (rogueish) grocery store Piggly Wiggly. Showplace 3 was amazing. And honestly, I feel bad for ya'll, because you never got to experience that place's bad ass-ness. Anyway, imagine a movie theater lobby covered in giant psychedelic floral cartoon wallpaper from the 60's. In the box office are sweaty guys in their 50's selling you your ticket (age did not matter), while smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. I always remember their hair being slicked back with grease. There was a fully functional KISS pinball machine inside right next to Pac Man Jr., Galaga and Joust. Nothing was ever cleaned up, especially spilled sodas, hence the theater's nickname "Sticky Floor". It was also commonly referred to as "Rat" or "Roach River" beacuse they had both, and water trickled from the concrete walls and made a river in front of the first row of seats. My dad used to say- "If you go see a movie there, you're gonna get lice." Little did he know, my brother and grandma had been smuggling me into R rated horror movies there since I was 5 years old. No bullshit. My first was Psycho II. That traumatized me, but I loved it. But what sent me over the edge was going to see Friday The 13th Part 3 In 3-D a few months later. I didn't sleep for about a year after that (seriously). It scared me so bad that I had sleep problems (I mean... I was 5). But those experiences made me who I am. I've tried to see the 3-D print at the Alamo, but it's always sold out. One day it'll happen. UPDATE 2/13/09: The Alamo Drafthouse on S. Lamar showed Friday The 13th Part 3 in 3D last night and I got to go!! Wow! Let me just tell you now. If you ever get to see this on the big screen, take advantage. That was one of the best times I've ever had at the theater. S. Lamar should start showing more old horror movies. Especially ones that start at 10:00, so I can make it after work.
I just noticed that How To Make A Monster and Blood Of Dracula (both directed by the wonderful Herbert L. Strock) have been released as a double sided two-fer on DVD. I love both of these movies so much. In the 50's no studios cared about making horror movies (a subject explored fully in Monster), but the ones that were made were usually favorites of mine. Who couldn't love movies like I Was A Teenage Werewolf, or I Was A Teenage Frankenstein? There were lots of great Yeti movies made in the 50's. Take for example The Abominable Snowman, Half Human, and my personal favorite Man Beast. Or what about Invasion Of The Animal People (made in Lappland)? There were lots of cool low budget releases like The Wasp Woman, Atom Age Vampire, The Monster Of Piedras Blancas, Monster On The Campus, Hideous Sun Demon, The Alligator People, and The Werewolf. There were also people like Richard Cunha who made great films like She Demons, Giant From The Unknown, and the outrageous Frankenstein's Daughter. The list goes on-The She Creature, Voodoo Woman, The Skull, Gorilla At Large. These are real family movies, fuck that Pixar shit! Most all of these available in some form at either I Luv Video or Vulcan stores.
This is a classic early-80's horror entry that I've always enjoyed. The story centers around an electricity blackout that leads to mental patients escaping from the local insane asylum. It's filled with some great shocks and has a great cast including Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and Donald Pleasence. Available at Vulcan North and South on DVD and I Luv Video on Airport on DVD and VHS.
Wow. This was done by the director of Class Of 1984 and is absolutely as great as that movie if not more so. For starters, this movie has Pam Grier, Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, and John P. Ryan in it!! If you ever find yourself in the video store blindly looking for something to rent, and you see that cast listed on a box and don't rent it, you're a fucking loser. Malcolm McDowell stars as the principal of a high school that is riddled with gangs, drugs, and general rogueishness. He's hired a team of scientists who've invented "superteachers" (terminator-like robots in human skin) to come take over the rowdy classrooms. Their boss is played by a bizarre looking Stacy Keach sporting a white flat-top accompanied by a rat tail and some scary contact lenses. Right off the bat, Pam Grier kicks some of her students asses and throws some people across a room. John Ryan's character breaks up a fight and administers some (surreal) extreme high-powered robot spankings to a couple of punks. In another scene, the main character is almost killed by his gym coach who flips out and gives him a beating that, in a weird way, is hilarious. A lot of the kids in the school are addicted to a drug called "edge". One guy suffers an involuntary overdose of the stuff, that looks like he swallowed a whole box of Alka Seltzer. There is so much action in this movie, that if you blink, you'll miss something great. It's really well made and feels like the director knew it was going to be great even before he was done making it. Double Live Gonzo recommendations on this one. Available at I Luv Video on Airport on VHS.
This movie used to come on TV late at night when I was a kid and I was always fascinated with the strange scenarios it contains as well as the great colorful visuals. A kid who is actually the reincarnation of Lucifer starts going on a rampage in his hometown. The lady who lives next door tries to help him, but it doesn't really work out. In one scene he uses mind control on his gym coach and causes him to kill a classmate with a dodge ball. The psychedelic satanic climax is something to behold, and is an obvious nod to the type of stoned teenagers who probably packed the theaters for this back in the day. Available at Vulcan North on DVD and at I Luv Video on Airport on VHS and DVD.
A family moves into a dilapidated mansion they inherit, but have to get rid of some punks squatting in it first. For some reason the parents disappear and the brother and sister are on their own against the hooligans. The ghost of a dead actor who lived there previously, and dated a mannequin, comes around to haunt the place and help get rid of the punks. Todd Bridges aka 'Willis' from TV's Different Strokes stars in this right around the time he got out of jail. A lot of scenes are borrowed from slightly earlier films and any horror buff will notice them straight away. Available on VHS at I Luv Video on Airport.
The Master (AKA Three Evil Masters) Dir. Chin-Ku-Lu (1980)
One of my favorite Shaw Brothers movies is definitely The Master. The story is great. The character Kow Chin becomes a skilled fighter who takes on the 3 Evils after they murder his teacher. The music is usually great in this movie. Unfortunately there are spots in this trailer where new music is added, but the reissue has the main soundtrack intact. The fighting in this one is insane, probably some of the best, fastest, and most intensely choreographed of any Shaw Bros. film. I still have the orange Kodak VHS cassette that I used to tape this one off of TV in the 80's. I nabbed it and a lot of tapes like it on a recent scouring of my mom's garage. Available at I Luv Video on Airport.
Five Deadly Venoms Dir. Chang Cheh (1978)
This may be the holy grail of all Shaw Brothers movies. I know I've seen some that are almost as good, but I've never remembered the names of them and have never seen any of them reissued. This one is readily available in most decent video stores nationwide. If your video store in your hometown doesn't have it, they suck. This movie was a huge hit pretty much everywhere it was shown. It's all here, great characters, involved plot, great visuals, great music, it's scary, fuck- this movie almost has an odor. I remember seeing it for rent in the small batch of tapes inside of Santamaria's Karate school when I was 7 years old and freaking the fuck out. Essential viewing. Available at any Vulcan or I Luv Video store.
Old School US Trailer
Chinese Super Ninjas Dir. Chang Cheh (1982)
This was another favorite. The 5 element ninjas were mindblowing. This was a very gory Shaw Brothers movie. All of the deaths were always really bloody and brutal. There's lots of color in this movie and fast paced fighting, which is top notch. Easily one of the best.
This is a pretty good mid-80's flick starring the Greatest American Hero and Norm from Cheers. Oh yeah, it has Bull from Night Court in it too. The effects are pretty awesome and it's better than any of these guy's TV shows. It could have been better. The director made one of my favorite movies, Friday The 13th Part 2 in 1981. This, isn't even as much fun as that. House Part 2 is even worse, even though it's got a crystal skull in it. Available on DVD at Vulcan South.
This movie is pretty slow but has some great scenes including a drag queen vampire on rollerskates! This movie (sadly) was released straight to video first, then to theatres!? Starring the amazing Roddy McDowall. I like this movie, but not as much as the original. Available on DVD at Vulcan South.
A grimy movie. A lady who smokes legal weed called "Good Vibes" hangs out in her apartment a lot. She gets spied on by a fat perv who has her home wired with hidden cameras. She has a robot droid that ends up malfunctioning and freaking out on her Terminator-style. Her boyfriend and his friend who is tripping on drugs try to help her out. The fat perv comes by and gets his ass killed, then the stage is set for a lot more robot violence until it finally ends. Lemmy stars as a (boat) cab driver, and one of the character's voices is done by Iggy Pop. Done pretty well for a low-budget movie. The director went on to do the film Dust Devil. Vulcan on 29th St. has a VHS tape. I watched the unrated version taped from a Japanese Laserdisc, which I got from I Luv Video on Airport in the sci-fi section.
Shot at an actual retired prison in Wyoming. Director Renny Harlin was more known for his films like Nightmare On Elm Street Part IV, Die Hard II, Cliffhanger, and Deep Blue Sea. This movie involves the spirit of a wrongly executed inmate wreaking havoc on the prison inmates and staff 20 years after his death. There are some amazing deaths in this movie for gore-hound types. Lane Smith plays the corrupt warden and Tommy 'Tiny' Lister (aka D Bone from Friday)is one of the inmates. Viggo Mortensen also stars, long before his fame in the Lord Of The Rings movies. Horror and Prison films, a great cross-blending of genres. Available at I Luv Video in the Horror section on VHS.
Here's an overlooked Wes Craven movie that was overshadowed by his film Nightmare On Elm St.. You can see how the success of Short Circuit was a direct influence in the making of this film. A college student / scientist and his mom move into a new neighborhood with his robot. The girl next door starts hanging out with him until her crazed father beats her to death. The kid's robot gets shot up by that old lady from Throw Mama From The Train so he takes the microchip brain out of it and puts it in the dead girl's head. She comes back to life as a hybrid of the robot and her former self. Then she starts slaughtering. The pace is quick, it's pure mid-80's trash, and you'll love it. Available at both Vulcan locations on DVD and I Luv Video in the Horror Directors section on the Wes Craven shelf on VHS.
This movie is very unusual. The plot is hard to explain. A woman (who is crazy) is trying to find her daughter who was taken away from her and put into a foster home. The woman is living with an insane mime boyfriend. The woman has telekinetic powers and finds her child. The foster mother catches the woman trying to steal back her child, and fights her. The woman flees without her child but takes a baby doll instead. Then a bunch of twisted insane shit happens next that would ruin the movie for you if I told you any more. I'll just say that a lot of hallucination sequences take place (which is always great), the acting is amazing, and a Indian parapsychologist gets up in the mix. The psychotic mime boyfriend is played by the criminally underrated actor Richard Lynch who has also starred in tons of great movies including The Baron, and Alligator II: The Mutation. His performance in this movie is simple but powerful. I recommend watching anything he's involved in. Available at I Luv Video in the horror section, DVD and VHS.
This interesting take on the Phantom Of The Opera story was made in Jamaica. A bunch of film student / geeks put together a horror / sci-fi film marathon in an awesome old theater. A maniac with a skinless face starts killing off people to the delight of the audience who all think it's part of a gag. A giant prop mosquito impales a guy. A Reggae band plays on stage. Crispin Glover's dad Bruce is in one of the movies playing in the theatre. It's pretty funny and worth seeing. Available at I Luv Video in the horror section on VHS.
My buddies Lars and Zack do a lot of hard work so that you can have the best free entertainment in the Country twice a week!!?? Do them a favor by showing up extra early to these events so there's no chance in hell that any random, soused, 6th street lurking, loudmouth-asshole can get into the theatre. No fucking talking, bitches!! Here's the line-ups for Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday for Jan-Feb. As always, free admission, Alamo Ritz, 6th St., Midnite... Jan. 6 - Howling 2: Werewolf Bitch With Syil Danning Live In Person!
Jan. 7 - Chained Heat With Syil Danning Live In Person!
Jan. 13 - Demons
Jan. 14 - Flying Masters Of Kung Fu
Jan. 20 - Nightmares
Jan. 21 - The Day Time Ended
Jan. 27 - Invasion U.S.A.
Jan. 28 - Sinthia The Devil's Doll
Feb. 3 - Mausoleum
Feb. 4 - Black Six
Feb. 10 - Devil Times Five
Feb. 11 - Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things
Man, Vulcan on 29th St. and I Luv Video on Guadalupe have gotten rid of most of their VHS tapes. I realize as a shop owner myself why they had to do it, but I wish it would have been done in a smarter way. They could have gotten rid of everything that was in print on DVD and then consolidated the tapes to one part of the store. Those tapes were a valuble library-like resource that a lot of their customers really appreciated. In contrast, Vulcan south has been buying cool out of print tapes and adding them to their rental inventory. Most of the time they put them in their recent arrival shelves mixed in with their DVD's, which I find to be absolutely awesome! I've also been spending quite a bit of time up north at I Luv Video on Airport. I heard a rumor that they're never getting rid of their tapes, which made me blow a huge sigh of relief. Their Airport location is the 3rd largest video rental store in the country, and is one of the truly great things about living in Austin that you should be proud of. People in other cities don't have stuff like this. The country's largest (and last) distributor of VHS just stopped shipping tapes this last Christmas. If you live in Austin, give Netflix a rest. They've never even heard of Vestron Video or Media Entertainment and they couldn't care less. Give the great video stores of this city your hard-earned money instead.
Slaughter High is an okay mid-80's horror movie. It's about Marty, a nerd who gets teased all the time and then gets burnt up in a chemical fire while smoking fake weed. Flash forward 10 years. Marty stages a fake High School reunion to get back at the kids who teased him and caused his chemical peel. He dresses up like a joker clown and kills his victims in slightly interesting ways (beer that makes your stomach explode, electrocution via bed frame during sexual climax, etc.). My old roommate Adam was really excited about me sending him a dub of this. Why, I don't know. Available at Vulcan South and I Luv Video on Airport only on VHS.
This movie is about a small southern town that is filled with shitty-looking bubble-headed zombie / vampires. But it's got Wings Hauser in it! And Bo Hopkins plays a drunk cop. There's some okay parts, like a bar fight with some rednecks, but I wouldn't really recommend this movie under any circumstances, except extreme boredom. Available at I Luv Video on Airport, VHS only.
When I was a kid, I was at a friend's house and this movie was on TV where a guy's head gets chopped in half from a helicopter blade. I've never been able to think of what it was until I rented it by accident the other day. It's called Holocaust 2000 and it's about a devil child that belongs to Kirk Douglas and his secret plot to utilize his father's nuclear power plant pods to invoke the holocaust. It's got lots of great dream sequences, hallucinations, and unexpected scenes. In one such scene Douglas' character is seen nude on a beach at night watching nuclear power plants rise out of the ocean and turn into an 8 headed hydra monster. The soundtrack is by Ennio Morricone. There's a soundtrack CD available. This was an AIP release filmed in Italy. Released the same year as the more successful American film The Fury directed by Brian De Palma, also starring Kirk Douglas. Available in the Sci-Fi section at I Luv Video on Airport only on VHS.
Yea!! Tokyo Shock and Image Entertainment have started doing super nice Shaw Brothers DVD's in NTSC format!!! They look like completely different movies. 1978-1981 is one of my favorite periods for these films (especially anything that includes members of the poison clan). This one is really great even though it takes a while to get moving. Available on DVD at I Luv Video on Airport.
Holy shit. This movie is so good. Usually when a sequel to a really great film comes out 10 years later it's gonna suck, but that definitely is not the case with this gem. If you want to see brilliant acting, look no further than Raoul Trujillo's performance in this movie as the bad guy scanner. The beginning scene with him going ape shit in an arcade is unbelievable. I don't know why this guy wasn't typecast as a villian in horror movies. He would have been an icon by now. The trailer makes it look like some ABC movie of the week style shit, but I promise that it rules. Available at I Luv Video on Airport in the Sci-Fi section on VHS only.
I've been kind of stuck on this genre lately, but I think I'm over it now. This movie is no ROCKTOBER BLOOD, but it's pretty good. It's got a post-Cry Baby Traci Lords in it, but the best parts are definitely the guitar solos. Sometimes I can't handle the shot on video look, but for this movie it works somehow. It's funny to think that Grunge took over in Rock music right after this was made. Are there any grunge horror movies? Available at I Luv Video in the Horror section, VHS only.