I'll Be Your Destroyer, Your World's Great Annoyer

Here's the Naked Raygun song that'll justify me using that cool quote as a title, because it won't really apply to anything else in the post but I still wanted to use it.

And, before I get down to business, I'd like to plug another blog that's been giving me a lot of good reads this week. It's Wrath James White's blog. He writes some truly depraved, extremely graphic horror fiction, and I like that stuff, but I like it even better when it has a point to it, which his does. He also does some really intelligent blog posts (living in the deep south, I'm always happy to find another atheist), so you should check them out.

(He also seems like a cool, funny guy - here's a YouTube interview some guys did with him - and there are more out there you can look up)

Now... movie reviews!


Amok Train (C, 1991) aka Beyond the Door III, Dark Train, The Train, Death Train, Winds of Evil. As the Italian horror boom was drying up, a few cheap, last-gasp movies trickled out, and this one was one of the last. It was marketed as a sequel to Beyond the Door, possibly because producer Ovidio G. Assonitis was the director of that classic (and I don't care what anyone says, Beyond the Door is a fucking classic). In reality, though, it's completely unrelated, other than having a demonic storyline. Professor Bo Svenson (sporting a Lee Press-on goatee) takes a group of college students to Yugoslavia to watch a religious ritual that's performed only every 100 years. One of the girls, Beverly, has a birthmark shaped like a sacred pagan symbol on her stomach, and all the creepy people they meet seem very, very interested in her. Almost as soon as they arrive, one of them dies in a fire... which only seems significant to the kids because it almost makes them miss their train. Which would have made them lucky, because the train is possessed by the devil! We know this because the train talks to Beverly and tells her its master is Lucifer. To prove it it starts killing off its crew and passengers. The students team up with a tough female thief to try to survive, but ridiculous (but gory) supernatural events keep happening. A guy vomits confetti as his girlfriend tears her own face off. At one point the train goes off its rails and runs through a swamp, just to kill a couple on a boat! The special effects are decent but pretty silly anyway, given the idiocy they're surrounded by; the movie is a marvel of misuse. For instance, Bo Svenson is the only professional actor in the cast, and he's given moronic lines about hot soup ("I must have... HOT SOUP. It is very nice with hot soup. Whould you like some... HOT SOUP? I think you WILL like some... HOT SOUP!") It's utterly brain-dead, but it does keep moving and at least is entertaining stupidity. You can see why Italian horror died off, though...

Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (C, 1973) aka House of Psychotic Women, Los Ojos Azules de la Muneca Rota, The House of Doom. Spanish take on the giallo genre has Paul Naschy as a migrant worker traveling through France, who takes on a job looking after a farm for three sisters. One is in a wheelchair, one has a plastic hand, and the third is a malevolent slut. Naschy has a troubling past in which he choked a girl to death... but is he behind the murders that start soon after he comes to town? Whoever is doing the killings targets blue-eyed girls, because he or she likes to gouge their eyes out and put them in water. It's all accompanied by an inappropriately-peppy music score that'd fit pushing a shopping cart around an A&P more than it does a bloody horror-mystery. Naschy tries to seduce every woman who gets within a hundred yards of him and gets in a knife fight with the guy who previously held his job. The song "Frere Jacques" is also played a lot. The film's pretty good, although the style is way too much the typical Naschy to ever be mistaken for a real giallo. Some of the gore is mild, but a few bits are pretty icky, with the real slaughtering of a pig being the worst of it. The solution to the whole thing manages to be hilarious and revolting, simultaneously.

Dream No Evil (C, 1970) aka Now I Lay Me Down To Die, The Faith Healer. Bizarre, incoherent horror about an unbalanced woman who grew up in an orphanage and is obsessed with searching for her father. She has a job with a traveling revival preacher, which involves her diving off a high ladder onto a mattress. She also has a boyfriend who she hopes to marry. She goes looking for her dad in a retirement home and finds out he died recently and is on a slab at the mortuary waiting to be embalmed, but he suddenly comes back to life and kills the mortician. She takes her father home and dances an embarrassing Irish jig while he plays a squeeze box, then she makes out with the preacher and her father kills him, too. Even though she's starting to think her dad may be some schizophrenic imaginary friend, she hides the body at the garbage dump and her father's murder spree continues. One guy hilariously responds to an axe attack by frantically rolling up the car windows. There are some dull stretches and it's all pretty technically crude (an awkwardly-placed narrator pops up every now and then to clarify the messy narrative), but it does have a weird cumulative effect that makes it worth sticking out. Part of the "Psychotronica" DVD box set. Unique.

Mortuary (C, 2006) aka Six Feet Under. The back of the box made this one sound really really good. The back of the box LIED TO ME! A widow and her two kids buy the old Fowler Brothers funeral home with the intention of fixing it up and reopening it. It needs more than a little fixing up, though; the septic system's clogged and left a putrid lake of god-only-knows in the front yard, and veins of slimy black fungus grow all over the place. Basically it's in grimy enough shape that ominous music plays whenever anyone goes anywhere in the house. The town is scuzzy and full of hoodlum kids who all believe the funeral home is haunted by a deformed monster named Bobby Fowler. Some of them get infected by the fungus and puke black gunk. It also infects dead bodies and makes them walk and also puke on people, who then become crazy. And about then the movie loses all coherency, because it doesn't even know what it's supposed to be about anymore, or what it's trying to scare us with: icky fungus, walking dead, crazed townspeople, the legendary Bobby Fowler, or what. Director Tobe Hooper reinforces the idea that his good days as a horror director are long behind him with a bunch of tired chase scenes, menace-free scare scenes, and a great deal of visual info lost to bad lighting. It's not boring and it's got a few interesting moments, but it's so stupid an ineffective as a horror movie that you wonder if they aren't going for comedy instead (especially during the amazingly awful "bungled embalming" scene.

Psycho Lover, The (C, 1970) aka The Loving Touch, The Lovely Touch. This one's pretty hard to sit through. I had to make dozens of attempts over the years before managing to stay awake enough to make it. A rapist in a stocking mask goes around strangling women. A sleazy psychiatrist figures out the maniac is one of his patients, a guy named Marco. Marco doesn't know he's actually committing the rapes and murders, though; he thinks he's just having dreams about them. The psychiatrist, meanwhile, is having an affair with a girl and trying to get his wife to give him a divorce, but she won't. After his girlfriend tells him about seeing The Manchurian Candidate on the late movie, the psychiatrist decides to program Marco into killing his wife for him. He incites nightmares in Marco of girls with painted faces and includes hypnotic suggestions telling him to kill. The only problem is that the wife gets wind of the scheme.... Director Robert Vincent O'Neil directed the exploitation classic Angel, which is not a dull film, and also Blood Mania, which is on the dull side, but this one somehow manages to reach a new level of stultifying. I'm not sure how, since the movie's got a decent enough plot and lots of sleazy assaults going on, yet there's still just some very off-putting lifelessness to the way it plays out that makes it very hard to stay interested in. Maybe the psychiatrist is a little too effective at hypnosis and is putting the audience into a deep sleep. By all rights it should be disturbing, but instead it's video Valium, with an utterly predictable "twist" ending.

Scream Baby Scream
(C, 1969) aka Nightmare House. Some hippiefied art students get stalked by their art professor, who likes to kidnap girls to pose for his morbid, grotesque paintings. The problem is, even though he's a surrealist, he likes to paint them from life, so he does radical plastic surgery on his models, turning them into crazy Picasso-esque monstrosities. It's all because he has some weird degenerative disease, the treatments of which left him looking ghoulish (partially because he was crazy enough to fool around with his doctor's wife, which is one of the world's all-time worst ideas). Meanwhile the art students are arguing a lot and having one of the most half-hearted acid trips ever filmed. When one of the girls goes missing, her pissy boyfriend goes looking for her and finds the professor's weird little hell. No budget and artless horror obscurity is mostly tedious, but it does have its moments. The crazy artist would have made a good Batman villain.

Scream Pretty Peggy (C, 1973) One of those 75-minute made-for-TV horror movies that came out in the 70's, this one directed by Gordon Hessler, who was behind some of AIP's Poe films, and with a guest spot for Bette Davis. Not-terribly-pretty but darn spunky Peggy is an art student who takes a part-time job housekeeping for Bette and her son at their big house on the outskirts of town. Peggy soon learns that the previous girl who worked there is now a missing person, and there's someone mysterious living in a room over the garage: her boss's completely insane sister, supposedly. Peggy proves too curious about the crazy sister and her boss's sculptures, and doesn't heed Bette's repeated warnings that she should leave the house. There's some suspense but you'll figure out what's going on way before Peggy does, mainly because this is a mashup of two much-better-known horror classics... but if I told you which two that'd be really giving everything away. Needs a DVD resurrection even though it's not one of the major classics among TV horror, due to its derivativeness.

Whole movie starting here:

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