A slew of horror films are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Like a freak load of them! It's nuts! So ARROW IN THE HEAD and its brothers in gore SHOCK TILL YOU DROP (who came up with the idea to do this joint column thang), BLOODY DISGUSTING, DREAD CENTRAL, FEARNET and BADASS DIGEST decided to give some of these movies some healthy, horny and violent love. So below are the FIVE FLICKS that ARROW IN THE HEAD is celebrating today! Let the fear jamboree begin! YEEHAW!
SYNOPSIS: Four dudes blast open a deserted silver mine which has been closed for 100 years (for good reasons at that too i.e. a massacre went down). They of course set free all kinds of turtles from hell like creatures in the process and the shite hits the shite.
THOUGHTS: I saw THE BOOGENS once and it's when I was a kid so forgive me if my memory of it is a tad hazy-shade-of-winter. I wanted to clock the flick before writing this little piece, but alas it is still hard to find. Actually its history is almost more horrific than the cheapie beasties it proudly displayed. Although author Stephen King praised The Boogens (he said it was a "A wildly energetic monster movie!" among other things) in a review he did for the now RIP Twilight Zone Magazine, the flick took 16 years after its initial release to "boogen" on VHS and to this day has yet to see undead life on DVD.
I do remember that the characters were surprisingly likable for a film of this ilk and that the lead chica (tackled by Rebecca Balding) went beyond big tits and a duh attitude. She was cute and had a head on her shoulder...how refreshing! On their end the monsters were mostly suggested for the bulk of the running time. Ya see a piece here, a piece there, until they were revealed in all of their silly glory for the finale (think evil and retarded turtles). The flick rolled on fast, sported an awesome use of its locations (yes mines will always be creepy) and was just a genuine, B-Movie good time! Gotta see it again, if I ever find the beautiful bastard! Happy Birthday The Boogens!
SPILLED BLOOD: Director James L Conway went on to direct episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Enterprise, Charmed and Smallville. Dude got around!
Omen III: The Final Conflict
SYNOPSIS: Things don't get easier for anti-Christ with flair Damien (Neill) now that he's all grownz up. Sure he just scored the seat of Ambassador of England and world domination is a couple of kills away but alas, ball busting monks who want to stab him and the imminent second coming of King JC. are pissing on his parade. What's an old boy to do but clean that house...OLD SCHOOL!
THOUGHTS: THE OMEN 3: THE FINAL CONFLICT is an often overlooked flick and being that this year it is its birthday, what better way to slap it back in the spotlight. I personally think that it is the best of all the OMEN sequels (and it crushes that awful remake to pixie dust). As opposed to repeating the original, or going the slasher way like Part 2 did, THE OMEN 3 THE FINAL CONFLICT threaded some new ground. It dropped us into Damien's fascinating world, let us revel in it whilst going further when it came to twisted shite going down! The token Omen franchise elements at play (the dog, the wild kills, the Jerry Goldsmith score) also helped in making it all go down smoothly at that.
Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were all considered for the role of Damien Thorn at some point, but lucky for us they went for an unknown (at the time) instead. Who else but Sam Neill (Damien) could've played an adult Damien this well? The charm, the creepy factor, the hair, the intensity...Neill aced it and carried the movie admirably. Themovie also had two things to be mucho proud of. 1- It had one of the meanest mainstream movie deaths under its belt (a priest burns to a crisp while trapped in melting plastic sheets). 2- Stuntman Vic Armstrong performed a Guinness World Records stunt here: a one-hundred-foot backward fall from a bridge. At the time, Armstrong called it: "The most frightening stunt of his career".
Although I still wonder how the movie would have turned out if the director of the original Richard Donner (who served as executive producer on this one) had directed it (he was set to do it but his legal troubles with The Salkinds on Superman II mucked that up) am still happy with what we got. Re-visit the movie if you ever have a chance, it is much better than you remember it being. Happy Birthday Omen 3!
SPILLED BLOOD: The scene where the character of Barbara sees a vision of her dead baby was shot on slate 666. Accoriding to director Graham Baker, the camera jammed when it came time to shoot the bit... of course it did! Satan don't like it when you muck with his rep!
SYNOPSIS: A slimy company (aren't they all, f*ck big business) uses peeps with telepathic/telekinetic powers for its own gain... until it back-fires that is.
THOUGHTS: I was introduced to the world of SCANNERS not via the birthday boy original but by way of its more action oriented sequel; Scanners II: The New Order (1991) which was directed by visual ace Christian Duguay. Which may explain why upon my first (and only) viewing of SCANNERS; I was a tad underwhelmed. Michael Ironside mugging deliciously for the camera and the classic exploding head bit aside, I thought it was a fairly boring ride. But that was then, will have to see it again to figure out what is now. On that you gotta respect writer/director David Cronenberg for what he accomplished then. The dude only had two weeks of pre-production under his belt and due to the Canadian Tax Credit structure they had; he had to start shooting the movie without a finished script. So he'd shoot in the day and write screenplay pages between in the wee hours of the morning. Must have been fun times when it came to locking locations...yeesh!
At the end of it all though; SCANNERS was the most successful Cronenberg movie at the time (before THE FLY kicked in), its exploding head bit is now known as a classic horror sequence, it spawned two sequels (the less said about Part 3, the better), two spin-offs (Scanner Cop Part 1 and 2) and for a while there we were threatened with a remake (to be directed by Darren Bousman) but the movie Gods smiled upon us and it seems to be RIP... for now. SCANNERS was and is the definition of the "little film that could". Happy Birthday Scanners!
SPILLED BLOOD: How did they do the exploding head bit? They filled a latex head with dog food and animal livers, and then shot it from behind with a 12-gauge shotgun. Ahhh the good old days...take that CGI!
SYNOPSIS: Halloween 2 began where the first one ended. Michael Myers (Dick Warlock) is now on the loose in Haddonfield, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is brought to the hospital, the dumb cops can’t find Michael and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is losing his beans trying to find our sneaky killer.
THOUGHTS: My relationship with HALLOWEEN 2 has been similar to my first love; up, down, up down, up down... and I don't mean f*cking over here, I mean I keep changing my mind as to how I feel about it. On a good day, I dig it! It's a bleaker opus than the original with way more violence and we find out more about Laurie’s tie to Michael. The movie came alive during its last block set in the hospital as Mike decided to inflict his own brand of medicine upon big breasted nurses and horny doctors while trying to get to Laurie. The flick also has a kill that I will always remember; a hypodermic needle being inserted into an eyeball in full close-up! OUCH!
On a bad day though, I got beefs with it. An hour or so of Mikey going from house to house like a warped mailman, killing folks I couldn't give two shits about (hence castrating any potential for suspense) got tiresome fast. Seeing less of The Shape would have made the movie scarier IMO, in this one he’s basically the main character. Yup Halloween 2, could have been so much better (Maybe if Carpenter's first choice Tommy lee Wallace would have directed it, as opposed to the then green Rick Rosenthal) but it still satisfies. I do have a fascination with the film (and its history, like how Carpenter shot some gore bits and edged the movie up in post, much to Rosenthal's dismay), as I keep going back to it and keep changing my mind about it. I love it, I hate it, I love to hate it, I hate to love it... like I said... just like my first love. Happy Birthday Halloween 2!
SPILLED BLOOD: Comedian Dana Carvey made his film debut here, playing some assistant.
SYNOPSIS: Hot chick (Maren Jensen) lives in the Pennsylvania farmlands with her man. One night her husband mysteriously kicks the bucket which results in her two best friends coming down from the city to have her back. Next thing ya know, peeps are dying, dangerous animals keep popping up in the girls bizznaz while the Amish-like neighbors (the Hitittes) bust chops and name drop the word “Incubus” any chance they get. WTF is going on here! A deadly blessing bitches, that's what!
THOUGHTS: I saw this one for the first recently and I gotta say it; it was quite the treat! Horror from the 70s and 80s are tops in my world and DEADLY BLESSING was no exception. It had me hooked the whole way, showcased well done fear set pieces, reeked of morose cinematography, was filled with swell ideas and had a bang-on cast to boot. It also totally came across as Wes Craven's training-wheels effort for NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and SCREAM. There was a bathtub scene in here that was pretty much a repeat of the Elm Street rub-a-dub bit.
Same went for the way Craven shot the ominous looking house, how he conveyed the teen dynamic and used bad dreams to up the “brrr” of the piece. At some point, Sharon Stone's character yaps about a nightmare she had, having to do with a spider and some scary dude calling her name. If I squinted real hard, it could've been the sequence from Elm Street when Tina tells Nancy about her nightmare. As for the Scream similarities? Try a whodunit and a hooded killer dressed in black doing the stalker doo! Yup, it was a trip to witness Craven doing his cinematic push-ups, the pumps that would bring him to the Horror Master level he's at today.
Granted the flick randomly suffered from the usual duh horror pitfalls, Sharon Stone's character was a pinch slim/grating, the final frames blew and all that it built up didn't really gel together come the finale. But ya know what? It didn't ruin the movie for me, I had a blast! Happy Birthday Deadly Blessing!
SPILLED BLOOD: The marquee at the theatre in town sports the title "Summer of Fear" which was of course a made-for-TV movie Wes Craven directed, that also starred Jeff East (star of Deadly Blessing).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLASS OF 1981!