You know a movie is good if the main character is a dog who mind controls people into killing themselves. For instance, if there’s a lawnmower, he will tell you to go stick your face in it and die. I applaud this B movie for having such an inventive plot. I also love the tedious, and ominous score. The one problem with the movie is the Satanic ritual that incarnates the dog with a spirit goes on for a bit long. But the sets and pace are great for a TV movie from that era.
Richard Crenna has had quite the career. He played Ross Perot in “On Wings of Eagles.” He faced off with Satan in the underrated “The Evil.” He was the annoying husband who gets bumped off in “Body Heat.” He was in the awesome 1989 film “Leviathan.” And, of course, he was Troutman in “First Blood.” All that undeniable talent gets put to the test in the hilarious cult horror classic “Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell.”
How bad is this movie? Well, it opens with a group of rich people performing a Satanic ceremony on a dog who is about to give birth. After that, one of the puppies is given to Richard Crenna and his family. They love the dog instantly, but the housekeeper Maria immediately knows something is wrong. She tries to light some candles for a Christian ritual, but it doesn’t work out and she burns to death. Soon the “devil” dog is on a rampage, killing other dogs and a few people she doesn’t like. In the end, the film comes down to Richard Crenna vs. the dog. Who will win? Watch and find out!
This little known 1984 cult movie Mid-Night Rider is about a male gigolo street hustler who roams the streets looking for tricks. Really bad disco plays as he walks around Sunset Blvd, mostly at night. This seems to be an ode to midnight Cowboy. This dude is hooking up with a bunch of chicks and there is tons of nudity. He also gets beaten up randomly early on, to add some noire.
Meanwhile, some female pimp in a funny retro car takes him around to appointments. At one point the voice-over says something about being dropped off with twelve year olds, and the viewer (me) cringes. The box for this movie is also inappropriate and misleading, in that it makes the movie look family friendly. The main guy is hugging a kid on the front of the box, and you think you are buying a Highway to Heaven clone because of the bad hair-dos. The movie sold in VHS clamshell box, to make matters worse, I found this beside Disney films at the local Goodwill. The back of the box has the gigolo sitting on some grass smiling next to the little boy.
A closer look at the box and you see a slogan about sex, drugs and violence – plus a bunch of crazy shit that happens as a result of an orgy gone wrong.
This film is a complete train wreck, and is somewhat disturbing. Yet in its pure awfulness it is somewhat mesmerizing. I-net searches show only one copy on Ebay and very few on Amazon. The title was obvopusly a play on the TV show Night Rider. And the box was an imitation of Highway to Heaven Films. This film is more like a stairway to hell though.
An uplifting story in B-movie cinema is Traci Lord’s ascendance from exploited porno actress to legit B and even A-movie star. For example, “Not of this Earth” is a wonderful 1988 cheeseball remake of Roger Corman’s “classic.” It rules. She bares her breasts but also shows strong comedic skills as a nurse who unknowingly works for a space alien who is stealing the “life force” from nubile women. To borrow a quote from a video store I used to frequent in Berkeley in the 1990’s this film is the “Showgirls” of sci-fi.
The film is so sexy and funny it doesn’t matter that it’s cheap. Jim Wynorski, who also made “Chopping Mall” and “The Return of Swamp Thing,” is an excellent sleazemaster whose films are very entertaining, The film, despite being made for less money than the original, turned out well and received a theatrical release and some decent reviews, leading to a role for Lords in the classic “Cry-Baby” and Stephen King’s “The Tommyknockers.” The 2010 widescreen DVD from Shout! Factory is very good and has commentary by Lords and Wynorski and an interview with Lords.
Another good B-movie starring Lords is “Shock ‘Em Dead,,” a 1990 horror comedy recently released to Blu-ray. It is about a hopeless loser geek who sells his sole to Satan so he can become a metal God. He gets his wish, but discovers he has to kill in order to continue his hedonistic lifestyle. Lords plays the “pure woman” who likes him whom he must seduce to end the curse. Although the film is cheesy, it has a decent plot and the songs are hilarious and pretty good. No longer required to shed her clothes, Lords is appealing in this obscure but underrated gem. Check it out!
Traci Lords is a reminder that a girl can rise from inglorious beginnings and become a movie star and decent actress. These two films are a must for any B-movie fan’s library! Thanks, Traci!