Going into “Hell Fest,” I knew three things: 1. The trailers and
posters were awesome. 2. The filmmakers are talented, with the
director having edited “Get Out” and the producer having made “Aliens” and “Tremors.” 3. The reviews are TERRIBLE! Having seen the film, I can now report that the bad reviews are way off-base and this is one of the scariest films of the year. Almost a close uncredited remake of “The Funhouse,” it focuses on a group of teens attending a Halloween haunt and theme park known as the Hell Fest. Unbeknownst to them, a slasher wearing a really scary mask is going on a killing spree using the park as cover. Even once one of the teenagers figures out what is going on, it is nearly impossible for her to get anyone to believe her. A well-made thrill ride with a truly ingenious surprise ending, this movie will haunt your dreams for nights on end. “Hell Fest” delivers a HELL of a good scare!
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!
Tired of big Hollywood stinkers like “Assassin’s Creed” and “Beauty and the Beast”? Ready for some serious B-movie fun? Prepare yourself for two movies out on DVD that are way more entertaining than that “Boss Baby” crap.
First up is the 2009 remake of “Night of the Demons,” which stars Shannon Elizabeth (from “American Pie”), Monica Keena (from “Freddy Vs. Jason”) and Edward Furlong (no introduction needed). This film follows the basic plot and features many of the same exploitative elements (read: boobs) that made the 1988 movie with Linnea Quigley (who cameos here) so much fun. In short, a bunch of dorky college kids plus a drug dealer (Furlong) get together at an old New Orleans manor to celebrate Halloween. Soon they discover that the house is a conduit for demons who want to possess seven of them and take over the world. Can Edward Furlong and company stop taking heroin and playing spin the bottle long enough to save the world?
This is a $10 million film that went straight to video, probably because the original film is not nearly as famous as classics like “The Omen” and “Halloween.” The story is acceptable and the special effects, makeup effects, and other technical attributes are really good. The only actor to make an impression is Furlong, who plays his part convincingly and with pathos. He deserves a chance at a comeback. Overall, the film is about as good as the original, which means it’s undistinguished but tons of fun. Readers are advised to rent it on Netflix.
Second up is 1988’s “Nightmare at Noon,”(aka “Death Street U.S.A.”) a truly whacko ripoff of “The Crazies” about a mute albino (played by Brion James) who starts a government experiment by contaminating the water of a small town, turning those unfortunate people who drink it into crazed killers. Meanwhile, a scummy lawyer (played by Wings Hauser) and his wife pick up a hitchhiker (Bo Hopkins) on their way into this town while the sheriff (played by George Kennedy) and his daughter try to figure out what’s going on.
Basically this starts as a zombie film, turns into sort of a western (“High Noon” is playing at the town drive-in.), and then it turns into a high-concept “Blue Thunder” kind of thing. It’s completely crazy and absolutely never dull. George Kennedy is great, the technical credits are good and the music by Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer are very effective. Bo Hopkins and Wings Hauser are quite the team, having also starred together in “Mutant,” In short, this is a crazy killer B film that is worth seeking out.
I should note, in closing, that I had never heard of either of these two films before picking them up. As a result, they were much better than expected. Check out “Night of the Demons” (2009) and “Nightmare at Noon” if you want good old-fashioned B-movie fun! –CoolAC
About two years ago a film buff friend of mine gave me “Deadly Prey” on Blu ray for my birthday. I had never heard of it but I watched it immediately and was very impressed. “Deadly Prey” is the best “Rambo” rip-off ever made, and also probably the best Bad Action film of all time.
The plot is about a super-ripped Vietnam Vet (played by Ted Prior, director David A. Prior’s brother) who is kidnapped while taking out the garbage. He ends up at a remote facility where he and other “contestants” are being hunted down and killed and must kill in response or die! One of the people in charge of this “game” is his old drill sergeant. And eventually the Vet’s family finds him.
That’s all the plot this movie has. Basically it is scene after scene of people getting killed in the goofiest ways possible, including grenades, knives, leeches, hand-to-hand combat by the always shirtless Ted Prior. So many people die (basically everyone except the hero!) that the film becomes a kind of Zen experience that you just have to kind of roll with. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, the movie concludes with a scalping. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a scalping on-screen.
Basically, “Deadly Prey” is a much more fun version of “Missing in Action 2” and the later “Hard Target.” The somewhat poor picture and sound quality on the Blu-ray enhance the experience. This film is cheap but hilarious and action packed! The director also made a film called “Kill Zone” which is almost the same thing and also entertaining. Some of the many works of the director include “Killer Workout” and the long-awaited 2013 sequel “Deadliest Prey,” also starring Ted Prior. Both of these are available on Blu-ray. Sadly, David A. Prior died in 2015. Because his movies are so much fun, I am giving him a Groin.com lifetime achievement award, in honor of his ability to make Great Trash. If you like Bad Action, check out these films!