For months now the demonic duo of Nom DePlume and Razor88 from The Church of Splatter-Day Saints and I have been trying to join forces for a joint review, only to have the idea put on the back-burner countless times for countless reasons. Finally the dark stars have aligned and we agreed to cover a film that none of us had seen before. We decided on David Paulsen and John Mason Kirby’s 1979 effort Savage Weekend, and who wouldn’t? It’s got Savage right in the title, right? And the poster is all kinds of badass, right? Unfortunately for all involved, this was yet another case of THE POSTER IS FUCKING LYING! Let’s do this shit, shall we?… Continue reading
I’m happy to have our good pal from up north, Erin V. of the Kill Panda Kill site, making his first visit to the Basement with his look at the road-punk classic Dudes. Find all kinds of Top 5 goodness and more at his site HERE
Growing up in northern Ontario in 80’s, there wasn’t a lot of access to punk music like there is today. Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet because his wife Tipper was too busy blaming the woes of society on bad language in record albums and the Much Music only had the Pepsi Power Hour, which was mostly hair metal bands and City Limits, which was on at midnight on Fridays, so you would have to tape it, if you remembered. So any movie that had any kind of punk rock reference was like gold to us back then and luckily Dudes just met the criteria.
After a Vandals show in New York, 3 punkers, Milo, Grant and Biscuit decide that they want to give up the New York groove and take a shot at living in L.A. With a thousand dollars in hand, that Milo got in an insurance deal, they jump into Grant’s Volkswagen bug and hit the road. On the way to L.A, they help a Elvis impersonator, Daredelvis get his camper back on the road. He thanks them and lets the guys know if they ever need anything, to give him a shout. Of course, no good deed gets unpunished and that night, while the guys are camping under the stars, they’re attacked by a gang of rednecks! And not the Jeff Foxworthy or Larry the Cable Guy kind with bad jokes, but the Deliverance kind! After the redneck’s rough up Grant and his friends, they take Milo’s jacket, rob them and before anything else happens, Grant sees a chance and takes it. He knocks down one of the thugs and the guys take off into the plains with the rednecks hot on their trail. The guys are chased throughout the desert and end up scaling the side of a rock but Milo slips and slides down into the hands of the rednecks. Milo tells the leader of the gang, Missoula to Fuck off and gets a bullet in the brain pan. Grant and Biscuit can’t believe they just killed Milo and surprisingly neither can some of the gang members. While they’re leaving can be heard arguing with Missoula about taking things to far. The next morning, Grant and Biscuit trudge their way through the desert and contact the police. They tell the guys that their sorry that they got robbed but don’t see any evidence of murder and Grant explains that they took Milo’s body. Frustrated with the cops, Grant and Biscuit decide to find Milo’s killers and get justice cowpunk style.
What originally drew me to this film was that Jon Cryer, who plays Grant, was in it. At the time, Jon Cryer seemed to me, to be the Anti-Matthew Broderick or the “if Broderick is unavailable, get Cryer to do it”, which made me feel for him. I really enjoyed Cryer’s work in Pretty in Pink and for some reason loved Morgan’s Stewart’s Coming Home, so I was totally game for this. I had no idea about who else was in, so I was also pretty excited to see that Flea, who plays Milo and Lee Ving, playing the redneck badguy Missoula, were in this as well. I had just discovered the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lee Ving, from Fear and his excellent role in Clue. However, what totally sold me on the film was, The Vandals at the beginning, playing Urban Struggle. The moment the song kicks in and you can see the Vandals playing at a shitty dive with maybe 15 people in the club, you knew this was punk rock and this might have been the first time I think I saw someone stage diving.
My only issue with the film is that there is a strange metaphysical sub plot that is never really explained. Gran keeps seeing this Marlboro Man motherfucker that no one else can see until him and Biscuit get real drunk. At the same time, Biscuit is having the flashes of Native Americans being killed and their villages burned by Missoula and his gang but dress in 18th century battle garb. Maybe it was a metaphor for their journey, I’m not that deep but think it ate up time in the film that could have been put to use better.
Overall though, this a fun film, director Penelope Spheeris does a great modern-day western. Plenty of bar fights, people riding horses and a pretty decent soundtrack to boot. Give it a watch if you get a chance.
I am no fan of musicals as a rule but Richard Elfman’s seriously entertaining and downright bizarre Forbidden Zone is an exception. The Forbidden Zone is a non-sensical, amusing and incredibly silly romp filmed in black and white with music from The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (soon to be known as just Oingo Boingo). If nothing else, you are unlikely to ever see anything quite like it.
Friday, April 17 4:00 PM Venice California
Huckleberry P. Jones, local pimp, narcotics peddler, slum-lord was seen entering a vacant house that he owned. While stashing some heroin in the basement, he stumbled upon a mysterious door. Naturally, he entered…
Only to find… ???
Jones retrieved the heroin and promptly sold the place.
One month later the Hercules family moves in to the now vacant house…
Ma & Pa Hercules – Ma is a stay at home type and Pa works at the tar pits.
Frenchy Hercules – The adorable and audacious Frenchy acquired a French accent while attending school in France; hence her nickname.
Flash Hercules – I have no idea why this guy is called Flash, but he wears a cub scout uniform and a beanie and is one old-looking kid!
Gramps Hercules – For some reason Flash has to tie up Gramps before he goes to school each morning.
Will the Hercules family discover what lies behind the mysterious door in the basement? You bet they do! Frenchy is the first to open the mysterious door. In an animated sequence we see Frenchy travelling through an intestine and shot out of a huge butt onto a bed of pillows. Frenchy has just entered the Sixth Dimension! The strange and foreign place is ruled by Queen Doris and King Fausto. It is not long before Frenchy is detained by the princess and brought to the Queen and King. King Fausto sends Frenchy to cell number sixty-three; this is where he keeps his favourite concubines. King Fausto falls hard for Frenchy on account of her French accent. When the rest of the Hercules family realize that Frenchy has disappeared they also dare to enter the door to the Sixth Dimension.
Right from the nifty opening animated title sequence you know you are in for something wonderfully strange. Don’t try to make sense of it; just kick back and enjoy. The sets look like something out of a school play, the costumes are crazy and a lot of people are wearing their underwear and Mickey Mouse ears (Apparently King Fausto has a Mouseketeer obsession). Some of you will be pleased to know the Princess character appears topless throughout. Every character is insanely over-the-top and is played with fevered enthusiasm. There is countless musical numbers and if you hate the music this will be immensely painful; personally I thought the music was a hell of a lot of fun! There is sex (if you consider dry humping sex), nudity and Satan! That’s right folks; Satan lives in the Sixth Dimension and looks a lot like Danny Elfman. He wants the topless princess for his bride and I can not think of a better match for him. Have I mentioned there is a gorilla, a gunfight, a Frogman butler and a character called Squeezit who thinks he’s a chicken? It has something for everyone and it all ends with one big happy musical number. Serve with Tequila. Forbidden Zone is highly recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Richard Elfman
Starring: HervÈ Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell, Gisele Lindley, Jan Stuart Schwartz, Marie-Pascale Elfman, Virginia Rose, Gene Cunningham, Phil Gordon, Hyman Diamond, Matthew Bright, Danny Elfman, Viva, Joe Spinell, Brian Routh, Martin von Haselberg
If your youth was spent watching Return Of The Living Dead and Night Of The Demons and fueled by a snot-filled, three chord soundtrack then director Dan Riesser’s 2010 short film Night Of The Punks is just what you need to occupy yourself for eighteen minutes after you read this. Carrying the horror-comedy torch lit by the aforementioned films, NOTP is the story of The Brain Deads, a small-town punk band that finally has their first out-of-town gig. Anyone who has ever been in a local garage band, or hung out with guys who were, will instantly relate to the opening sequence in the car. On the way to the gig, the four members of the band and their merch girl talk shit, blast the radio and crack open road beers in anticipation of the show. Unfortunately, when they arrive at the gig the only people in the place are the super-creep promoter, the sound-guy, two douchebag hipsters and half a dozen seemingly normal leather jacketed, hooded Ramones-clone punk rockers at the bar.
Raymond, the creepy promoter, wants the band to start playing right away, even without a crowd and with their bass player in the bathroom with pre-gig “nervous shits.” It’s not long into their set when all hell breaks loose as it turns out the punks in the crowd are actually flesh hungry demons. Turns out Raymond has a little ritual he likes to perform involving sacrificing traveling bands to satan. That’s right, it seems the Dark Lord’s taste in tunes has progressed a bit from the eighties when he was rocking out to Ozzy and the Crue. Now he’s pogoing in hell with Sid Vicious and GG Allin!
The effects in Night Of The Punks, are predominately practical with a little bit of well-done CG, and look really good. I especially like the look of the demon punks, which is reminiscent of the Evil Dead demons. Another thing NOTP gets right is the balance between the humor and the horror, giving it the eighties vibe it’s obviously going for. You can definitely tell that Riesser has some well-loved 80s horror tapes tucked away somewhere in his collection. Another bonus is that a lot of the humor is aimed at music nerds, which I very much enjoyed being an unapologetic music nerd myself. There’s a scene in Raymond’s office that will have vinyl junkies chuckling as the band’s drummer Hooch nerds out over a crate of records. If a well-crafted punk rock horror comedy is your particular cup of piss then look no further, you can watch this slice of throwback goodness below. After you do, leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Night Of The Punks scores 4 out of 5 Screaming Jamies
This installment of Damaged, is brought to you by our friend Shawn Robare, who you may know as one-third of the Cult Film Club podcast and website, which you can find HERE. You can also find him laying down nostalgia and rolling in it like a pile of Jem and the Hologram dolls at Branded In The ’80s HERE. So without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains!
“I think that girl is great, she said what I think all day long…”
Though most might recognize Diane Lane’s from some of her early performances in The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, and as the highly kidnap-able rock goddess Ellen Aim in Water Hill’s 1984 rock opera Streets of Fire, it was as Corrine Burns, frontwoman for the titular punk band in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains where she really kicked the door down and took Hollywood by storm. One part Poly Styrene, one part Patti Smith, one part Exene Cervenka, with a dash of Belinda Carlisle, sixteen year-old Lane’s Corri…excuse me, 3rd Degree Burns encapsulates the listless, pissed off, and slightly hopeless tone of the late 70s, early 80s West Coast punk scene. I’m not sure where the flick falls in the echelon of punk or punk inspired movies like Sid & Nancy, Repo Man, Suburbia or Rock ‘n Roll High School, but on my list it’s right there near the top.
Written by the woefully under-rated Nancy Dowd (Slap Shot, Coming Home, Cloak & Dagger – uncredited) and directed by legendary music/film producer/director Lou Adler (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Up in Smoke), the film is probably most notable for helping to kick off Lane’s career as well as managing to wrangle the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook, alongside Paul Simonon of The Clash to form the backbone of the punk super group The Looters, fronted by Ray Winstone. The Looters are basically an on-screen variation of Jones & Cook’s short-lived, post-Sex Pistols band The Professionals, and their song, aptly titled “Professionals” is the central song to the soundtrack and the plot of the film. The flick also features Vince Welnick and John “Fee” Waybill from The Tubes as a couple of over-the-hill bloated glam/metal rockers in the band The Corpses.
In short the film follows a young all-girl punk band, The Stains (Lane, Laura Dern and Marin Kanter), as they try to escape from the doldrums and depression of a rural suburban town. After catching a local show featuring an up and coming UK punk band the Looters opening for a rundown metal outfit known as the Corpses, the girls talk their way into joining the cross-country tour. Though at first The Stains are essentially ignored or booed off stage, things quickly change as Burns unleashes a side of her personality she had been keeping in check. Donning some fish net stockings, underwear, a see-through blouse and a cut up heavily streaked new hairdo, Burns starts grabbing the mike and in true Patti Smith fashion starts mixing poetry and rage to incense the audiences of the local dive clubs. Before you can blink an eye The Stains start winning over the young girls in the crowds with their new look, and after stealing the Looters one big hit, they single-handedly take over the tour and rocket to superstardom.
Though written as a satire of the music industry with a heavy hand placed on the ignorance and tossing aside of talent over the money-making machine of mass marketable, pre-packaged bands, the strength of the film lies in its ability to capture a decent amount of the nihilism and ennui that pervaded the punk scene of the early 80s. To me it nails that sensibility of pissed off suburban kids who want to scream and shout, lashing out at the over indulgence and commercialism of the previous decade; a time when you only needed to know a couple of chords and how to keep a basic beat, where the passion of the music came from the intensity and anger of the musicians expressing themselves with raw abandon. It’s in the little moments, like at the beginning of the film when an interviewer is questioning Burns (Lane) on her life as an orphan and whether or not she thinks that her views will change as she grows older, to which Burns innocently replies, “Grow older?” Though the music in the film is nowhere near this level per-se, it reminded me of what it was like to hear Black Flag or the Minutemen for the first time and it evoked that feeling that a handful of guys and gals who hand enough talent to play, but who weren’t trying to write commercially viable songs or become the next big thing. Even though the film is aiming to tackle the urge to rise quickly to fame, there’s a punk rock heart at the center that’s impossible to ignore.
We kick off our celebration of all things punk rock in film with a guest review from the tag team of trash, Nom and Razor from The Church of Splatter-Day Saints. For more of their bastardly antics check ’em out HERE
A group of Reagan-era punks and skins squat in an abandoned California suburb after fleeing their dysfunctional homes. They are The Rejected……..and this is their story.
Nom DePlume: This is the first real-punk movie that I fell in love with and it was due purely to the realism of being an outcast at that particular moment in time. The cast is mostly comprised of actual punks – not actors – so even in their ineptitude they excel as the film is realistic in its portrayal and not a contrived piece of shit. They can see through the “American Dream” bullshit and are pissed off that the society (from the wealthy to cops, community leaders, and their parents) that looks down on them are soulless fucks who abuse, molest, mistreat, disown and abandon their own children. So they do the only thing that makes sense to them: move out and take care of their own by squatting in an abandoned suburban tract home and raiding open middle-class garages for food and supplies. This is an astonishing first feature from Spheeris and I have to give her insane credit for keeping it genuine and about the kids and the lifestyle and not turning it into some plastic Hollywood bullshit to turn a quick profit. (and with Roger Corman producing that’s saying something)
Razor88: I concur – the film is very authentic. The fact that the kids in the film aren’t actors does show through but it adds to the integrity of the film in this case. I wasn’t “living the life” so to speak when I discovered it but having grown up in the 80s it’s always struck a chord with me. I remember seeing it in the video stores with that hideous neon pop art cover that made it look like a David Bowie sex tape/sci-fi thriller. I swear that fucking box art kept me from actually seeing this film that would ironically become a staple of my viewing repertoire. And really, how can anyone deny the awesomeness of a film that shows a toddler getting mauled by wild dogs within the first three minutes? Talk about kicking you in the teeth from the get-go and it doesn’t let up until the very end. I know Corman wrote the check but he certainly didn’t have a hand in it as far as I can tell. No space ships or insect rape here (although to be fair, most films would benefit from insect rape – this is one of those rare exceptions).
Nom: Ugh! That cover was embarrassing, a new-wave/Liquid Sky rip-off having nothing to do with the film at all. Speaking of new-wave, there’s the scene at the D.I. show where Skinner insults the new-wave poser and then with the help of a few others proceeds to humiliate and rip her dress off. I’ve read some reviews where they really rake this movie over the coals for that but it was about her being a radically out-of-place scenester who was there for all the wrong reasons. It was about having some fucking integrity and sex aside, you don’t get a free pass because you’ve got a gash, ya know? It was about teaching her a lesson if she had been strong enough to hear it. Speaking as a punk who grew up during the cold war and seeing the massive changes that have gone on within the community in the last 25 years this movie stands as a time capsule of an era. There was a sense of hopelessness and apathy trapped inside the angst-ridden kill-or-be-killed mentality. We see that same girl later in a Citizens Against Crime meeting dressed like the girl next door as her Daddy complains about the T.R. gang and punks in general. My attitude has always been that she was dutifully weeded out and not that the punks were being just as fascist as those they oppose. They opened their doors to anyone – social class and sex made no difference – it was about survival and need and not about how some poser slut dresses so that she can piss her parents off on the weekend. That little rant aside, I have always wished this movie would have had better bands – Circle Jerks, FEAR, etc. Why oh why did fucking TSOL have to be in this? Puke.
R88: The bitch was asking for it… I didn’t feel sorry for her in the least. Actually it always kind of irked me that the singer for D.I. starts whining at the kids assaulting her. That’s not a dig at D.I. – They’re alright – but come on. I do agree it would have been nice to see some better bands in this. FEAR would have been killer, GG Allin a wet dream (although I seriously doubt they would have been able to get a release very easily with the Troubled Troubadour’s performance). I like TSOL… at least the stuff they did prior to what they were performing in Suburbia. Could the guy have had more makeup on? At least they were fun to watch, and incidentally the best of the three bands in my opinion.
I noticed a fair bit of poignant symbolism here. The phone booth at the beginning – a monolith of hope in the darkness right before the dogs come, the T.R. kids living in a dilapidated house that was meant to be someone’s utopian dream home now a rotting husk of economic ruin and shattered dreams yet right on the outskirts of where “civilized” society lives and breeds. Even the land they live on is owned by the county and therefore outside the city’s influence. The kids are truly isolated from everything in every way and Spheeris really drives that home brilliantly. It’s almost like T.R. are unto themselves a pseudo-dystopian society nestled amongst the straight-laced, invading their space to take what they need like some sort of rebel force overthrowing an oppressive regime. The irony here is these kids are truly just products of their environment. I really liked that Spheeris has a lot to say and the film isn’t just a showcase or excuse to put a few punk bands into a movie.
Nom: That’s interesting because I thought some of it was a little heavy-handed… the wild dogs being a metaphor for the kids, remnants of lives that effortlessly move on without them now left to fend for themselves and becoming feral in the process (The alternate title of The Wild Side would have been fucking tragic). The hokey comic-relief-obviousness of the redneck assholes passing moralistic judgment on T.R. as they sit in a fucking strip club watching titties jiggle and plan their ignorant, right-wing attack on children. That being said, there were a few scenes of absolute brilliance that for fleeting moments transcended celluloid and evoked the beauty and power found in unity. I’m speaking of course of the slow motion shot of the gang walking in the upper middle class neighborhood and the shot of all of them scattered motionless and silent across Sheila’s front yard. Fucking gorgeous. The thing that I probably love most about the film is that it ends on such a down-note, it doesn’t wrap up in a neat bow at the end with everyone going back home to happy families. It ends as it begins, in the midst of tragedy and loss with no definitive path and no answers in sight.
Nom/R88: Suburbia perfectly captures a frustrated subculture in an era of depression. It pulls no punches, is exceedingly thought-provoking and remains relevant to this day. Essential viewing.
Official COSDS Nunspank(TM) Rating: 4
A meteor shower blasts through a Russian space satellite inhabited by (you guessed it) spiders, leaving the remnants to fall on New York City. After a New York Transit employee is killed checking on the subway line the satellite hit, doctors discover eggs in the mans stomach and the entire neighborhood is evacuated and quarantined. separated couple Jason and Rachel are swept up into the middle of the whole mess as they try to rescue their daughter from their guarded, quarantined apartment.
This is not what I want from a monster spider movie. You know what I do want from a monster spider movie? Monster fucking spiders! Big as Godzilla, havoc inducing, blood thirsty spiders. I don’t want the divorcing couple, or their children in peril. Neither do I want the army and their damn quarantines. I’m sick to death of the quarantines! I don’t care if it’s a zombie plague, a crazy plague, a rage plague or a gang of mutant Russian space spiders – stop with the quarantines! I understand fully that these plot devices are there to set a dramatic and/or suspenseful tone and move the story along and blah blah, make with the fucking spiders already! I truly believe that Spiders should have been set up like the giant bug movie version of The Raid. Give us ten minutes of necessary introductory pleasantries, and eighty minutes of pure monster spider carnage, eight feet on the accelerator at all times. Alas, what we get is an hour of the aforementioned snoozy time family dramatics and the army being the army before we get any real arachnid mayhem. By this point it was a little late in the day for me to get into it. This is disheartening, although unsurprising, seeing as this is directed by Tibor Takacs, director of eighties kiddie monster classic The Gate. The last thirty minutes does have some good spider action, most of which involves the army blasting the shit out of the spiders that are trying to eat them, and the spiders do look surprisingly good. Unfortunately we only get a short amount of time with the queen spider before the climax of the film, and the worst last-minute of a movie I’ve seen in a while. If pure monster spider goodness is what you’re after, keep looking, Spiders falls short.
Spiders rates 1 Screaming Jamie
When I was first made aware of Dredd being made it was during a drunken conversation about the Robocop remake, at a bar after seeing Cabin In The Woods. I was quick to dismiss the possibility of a new film doing justice to the character. Not long after I caught the trailer and upon discovering it was to be in 3D (surprise, surprise) I was even more put off. Honestly the trailer didn’t do much for me and I have issues with 3D and the studio system’s recent abuse of the format. Later still, when I read the plot synopsis and its extraordinary resemblance to The Raid (one of my absolute favorite films of the year) I was convinced I did not need to see this film… probably ever.
So when a friend called last week to see Dredd 3D on opening night I had serious reservations… at first. I try not to be critical of films before seeing them, as hard as that is sometimes, and it was with this mindset I decided to give the trailer another look. It definitely got me thinking about how much I dig Judge Dredd and how exciting the possibility of a good interpretation of the character on film could be. So with a new-found excitement I headed to the theatre on Friday and I have to say, I was not disappointed.
In Dredd 3D we spend the day in Mega City One, an enclosed city that stretches from what used to be Boston to Washington D.C., blocked off from the irradiated remains of its surroundings. Here in Mega City One, crime is rampant and the streets are policed by the Judges, who have the authority to arrest, sentence and, if deemed necessary, execute criminals at their discretion. This particular day we follow the ultimate bad ass Judge, Dredd, and his partner for the day, Anderson, who Dredd is assigned to train and assess her abilities to become a full Judge. Dredd is clearly not thrilled with this assignment, but Anderson turns out to have skills that will benefit them both throughout the film.
The two end up on a homicide call that leads them to the 200 story hideout and center of operations for local hooker turned drug lord Ma-Ma. Ma-Ma has been keeping the city high as a kite with a new drug called slo-mo that makes the user feel time at a fraction of its actual speed. It’s up to the Judges to work their way through Ma-Ma’s crew and bring her down.
The scar-faced Ma-Ma is a ruthless bitch who has no problem getting half the city hooked on slo-mo and disposing of anybody else who gets in the way. She also possesses an almost Asia Argento quality, in the way that even though she’s all beaten up and scarred ugly she’s still kind of hot… maybe that’s just me… She is definitely the strongest character in the film and is a worthy opponent to Dredd. Her gang on the other hand is another story. I didn’t feel like she had any real back up at all. Okay, I didn’t want to do this, but I have to make the comparison. In The Raid, Tama was a bad motherfucker, but not half as bad as his crew, especially his right-hand man Mad Dog. Ma-Ma, although a much better character than Tama, has no stand-out members of her gang. They all just seem very disposable.
Weak evil henchmen aside, Dredd 3D does offer a lot to enjoy. The 3D, surprisingly, being one. I normally don’t go for 3D, but the use of it in this to show the effects of the slo-mo was really well done, and it doesn’t over-stay its welcome like in so many other films. These scenes include one of Ma-Ma, high on slo-mo in the bathtub, clearly not heading N.W.A.’s advice of “don’t get high on your own supply”. As she splashes the water with her hand we’re treated to a slow motion effect that brings to mind seeing trails when on LSD. All around the visual effects were well done and coupled with the amped up violence, kept the less-than-original story moving along quite nicely. Karl Urban’s portrayal of Judge Dredd, all scowl and helmet, was a welcome return to the comic book roots of the character, which was my main concern going in. Olivia Thirlby as Anderson does a fine job standing side by side with Dredd and laying waste to Ma-Ma’s crew. I found that even though the story is nothing we haven’t seen before, the performances of the leads and the outstanding visuals make Dredd 3D a more than worthy trip to the theatre.
I give Dredd 3D 3.5 out of 5 Screaming Jamies
Zombie A-Hole is the sophomore effort from writer/director Dustin Mills. You might know Dustin from his 2009 debut The Puppet Monster Massacre. Despite it’s (rather ridiculous) title, Zombie A-Hole isn’t a zombie film in the way most people think of zombie films. There’s no Romero style walking dead here. What we do have is a demonically possessed “zombie” who hunts and kills identical twin girls and a revenge seeking cowboy type who’s hellbent on stopping him.
After the murder of one sister and the disfigurement of another, Frank Fulci (played by first timer Josh Eal) sets out to exact revenge on the titular zombie a-hole who is to blame. His quest takes him across two states, led by some sort of demon hunting tool in the form of a foot tall corpse in a box (think zombie monkey), and aided by a hitchhiker who, as it turns out, has a connection to our demon zombie. The film is a mash-up of influences, from the Evil Dead inspired demonic zombie to the body count and boobs quotient that is more aligned with the slasher flicks of the eighties. There’s even a nod (blatant ripoff, but completely forgivable) to revenge classic Thriller: A Cruel Picture. To top it off our demon zombie is clad in a 1920s gangster style pinstriped suit. Not sure exactly why, but i can roll with it.Seeing as how he is killing off sets of twins there’s an extra high body count, and while some of the kills are somewhat lackluster, there are a couple that are downright great.
While Zombie A-Hole is a boobs and blood filled good time it is certainly not without fault. There’s an ill-advised animated flashback scene that can be done without, and at almost two hours, the film could use some editing. Mills hasn’t figured out yet that 98% of directors should not edit their own films. More often than not a director, especially a young director, will keep scenes in or let them drag on unnecessarily. Mills should have ditched the animated sequence and the boring rock soundtrack and used whatever he spent on those to have someone edit the film. There is also the effects which vary in quality from practical throat slittings that work just fine to various CG effects that, for the most part are pretty bad. There’s actually one scene that would have been a succesful jump scare if it wasn’t immediately followed by a CG effect that killed it.
All of this aside, Zombie A-Hole is one of the better low-budget indie flicks I’ve seen in quite a while. Yes, it’s hokey in parts but that is part of the film’s charm. Mills definitely shows talent as both a writer and director and I’d like to see what he could do with a little help from an editor.
Zombie A-Hole scores 2 out of 5 Screaming Jamies
Maniac Cop is, in my opinion, one of the most under rated horror films of the 1980s. Not only does it blend subgenres like a Magic Bullet on high-speed, it boasts one of the best line ups of genre legends in its cast and crew. Okay, try to keep up – in front of the camera we’ve got Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell, neither of which need introduction here. Next we have Richard fucking Roundtree as Commissioner Pike. That’s right, Shaft himself is the HNIC of the police force! Behind the camera we have director William Lustig (Maniac, Vigilante), writer/producer Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, Q the Winged Serpent), executive producer James Glickenhaus (The Exterminator) and cinematographer James Lemmo (Madman, Vigilante, Ms .45, etc). It doesn’t get much more solid than that. Maniac Cop has always held a strong cult following, but I’ve always felt it deserved more attention.