Bonus Friday the 13th review: Cat’s Eye (1985)

One from the re watch pile…
Cat’s Eye (1985)

The cover of the Umbrella Bluray release of Cat’s Eye


Film: I loves me an anthology film…. yeeeehaw! 

In the 80s there was a veritable Trevor trove of cool anthology films that all came out: Creepshow, Creepshow 2, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Tales from the Quadead Zone… maybe not that last one… but the mainstream ones were all entertaining and had great production values and big names attached. 

Cat’s Eye is certainly no exception to that rule, if anything, Cat’s Eye has a really nice pedigree (heh heh ‘pedigree’? Cat? Ahhhh forgedaboudit!). Let’s start with the cast: Airplane’s Robert Hayes, Videodrome’s James Woods, Firestarter’s Drew Barrymore, Casino’s Alan King, Dune’s Kenneth McMillan, Alien 3’s Charles S. Dutton… hell, even Scooby Doo’s Frank Welker does some special vocal stuff in the film! I also have to admit to having somewhat of a crush on Mary D’arcy, who played Woods’ wife in the film.

It doesn’t stop there though: this film was directed by Lewis Teague, a director who knows how to economically tell a story to various degrees of success, with films like Cujo, Wedlock, Jewel of the Nile and Alligator under his belt. When I say ‘economically’, I don’t mean that as an insult either: Teague tells the story so it is easy to understand and the performances he gets from his actors is always a good one.

Lastly, and most definitely not leastly… is that a word… we have this movie featuring three tales by horror legend Stephen King! Two of the stories, Quitter’s Inc and The Ledge were from King’s anthology book Night Shift, although The Ledge was first published in Penthouse (which is referenced in the story), whereas the final one, General, is an original tale made for the film.

Cat’s Eye starts with our introduction to a cat who is seemingly on the wrong side of a couple of King’s other villains, Cujo and Christine (in a nice nod to Teague’s and Carpenter’s films) before escaping to New York, where after a vision (yes, the cat has a vision) of a girl in trouble, he is kidnaped by a corporation called Quitters Inc. and we are thrown into our first tale where we see Dick (James Woods) wanting to quite smoking and going to a clinic called Quitters Inc. who have rather extreme measures of helping you quit… including torture… but will Dick quit?

Robert Hayes on the edge


The cat escapes Quitters Inc. and finds himself taken possession of by a gangster named Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) who has kidnapped Norris (Robert Hayes), a man with whom his wife is cheating, and bets him that he can’t circumnavigate the ledge around his penthouse suite: the prize being freedom, money and his wife… will Norris make it?

A young Drew Barrymore using her ‘pleeeeeeeease’ face


The final story, General, sees the cat, now named General by his new owner, played by Drew Barrymore, living with a family who have something living in their house… something Evil… that perhaps only General is aware of… will General save the family?

This film is a great deal of fun and is a real product of its time. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a couple of funny segments using a cover of the Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’. It’s entertaining and with the loose story style starring the tribulations of the cat, the short tales flow into each other with no hiccup or ‘Cryptkeeper’ to keep the movie running, which is refreshing and a great idea.

Score: ***1/2

The menu screen from the Umbrella release of Cat’s Eye


Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Umbrella release, region B Bluray of the film which runs for approximately 94 minutes and is presented in a perfectly fine 2.40:1 image with a matching 2.0 DTS-HD audio

Score: ***1/2

Extras: A couple of nice fresh extras on this disc:

Johnny Norris On The Ledge: Robert Hayes Remembers Cat’s Eye is a fond recollection of the time Hayes had in making this film. It’s not just a typical 5 minute ‘everyone was wonderful’ type thing either, it’s a fairly detailed half-hour chat.

Like Herding Cats: A Conversation With Animal Trainer Teresa Ann Miller is a quite fascinating look at the skill of animal training, and the Miller family as career animal trainers.

We also have a trailer for the film.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s a fun, light-hearted (mostly) and easy to watch anthology so it gets a regular look.

Got Woods?

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The Fog (1980) Review

One from the re watch pile…
The Fog (1980)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: There’s several people who are real heroes of cinema for me: Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento are amongst them, and John Carpenter really stands up there. He is responsible for several films that I really like, like Halloween, They Live and Prince of Darkness, but it’s not just that: his soundtracks that he himself creates sit directly in my love of synth music too. This movie, The Fog, is no exception.

I am not really a ghost/ supernatural fan when it comes to horror movies as I’d rather a slasher or a giallo or mutants or monsters: I like tactile, physical baddies and I think that comes from not believing in ghosts makes me not fear them. Sure a jump scare might alarm me, but I won’t walk away from the film traumatised.

That’s not to say I don’t still watch them though as even though the potential fear doesn’t scare me, I can still enjoy the story, performance and if I’m lucky, some chunky gore.

This is one of those times where the film is solid and the fact it’s a supernatural tale doesn’t matter.

The beautiful seaside town of Antonio Bay has a dark past where a ship full of lepers were killed when their boat was lead to its destruction. Now, 100 years later, the town is ready for its centenary under the guidance of Kathy Williams (Janet Leigh) but the local priest, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) has discovered, hidden in the church, a diary telling the awful tale of the founding of the town, but the show must go on regardless.

Adrienne Barbeau… sigh.


A strange occurrence is happening on this celebration though: a mysterious fog is moving into town, and effecting the lives of the town including DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), fisherman Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) and a hitchhiker he has picked up, Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis) but what is in the fog killing people?

Could it be the spirits of the Dead coming back to haunt the descendants of the original families of Antonio Bay? Of course it is.

The first thing I have to say I love about this film is it’s cast: Psycho’s Janet Leigh, Night of the Creeps Tom Atkins, Magnum Force’s Hal Holbrook, Swamp Thing’s Adrienne Barbeau and of course Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, to mention but a few.

Jamie Lee Curtis notices Tom Atkins’ moustache has stuck to his beer can.


This is film is clearly a Carpenter film as well, and I must say his surname suits perfectly as his stories me direction builds slowly and to a fantastic finale, as does his soundtrack… I love it when Carpenter scores his own films! 

This is no exception, and the record of this soundtrack gets a regular spin here at the To Watch Pile!

Really though, this film wins with its warm and likable characters who are victims of their ancestors crimes and potentially innocent themselves, and with Caroenter’s masterful handling of the pacing of the film.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen The Fog… or anything else by Carpenter, you need to fix that immediately.

Score: ****

Australian Bluray menu screen of The Fog


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian region A/B Bluray release, which runs for approximately 90 minutes, and is presented in a clear, but not wholly sharp, 2.35:1 image with a really nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Crappy extras on this release, I’m afraid. There is an audio and video configuration test. What?

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s one of Carpenter’s best: you better believe it should be watched over and over again!

No shower scene for Janet Leigh here.

The Funhouse (1981) 

One from the re watch pile…
The Funhouse (1981)

Arrow’s UK Bluray cover of The Funhouse


Film: To most people, Tobe Hooper peaked early in his career with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but I disagree. I am not the world’s biggest fan of TCM at all, in actually fact I find it to be poorly paced, with a really great payoff, I’ll grant you, but with quite possibly the world’s most annoying character, Franklin.

For me though, it’s Hooper post TCM and 80s output I like better: Eaten Alive, Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars, and even Tcm’s sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2! Another one of those I like is this film, The Funhouse, written by Larry Block aka Lawrence Block, whose only other real credit was the Matt Salinger Captain America movie made almost ten years after this.

Elizabeth Berridge in a not-so-famous shower scene.


The Funhouse tells of Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) and her blond date, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee) along with friends, Liz (Largo Woodruff) and her boyfriend, Ritchie (Miles Chaplin) who decide, against Amy’s father’s wishes, to visit a travelling carnival, but they get more than what they bargain for.

They decide to spend the night in the Funhouse, but unfortunately bear witness to the carnival barker’s (Kevin Conway) deformed son (Wayne Doba), kill the sideshow fortune teller (Sylvia Miles) after an unsuccessful sexual transaction. 

So there they are, trapped in a carnival attraction overnight, pursued by madness… will they all survive.

Oh, the freak show is gonna have freaks (Wayne Doba)


I dig this film. It’s classic 80s with weirdo characters and ridiculous practical make-ups, obnoxious jocks who are the good guys, virginal heroines (who’s boobs we get to see, which is an odd juxtaposition), slutty ‘best’ friends who tease their friend about being virginal, and a bizarre environment.

The acting is of a level one would expect from a film of this era, but Kevin Conway in his multiple roles as three different carnival barkers adds a bizarre almost respectability to the whole film, even though he is as creepy as hell, and the ultimate abusive parental figure.

I only saw this film for the first time when this release came out in 2011, and have been a fan ever since, mainly due to the overall tone of the film and the fact that I am an 80s connoisseur, though the fact I find both Elizabeth Berridge and Largo Woodruff cute doesn’t hurt either.

Recommended for fans of 80s slashers.

Score: ***1/2

UK Bluray menu


Format: This Arrow U.K. Multi-region Bluray release runs for approximately 95 minutes and is presented in a nice 2.35:1 image with a good stereo 2.0 audio. As one would expect the image is slightly grainy at times, and fairly artefact free.

Score: ***

Extras: There’s no shortage of extras on this disc.

First, three… count them… THREE commentaries! One by film critic/ journalists Calum Waddell and Justin Kerswell, the next by Craig Reardon and Jeffrey Reddick, and the last by Derek Power and Howard S. Berger. They are three completely different styles of commentary but all have areas of interest.

Next there is a trailer for the film.

Carnage at the Carnival sees Tobe Hooper reflect on his experiences in the making of Funhouse.

Miles of Mayhem has Miles Chapin, who played Ritchie, recollect on his experiences on the film and how every decision his character made screwed the futures of the other main characters.

The Make-up Madness of Craig Reardon looks at Reardon’s history with special effects in Hooper’s films.

Masterclass of Horror sees fellow horror director, and creator of Masters of Horror, Mick Garris talk about Tobe Hooper.

Tobe Hooper Q &A is a fairly poor quality interview with Hooper around the time of the release of his 2004 film, The Toolbox Murders. Despite the quality, it’s an interesting Q & A.

Stills Gallery is a slideshow of the make up and other behind the scenes shenanigans.

This is one of Arrow’s releases that has the multiple covers, 4 in total, a poster of the film and an illustrated essay booklet by horror historian and author Kim Newman.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s a fun 80s slasher and yeah, I’ll be watching it again.

Largo Woodruff taunts her best friend for being a virgin.

Ghoulies (1984)

One from the re watch pile…
Ghoulies (1984)

The bluray cover to Glass Doll Films release of Ghoulies


Film: If you’ve read other reviews I’ve written on this site, you may have come to the conclusion that my favourite horror movies come from the 80s, and that conclusion is correct. All the films I truly love are circa 1979 to 1986, and Ghoulies is one which whilst I am not a huge fan of, I do think is a fun film to watch.

Little monster movies were a cool fad of my beloved horror period, and this film was one amongst those, along with Gremlins and Troll. Ghoulies was written and directed by Luca Bercovici, who is possibly better known as an actor, judging by his actor credits.

Our story starts with baby Jonathon (played as an adult by Peter Liapis), being spirited away from his cult leader father, Michael Graves (Michael Des Barres) by cult member Wolfgang (Jack Nance) after a his sacrifice is unsuccessful.

25 years later, Jonathon returns to the house, with his girlfriend, Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan) after his father’s death and decides to quit university to restore the old place. In his cleaning of the house though, he discovers an old book which he is drawn to and he seemingly knows how to cast the spells written within instinctively.

Lisa Pelikan and Peter Liapis as the young lovers.


Quickly, he calls up a bunch of ‘ghoulies’, two of which, Grizzel (Peter Riche) and Greedigut (Tamara De Treaux) who inform him that if he want that which he craves, enlightenment and power, he needs to complete a ritual which will require the assistance of 7 of his friends, but will all of them survive the night?

This is 80s cheesy filming at its very cheesiest. All the staples of horror and ‘horror comedies’ of the time are present: the stoners, the awkward guy, the guy who thinks he’s cool but isn’t and a bunch of canon fodder disguised as flirty girls, including an early appearance of SVU’s Mariska Hargitay.

The misstep this film makes is the appearance of the Ghoulies and of Grizzel and Greedigut. This story is actually a pretty cool supernatural tale, but the addition of special effects artist John Carl Buechler’s pretty poorly designed puppets and the little people actors who look more like they should be in Willow than here detract from what could be an amazing movie. I also must say for the period, the lack of nudity is unusual for a film of this low caliber.

They are my only complaints though. The movie is quite short so at no time are you bored, and it is quite imaginatively filmed, so except for those dodgy effects, it does entertain.

Score: ***1/2

Ghoulies Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: This review was performed with the Australian Glass Doll Films region B Bluray release which runs for approximately 81 minutes, and is presented in a clear, though occasionally artefact-y image 1.85:1 with a crisp Dolby DTS-HD audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: There’s a bunch of cool extras on this disc:

First there is a great commentary featuring Luca Bercovici, hosted by film historian Jason Andreasson which really tells some great behind the scenes stories.

The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste – an Interview with Scott Thomson sees Thomson, who played Mike, recall anecdotes and musings on the making of the film.

“Just ‘Cos of the Chick, Man” – with Luca Bercovici sees Bercovici, the writer/ director of Ghoulies, discuss his career in multiple roles in cinema, from dialogue coach to actor to writer.

Editing an Empire – An Interview With Ted Nicolau sees editor of Ghoulies Nicolau reflect on his career.

It’s an interesting collection of interviews which when all watching one after the other, don’t paint the prettiest picture of Charles Band.

There is also in informative booklet about the film by Dave Jay, and the cover is reversible, with the orphan poster on one side, and some cool fresh art on the other.

Score: ****

WISIA: 80s monster movies? Yeah, I’m watching them again!

A Ghoulie.

Italy National Day: Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985)


Film: If you have read anything on this site before, you’ll know I am a big fan of Italian films of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Amongst that, I also have somewhat of a fondness for the Cannibal film made by Italian filmmakers of the period. I think I saw Cannibal Apocalypse first and was stunned by the story and brutality of it, and whenever I hear of one I’ve not seen I seek it out.

This was one I hadn’t seen of until it’s release by 88 Films this year and I was pretty excited to watch it as I could tick off another Cannibal/ Green Inferno film off my list, and actually from the period and of available releases it might be my last one, or very close to it.

This film was written and directed by Michele Massimo Tarantini who also gave us Sword of the Barbarians and Women in Fury is of the second wave of Cannibal films of this time, others being Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story and Cannibal Holocaust 2, which aren’t as good as the first wave, which included the original Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox.


Massacre in Dinosaur Valley tells of the misadventures of archeologist Kevin Hall (Michael Sopkiw) who has journeyed into the Brazilian jungle in search of dinosaur bones. When he gets there, he decides to hitch an airplane ride with Professor Ibanez (Leonidas Bayer) and his daughter Eva (Suzane Carvalho), along with a slightly mad ex-Viet Nam veteran, his annoying wife, a photographer and two models.

Unfortunately for them, the plane crashes (in some of the worst special effects ever seen) and the survivors of the crash have to find a way to make their way out of the jungle, but with just a few people up against cannibals, piranha and evil illegal diamond minors, will any of them get out safely?

First I must point out that this is an edited version of the film as due to animal cruelty laws in the U.K., some cock-fighting scenes at the beginning of the film have been excised from this release so it isn’t a ‘complete and uncut’ version, but realistically the film doesn’t suffer from it and it’s not a story point, though you do hear that the competition is going on in the background.

It’s a quirky film for sure. Sopkiw plays his role like a mysoginistic jerk-off that the women seem to love, but it’s done with a great air of comedy too, not sure if that’s intentional or not, but it does add something to the uniqueness of the film. One case that particularly makes for a laugh is some hilariously ill-fitting music over a sex scene. No Barry White for this guy!


The special effects are pretty amusing in general too. Most acts of gunshot violence don’t result in a blood spray, the aforementioned airplane crash is clearly a model plane and the scenes of hogs attempting to eat Sopkiw’s leg are less that spectacular.

The film is entertaining but it doesn’t have the weight that the films of the earlier batch of cannibal films, so it comes across a little more like a Romancing the Stone film with a bit of blood and violence.

Score: ***


Format: Considering the age of the film, it looks pretty good! There is an occasional artefact, but in general, this UK, region B, 88 minute bluray release is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with a decent LPCM 2.0 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Now I’m not sure if you count this as an extra or a special feature, but the film is able to be watched in an English dubbed, or a subtitled version. Oddly, the Italian language version is a shorter film!

In addition to that, we also have a theatrical trailer of the film, and a bunch of deleted scenes, some of which have no audio due to the nature of the scenes not being finished for the final presentation of the film, so their removal must have been decided well before any recording of audio was done.

There is also a discussion about the Cannibal sub-genre with well known U.K. Horror enthusiast Callum Waddell called Location Location Cannibalisation. It’s an interesting look not just at this film but of Cannibal films in general.

There is also a special thanks section where those who donated money to the release of the film get a note of thanks.

This bluray release also has a reversible cover featuring alternate artwork for the film.

I’m going to gauge these extras from the point of the alternate version of the film being an extra feature.

Score: ****

WISIA: It was entertaining but I can’t see myself watching it too frequently, not when films like the aforementioned Cannibal Holocaust, Apocalypse and Ferox exist.

Child’s Play (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Child’s Play (1988)


Film: What is it with clowns and dolls? We enjoy both of them as kids but when we grow up, some of us are creeped out by them, but not me!

Definitely not me!

I LOVE movies that have a scary doll or clown in it! Never let it be said that I avoid either. Damn, I even saw Annabelle just because of the doll, even though I knew it to be part of the universe that the disappointingly dull Conjuring films exist in.

Why do I love horror films with dolls in it? The blame can be aimed directly at this film right here: 1988’s Child’s Play, starring the most loveable smartarse serial killing doll, Chucky!

This film was written by Don Mancini, also with John Lafia and Tom Holland, who also directed.

This film tells of Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), a serial killer who, upon being almost captured, uses voodoo to transfer his mind to a fresh body, which happens to be the most popular toy of the day, a Good Guys doll.

Karen (Catherine Hicks) is desperate for a Good Guy doll for her son, 6 year old Andy (Alex Vincent) and manages to acquire the one that Chucky transferred his persona into. Very soon, Chucky is on the rampage, and wants a human body again but he find out that he can only return to the body of the first person he revealed himself to… otherwise he’ll be trapped as a doll forever, but a human doll with organs and blood, and one that can be injured… and killed, so the race is on to get back to Alex, and become one with him…


The first thing one has to note about this film is just how amazing Alex Vincent is in it. Mostly kids come across as obnoxious or just annoying in these sorts of films, but the whole preposterous story is sold on how good the kid sells it!

The special effects of Chucky need some props as well. Occasionally it is a little person dressed up, but there are also times where it is a puppet or an animatronic, and in both cases it looks convincing… once your sense of disbelief kicks in anyways.

On the point of the silly concept of the film, Hicks and her co-star Chris Sarandon both deserve credit for playing the entire film completely straight, which is exactly what this film needs. Brad Dourif’s menacing voice doesn’t hurt that either… he’s a nasty piece of work in this! 


It’s a great deal of fun, and even though the sequels, like all sequels, are occasionally stupid, this is an effective film that tells a great story even though what we are supposed to believe is out there.

Score: ****


Format: This film was reviewed with the UK DVD release that runs for approximately 83 minutes. Unfortunately this DVD wasn’t really made for widescreen TVs it doesn’t appear to be anamorphic, and the widescreen image just seems to float in the middle of your screen. I tried it on several different settings and couldn’t get it to play to the full screen of my widescreen TV. The image itself though is a clean one, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is fantastic.

Score: **

Extras: Only a trailer, I’m afraid.

Score: *1/2

WISIA: It’s an eighties horror classic, you better believe it!

Pin (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Pin (1988)


Film: It’s no secret that my favourite films are from the 80s. I mainly loved the ones that were over-sequelised like the Nightmare on Elm Street series, or the Friday the 13ths series, but now and again I’d find a one-off that was totally off the wall, and amazing.

This film, Pin, is based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman with the script written by Sandor Stern, a man whom every horror fan knows better as the script-writer for The Amityville Horror. This film was also directed by Stern, and he proves himself to be an efficient director with a skill in. Retaking uncomfortable cinematic atmospheres.

Pin tells the story of the Linden family. Leon (David Hewlett) and Ursula (Cyndy Preston) have had an extraordinarily strict upbringing: their mother, Mrs Linden (Bronwen Mantel) is a OCD cleaning-obsessed fruitcake, and their father, a doctor (Terry O’Quinn) is a cold fish who educates his children using a life-sized, anatomically correct dummy, named Pin, and his skill with ventriloquism.


The problem is, Leon doesn’t have the emotional growth to understand that Pin isn’t real, and as he grows older, he develops a split-personality, his own and the other being Pin.

Unfortunately their parents die in a car accident, and without the good doctor there to temper Leon’s schizophrenia, ‘Pin’ becomes more and more dominant, which doesn’t really help in Ursula’s plan to lead a normal life, even though she does tend to allow Leon’s fragile state of mind to continue… but will it eventually become dangerous?

Stern has created a truly bizarre film with this one. There is an amazing oppressiveness whilst the parents are alive which is replaced by a constant feeling of uneasiness as Leon’s mental state devolves. Hewlett nails the performance of Leon which helps the unsettled mood as well.


One of the other super-creepy things about the film is the voice that is given to Pin. Jonathon Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, performs it with this slightly high-pitched calm that somehow suits the bizarre empty stare that the dummy has. It’s a weird thing when the dummy is one of those ‘visible man’ medical training dummies, but when it is painted, wigged and dressed by Leon it becomes something out of nightmares.

This is a well made, fascinating film, and I really recommend it to anyone who likes a good psychological horror film.

Score: ****1/2


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Arrow Films, region 2 DVD release which was produced under their ‘Arrowdrome’ line. The DVD runs for approximately 98 minutes and is presented in a slightly soft images 1.85:1 with a sufficient Stereo 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: Arrow presented this film with a reversable cover, the other being the original artwork from the 80s. This package also contains a booklet about the film which features an essay by Lee Gambin. The disc contains a trailer as well.

The disappointing thing about this disc is the cover offers a commentary, but there is no option to select it.

Score: **1/2

WISIA: I have liked this film for years and it gets a regular watching.

Easter Review: Critters 2 (1988) 

Happy Easter from the To Watch Pile! Thanks for your continued support. Over the next three days we’ll have three special reviews JUST for Easter!
One from the re watch pile…
Critters 2 (1988)


Film: In the 80s, after Gremlins, every movie company wanted to try their hand at a little furry monster film. The difference is, whilst it took Gremlins several years to pop out a sequel, other series’ came and went, like Troll, Ghoulies and this series Critters.

For me, Critters didn’t grab me… well, not until this sequel which came out a few years later me and I totally dug it. The beautiful thing about this sequel was it realised that the premise, and the Critters, were a little stupid and decided to amp up the comedy aspects. This also may be due to the trend of horror films at the time was to make ‘horror comedies’ at every opportunity, thanks to Freddy K and the humour that had been injected into his series.

For me this was the best idea, and it really works. Sure a lot of the jokes refer to other movies (and with Mick Garris co-writing and directing, you can guarantee a Stephen King joke is gonna slip in there too) and if I’m totally honest, there is a load of Dad-jokes throughout the preceding.

Our story tells of Bradley Brown (Scott Grimes), who has returned after two years to his home town which several years ago had been the victim of an alien incursion by little furry eating machines called ‘Krites’.


Unfortunately for Bradley, his return also heralds a return of the Krites as a local antiques dealer purchases a bunch of Krite eggs that have been dormant (they’ve been in a cold barn) for this whole time. As soon as he puts them in his warmer antiques shop, they begin to hatch, but not before he sold some to a local childcare centre so they can paint them for their Easter parade.

Bradley teams up with the daughter of the town newspaper editor, Megan (Liane Curtis) and intergalactic shapechanging bounty hunters Ug (Terrance Mann) and Lee (played by various actors including scream queen Roxanne Kernohan and professional nerd Eddie Deezen), and their human sidekick, former town drunk Charlie (Don Keith Opper) to fight the Krites, but will the small town of Grover’s Bend be able to survive another alien attack? 


Mick Garris is one of those directors who doesn’t do anything special with his direction, but really conveys a story brilliantly and he does so here. The sense of whimsy in this film is present all the way through and it seems clear the cast and crew had fun making it. As I previously stated, there are several dad jokes and some sound effects added to visual jokes that make a slightly amusing scene even funnier. 

The cats is extraordinarily likable and you can also spot support acting regulars like Lin Shaye (Insidious), Barry Corbin (No Country for Old Men) and Sam Anderson (Ouija:Origin of Evil): I kid you not, these last two faces will make you point at the screen and go ‘that’s the guy from the thing with the man in that TV show’. 

One warning though: Cynthia Garris has written a jingle for the towns fast food restaurant ‘Hungry Heifer’ that is so insidiously catchy that you’ll find yourself humming it for days later.

I thoroughly enjoy this film and of the 80s horror-comedies, which I don’t REALLY called horror, it’s one of my comfort-food styled favourites, liked a celluloid hot chocolate.

Score: ****


Format: The review of this film was performed with the New Zealand (which is really a ratings re-stickered Australian one) Region 4 DVD which runs for approximately 82 minutes and is presented in a good 1.85:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Only a trailer I’m afraid.

Score: *

WISIA: Oh yeah I’ll watch this film again and again… and not just for Roxanne Kernohan! It’s a hoot!

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) Review

One from the re-watch pile…
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

 

FilmAs a teenager, in addition to horror movies, I loved fantasy and science fiction. Of course Star Wars and it’s sequels were high on the list, as were the Conan movies, but I also was a fan of the second tier films of those genres. I love the cheapo rip offs that Roger Corman gave us like Battle Beyond the Stars, and I especially loved ANY fantasy film I could get my grubby little hands on.

There is not much in fantasy films for a teenage boy not to like: adventurous stories (like those in the Dungeons and Dragons games we played), muscular heroes we aspired to be, bodacious busty babes we aspired to have fawning over us, a cache of weapons at our disposal and best of all, gigantic mythical beasts to either ride, or fight.

This was the first feature for Albert Pyan, who most action film fans will appreciate the name of, even though he did give us the awful Arcade (1993) and made a horrible attempt at a Captain America film in 1990, starring Matt Salinger, as a genre legend who has been in the industry for over 30 years, making enjoyable schlocky indie action films that are a blast to watch. Pyun also co-wrote the script for this film with one-and-done writers John Stuckmeyer and Tom Karnowski, both of whom had other careers in film, but not in the writing department.

Our story begins with Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) employing the skills of sorcerer Xusia (Richard Moll) so he can overrun a kingdom he has previously been unable to conquer.


Of course, because he is played by Richard Lynch, Cromwell turns on the sorcerer once his employ has been finalized and his army is seemingly unstoppable… but is it?

The son of the King, Talon (played as a boy by James Jarnigan, but eventually by Lee Horsley) is issued a three bladed sword by his father King Richard (Christopher Cary) which he is supposed to use to defend his mother should the king fall in battle.

The king does fall and Talon has to go into hiding, and avoids capture by Cromwell, eventually becoming a mercenary and upon the 11th anniversary of Cromwell’s victory, begins a campaign to reclaim his heritage… 


This film has all the trappings of fantasy films and follows the formula to a T, but its a formula that obviously works as many films have done it ever since… realistically its the hero’s journey formula, so not just fantasy films use it: most films with action as their base use it.

The Sword and the Sorcerer uses it well though and the warriors are tough, but human, with just a touch of scoundrel thrown in. In the post Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars world in which this exists, that’s not surprising.

The action is occasionally hokey but has a ridiculous charm to it, and the acting is pure over-dramatized to the point its almost parody, but it sits perfectly with the confines of the film.

The actors chosen aren’t just the musclebound oafs that fantasy eventually promoted, and are far more in the tune of finely honed athletes, and the women are all beautiful: lucky for fantasy lands the dental plans are amazing.


I couldn’t continue with mentioning how awesome the score is too. Written by David Whitaker, it is a bombastic as one would expect a fantasy film of its ilk should be. I have it on vinyl and it gets a regular spin at my place… I certainly feel more heroic whilst doing the dishes when its on.

For me this is a perfect example of fantasy and I really enjoy watching it still after all these years.

Score: ****


Disc: This review was performed on the Australian release, region 4 DVD and runs for approximately 96 minutes. The film is presented in 16×9 widescreen and at best is an image that barely rises above VHS which is a shame. The soundtrack however is presented in either Dolby 2.0 or 5.1 and sounds just fine. I cant give this disc a high score though as the image is quite nasty.

Score: **

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this. 

First we have  two theatrical trailers and one TV spot, the funny thing about the trailers is the first one has gore and blood and boobs in it, and the second is a more ‘G’ (or maybe in those days ‘NRC’) rated event, with no blood, and the harem girl scene has all the women suddenly with clothes…BOOOOO HISSSSS!

There is a commentary by director Albert Pyun and host Chris Gore which nicely discusses the making of this film and the trials to make it. Its a great commentary which has a nice flow and is fascinating.

Also on this disc we have trailers for The Beastmaster, Barbarian Queen and The Perils of Gwendoline, all of which I’d watch without a second thought!

Score: ***

WISIA: I’ve watched it a hundred times and I’ll watch it a hundred more!

The Mutilator aka Fall Break (1984)

One from the to watch pile…
The Mutilator aka Fall Break (1984)

The cover to Arrow Video’s The Mutilator


Film: 80s slashers are totally my jam. I mean, love zombie films, and I totally dig schlocky action crap, and adore a low-budget scifi drama, love a big budgeted superhero film, but give me a slasher over any of those, any day of the week.

Slashers are my bacon, my ice cream, my chocolate. They are sex mixed with candy.

You get the point: I’m a little keen on them.

Anyway, during the VHS era, I watched hundreds of slashers, that is I had my favourite films that I repeatedly watched over and over, but I always jumped on a new slasher whenever a new one came into the video store I worked in.

This however, was one that passed me by, and I don’t recall ever seeing anything about it anywhere. I baulked at it when Arrow first offered it up, but picked it up cheaply via a sales website as I figured ‘it’s cheap, what the Heck?’

The Mutilator: Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) contemplates his beer.


The Mutilator tells of Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) who as a child was cleaning his father’s Big Ed’s (Jack Chatham) guns as a birthday pressie for him, when one accidentally discharged and blew a whole in dear old mother.

Big Ed, a hunter and all round manly sportsman, never quite got over it, and many years later, when Ed Jr is about to go on fall break, he contacts his son and ska him to go and close up their holiday condo on a small island, but does he have ulterior motives to get his son on an abandoned holiday island? And what will happen to the bunch of friends who accompany him?

The Mutilator: hunt, kill, repeat.


This film is directed by Buddy Cooper and John Douglass, from a script by Cooper: both of whom were ‘one and done as far as directing is concerned. This might have something to do with just how terrible the performances of the actors are, but that might have more to do with their skill (or absence of) than Cooper’s as his actual cinematography is actually quite good. Some of the scenes are corny though, and I mean, the Madman jacuzzi scene corny, that may be more to do with the accompanying score for what are supposed to be cutesy lovey dovey parts of the film, and the title track is something you’ll come to loathe, but that’s more because it features heavily on the menu screen… looped.

There is also some absolute stupidity in the film too which I imagine was perceived as being ‘comedy’ but comes of as out-of-place here, especially when you consider just how nasty some of the violence is… and there is some lady-parts that are just horribly done-over!!

None of what I have said should necessarily be taken as a wholehearted negative though, as this film is kitschy enough to be enjoyable in one of those eye-rolling, forehead-slapping ways. 

Score: ***1/2

Arrow’s animated, and audibly annoying menu screen for The Mutilator


Format: This UK Arrow films bluray release of The Mutilator runs for approximately 86 minutes and has a nicely restored, though occasionally artefacty 1.78:1 image with an excellent Mono 1.0 audio track, apparently retired from ‘original vault materials’ in 2k.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Before the films starts you have an option to start the film with an introduction from Cooper and make up/ editor assistant Edmund Ferrell. 

Typically, Arrow offer alternate cover for the bluray, and a booklet with essays about the film by Ewan Cant and Tim Ferrante, which are both informative and enjoyable.

Fall Breakers is a feature lengthen documentary/ retrospective about the making of the film. If only every release had something like this.

Tunes for the Dunes sees composer Michael Mainard talk about the films score. It’s an interesting look at the creation of tension and other filmic emotions using music.

Behind the Scenes reel is about 15 minutes of stuff that happened on set.

Screen Tests is just that, some screen tests of the Stars of the film.

There are two audio commentaries on this disc. The first one is labeled as ‘Cast and Crew’ and is hosted by Ewan Cant from Arrow video, with Cooper, Douglass, Mitler and Ferrell, and it’s a nice and informative commentary, well led by Cant. The other commentary is hosted again by Cant, and with Cooper again, but this time with final girl, Ruth Martinez.

Opening scene storyboards is a pretty cool look at the pencil sketches done to work out how the beginning of the film was going to look. It’s done to the audio of the opening scene of the film to give it clarity.

Trailers and TV Spots is a series of promotional bits for the film, some as Fall Break and some as The Mutilator.

There is an alternate opening title sequence with the title card of the Mutilator on it.

The is an option called ‘music’ which allows you to hear the title track from the film, but you hear it over and over on the menu screen, so it’s doubtful if you make it all the way through. It’s performed as both the original and as an instrumental only.

Gallery is a stills gallery of behind the scenes shots, but the song that by now you absolutely hate is being played again. I’m not normally a fan of stills galleries but this has some pretty cool behind the scenes images.

Score: *****

WISIA: 80s? Slasher? Hell yeah!

The Mutilator: put your toys away!!!