Fair Game (1986)

One from the re watch pile…

Fair Game (1986)

Film: After I saw Mark Hartley’s amazing documentary Not Quite Hollywood, I became obsessed with the period of Australian cinema it covered. Not only because it showed me some films I’d never seen before, but it also reminded me of a whole lot of stuff I’d seen on VHS and forgotten.

… and so the copious amount of shopping, both local and tragically international… I mean what a shame one can’t get all the Australian movies here in Australia!!!

To date, of the ones I want to own, the only one that continues to elude me is Lady Stay Dead!

Of all these film that I hadn’t seen before the one I absolutely fell in love with was this film, Fair Game, so back then I searched out the DVD release and thankfully, Australian company Umbrella Entertainment have now released a pretty amazing Bluray of the film.

Fair Game tells the story of Jessica (Cassandra Delaney), the caretaker of a remote wildlife reserve who comes into contact with some pretty dodgy out back versions of good old boys: Sunny (Peter Ford), Ringo (David Sanford) and Sparks (Garry Who). Whilst the boys think they are merely playing with Jessica, Jessica doesn’t see the funny side of their taunts (which include breaking into her house a photographing her whilst she is asleep… definitely crossing a line) and very soon things escalate out of control.

Unfortunately for Jessica, she is very much alone: her phone has stopped working and her car has broken down… could these three miscreants eventually resort to murder… or even worse?

It really doesn’t get more Australian than this film. The red glow of the Australian outback is just as much of a star of this film as the actors involved. Those very actors are pretty amazing at the jobs too. In no way is this a serious film, it is a caricature of a serious rape/ revenge film like I Spit On Your Grave and the actors all play their parts like the cartoonish archetypes that they represent: helpless woman, smarmy badguy, rat-faced henchman and tunny, dumbo second henchman.

The real star of the film though is the car. It’s a cross between a Ford F100, a vehicle from Mad Max and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s a beast and plus a big part in the threatening nature of the film.

It’s a cracker of an Australian film, and everyone should really give it a fair suck of the sav !

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray which is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a matching 2.0 DTS-HD audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Heaps of awesome extras on this disc:

Audio Commentary with Director Mario Andreacchio and Writer Rob George

Extended Interview with Cassandra Delaney from Not Quite Hollywood is, what the title would suggest, a 15 minute interview taken from Mark Hartley’s amazing doco about the Australian Ozploitation films called Not Quite Hollywood.

On Location with Fair Game is about three minutes of behind the scenes footage of the scenes surrounding the destruction of the house with The Beast.

Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from NWS9, Action News and Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from ADS-7, State Affair are two news reports of the making of the film. By the looks of the channels it was for regional stations for some colour inbetween ‘real’ news.

Behind the Scenes with Dean Bennett is about an hour of behind the scenes material.

There is a bunch of promotional stuff like a theatrical trailer and an image gallery.

Storyboards shows a pretty cool series of storyboards for the film, shown as a slideshow with the score over the top.

Mario Andreacchio Short Films is obviously a series of short films by Andreacchio which honestly, I could make it all the way through. They do definitely explore the Australian youth experience though.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s so over the top you’ll definitely watch it more than once.

Silver Bullet (1985)

One from the re watch pile…

Silver Bullet (1985)

Film: I am an unadulterated fan of Stephen King films, but not of his books. It’s a strange quirk, I know, but I really like King’s ideas, but don’t like his actual writing style. I know that’s not a popular opinion, but I’d rather read writers like Shaun Hutson or Frank Herbert or Richard Laymon.

This movie is based on Stephen King’s novella The Cycle of the Werewolf which was originally published in 1983 with some beautiful illustrations by comic legend Bernie Wrightson, and King adds his skill to the script here but it has a massive amount of problems, insomuch that there’s a fair collection of lame jokes, cliche metaphors and just flat out clunky dialogue, most of which sounds like a 14 year old trying to impress a 6 year old, which is a shame because the story of a town under attack by some creature is a solid one.

This film was directed by Dan Attias, who has had a prolific career but mainly in TV and he has pretty much well worked on every big name series since the mid eighties.

Silver Bullet is narrated by Jane Coslaw (Megan Follows) whose paraplegic brother Marty (Corey Haim) believes that some mysterious murders that have taken place in the town are committed by a werewolf… but who IS the werewolf? After an encounter on a bridge, and a bit of Scooby Doo styled investigation, the kids, along with their Uncle Ned (Gary Busey) realise the werewolf is coming for them next and start to make preparations…

The movie is filmed a little like an after school TV show, and with the aforementioned hammy script, it comes across that way, but what salvages it is the appearance of some genre favourites like Terry O’Quinn, Everett McGill and Lawrence Tierney and then throw in some surprisingly low-budget gore and it turns into something a little better than that.

Speaking of low budget gore, the werewolf outfit is lacking in any kind of fear factor, and looks like Rupert the Bear with a tan, after six months at the gym. The de-transformation scene is pretty good, even though it seems like it’s just An American Werewolf in London’s amazing transformation scene… you know the one…. played in reverse.

It’s not that this is a completely BAD film, it’s just that if I am going to watch a werewolf film I have seen before, I am probably going to go for The Howling or American Werewolf instead. Sorry Silver Bullet.

Score: **1/2

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Picture, region B Bluray from Umbrella Entertainment which is presented in a decent 2.35:1 image with a clear and crisp 2.0 DTS-HD audio.

Score: ***

Extras: Soooooo many extras on this disc:

First we have a commentary with Director Daniel Attias hosted by Michael Felsher from Red Shirt Pictures, in which we celebrate the film and Attias’s career.

Dino’s Angel Takes On Lycanthropy: Martha De Laurentiis remembers Silver Bullet sees De Laurentiis reminisce on her experiences in Hollywood and on this film. She is delightful and has a great recollection of the time spent on her film career.

Isolated Score selections and audio interview with composer Jay Chattaway for a soundtrack fan is a pretty exciting way to watch the film. Like a director’s commentary, this feature brings the score to the forefront of the sound and has an associated commentary with Chattaway, hosted again by Michael Felsher. It’s an interesting look both at Chattaway’s career and choices made on this film.

The Wold Within: an Interview with Everett McGill sees McGill revisit his acting choices for the role he played in the film. Can I just say that some people get cooler with age, and McGill is one of those.

Full Moon Fever – interviews with special effects artists Michael McCracken Jr and Matthew Mungle looks at the effects and make-up for the film. They discuss their careers and then look at what they did for this film.

We then have a trailer, a tv spot, a radio spot and a… ugh…. image gallery. The image gallery is at least a 70-odd image, slideshow type with Chattaway’s score over the top.

Score: *****

WISIA: As I said in the main body of this review, there’s other werewolf films I’d rather watch, so probably not again.

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

One from the re watch pile…

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Film: As regular reading of the To Watch Pile may guess, I much prefer a more human villain in my movies than a supernatural one, mainly because I actually don’t believe in ghosts and ghouls and all that sort of stuff. I admit I do like zombie films, but there is a human horror to them with the loss of identity I suppose.

Anyway, cannibal films are are staple of the human horror film, and for me, and probably a lot of other horror film fans, the Hungry Trinity would be Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, and this film, Antonio Margheriti’s Apocalypse Domani, aka Invasion of the Flesh Hunters, aka Virus aka Cannibal Apocalypse. Margheriti, also known as the director of Yor: Hunter from the Future directed this film under his alias Anthony M. Dawson from a script co-written by him and Jimmy Gould aka Dardano Sacchetti, who is probably best known for 1990: The Bronx Warriors.

Cannibal Holocaust tells of Viet Nam vet Hopper (John Saxon) who is contacted by a buddy from the war, Charlie Bukowski (John Morgan aka Giovanni Lombardo Radice) who is suffering quite badly from a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which reminds him of acts of cannibalism he committed in a POW camp.

Charlie has attacked a young lady in a cinema and begs Hopper to get him out of town, but it would appear that Charlie’s acts of cannibalism aren’t a learnt trait, but instead appear to be some kind of transmittable disease which causes others to have a lust for human flesh.

Will Hopper successfully get Charlie out of the city, or will their needs outweigh their survival…

I first saw this movie on VHS in the eighties when I worked at a video shop in Sydney as a kid and fell in love with it. Along with The Never Dead (aka Phantasm), Dawn of the Dead, Re-Animator and The Beyond, it was one of my most regularly watched horror films. I like those other cannibal films I mentioned earlier, but I think because I saw this film first it set a standard that the others don’t reach.

… and it’s got John Saxon and John Morghen in it, for goodness’ sake: how could a Viet Nam vey Cannibal film get any better than that?!?

Score: ****1/2

Format: This Umbrella Entertainment NTSC DVD release of the film runs for approximately 93 minutes and is presented in an average 1.77:1 image with a functional mono audio track.

Score: **

Extras: There’s a mixed bag of extras on this disc.

Apocalypse in the Streets is a revisit of the exterior locations of the film told in a stiles and honestly not very well edited way. It is however interesting to see that some of the locations still look the same so many years later.

There is a European and a Japanese trailer for the film.

Alternate US Opening Sequence is just what the name suggests, but the one intact with the film is far better and uses less stock footage from Viet Nam.

Poster and Stills Gallery is a selection of posters and promotional material material from the film and a bunch of behind the scenes pics.

The Butchering of Cannibal Apocalypse Essay discusses the editing of the film in its various releases throughout the world.

Score: ***

WISIA: It is my favourite Cannibal film so of COURSE it’ll get looked at again and again!

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

The Australian Umbrella release on Bluray


Film: Surely if eighties horror is going to be remembered for anything, it’s going to be sequels. Yep, just as the early 2000s had its remakes and the 90s had… what did the 90s have?

Mustn’t have been much, as all I can remember is Fangoria resorting to covers with Jurassic Park and Batman Returns on it! There was Scream and that Blair Witch rubbish I suppose… if that’s your thing.

Anyway, 

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers starts with a couple of revelations about the last film, and I must warn, massive spoiler alert for the previous film: when Michael (played in this episode by Don Shanks, but some of the footage is from the previous film so that would have been George P. Wilbur) was dropped down the well at the end he survived and was nursed back to health by a vagrant who lives by a creek the old mine emptied into. Also, Michael’s niece Jamie (Danielle Harris) didn’t kill her adoptive mother but instead only attacked her.

Ok, so we are up to speed!

Jamie (Danielle Harris) isn’t happy to see either her shrink OR her uncle.


Jamie is now in an institution and hasn’t spoken since that night, but is regularly visited by her adoptive sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell) and her friend Tina (Wendy Foxworth) whom she adores. Unfortunately, Jamie has developed a psychic link to Michael, and when he starts to recover fully and regain his ability to hunt, maim and kill, she starts to have seizures where she seemingly can ‘see’ where Michael is and what he is doing.

Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is still around and recognises that Jamie is linked to Michael and uses her to again track him down as he begins his reign of psychotic terror, but what is the secret of the tattoo on Michael’s wrist, and who is the stranger in black who has come to town?

If you could distill all the stupid teenage dumbshittery into a single film; that is, if you could take every ignored warning, every ‘don’t go in there’, every stereotypical trope of the 80s into a single horror film: Halloween 5 does it, except for one: it’s totally boob free! 

It’s funny that this film should be a film from 1989 as it’s like it collects all the dumb crap from previous films and stitches it quite badly together with characters who are stereotypical but switch stereotypes from one moment to the next, and not in a way that makes them well rounded.

Pleasance plays his most well known role with the same sort of insanity he previously had, but now it’s turned up to 9.8 on the acting Richter scale, and is earthshatteringly over the top and a pleasure to witness.

Michael Myers (Don Shanks): The Dark Lord of the Scythe.


Don Shanks, even though he is effectively just playing ‘The Shape’ , actually give Michael’s character a bit of heart too for a brief moment or two.

As in the previously film, the highlight is a very young Danielle Harris’ performance as Jamie. Even though some of the direction she is given, such as when her character her is mute, seems a little dodgy, she nails her character and is one of the most mature young actors I have ever seen on film, especially in horror!

All in all, the best way to describe this film is that it’s is an example of the worst of what my favourite decade of horror has to offer. If you are an 80s or Halloween fan though, you’ll end up owning it!

Score: *1/2

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray multi-region Bluray release, which is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a really nice Dolby TrueHd 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: There are only three extras on this disc:

Audio commentary with Dominique Othenin-Girard, Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman is quite entertaining and obviously takes place several years after the film being made (17 years in fact) as they child actors are now adults. Othenin-Girard is a thorough storyteller and his behind the scenes stuff is illuminating to all, even the cast he is doing the commentary with, though his complimentary attitude towards Danielle Harris becomes almost stalker-ish.
Halloween 5: On The Set isn’t really a making of, but instead has a few interviews with some of the cast and some pretty crappy footage of night shooting for the film.

… and a theatrical trailer, well, it’s a 30 second spot which is disappointing.

Thank god for the commentary because the rest of it is pretty vanilla.

Score: **

WISIA: Honestly I only watched this again for the benefit of this review, and probably won’t ever again.

Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) meets a mental health day, I think.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The cover of the Australian Bluray


Film: After veering away from the legend of Michael Myers with the wonderful Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the producers of the series dropped themselves right back into the tale of Michael Myers due to III’s poor reaction, which honestly I never understood as I thought III was cool.

The filmmakers abandoned the Halloween series for a few years before bringing back Haddonfield’s Number 1 son, 6 years from number 3, and a whole 7 years from number 2, which was the last time we saw Myers and there still must have been a market for it as it spawned an immediate sequels, 1989’s Halloween 5 (which continued the ‘Jamie’ storyline) which then led to 1995’s The Curse of Michael Myers, before then being relaunched AGAIN in 1998 with H20: 20 Years Later.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was written by Alan B. McElroy who wrote the Spawn comic movie and Wrong Turn, a movie I love, and was directed by Dwight H. Little, who gave us 1989’s The Phantom of the Opera, starring Robert England and the Steven Seagal classic Marked for Death.

Jamie (Danielle Harris) dons a familiar Halloween costume.


The film starts ten years after the events of the first film with the transfer of Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) from one mental health facility, under the care of Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) but without his knowledge, who, with a bit of cinematic conversational exposition, Michael finds out that he has a niece, and so his need to commit sororicide now extends to his sister’s daughter… 

He escapes the ambulance he is being transferred with, and proceeds to make his way back to Haddonfield, where his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), now resides with her adoptive family, including sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell).

Jamie isn’t settling into her new family very well as she keeps having visions of a shape threatening her, and very quickly those visions come true, as Michael threat become real, and not just Jamie and Rachel are in trouble, but anyone who crosses Michael’s path… lucky for them though, Loomis is in hot pursuit…

Immediately one must point out that this was the first film to star a very young Danielle Harris, who is now quite the horror icon due to her appearance in both this and it’s immediate sequel (she was replace by another actor in The Curse of Michael Myers), and things like Urban Legend (1998) and Blood Night (2009) and even returned to the Halloween series in Rob Zombie’s remakes playing the ‘new’ Annie Brackett. The reason she became so iconic was she plays her role like a real kid in this and not only isn’t annoying but also plays it with a great deal of depth and heart.

I’ll take you home again, Kathleen……..


Also, I have to say I like the fact that former crush of mine Kathleen Kinmont, known for She-wolves of the Wasteland and even better, Bride of Re-animator, appears in this and set my heart aflutter again even after all these years.

The 80s really were a time for some direly bad sequels, but this isn’t one of them. Is it as good as Halloween 1 or 2? Hell, no, but it is a decent example of 80s horror cinema, and is an entertaining watch.

Score: ***1/2

The Australian Bluray menu


Format: The reviewed copy of the film was the Umbrella Entertainment multiregion Blu-ray Disc, which runs for approximately 88 minutes and is presented in a not-to-sharp 1.85:1 visual with an excellent Dolby 5.1 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There is only three extras on this disc:

The first is a commentary by our female leads Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris and their reflections on the filming and their respective careers is interesting.

Next we have a discussion panel with the cats and crew of Halloweens 4 and 5 which is fun and interesting and a nice addition to the extras. Kathleen Kinmont is particularly entertaining.

Finally, a trailer for Halloween 4.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: To me the best thing this film ever really did was introduce the world to Danielle Harris: it IS entertaining, but the beginning of the end for the series, and a relaunch that probably didn’t need to happen.

Loomis (Donald Pleasance) looks upon Myers’ carnage.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

One from the re watch pile…
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

The Umbrella Entertainment Bluray release of the film


Film: 2008 and the viewing of this film was a big thing for me. As an Australian and being a fan of cinema, somehow the fact that this whole ‘Ozploitation’ sub-genre even existed had passed me by. I knew that there were Australian films obviously, and loved a few of them (Mad Max and Turkey Shoot come immediately to mind) but I didn’t realise how much stuff I had naturally assumed were American… even films like Dead Kids aka Strange Behaviour, an Australian film, I naturally thought was America , though in that case I think it was the point.

Now when I say Australian film, I don’t necessarily mean heartfelt, moral stories or period pieces, what I am talking about is the rough and tumble, violent, bloody, nude-filled lowest common denominator films made for people like… well, like me!

This documentary is written and directed by Mark Hartley, who had previous made several documentaries about specific Australian films like Blood and Thunder Memories: The Making of Turkey Shoot and Jaws On Trotters: The Making of Razorback, and it is divided into three sections:

Ocker’s, Knockers, Pubes and Tubes looks at the Australian version of sexploitation, and the celebration of the freedom that the post 60s world allowed us.

QT enthusiastically talks about Ozploitation films.


Comatose Killers and Outback Thrillers jumps into the horror part of this period and we celebrate all the blood and gore that was on offer at the time.

High-Octane Disasters and Kung-Fu Masters is the final part of the film and it looks at the Australian action films of the time.

The biggest problem any film fan and movie collector will have with this film is that by the time you finish it, you have a shopping list of 50 films you immediately have to buy. It’s been almost 9 years since I first saw this and I’m still trying to get Lady Stay Dead and Snapshot!

Robert Powell survives in… well, The Survivor


Director Mark Hartley obviously has a massive love of Australian cinema and this documentary tells the story of this period of Australian cinema with the exact brand of humour that the films it celebrates displays. It has a great look to it as well: It art design is very of the time it discusses but it’s cut in a modern manner and with some hilarious animations.

A special cooee has to go out to the music as well. The selection of pop songs is spot on and the other music by Stephen Cumming of The Sports and Billy Miller of The Ferrets is fabulous too.

Quite possibly the BEST documentary about a niche sub genre of cinema ever. With so many interviews it could have been easily turned into a boring talking heads styled thing, but there is SO much archival footage and SO much clever and interesting editing that is really a feast for the eye.

Score: *****

The menu to the Umbrella Bluray of Not Quite Hollywood


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray release which runs for roughly 98 minutes. The film is presented in 1.77:1 and mostly looks fantastic. As one would expect, some of the archival stuff isn’t perfect. The audio, featuring some amazing Australian music, can be heard in either 2.0 or 5.1 and both sound great.

Score: ****

Extras: Extras? EXTRAS? Oh boy, is this disc just straining the threads of its undergarments with extras! It’s voluptuous with extras! It’s well-hung with extras!

Seriously though, if you for some crazy reason thought there wasn’t enough about Ozploitation info in the main part of the doco, or you just haven’t seen enough boobs, the extras will more than satisfy your desire for more.

First we have a commentary featuring a bunch that the cover declare to be the Ozploitation auteurs: Mark Hartley himself hosts this commentary and through the course of the film has a turnstile of talent who star in the doco, and has a lot more anecdotes and information about this film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes can be watched with the commentary on or off and even though I would have preferred this to be recut into the film, I do like watching them with either the commentary on or off as it’s pretty informative, and features some films that are quite conspicuous with their absence.

The Lost NQH Interview: Chris Lofven which features an interview with the director of 1976’s OZ, which unfortunately was left out of the film.

Quentin Tarantino and Brian Trenchard-Smith Interview Featurette has a conversation between the two directors and their respective careers.

Melbourne International Film Festival Ozploitation Panel sees a whole bunch of NQH interviewees talking about the state of censorship and other aspects of film and art of the time this film discusses. (There is a misspelling of the film ‘Stork’ as ‘Stalk’ but I guess either could be used to describe the character!)

Melbourne International Film Festival Red Carpet is an astounding piece of footage of stuntman Grant Page walking the red carpet, quite calmly, on fire.

Behind the Scenes Footage from the Crew sees a bunch of BTS stuff filmed on a Duty free purchased video camera whilst they were in the UK doing the interviews for the film.

UK Interview with Director Mark Hartley is just that, and it’s a nice introduction to the director.

The Bazura Project Segment sees another interview with Hartley with the guys from The Bazura Project.
The Monthly Conversation is a low-res version of an interview Hartley did with Tom Ryan from The Monthly.

The Business Interview is an audio only interview with Hartley.

Extended Ozploitation Trailer Reel is 3… yes, 3 hours of Ozploitation movie trailers!

Confessions of an R-Rated Filmaker: John D. Lamond Interview sees Mr. Lamond talk about his career.

The next 5 extras are archival ones, made at the time of the films they represent.

On-set Interview with Richard Franklin is an interview with Franklin on the set of the horror film Patrick.

Terry Bourke’s Noon Sunday Reel talks about the making of a film called Noon Sunday.

Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker is a short doco about the making of the Barry McKenzie films.

Inside Alvin Purple is an hour long documentary about Alvin Purple.

To Shoot a Mad Dog Documentary looks at the making of Mad Dog Morgan.

Ozploitation Stills and Poster Gallery is an awesome look at a lot of promotional stuff for many of the films mentioned throughout the documentary. It’s an animated gallery too, with some funky music over the slideshow.

NQH Production Gallery like the previous Gallery is an animated one, but now has some great portraits of the interviewees for the documentary.

NQH Pitch Promos sees the inception of the NQH project and features a lot of Tarantino, and his endorsement with some of Hartley’s other documentaries that have features]d as extras on other DVDs and BDs. 

NQH Original Theatrical Trailer is (phew!) exactly what the name would suggest!

If that’s not enough extras, I don’t know what else could appease you.

Score: *****

WISIA: if it’s not the best documentary made about movies, it’s certainly the best made about Ozploitation movies. I rewatch it regularly!

Cassandra Delaney braves a bull bar in Fair Game

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?

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.