‘Rawhead Rex’

 

Title: Rawhead Rex
Rated: R
Directed by: George Pavlou
Starring: David Dukes as Howard Hallenbeck
               Kelly Piper as Elaine Hallenbeck
               Niall Toibin as Rev. Coot
               Heinrich von Schellendorf as Rawhead Rex
Tagline: Someone has awakened him. He lives again to feed again.

By Rob Rector (featuring Bo from Last Blog on the Left):

Clive Barker was Shakespeare to an adolescent young sci-fi/horror nerd such as myself. As a young, voracious reader, my bookshelf slowly shed its pre-teen skin – made of volumes of “Black Stallion,” Hardy Boys,” and Jack London adventures – into the darker, more depraved musings of Stephen King. Well-worn paperbacks of “Carrie,” “Christine” and “The Shining” replaced titles like “Black Stallion’s Blood Bay Colt” and “Hardy Boys and Secret of Skull Mountain.”

Pre-screening memories:

Then, I remember reading about “The Damnation Game.”

It was endorsed by none other than the King himself. I remember the cover of the book did not look as threatening as that of the ghostly screaming face of my jaundiced paperback of “The Shining.” Hell, even the ominous shrunken head on the cover of “Hardy Boys: The Clue in the Embers” was more menacing than that of “Game’s” iron mask floating in a cheesy pink mist.

But King proclaimed him to be “The future of horror,” so I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. I had yet to be introduced to his “Books of Blood” series which preceded it, but immediately took a liking to the Faustian riff of a boxer selling his soul for immortality.

This, of course, led to hearing of the first film to be written by the invoker of many a nightmare — “Rawhead Rex.” It blew through theaters like the zephyr, so it was not until video that I was able to watch his monstrous creation in the flesh.. well, in the latex.

Honestly, I recall more the violent-sounding title (the not-so-subtle sexual reference of his name was completely lost on me)and the newspaper ad of the big hulking beast than the film itself. I seem to recall a trailer park getting pretty torn up and a few shots of Rex – looking like an American Gladiator from the Mesozoic period (a Pangaea Gladiator?) — triumphantly holding a severed head in his dirty claws. It had left an impression on me at the time, but I think more for its gory special effects than its haunting imagery.

Oh, and the priest getting pissed on by Rex.

Yes,one of the film’s most notable scenes involves Rex giving a golden shower to a man of the cloth. For what reason I am not all that sure. And I will abstain from any mention of suggesting this film took place in Boston.

Other than that, I got nothing. I have since followed Barker’s written and cinematic works, but never felt the need to view the monster again. And with “Rex” not being released on DVD, I never had the opportunity even when the casual curiosity arose. As mentioned in a discussion with Shelley Stillo for Hellraier, Barker’s work is steeped in sexual and religious overtones, so I know there must have been a number of subtext thoughout “Rawhead” that my young brain was just to underdeveloped to process. This, of course, made me eager to return to “Rex.”

Was Rob “baptized” by the whole viewing experience, or did it leave him all wet? Check out his discussion with Bo from Last Blog on the Left? You can download the podcast right here, or click the player below.

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‘It’s Alive’

Title: It’s Alive (1974)
Rated: R
Directed by: Larry Cohen
Starring: John P. Ryan as Frank Davis
              Sharon Farrell as Lenore Davis
              James Dixon as Lt. Perkins

Tagline: “There’s only ONE thing wrong with the Davis baby…”

By: Jason Plissken

Pre-screening memories: For those of us with a thirst for cinematic blood as kids, sometimes our only outlets were on cable, and were typically edited as to not contain a hint of actual gore, sex or profanity. One of our gore guides in the 80s was a cigar-chomping “superhero” on the USA Network by the name of “Commander USA.”

While Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfreid get all the love for their “Up All Night” shennanigans, Commander USA is largely a forgotten artifact of the era. It’s a shame, really, as his “Groovie Movies” featured quite an impressive list of films for those of us who liked to dance on the darker side.

Titles included such well-known horror gems as C.H.U.D., Friday the 13th, American Werewolf in London, Child’s Play and My Bloody Valentine. But it also included rarely seen films as the Hammer classic The Abominable Snowman (with Peter Cushing), “Bloodbath at the House of Death” (featuring Vincent Price), “Fiend without a Face,” “Hangar 18,” “The Possession of Joel Delaney,” “One Dark Night” and the truly horrifying “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.”

As well as such international horror oddities thrown in for good measure, like Mexico’s “Brainiac,” and “The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy,” Germany’s “Mark of the Devil,” Italy’s “Satanik.”

It was through this window that I first witnessed “It’s Alive.”  The movie was actually on a lot back then on other channels, but watchin it with the Commander is my strongest memory.  I remember it being pretty scary (for reasons unknown, honestly). I remember, even as a child, thinking that the special effects were rather weak, but still effective. I enjoyed the movie enough that I went out and rented the sequels — “It Lives Again” and “Island of the Alive” —  from the local movie store.  I can’t remember the plots of the sequels, but they were pretty corny, or perhaps Ijust got a little older and they no longer held up under closer scrutiny.  In fact, I remember being more enchanted of the tropical island on which the third film took place than any other piece about the film.

I’m sure Commander USA would be disappointed in me.

Was Jason still making goo-goo faces at the little nipper after all these years? Download it here, or listen to it below:

‘The Final Terror’

The Final Terror (1983)

Directed by: Andrew Davis
Written by: Jon George
Starring: Adrian Zmed as Cerone
                Rachel Ward as Margaret
                Daryl Hannah as Windy (yes, Windy!)
                Joe Pantaliano as Eggar
Tagline: “It’s a slow week, what else are you gonna see?” (just kidding, there wasn’t one)

By: Rob Rector and Jason Plissken

Rob’s pre-screening memories: The Final Terror was a milestone for me.

For it was this little, cheapie camping-gone-awry horror flick that started my descent into the dark, seamy underbelly of the world of forbidden flim-going.

Despite my parents’ best attempts to raise a respectable, law-abiding young man, peer pressure would triumph in this battle, even though I regarded myself as someone with an iron will.

A movie theater that was within walking distance to my suburban childhood home would usually offer two distinctly different films in its two theaters. In Theater I, the latest Hollywood hit would house the more serpentine lines of the moviehouse, as lesser-known fare would typically be relegated to Theater II, which usually featured a more palsied line of vagrants, freaks and local college kids merely looking for an “Alanis Morrisette special” in the back rows.

It was in this theater that the manager opted to screen “The Final Terror” in 1983 (my guess is the 3-D magnum opus “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone,” starring a “Sixteen Candles” -era Molly Ringwald, was boring the hell out of audiences in the opposite theater). I say this is my guess because there had a be a PG-rated film playing for which we purchased tickets as a cover for our crime.

You see, it was a few weeks before the “final” installment of Star Wars, Return of the Jedi would be housed there, (which would make it home away from home for the following months) and we were merely killing cinematic time before its arrival.

As many pre-teens with too much time on their hands and friends who were actual teenagers, we devised a nefarious plan to enter one theater (the crap-tacular “Spacehunter“), only to switch over to the “dark side,”(“The Final Terror“) when the ushers weren’t looking. At the time, it was a plot that had to be planned and executed with David Mamet-like skill and style. Movie times, curfew, menacing theater staff all had to be calculated precisely to avoid suspicion, or, worse yet, a phone call home to pick us up.

The three of us nervously purchased our tickets, graciously accepted our 3-D glasses, casually and accordingly sauntered into “Space-whatever” and waited for the minions to arrive and provide perfect cover for us. Somehow, the added element of 3-D glasses would provide just enough chaos for us to slither under the radar.

Then, one by one, we exited the theater – a bathroom break here, a popcorn refill there – and managed to nonchalantly adopt a couple heading into “The Final Terror” as our parent and/or guardian. I have a feeling our acting was better than any within the film itself, as we all had to give the illusion that we were too engrossed in our buttery buckets or coming attraction posters to be bothered with making direct eye contact with the ticket takers (who, in retrospect, would have most likely just let us in by slipping them an extra $5 spot).

We confidently strode to our seats, keeping one or two in between us as to give the illusion that we were awaiting our negligent parents. Shortly after, the lights dimmed, the previews rolled and we were home free.

Unfortunately, this being my first real dance with deviltry, I was completely unable to focus on the on-screen happenings, as I was enveloped by my pre-teen paranoia. There was something about a group of campers, the chicks from Splash (Daryl Hannah) and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Rachel Ward) were in it, as was the host of Dance Fever (Adrian Zmed). And I recall a final confrontation involving a large, swinging log marked with spikes that marked the demise of one of the characters.

Honestly, though, all I kept thinking is that this would be the demise I would face if I accidently bumped my feet into the chair in front of me and a disgruntled patron would call the flashlight-wielding arbiters of the art house to escort me out.

So, when Jason Plissken and I sat down to revisit “The Final Terror” on DVD, I could now comfortably take in all its subtle shades and nuances of this masterpiece without fear of ejection or the bitter wrath of mom and dad.

Jason’s pre-screening memories:
I first watched The Final Terror years after it was released.  I was probably in the 8th grade when I saw it, which was around 1989.
My family and I had just gotten back from a roadtrip to Ohio and it was pretty late.  My parents went to bed, but I stayed up to watch late night TV.  That’s when I came across The Final Terror.  At the time, I thought it was pretty creepy.  I also thought it was cool because it had Daryl Hannah in it, and I had a crush on her with or without that mermaid tail!

It was filled with all the elements that would keep a youing kid rapt with attention: murky stalkings in the woods, hot female leads and a cannibal-esque psycho on the loose (sadly, there was no gratuitous nudity, but I was probably better off, considering my parents were in the next room and could enter at any time).

What did the screening hold this go-round? Download it, or listen to the podcast here:

 

‘Twin Peaks’ Pilot and ‘Fire Walk with Me’

Welcome to a special, epic two-part magnum opus where we look at the bookended films that encapsulated the ‘Twin Peaks’ phenomenon of the early 1990s, beginning with the two-hour pilot episode and concluding with the oft-maligned theaterical release ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.’

Film: Twin Peaks (Pilot) (1990) and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
Rated: (Fire Walk with Me) R
Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch and Mark Frost

Starring: Kyle MacLachlin as Special Agent Dale Cooper
              Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman
              Dana Ashbrook as Bobby Briggs
              Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Hayward (played by Moira Kelly in FWWM)
              Madchen Amick as Shelly Johnson
              Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer/Madeline Ferguson
              Ray Wise as LeLand Palmer
By Joe Campanella of Cinema-Fist
Pre-screeening memories: Growing up I was exposed to many different kinds of films. You see, I had a brother who was 14 years older than me, so naturally I’d pick up on a few things most 10-year-olds didn’t.
While the kids at school were telling me how great Home Alone was, I was raving about Barton Fink. My God, I was pretentious even back then?
As a kid I remember my brother being obsessed with this show because someone named David Lynch was at the helm. (Having grown up and seen most of Lynch’s work I now know why.) Every week, my brother would put on the TV and watch another episode of this odd show about the murder of someone named Laura Palmer.
To be honest, I really didn’t remember much from this show, other than this…
…which made me, at the time, very scared of couches (my brother would often recreate this scene in our living room, throughly freaking me out).
The other thing I remembered quite vividly was Cooper’s dream…
 
…which also frightened me immensely.
Was Joe still having horrific nighmares of The Log Lady, Bob, Laura Palmer, dopplegangers and the Little Person who was actually a disembodied left arm (yes, it’s all as strange as it sounds) ? You can find out about he pilot episode of Twin Peaks here (or listen below),
as Joe and Rob talk about the pilot and the subsequent mania that was Twin Peaks. Then head over to:
 Part II: Where Joe and Rob conclude their visit to Twin Peaks with a look back to Fire Walk with Me.

‘Warlock: The Armageddon’

Title: ‘Warlock: The Armageddon’
Rated: R
Written by: David Twohy and Kevin Rock
Director: Anthony Hickox
Starring: Julian Sands as Warlock
              Chris Young as Kenny Travis
              Paula Marshall as Samantha Ellison

Tagline: “When He Comes…All Hell Breaks Loose!”

By Scott Foy aka The Foywonder (and also of Dread Central)

Pre-screening memories: Scott bulletted some items that he recalled when he viewed Warlock: The Armageddon on its opening weekend in 1993 (and, subsequnetly, a second time in a bargain theater, where it presumably landed a week later):

  • The film was put out by Trimark. I rather miss that company. For a short while there they seemed to be the heir apparents of Cannon.
  • I recall kind of enjoying the film, even though I was fully aware it wasn’t a very good film, certainly inferior to the original that I still think is a very underrated movie. The original had some dumb humor, but the sequel was just plain dumb all the way through. Still better than the third installment, Warlock III: The End of Innocence.
  • The sequel adopted more of a Freddy Krueger-ish tone. Warlock became more of a mocking slasher who killed in twisted, often comically ironic fashion: turning the guy into a warped piece of art and making a Picasso joke, shooting people with his finger during a high noon-style showdown and saying “Happy trails, partner.” Very much dates the movie.
  • When someone flies you high up into the air in exchange for a particular object you possess never give that person the object until they’ve put your feet back on the ground.
  • The whole concept of gathering these unholy runestones just seemed dumb and less imaginative than the previous film seeking the book containing the name of God which when spoken would undo creation. Also thought it was rather dopey how these runes were scattered all over yet not only did the Warlock get from place to place with such ease, most of those places were unlikely: a fashion show, a corporate office, a freaking funhouse for goodness sake.
  • Psychic midget!
  • Unconvincing concept of these modern druids living in the US and all played by recognizable character actors so cast against type in the role that they’re impossible to believe. Leader of the group actor didn’t sound at all convincing when he’d explain the magic to the teens. Seem to recall that they were awfully unprepared to deal with the Warlock considering preventing the Warlock from getting his hands on these stones was their sole purpose.
  • The whole magical teen warriors concept also felt like a product of the time it was made. Seem to remember thinking I was willing to believe their powers being more likely than their romance. Her character was a bit too whiny. His character was an annoying dweeb.
  • Not exactly what I imagined Satan would look like. Devil looked like a photo negative of the demon dogs from Ghostbusters. Seeing Satan crawling out of the pit left me wondering how exactly this quadraped demon was going to unleash Armageddon.
  • There always has to be an eclipse involved in these things, doesn’t there?
  • Warlock’s demise was awfully easy. Thank goodness for those all-purpose sacred daggers that can always be counted on to do in the forces of evil.
  • Saw the film in a dollar theater that was packed. When the movie ended someone in the back yelled “SUCKED!” and everyone laughed heartily.
  • Whatever happened to Julian Sands? Seems like he did this and then Boxing Helena and that pretty much killed his career until he showed up on “24” last season.

Was Foy still under Julian Sands’ spell after all these years? Check out the podcast here, or listen to it below:

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