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80's Trash from the Future

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Brain Damage (Frank Henenlotter 1988)
Trash rating
Frank Henenlotter is best known for his 1982 no budget offbeat horror flick Basket Case, the story of a boy who keeps his deformed siamese twin in a picnic hamper. Since then he's stuck firmly to the horror genre, with (my personal favourite) the hilarious Frankenhooker (1990), and two duff sequels, Basket Case 2 (1990), and Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1992). Brain Damage was Henenlotter's belated follow up to his original cult hit, and like most of his movies he wrote the screenplay, and edited the film himself.

In the film we follow Brian (Rick Hearst) whose eccentric elderly neighbours Morris and Martha (Theo Barnes & Lucille Saint-Peter) keep a strange unseen pet called Elmer in their bath. We know he's strange because they like to feed him brains (complete with sprigs of parsley) from the local butchers. Naturally Elmer goes missing, much to the dismay of Martha who has Morris turn the apartment upside down looking for him. Enter Brian who whilst lying on his bed experiences (in the words of Rimmer from Red Dwarf) what can only be described as a voyage to trip out city. The next day he awakens to find that Elmer (a parasitic over sized truffle voiced by John Zacherle) has taken up residence on his person. Elmer (or Aylmer) is able to deliver 'Juice' a powerful psychotropic drug directly to Brian's brain, resulting in euphoric halucinations. Brian quickly discovers however that the drug doesn't come free, as Elmer needs human brains as sustenance, and regularly offs unsuspecting members of the public whilst Brian is stoned. Horrified Brian tries to take control of Elmer, but soon realizes he's desperately addicted to the 'juice', and nothing more than a junkie chasing his next fix...

Brain Damage is easily Henenlotter's best film (which probably isn't saying much), certainly more interesting and technically proficient than Basket Case. The cast are all good here, in particular Hearst who really convinces as the strung out addict losing his mind. There's also a rather nice 80's electronic soundtrack giving the film a dreamy ambient atmosphere, plus a decent nightclub sequence featuring The Swimming Pool Cues playing their song 'Corrosion'. Henenlotter himself described the film as a cross between Roger Corman's The Trip (1967), and William Castle's The Tingler (1959), which is certainly a fair comparison. In reality though you could be forgiven for viewing the film as a second rate cross between David Cronenberg's Shivers (1975) and Videodrome (1983).

Where Brain Damage falls down is in the hallucination sequences which are disappointingly underwhelming. Whether due to lack of budget, or simply imagination, what are supposed to be the films crowning glory never rise above generic 80's pop video imagery. It's a shame that Henenlotter seemingly put most of his energy into the films gore sequences, the nastiest of which were heavily censored on the films initial release (most notably a scene involving felacio, now restored to the Synapse dvd). With that said however, Brain Damage still effectively conveys its anti drugs message, and remains watchable (if uneven in tone) throughout. I'd even go as far as to recommend this film to fans of the genre looking for something a little different. Look out for Kevin Van Hentenryck (Dwayne from the Basket Case films) who cameos with his basket in the subway sequence.

A system of cells interlinked
I know I have seen The Creature, but many, many moons ago. I remember that goofy German dude.
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

TerrorVision (Ted Nicolaou 1986)
Trash rating

Ted Nicolaou is a director who cut his teeth with Charles Band's* Empire Pictures, later to become Full Moon Pictures. He's made over twenty movies to date most notably the popular Subspecies series (of which there are four), but also children's films like Leapin' Leprechauns! (1995), and Spellbreaker: The Secret of the Leprechauns aka Leapin' Leprechauns! 2 (1996). He wrote the screenplay for TerrorVision along with Band (who's tantamount to god in underground circles, just ask Powdered Water), and I can happily say that it's one of the most enjoyable films in the Empire Pictures cannon.

The film begins on the planet Pluton (represented by a laughable but quaint model) with an alien called Pluthar trying to vapourize a mutated monster in a garbage disposal chamber. Before you can say 'gorgonzola!' the monster (which looks like a giant turd with with teeth) is somehow transformed into radio waves and proceeds to bounce around space (another quirky model). Meanwhile on planet Earth Stanley Putterman (Gerrit Graham) is busy trying to install his 'Do it yourself 100' satellite dish, whilst trying to reign in survivalist army nut grampa (Burt Remsen) and gun crazy son Sherman (Chad Allen). We're also introduced to his nymphomaniac wife Raquel (Mary Woronov), valley girl daughter Suzy (Diane Franklin) and her heavy metal loving boyfriend O.D. (Jon Gries). With the dish up and running Stanley and Racquel head out 'swinging' (!!!), only for said monster to beam into the TV set and start chowing down on various family members. It's left to son Sherman (the only normal character) to try and save the day, as he tries to inlist the help of TV horror host Medusa (Jennifer Richards), but not before mum and dad return with with fellow swingers Cherry (Randi Brooks) and Spiro (veteran actor Alejandro Rey) a hilarious Greek homosexual!!!

TerrorVision sets out it's kooky stall right from the opening credit sequence complete with super catchy theme tune performed by the Fibonaccis (a kitsch mixture of sixties lounge music and punk). The rest of the movie plays like some long lost 50's/60's sitcom on magic mushrooms, as the entire cast (with the exception of Chad Allen) ham it up delightfully. It's hard to pick out a favourite character as we're given seasoned talent like Graham, and Mary Woronov (from cult classics Death Race 2000 1975, and Eating Raoul 1982). Standout however has to be Jon Gries (uncle Rico in Napolean Dynamite 2004) as O.D. the lunkheaded Metalhead who makes Bill and Ted look like world class geniuses. Alejandro Rey as Spiro is equally hilarious delivering his lines like some latin ham doing Shakespeare. Plus Jennifer Richards as Medusa (a trashy nod to Vampira) is equally amusing. Everything about TerrorVision is way over the top, crappy, and purile, but in the most charming way imaginable. The whole film takes place on a garishly decorated studio set complete with neon lighting, mock Roman sculptures, and tacky erotic wall art that sets the tone perfectly. Not to mention the monster which looks ludicrous but manages to come off as lovable, as if Nicolaou crossed E.T. with Jabba the Hutt, but forgot to pay the makeup team.

In all TerrorVision finds the perfect balance of 'so bad it's good' largely because everyone involved is clearly in on the joke and goes for it full throttle. It's a film that comes together to form more than the sum of its parts, despite the lowbrow dialogue, duff effects, and general sillyness. TerrorVision opitimizes low budget 80's comedy horror, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a genuinely entertaining example of the genre. Gorehounds on the other hand won't find what they're looking for here as the film has no blood whatsoever helping to keep the tone lighthearted and fun.

* See my review of Parasite.

It's a shame that the Subspecies flicks didn't start until the 90's. They deserve a write up too. At least the first one anyway. I enjoy them all (Shocker!) but the first one is probably the best of the four. It came out in 1991, perhaps Mr Future you could make an exception? Hmmm?
We are both the source of the problem and the solution, yet we do not see ourselves in this light...

It's a shame that the Subspecies flicks didn't start until the 90's. They deserve a write up too. At least the first one anyway. I enjoy them all (Shocker!) but the first one is probably the best of the four. It came out in 1991, perhaps Mr Future you could make an exception? Hmmm?
I've only seen the first one (Subspecies), and can't really remember it that well (I don't own a copy) except that I found it boring (sorry). For those reasons I won't be reviewing it here, though there will be exceptions to the 80's rule such as Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 (1979) and possibly Luigi Cozzi's Starcrash (1978) which I recently purchased on dvd.

I've only seen the first one (Subspecies), and can't really remember it that well (I don't own a copy) except that I found it boring (sorry). For those reasons I won't be reviewing it here...
No problemo, I'm sure the world will continue to spin if you don't review the flick. I'm so biased when it comes to these flicks anyway. I actually think most of the flicks you've reviewed are pretty great. I need to track down a few that I haven't seen but they look really good too.

Keep em' coming.

Slugs (Juan Piquer Simon 1988)
Trash rating

Loosely adapted from Shaun Hutson's cult horror novel of the same title, Slugs was one of the ickiest splatter films of the 80's. A US/Spanish co production the film was Directed by Juan Piquer Simon, a shameless hack best known for his laughable 1983 slasher Pieces, and substandard 1989 Abyss rip off, Endless Descent aka The Rift. Slugs is no doubt the kind of film Hutson is embarrassingly reminded of by sneering chat show hosts, and gore geek fans fishing for a scathing sound byte. On asking someone whether they've seen it you'll most likely receive a reply along the lines of 'Slugs? oh hehe yeah, hehehehe yeah Slugs hehehe'.

Set in a leafy upstate New York town, a horde of the yucky creatures mutated by toxic waste (is there any other way?) suddenly develop a taste for human flesh. After a string of gruesome deaths, enter local health inspector Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) who hopelessly tries to convince the snooty locals that it's all the work of 'Slugs'. Naturally everyone just thinks he's a nut, which is good news for us, because we get to see lots more people die in ridiculous ways. These include an old codger in the greenhouse who hacks off his hand after the slimy critters get inside one of his gardening gloves (not content there, the numbskull proceeds to spill chemicals everywhere, before accidentally setting the place alight, an all too common horticultural accident). We then get an obnoxious yuppie type who eats one of the pests after the thing pops up in his salad, big mistake, cue exploding eyeballs and lots of baby slugs. There's nude oversexed teens getting it on, and wishing they'd packed slug pellets instead of contraceptive pills. Plus the obligatory fool that manages to fall headfirst into the slug infested sewers (where else), which also serve as the climactic location for the film involving electricity.

You could easily be forgiven for thinking Slugs looks like alot of fun as all the the ingredients are there, daft plot, slimy creatures, over the top gore, Mediterranean director etc etc. In reality though, the film falls into the trashy no mans land of too bad to be good, but not quite bad enough to be...well...good. We get badly synched dubbing, wooden acting, cliched plot, and hokey slug closeups (most memorably a slug biting a finger) but it just comes off as irritating rather than amusing. Instead of treating the silly material with tongue firmly in cheek, director Simon goes for the serious approach, complete with one dimensional solemn faced (and thoroughly unlikable) characters, grating musical score, and sickening rather than funny gore sequences. In the face of a credible monster this might be ok, but we're talking tiny slow moving killer slugs here, an enemy nobody ever thinks to run away from, and believe me it's annoying.

The bottom line is Slugs just isn't cool despite the 80's credentials, high gore content, and cult reputation. If you're looking for some effective nature runs-amok thrills, you'd be better off sticking with Jeff Leiberman's fun 1976 b-movie Squirm. That one got the tone just right, had good early makeup work from Rick Baker, and delivered some genuine scares.

Well one things for sure...this is definitely the most cultish of all the list on MoFos.

Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt 1984)
Trash rating

Tom Eberhardt made a name for himself making 'social-issue' documentaries for public TV, before moving into feature films in 1983 with the slow but suspenseful horror Sole Survivor. He's since made just a handful of films most notably the amusing Sherlock Holmes parody Without A Clue (1988), and the fun, but hardly classic Captain Ron (1992). Night of the Comet was his second directorial effort (he also wrote the screenplay), a satirical sci-fi/horror with nods to old 1950's and 1970's dystopian sci-fi films all be it with a more lighthearted tone. Over the years the film has acquired an army of loyal fans who swear it's a forgotten 80's gem, so does Night of the Comet live up to expectations?

The film begins with a voice over describing the coming of a comet that on it's last appearance, wiped out the dinosaurs. We then pick up with Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) an usher girl working in an old cinema showing cult b-movies. Whilst everyone else is gearing up to watch the comet however, Regina is busy doing the hokey-kokey with her boyfriend in the projection room. Meanwhile back at home her 'valley girl' sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney) is busy having a cat fight with her step mom and as a result doesn't go out to see the comet either. Yup you got it, the comet reduces everyone that sees it to either red dust, or flesh eating zombies (one of whom dispatches Regina's boyfriend with a monkey wrench). Left alone the plucky sisters roam L.A. looking for other survivors and soon encounter an easy going young truck driver called Hector (Robert Beltran) at the local radio station. Observing all this from their top secret bunker are a group of think tank scientists headed by Carter (Geoffrey Lewis) and Audrey (Mary Woronov). Far from being saviors however, the scientists merely want to fatally harvest our heroes blood in order to develop a vaccine for the zombifying effects of the comet...

Night of the Comet is a lot of fun for the first twenty minutes, the film is laced with snappy one liners, 80's pop culture references, and savvy nods to genre classics that really hit the spot. Both Stewart and Maroney are likable (if not exactly outstanding) leads, and the idea of dropping materialistic boy obsessed girls into the plot from Boris Segal's 1971 classic The Omega Man (not to mention a whole host of similarly grim post apocalyptic films) is a hoot. Eberhardt gives us some effective shots of a deserted L.A. complete with red filters and minimal electronic score, helping to create a believable (all be it humorous) impression of desolation. Sadly however, what starts out as smart satire quickly runs out of ideas becoming sluggish and uneventful during the second act. The girls do little more than hang around the radio station aimlessly, argue over the affections of Hector, and play mostly bad (with the exception of Girls Just Want to Have Fun) 80's pop music. Plus After Regina's initial encounter with one of the zombies the creatures are rarely seen (we get about six in the entire movie) and as a result the film feels like it's constantly stuck in second gear. Things finally pick up during a cool mall shootout with undead store clerks who look like they've walked straight out of a Depeche Mode video. The inclusion of b-movie regular Woronov and Geofrey Lewis cast against type is also welcome, but after such a promising start it's all too little too late.

With a bit more comic book action to complement the sometimes witty dialogue Night of the Comet could have been a genre classic. Instead it's merely passable fare, worth a look for 80's b-movie fanatics like myself, but strict zombie fans needn't bother.

I am the Nightrider!
Phenomenal thread! Used Future, an excellent job!

I'm a huge horror/sci-fi/exploitation nut myself. This is great stuff! I'm glad that there are people here that share interest of the "flip side" of cinema. I have most of these gems in my personal collection (VHS/DVD/LASERDISC) and will also share some of it with you guys!

Once again, great stuff!


I am the Nightrider!
I was in love with Catherine Mary Stewart back then. She was gorgeous. Who could forget her as Maggie in The Last Starfighter.

Another sci-fi b-flick she did was a film called Nightflyers, which I enjoyed as well, but it's nothing spectacular being yet another alien/spaceship movie that delivers nothing in the amount of Alien, Aliens or Event Horizon, in comparison. It's slow-moving and anti-climatic. I haven't seen it in 15 years, so I can't reaally give you an in-depth review, but that's what I remembered of it. I'll have to spin my laserdisc of it one of these days.

I was in love with Catherine Mary Stewart back then. She was gorgeous. Who could forget her as Maggie in The Last Starfighter.

Another sci-fi b-flick she did was a film called Nightflyers, which I enjoyed as well, but it's nothing spectacular being yet another alien/spaceship movie that delivers nothing in the amount of Alien, Aliens or Event Horizon, in comparison. It's slow-moving and anti-climatic. I haven't seen it in 15 years, so I can't reaally give you an in-depth review, but that's what I remembered of it. I'll have to spin my laserdisc of it one of these days.
Hehe yes I saw Nightflyers a couple of years back after picking up a vhs copy for 50p in a charity shop. It's got some pretty neat production design, and I seem to remember uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince getting his fingers cut off. Not much else about the film impressed me though, it was pretty dull for the most part, still as you say, Catherine Mary Stewart was certainly hot back then.

Thanks for the kind words, glad you like the thread, there's plenty more to come so stay tuned

A system of cells interlinked
Great stuff, as usual! I think I need to get my hands on another Trash film for this coming weekend! Too bad I had to hold my Netflix account.

Xtro (Harry Bromley Davenport 1982)
Trash rating

There is a common (and understandable) misconception surrounding Xtro that the film was one of the original video nasties. In truth however Xtro never featured on any of the official DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) lists, and was in fact passed uncut with an 'X' rating by the BBFC.

The movie was directed Harry Bromley Davenport, a British filmmaker who has done little else of note besides his 1992 satirical comedy Life Amongst the Cannibals. Though horror buffs will also be familiar with his two in-name-only (and very poor) sequels to Xtro, namely Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1990), and Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995). Davenport co wrote the story and scripted his original along with Iain Cassie, Michel Parry and Robert Smith, the latter having since written for UK television on crime dramas like The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Taggart, and A Touch of Frost. Yes this is a very British affair which was no doubt designed to cash in on Alien, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It has a reputation for being weird and extremely nasty, so lets have a look...

We pick things up with young Tony (Simon Nash) and his dad Sam (Philip Sayer) playing in the garden of their country house. Before you can say 'phone home', a high wind kicks up, everything goes dark, there's a bright light in the sky and Sam vanishes (what a rotten stroke of luck). Fast forward three years with Tony and his mum Rachel (Bernice Steigers) now living in London along with the new American man in her life Joe (Danny Brainin) and sexy au pair Analise (the lovely Maryam d'Arbo). Tony is in therapy having suppressed the memory of his father's abduction, and naturally hates his new step dad. Meanwhile the bright light returns to the countryside dropping off a nasty alien that runs around on all fours before killing a couple of passing motorists, and raping a young woman in her kitchen. Said woman quickly gives birth to a fully grown man!? who turns out to be none other than Tony's missing dad complete with new alien powers (we know this because he melts a phone). Sam returns to his estranged family and an inevitable tug of love over delighted son Tony ensues. Things become even stranger however, when Sam passes his powers on to Tony (who has a field day making his toys come to life), before making his sinister intentions clear and gradually reverting back to alien form...

Xtro is one of those films that completely lives up to it's bizarre and violent reputation. The early rape and subsequent birth scenes are truly sickening (especially the shot of Sayer biting through his umbilical cord), but also so incredibly baffling as to be completely ridiculous, thus setting the tone for the rest of the film. Xtro is indeed dumb, completely lacking in logic, moderately acted (though Steigers is good) and at best has merely second rate makeup effects. It's never dull though, this is mainly thanks to Davenport who keeps things moving at a fair pace injecting lots of imaginative (all be it daft) ideas. Indeed we get a life size Action Man/G.I. Joe wreaking havoc on an elderly neighbour, an impish clown, a toy tank with a penchant for shooting people, and Maryam d'Arbo prancing around in the nude a lot (not such a daft idea). Offset all this with what appears as an attempt at serious family drama laced with elements of psycho sexual horror, and you're left with a genuinely whacked out movie (just check out what happens to d'Arbo!!!???).

Ultimately though Xtro is nothing more than a mildly enjoyable exploitation curio tripped up by it's own stupidity. It's by no means terrible, just weird for weirds sake. Trash fans looking for something a little more offbeat should definitely give it a watch, if only to gawp at the sheer absurdity of it all.

Inseminoid aka Horror Planet (Norman J. Warren 1981)
Trash rating

Inseminoid saw British filmmaker Norman J. Warren continue in his tradition of sexploitation/horror flicks. These include his 1976 (and best known) film Satan's Slave, the story of a young girl abused by a Satanic cult. But also witchcraft vengeance flick Terror (1978), lesbian themed alien horror Prey aka Alien Prey (1978), and soft porn sci-fi comedy Spaced Out aka Outer Touch (1979). The story was penned by one time writing duo Nick and Gloria Maley, the former having worked as a makeup artist on a number of high profile films including The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Krull (1983).

would form part of a wave of low budget films from the early 80's seemingly designed to cash in on the success of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), though Warren and co have always vehemently denied this. It's also worth noting that during its theatrical run, the film was picketed by feminist groups opposed to the now notorious (but decidedly tame) alien rape sequence.

Set on the Jupiter moon of Xeno (where we're told the temperature is over a hundred below, but the space suits are wafer thin) the story follows a group of research scientists exploring an uncharted subterranean cave system. Naturally they're not alone down there, so when Sandy (Judy Geeson) discovers a partially sealed off chamber, enter one horny alien who proceeds to get jiggy with her interstellar style (should have packed your mace spray Sandy). On taking her to med bay Sandy's horrified colleagues discover that she's two months pregnant with said alien's offspring. Naturally this doesn't go down too well, as compelled to protect and feed her young, Sandy proceeds to go mad bumping off her friends and drinking their blood. Far from living up to the intelligence their profession would seemingly require, our decidedly unheroic heroes (who include British A list beauties Stephanie Beacham and Victoria Tennant) manage to laughably bungle every attempt to eliminate Sandy. With cast members (thankfully) dwindling the situation eventually worsens when the murderous mum-to-be gives birth to equally homicidal alien twins...

Despite the apparent cult following, there's really very little reason to recommend Inseminoid. Shot in chalk caves just outside London, Warren makes effective use of his location, but the rest of the production design is painfully cheap. Modified crash helmets with torches glued to the side, sweatshirts, and most unforgivably jeans completely fail to convince as futuristic attire. The research facility sets are passable, but the inclusion of milk crates as seating in one scene most certainly isn't. As a result the film looks no more impressive than any number of laughable TV sci-fi shows from the period. Then there's the acting, Geeson puts in an impressive performance as the demented Sandy, but the rest of the uncomfortable looking cast phone theirs in. Combine this with poorly choreographed fight sequences, lots of running down corridors whilst screaming, not to mention braindead character decisions, and you're merely left with the gore. Warren does keep the red stuff flowing (the alien birth scene is satisfyingly yucky) and the pace brisk enough, but ultimately Inseminoid is nothing more than a poorly executed slasher/possession flick devoid of humour (intentional or otherwise) and charm.

Out of interest, where do you get the pics? For such obscure films, seems strange google would have such decent snaps.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I don't know where he gets them, but there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of fans of all these cult films. There are publications, many of them archived online, which wrote about them at the time of release, and now, I'd imagine there are various websites where they can be discussed. Most of these films came out after I was really into B- and Z-movies, so I never got around to most of them, but my brother is really into anything horror and sci-fi, the gorier the better, so I know about the rabidness of some fans.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Well I'm sorry to disappoint you both, but I do indeed get them from Google and Yahoo image searches. If anyone can tell me of a better image source then please do because I often have to sift through dozens of pages before I find what I want.

Mark is right though, there are hordes of fans out there who are into this junk. In fact I don't even look upon these movies as being all that obscure.

Though if anyone can tell me how to get hold of a copy of Ciro Ippolito's 1980 junkathon Sulla Terra (Italy) aka Alien 2: On Earth (US) aka Alien Terror (UK) I'd like to hear about it, because that one really is hard to find.

The last guy who went looking for Sulla Terra

Interesting Thread Used Not the kind of movies I like to much latex and fake blood for me

The only one i have seen is Brain Damage a friend brought it over one night, we :laughed: so much
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.