by John Bikowski
My first reaction was “why?” but my final reaction is “oh my!” I’m speaking, of course, about the Alexandre Aja remake of the 1977 Wes Craven classic, The Hills Have Eyes. 20th Century Fox recently released the full uncut version on DVD along with some nifty features like a making-of, trailers, commentary, and production diaries. But it’s the film itself that is worth the purchase.
You may already know the basic story: A nice family is taking an extended vacation and opt for a shortcut through the middle of nowhere only to fall under siege from a band of post-nuclear, cannibalistic freaks intent on raping and torturing them in no particular order. The film unfolds with tons of style, tons of graphic interpersonal mayhem, and plenty of disturbing scenes to have the weak of stomach tripping to get there asses out of viewing range. I loved the way the film creates that feeling of wanting revenge. It’s engrossing to watch an innocent person fight to the death to defend loved ones. Kudos to the director and the actors for exuding pure blood rage onto the screen. Not for casual viewers, but a must see for those who know what to expect.
If you’ve recently browsed the new release section of Blockbuster, you must’ve noticed the glut of low-budget horror flix that’re filling the shelves. It seems every third flick is some lame-ass title like Demonslap or Frankenfish or The Devil’s Chili. Believe it or not, Frankenfish is an actual film (to be avoided), the other two are probably way overdue. I’ll let you know of a couple of safe bets amongst the turds. These films won’t change your life, but they’re definitely worth seeing. The first film, The Hazing, is a fun film in the style of Night of the Demons, but with just the right amount of nudity and fun gore. Look for the horny dismembered tongue scene, and also look for Brooke Burke to get smoked.
Another fine view is aptly titled Dead End. This film keeps you guessing as to what the hell is going on at all times. A family gets lost taking a shortcut, and makes the mistake of picking up a wandering woman and her child. This lady has some serious issues that somehow connect the massacres in the story. Part humorous, part drama, and mostly creepy with the added bonus of Lin Shaye as the mom. You may remember her as the nasty old landlady that Roy Munson reluctantly “services” in Kingpin.
Also worth checking out is the recent release by Dark Sky Films of the 1978 film Magic. Anthony Hopkins is amazing in an early role as Corky, a magician down on his luck and short on his sanity. Corky’s claim to fame is his ventriloquist act starring the dummy named Fats. Feeling the pressure of his rising stardom, Corky cracks and runs off to the Catskills to look up his high school love by the name of Peggy Ann Snow (Ann Margaret, who can be seen naked). She’s married to a rather large, jealous husband, but she falls for Corky’s seduction. The love triangle gets even more intriguing as the bodies start to pile up, leading to a tragic ending. This film works on many levels: A sad love story, a psychological horror film, and a suspense film. Besides, the puppet is freaky as hell.
Another film to check out is the very silly but fun Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove. The releasing company is The Asylum, and this is the perfect companion piece to Pirates of the Caribbean. Yeah, right. Essentially, a demonic zombie pirate who spouts one-liners is released from a treasure chest. He then embarks on a gory slashfest through the descendents of all those who murdered him. Watch as the bloodthirsty matey tries to negotiate a strip club lap dance and then settles for just bisecting one of the honeys. Good effects, good cheesy times, and great to make fun of.
If you’re looking for a notorious flick that you’ve probably never seen before, check out the Retromedia release of the 1987 Revenge of the Living Dead Girls. The disc comes with the trailer and an alternate shock ending. This film has its share of sleazy moments that’ll have you eagerly wading through the less riveting sections. Just think “porno,” because those are the films that director Pierre B. Reinhard is used to doing. In fact, there are scenes that blur the line between porn and horror. For example, one dude has his johnson gnawed off by a zombie chick. And in case you thought this was some feminist retribution trip, the worst is saved for a woman. A naked nubile is pushed down onto a bed by three zombified lesbians whose faces are demonic masks, but whose unclothed bodies are pretty supple. Perhaps they couldn’t afford full latex? Well anyhow, they begin with a full body massage on their victim, and then end with an up close view of a sword being graphically thrust up the girl’s wazoo. Unbelievable. Throw in a plot about dumping toxic waste by a cemetery and a sick and nasty miscarriage, and there ya go. Seriously sleazy and not for everyone.
To round things out, you may want to satisfy a craving for that good ol’ Troma style of entertainment. Latest offerings include Video Vixens, which is a parody about an erotic awards show in which even the commercials are loaded with sex. If you’re looking for super bizarre entertainment, check out Troma’s Meat Weed Madness which is loaded with insane people going more insane, thanks to the strongest ganja on the planet (made from human flesh). How can you go wrong with Troma’s Zombiegeddon? This film is full of ridiculous living dead action, bare breasts, and features a plot orchestrated by Satan himself. For a change of pace, you may also want to check out Troma’s East End Hustle, a tale about streetwalkers fighting back against all of the chauvinist male oppressors out there. How can you pass by a DVD box that says, “It’s Ho’s up and Pimps Down…” Really.