Tag Archives: horror movies




Today’s feature is a 1981 horror movie headlined by Clint Howard: Evilspeak.

Evilspeak was produced, co-written, and directed by Eric Weston, who has been behind a handful of low-budget flicks over his career, including Hitters, Cover Story, Pressure Point, To Protect And Serve, The Iron Triangle, and Marvin & Tige.

The cinematographer on Evilspeak was Irv Goodnoff, who also shot the movies Xtro 3, Shatterbrain, and The Van, among others.

The editor for the film was Charles Tetoni, who also cut the films Halloween 5 and One Dark Night, and was an associate editor on Capricorn One and The Star Chamber.

One of the producers for Evilspeak was Sylvio Tabet, whose other credits include The Cotton Club, Dead Ringers, The Beastmaster, Beastmaster II, and Beastmaster III.

evilspeak3The music for Evilspeak was provided by Roger Kellaway, who composed scores for 1976’s A Star Is Born, Satan’s Mistress, Jaws of Satan, The Dark, and The Silent Scream, and conducted for 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Invictus.

The effects work for the movie was done by a team that included Peter Knowlton (Flipper, Cool as Ice, Beethoven, The Creature Wasn’t Nice), Allan Apone (Going Overboard, CHUD II: Bud the Chud, Deep Blue Sea), Robert Clark (Starship Troopers, Mimic, The People Under The Stairs, Fortress, The Pit and The Pendulum), Francisco X. Pérez (Hesher, Con Air, Waterworld), Douglas J. White (CHUD II: Bud the Chud, Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders), John Carter (Maniac Cop 2), Harry Woolman (Laserblast, Dolemite), and Robert Bailey (Throw Momma From The Train, Killer Klowns From Outer Space).

The cast of Evilspeak includes Clint Howard (House of the Dead, Blubberella, Night Shift, Carnosaur, The Dentist 2), R. G. Armstrong (Children of the Corn, Predator), Joe Cortese (American History X), Don Stark (Santa With Muscles, That 70s Show), and Charles Tyner (Cool Hand Luke, Harold and Maude).

The plot of Evilspeak is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A military cadet who happens to be a social outcast taps into a way to summon demons and cast spells on his tormentors through his computer.

evilspeak5Evilspeak was one of many features to make the infamous “video nasty” list in the United Kingdom, meaning it was outright banned for many years due to its violent and Satanic content.

Anton LaVey, who was a noted author and the founder of the much-stigmatized Church of Satan, was apparently a fan of Evilspeak, and of how it portrayed Satan and Satanism.

The budget for Evilspeak was somewhere between $900,000 and $1 million. I wasn’t able to dig up any theatrical numbers, which were almost certainly affected by the controversial nature of the film’s plot. Regardless, it has become a cult favorite among die-hard horror fans. Currently, it holds an IMDb rating of 5.6, alongside Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 46% from critics and 37% from audiences.

Personally, I think that Clint Howard is solid in his lead role in Evilspeak. He is certainly not someone who is often tapped for lead roles, but this particular character needed someone who could portray a pathetic loser and also garner sympathy, and he pretty much nails that with his performance. The other characters aren’t nearly as well done, and suffer a bit from being exaggeratedly evil, particularly the bullies and some of the school staff. A number of people point to this film as a Carrie ripoff, and I think these excessive portrayals of the “bad guys” is where that influence is most evident.

evilspeak4For being so low-budget, the effects in Evilspeak are at least pretty entertaining, and are nothing if not ambitious. There are a couple of decapitations, a murder via a pack of pigs, and a handful of other creative / gruesome deaths that don’t shy away from any kind of effects challenge.

If there is anything I really don’t like about Evilspeak, it is the conclusion. Essentially, it ends on a note that is at once an anti-climax and a pathetic sequel setup: after the murder spree is over, the movie just fades to black, and text comes up confirming that Clint Howard survived, and then teases his potential return. My problem with this is that he already got his revenge, and there wasn’t anything else particularly intimidating about the guy himself. The demon computer is a different case, but it doesn’t necessarily need Clint Howard’s survival to be a threat.

evilspeak2Overall, Evilspeak is a fun little piece of grind house horror history. It is certainly a low budget horror deep cut, though it is now available on blu ray after a Shout Factory release last year. Clint Howard is really interesting to see in a lead role before he turned to self-parody, the outdated technology at the center of the plot is hilarious, and the deaths are everything you could hope for from a movie like this. For horror movie fans, this is more than worth digging up. Likewise, bad movie aficionados are bound to get a kick out of this flick.

For more thoughts on the Satanic escapades of Clint Howard, I highly recommend checking out the We Hate Movies episode on the movie, Dread Central’s coverage of the recent blu-ray release, and the retrospective review from Daily Grindhouse.


Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest


Today’s bad movie feature is 1995’s Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest.

The primary writer on Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest was Dode Levenson, who also did some work on the television show Tripping the Rift and the romantic comedy One Small Hitch. Uncredited work on the screenplay was apparently done by Matt Greenberg, who has done writing on movies like 1408, Reign of Fire, The Prophecy II, and Seventh Son.

The director for Children of the Corn III was James D.R. Hickox, whose other credits include the b-movies Blood Surf and Sabretooth.

The cinematographer for the film was Gerry Lively, who worked on movies like Friday, Future Shock, Project Eliminator, Hellraiser III, and Hellraiser: Bloodline.

The editor on Urban Harvest was Chris Peppe, whose other cutting credits include Suicide Kings, Boiler Room, They, and The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.

The musical score for Urban Harvest was provided by Daniel Licht, who also provided music for Thinner, Children of the Corn II, Soul Survivors, and the hit television show, Dexter.

The producers for the movie included Brad Southwick (Legion, Ghost Shark), Anthony Hickox (Hellraiser III, Waxwork, Waxwork II), Gary DePew (2001: A Space Travesty), and Jim Begg (Leprechaun).

childrencorniii2The makeup effects team for Urban Harvest was made up of Screaming Mad George (Space Truckers, The Dentist 2, Arena), Karin Hanson (Wolf, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie), Gil Liberto (Son Of The Mask, Black Mass), Erik Schaper (Vampire’s Kiss, Child’s Play 2), Shaun Smith (Captain America, Tremors), David Stinnett (Child’s Play 3), N. Brock Winkless IV (Congo, Alien 3), Kevin Yagher (The Dentist, Trick or Treat, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2), Mark Garbarino (Leviathan, Ice Cream Man), Mitchell J. Coughlin (The Dentist, Face/Off), and Bryan Blair (Hollow Man, The 6th Day).

The special effects work for the movie was done by Wayne Beauchamp (Hell Comes To Frogtown, Maniac Cop 2), Adam Campbell (Blade, New Nightmare), John Crawford (Space Truckers, Carnosaur), Robert Freitas (Mimic 2, Dreams in the Witch House), Grady Holder (Lake Placid, Small Soldiers, The Island of Dr. Moreau), Hiroshi Katagiri (Castle Freak, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Darren Perks (Spawn, Leprechaun 4, Theodore Rex), and Douglas J. Stewart (Daredevil, Torque).

The cast of Children of the Corn III included Ron Melendez (The Legacy), Jim Metzler (976-EVIL, Hot To Trot), Nancy Lee Grahn (General Hospital), Daniel Cerny (Demonic Toys), and Mari Morrow (Virtuosity).

childrencorniii4Much like Children of the Corn II, the plot of Urban Harvest kicks off with two surviving children from the town from the first Children of the Corn getting adopted. However, this time they are taken in by a couple in a nearby city, leading to a new series of hijinks and corn-related shenanigans. The two cultist kids are forced to adapt to their new surroundings, either by making new friends or by creating a new cornfield and murdering people.

Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Monster) appears uncredited in Children of the Corn III as one of the children under the spell of the cult, marking her first time on screen.

I wasn’t able to dig up any budget or gross information on the feature, but apparently it did make it into a handful of theaters. That said, it was far from well liked, and didn’t last long: it currently holds a rating of 4.0 on IMDb, along with a 27% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

If there is anything positive to say about Children of the Corn III, it is that the movie tries to take the franchise in a new direction. Moving the setting to a urbanized area isn’t in itself a bad idea, but it is pretty clear from watching the movie that there wasn’t much thought into where to take the story from there. Putting two of the cultist children into catholic school doesn’t exactly make for the most compelling watch if you ask me.

childrencorniii3Once again, the child actors themselves aren’t awful in this movie. I recognized the central kid from his role in Demonic Toys, where he is weirdly dubbed over throughout the entire movie by an adult. Luckily that isn’t the case here, and he pulls off his creepy role well enough.

While the main kid is creepy, and the subplot about monetizing the evil corn is hilariously outlandish, there isn’t quite enough going on here to make it worth the time spent watching it. Overall, there isn’t a whole lot to recommend with this movie outside of a few highlights (a memorable corn-based decapitation and the appearance of a giant corn monster, for instance). It generally lacks the entertainment value of Children of the Corn II if you ask me, and is ultimately just an odd idea that never really came to fruition.


Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice


Today’s feature is yet another much-maligned horror movie sequel: 1993’s Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice.

Children of the Corn II was written by A L Katz and Gilbert Adler, a duo that also worked on the cult horror television shows Freddy’s Nightmares and Tales From The Crypt, and would later do the screenplay for the vampire comedy Bordello of Blood.

The director for the movie was David Price, who only has two other feature credits on IMDb: Son of Darkness: To Die For II from 1991 and Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde from 1995. Outside of directing, Price served as a producer on Leprechaun, and is connected to an upcoming reboot of the Knight Rider television series.

The cinematographer for Children of the Corn II was Levie Isaacks, who also shot Leprechaun, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, The Dentist, Tooth Fairy 2, and numerous episodes of shows like Tales From The Crypt, CSI: NY, Malcolm In The Middle, and Dawson’s Creek.

childrencornii4The editor for the movie was Barry Zetlin, who but numerous other b-movies, including Cyborg 3, Ghoulies II, Friday the 13th Part VII, Breeders, Galaxy of Terror, and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

The musical score for Children of the Corn II was provided by Daniel Licht, whose other credits include the television series Dexter, Thinner, Children of the Corn III, and Soul Survivors.

The team of producers behind the movie included Gilbert Adler (Ghost Ship, Constantine, Valkyrie, Superman Returns), Lawrence Mortorff (The Omega Code, Hellraiser III, The Omega Code 2), David Stanley (Legends of the Hidden Temple), and Scott A. Stone (The Man Show, Freddy’s Nightmares).

The makeup effects for Children of the Corn II were done by a group that included Martin Astles (Event Horizon, Van Helsing, Son of the Mask), Shaune Harrison (Jupiter Ascending, Nightbreed), Herita Jones (Super Mario Bros, Hellraiser III), Dave Keen (Candyman, Hardware, Aliens), and Steve Painter (Alexander, From Hell).

childrencornii3The special effects team for the movie included Ray Bivins (Mr. Destiny, Paul Blart Mall Cop), Bob Keen (Highlander, Event Horizon, The Dark Crystal, Krull), and Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Wishmaster, Blade), and the visual effects crew was made up of Rob Burton (Con Air, The Rock, Howard the Duck), Chris Casady (Brainscan, My Science Project), John Follmer (Mortal Kombat, McHale’s Navy, Red Planet, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and Barb Meier (True Lies, Double Dragon).

The cast of Children of the Corn II included Christie Clark (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2), Rosalind Allen (Pinocchio’s Revenge), Ed Grady (Children of the Corn III), Wallace Merck (Super Mario Bros), Terence Knox (St. Elsewhere), and Ryan Bollman (Only The Strong).

The plot of Children of the Corn II picks up after the end of the original Children of the Corn, where the surviving children of the devastated town of Gatlin are taken in by various locals in the nearby town of Hemingford. Unfortunately, the children are under the influence of a cult leader, and soon the killings begin again.

Children of the Corn II was made on a reported production budget of $900,000, on which it grossed just under $7 million in its domestic theatrical run. While this was profitable, the movie was not well-regarded: it currently holds an IMDb rating of 4.1, alongside Rotten Tomatoes scores of 22% from critics and 20% from audiences.

childrencornii2Personally, I am a big fan of well-portrayed creepy children characters. However, it is really easy to have them go wrong, given there is a significant scarcity of child actors out there with any kind of talent. Children of the Corn II is a rare flick that manages to hit straight down the middle in regards to the significant cast of child actors: they aren’t terrible or remarkable, which is in itself a feat. The first Children of the Corn has a couple of memorably creepy kids, so this sequel is a downgrade in that regard.

That said, Children of the Corn II is actually pretty fun as a bad movie. There are a number of ridiculously over the top deaths, an outlandish plot, some cheesy makeup effects, and just enough nonsense dialogue to make it oddly endearing.

If you ask me, Children of the Corn II isn’t a top tier good bad movie, but there is definitely entertainment value to be had with it. The original movie is no masterpiece, so there shouldn’t have been any high expectations for this flick to start with. That said, I am amazed that the franchise has kept chugging along for as long as it has, given how poorly received they all seem to be.

For more on Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice, check out Stephen Holden’s review in The New York Times, and Richard Harrington’s coverage in The Washington Post. For some less formal overviews, GoodBadFlicks has a video about the film on YouTube, and Werewolves On The Moon has a comparatively positive spin on it.

House II: The Second Story

House II: The Second Story


Today’s feature is 1987’s House II: The Second Story.

House II was written and directed by Ethan Wiley, who provided the screenplay for the original House and directed Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror. Some credit was still awarded to Fred Dekker (RoboCop 3, The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps) as a writer, due to him coming up with the original story concept for House.

The cinematographer on House II was the veteran horror director of photography Mac Ahlberg, a frequent Stuart Gordon collaborator who shot such films as King of the Ants, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, Space Truckers, Robot Jox, Arena, DeepStar Six, House, Re-Animator, Dolls, From Beyond, Ghoulies, and Trancers, among many others.

The editor for the film was Martin Nicholson, who has cut films like Halloweentown, Forbidden Zone, The Big Picture, and worked on handful of episodes of Game of Thrones.

The two credited producers for House II were Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th, Jason X, The Last House On The Left, DeepStar Six, House) and Andrew Z. Davis (Volcano, Red Dragon, Rush Hour 3, Your Highness).

houseii2The musical score for House II was provided by Harry Manfredinim who is best known for his work on the Friday the 13th franchise, as well as movies like House, Slaughter High, DeepStar Six, Wishmaster, The Omega Code, Wolves of Wall Street, and A Talking Cat!?!.

The special effects team for House II included Mark Walas (Signs, Gremlins), Chris Walas (Humanoids From The Deep, Piranha, DeepStar Six, Scanners), Peter Chesney (The Ladykillers, Waterworld), Mike Smithson (Battlefield Earth, Dollman, Brainscan, Suburban Commando, The Island of Doctor Moreau), Gregg Olsson (RoboCop 2, Gremlins), Kelly Lepkowsky (Hot to Trot, Arachnophobia), Jarn Heil (Iron Eagle), and James Isaac (Jason X, DeepStar Six).

The visual effects for the film were done in part by Eric Brevig (Wolf, Wild Wild West), Phil Tippett (RoboCop 3, Howard the Duck), Mark Sullivan (The Stuff, Ishtar, Demolition Man, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Craig Newman (Speed, TRON), Randy Dutra (The Golden Child, Willow), Scott Beattie (Con Air, Freejack), Jon Berg (Laserblast, The Crater Lake Monster, Piranha).

The cast of House II includes Arye Gross (Castle), Jonathan Stark (Fright Night), Royal Dano (Ghoulies II, Killer Klowns From Outer Space), Bill Maher (Real Time with Bill Maher), John Ratzenberger (Cheers), Lar Park Lincoln (Friday the 13th Part VII), Amy Yasbeck (The Mask, Wings)

houseii4The plot of House II starts off with a man inheriting a house from his deceased parents. While going through the belongings, he discovers that a family heirloom is missing: a mystical crystal skull, which was apparently lost some generations before. On a hunch, he believes the skull may be buried alongside his great great great great grandfather, and convinces a friend to help dig him up. To their shock, not only do they find the skull, but also the living corpse of the impossibly old ancestor, However, instead of being a brain-hungy zombie, “Gramps” turns out to be a pretty cool guy, and leads the two friends into a series of misadventures as they protect the crystal skull from evil.

On paper, House II is a sequel to the cult classic horror-comedy House, which came out in 1986. However, it only bears slight thematic similarities with its predecessor, and is arguably an entirely different genre. It was followed up with the perplexingly titled House IV, which was came out in 1992. House III technically never existed, though the unconnected 1989 movie The Horror Show was labeled as such in foreign markets, necessitating the bizarre title of the franchise’s third installment.

I wasn’t able to dig up an estimate for the production budget, but House II did manage to rake in 7.8 million in its lifetime theatrical run. The reception, however, was not warm: it currently holds a 0% aggregate score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, alongside a 40% audience score and an IMDb rating of 5.3.

houseii1This movie is, above all else, weird. House is a surreal and at times humorous horror adventure into the depths of a possessed house, and is kind of like The Burbs crossed with The Amityville Horror. House II, on the other hand, jettisons a lot of the body horror and otherwise disturbing elements of the first film, and focuses more on the idea of an adventure through alternate dimensions within the confines of a home. I definitely understand why fans of the 1986 House were disappointed in this follow-up, because it is definitely a different kind of movie. That said, I don’t think it is nearly as bad as its reputation would have you believe.

I feel about the same way about House II as I do about Halloween III: if you can divorce the film from its fan expectations, it is actually a pretty fun ride. Just like with Halloween III, House II makes little to no sense, bouncing from one bizarre reality to the next. Magical crystal skulls, giant dog-worms, pterodactyls, and zombies from the old west all play important parts, and none of that makes any more sense in the context of the film. That said, I found it to be generally fun, if not entirely coherent. I might go so far as to say that House II is like John Dies At The End without the edge or the cynicism.

In general, I think this weird, weird movie deserves a second look from a new generation. This comedic ride into complete nonsense is a blast: perhaps not a Troll 2 or The Room, but it definitely deserves more recognition as an entertainingly bad movie. Who doesn’t love a story of bonding between a man and his great great great great grandfather?




Today’s feature is the horror flick 976-EVIL: the directorial debut of Robert Englund, who is widely recognized for his role as Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise.

976-EVIL was written by the duo of Brian Helgeland (Mystic River, The Postman, L.A. Confidential) and Rhet Topham, whose only other theatrical credit was Trick or Treat.

As mentioned, 976-EVIL was the directorial debut of Robert Englund. Outside of the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, Englund has also featured in movies like Wishmaster, The Mangler, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Python, and Lake Placid vs. Anaconda.

The cinematographer for the film was Paul Elliott, who shot Friday the 13th Part VII, My Girl, and did camera work on movies like True Grit, No Country For Old Men, Trick Or Treat, Humanoids From The Deep, and Legion.

The editor for 976-EVIL was Stephen Myers, whose other credits include the documentary The Pixar Story, the Hulk Hogan holiday flick Santa With Muscles, and Sometimes They Come Back…Again.

976-EVIL had two credited producers: Lisa Hansen (Scorcher, 976-EVIL II) and Paul Hertzberg (Hotel Erotica).

976evil2The musical score for the film was provided by the duo of Steve Rucker and Thomas Chase, who are best known for working on cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls.

The effects work for 976-EVIL was done by a team that included Marcus Tate (Darkman, UHF), William Mesa (Death To Smoochy, Red Planet, Deep Blue Sea), Tim Donahue (Timecop, Deep Blue Sea), Hal Miles (Leprechaun 4, Communion, Leviathan), Howard Berger (Intruder, People Under The Stairs, Maniac Cop 3, Vampires, The Faculty), Robert Kurtzman (It Follows, From Dusk Till Dawn 3, From Dusk Till Dawn 2, Ghosts of Mars), Kevin Yagher (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2, The Dentist, Trick or Treat, Children of the Corn III), Christopher Swift (Congo), Grant Arndt (Leviathan, Hell Comes To Frogtown, Pumpkinhead), Gino Crognale (DeepStar Six, From Beyond, Troll, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Rick Lalonde (Son Of The Mask, Child’s Play), Larry Odien (Legion, Space Truckers, Captain America, The Pit and The Pendulum), and Zandra Platzek (Masters of the Universe).

976evil4The cast of the film includes Stephen Geoffreys (Fright Night), Patrick O’Bryan (No Holds Barred), Sandy Dennis (Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?), Jim Metzler (Hot to Trot, Children of the Corn III), J.J. Cohen (Almost Famous), and Paul Willson (Office Space).

The plot of 976-EVIL centers around an oft-bullied high school nerd, who calls a hot line that promises to end the peer bullying that he constantly faces. However, this hot line is actually run by Satan, who grants the nerd supernatural powers to take revenge on his bullies.

976-EVIL ultimately grossed just under $3 million on an unreported budget. While that was hardly impressive, the movie did wind up getting a direct to video sequel in 1992: 976-EVIL II: The Astral Factor, which was directed by Chopping Mall‘s Jim Wynorski.

The reception to the film was overwhelmingly negative: it currently holds a 5.0 rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 9% from critics and 28% from audiences.

Right out of the gate, the premise behind 976-EVIL is more than a little bit ridiculous. A demonic hot line would be all fine and good if this movie were written as more of a horror-comedy, but it just doesn’t quite nail that balance. The screenplay never brings the laughs or the scares adequately, and comes off more or less like one of the later (and lesser) A Nightmare On Elm Street movies as a result.

Speaking of which, one of the few positive aspects of those later Nightmare movies are the effects, which at times carry them. 976-EVIL, unfortunately, doesn’t have the impressive level of gore and makeup that those movies could provide, which means there isn’t a whole lot to distract from the other weaknesses of the movie.

On the positive side, the movie generally looks decent (outside of the effects). The production design and cinematography are both on point for this kind of flick, but they aren’t nearly enough to carry it when all is said and done. Without startling effects, well-written jokes/scares, or a stand-out performance, good shooting and design isn’t enough to pull the movie through.

Personally, I think most of the value of 976-EVIL comes from the novelty of it being directed by Robert Englund. I can see why some people like it well enough, but I don’t think anyone out there really loves this movie. Best case scenario, this is a mediocre horror film. However, I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates a kick of nostalgia, because it offers plenty of that to go around.

For some other thoughts on 976-EVIL, I recommend checking out the coverage by Film Connoisseur for a more-or-less positive spin, and We Hate Movies for some comparatively less-than-charitable opinions.

Demonic Toys

Demonic Toys


Today’s feature is 1992’s Demonic Toys, a horror film that unsurprisingly prominently features a group of demonic toys.

The original idea for Demonic Toys is credited to company head Charles Band, with screenplay credit going to David S. Goyer, who has since become a bit of a Hollywood sensation with films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man Of Steel, The Dark Knight, and Blade. However, his earlier credits include b-movies like Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys, the abysmal early Marvel film Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, and Kickboxer 2.

The director of Demonic Toys was Peter Manoogian, who was also behind low budget flicks like Arena, Eliminators, The Dungeonmaster, Seedpeople, and DevilDolls.

The cinematographer for the film was Adolfo Bartoli, who shot such movies as Prehysteria, Trancers II, The Pit and The Pendulum, Dollman vs Demonic Toys, Subspecies 4, Trancers 4, and Trancers 5.

demonictoys1The editor for Demonic Toys was Andy Horvitch, who cut the Stuart Gordon movies Stuck, Edmond, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, and The Pit and The Pendulum, as well as the low budget flicks Arena and Beeper.

The musical score for Demonic Toys was provided by Richard Band, who has worked on Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dreams in the Witch House, Castle Freak, The Pit and The Pendulum, Arena, Troll, and Laserblast, among many others.

The most prominent producer of the film was Full Moon Features and Empire Pictures head, Charles Band, who is widely known for his low budget horror films. His companies have been behind franchises like Dollman, Puppet Master, Ghoulies, Demonic Toys, and Trancers, as well as cult classic films like Robot Jox and Re-Animator.

The effects work for Demonic Toys was done by a team that included Palah Sandling (Dr. Alien, Trancers II), Dennis Gordon (Robot Jox, Q: The Winged Serpent), Harvey Mayo (Robot Jox, Puppetmaster), Kevin McCarthy (Ice Cream Man, Hobgoblins, The Ambulance), Phil Meador (Splash, Ghost Dad), Mark Rappaport (Predator 2, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, The Core), David Allen (Dolls, The Stuff, Laserblast, Q: The Winged Serpent), Yancy Calzada (Mega Piranha, Trick or Treat), Chris Endicott (Prehysteria), and Allen Gonzales (Mortal Kombat, Highlander II, Ghost Dad).

demonictoys4The plot of Demonic Toys follows a group of people who are trapped in a locked toy storage facility, where they inadvertently awaken a demon. The otherworldly creature then uses the various shelved trinkets as vessels and weapons, and makes himself stronger with each subsequent kill.

Demonic Toys has had crossover sequels with fellow Charles Band properties Puppet Masters and Dollman, but didn’t get a true standalone sequel to its own until 2010, with Demonic Toys 2.

demonictoys2The reception to Demonic Toys was generally negative: it currently holds an IMDb rating of 5.1 and a Rotten Tomatoes audience review aggregate score of 32%. As with many Full Moon movies, it never released to theaters, and has thus not had a huge number of eyes on it outside of dedicated horror fans.

First off, the eponymous toys in the movie look absolutely terrible. Most of them are nothing more than semi-elaborate hand puppets, which is painfully obvious every time they are on screen. Worse than that, however, is that a couple of them are vocal, meaning that they have constant, jarring mouth movements. It would be one thing if they were saying things that were menacing or otherwise necessary, but most of the dialogue from the monstrous playthings are poorly delivered one liners and riffs. Speaking of which, the biggest weakness of this movie is a sense of humor that never finds its footing. Throughout the whole film, I can’t think of a single joke that honestly landed for me, and I can’t imagine it looked any better in screenplay form.

The primary antagonist of the movie is a mysterious demon who controls the various toys. However, he doesn’t use the toys for much other than his casual dirty work, preferring do engage in a few parlor scenes and monologues with various characters himself. Typically, I wouldn’t mind that so much out of a b-movie villain, but the demon here has a huge problem: until the very end of the movie, he is played by a child, who is dubbed over with an adult voice with a heavy effects filter. It both sounds and looks terrible, and is immensely distracting in all of his scenes.

Speaking of which, I’m not entirely clear as to why each of the toys had a unique personality, when they are all being directly controlled by the same demon. Wouldn’t they all be identical reflections of that demon, rather than different based on their appearances? Unsurprisingly, there isn’t much time spent on how the toy possession works, so it just stands as lingering logic issue.

demonictoys5The setup for the plot of Demonic Toys is a bit overly complicated and over the top, to say the least. The plot kicks off with an undercover illegal gun trafficking bust that goes wrong, which sounds like the start for a very different kind of movie. Apart from establishing the location and revealing a tiny bit of character backstory, this elaborate initial setup doesn’t have any real bearing on the rest of the plot. Some good movies can pull this off really well, as crucial information is revealed before the turn. However, there isn’t much revealed about the characters in the opening, apart from the fact that the lead is newly pregnant. The experiences shown in the opening don’t reveal a whole lot about the gun runners or the demon either, making it feel basically like wasted time.

Towards the middle of the story, it is revealed that the demon is looking for a new physical body, and needs to take over an unborn human child to do so. From that point on, the plot centers around the demon setting up a ceremony to take over the woman cop’s 1 month old fetus, which is a bit of an odd turn. From there, an umbilical war occurs between the demon and the fetus soul of the unborn kid,  which eventually ends in the demon being thwarted. The end of the movie shows a bit of a creepy/supposedly-touching moment between the cop and her fetus-ghost, which gives the movie a vague anti-abortion vibe. After all, it is established that this fetus, which is less than 1 month into development, has a fully developed soul that is capable of possessing objects and influencing the natural world. To put it mildly, the tone of the entire last act is fucking weird. I half expected a post-credit sermon about the demonic evils of abortion.

demonictoys3Overall, Demonic Toys is just a less entertaining or well developed version of Dolls / Puppet Master / Child’s Play, and it doesn’t try to hide that at any point. Much like Dolls, there is a giant killer teddy bear. Much like Child’s Play, there’s a innocent doll with a filthy mouth. Much like Puppet Master… it is almost exactly the same thing as Puppet Master. For the life of me, I don’t understand why this is its own franchise when Full Moon already had Puppet Master in their arsenal. In any case, the bizarre third act almost makes it worth watching for the WTF-factor, but not quite. I still enjoyed seeing shitty hand puppets murder people, but enough to recommend this to anyone but the most die-hard Full Moon die-hards.

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat


Today’s feature, in the spirit of the Halloween season, is 1986’s Trick or Treat.

The screenplay for Trick or Treat is credited to producer Michael S. Murphey, Joel Soisson (Dracula 2000, Piranha 3DD, Mimic 2), and Rhett Topham (976-EVIL), with uncredited work done by Glen Morgan (Final Destination) and James Wong (The X-Files).

The director on Trick or Treat was character actor Charles Martin Smith, who has appeared in such movies as The Untouchables and Starman. His other directing credits have included Air Bud, Dolphin Tale, and Dolphin Tale 2.

The cinematographer for the movie was Robert Elswit, who has shot such acclaimed films as Nightcrawler, There Will Be Blood,  and The Town, as well as less acclaimed flicks like Gigli and 8MM.

The editor for Trick or Treat was Jane Jaffe, who was an assistant editor on films like Pretty In Pink, Terms of Endearment, St. Elmo’s Fire, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension.

trickortreat2The music for the movie was provided by Christopher Young, who has provided scores to such movies as Swordfish, Sinister, Priest, The Core, and Hellraiser over his career.

Trick or Treat was produced by co-writers Michael S. Murphey (From Dusk Till Dawn 2, From Dusk Till Dawn 3, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2) and Joel Soisson (Maniac Cop 3, The Prophecy, Dracula 2000), along with Scott White (Gotham).

The makeup effects on Trick or Treat were provided by Alec Gillis (Mortal Kombat, Wolf, Leviathan), Chris Goehe (Howard the Duck, Signs, Dead Heat), Everett Burrell (Castle Freak, Re-Animator, DeepStar Six, Troll), Rudolph Eavy III (Cyborg, Weekend at Bernie’s), David Kindlon (Leprechaun, DeepStar Six, Hell Comes To Frogtown, From Beyond), Daniel Marc (House II), Ralph Miller III (Dolls), Brian Penikas (Tank Girl, Leviathan), and Kevin Yagher (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2, Child’s Play).

The special effects crew on Trick or Treat was made up of Thomas Love (Midnight Run), Steve Wolke (Swordfish, Lawnmower Man 2), Larry Roberts (House of Yes, Masters of the Universe), Randy Kenan (The Abyss, Muppets from Space), and Jeff Frink (Dead Heat, Maximum Overdrive).

trickortreat6The visual effects team for the movie included Doug Beswick (Aliens, Evil Dead II, Blade), David S. Williams Jr. (Blood Diamond, xXx, Tremors, SpaceCamp), Dick Ramirez (Dune, SpaceCamp), Richard Malzahn (Suburban Commando, Leviathan, Kull The Conqueror), and Jeff Burks (The Abyss, Predator).

The cast of Trick or Treat is made up of Marc Price (Family Ties), Tony Fields (Santa Barbara), Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives), Elaine Joyce (Motel Hell), Gene Simmons (Never Too Young To Die, Runaway), and Ozzy Osbourne (The Osbournes).

The story of Trick or Treat centers around a outcast high schooler with a deep love for metal music, whose musical idol is killed in an apparent hotel fire. After the rocker’s death, his last recording winds up in the hands of his biggest fan. However, this final release proves to be more than a standard album, and the young fan starts having strange visions and dreams after listening to it.

The songs used for the movie were provided by the band “Fastway,” which was made up of Dave King of Flogging Molly and Eddie Clarke of Motorhead.

Glen Morgan, a now-prolific Hollywood producer of such movies as Final Destination, Black Christmas, and Willard, appears in his only on-screen acting role in this movie.

Trick or Treat was produced by Dino De Laurentiis’s company, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which also released such films as Blue Velvet, Maximum Overdrive, Manhunter, Evil Dead II, and Pumpkinhead.

Trick or Treat now has a bit of a cult following based on its outlandish plot, soundtrack, and rock star casting. This is in spite of the film not receiving a new video release in a number of years, reportedly due to rights issues with the music included in the soundtrack. Currently, it hols a 5.7 rating on IMDb, along with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 63% from aggregated audience reviews.

trickortreat4Trick or Treat capitalizes on the widespread fear of the rebellious influence of rock and roll on the youth of the United States, which was the loathed genre of choice of middle class parents prior to the rise of rap and hip hop as the new musical social pariahs. The inclusion of Gene Simmons and Ozzie Osbourne in the cast was clearly designed as a nod to their own penchants for controversy, not unlike the fictional rock star at the center of the film. Both men, on top of releasing controversial rock music, were known for their wild concert exhibitions, and were thus the ire of many religious zealots and puritanical social critics.

I don’t think that this movie was ever meant to be taken particularly seriously as a horror flick. The film makes it pretty clear that the idea of rock music inspiring violence and misbehavior is ridiculous, and the plot seems to mock the ludicrousness of the concept. Basically, the film takes the position that the only way that music could cause teens to commit crimes is if they were possessed by evil ghosts of metal gods. That said, the comedic elements aren’t explicitly laid out, and there aren’t any jokes to speak of, so it defies being labeled a comedy. I can’t help but wonder if this could have been a really hilarious horror/comedy movie if they had been willing to lean into the comedic elements a little harder. Alas, the movie sits in a no-man’s-land between being funny and scary, and never really finds a good balance.

The effects work in the movie is surprisingly interesting and strange, and goes in directions that I did not at all expect or predict going into it. I thought that this would be a pretty simple possession deal, but there are some proper monstrous shenanigans in this flick, which is certainly a memorable aspect to the movie. I also think Wes Craven took some notes from this movie when he was working on Shocker, as there are a few notable similarities with that flick, particularly in regards to the villain.

Overall, Trick or Treat is a case where the concept was way better on paper than the execution wound up being on screen, which is a real shame. It is still worth seeing for the novelty value and a few highlight moments, particularly for anyone looking for a 1980s metal nostalgia trip. But, because it isn’t particularly easy to get a hold of, it may take more effort than it is worth to dig up a copy. That said, it isn’t impossible to find online if you do some searching for it.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

Friday the 13th Part VII


Today’s feature is Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, in which Jason Vorhees faces off against a telekinetic heroine.

Friday the 13th Part VII was directed by special effects guru John Carl Buechler, who also directed the movies Troll and Ghoulies Go To College. His special effects credits included movies like From Beyond, Dolls, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, Carnosaur, The Gingerdead Man, and Robot Jox, among many others.

The cinematographer for the film was Paul Elliott, who also shot Fat Albert, My Girl, and 976-EVIL, and provided camera work on Legion, No Country For Old Men, True Grit, Trick or Treat, Saturday the 14th, and Humanoids From The Deep.

Friday the 13th Part VII had three credited editors: Maureen O’Connell (The Hidden, Doogie Howser, M.D.), Martin Jay Sadoff (Graduation Day), and Barry Zetlin (Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Ghoulies II, Children of the Corn II).

The music for the movie is credited to two people: prolific horror score composer Harry Manfredini (Jason X, Wolves of Wall Street, DeepStar Six, House, Friday the 13th, The Omega Code, Slaughter High, Wishmaster, Swamp Thing) and Fred Mollin, who would return to do the music for Friday the 13th Part VIII.

The team of producers for Friday the 13th Part VII included Barbara Sachs (Friday the 13th Part VIII), Iain Paterson (House of Cards, The Riches, Are You Afraid Of The Dark?), and Frank Mancuso Jr. (Species, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning).

The special effects team on Friday the 13th Part VII included, apart from director John Carl Buechler, Lynn Buechler (Carnosaur, Ghoulies), Lou Carlucci (In the Mix, Killer Klowns From Outer Space), John Criswell (From Beyond, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie), Robin L. D’Arcy (North, House II), Jim Doyle (The Stuff, Showgirls), John Foster (Robot Jox, Carnosaur), Greg Johnson (From Beyond, Critters), David Kindlon (Leprechaun, Wolf, DeepStar Six), Joe Podnar (The Midnight Meat Train), Timothy Ralston (Evolver), Patrick Simmons (Arena), Richard Snell (Hudson Hawk, The Running Man), and Heidi Snyder (Ghoulies II, Gremlins 2).

The cast of the movie is made up of Kane Hodder (Jason X, Friday the 13th Part VIII), Susan Blu (Jem, The Transformers), Lar Park Lincoln (House II), Terry Kiser (Weekend At Bernie’s, Weekend At Bernie’s II), Kevin Spirtas (The Hills Have Eyes Part II), Heidi Kozak (Slumber Part Massacre II), and William Butler (Ghoulies II, Arena).

Friday the 13th Part VII was the first Friday the 13th movie to feature Kane Hodder as Jason, who is now the most popularly associated actor with the role. He was already an experienced stunt coordinator, and provided his own stunts in the film.

Most of the music used in the film is recycled from the previous movies in the franchise, which is why Harry Manfredini is given a music credit. The few original compositions that were used were provided by Fred Mollin, who shares the music credit.

The original vision for the movie was to pit Jason Vorhees against Freddy Kruger, but New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures weren’t able to figure out the logistics behind the scenes. However, the ending of Friday the 13th Part IX officially combines the universes, and sets up their eventual confrontation in 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason. Due to the lack of Freddy Kruger, the screenplay for Friday the 13th Part VII was eventually written for a Carrie-like telekinetic adversary instead.

Jason X, the tenth film in the franchise, re-creates an infamous death sequence from Friday the 13th Part VII, in which Jason traps a teenager in their sleeping bag and slams them repeatedly against a tree.

Reportedly, it took nine re-submissions with new cuts in order for Friday the 13th Part VII to get an R rating from the MPAA ratings board, which was dead set on giving the film an X. Because of this, a number of death sequences were left on the cutting room floor.

The writing work done for Friday the 13th Part VII is a bit of a mystery. The initial writer of the screenplay, Daryl Haney, was dismissed early in the production, and all of the rewrites are credited to an apparent pseudonym, Manuel Fidello.

The budget for Friday the 13th Part VII was under $3 million, on which it grossed over $19 million domestically in its theatrical run.

The reception to Friday the 13th Part VII was generally negative, though it has a bit of a cult following among horror fans now. It currently holds a 5.2 rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 26% from critics and 38% from audiences.

Personally, I think that Friday the 13th Part VII deserves some credit for doing something a little different with the franchise. In all of the previous entries, Jason had never had a real challenger before with any kind of otherworldly or paranormal powers. While Tommy Jarvis was able to get the better of him twice, he is definitely just a human, and wasn’t a toe to toe match for Jason. Tina, on the other hand, has the destructive powers of her telekinesis, which she uses to physically challenge Jason.

The effects team for The New Blood clearly had a blast thinking of ways to use Tina’s telekinesis to fight Jason, and the powers certainly opened up a lot of new doors and possibilities for deaths and effects. Personally, I am a big fan of the entire sequence where Tina essentially collapses a house in on top of Jason with her powers.

It is pretty evident that the MPAA ratings cuts hurt the movie significantly. A lot of the draw for the Friday the 13th franchise films are the creative deaths and effects work, which is primarily what got cut and minimized in order to get an R rating. I doubt that the uncut version would have fared tremendously better with audiences, but it would almost certainly have worked better for die hard fans of the franchise.

The appearance of Jason under the mask in The New Blood is really strange and demonic, more so than he is in the other movies. While Jason’s appearance varies somewhat from movie to movie, he is usually more zombie-like and decayed than demonic. Whether you dig his look here or not, it certainly stands out as one of the most memorable faces of Jason in the franchise.

fridaypartseven1Overall, Friday the 13th Part VII is one of the most memorable entries into the franchise, if not anywhere near being one of the best. I generally recommend giving it a watch just based on the ludicrous premise alone. Personally, I think it is more enjoyable than the other “bad” entries into the franchise, and would recommend it over Jason X, Part V, or Part VIII.

Leprechaun In The Hood

Leprechaun In The Hood


Today’s film is one of the most notorious horror sequels of all time: Leprechaun In The Hood, the fifth entry into the franchise.

Leprechaun In The Hood was directed, produced, and co-written by Rob Spera, who has worked extensively on the television shows Criminal Minds and Army Wives, as well as the films Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp and Sexual Predator.

The cinematographer for the film was Mike Mickens, who was a camera operator on such films as Bats and The Apostate before shooting Leprechaun In The Hood.

The editor for Leprechaun In The Hood was JJ Jackson, who cut a number of episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County, along with an assortment of low-budget movies.

leprechaunhood2The team of producers for Leprechaun In The Hood included Bruce David Eisen (The Dentist 2, Trucks, Evolver, The Dentist), Ralph Cooper (Hugo Pool), Michael P. Flanagan (Pitch Perfect, 88 Minutes, The Black Dahlia), Darn Spillman (Blood Surf, Van Wilder: Freshman Year), and Mike Upton (John Wick, Black Christmas).

The effects work for the movie was provided by a team that included Gabe Bartalos (From Beyond, Dolls, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun), Terri Lynn (Saturday the 14th Strikes Back), Christian Boudman (Double Team, Men In Black 3), Tim Jacobsen (Mad Men, Lie To Me, Terriers), and Craig Kuehne (Fringe, Grimm).

The cast for Leprechaun In The Hood was made up of Ice-T (Tank Girl, Johnny Mnemonic), Warwick Davis (Leprechaun, Willow), Lobo Sebastian (Columbus Day, The Longest Yard), Dan Martin (Heat), Anthony Montgomery (Star Trek: Enterprise), and Rashaan Nall (Cuts, One on One).

Leprechaun In The Hood was the fifth film in the Leprechaun franchise, following Leprechaun 4: In Space. It was followed up by a direct sequel: Leprechaun: Back 2 The Hood, though it was a sequel in title only.

The Leprechaun series was recently rebooted in 2014 with the film Leprechaun: Origins, which was produced by WWE studios with the wrestler Dylan ‘Hornswoggle’ Postl taking over the titular role.

Though Leprechaun In The Hood has a definite ironic cult following now, it was certainly not well received at the time. It currently holds an abysmal 3.6 rating on IMDb, along with comparably low Rotten Tomatoes scores of 33% from critics and 31% from audiences.

Leprechaun In The Hood is packed full of poor attempts at humor throughout its run time, which mostly just come off as being offensive to a variety of people, and not necessarily even the ones you would expect. For example, this movie is graced with offensive portrayals of Asians and trans women, which is not something I expected from a movie about an Irish mythic figure invading Los Angeles.

leprechaunhood5The constant rhyming from the Warwick Davis’s Leprechaun is as grating as ever in Leprechaun In The Hood, but has the added dimension of being integrated into music in the movie. The infamous rap number that concludes the film is about as close the movie comes to having a real highlight.

Speaking of the rap number, the way the film is edited actually pulls the sequence out of the chronology of the story. The Leprechaun’s rap at the end of the film is shown to be how he possesses a number of women, who were used as his servants throughout most of the movie. Clearly, the rap number was intended for earlier in the film to establish his power of possession and the characters of his minions, but the film was re-cut at some point to move the sequence.

leprechaunhood3Overall, Leprechaun In The Hood is only about as entertaining as the premise can carry it. The writing tries a little too hard to be funny, and comes off as shitty and offensive instead. Personally, I think Leprechaun 3 is the most entertaining entry into the franchise, but there are plenty out there who swear by this one. For bad movie fans, it is essential watching regardless, but I think that it generally fails to live up to its potential.




Today’s feature is the 2003 snowboarding-themed slasher movie, Shredder.

Shredder was directed and co-written by Greg Huson, whose only other notable credits are for editing a variety of Playboy documentaries. His co-writer for the film was Craig Donald Carlson, who apparently served as an electrician on the killer puppet movie Pinnochio’s Revenge.

The cinematographer for the film was Charles Schner, who was a camera operator on Carnosaur 3 and Captain America: Civil War, and worked on a variety of television shows including The Mentalist, My Name Is Earl, and American Horror Story.

The editor for Shredder was Andi Armaganian, who has done extensive cutting work on the television shows Arrow and Smallville.

The musical score for Shredder was provided by Alan Derian, who was composed music for a variety of low budget features, including Red Line, Beatdown, Beneath the Blue, and Eye of the Dolphin.

The team of producers for Shredder were Jerry P. Jacobs (Disaster Movie, Cyber Tracker), Geof Miller (DeepStar Six, House IV), and Rory Veal (Lovers Lane),

The effects work for the film was provided by the team of Jerry L. Buxbaum (The Kill Hole, Bullet), Mark Villalobos (Army of Darkness, The Mangler, The Prophecy), Minky Billups (Baby Geniuses, Mission Impossible: II), and Scott Billups (Barb Wire).

The cast for Shredder included Scott Eric Weinger (Aladdin), Lindsey McKeon (Saved By The Bell: The New Class), Billy O’Sullivan (The Van Dyke Show), Brad Hawkins (Boyhood), and Candace Moon (Lions For Lambs, Speed Demon).

Shredder was briefly released to theaters in parts of the northwestern United States, where snowboarding is a big hobby.

In Japan, there was apparently an attempt to market the film as a Friday the 13th sequel, going by the title of Jason Z, which was an aping of the 2001 hit Jason X.

shredder3The reception to Shredder was very negative: it currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes aggregated audience score of 24%, alongside an IMDb rating of 4.5.

Shredder is plagued with awful characters and dialogue from start to finish. There is a constant barrage of lines like “You are so killer!” and “Somebody kill me!,” and more utterances of the word “dude” than I have ever heard outside of The Big Lebowski. The characters are by and large immature brats of high class birth who aren’t identifiable in the slightest, and basically only exist to be “shredded.” By the end of the film, I hated snowboarders as much as the killer, and couldn’t help but pull for the masked skiier to finish off the bunch.

shredder2Shredder tries to ride the line between horror and comedy, presenting an assortment of red herrings and ludicrous character deaths. Personally, I got a slight chuckle out of the sheer silliness of the frozen corpse inside of a snowman and the snow angels made with killed snowboarders. However, most of the attempts at humor just don’t work in the slightest, and come off as either in poor taste or just extremely lazy. In a lot of ways, it bears similarities to Scream in how the characters are written with an awareness of slasher movie tropes, but without any sense of subtlety.

Overall, Shredder is a fairly generic slasher movie that clearly had aspirations of being more. As it is, though, there isn’t a whole lot to recommend here. Horror fans might enjoy it for the generic slasher that it is, but it certainly isn’t anything unique to go out of the way for.