Vanity Fear

A Pretentious A**hole's Guide to B-Movie Bullsh*t

Filtering by Category: Horror

I Hated Pieces to Pieces

Yesterday I realized all of my videos no longer could be viewed on the blog, so I've begun the process of re-uploading them to Vimeo, which I thought would serve as a good way to reintroduce them to those of you who have not witnessed their glory and majesty. 

First up is my vid for Pieces , a popular Euro-slasher that I happen to think is the rare horror film that is every bit as terrible and unjustifiable as critics of the genre claim all such films are. In the vid I make reference to "the people have spoken," which was my nod to the fact that I had a poll about what movie to review next on the blog at the time and Pieces  won with 3 votes.

I never ever claimed to be popular. 

Anyway, here's me trashing a movie a lot of people inexplicably love. Probably NSFW, unless you're feeling brave.

Rejected By Rod(?): Part Sixteen - A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

Not everything I've written for FLICK ATTACK has made it to the show. Mr. Lott insists that these rapidly aging reviews will be posted eventually, but until then I'm just going to assume that they have been:

Rejected By Rod(?)

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge


Jesse (Mark Patton) has been having terrible dreams since his family moved into their new house on Elm St.  Each night he is confronted by Freddy Krueger, the steel-clawed maniac who haunts the dreams of Elm Street’s children, but this time Freddy isn’t looking for a victim, he’s looking for a partner—someone who can set him loose into the real world.  Will Jesse succumb to the dream maniac’s desire to be a real boy or will he be saved by the love of a girl (Kim Myers) who looks a lot like a young Meryl Streep?

If you ever hear a genre fan refer to Freddy’s Revenge as the “gay” Nightmare, don’t immediately dismiss them as one of those tiresome assholes who ignorantly use the term as a synonym for lame.  Truthfully, the movie is pretty lame, but it’s also really, really gay.  That is to say the homosexual subtext of the film (intended or not) is about as subtle as a Tennessee Williams play. 

And that’s not a criticism, since that subtext really is the only thing that significantly sets the film apart from other 80s horror movies.  Directed without much tension or suspense by Jack Sholder (The Hidden), this first sequel to Wes Craven’s landmark original manages to completely forget that as a character Freddy only works as the master of his own dream domain (*cough*).  When you bring him out into everyday reality, as this film does (albeit rather incoherently) it just makes him seem like another run of the mill slasher with a fedora fetish.

50 Words or Less - Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama

For some the capsule review comes easy, but for me it’s an exercise in pure frustration. As a means of self-discipline I have decided to confront that which tortures me through this continuing feature—B-Movie Bullsh*t in 50 Words or Less.

A demon imp unleashes terrible magic on some nerds and sorority girls. Definitely the best film made by DeCoteau during his early period, Sorority Babes isn't much more than an excuse to see some hot scream queens in various stages of undress, but is that really such a BAD thing?

Rejected By Rod(?): Part Fourteen - Head of the Family

Not everything I've written for FLICK ATTACK has made it to the show. Mr. Lott insists that these rapidly aging reviews will be posted eventually, but until then I'm just going to assume that they have been:

Rejected By Rod(?)

Head of the Family


There are two kinds of low-budget movie fans: Those who are ambivalent about Charles Band’s Full Moon films and those who HATE them. Count me among the former, if only because in the same way a broken clock is able to tell the right time two minutes each day, Band—for all his many faults—did manage to deliver Head of the Family, a strange little film that somehow transcends the usual Full Moon limitations (see also Dark Angel, which Band didn’t direct).

The titular family in question is the Stackpools, a group of mutant misfits whose deficiencies are each offset by a significant attribute. Wheeler (James Jones) has heightened senses, Otis (Russ Meyer vet Bob Schott) is a mass of muscle, Ernestina (adult actress Alexandra Quinn, whose porn star body seems especially ridiculous in a non-porn context) is pure sexuality and Myron (J.W. Pera) is the brain of the group, so much so that his tiny body is unable to support the weight of his giant head. Up to no good, their evil schemes are uncovered by the no-account owner of the local diner (Blake Adams), who makes the mistake of trying to blackmail them.

Short, dark and often surreally funny (at one point Myron has a group of lobotomized prisoners perform an amateur production of Shaw’s Saint Joan), Head of the Family also benefits from being sleazy in all the right sorts of ways, especially thanks to a stand out performance by frequent (-ly naked) Full Moon actress Jacqueline Lovell as Adam’s white trash mistress.

50 Words or Less - The Dentist

For some the capsule review comes easy, but for me it’s an exercise in pure frustration. As a means of self-discipline I have decided to confront that which tortures me through this continuing feature—B-Movie Bullsh*t in 50 Words or Less.

Corbin Bernsen has a lot of fun as the titular tooth doctor, who descends into madness after learning of his wife's infidelity. Director Yuzna shows a knack for exploiting our worst fears about oral surgery, but errs slightly by making his final girl heroine too young for comfort.

B-MOVIE BULLSH*T - Part Eighteen & Nineteen "Dark(ish) Shadows"

B-Movie Bullsh*t

Parts Eighteen & Nineteen

House of Dark Shadows (1970)

Night of Dark Shadows (1971)


Vampire Barnabas Collins has spent the past 200 years locked away in a coffin. It’s only when local caretaker Willie Loomis opens the casket in search of some fabled lost jewels that he is finally free to see what has happened to Collinwood, his family estate, in the centuries that marked his absence. With the exception of the main house, the estate has gone to seed, which is strange since his ancestors appear to be quite wealthy—enough so to afford a houseful of servants, including a pretty young governess named Maggie. Barnabas is shocked to discover that Maggie is a dead ringer for his beloved Josette, who committed suicide rather than join him as a member of the living dead. With the help of the Collins' live-in doctor, Julia Hoffman, Barnabas is able to hold back the effects of his vampirism through injections, but his treatment ends before he’s fully cured when Hoffman becomes jealous of his affection for Maggie. Returning to his full-on vampire ways, Barnabas spreads his affliction amongst the Collins clan, but is finally stopped from marrying Maggie and turning her into a vampire through the combined intervention of Willie and her fiancé, Jeff Clark.


Quentin and Tracy Collins are a young married couple who are leaving the big city to take over Collinwood, his family’s ancestral home. There they find the manor’s only two current inhabitants, housekeeper Carlotta Drake, and stable hand, Gerald Stiles. Within minutes of arriving, Quentin is taken by a painting of Angelique Collins, an ancestor through marriage who was hung for being a witch. That first night he has a dream in which he sees himself as Charles Collins, a direct ancestor who enjoyed an adulterous affair with Angelique—his brother’s wife—before she was executed. Within days Quentin finds himself blanking out and acting like Charles—including walking with his distinct limp—while vivid memories from a past life hit him at every turn. He confronts Carlotta about what is happening and learns that Angelique vowed to live on so long as her memory was kept alive by someone who loved her. It turns out Carlotta is the reincarnation of the little girl who did just that. Carlotta warns Quentin that Tracy has to leave or risks suffering from Angelique’s wrath. Quentin refuses to heed her warning and almost drowns Tracy himself while possessed by Charles. Carlotta sends Gerald to try to get rid of Tracy and her friends, the Jenkins, but he’s killed in the process. Convinced that Carlotta must be killed for them to be safe, they chase after her, only to have her fatally jump off Colinwood before they can get to her. The nightmare appears to be over, but it turns out Carlotta wasn’t the only person keeping Angelique’s memory alive. When the Collins return to retrieve Quentin’ paintings, he becomes Charles and strangles Tracy while Angelique’s ghost watches and the Jenkins are killed (off-screen) in a car crash.

The enduring popularity of the late 60s gothic TV soap opera, Dark Shadows, is one of those things I have to take on faith, since I have never seen so much as a single episode of the show, despite that fact that there are over 1200 of them in existence. According to Wikipedia, the show was syndicated to TV stations across North America throughout my childhood, but never to a single channel that ever appeared on my screen. I had never even heard of the show until I first read about it in Stephen King’s classic non-fiction look at the horror genre, Danse Macabre.

As obnoxious as it sounds, a part of me couldn’t believe that something could actually be as beloved as Dark Shadows was supposed to be, if I had never had a single opportunity to experience it. I wish I could say that this attitude of mine has changed, but that wouldn’t be the truth. If anything, having just sat through the two cinematic spin-offs the original show inspired during its run, the cult popularity of the show seems like an even bigger urban legend than it did before.

“There really are people out there who are obsessed with this?” I found myself wondering throughout the two films. But then it occurred to me that this was probably an unfair question. The better one would be, “There really were people out there who were obsessed with this?”

That I can believe. It’s easy to imagine how a production like this might have caused a cult sensation when it originally aired, over 40 years ago. Where I stumble is at the idea that this fervor still exists today, because—unlike Star Trek—all of the attempts to recreate the magic since then have met with failure—most notably a weekly prime-time TV remake made in the early 90s that died after just 12 episodes.

Many will point out the upcoming feature version directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp is proof of the show’s lasting power, but I actually think it proves the opposite. Most folks who will go to see Burton’s Dark Shadows will likely do so without any previous knowledge of the original. They will be drawn instead by the continued collaboration of one of cinema’s most successful actor-director teams. Despite interviews both will give about how much they loved the show when they were kids, the more likely truth is that the project went ahead because it was a property seemingly tailor-made to suit their mutual talents. It was either this or The Munsters (which just happens to be receiving its own “re-imagining” in an upcoming hour long dramatic pilot called Mockingbird Lane).

From what I’ve read, the two feature films the first incarnation spawned aren’t that well respected among Dark Shadows cultists—enjoying the same disreputable status as the odd numbered Star Trek films. Even though I have never seen the series I can understand why this would be true—especially in the case of the first film, House of Dark Shadows, which does just about everything wrong a film adaptation of a popular TV series can.

Rather than create an original story using the series’ characters that would have benefited from bigger production values (apparently the show was notoriously low budget and regularly featured atrocious special effects and sets) and more opportunities for sex and violence (the film takes some bloody advantage of the latter, but does nothing with the former), House of Dark Shadows re-visits the main storyline of its breakout character, vampire Barnabas Collins (as played by Canadian Jonathan Frid).

(Perhaps the biggest leap of faith newcomers to the Dark Shadows legend have to make is to accept the idea that Frid became a genuine sex symbol as the result of playing Barnabas, even though he makes Bela Lugosi look like George Clooney in comparison. Lacking the danger of Christopher Lee or the tragic nobility of William Marshall, Frid—at his best—most resembles Harry Dean Stanton’s less popular older brother, not a panty-wetting heartthrob in the Robert Pattison vein.)

My guess is that Frid’s popularity had less to do with his natural charisma (which is definitely not apparent in this, the first of only two movies he starred in—the second being Oliver Stone’s feature debut, Seizure) than the novelty of the character he played. When Dark Shadows originally aired it was designed as a moody, gothic soap opera without any supernatural elements. It was only six months into the series’ run that everyone figured out how fucking boring it was and decided to inject some monsters into the mix. The debut of an actual vampire in a “serious” daytime drama was a truly revolutionary concept and Frid rode a brief wave of success as a result.

Unfortunately vampires were old hat in the movie game and Barnabas Collins didn’t seem at all extraordinary compared to the other bloodsuckers who had filled the screen since Murnau’s Nosferatu. And this is a serious problem for House of Dark Shadows, because his is the only character who makes the slightest bit of an impression.

It’s a dilemma everyone who tackles such an adaptation must deal with—how much time should be spent developing characters at least some part of your audience is already familiar with? Spend too much and you alienate the fans of the TV show, who’ll just want you to get on with the story. Spend too little and you alienate newcomers who will spend most of the film focusing on who everyone is and how they're connected, rather than what’s going on.

House of Dark Shadows went the “too little” route and the film suffers dearly for it--a problem that is further exacerbated by the decision to compress a story that took months to unfold on television into 90 minutes of screen time. As a result, the film feels overstuffed, even though not much actually seems to be going on. The nature of soap opera is to extend drama as far as it can go—with a whole week’s worth of episodes often spent on a single afternnon in the world of the show. Because of this, the focus is set on microscopic, which means a story as slight as this one strangely feels far too big for one feature film.

This compression also explains the odd turns the characters take throughout the film. The show had weeks and even months to set up these developments, while the movie forces characters to change their behaviour without any justification from scene to scene, simply because the series' previously established plot led them organically to those points.

The best example of this is the strange journey of Dr. Hoffman (Grayson Hall, who would also play the role of Carlotta in the sequel), who goes from identifying the strange cell found in Barnabas’ victims’ blood to offering to cure him of his vampirism to falling in love with him to betraying him to being murdered by him in what seems like ten minutes worth of screen time. The entire film could have focused entirely on their relationship, but is instead treated like a necessary side-plot.

Beyond this, the Hoffman scenes also feature one moment I found interesting for its possible evidence of self-plagiarism. In the scene where Barnabas discovers that she has betrayed him, he is shown to rapidly age off screen. When we next see him he appears as an old man who bears a distinct resemblance to Dustin Hoffman’s 121 year-old character in Little Big Man, which was also made in 1970 and featured the handicraft of makeup legend Dick Smith. Did Smith make a genuine effort to differentiate the two makeup effects (and subsequently failed), or did he just do what most of us would and got lazy and handed in secondhand work? Whatever the answer, I would be curious to know which film gave him the assignment first.

As disappointing as House of Dark Shadows was, it must have found an audience, since the sequel, Night of Dark Shadows, followed a year later. With Barnabas having been staked to death in the first film, the decision was made to focus on another villainous character from the show—Angelique Collins (as played by the gorgeous Lara Parker), the witch who turned him into a vampire when he rejected her for Josette, the true love of his life.

With a lower budget and smaller cast of characters, Night is a more satisfying and enjoyable film than House, but isn’t without its own major problems. While lacking the first film’s need to fit in all of the requisite story beats, Night instead suffers from the opposite problem—it takes too long to get to the places we know it’s going all along. Thanks to all of the constant dream sequences and flashbacks, the pacing of the first hour is extremely uneven and frequently irritating. When the final act is set in motion, the action picks up considerably, but the payoff doesn’t feel earned.

This is especially true of the ending, which feels as though it was tacked on sometime in the process to avoid a predictable happy ending. Unfortunately the end result is less chilling than it is lame, especially since it is predicated on its protagonist being a major idiot and going back to the house to pick up his worthless paintings.

Beyond Parker, Night’s major saving grace is a charming performance by a young pre-Charlie’s Angels Kate Jackson as Tracy. Whatever impact the wannabe-bleak ending does actually have is the result of the natural affection we’ve developed for her charming character.

Removed from the context of their origins, both films suffer from feeling like Americanized rip-offs of the established Hammer Studio formula, but without all of the cheesy good stuff (namely hot babes in revealing clothing) that make those films worthwhile. Viewed today its easy to see why the audience they were made for rejected them, even if the idea that such an audience actually existed still strikes me as a little hard to believe.

Rejected By Rod(?) Part Thirteen - Primal Rage

Not everything I've written for FLICK ATTACK has made it to the show. Mr. Lott insists that these rapidly aging reviews will be posted eventually, but until then I'm just going to assume that they have been:

Rejected By Rod(?)

Primal Rage


Primal Rage is a rare example of a horror movie that manages to create some degree of tension due entirely to a pre-production fuck up. When the filmmakers decided not to cast the highly appealing Sarah Buxton as their female lead, but instead as her doomed roommate, they made it impossible for viewers not to agonize over the likelihood of her eventual fate—if only because she’s the only remotely sympathetic person in the entire picture. That her painful descent into madness and violent death is suggested to be an indirect punishment for a previous abortion only makes the film that much more infuriating.

An Italian production shot in the States, Rage is about what happens when university professor Bo Svenson (sporting the most pathetic ponytail in the entire history of mad science) experiments on a monkey, which then goes on to bite a muck-racking student journalist who contracts a contagious disease that turns all of its victims (all five of them) into zombie-like homicidal maniacs. 

Written by the auteur responsible for the infamous Cannibal Ferrox and directed by the son of FX artist Carlos Rambaldi (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), Primal Rage —with the exception of one decapitation near the end—is virtually gore-free and filled with cheap looking effects. Yet despite its being ineffective even as unintentional camp, horror completists might want to watch it as a double feature with Deborah Brock’s Slumber Party Massacre II make their way through star Patrick Lowe’s entire filmography in just one sitting.

50 Words or Less - Squirm

For some the capsule review comes easy, but for me it’s an exercise in pure frustration. As a means of self-discipline I have decided to confront that which tortures me through this continuing feature—B-Movie Bullsh*t in 50 Words or Less.

The best film to ever be mocked by MST3K (and, yes, that DOES count This Island Earth), Squirm transcends its goofy premise (worms become carnivorous thanks to typical eco-horror shenanigans) thanks to a script that treats its characters like real people. Not quite as classic as Lieberman's Just Before Dawn.

Rejected By Rod(?) Part Twelve - Stephen King's Cat's Eye

Not everything I've written for FLICK ATTACK has made it to the show. Mr. Lott insists that these rapidly aging reviews will be posted eventually, but until then I'm just going to assume that they have been:

Rejected By Rod(?)

Stephen King's Cat's Eye


At the risk of committing genre blasphemy, I have to say that when it comes to 80s Stephen King anthology movies, I’ve always preferred Lewis Teague’s Cat’s Eye to George Romero’s beloved Creepshow. That’s not to say I think Creepshow is a bad movie, just that I always felt its attempt at paying tribute to the old E.C. comic books resulted in a general lack of originality in its stories. The same can’t be said for Cat’s Eye, though, as the three tales it tells are all classic examples of King working at the height of his abilities.

Its stories linked together by a gifted feline’s search for an endangered young girl played by Drew Barrymore, the film begins with James Woods as a lifelong smoker who unwittingly gets involved with a company that takes its pledge to get him to quit the nasty habit far more seriously than anyone would ever imagine.

The second story features Airplane! star Robert Hays as a broke tennis pro who is forced to make his way around the five inch ledge of a skyscraper to satisfy the vengeful whim of a cuckolded gambler and in the third the heroic cat finally finds Barrymore and saves her from a tiny, evil troll determined to steal her breath while she sleeps at night.

The first two stories benefit greatly from the kind of dark humor so often found in King’s best work, while the third succeeds thanks to the amazing mechanical effects created by Italian FX whiz Carlo Rambaldi, whose tiny monster ranks right up there with E.T. as his greatest achievement (the less said about his King Kong the better).

Along with excellent cinematography by legendary British cameraman Jack Cardiff, the film is also well served by director Teague’s tongue in cheek approach, which includes multiple references to King’s previous work and clever use of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” in both the first and final stories.

Rejected By Rod(?) Part Ten - Sorority House Massacre

Not everything I've written for FLICK ATTACK has made it to the show. Mr. Lott insists that these rapidly aging reviews will be posted eventually, but until then I'm just going to assume that they have been:

Rejected By Rod(?)

Sorority House Massacre


For eagle-eyed horror fans the cleverest moment in Sorority House Massacre comes when two of its characters are watching television. Showing on the set is a scene from an earlier Roger Corman produced classic, Slumber Party Massacre, in which a character is—you guessed it—watching a horror movie on television. It’s the cinematic equivalent of one those drawings of a cartoon character holding a drawing of them holding a drawing on into infinity.

Beyond this one moment, though, there’s not a lot to say about the film. While it does feature a memorably creepy dream sequence, the plot itself is lifted straight from the first two Halloweens, featuring as it does a killer who escapes from the loony bin in order to return to the house where he killed all but the youngest member of his family, who’s now an attractive brunette college student plagued by nightmares featuring him and the massacre she doesn’t remember surviving.

To writer/director  Carol Frank’s credit, she avoids the mistake of making her characters deliberately hateful, and merely settles for bland and uninteresting. To her discredit, she chose not to fire her apparently blind costume designer and allowed them to dress her cast in the most hideous clothes the 80s ever foisted upon the planet. That is if a movie this low budget even had a costume designer. If it didn’t, then her biggest crime was casting actors who couldn’t supply decent clothes out of their own closets.

Ultimately, Sorority House Massacre is an especially unexceptional movie and the only reason I’m reviewing it now is because I took the time to watch it before experiencing Sorority House Massacre II, which is an exceptional movie, but not for the reasons you might think.

Rejected By Rod(?) Part Nine - The Convent

Not everything I've written for FLICK ATTACK has made it to the show. Mr. Lott insists that these rapidly aging reviews will be posted eventually, but until then I'm just going to assume that they have been:

Rejected By Rod(?)

The Convent


The Convent is one of those horror movies that was made with such obvious affection by its filmmakers I’m able to forgive the fact that it literally plunges a knife into the heart of its least hateful character 30 minutes into its running time and then makes us wait another 20 before Adrienne Barbeau shows up to kick some serious demon nun ass.

The movie begins memorably with a hot young brunette in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform walking into a church and batting away at the assembled sisters (and father) with a Louisville slugger before setting them ablaze and blasting them with a shotgun, all to the sweet sound of Lesley Gore’s classic “You Don’t Know Me”.

It then cuts to 40 years later, where the location of this massacre is the destination of choice for a trio of truly obnoxious fraternity assholes, their virgin pledge, two girlfriends and the super cute, sarcastic goth girl who’s just like the woman I imagined I’d end up marrying back when I was 14 (which obviously didn’t happen).

The trouble starts when super cute goth girl is sacrificed by a quartet of pathetic Satanists, which causes the demons that necessitated the previous massacre to rise up from wherever they went the last time this all went down. In the end, the only person who can stop the demons from raising the antichrist is the hot 50-something version of the hot schoolgirl who took care of the problem the first time.

Needless to say, Adrienne Barbeau is truly awesome as the foul-mouthed, liquored up, tight jeans wearing demon slayer and is—along with the film’s sly sense of humor—the main reason to ignore the its obvious deficits and give it a chance.

Clearly inspired by Night of the Demons and Evil Dead II, The Convent is better than the former and nowhere close to the latter, which is exactly how it should be in a fair and just world such as our own.

Annual Christmas Repost

I originally wrote this 5 years ago and reposted it last Christmas. What you call laziness, I call TRADITION!

A few years ago I decided to take a look at the movies I considered to be my all-time favourites and try to figure out what they had in common--what exactly it was about them that I responded to the most.  Eventually I concluded that the kinds of films I love are ones that aren't afraid to acknowledge the dreamlike nature of the medium without sacrificing emotional verisimilitude in the process.  That's why, for example, I love the films of Wes Anderson, but have never felt much affection for the work of David Lynch.  Both are talented auteurs who strive to bring their unique visions to the screen, but for all of Anderson's whimiscal touches, his films are still grounded in an emotional reality I can understand and connect with, while the characters in Lynch's films are completely alien to me and--as a result--much more obviously artificial.  All of my favourite filmmakers (Bob Fosse, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, David Cronenberg, Robert Altman, Milos Forman, P.T. Anderson, Peter Weir to name nine of them off of the top of my head) implicitly understand that great art should invoke empathy and that as long as that is accomplished, they are then free to do whatever the hell they like.


I bring this up because the scene I have chosen to name the #1 most memorable moment in Christmas holiday horror history impresses me as much as it does because it is a dreamy, sweet ending to what has otherwise been a very dark and discomfiting picture.  After spending the entire movie watching the gradual mental disintegration of a hopeless individual, we are at the very end allowed to escape from the darkness in an instant of pure fantasy.  It doesn't matter that the moment makes no sense and isn't explained (is it a dream or did it really happen?), it simply is and it is wonderful.

 The film is 1980s You Better Watch Out (or, as it is better known, Christmas Evil) and though the film bears a superficial resemblence to the more infamous Silent Night, Deadly Night, they are actually as different as two films about homicidal maniacs in Santa suits could be.  You Better Watch Out is actually closer in spirit to films like Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Roman Polanski's Repulsion than it is to a traditional slasher movie.  Rather than being a movie about a madman's killing spree, it is instead about what has led that madman to go on that spree in the first place.  Stylistically it is the kind of raw and dirty movie that defined the cinema of the 70s.  It's one of those movies where its obvious low budget and grainy cinematography adds to rather than subtracts from its sense of realism, which only makes its surreal ending that much more thrilling to watch.

The only film written and directed by Lewis Jackson, the movie tells the story of Harry Stadling (Brandon Maggert, a familiar character actor best known these days for his having sired the pale white songstress Fiona Apple) a middle-aged man who works as a low-level manager in a low-rent toy factory.  Its the perfect job for the quiet, lonely bachelor, since--unbeknowst to the rest of the world--he harbors a unique fixation for all things Clausian.  The roots of his obsession go back to when he was young and he saw his parents engage in some mildly fetishistic foreplay in front of the fireplace while his dad wore the Santa suit he had donned to surprise his two sons earlier that night.  Beyond filling his apartment with every Santa artifact he can find, Harry also indulges his passion by sleeping in Santa Claus pajamas, listening to Christmas carols and--more disturbingly--keeping track of the activities of the neighborhood children in books labeled "Naughty" and "Nice".

 It comes as no surprise that Harry's strange hobby wrecks havoc on his social life.  He has no friends and is mocked as a loser by his co-workers.  The neighborhood kids are charmed by his own childlike demeanor, but he wisely keeps his distance from them.  His only real contact with the world comes from his brother's family, but as the film begins Harry has already started the inexorable journey from eccentricity to madness and he starts avoiding them as well.  At work he becomes angry when he discovers that the owner's pledge to donate toys to a local hospital for disable children is purely a publicty stunt and very few toys are actually going to make it into the children's hands.  Having already started to design his own ornate Santa Claus costume, Harry decides to correct his company's fraud by stealing toys from the factory floor and giving them to the hospital himself.  To add authenticity to his delivery, he takes the time to paint the image of a sled on the side of his van.

Having taken care of the nice part of his list, Harry decides it's now time to address the issue of the naughty.  To that end he stands outside of a local church after the end of a Christmas Eve mass.  There he is ridiculed by a quartet of obnoxious yuppies.  He quickly shuts them up when he stabs three of them to death with one of the toy soldiers he made himself.  After he escapes from the murder scene, he finds himself the center of attention at a private Christmas party, where he gets to truly enjoy the status that comes from being Father Christmas.  After this brief ego-boost, he goes back to his Naughty-punishing mission and goes to the house of a co-worker who has previously taken advantage of him.  There he gets a uncomfortable glimpse at reality when he briefly becomes stuck inside the house's chimney and is forced to get inside using a window instead.  When he finally gets into the house, he uses the same toy soldier as before to kill his co-worker.

 The news quickly spreads that a homicidal Santa is rampaging through the streets of the unnamed city.  The police organize a lineup of suspects, but Harry is not among them.  Armed with a sackful of toys he returns to his neighborhood and starts handing out presents to the kids, which immediately arouses the suspicions of his neighbors.  One of them threatens Harry with bodily harm, but he is stopped when the kids intervene and allow their benefactor to escape in his van.  As he drives to his brother's house, a mob (complete with torches!) forms and begins to search the streets for him.  His brother is horrified to discover that Harry is the madman responsible for all of the mayhem being reported on TV.  They end up coming to blows and his brother strangles Harry until he is unconscious.  Afraid that he has killed him, he puts Harry back into the van, only to discover that Santa still has some life in him yet.

It is at this point, as Harry escapes from his brother while being pursued by the (torch-wielding!) mob that the jaw-dropping moment that ends the film unspools before the audience's disbelieving eyes.


That, my friends, is pure genius.

And thus endeth the House of Glib's countdown of the most memorable moments in Christmas holiday horror history.   While I doubt it was at all enlightening, I know I had a good time, which is all that matters to a selfish bastard like me.

Felix Navidad!

Rejected By Rod(?) Part Seven - The Redeemer

Not everything I've written for FLICK ATTACK has made it to the show. Mr. Lott insists that these rapidly aging reviews will be posted eventually, but until then I'm just going to assume that they have been:

Rejected By Rod(?)

The Redeemer: Son of Satan!


It seems appropriate that what ultimately saves this obscure late 70s proto-slasher is a memorably theatrical performance by T.G. Finkbinder as the title character. That’s right, The Redeemer redeems The Redeemer, but it’s a close call, because the filmmakers commit more than their fair share of cinematic sin before the end credits roll.

In a plot that predates the similar Slaughter High by 8 years, a group of six assholes are tricked into attending their 10-year high school reunion, only to discover that they have actually been gathered together to be fatally punished for their supposed sins against humanity—specifically their avarice, vanity, gluttony, haughtiness, licentiousness and perversion.

Unfortunately, as written the victims are all so clearly guilty of their “sins” it’s hard not to assume that the filmmakers are on the killer’s side, which is especially disturbing when you consider that the “pervert” The Redeemer punishes is simply a woman in a normal (albeit clandestine) lesbian relationship.

But what confuses the film’s potentially ugly moral stance is the revelation that the killer is actually a priest working as the personal hand of the sub-titular Son of Satan. What are we supposed to make of this? Is organized religion really a front for the Devil? Is the idea that the victims’ supposed “sins” are so minor and commonplace any one of us could find ourselves at the mercy of The Redeemer? And why is the adolescent antichrist busy punishing earthly sinners, instead of encouraging them like a more typical antichrist would?

Thinking about it all makes my head hurt, but—as I mentioned in the first paragraph—the film’s confused themes are made bearable by the presence of its antagonist, who manages to walk that fine line between campy fun and genuine creepiness. Both ahead of its time and unfortunately retrograde, The Redeemer is a highly flawed, but interesting film that deserves a place in the slasher canon its obscurity has previously denied it.

50 Words or Less - Monster Dog

For some the capsule review comes easy, but for me it’s an exercise in pure frustration. As a means of self-discipline I have decided to confront that which tortures me through this continuing feature—B-Movie Bullsh*t in 50 Words or Less.

The former Vince Furnier is Vince Raven, a rock star who visits his childhood home to shoot a music video. His trip coincides with the arrival of dangerous packs of dogs anticipating their lycanthropic master. Cooper’s voice is dubbed by another actor is this very accurately titled Spanish-Italian fiasco.