Monday, October 28, 2019

Exhumed Films Horrorthon XIII: The Final (?!) Cut Recap

It was a bittersweet weekend spent at the International House in Philly. Not only was this the last Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horrorthon at the venue but it was also the first event after the death of my old movie-loving pal Lou Goncey and he would have dug this year’s lineup. Here's a quick recap with capsule reviews and trailers or other videos of interest.

THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978) – Excellent remake of the classic 1950s tale featuring San Francisco residents being replaced by pod people that grow from alien plants. Terrific cast featuring Brooke Adams, Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Art Hindle, Jeff Goldblum and a cameo by original BODY SNATCHERS star Kevin McCarthy. If you're a fan of these flicks – which seem more timely now than ever – don't sleep on Abel Ferrara's 1993 version but I have admittedly never seen the 2007 version with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (THE INVASION).

THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975) – Fun adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel is helped along by a great William Goldman script and performances by Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss as new residents of Stepford, CT who are weirded out by the behavior of the locals. The influential flick spawned a handful of made-for-tv sequels (REVENGE OF THE STEPFORD WIVES, THE STEPFORD HUSBANDS and THE STEPFORD CHILDREN) as well as a big-budget reboot starring Nicole Kidman (again)!

CONTAMINATION (1980) – Gory Italian language print of Luigi Cozzi’s Eurotrash ALIEN rip-off with Ian MacCullouch, Louise Marleau and Marino Mase on the trail of exploding eggs from Mars. This was a favorite VHS from the days spent drinking beer and watching movies at Lou’s house but it sure looks a hell of a lot better than it ever did on those rental tapes.

GODZILLA (1977) – aka COZILLA, this oddball mishmash from director Luigi Cozzi showcases (??) a colorized, edited print of GODZILLA which the Italian director infuses with unsettling atomic bomb aftermath footage. I typically love Cozzi but this was arguably the worst Godzilla movie I've ever seen. And that's saying something.

BASKET CASE (1982) – Frank Henenlotter’s outrageous, funny, over-the-top horror masterpiece is an awesome time capsule featuring vintage Times Square footage and good old practical effects. Pretty flawless.

TWINKLE, TWINKLE KILLER KANE (1980) – aka THE NINTH CONFIGURAION, William Peter Blatty directed and adapted the screenplay from his novel. An all-star cast led by Stacy Keach and Scott Wilson star in this tale of a psychiatrist (Keach) sent to run a military mental asylum located in a remote castle. An underrated early 80s psychological thriller that never really found the audience it deserves.

RATMAN (1988) – A creepy rat/monkey man (Nelson de la Rosa) terrorizes models on a Caribbean island while a mystery writer (David Warbeck) and a senator’s daughter (Janet Agren) try to locate her missing sister. It’s gory, sleazy and stupid and I never expected to see it on the big screen but here it was.

JD’s REVENGE (1976) – Glynn Turman turns in a tour de force performance as a mild-mannered cabbie/law student who gets possessed by a dead 1940s mobster with a penchant for flashy duds, racy language and rough sex. Also starring Lou Gossett, Jr. as a hood-turned-preacher but this is all Turman's show. It's no wonder he went on to a lengthy career with recurring roles on such shows as THE WIRE and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, just to name two.

BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL (1968) – plane crash survivors have to deal with each other and blob-like aliens. This was definitely the most tired I was all night and the whole flick is a bit of a blur. All I remember is a bomb threat, a oddball psychiatrist and metallic goo coming out of the heads of the affected survivors. I was expecting more from this one but should probably give it another watch under better conditions.

CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (1972) – always felt like this one was too talky and took too damn long to get going but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for it after Lou and I watched it back in October of 1985 during my first trip to hang out with him at college (other flicks we caught that night included THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN). The Gonster often quipped that filmmaking was about creating likable characters and then threatening to kill them. Alas, I wish CHILDREN SHOULDN'T... had any likable characters.

THE MANITOU (1978) – Tony Curtis steals the show as a cheesy psychic whose girlfriend starts growing a 400-year-old Native American demon – that looks like Wee-man – on her back. There are not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX titles in Graham Masterson's series of 'Manitou' books yet there has never been some kind of direct-to-video sequel/reboot. I find this preposterous.

EVIL CAT (1987) – batshit crazy Hong Kong horror comedy (?) about a family who has spent their lives protecting the planet from a demonic cat who is on the last of its nine lives. This flick is hard enough to follow but it's especially hard to follow at whatever ungodly time it was. Reminded me of the late night flicks Lou and I would check out with fellow trash hounds at the old Franklin Mills movie theater.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007) – Hadn’t seen this since it came out but still dig this tale of survivors battling a gang of vampires that have invaded their remote town that is dealing with its annual month of darkness. I had an easier time buying a gang of roving vampires than I did the idea of Josh Hartnett as the sheriff of a hardscrabble Alaskan mining town and I need to check out the Melissa George-less direct-to-video sequel though word of mouth is not positive.

KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER (1974) – great, mid-70s tv movie that spawned a sequel, a tv series, a reboot, comics and more. (One can only hope we'll be spared the long-rumored Johnny Depp version.) Darren McGavin is crusty and lovable as the former big city reporter doing time in Las Vegas when he stumbles upon a string of murders that sound a lot like the work of a vampire. Perhaps the most shocking part of the movie is when they describe Claude Akins' character as being in his early 50s!

NIGHTBREED (1990) – recently watched this Clive Barker monster flick so we bailed in order to get home at a more reasonable time. It would have been great to see it on the big screen again but waking up at 3:30 AM on Saturday was not ideal and the trip back to Baltimore beckoned.

In all, yet another great 24 Hour Horrorthon from the guys at Exhumed Films. I've been seeing flicks at International House since I started attending Drexel University in 1984 and I'll never forget the literally hundreds of flicks I've watched unspool on its screen! – Dan Taylor

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