Film Review: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

Also known as: Prom Night 2 (shortened title), The Haunting of Hamilton High (Germany)
Release Date: May 11th, 1987 (Cannes)
Directed by: Bruce Pittman
Written by: Ron Oliver
Music by: Paul Zaza
Cast: Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon, Justin Louis, Lisa Schrage, Richard Monette

Simcom Limited, Allarcom Limited, British Columbia Television, Norstar Releasing, Alliance Atlantis, The Samuel Goldwyn Company, 97 Minutes

Review:

“It’s not who you come with, it’s who takes you home.” – Mary Lou Maloney

Surprisingly, I had never seen this movie before. But thanks to it being featured on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, I finally got to check it out. I also had no idea that this wasn’t an actual sequel to the first film and was it’s own thing that only took the Prom Night title after it was filmed. I guess that was to market it better.

Originally titled The Haunting of Hamilton High, this cheap Canadian horror film stands out well on its own and maybe would’ve had more of a cult following had it stuck to that original title. And even though its premise borrows quite heavily from Carrie, it’s different enough to not just be a simple ripoff of that film.

Also, like Carrie, the girl with the magical powers that ruins the prom is an innocent victim. However, she is played up here as evil because I guess sluts are bad. But before she died, she was simply horny and cheating on her boyfriend. Now her boyfriend burns her alive but it was an accident. But the adult version of him, played by Michael Ironside, is pretty much a target when Mary Lou comes back from the dead 30 years later.

So with magic and the undead involved, this isn’t a straight up slasher like its predecessor in name only. This is one of those supernatural slashers, where the evil presence possesses other people and also uses a sort of telekinetic power. Or she just attacks as an invisible ghost, it’s hard to say which one it is for sure when she murders the pregnant teen by hanging her. But later on, she does telekinetically explode neon signs, which impale a girl.

While this is not a great movie, it doesn’t need to be. It does its job, it entertains and it leaves horny teenagers in its wake. What more do you want with an ’80s horror picture? Sure, it could have gored it up a bit more but it’s not completely lacking in that regard.

Also, Michael Ironside is a fucking bawse!

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Carrie and all its sequels/reboots, as well as the other Prom Night movies even if they are unrelated.

Film Review: Blood Harvest (1987)

Also known as: The Marvelous Mervo (video title), Nightmare (alternate title)
Release Date: 1987 (limited)
Directed by: Bill Rebane
Written by: Frank Kinnikin, Ben Benson, Emil Joseph, Chris Vaalar, William Arthur
Music by: George Daugherty
Cast: Tiny Tim, Itonia Salchek, Lori Minneti, Peter Krause

Shooting Ranch, 90 Minutes

Review:

“A cocktail of vengeance and lust…” – tagline

This was a run of the mill, no budget, slasher film shot in one boring location that isn’t very interesting. Also, this picture is almost completely forgettable. However, there is one thing that makes this a memorable and dare I say it, a notable film. That would be the casting of Tiny Tim as a weirdo fiftysomething that dresses like a clown and just walks into people’s homes uninvited.

Still, this is a pretty awful film that will not resonate in any way with most people. But it is still a neat thing to check out for those of us that like bottom of the barrel horror schlock and cinematic oddities.

Tiny Tim doesn’t make or break the movie but his performance is certainly one to behold. He acts alone in most scenes, as he isn’t good at exchanging lines with other actors. So I guess I have to give the director some props in protecting Tiny Tim and for playing off of his bizarre strengths, which include singy song line delivery, soliloquies and just standing around being a creeper. And I don’t say that to sound insulting to Tiny Tim but he has a strange presence and personality, which is why he works in the role the way it was written and presented.

The rest of the cast is forgettable, although the two ladies in this were pretty hot and Itonia Salchek seemed to be allergic to clothing, which is a condition that I try to be very aware and accepting of.

There is a twist to this too, as you pretty much assume that Tiny Tim is going to be the slasher in this film. I mean, it seems pretty obvious but he’s just a red herring. But also, I guess it’s not a twist, as it becomes real obvious who the killer is way before the reveal happens. I don’t think that this was intentional but shoddy filmmaking, editing and performance give it away prematurely.

Anyway, I didn’t find this film to be a waste of time but most people will most assuredly disagree with me on that.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: other lost gems that were featured on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. Check the tag in the post header for more.

Film Review: Street Trash (1987)

Also known as: Horror in Bowery Street (Italy), Trash (Mexico), Violencia en Manhattan (Spain)
Release Date: January, 1987 (Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival)
Directed by: J. Michael Muro
Written by: Roy Frumkes
Music by: Rick Ulfik
Cast: Mike Lackey, R. L. Ryan, Vic Noto, Tony Darrow

Street Trash Venture, 91 Minutes, 90 Minutes (cut), 101 Minutes (unrated)

Review:

“Fuck you. Gimme a bottle of booze, here’s my dollar, suck my dick!” – Fred

If you’ve ever wanted to see a movie with shrill, unlikable people, human beings melting into a fluorescent glop and a game of keep away football with a severed penis for the ball, then this is your movie!

If none of that appeals to you, then you’ll probably want to steer clear of this gross out bizarre bonanza.

Street Trash is a movie that focuses on street trash. The title is accurate, as the film goes on to show us the lives of disgusting, filthy people without any moral compass or likable qualities. But that also makes it hard to watch as there is no true protagonist.

I guess there are antagonists and that’s just about every person in the film. But that’s another problem. Nothing is clearly defined in a way that gives this motion picture any sort of structure. The story is an absolute mess, the script itself is deplorable and after seeing this movie, I still don’t know what the hell I watched.

However, there’s something weirdly endearing about the movie. As a big fan of practical effects, there is a lot in this movie that I dig in that regard. If you can get past the gross shit, some of what they pull off here is damn impressive.

Additionally, this movie has some incredibly stellar steadicam work. I mean like top notch shit. I guess that’s why the director, J. Michael Muro went on to be the stedicam operator for James Cameron on The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies and Titanic. He also worked on Dances With WolvesOpen Range and a slew of other movies. But no matter how far up the Hollywood ladder he climbs, he always has to look down and see Street Trash. But we all started out as primordial goo, I guess.

I also love the scene in this movie where the hobo starts stealing food at the grocery store. It’s just a weird sequence crammed into the middle of the movie but it’s comedy gold and it was achieved by people with no acting or filmmaking experience, whatsoever.

It’s also worth noting that Tony Darrow started his acting career in this movie. He’d go on to have a pretty memorable role in Goodfellas. He also does a weird spoken word song over the end credits.

All in all, despite the few positives, this is a hard movie to get through in one sitting. It’s a loud, colorful clusterfuck. But it has stupendous technical wizardry and a few good funny bits that keep it from sinking too deep.

In fact, this is probably the most Troma film that wasn’t made by Troma.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: Basket Case, The Stuff, Ghoulies, The Video Dead and Neon Maniacs.

Ranking All the Movies Shown (Thus Far) on ‘The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs’

Joe Bob Briggs is one of the most important Americans that ever walked God’s green Earth. In fact, he’s probably the greatest Texan that ever lived and that’s a huge state with a lot of history.

So when I heard that Joe Bob was coming back with a new show, I was ecstatic. But if you’re a loyal reader of Talking Pulp (and its original form: Cinespiria) then you already know this.

But it’s already been about a year and Joe Bob, thanks to the wonderful people at Shudder, has provided us with three marathons and a full season of The Last Drive-In.

Also, I have to give a special shout out to Darcy the Mail Girl, who is super fucking cool to the fans and because of this, breaks Twitter every Friday night.

With all that being said, I wanted to rank all 39 films that have been featured on The Last Drive-In (thus far).

These 39 motion pictures are ranked based off of what they were rated in their reviews here on Talking Pulp.

So without further ado, roll that beautiful scream footage!

1. Phantasm (9 out of 10)
2. Hellraiser (9 out of 10)
3. The Changeling (9 out of 10)
4. The House of the Devil (8.75 out of 10)
5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (8.25 out of 10)
6. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (8 out of 10)
7. Demons (8 out of 10)
8. Basket Case (8 out of 10)
9. ReAnimator (7.5 out of 10)
10. Society (7.25 out of 10)
11. Sleepaway Camp (7 out of 10)
12. The Stuff (7 out of 10)
13. Blood Rage (7 out of 10)
14. Pieces (7 out of 10)
15. Rabid (7 out of 10)
16. Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (6.75 out of 10)
17. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (6.5 out of 10)
18. The Prowler (6.5 out of 10)
19. Wolf Guy (6.25 out of 10)
20. Q: The Winged Serpent (6.25 out of 10)
21. WolfCop (6 out of 10)
22. Deathgasm (5.75 out of 10)
23. Sorority Babes In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (5.75 out of 10)
24. Phantasm IV: Oblivion (5.5 out of 10)
25. Daughters of Darkness (5.5 out of 10)
26. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (5.5 out of 10)
27. Contamination (5.5 out of 10)
28. Street Trash (5.25 out of 10)
29. The Hills Have Eyes (5.25 out of 10)
30. Phantasm: Ravager (5 out of 10)
31. C.H.U.D. (5 out of 10)
32. Blood Harvest (4.75 out of 10)
33. The Legend of Boggy Creek (4.5 out of 10)
34. Dead or Alive (4.25 out of 10)
35. Castle Freak (4 out of 10)
36. Demon Wind (4 out of 10)
37. Tourist Trap (3 out of 10)
38. Blood Feast (3 out of 10)
39. Madman (2 out of 10)

Film Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Release Date: January 19th, 2014 (Sundance)
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Written by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Music by: Bei Ru
Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Mozhan Marno, Marshall Manesh, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo

Say Ahh Productions, SpectreVision, Logan Pictures, 101 Minutes

Review:

“Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me alone.” – Arash

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a unique film.

First of all, it takes place in Iran but was filmed in the United States with all the actors speaking in Persian. Additionally, it considers itself to be the first Persian vampire western, which is an odd description.

In fact, I don’t know where the western genre comes into play other than one specific scene where the film’s composer is clearly borrowing from the style of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western scores.

Anyway, as bizarre as this thing is, it’s a really solid film. While it is full of immense darkness, it is also full of sweetness.

It’s also one of the coolest films of the last decade.

I think a lot of that has to do with some of the deliberate style choices in regards to the genre melding, the cinematography, the use of music and the personalities of the cast. But how many films have a skateboarding vampire?

At points, this is a slow moving picture but everything is presented in a way that lures you in. You don’t mind the slow build because the actors are able to convey a lot of emotion with pretty understated performances. But I also think that a lot of that credit has to go to the director, Ana Lily Amirpour, who employs a great understanding of mise-en-scène that it enhances the actors’ abilities. Amirpour crafted an impressive stylistic framework that brings everything together quite nicely, especially with the movie being carried by performance.

I love the cinematography, which is done in black and white and takes its chiaroscuro cues from classic film-noir and German Expressionism.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an enchanting film and with that, is beautiful to look at. It delivers a sort of cinematic intimacy that most filmmakers, over the last decade, aren’t able to achieve. It feels like something from another era, even if it has things within the film that date it as modern.

However, like other vampire films, it has that one plot point that always bothers me with the genre. What I’m referring to is how a being that has existed for a few hundred years can fall in love with someone in their early twenties. It’s a plot device in vampire fiction that as all too common. I get the part about being attracted to youth and innocence but I’m now 40 years-old and I can’t go on a date with a 25 year-old and find anything to talk about. I can’t imagine how that date would go if I ever make it to 200. But at the same time, it’s a trope of vampire stories and I’m not going to come down on this picture too hard for it.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other arthouse vampire movies: Only Lovers Left Alive, Let the Right One In, Shadow of a Vampire, Near Dark and The Hunger.

Film Review: Contamination (1980)

Also known as: Contamination – Alien arriva sulla Terra (Italy), Alien Contamination (US cut version title), Toxic Spawn (US video title)
Release Date: August 2nd, 1980 (Italy)
Directed by: Luigi Cozzi
Written by: Luigi Cozzi
Music by: Goblin
Cast: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Mase, Siegfried Rauch, Gisela Hahn

Alex Cinematografica, Barthonia Film, Lisa-Film, Cannon Films, 95 Minutes, 84 Minutes (cut version)

Review:

“Help! Let me out! There’s an egg!” – Colonel Stella Holmes

In Italy, at least back in the ’70s and ’80s, filmmakers didn’t give a crap about copyrights. So this was made as a “sequel” to Ridley Scott’s Alien, even though the only similarity it shares with that film is aliens. But these aliens are pretty much just slimy pods that look like inside out kiwis.

Overall, this isn’t a very good movie but for a 1980 horror picture from Italy, it fits that style and is actually better than a lot of the similar riffraff.

Luigi Cozzi wrote and directed this and it is one of his better films. I thought that the story was decent and I was at least engaged by it. There weren’t many dull moments and even if the aliens were bizarre and hokey, the film had an atmosphere that worked and made them haunting.

I think a lot of what makes this film work is the soundtrack by Goblin. I believe the band had a different lineup than when they worked on the Suspiria soundtrack but they still provide surrealist noise that sometimes has a melody but mostly just sets the tone, generating a sort of uneasiness in the viewer.

My favorite thing about this movie is the special effects. They’re practical, they’re cheap but when bodies start bursting from exposure to alien pods, it all comes off really damn good and it has stood the test of time. That opening scene where the scientists in hazmat suits are exploding all over the place is still effective.

Contamination is Italian horror schlock but it’s entertaining Italian horror schlock with a good amount of fun, explosive gore; the type of gore I like most because it’s not there to gross you out, it’s just there to shock you and catch you by surprise.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other Luigi Cozzi horror films, as well as movies by Lucio Fulci and Lamberto Bava.

Film Review: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Release Date: September 24th, 1986 (Chicago International Film Festival)
Directed by: John McNaughton
Written by: Richard Fire, John McNaughton
Music by: Ken Hale, Steven A. Jones, Robert McNaughton
Cast: Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold

Maljack Productions, Greycat Films, 83 Minutes, 75 Minutes (TV edit)

Review:

“How about those Bears?” – Store Clerk, “Fuck the Bears.” – Henry

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a brutal f’n movie. However, it’s also very slow and drawn out more than it needs to be. Now I get the old school suspense thriller style of building up tension but it’s not effective here and it makes 75 percent of this movie pretty damn boring.

I get that this movie has its fans but I’m really not one of them.

Now this film does have three distinct positives.

One, the acting is superb. Michael Rooker is more chilling than ever and since I’m a big fan of Rooker, I do like this film as far as his performance goes. He went to some really dark places here but what’s most interesting about it, is that he showed how capable of an actor he was even in his younger years.

Two, I like the cinematography and how this film was shot. The lighting was done well, the shot framing was better than one would anticipate and overall, the visual aesthetic enhanced the tone of the story, greatly.

Three, the score is unsettling but interesting in a way that also enhanced the film and its effect.

Sadly, the pacing just undoes a lot of the good.

Additionally, this is an extremely violent picture and while I don’t have a problem with gore, when there’s a real purpose for it, this film seems to use it just to push the bar and maybe that’s because the rest of the picture is so dull. The film does seem like it’s trying too hard to be shocking in those scenes.

I’m not sure if this was trying to pass itself off as high art but it’s definitely not high art. It’s not necessarily a proto-Silence of the Lambs, as much as it just feels like a gore riddled Manhunter.

But for fans of Rooker, it is worth a watch for sure.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs.