February’s theme is “VHS tapes I bought at Amoeba for $1.” I know, I know – I’ve been busy, give me a break! Anyway, here’s the lineup. Even though the selection was a bit haphazard, I’m still excited to watch these.
February 3: Malone (1987) — If this movie doesn’t contain at least one scene of someone shaking their fist and yelling “MAAAA-LOOOONNNNE!” I’m going to be very disappointed. I mean, scroll down and just look at this cover. Burt Reynolds and his mustache are looking to leave their sordid CIA past behind them and start a quiet new life in a small town. Then some stuff happens and guns and explosions.
February 10: Dr. Giggles (1992) — Tagline: “The doctor is out … of his mind.” More text from the box: “Larry Drake, who won back-to-back Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Benny Stulwicz, the mentally retarded office boy on L.A. Law, stars as a diabolical doctor with a sharp wit—and even sharper scalpel—in this horrific tongue-in-cheek thriller.”
February 17: Slaughter High (1986) — Tagline from the VHS box: “Marty majored in cutting classmates.” OK, let’s review. First of all … high-school students don’t have majors. And if they did, they wouldn’t major in “cutting class.” And … well, anyway, there’s an additional tagline that’s even better: “Where the student body is going to pieces.” Hah! Now that’s some good slasher-movie humor. This movie is about a guy who received disfiguring burns in a high-school prank and then, five years later, hosts a “class reunion” for those who done him wrong so he can off them in various creative ways while dressed up like a jester. Because why not? While writing this summary I realized that I’ve actually seen this movie before on one of Joe Bob Brigg’s late-night shows, probably when I was about twelve.
February 24: The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge (1979) — This “martial-arts actioner,” according to the VHS box, is the ORIGINAL CLASSIC and the third in a series “which are thought to be particular favorites of director QUENTIN TARANTINO.” Sonny Chiba stars as a martial artist who has to stop gangsters from stealing synthetic heroin from a pharmaceutical manufacturer.
It’s time for my favorite potluck theme…our annual “holiday horror” extravaganza! This December, we’ll be watching five Christmas-themed horror movies. Some oldies, some new ones, all of them extremely special in their own way.
December 2: Saint Nick (2010) — In this Dutch yuletide gorefest, St. Nick gets a dark makeover as a sinister medieval cleric who returns to Amsterdam’s snowy streets to avenge his death by killing innocent children. Can a high school student and a disgraced cop stop the rampage?
December 9: Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out (1989): Another direct-to-video masterpiece! Ricky Caldwell awakens from a coma and stalks a blind teenager with psychic powers. Because the third installment in a horror movie series always involves a blind teenager with psychic powers.
December 16: Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998) — Extra-terrestrials who feed on humans wreak havoc during the holidays. This looks like it was shot on video over a weekend with the director’s family and friends, so brace yourself.
December 23: The Dorm that Dripped Blood (1982) — A group of students cleaning out a condemned college building over the Christmas season find themselves stalked by a killer.
December 30: Rare Exports (2010) — In Finland, local reindeer herders race against the clock to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus. (This is actually an excellent black comedy, made in Finland—possibly too good for potluck…)
And in case you’re curious, here’s the list of Christmas horror movies we’ve already watched:
Black Christmas (1974)
Black Christmas (2006)
Don’t Open Till Christmas
The Gingerdead Man
Jack Frost II
Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys
Silent Night, Bloody Night
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
This month we celebrate the undying love between John Carpenter and Kurt Russell.
November 4: Escape from New York (1982) — Set in the far-off future of 1997, New York City has been turned into a maximum-security prison. When the president of the United States accidentally ends up there, it’s up to criminal/war hero/badass Snake Plissken to get him out—in exchange for his own freedom.
November 11: Big Trouble in Little China (1986) — Kurt plays truck driver Jack Burton, who has to help his friend Wang Chi rescue his fiancee from dastardly bandits and an ancient sorcerer beneath San Francisco’s Chinatown.
November 18: The Thing (1982) — Kurt Russell is among a group of scientists working in Antarctica who have to fight a mysterious, shape-shifting alien.
November 25: Escape from LA (1996) — Snake is back! This time around, an earthquake has split Los Angeles off from the continent, and the new president decides to use it as (surprise) a penal colony. Then there’s something about a terrorist group and a doomsday device, I dunno, the important thing is that Snake somehow ends up on another prison island and has to escape from it.
The best month of the year is upon us once again. This October, we’re watching four classic gialli–Italian thriller-slasher films. The name giallo stems from the color (yellow) of the pulp crime novels that are the predecessors of the film genre. (Much like the film noir gets its name from the black covers of French crime novels.)
Want to read more about gialli? Check out these posts over at Paracinema.
October 7: Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) — One thing you learn really quickly when watching gialli is how unusual and seemingly irrelevant some of the titles appear to be…at any rate, I can’t say anything interesting about this movie without giving away the ending, so I won’t. One of Lucio Fulci’s more interesting entries in the genre.
October 14: Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970) — Mario Bava directs your standard “Ten Little Indians” story about a group of people on an island vacation who get picked off one by one by an unknown killer.
October 21: NO POTLUCK. We’re going to see The Mob (UK) at the Metro.
October 28: The House with Laughing Windows (1976)—Stefano arrives in a rural Italian village to restore a fresco of the slaughter of Saint Sebastian which is painted on a rotting church wall. While living temporarily in a house previously owned by the two sisters of the long-dead artist, he hears from various townspeople that the painter was a madman who created his art from real life. The artist, assisted by his two equally insane sisters, had viciously tortured people to death as inspiration for his horrific paintings. Some of the villagers are brutally killed and Stefano comes to believe that the murderer is trying to stop him from learning even more of the village’s depraved secrets.
Wuxia is a form of Chinese literature and film that is loosely about martial arts. Loosely. As these five movies show, they can also be about vampires, supernatural powers, gender-bending, and feminist vengeance witches.
September 2: The Bride with White Hair 2 (1993) — Where to begin with this one? Here are some enticing sentences from the writeup on Wikipedia: “On the wedding night, Lian Nichang appears and kidnaps Yu Qin, leaving behind a trail of destruction and corpses.” “She builds a feminist cult that accepts women who were exploited by men.” “Meanwhile, Zhuo Yihang awaits on a snow-capped mountain for a rare flower to bloom, as he believes that it can turn Lian Nichang’s hair black again.”
September 9: Encounter of the Spooky Kind (1980) — Master Tam is sleeping with the wife of Courageous Cheung and enlists a Taoist priest to kill him. Cheung assumes it’s a simple test of bravery. But as he goes up against feats of black magic, he realizes he’ll need his brother’s supernatural skills.
September 16: Swordsman 2 (1992) — Linghu Chong, Yue Lingshan and members of the Mount Hua Sect are planning to retire. They learn that Dongfang Bubai has seized control of the Sun Moon Holy Cult and is secretly plotting with some pirates to rebel against the imperial court and dominate China. Dongfang Bubai had castrated himself in order to master the skills in the Sunflower Manual, and his appearance has become more feminine — when Linghu meets Dongfang by chance (without knowing his true identity), he mistakes him for a beautiful young woman, and falls in love with “her”.
September 23: The Dead and the Deadly (1983) — A story of a young man who works in a funeral home and experiments with the dark arts. The ghost of one of the corpses that passes through his place of work takes over his friend’s body in order to take revenge. Then things get weird.
September 30: Battle Wizard (1977) — All you really need to know about this movie:
Teenagers can be real monsters….muah ha ha ha ha!
Seriously, though, this month features four movies about adolescence, young love, and the pain of being an outsider. And, y’know, werewolves. And witches. Also zombies and vampires.
July 1: NO POTLUCK. Go to Sabrina’s birthday party at The Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco!
July 8: Teen Wolf (1985)—Michael J. Fox is just your average, run-of-the-mill teenage werewolf basketball player. If folks are up for it, perhaps we can watch the sequel with Jason Bateman as a boxing werewolf in college!
July 15: My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)—Johnny gets himself killed trying to win over the cutest girl in school, but he soon comes back from the dead to get a second chance. Missy sticks by her new boyfriend despite bullies’ taunts, small-town prejudice … and his recent craving for human flesh.
July 22: NO POTLUCK. Yosef’s birthday dinner, location TBD.
July 29: The Lost Boys (1987)—The best teen vampire movie, ever. I probably listened to the soundtrack about a thousand times in high school.
We all know by now that the cannibal-zombie apocalypse is nigh. Fortunately, the Italians have been preparing for this moment for decades, and they’ve created a wealth of emergency-preparedness videos to help us deal with the oncoming crisis.
June 3: Zombi 3 (1988) — Don’t worry about the title—like most Italian zombie films of the 1980s, the “3″ is no indicator of this being the third in a series; you won’t have missed anything. Some scientists accidentally create cannibalistic zombies when they cremate the body of an infected terrorist, releasing the virus into the atmosphere over a small island in the Phillipines and leading to the age-old dilemma: try to find a cure or just wipe ‘em all out? Directed mostly by Bruno Mattei. (Lucio Fulci was involved early on, but apparently bowed out due to illness.)
June 10: Nightmare City (1980) — When an aircraft is forced to make an emergency landing near the site of a radioactive spill, the passengers are transformed into ultraviolent, flesh-eating zombies who emerge from the hatch and set off on a feeding frenzy across the city. Directed by Umberto Lenzi.
June 17: Hell of the Living Dead (1981) — Another Bruno Mattei masterpiece! When a chemical leak at a remote research lab in Papua New Guinea transforms the staff into zombies with a taste for human flesh, the contagion spreads and threatens to overtake the rest of the world. (AKA Zombie Creeping Flesh and Night of the Zombies.)
June 24: Doctor Butcher, M.D. (1980) — OK, so this movie is better known as Zombie Holocaust, but come on — which title are you going to remember? (P.S.: The “M.D.” stands for “Medical Deviate.”Also, there is not a character named “Doctor Butcher” in this movie.) This is a total rip-off of Lucio Fulci’s Zombi II, so much so that it re-uses actors, shooting locations, makeup style, plot points, and even some footage from the earlier film.