Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for October 28th, 2018

October of Horror #23: Zombie High (1987)

Posted by Trixter on October 28, 2018

(For an explanation of what these posts in October are, see the parent post.)

Synopsis

Students at a prestigious boarding school start to suspect something nefarious is going on as they their friends’ personalities change into perfect students.

Opinion

If I had to summarize the film in a single sentence, it would be “Invasion of the Body Snatchers for teens.”¬† And that’s pretty much what it is — friends of the main characters either disappear or change into unrecognizable people, and the main members of the school board know more than they’re letting on.

The film is notable as an early major role for Virginia Madsen, and also stars Paul Feig in a bit part serving comedy relief.¬† Unfortunately, there’s just not much for either of them to do:¬† There’s not enough scares, things move slowly, and you start to recognize padding.

Recommendation

It’s merely ok.¬† I can’t really recommend it.¬† I feel Feig is a better actor than director (I have enjoyed exactly 1 of the films he’s directed) so if you like Feig and want to see him acting, you could do worse than Zombie High.

If you want a decent horror film starring Virginia Madsen, see the much better Candyman instead.

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October of Horror #22: Street Trash (1987)

Posted by Trixter on October 28, 2018

(For an explanation of what these posts in October are, see the parent post.)

Synopsis

Homeless people start melting when drinking “Viper”, toxic hooch discovered after being locked away for 60 years.

Opinion

This film is all over the place.¬† It goes from black comedy, to body horror, to action film, to Vietnam veteran drama, to the plight of the homeless, to gore/splatter pic, to gangster humor, to… it’s just all over the place.¬† I keep writing sentences about it and then erasing them because I honestly can’t understand what the fuck I just watched.

I’ll defer to “RevRuin” from IMDB, who in 2001 summarized the film better than I seem to be doing right now:

One day someone said, “I’d like to make a movie featuring a bottle of hooch that makes people melt into multi-colored ooze. I think I’ll also add “sub-plots” about insane homeless vets, murder, necrophilia, gang-rape, castration, and police brutality. Oh, and it’s a COMEDY.”

Anyone who blasts the movie probably had no idea what they were getting into. Yeah, the story – if you want to call it that – is flimsy at best, but the film is punctuated by some inventive effects, some nice camera work, and a hysterical mostly-improvised Doorman character played by James Lorinz.

Summed up, if you like your movies dispicable, reprehensible, obnoxious, offensive, crude, and downright nasty, pick this one up.

That’s about right.¬†¬†It’s downright odd how it switches subjects and tone every 5-10 minutes.

Recommendation

I guess if 30% of more of the above appealed to you in some way, watch it, I guess?  50%, maybe?

Actually, there is one good reason to watch it:¬† Tony Darrow.¬† Darrow was a lounge singer until, at age 50, he was cast in this picture as a gangster, which he was familiar with having grown up around gangsters his whole life.¬† He did an ok job, but what is surprising is that Martin Scorsese somehow saw Street Trash and cast Tony in Goodfellas, which then led to a number of gangster characters until he found himself in The Sopranos where he played “Larry Barese” for the entire show’s run.¬† If you’re a Tony Darrow fan, you’ll enjoy him in this picture improvising some funny scenes with¬†James Lorinz.

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October of Horror #21: The Wraith (1986)

Posted by Trixter on October 28, 2018

(For an explanation of what these posts in October are, see the parent post.)

Synopsis

Members of a car gang are challenged to races by an anonymous newcomer with a car nobody has ever seen before — and when they race for their lives, the newcomer always wins.

Opinion

I had never heard of this film until a few years ago, when some co-workers and I talked about cheesy teen action films from the 1980s (especially the silly BMX films like BMX Bandits and Rad), and someone mentioned The Wraith.¬† When I learned it starred a young Sherilyn Fenn, Charlie Sheen, a ton of 80’s music, and a Dodge M4S with a serious paint job — and believe me, all four of those are equally the stars of the film — I had to check it out.¬† Amazingly, I found a 1080p print of the film and set out to watch it.¬† As I watched it, I felt like I had picked the wrong picture for October Of Horror, but was surprised by how much I wanted to see it through to the end.

So what makes this barely classifiable as horror?¬† (Spoiler alert!)¬† The plot involves the ghost of someone killed by the car gang coming back to take revenge on the gang.¬† Kids are killed by a car with supernatural powers.¬† “But wait,” you say, “Wasn’t that the plot of The Car¬†9 years earlier?”¬† Yes, but that movie — strange as it was — was a true horror film where the car is the physical embodiment of a demon and it kills a lot of people for seemingly no reason (which is the best kind of reason to kill people in a horror film).¬† The Wraith is more of an 80’s revenge picture for teens.

Recommendation

If you like any of the following:

  • Clint Howard playing the role of a nerd completely seriously (and well)
  • An 80’s soundtrack featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Stan Bush, Robert Palmer, Bonnie Tyler, and Billy Idol
  • A futuristic-style car creating ludicrously gigantic explosions

…then The Wraith is worth your time.¬† If not, skip it.

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