Evil Ed (1995)
Directed by Anders Jacobson
Starring Johan Rudebeck, Per Löfberg, Olof Rhodin, Camela Leierth, Gert Fylking, Cecilia Ljung, Michael Kallaanvaara, Hans Wilhelmsson
Back in the ’90s, when the video market was still in full swing, every gorehound was always on the prowl for a film to give them the bloody goods within the 90 minutes or so of the particular movie title. Evil Ed delivered it to those that happened upon the video box, which showed a man with his head being split open with an axe. I mean, with a box like that, how could you go wrong? Granted, it was a cheesy graphic image and not something from the actual movie, but it did get the attention of the aforementioned horror fan. It also shows what could be allowed on box art back then, something that could be seen by any youngster that might be walking down the horror aisle. Ah yes…those were the days.
Brain Damage (1988)
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Starring Rick Hearst, Gordon MacDonald, Jennifer Lowry, Theo Barnes, Lucille Saint-Peter, Vicki Darnell
I’m sure everyone reading this is familiar with this strange and twisted Faustian tale, that could only come from the mind of the man who gave us Basket Case (1982), writer/director Frank Henenlotter. If you haven’t, then I’m not sure what cave you’ve been living in for the last 30 years, but you need to pick it up now and watch it. It will change your life. Okay..maybe not change it, but definitely put a lot more entertainment in it. And there is even a message in there too! I mean, how can you have a tale about a parasitic creature, that looks like a cross between a turd and a deformed penis, that gets you hooked on a hallucinogenic drug that it emits, if only to keep you in control. Sure, there is a huge drug/addiction parable here, as well as the old fable of selling soul to a devil, but as crazy as it sounds, Henenlotter actually created a very well thought out story and it works quite well. The characters feel like real people, giving the dark and funny story more of an edge than most would probably take it as, about a much too common plague that still exists today. Sure, maybe not played out like it is here, but then it wouldn’t be as fun to watch, would it?
Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
Directed by Michele Soavi
Starring Rupert Everett, Francois Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche, Barbara Cupisti, Anton Alexander
The first time I watched this film, it was from a bootleg VHS tape, several generations down from the original source, in Italian with no sub-titles. I was very familiar with the director, being a huge fan of his first three films, and was very excited to see his latest, even if it meant watching it under these particular circumstances. And it didn’t matter. Soavi’s use of the camera, the look and feel of the film, and giving us something like we hadn’t seen before, even though I might not have understood exactly what was going on, I still loved it. Soon, I would upgrade my copy to another crappy looking tape, but this time in English. Then a great looking one, but back to Italian. Then finally splurging the money and acquiring the actual Japanese laserdisc, which has one of the best covers to date, which you can see to the right.
Not sure why, but when this film was released over here in the states, some moron decided that the original titles would confuse people, so they changed it to Cemetery Man. Nice job, dumbass.
Death Machine (1994)
Directed by Steven Norrington
Starring Brad Dourif, Ely Pouget, William Hootkins, John Sharian, Martin McDougall, Andreas Wisniewski, Richard Brake
Okay folks, here’s one title that the Sci-Fi vs Horror people can fight over. You have some people trapped in a huge corporate office building that are basically being stalked by a demented weapons designer and his latest toy. This toy, called the WarBeast, is a huge mechanical killing machine, with long razor sharp claws, a mouth with huge metal teeth, and can track its target by their fear! Is it Sci-Fi or horror? You decide. But no matter which path you go, director Norrington gives us a nice view of both worlds, nicely intertwined together making one hell of a movie!
Dark Waters (1993)
Directed by Mariano Baino
Starring Louise Salter, Venera Simmons, Mariya Kapnist, Lubov Snegur, Albina Skarga, Pavel Kokolov
On the audio commentary for Dark Waters, director Baino mentions something that Alfred Hitchcock had said about how the invention of sound would destroy cinema. I am paraphrasing this, but his point was that after movies had sound, more time will be spent listening to the story than watching what is happening on screen. One could listen to a film and pretty much get the idea of what is going on, instead of letting the visuals tell the story, which I think is especially true with today’s features. Well, Dark Waters is a perfect example of the opposite of that theory. In fact, when it starts, there is almost 18 minutes before any real dialogue is heard. And in that short time, unforgettable images appear on screen, such as shots of nuns with large crosses on a hill, or more nuns in a darkened field at night with burning crosses, we see the murder of a young girl, with her blood flowing into the water that is leaking through the catacombs in the convent, to even something simple like an old woman on a bus playing with a couple of spiders. Thse are just but a few visual to start off the film. But it continues through the rest of the running time. If modern day Hollywood made their films look half as good and striking as this one, the cinematic world would be a much better place.
Black Sunday (1960)
Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici, Enrico Olivieri, Antonia Pierfederici, Tino Bianchi
Once you start to wander down the path of Italian horror cinema, there is one director that is a must for you to seek out. While I know quite a few fans start out with Dario Argento, which is a great place to start, but you mustn’t stop there, but go further back. Back to 1960 when the film Black Sunday was released. There are many titles that are considered ‘classics’, but director Mario Bava’s tale of witchcraft, Satanism, and revenge, is one of the best examples of black and white horror cinema, or really horror cinema in general.
The Devil’s Rain (1975)
Directed by Robert Fuest
Starring Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, Ida Lupino, Eddie Albert, Tom Skerritt, Keenan Wynn.
Back in the day when I was eagerly eating up any and all horror films I could get my hands on, I tended to laugh off this title, mainly because of the thought of Ernest Borgnine playing an evil character. From his days of McHale’s Navy, I just couldn’t see him being scary, let alone some demonic entity. But this film changed all of that.