Halloween White Elephant: Stepfather III (1992)


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From Damon–“I recently saw this last entry in the franchise for the first time and absolutely fell in love with every last minute. From the wheelchair bound kid with an affinity for neon clothes to the pretty creepy actions of the ‘new’ titular character. He’s no Terry O’Quinn, but who is? As a bonus Priscilla Barnes plays the wife, which kind of makes a Three’s Company connection with Ritter in one of the other movies I picked for Brian. Also, BK picked a part three film for me so I thought it only fair.”

There’s something to be said for being committed enough to doing some sort of justice to a series that you cast your lead role based on vocal similarities to the star of the previous entries. While there’s no proof that that’s the case with the choice to replace Terry O’Quinn with Robert Wightman, the fact that Wightman’s biggest credit prior to Stepfather III was a three season stint as John Boy during the twilight years of The Waltons indicates something other than the desire to sell this made-for-video threequel based on star power. Premiering on HBO in 1992, Stepfather III is a lean sequel that ditches atmosphere and character development for a bare-bones endgame to the psychotic stepfather’s story.

Halloween White Elephant: Terror Tract (2000)


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From Damon–“I’m a big fan of anthology films and this is one that I saw via a VHS screener sent to the mom-and-pop video store where I worked years ago. There isn’t anything too special about this and the three stories but I love the Bryan Cranston middle segment with the curious little monkey. My favorite thing about this film, by far, is the wrap-around story with the late, great John Ritter as a realtor giving the gruesome history of the house. Ritter was the best and it always made me happy the few times he graced our beloved genre with his presence.”

It’s a good thing Terror Tract starts off tongue-in-cheek with a hilarious early bird gets the worm/early cat get the bird/early dog gets the cats/early car gets the dog segment. One wouldn’t want to mistake the film as being a serious attempt at anthology horror, would they? Certainly not with John Ritter playing a real estate agent with a shit-eating grin and undying loyalty to the rule of full disclosure, much to the detriment of his ability to sell a house to a young, innocent (read: stupid looking) couple. Turns out there’s a reason Ritter’s realtor character is so anxious to ink a deal. More on that later, though.

Terror Tape of the Day: Chopping Mall


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Here at HND, we are die-hard advocates of VHS. Many of us are collectors of these ancient relics of a better, purer, more exciting time in horror history while the rest of us just marvel at the artistry of the VHS cover art. With that in mind, we started this daily feature to celebrate all that is great about the hand-painted monsters and gorgeous gruesomeness that used to grace the boxes on the shelves of our local videostores. Many of these films never made the jump to DVD, and many more did make the jump, but at the expense of the spectacular cover art. So fast forward past the bump to take a gander; no need to adjust your tracking.

Today’s Terror Tape is…

Terror Tuesday Report: TerrorVision (1986)


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The Film

The Putterman’s are having a new satellite dish installed. Not just any satellite dish, mind you, this is the latest and greatest state-of-the-art piece of equipment requiring hours of painstaking installation and setup, not to mention a breadbox-sized remote full of buttons, dials and mini-satellites to operate. However, it turns out the hardware may be too advanced as it has managed to pick up an alien life form that had been converted to energy and blasted away from the planet Pluton as garbage. The creature has an insatiable appetite and begins to cause problems in the Putterman house, bouncing around room to room via TVs.

Terror Tuesday Report: Prison


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The Film

With Wyoming running out of space for its inmates, the decision to reopen the decrepit Wyoming State Penitentiary is made. Brought on to oversee the operation is the infamously hard-assed Warden Eaton Sharpe (Lane Smith) who had been, years earlier in 1956, a hard-assed guard around the time a prisoner named Charlie Forsythe was put to death in the prison’s electric chair. Against the protests from a plucky young prison board rep, Katherine Walker (Chelsea Field), Sharpe has a shipment of prisoners brought in who will be responsible for cleaning up the facility. Among the batch is Burke (Viggo Mortensen in one of his first film roles) who bears a striking resemblence to Forsythe. When the wall sealing the execution room is broken through, something evil is unleashed and prisoners begin dying in horrible ways and whatever-the-evil-is looks to be aiming for Warden Sharpe.

Terror Tuesday Report: The Stepfather (1987)


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The Film

The Stepfather opens with a calm but blood-covered man ritualistically removing his beard and showering. He swaps his glasses for contacts, packs a few belongings, and leaves his home walking without acknowledging the horror of what he has left behind laying on the floor and covering the walls and furniture. After stopping briefly and nonchalantly to pick up the morning paper from his lawn, he walks off to a new life.

Six months later, Jerry Blake (Terry O’Quinn) is living in a new home with his girlfriend, Susan (Shelley Hack), and Susan’s daughter Stephanie. While Susan is unable to see past Jerry’s meticulously crafted facade, Stephanie is (as stepchildren usually are) suspicious of Jerry. It is her watchful eye and snooping that start to pry at tiny cracks in Jerry’s psyche. When he realizes his struggle to maintain a wholesome family are in vain (again), he begins preparations to move on to a yet another fresh start which includes getting rid of the one he is going to leave behind.

The Terror Tuesday Report: Rabid


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The Film

On a remote stretch of Canadian road, Rose (porn megastar Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend are involved in a terrible motorcycle accident that leaves her pinned under the vehicle when it explodes. Fortunately, the incident occurs very close to a boutique hospital specializing in plastic surgery. The head of the facility, Dr. Keloid, determines that only an experimental new skin grafting technique can save Rose’s life. It turns out he is correct but the procedure has unintended consequences, mainly in the form of a sharp phallus that protrudes from Rose’s armpit and her newfound thirst for human blood. As Rose reluctantly feeds her new hunger at opportune moments, the men she has already attacked begin displaying rabies-like tendencies towards violence and their victims, in turn, become infected. Soon, the virus reaches Montreal.

Rabid, Canadian director David Cronenberg’s follow up to They Came from Within aka Shivers, explores similar themes as that previous film (and would explore in many other films to come) but manages to make it more personal (by focusing on a beautiful and sweetly innocent protagonist) and far more widespread (instead of They Came from Within‘s contained apartment set, Rabid takes the horror to the streets). The layers of subtext are rich and Rabid could be used as a handy guidebook to the Cronenbergian ideas found in the rest of his filmography- there is the perversion of expected sexual politics, violent consequences of experimentation, body horror, epidemics – all while it touches on some unique themes such as the pitfalls of socialist medicine.

The Terror Tuesday Report: Invasion of the Bee Girls


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The Film

Notorious biker badass William “Big Bill” Smith plays Neil Agar, a security agent working for the State Department sent to investigate the death of a scientist who was working at the Brandt Research facility. While Agar is busy flirting with laboratory librarian, Julie Zorn (1968 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Victoria Vetri), and searching ineffectually for clues, more researchers (who we learn enjoy frequent sexual escapades inside their elite community) turn up dead. Autopsy results indicate that each of the men died from sexual exhaustion. Meanwhile, the women of Brandt Research facility are wearing sunglasses indoors and are generally more horny than usual. Agar begins to suspect there’s a link between the bodies and the bee research being conducted by the gorgeous entomologist, Dr. Susan Harris (Anitra Ford, a former member of Barker’s Beauties on “The Price is Right”).

Invasion of the Bee Girls’ main focus is not quite in line with the title of the series under which it was presented. Terror is the last thing on its mind. Instead, it seeks to titillate by teasing the audience with beautiful women for the first half and then keeping them in constant, clothes-less rotation for the second. Scenes of bee women attacking men during coitus consist of buzzing sounds, some rolling around, black eyes and then sudden death. On a procedural level, the audience is way ahead of Agar at all times, his style of investigation is mostly wandering around making completely unexplained (and inexplicably correct) leaps in logic and going about his day with a complete lack of charisma that could be mistaken as him being “cool”. Basically he’s the David Caruso of sexploitation.




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