Maniac is a film that has a special place in my heart. This film is memorable to me, as I have never been able to finish it. I have attempted to watch it multiple times: once as a teen and another time as a young adult. I am writing this introduction, before this viewing attempt, in order to give you an insight as to why I have not finished watching this film. From what I recall this film is very disturbing. I watched this film because of Tom Savini. I became a fan of Tom’s work watching films like Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, and The Burning. The special effects from this film are exponentially more horrific than all those others combined. I recall a slow motion shotgun blast to the head, a scalping, and in general some of the most heinous depravity ever put on film; at least these are my impressions after these many decades. Well here we go, race fans. Lets get this party started….
Maniac tells the story of Frank Zito (played by Joe Spinell ), a serial killer prowling the streets of New York with a singular purpose: kill people. The first act of the film has many of the aforementioned killings. A woman is strangled and scalped and a man, played by Savini himself, is brutally murdered via a point blank shotgun blast. As mentioned earlier, this is the point where I stopped watching the film on both previous attempts. Not this time!!!!!
If you haven’t seen William Lustig’s seminal undead law enforcement horror film from 1988, part of me wants to beat you over the head with a nightstick. But a larger part of me, the part that isn’t currently being indicted in several states, is envious that you now have the ability to see it for the first time via Synapse Film’s stunning Blu-ray release. For years, Maniac Cop languished in limbo between VHS and DVD. What few DVD releases were available during this dark time were just a half-step above complete bootlegs. But then, in 2006, Synapse Films gave us the only loving-treated, passable release of Maniac Cop and there was much rejoicing. Now, Synapse has just released the first ever (at least in the U.S.) Blu-ray edition of the film and we couldn’t wait to read you its rights…because it actually doesn’t have many wrongs.
From Jacob Hall–“This is one wacky movie. I’m not sure if it’s a good movie, but man, seeing this with a packed audience in a real movie theater was one hell of an experience. This movie is like bad dream: incomprehensible, driven by ludicrous jumps in logic and sanity instead of story and filled to the brim with alien worm rape. It also features Sid Haig as a man who really, really loves his knives, so there’s no way it can be all bad.”
Galaxy of Terror felt like a punishment. What did I do? Maybe this was because I liked the recent remake/prequel of The Thing (it’s not great, but I didn’t hate it). Surely, if I liked one cheap, crappy cash-in, I’d like another?
So, FRIGHT NIGHT PART II picks up right after the first film, with Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) changing his memories of the events in the first film (vampires move in next door) through therapy, and keeping an arm’s length relationship with TV horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who’s still convinced they killed vampires together a couple of years before. Everything’s hunky-dory for approximately fifteen minutes of this sequel, until Julie Carmen shows up as Regine, with her entourage of monster movie weirdos (including audience favorite Jon Gries as a sleazy werewolf).
She’s got her sights set on Charlie, wanting to turn him into a vampire, for a reason that feels too obvious despite it being the film’s only surprise. Fright Night Part II is energetic and amiable enough, but it almost literally can’t find a good reason to exist. Too light on both scares and comedy, the film mostly consists of Charlie sneaking around once again and peeking at vampires through windows, trying to convince the one character who shouldn’t need any convincing (Vincent) that the bloodsuckers are back.
Quite often at Terror Tuesday we sit down to watch a film that may not fit within the confines of traditional horror. This is one of those weeks as we sat down for cult favorite vigilante film The Exterminator. A favorite of Terror Tuesday host Zack Carlson, we were treated to a mini trivia contest in which he had a few copies of the new blu-ray release of this film to give away as prizes. That seemed to get the crowd properly fired up for the movie, which had a little bit of a later start than we’re accustomed to for Terror Tuesday. And if Zack’s intro didn’t get us in the proper mood, the soft rock stylings of Roger Bowling crooning a song called “Heal It” certainly did the trick.
When a movie has dueling titles, I am immediately on board. When a movie smacks of bargain-basement versions of all three of the Holy Italian Triumvirate (Bava, Fulci, Argento), I am in. When a trailer finally provides me the solution to a years-old mystery that had been truly vexing me, I am so completely in. Such is the case with this week’s Terror Tuesday selection: Superstition alias The Witch. Just try not to enjoy the ooey, gooey trailer below. Oh, by the way, the mystery involves the scene in which a saw blade bounds across a room and kills a priest. This was a shot I always mistakenly assumed was from Roger Corman’s The Evil. When I discovered my error, I could not for the life of me remember where I had seen it. Thank you Terror Tuesday, now I can sleep again.
Two years after a pack of very illegal aliens (actual tagline, not my joke) gorged themselves on the Brown family farm, the Browns, not surprisingly, have moved away to the big city in an effort to distance themselves from that all-too-close encounter. The tiny town of Grover’s Bend was able to carry on as usual by satisfying themselves that the Browns were a pack of loonies and the events of that fateful night never occurred. Unfortunately, the remnants of that night–in the form of clutch of Crite eggs–have just been discovered by a shady antique dealer and sold to the church as fodder for their annual Easter egg hunt. It’s about this same time that Bradley Brown, youngest son of the ill-fated family of the first installment, returns to visit his grandmother. It’s also about this time that those intrepid inter-galactic bounty hunters, having learned of the presence of more Crites on Earth, begin their voyage back to Grover’s Bend. Will this collective homecoming be enough to stop an even larger Crite invasion, or will Grover’s Bend be the appetizer for their eventual takeover of our planet?
I have more than a few soft spots when it comes to the subcategories within horror. One of my biggest would be the underrated horror sequel; especially unsung part 2’s. Jaws, The Fly, Demons, and Psycho all have fantastic second entries that often get relegated to the realms of the forgotten simply because of the numeral they tow. I would definitely have to assign Critters 2 into that same category as it is a terrific sequel to a campy, extraordinarily fun cult classic. I don’t think it over-praise to note that Critters 2 actually improves upon a few aspects of the original.
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