Late To The Party: ‘Maniac’ (1980)

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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!!!!!

Late To The Party: ‘Dead Alive’ (aka ‘Braindead’)

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“I kick ass for the lord!” says the kung-fu master priest in Peter Jackson’s crazy ass film Dead Alive. With dialogue like that what could go wrong? In the case of Dead Alive, nothing. This film is pure pleasure and I had an absolute riot.

I have a theory that horror and comedy share a lot of similarities. My wife stares at me strangely as I laugh when someone is impaled by a kitchen implement, run over by a piece of farming machinery, or blown up in a meaty explosion. These are elements that make watching horror films fun. Dead Alive possesses many of these “quality” moments. With a proper blend of horror, action and comedy Dead Alive is a tasty jambalaya of a horror film.

Dead Alive (formerly known as Braindead) tells the story of a search for the infamous Sumatran rat-monkey. The rat monkey, a legendary creature, thought to be the result of the breeding between tree monkeys and plague rats, inhabits Skull Island, where our adventure begins. The rat-monkey is eventually located and captured, at which time it proceeds to attack the leader of the expedition. After being attacked, the expedition leader receives a rather interesting treatment for the wound (you’ll have to see it to believe it). The rat-monkey is then taken to a zoo located in 1950s Wellington New Zealand.

Late To The Party: ‘[REC]’ & ‘[REC] 2’

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Hello everyone! Rod Paddock reporting for duty with my new column: Late to the Party. This column will be dedicated to all of the lovely horror films I have missed in my 30+ years as a horror fan.

The concept of this column was spawned last month after the SXSW film festival here in Austin. During the fest I asked fearless horror leader Brian Salisbury if he needed coverage of any horror films for HND. We boiled our choices down to two titles: [REC] 3 and V/H/S. [REC] 3 was ruled out immediately as I had seen neither [REC] nor [REC] 2. Missing those two films game me an idea for an article. Brian with his diabolic brain took it one step further lets turn this into a column. Late to the Party was born.

The Film(s)

[REC] tells the story of Angela Vidal, played by gorgeous Spanish actress Manuela Velasco. Angela is reporter for a television station in Barcelona, assigned to spend an evening following a crew from a local fire station. The klaxon sounds and our fearless news reporter, accompanied by her cameraman Pablo, sets out with the firefighters. The firefighters are responding to a call of a disturbed woman in an apartment building. Barely a minute after entering this disturbed woman’s apartment, all hell breaks loose. In a rage, the woman attacks the fire fighter sent in to help. Soon we learn that we are dealing with an issue much bigger than a single disturbed woman. As Angela and the firefighters head for the door they soon realize they are locked in. The authorities have put the building in quarantine. Over the remainder of the movie the tenants of this building are overtaken by some force/virus/malevolence reminiscent of a 28 Days Later / Dawn of the Dead mashup. There are scenes in this movie that made me jump from my chair. I love it when a movie can do that.

A few days after viewing [REC]  sat down to watch [REC] 2. [REC] 2 takes place in the immediate aftermath of [REC] and is told from the point of view of a police team sent into the same building on a rescue mission. You cannot help but be reminded of Aliens when the police officers check their helmet cams. I was waiting for someone to shout “Wake up Hicks!” The police enter the still quarantined building accompanied by a man from the environmental services department. This man seems to have knowledge of what happened in this building, only problem is he is not sharing the details of this knowledge. [REC] 2 is a well made follow up to [REC], which made for another satisfying, chair-jumping viewing. I won’t go into too many details of [REC] 2 as it would spoil the cool mystery of these two great horror films.

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