Tag Archives: The Evil Dead

Why I Miss VHS Rental Stores

To paraphrase Madonna.

“We are living in a digital world. And I am a digital girl…or boy.”

Quite honestly, I think the digital age of media that we are living in is amazing. Any and everything we want/need at the click of a button and most of the time we never have to leave our nice, soft and comfy sofas. Then if we do need to leave the comforting warmth of our homes, we can just download media to our mobile devices to enjoy on the move. Movies, TV shows, music and games, we have everything we need for hours upon hours of entertainment. Just give me a beer (or seven), my smart TV/Xbox and I’m good for a few days – happy as a pig in…well you know.

The convenience of the digital age, the speed and sheer variety of things we can watch/play is astonishing. You’ve got yer Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and many others. All services that offer all the movies and so much more besides at the touch of a button. But I want to take you back to the dark ages, before digital media and to an age when we actually had to leave the house if we wanted to watch a film at home. The age of the VHS rental shops.

Blockbuster

Now, I’m from England and yes we had the likes of Blockbuster Video over here too, they were everywhere at one point. Blockbuster were the kings of VHS rentals, love em’ or hate em’, you can’t deny they were the best of the best until their inevitable downfall. But I don’t want to talk about a giant store like Blockbuster or their fall from grace, I want to cover those smaller, independent rental shops. Those tucked away, grubby, sticky floored, stale popcorn selling shops that us older generation went to before Blockbuster became king. I also want to try and paint a picture with words (and a few pictures) to show just how great these places were and try to explain just why I miss them so.

A nice little history lesson for those too young to remember or know the excitement of VHS rentals or even a trip down memory lane for those old enough to remember/care and who miss the whole rental experience as I do.

My Memories

My local VHS rental place was in Kings Norton, Birmingham – where I grew up in the 80s. It was just opposite The Navigation Inn on Pershore Road. Can’t remember what it was called, but they all had generic names like Bob’s Rentals or VHS Village, etc. They were never impressive places, often dully lit, stains on the carpet and had that weird/hard to place smell. They were grim places and yet, they were the highlight of the week at the same time.

VHS Store

Yeah, they looked like that, complete with carpet stains and dozens of movie posters plastered everywhere. The VHS rental visit would always be on a Friday night after school and this was something you looked forward to from Monday morning onward. Spending all week during break-times between classes chatting to your school friends about the films you watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you saw. Sometimes even during class if and when you got bored.

Those five days from Monday to Friday seemed to go on forever and ever. Then, Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, the school bell would ring and it was the sweetest sound you’d hear all week. School was done and what lay in wait was two days of watching movies, just hours away and that weekly trip to Terry’s Tapes (or whatever it was called) was on the horizon. But first, homework, something to eat and tidy your room just to build that an-tici-pation. Once all the annoying time wasting stuff was out of the way sometime after 5 pm, it was VHS rental time.

VHS Village

As you’d make your way to the shop, you’d be thinking about the films you wanted to watch and remember the ones you and your friends were talking about at school over the last several days, looking forward to the posters you might see hanging in the window or stuck to the walls via Blu-Tack. Then before you knew it, you were there, standing outside the door of the shop and just like Father Merrin standing outside the MacNeil house, you’d stop, look at the windows and pause just staring at the shop in wonderment.

The Exorsict

After the pause, you’d eagerly push open the door while your eyes darted between the many posters on display and that smell would hit your nostrils. That stale, stagnant odour only independent VHS rental shops had and one I’ve not smelt for decades. It was a strange mix of body odour, the plastic of the VHS boxes, cigarette smoke (as people could still light up indoors back then), finished off with whatever the hell was staining the carpet. And trust me when I say that the distinct aroma was even worse during the summer. Then you stepped inside and you were finally there. The annoyances and frustrations of a hard week at school just melted away – had a painful and laborious double science class on Wednesday? Fugetaboutit. You were standing right in the middle of your own personal nirvana and loving every single second of it.

Four of your five senses kicked into overdrive. Your sight was almost blinded by the images on the posters and the rows upon rows of VHS boxes. Your hearing bombarded with the sounds of films and trailers being played on the 12 inch TV resting on the shop counter. Your smell took in every last whiff of that horrible, yet familiar odour. While your touch was put into practice as you held and caressed the VHS cases as you browsed the impressive collection. Your fifth sense, taste, would just have to wait until later when you bought some of that out of date Toffee Butterkist sitting in a wire basket/shelf near the counter as no one ever bothered checked the use by date.

Merrily making your way through the labyrinthine rows of VHS tapes and heading straight to the horror section that was always at the back of the shop, away from the front door and windows. Not necessarily because you wanted to rent a horror film (though you mainly did), but because you knew that the very top row of the highest shelf of the horror section was where the shop owner always kept the ‘discrete’ porn section (we didn’t hide our VHS porn behind a curtain in England). You’d intensely look at the wide array of horror film covers as you walked back and forth along the horror section pretending to be really, really interested in Hellraiser, Demons, Dawn Of The Dead, etc –  but then quickly flit your gaze upwards toward that top shelf in a vein attempt to catch a glimpse of some Russ Meyer movie cover, maybe a little side boob or censored nipple as this was the equivalent of hardcore porn of today to a 14 year old in the 1980s.

ELECTRIC BLUE VHS

Your hands were at the point of breaking into a clammy sweat as you picked up the numerous empty VHS boxes and your eyes soaked up in every little detail of the cover art. Awesome box art like; The TerminatorMad MaxHighlanderBig Trouble in Little China as well as numerous others – images that still bring a smile to your face even today. You’d flip the empty box over and read the synopsis, see who was in the film and look at the tiny screen caps as you thought about renting the tape out. But even though you were browsing…you already knew what films you wanted rent. One of them was always the holy grail of VHS rentals in the 80s – Back to the Future. Even though you saw it seven times at the cinema, you wanted to watch it again at home, but every time you tried to rent it, all copies were already out as the shop only had two tapes and the waiting list was around seven to eight weeks. Still, you’d always ask anyway in case someone brought it back early...they never did.

Back To The Future VHS

So you’d pick your three or four films for the weekend, one of which would probably be Raiders of the Lost Ark for the eighth time that year (and it was only March). Taking your arm-full of empty boxes to the counter and picking up a couple of bags of that several months out of date Toffee Butterkist too, the shop owner would ask for your membership card despite the fact you’ve been going in every Friday night like clockwork for the last five years and he knows you by name and your address better than you do. As the server frantically searched the wall of VHS tapes behind the counter for your chosen rentals, you would glace over at that 12 inch TV most probably showing a trailer for Death Wish 3 or maybe Breakin‘ 2Electric Boogaloo. That’s when you’d notice the ex-rental basket where older VHS tapes were being sold off cheap so you could own them yourself. I still remember buying the Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller tape for 75p…bargain.

If you were lucky, if you were a regular and if the owner liked you, then they may let you rent one for free or even better…the behind the counter stuff, the banned or fully uncut versions of The Evil Dead or The Exorcist that were not readily availableYou see, in the 80s here in England, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) went a little mad and created the infamous video nasty list. Where a lot of (mainly) horror films were either cut to shreds and censored to the point of being unwatchable or they were just outright banned. So getting to see these films in tact in the 80s was an even more sought after holly grail than a VHS copy of Back to the Future. You didn’t know how he got these films and didn’t care either. All I knew and cared about was that I got to see a fully uncut version of The Evil Dead in 1984, which (if you know anything about the infamy this film had in England at the time) was simply impossible. Still, ask no questions, tell no lies. There were no real age-checks back then, no ID required as long as you were not renting out porn, everything else was fair game if you had the membership card. Yeah blood soaked violence, horror and swearing were okay but nudity and sex? That was a major taboo. You may have been only fourteen years old but if you wanted to rent out John Carpenter’s The Thing…okay. I quite honestly think I saw more horror films as an underage teenager in the 80s via my local VHS store than when I was legally allowed to and after becoming an adult.

Then after paying for your rentals, the guy behind the counter would thrust your chosen VHS tapes into a plastic bag with that not at its best Butterkist and hand it to you along with your by now very used, slightly torn and curled at the edges membership card. Then you’d step out of that odorous, stuffy VHS rental shop into the fresh air which provided an instant hit like no other legal high could manage, that smell of freshness that indicated it was almost movie time.

VHS Player.jpg

Hurrying home and thrusting your rented VHS tapes into that monster of a top-loader player (about the size of 4 Xbox One consoles combined…and I don’t mean the slim version). The loud mechanisms and servo motors would whirl into action as the top loading tape-tray eagerly swallowed the VHS tape and digested it. You’d have to adjust the tracking (look it up), sit through direct to VHS trailers of so bad they’re good action films that most probably starred Chuck Norris and were produced by Cannon Films. Movies that most people have long forgotten about or secretly still admire to this day, those guilty pleasures all us VHS enthusiasts love to watch but don’t tell anyone about, like the Missing In Action trilogy. Then the main event began, the film(s) you have waited all week to watch. You rented out Best Defense only because Eddie Murphy was on the cover and he was the big comedy star of the 80s. Yeah the film was terrible…but you still enjoyed it, not because of the film itself but because of the entire experience of choosing the film previously and an experience you couldn’t wait to repeat the following weekend.

Then after the weekend of watching films. One of which was probably Raiders of the Lost Ark…again, while eating that stale Toffee Butterkist. You’d go back to school on Monday morning to tell your friends about the films you’d watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you watched, etc and restart the whole cycle once more as that five day countdown to Friday and 3:30 pm began again.


 

That, all of that is what I miss about VHS rentals. Yes, I do love and very much appreciate the digital age…but we have lot something very special to make way for it. We have pretty much any movie at the touch of a button now, we don’t have to worry about something not being in stock as its always going to be there and with that, we have lost the anticipation and excitement of getting your hands on the film you really want to watch. We no longer get to explore cover art, flip the box over, read the synopsis and soak up those movie stills, etc. We now just click on download/stream and instantly have whatever we want. Convenient? Yes. As enjoyable? Not at all.

RIP VHS

R.I.P VHS rental stores. I for one miss you.

 

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Farewell To The King Baby!

Well, by the time I have finished writing and publish this article, one of the great icons of the big and small screen will be no more. The man with the chin, Bruce Campbell has decided to retire Ash Williams and tonight the final episode of Ash vs Evil Dead will air.

I guess all good things have to come to an end eventually and to say a personal goodbye to one of my all time favorite characters. I’m going to to take a look at the Ash Williams character from the very start to the end by covering all his big and small screen appearances from the movies, TV show and even video games. Here is my farewell to the King, Ashley Joanna Williams.

There will be possible SPOILERS for those that have not seen the films or all of the TV show.

The Evil Dead

Ash The Evil Dead

This is where it all started back in 1981 with the release of The Evil Dead…though the film was shot through the late 70s. People who are more used to the modern Ash will be quite surprised at the original version. The quips, the one liners, the chainsaw-hand, the balls to the wall hero – none of that existed in the original film. The Ash Williams here is much more subdued and even cowardly…a complete wuss really by comparison to his modern counterpart from the Ash vs Evil Dead TV show. That’s not to say he still doesn’t kick any Deadite balls as he spills plenty of demonic blood through the flick. Its just that most of it boils down to the fact he’s scared and has his back against the wall over him being a wisecracking bad-ass.

Seeing Ash snivel and shake with fear adds a lot of depth to the character and its a trait you don’t really see in horror male leads as that’s something the females usually get associated with.

This film is still one of my all time favorite horror films and one I find much more appreciation for knowing the hell they went through to make it. I personally like my Ash Williams more in this than what he becomes later in the franchise. I prefer the underdog that fights back to the obvious, bombastic hero with the over-inflated ego.

Evil Dead II

Ash The Evil Dead II

So after the unexpected success (and it was) of the first film, the sequel was released just a mere 6 years later. Its quite obvious by the end of the previous film that there was no intention to bring Ash back. In fact the film’s director Sam Raimi said that “everything dies at the end” of the film and that includes the music too…it really does. But as The Evil Dead became such a much loved cult classic, a sequel was made and Ash Williams was brought back too.

This is where you first start to see the more ego-fueled Ash begin to creep in. Don’t get me wrong there is still a touch of the cowardly about him especially during the first 40-odd minutes, but as the film progresses, Ash gets more confident and cocky. Deadites get shotgunned and chainsawed as plenty of claret flies around – something Ash begins to take great relish in, just watch the scene where he cuts off his own hand for proof.

This is a more balanced Ash. He still retains some of that cowardice and reluctance but Ash will go toe to toe against some Deadites and begin to enjoy it too. There are also a couple of his wisecracks including his most famous catchphrase of “groovy”.

Army of Darkness

Ash Army of Darkness

Three films in and Ash is nothing like his original anymore, there is no balance between coward and hero – Ash is now a full-tilt, verbose, overblown leading man. This is the dawn of the Ash Williams most people know of. Pretty much all of his dialogue is some kind of wisecrack and Army of Darkness is easily one of the most quotable films ever made.

Ash is at his Deadite killing best here and where the iconic status of the character really stems from. All the trademarks are here from the chainsaw-hand, his ‘boomstick’ to his quips and comedic lines. There was a delicate balance between horror and comedy in Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness is a very different story as there is very, very little horror and bucket loads of comedy in its place.

I have a love/hate relationship with this flick because I can not deny that its awesome. It really is such a fun and entertaining picture. But its just not the Ash I like and the film is really an action/comedy that has lost sight of its horror roots.

Ash vs Evil Dead

Ash vs Evil Dead

This is where it all lead up to. For years, from 1992’s Army of Darkness the fans had been wanting to see Ash Williams back on the big screen and several times Sam Raimi hinted at making an Evil Dead IV. The film never did happen but in 2015 Ash was brought back in TV show form for 30 episodes over 3 seasons.

This is the same Ash from Army of Darkness only turned up to 11. Ash from this TV show makes Ash from the previous film look like Ash from the first film. He is so overblown and explosive that you just can’t ignore him. The one-liners and insults come thick and fast. Ash now much older (its been almost 40 years), but still trying to play young is fun and provides plenty of comedy. Plus the show had more than enough gore to appease even the most hardcore Evil Dead fan.

It was a good show and great to see Ash back where he belongs…even if I thought the finale was very weak. Yeah I’m writing this just after watching the final episode of the show and I was disappointed by the send off to be honest. Its left open while also passing the torch at the same time. But I feel for a swansong for one of my all time favorite characters, it ultimately was a let down.

Well that covers Ash’s life in terms of movies and TV. Time to take a look at what he got up to in a few games.

Evil Dead: Hail to the King

Ash Hail to the King

This game from 2000 is set 8 years after the events of Army of Darkness and Ash is back still being played by Bruce Campbell. Yeah this is wisecracking Ash too as he has to battle Evil Ash, also played by Campbell. Its a game so obviously heavy on the action more so than anything else – including character so Ash takes a bit of a backseat to the onscreen chaos.

There’s still plenty of Ash to enjoy along the way but just not enough to please Ash fans like myself. Still, this was the first time Bruce had played the role since the release of Army of Darkness in 92.

Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick

Fistful of Boomstick

The second game is set 3 years after the previous one with Ash spending most of his time in a bar getting drunk. Of course the evil is released…again and Ash has to spring into action in an adventure that takes Ash through time kicking Deadite ass long the way.

Its always great to have more Ash Williams even if these games were very average at best. Bruce is still playing the character too so expect many more of those one liners delivered in that distinct Bruce Campbell manner.

Evil Dead: Regeneration

Evil Dead Regeneration

The last Evil Dead game and this one tells an alternate timeline set after Evil Dead II where Ash has been locked up in an asylum after the events of the first two flicks. This time, Ash teams up with a half human, half Deadite called Sam (named after franchise co-creator Sam Raimi).

Pretty much more of the same as Ash battles Deadites while cracking-wise. Of course Ash is still being played by Bruce Campbell so you can expect plenty of that Ash Williams crass humor.

Other notable game appearances include The Evil Dead released for the Commodore 64 in 1984. Based on the original film, the game is probably one of the first survival horror games and of course you play as Ash Williams. Broforce was a side scroller released in 2005 and features a Ash parody called Ash Brolliams. Finally there was Poker Night 2 from 2013 where Ash plays poker against other notable characters. Its also worth pointing out that Bruce Campbell does not play Ash in this game.


So there you have it. Ash Williams’ life on the big and small screen. Its been a hell of a ride and he’s a character I’m going to miss. Still, the phrase ‘never say never’ comes to mind here. I mean, it looked like Ash would never return to the screen at all after Army of Darkness and yet he did. There are still rumors of a big screen outing for Ash in an Evil Dead IV, the TV show could continue in one way or another with a different network picking it up, they could do a spin-off continuing the adventures of the Ghost Beaters lead by Kelly, Pablo and Brandy with Ash appearing – its possible given the whole ‘passing the torch’ of the last episode.

But whatever happens to the character from this point on, its been a damn fun, blood soaked journey. Thanks for the memories Bruce, its been a great ride. Hail to the King indeed!

Ash Chainsaw

Ash J. Williams:Life is hard and dangerous, and sometimes you just gotta chop off somebody’s head to survive.

Is Jason Voorhees A Deadite?

Yeah I know Halloween has come and gone – but we can still have some horror fun.

So there has been a fan theory going around for years that Jason from the Friday The 13th movie franchise is in fact a Deadite from The Evil Dead movie universe. This all came about for various reasons, one of which can be found in the Freddy vs Jason vs Ash comic book. You see, this comic book actually started out as a sequel to the Freddy vs Jason film. However, the film fell through – so they turned the script into a comic book instead. The comic book makes several references to the Friday The 13th, The Evil Dead and the Nightmare On Elm Street movie franchises. One of which being the infamous Necronomicon (Book Of The Dead) and links Jason to it.

FreddyvsJasonvsAsh

Even more so, director of Jason Goes to Hell – Adam Marcus has recently confirmed that this is true as the site Movieweb has reported. But I wish to cast a shadow over the theory and the Movieweb article as a whole. I mean, does it really matter what Adam Marcus says about this subject seeing as he never had anything to do with the creation of either Friday The 13th or The Evil Dead at all? He just directed one of the sequels. This site also makes a very bold claim – and I quote…

Sam Raimi, the man who directed Evil Dead, also gives it the thumbs up.

Raimi didn’t just direct The Evil Dead… he created the entire universe. Anyway, I’ve checked up on this claim and can find zero evidence either way. I’m not saying that Sam Raimi has never given the thumbs up to this idea, just that I can find nothing to suggest he ever has.

But even I have to admit that the theory does hold some water, but the problem is that the container holding the water is definitely leaking. Before I get to the problem(s) with the theory, lets quickly cover the history of Jason.

So Jason was left to drown in Crystal Lake by camp counsels who were preoccupied via sex and drugs… that was his first death. The he came back at the end of the film in what is suggested as being an hallucination… or was it? I mean, if he is a Deadite – then he could have been there at the end of the first film right?

Anyway, from the first sequel onward – Jason became the main antagonist of the franchise (except for one instance) and at the end of each and every film – he is ‘killed’ off. Axe in the head, chopped up by Corey Feldman, he has been drowned (again), blown up, dissolved by toxic waste and even dragged to hell by Freddy Krueger – just to name a few of his demises. Despite his many, many, many deaths – he keeps on coming back. This is why many people think he could be a Deadite due to the difficulty in killing him off. But there is another reason too. Just going back to the flick Jason Goes to Hell once more…

Jason Goes to Hell Necro

That’s the Necronomicon right there and I don’t mean a replica… that’s the very same prop used in Evil Dead II. And where is the book found? In the Voorhees house which suggests that Pamela Voorhees used it to bring her son back from the dead in the first film and that is how/why he appears at the end of that film (it wasn’t an hallucination) and continues his rampage through the entire franchise. So maybe director Adam Marcus may be onto something after all. And just going back to that Moiveweb article for a while, they quote Marcus directly…

“It’s not like I could tell New Line my plan to include The Evil Dead, because they don’t own The Evil Dead. So it had to be an Easter egg, and I did focus on it…there’s a whole scene that includes the book, and I hoped people would get it and could figure out that’s what I’m up to. So yes, in my opinion, Jason Voorhees is a Deadite. He’s one of The Evil Dead. It absolutely is canon.”

So there you go, Marcus is outright calming that it is in fact canon that Friday The 13th and The Evil Dead do exist in the same universe and that Jason is a Deadite. But to bring up a previous point – who is he to say what is or is not canon? He directed one film in a long running franchise… that’s all. He has no say on the history of either Friday The 13th or The Evil Dead. I don’t mean to piss on his parade but its true.

But here is my point. If Sam Raimi and Victor Miller & Sean S. Cunningham – the actual people who created The Evil Dead and Friday The 13th movies respectively wish to retroactively connect the two franchises officially… then should’t it be up to them to say so and not a director of only one of the flicks? Also as Marcus himself pointed out, New Line who now own the Jason name didn’t and still do not own The Evil Dead… so how can they be official canon? You can’t have two franchises exits in the same universe if they are owned by different companies. I mean, that is the whole reason why New Line purchased the Jason rights from Paramount Pictures to begin with – so they could make Freddy vs Jason and bring the two universes together.

For me, its a fun theory and as previously pointed out via the comic and Jason Goes to Hell – there are nods and references… but its not official is it?

More from Adam Marcus over this subject…

“I wanted to create a mythology for Jason in this movie, because it had driven me nuts as a viewer. She (Pamela Voorhees) makes a deal with the devil by reading from the Necronomicon to bring back her son. This is why Jason isn’t Jason. He’s Jason plus The Evil Dead, and now I can believe that he can go from a little boy that lives in a lake, to a full grown man in a couple of months, to Zombie Jason, to never being able to kill this guy.”

See, here is where I have a problem with the theory.

Deadites do not age… ever. Proof? See Henrietta Knowby in Evil Dead II. So why would Jason go from a child in the first flick to an adult in a few months for the first sequel? And if he can age that quickly…why does he not age even more so after becoming adult? It makes no sense knowing The Evil Dead universe. Then, how did Pamela get the Necronomicon? Okay so pre-warning, but I’m going to go full on The Evil Dead nerd right now…

The Evil Dead AshTape

So as The Evil Dead universe shows. It was Professor Raymond Knowby who first found the book via an archaeological expedition to the Sumerian ruins of Castle Kandar. This is the very same castle that is featured in Army Of Darkness and it is Ash himself who recovered the book and took it to the castle during the events of Army Of Darkness for Professor Knowby to find it and take it back to the infamous cabin. Then while at that cabin when the events of The Evil Dead take place and Ash burns the book at the end. Of course as Evil Dead II shows, the book may be gone – but some pages still exist and its those pages that open a portal that sends Ash back in time to the events of Army Of Darkness so Ash can find the book and place it in the castle for Professor Knowby to discover and take back to the cabin…

Army Of Darkness Portal

Its a self-fulfilling prophecy but there is one major thing to take into account over the whole thing….the Necronomicon never leaves the castle until Professor Knowby takes it to the cabin and then it is destroyed by Ash at the end of the first film. So how could Pamela Voorhees ever have used it to resurrect Jason in Friday The 13th? And I’ll continue my rebuttal to this too…

In the opening of Friday The 13th, its revealed that Jason originally drowned and died in 1957. A mysterious killer (its the mom) turns up at the same camp Jason died at a year later and murders two counsellors in 1958. The film that jumps forward twenty two years to present time, 1980 and the film starts proper. Seeing as Pamela Voorhees dies at the end of the film, that means she must have used the book to resurrect Jason before this happens. Years before, months, weeks, days or just hours? It doesn’t matter either way just as long as we know the resurrection had to have occurred before Pamela died.

The Evil Dead was released in 1981 (filmed in through 1978-1980 though) so was can assume the events of the film take place around then. Plus I’ll also bring up the TV show Ash vs Evil Dead which is most definitely canon as Sam Raimi himself is behind the series plus events form the moives are directly referenced as backstory in the TV show. Ash brings up that he first went to the cabin around 30 years ago… which make sense given the release of The Evil Dead.

The Evil Dead Cellar

Where did the book come from? It doesn’t add up especially when you take into account that no only was the book destroyed by the end of the first film circa 1980 but that it appears in the picture Jason Goes to Hell from 1993… the book doesn’t exist anymore. Then again – the Necronomicon is in Ash vs Evil Dead so even the official canon can’t get it right. But the TV show didn’t exist in 1993 when Jason Goes to Hell was released and this theory first came about – so I’ll overlook that aspect. But one major question still remains… how/when did Pamela Voorhees get a hold of it to use to resurrect Jason? (if we ignore the Ash vs Evil Dead)

The book never left the cabin from The Evil Dead and it was evetually destroyed by fire. But I’ll also overlook that factor and ignore the book being burnt… and it still makes no sense. Try to keep up here as I cover the book’s journey through the films. After being sent through time – Ash puts the book in the castle in Army Of Darkness, Professor Knowby finds the book and takes it to the cabin where he unleashes the Deadites. He kills his possessed wife – Henrietta and buries her in the fruit cellar. Within the context of the movies, its not known exactly what happened Professor Knowby but he’s presumed dead (though the TV show does answer this). Anyway, Ash and his friends turn up at the cabin and find the Necronomicon and accidentally unleash the Deadites once more – the events of The Evil Dead take place and around the same time, so do the events of the first Friday The 13th. The events of both films occur and (lets assume) the book is not burnt. The events of Evil Dead II happen and Ash is sent back in time so he can put the book in the castle.

Army Of Darkness Book

So how did the book end up at the Voorhees house in 1993? Plus adding to the fact that Pamela must have used it to resurrect Jason before she died in 1980. She must have taken the book from the cabin before Ash and his friends turned up in The Evil Dead used it on Jason after he died in 1957… and then returned the book so Ash could find it in 1981-ish… and then remove the book again to place it in the Voorhees home in 1993… after she died. Then Ash must have obtained the book from the Voorhees house after coming back from the past in Army Of Darkness so he can have it in Ash vs Evil Dead… it makes no logical sense, even within the horror world.

Jason can not be a Deadite given what is established within the films universe’s… even with me removing plot holes to try to make this make sense… it makes no sense. As I said, it a fun theory – but it just does not hold up and director Adam Marcus ‘confirming’ it as canon does not make it so either.

 

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An Incomplete History of Horror Films Part V.

Its the decade of big hair and even bigger horror films. the 80s.

If the 70s was my favourite decade for horror films, then the 80s is a very, very close second. This was the era of the slasher film (and their numerous sequels), plus a few examples of modernising the classic movie monsters from the past. Some of my favourite horror movie directors cut their teeth in the 80s and it was also the decade of amateur, low budget masterpieces. The effects were bigger, better and bloodier and the films became more controversial as the boundaries of what was allowed to be seen on film were pushed to breaking point with many movies being outright banned here in the UK as the censors hit hard and the dawn of the ‘video nasty‘ was born.

cannholo

Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Well, if I’m going to show how controversial the 80s horror movie was, I may as well go straight for the jugular. Directed by Ruggero Deodato and easily one of the most infamous and controversial horror films to ever be made. A team of four documentary makers go to a South American jungle to search for cannibals. They go missing, so an anthropologist and his team is sent to find them. The documentary team are never found, but their film reels are…

cannholoscreen

Where to start with this film, so much to cover? This is often regarded as the first of the ‘found footage’ sub-genre that became popular in the late 90s onward, as the movie’s plot is told through the film that the missing documentary team made. Onto the controversy; the director was arrested and charged with obscenity then all copies of the film were ordered to be destroyed… but why, its only a movie right? Well that is not what a magazine in France thought, they believed the film was real and that people were actually killed. This prompted charges against director; Ruggero Deodato to now include murder. It all even went to court as Ruggero Deodato had to prove his innocence by having the actors who supposedly died in the film appear in court as well as show behind the scenes photos of other actors that ‘died’ on screen still being alive as well as the effects work used. Eventually the charges against Deodato were dropped, but that was not the end. So no human was killed making this film, but something(s) were. There are actual animal killings shown in this movie, not special effects but real animals being killed. A coati is killed with a knife, a large turtle is decapitated and its limbs are then cut off before its shell and entrails are removed, a tarantula and boa constrictor are killed with a machete, a squirrel monkey is decapitated and a pig is shot in the head with a shotgun. All real and all on film. This lead to the film being heavily censored or outright banned in some countries and its still a sore issue today. There is a lot more to cover with this film, but I have plenty more pictures to talk about so need to move on. But do I recommend this one? Yes I do. There are various versions of this film to watch, there is an edited version that cuts out most of the violence and all of the animal killings. However, I have to be honest here and say its crap. If you really want to watch this movie, then you just have to watch the full, uncut version. Yes its hard to sit through and I’m an animal lover so detest the killing of animals for entertainment. But for the full impact of the film, the uncut one is the only version to watch.

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Fade to Black (1980): A very low budget psychological horror movie written and directed by Vernon Zimmerman. Eric is frequently bullied and betrayed, he hides away from his torment in his love for horror movies and often fantasies about being one of the villains. Eventually he snaps and begins a killing spree against the very people that bullied and opposed him all while being influenced by some of his favourite horror icons.

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Its a shame this picture is so low budget as its a great idea, but the lack of money really shows on screen.The plot is a little bare, some of the death scenes are just pathetic and the editing is terrible. But there is still a watchable movie here. Its great to see someone get made up and dressed in classic movie monster garb (Dracula, The Mummy, etc) and show that there is still room for the old guard in horror films. Dennis Christopher playing Eric is a joy to watch and Linda Kerridge as a Marilyn Monroe look-alike is great too. Plus be on the look out for a small appearance by Mickey Rourke. A good film, but tremendously flawed. Only worth a watch if you enjoy low budget schlock.

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Friday the 13th (1980): Just like Halloween (1978), I think its law to include this in a horror movie list. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. It summer at Camp Crystal Lake and a group of young camp counsellors are readying the camp for a busy season. But it seems that somebody isn’t happy about all the commotion as the camp counsellors are killed off one by one.

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I think it can be said without much argument that Friday the 13th is one of the main trendsetters in terms of the ‘slasher’ sub-genre of horror film. After John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) set the standard, many, many followed and this film was one of the big hitters that went on to become a very successful franchise with about six hundred sequels (I may have over counted), spin-offs and even a remake. The franchise became so huge and popular that everyone knows the killer in Friday the 13th is Jason Voorhees… isn’t he? One of the all time classic horror films with exceptional make up/effects work by the grand-master himself, Tom Savini. The film also features an early role for Kevin Bacon.

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The Shining (1980): I said in the previous part how The Exorcist (1973) is my all time favourite horror film, and it is, but this picture is a close second. Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring the legendary Jack Nicholson. Jack Torrance is a writer struggling to write his next book, he takes on a job offer as a caretaker at a remote hotel that closes down for the winter. Arriving with his wife and son, Danny. As Danny starts to witness strange hallucinations, Jack begins to experience cabin fever and slowly goes insane.

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One of the very best examples of a tremendous psychological horror film. This movie was detested by Stephen King, so much so that he went on to publicly slam this picture and even make his own version as a three part TV mini-series in 1997. I love King’s novel and I also love Kubrick’s version just as much (I also enjoyed the TV mini-series… but not as much), they are two very different animals from two different geniuses. Jack Nicholson gives one of the best performances of his career, if not THE best and goes down in horror history as one of the all time great villains. There is a unnerving feeling of tension right from the opening credits of the film and it never lets up until the end credits roll. The hotel backdrop is both gorgeous and foreboding and Jack’s slow decent into madness is well done throughout the picture. It all builds up to a terrifying ending with a quizzical footnote involving a photo that still has people theorising and debating today. Beautifully shot, brilliantly adapted from the novel (despite what King says) and genuinely scary… “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” .

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An American Werewolf in London (1982):I see the bad moon arising.“, great song by CCR from an equally great film directed by John Landis. Two American backpackers go exploring the English countryside moors where they are attacked by a wolf-like creature. One of the two outright dies, while the other is mauled but lives and he slowly learns he has been given the werewolf curse.

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Oh, how I love this film. A modern twist on the classic werewolf lore. The film is a great mix of genuine scares blended with a very dark sense of humour. The make up effects are just sublime, especially on the ever decaying Jack who haunts his werewolf friend David as he is trapped in limbo. The main werewolf transformation scene is still the greatest werewolf transformation ever filmed and make up artist, Rick Baker deservedly won and Oscar for his work in this movie. Another thing that needs mention are the terrifying nightmares David has as his curse starts to take over. Some absolutely amazing visuals and scary scenes. My favourite werewolf movie by far… and the soundtrack is awesome too as each of the main songs has the word ‘moon’ in the title. Almost forgot to mention the radio adaption form 1997 which is also worth checking out if you can find it.

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Docteur Jekyll et les femmes (1981): This is a French film by director Walerian Borowczyk. A modernised take on the Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Set in the 19th century in London. A celebration for Dr Henry Jekyll and Fanny Osbourne’s engagement is being held at Dr. Jekyll’s home. Later that night, one of the female guests is brutally attacked, raped and murdered in her room and this starts a very bizarre and bloody series of events.

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This film is a strange and often difficult watch (if you can find a fully uncut version), yet its beautifully shot and directed. The movie is very surreal and often feels almost dream like. There is quite a lot of sex and nudity in this one and often mixed with violence. The film feels very sleazy, but that sleaze just works. Not a film for everyone, but if you want a Dr Jekyll yarn that dares to be different and even shocking at times, then you may enjoy this picture.

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The Evil Dead (1981): Directed by Sam Raimi and starring cult fan actor, Bruce Campbell. Five college friends shack up in a cabin in the woods. A recording is found in the cellar and played back which unleashes an evil force with the power to possess humans and turn them into demons.

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I already did a quick overview of this film. I really enjoy low budget horror movies from first time directors and The Evil Dead is pretty much the pinnacle. The plot is bare basic, the acting is horrible and the effects work is cheap… but the film is still one of the best horror films made. This is the movie that got me interested in what happens behind the camera just as much as in front of it. I love reading/watching anything about The Evil Dead and think its amazing how this film was made by a few teenagers and how it has gone on the become a successful franchise recognised around the world. It a cheap, low budget effort. But its also a bloody, scary and effective picture with some of the best camerawork and direction seen at the time.

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Possession (1981): A little known French/German horror film directed by Andrzej Żuławski and starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. Mark returns home from a business trip away, he finds is wife, Anna is restless and withdrawn, Anna says she wants a divorce and she starts to act even more irrational and bizarre. Mark believes another man is involved but it seems Anna’s behaviour is related to something much more sinister.

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How best to describe this movie? An extreme assault on the senses, that sounds about right. This picture is surreal and hyperactive, its beautiful and disturbing at the same time. The acting is OTT and eccentric, yet it all fits perfectly with the tone of the film. You’ll watch this film once and think to yourself ‘what the fuck did I just watch’ but then immediately want to watch it again and it is subsequent viewings that make this film so much more enjoyable. Isabelle Adjani won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981 and deservedly so too. Not an easy watch, but if you can make it through, you will be rewarded with a hard edged and brutal horror film that will stick with you forever.

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Basket Case (1982): Written and directed by Frank Henenlotter. This is another one of those low budget, gore-fests that I enjoy so much. Duane is a strange young man who goes everywhere with a wicker basket which contains his surgically removed, deformed Siamese twin. The brothers set out to seek vengeance on the doctors who separated them.

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Bizarre seems such a tame word to use as a descriptive of the one, but bizarre it is. This is a trashy film, its not high art, it has no political statement to make. Its just what it is meant to be. A low budget, low brow piece of rubbish… but its great and entertaining rubbish. Its a film about a deformed Siamese twin kept is a wicker basket that wants revenge, what are you expecting? Its silly, hokey and gory. A stupid film that entertains from start to finish.

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Creepshow (1982): I love horror anthology pictures and this is one of the very best. Directed by George A. Romero, the film includes five tales (and a wrap around story); Father’s Day is about a cruel dead father who comes back to carry on his reign of terror. The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill is a tale where a country bumpkin discovers a recently crashed meteorite but after he touches it, things slowly go very wrong. Something to Tide You Over has a man who finds out his wife has been having an affair, so he buries his wife and her lover alive up to their heads on a beach as the tide comes in, only they return for revenge. The Crate is a wonderful tale about a hard done by man who finds a way to rid himself rid his overbearing wife thanks to a mysterious crate. They’re Creeping Up on You is about a ruthless businessman suffering from mysophobia and locks himself away in his germ free apartment only to be invaded by his worst nightmare.

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I could quite honesty go on about this picture for hours and hours… but I can’t here as there is so many other films to cover. What is there to like? Directed by George A. Romero, written by Stephen King and make up effects work by Tom Savini… you couldn’t get a better horror team than that in the 1980s. Each of the five stories are great and offer a varying amount of scares as well as macabre comedy. Inspired by the old horror EC comics of the 40s-50s and that inspiration shines through. This film’s tongue is firmly placed in its cheek and its a complete riot.

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): The second sequel to the John Carpenter classic that isn’t really a sequel. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, the film departs form the story of Micheal Myers and does its own thing. A mysterious toy maker releases a new line of Halloween masks for sale which seem to have some kind of a connection to a strange series of commercials on TV that are counting down to a big event… but what?

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This film was despised at the time of release as it took a severe departure from the Halloween movie franchise (even though this was only the 3rd film). Fans hated it as did the critics, yet over the years, the movie has gained a strong a loyal following. I adore this film and always have done, I got tired of the whole Micheal Myers thing after the first film anyway, so this movie was a breath of fresh air. Originally, John Carpenter wanted this to be the start of a whole new anthology idea after he killed of Micheal Myers in the first sequel. His intention was to have a series of Halloween themed films each year all with a new story, yet they would all exist in one shared film universe. But as the fans at the time were too small minded and just wanted more Micheal Myers, more of the same tired old formula, the idea was dropped and Myers was brought back for several other terrible sequels instead. Still, this movie is a great horror picture full of scares and a few hard to watch scenes too. A massively overlooked film that deserves much more credit.

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Poltergeist (1982): A true classic in every sense of the word. Directed by Tobe Hooper, written and produced by Steven Spielberg. The Freelings are a young and loving family who move into their new home. The youngest daughter, Carol Anne, develops a strange connection to the TV and things only get stranger from that point on.

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One of the all time classics and a modern retelling of a golden age ghost story. The film is chock full of iconic and memorable imagery/scenes. That picture of the clown up there probably sparked off childhood memories you’d rather forget. What about the tree or the skeletons in the unfinished swimming pool, maybe the scene where the paranormal investigator goes to wash his face? The visual effects in this one still stand up today (for the most part) and are still some of my strongest memories of a horror film. As scary as it is tense and well made, Poltergeist has stood the test of time and can still offer plenty of chills today.

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The Thing (1982): Another one form one of the all time greats, director John Carpenter. A loose remake of The Thing from Another World (1951) and based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. Starring Kurt Russell and featuring music by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Set in Antarctica and a US research station is suddenly brought to attention by a Norwegian helicopter trying to kill a dog. After the helicopter crashes, the members of the US research station take the dog in as a pet, which was perhaps not the wisest idea.

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I must have been around 7/8 years old and watching this with my brothers and cousins at my Auntie Chris’ house one night. I have a very strong memory of watching THAT dog scene and if you have seen the film, then you know exactly which very specific dog scene I am talking about. I remember being both horrifically scared and yet unable to look away at the same time. I was terrified but amazed. It was that moment when I fell in love with horror films. Oh I had seen other horror films before this one, but nothing quite like The Thing. So I have John Carpenter and a dog to thank for my love of horror films. This film is amazing, the directing is spot on and the isolation you feel due to the setting is unnerving. Ennio Morricone’s score is almost minimal and fits perfectly. Then there is the small cast full of great performances of which the star, Kurt Russell is easily the best. Also of note is Rob Bottin who headed up the effects/make up department and created some of the most stunningly grotesque and yet beautiful effects work of the 80s. “You gotta be fuckin’ kidding!

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Psycho II (1983): The first sequel (there were others) to the Hitchcock classic Psycho (1960). Sitting in the director’s chair this time around is Richard Franklin and returning as Norman Bates is Anthony Perkins. After 22 years of being institutionalised following the events of the first film, Norman is released and goes back to his motel and it seems that mother is also back too.

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I love the original film, it is one of my all time favourite films ever. Is this sequel as good? No, not at ‘as good’… but its still a damn good film regardless. There are some genius moments of directing here including blending the aftermath of perhaps the most famous scene of the original film into this sequel seamlessly. There are a few scenes that I’m not a fan of (like a bloody, overflowing toilet… been done countless times before) but then there are also scenes that are also excellent. The film leaves you guessing as to whether Norman is settling back into his old ways, or is somebody attempting to give him a few gentle pushes? Maybe Norman is innocent in all of this? Anthony Perkins is just as great playing the role here as he was in 1960, also returning from the original is Vera Miles and even Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance despite dying three years earlier. An overlooked film and one of the better horror sequels made, well worth checking out as a double feature with the original.

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Gremlins (1984): Directed by Joe Dante and starring Zach Galligan & Phoebe Cates. Billy is given a Christmas gift, a small and unusual creature called a Mogwai. This Mogwai has a strict set of three rules that Billy must adhere to, but due to series of ‘accidents’ the rules are broken and the Gremlins are born.

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How do you categorise this film? Its a family friendly, Christmas themed, horror, comedy, action, satire of monster movies… movie. There is a weird cocktail of so many genres and sub-genres it just shouldn’t work, but it does. Gremlins can be genuinely scary at times, but then a few seconds later and it’ll make you smile with its humour. The very dark and macabre tale Kate tells about how she learned there is no Santa Claus is both disturbing and humorous. The Gremlins themselves are malicious but engaging and thoroughly entertaining. And of course, yes Gizmo the Mogwai is ‘cute’. This is a fun romp for all the family to enjoy regardless of age.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): The film that made me a fan of writer/director Wes Craven. The birth of one of the all time great horror icons, Freddy Krueger and the start of the career of some unknown actor called Johnny Depp. A group of teenagers are being haunted by nightmares where a horribly scarred and burnt maniac with knives for fingernails called Freddy, who scares them so much they refuse to sleep. It soon becomes apparent that if this guy kills you in your dreams, then you die for real. But who is this Freddy and where did he come from, maybe the parents know more than they are willing to let on?

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Does Freddy Krueger (or this film) really need any kind of an introduction? This is arguably Wes Craven’s masterpiece (for some anyway, there is another film he made later that for me is his masterpiece…). Rather like Friday the 13th (1980), this film is one of those trend setters that defined the slasher sub-genre of horror films and much like ‘Friday’, it too spawned many, many sequels, spin offs and a remake. Freddy has rightfully gone down as one of the all time great horror icons and has become cemented in many a subconscious of the horror fan. The film has some overtly bloody scenes, but also a film with just as many creepy/scary images and scenes that contain really well done frights. “One, two…

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The Terminator (1984): Its another one of those low budget films from a little known director and this time its James Cameron in the hot seat. Starring the then unknowns; Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton and some guy called, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the year 2029, a killer cyborg is sent back in time to 1984 to murder the mother of the leader of the resistance who leads the humans to defeat the self-aware Skynet super computer. If the mother is dead, then the leader can never be born. But the resistance themselves send back a lone soldier as a protector.

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I know what some people are thinking as they read this. “The Terminator isn’t a horror film.”. Yeah, I’ve heard this before numerous times, even my girlfriend said the same thing as I was writing this when she peered over my shoulder. The Terminator is a horror film and please allow me to plead my case as not only will I put forward a convincing argument, I’ll also categorise what sub-genre of horror film it falls into. Okay, so we have a weak female who by the end becomes a stronger version of herself (Sarah), a virgin who has sex and dies shortly afterwards (Kyle), a killer that is in someway masked or in disguise (Terminator), POV shots from the killer, a chase type movie where the killer keeps perusing its intended victim(s) and there is even an ending where the killer is (supposedly) stopped just to come back at during the end for more. Does any of this sound familiar? These are slasher movie tropes as The Terminator is a slasher horror film. Just remove the sci-fi element for a while and think of the film on its purest terms. A movie about a stalking killer who systematically goes through a phone book and murders women named Sarah Conner. Change the killer form a cyborg to an everyday flesh and blood human, remove the time travel and sci-fi elements, change the title to ‘The Phone-book Killer’ and you have a bog standard 80s slasher film. The Terminator is anything but bog standard though and simple because it just threw in a few sci-fi elements. Watch something like Halloween (1978) and then watch this film directly afterwards and you’ll see so many of the tropes and clichés from the classic slasher film repeated in The Terminator. This flick is a horror film, and a damn good one too.

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Dèmoni (1985): AKA, Demons is produced by Italian horror guru, Dario Argento and directed by Lamberto Bava. A group of people are invited to attend a preview screening of a new film. One of the guests tries on a prop from the movie, a silver mask of a demon and this kick-starts a gruesome series of events that get worse and worse.

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The plot is simple, the acting is sub-par and the music is typical, cheesy 80s rock. But the film is one of the most enjoyable demonic possession films made with buckets of blood thrown in too. Much like the decade it comes from, this film is a bit of a mess and a lot of things don’t make much sense… but it all just clicks and works. It almost gets a bit meta with the idea of a film about demons being shown in a film about demons, as life begins to imitate art. The dead bodies build up, both human and demon as the film progresses and what is left of the survivors escape the cinema and out onto the streets where they are saved, only for the viewer to be hit with a great stinger of an ending that still resonates with me today. Here’s an interesting tit-bit for you too, the guy in the mask handing out invites at the start of the movie is Michele Soavi. A protégé of Argento who would go on to become a horror movie director himself.

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The Return of the Living Dead (1985): From writer/director Dan O’Bannon. A pair of employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a gas into the air. The gas brings back to life a cadaver which the duo cut up and then enlist the help of a local mortician to burn and hopefully end their problems, only this triggers an even bigger problem.

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Braaaaaaaaiiins!” the zombies cry out in this film as they hunt for brains to eat. This was the first film to introduce the idea of a zombie that eats brains, something that has now become common place and referenced countless times. The idea of mixing comedy and horror is not a new one, it has been around since the 1930s, but very few films manage to get the balance right. ROLTD doesn’t just get it right, it nails the blend of comedy and horror perfectly. As gory and scary as it is funny, this film is a riot and wicked fun. The scene where a zombie torso is interrogated (above image) and it is revealed that zombies need to eat brains as being dead hurts and brains ease the pain is genius, as it gives a reason for the zombie attacks and you actually start to feel a little sympathy for them too. The make up is amazing with some of the most detailed and creative zombies ever seen on film, Tarman, need I say more?

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Re-Animator (1985): Loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story, Herbert West–Reanimator. Directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Jeffrey Combs. Herbert West is a scientist who creates a fluid which can bring dead tissue back to life. With the help of his medical student housemate Dan, Herbert West gains access to a morgue where he can continue he research into bringing the dead back to life.

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Part Frankenstein, part zombie movie and all topped of with a deliciously dark flow of humour. Re-Animator is a gory masterpiece of horror cinema. Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West is wonderfully over the top and a joy to watch as his passion drives him to the brink of insanity, an interesting modern take on the ‘mad scientist’ of the 50s era. Also of note is the main antagonist of the movie, Dr. Carl Hill played by David Gale who ends up tangling with Herbert West and coming off worse for wear. There are some truly gore-tastic scenes in this one as well as some rather ‘WTF’ ones too that all build up to an unforgettable ending. Its also worth checking out the other films in this franchise; Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003).

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Entrails of a Virgin (1986): An infamous Japanese horror classic directed by Kazuo Komizu. A group involved in making porn head out to a house in the mountains where they find a mud covered demon who brutally kills the males and rapes the females with its ‘impressive’ appendage.

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Errrr, yeah. How do I cover this one? I really enjoy Japanese horror, alas not all of it is good. I find that it falls under three basic categories. 1) Damn good, 2) Damn terrible and 3) What the fuck did I just watch? Entrails of a Virgin definitely falls into category 3. There is no plot, just and excuse to show sex, nudity and gore. The sex is mostly censored/fogged out as there were some very strict rules when it came to showing sex on screen in Japan, yet strangely the gore is shown in all its glory. Never understood why something as natural and normal as sex was taboo but murder, blood and gore was perfectly fine. And the gore in this is taken to ridiculous levels. Is this a good film? No, its terrible. But it is a film that has become so infamous that I feel it deserves a mention here. Worth watching? Not really, but if you want to see some soft core censored porn alongside unbelievable gore… then this is the film for you.

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The Fly (1986): A remake of the 1958 film that was based on the short story by George Langelaan. Directed by the wonderfully weird David Cronenberg and starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. Seth Brundle is a brilliant scientist who has created two pods capable of teleportation. he uses himself as a guinea pig to test his invention, but just as he prepares to teleport himself, a fly enters the pod with him and the DNA of the fly becomes part of Seth.

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This is how you do a horror remake well. The chemistry between Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis is amazing (well they did marry in 1987) and they play off each other perfectly. The make up effects as Seth slowly turns into ‘Brundlefly’ is astonishing and the slow transformation brings about some disturbing scenes. Goldblum gives a stunning performance as he manages to break through all the make up he has to endure and still make you feel something for the character. The ending is a bloody, grotesque conclusion and yet utterly heart breaking at the same time. Its a strange feeling how the film makes you feel for the monster by the time the credits roll. A simple story, but told so very well.

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The Hitcher (1986): An overlooked masterpiece of thriller/horror directed by Robert Harmon and starring the mesmerising Rutger Hauer. A young man has a job transporting a car from one state to another. While driving along a quiet desert road, he spots a hitchhiker and offers him a ride. This hitcher is not quite what he seems and a game of ‘cat & mouse’ begins between the two.

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Is this a horror film? Quite a few people I know don’t think so, but for me it most definitely is. This isn’t a picture about blood and gore, this is a movie that plays on tension and fear. Is a slow burner with a simple plot. Often massively overlooked and often forgotten about too. This film oozes atmosphere and tension, there are scenes in this movie that will stick with me forever. As every time I have a burger and fires, I always check the plate first. Rutger Hauer is simply astonishing in his role of ‘John Ryder’ (if that is his real name) and is perfect casting, Hauer is at his most ‘Rutger-ist” in this film. I could sit here and write about this film for hours, who is ‘John Ryder’, why is he doing all of this, etc? The film has a lot of subtlety and subtext that many people miss. An amazing flick the deserves a lot more credit… just avoid the terrible sequel and remake.

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Hellraiser (1987): Clive Barker is the writer/director behind this gothic classic based on Barker’s own short story; The Hellbound Heart. Larry moves into his old family home along with his wife. They soon discover that Larry’s bother, Frank has been squatting in the house but has mysteriously disappeared. While moving in, Larry cuts himself by accident and this triggers a series of events that reveal what happened to Frank and his connection to a strange puzzle box.

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What a movie, I love this film. Its a great throwback to the gothic horror films Hammer were making in their heyday, but mixed with the blood-soaked gore that became common place in the 80s. Its essentially a haunted house movie… but not. There is so much memorable imagery in this film its hard to know where to start. Well you have the poster-boy himself, Pinhead (though only known as ‘Main Cenobite’ in the movie), it strange how Pinhead became the face of Hellraiser despite the fact he actually only has a few minutes of screen-time, I think the puzzle box itself has more screen-time. There is a scene in this picture that is disgustingly disturbing and yet strangely alluring and beautiful to watch, I refer to the re-birth of Frank. A visual treat along with a compelling plot, interesting characters and of course, plenty of blood. A great movie well worth watching and if you don’t, “we’ll tear your soul apart!“.

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The Monster Squad (1987): Written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker, directed by Fred Dekker. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Gill Man, and The Mummy try to take over the world by taking possession of a scared amulet. But a group of young kids known as ‘The Monster Squad’ team up to take on the classic monsters.

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The classic Universal movie monsters are back in this wonderful Goonies-eque style family friendly action/horror/comedy. Really not so much of a horror film (compared to other films I have listed) but more of a horror themed movie the whole family can enjoy. It just puts such a huge smile on my face to see the classic Universal monsters still being used and in such a fun way too, and that is the best way to describe this flick… fun. There are some great gags here along with plenty of (mild) scary scenes. If you have kids, then sit down with them and watch this one. While mainly aimed at a younger audience, there’s still plenty for the older horror fan to find here with jokes, references, etc that will keep you more than entertained. And remember, this is the film that taught us that “wolfman’s got nards.

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The Lost Boys (1987): From director Joel Schumacher comes this teenage take on the vampire lore. A mother and her two sons move to a small coast town in California. The youngest son, Sam meets the Frog brothers who claim the town is being taken over by vampires.

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This film just proves how shit other teenage vampire moives really are… mentioning no Twilight, I mean names. A film of its age that is somehow ageless at the same time, the word ‘classic’ does not does this movie justice. There are some great scary scenes, but all through the picture there is a fun sense of humour. A particular highlight is Barnard Hughes who plays Grandpa who rounds of a great cast including; Dianne Wiest, Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and Kiefer Sutherland. The title comes form the Lost Boys of Neverland, from Peter Pan. The film is topped off with a beautiful and memorable soundtrack. Modern vampires done justice creating on the best vampire pictures ever made.

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Shiryô no wana (1988): AKA; Evil Dead Trap is another Japanese horror film directed by Toshiharu Ikeda. A TV station host, Nami comes across a strange video tape. The tape appears to be a real snuff film and Nami along with her TV crew decide to investigate the location where the tape was filmed only to find themselves caught in a gory nightmare.

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Yes more Japanese horror and this one is brutally, bloody, brilliant. The flick feels very Argento-esque in many ways, its not shy with the gore and its plot is as basic as it can get. Yet the whole package just works and doesn’t fail to entertain and horrify along the way. The death scenes are graphic, gory and gruesome (there is a particular ‘eye opening’ opening) as the victims are dispatched of in pretty creative ways. The film’s plot is pretty formulaic and ‘slasher’ like and you’ll be correctly second guessing where this film is going… until, the last act where things go a little ‘weird’ and even almost ‘Cronenbergian’ and accumulates into a brilliant conclusion.

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Society (1989): Brian Yuzna is sitting in the director chair for this one. Teenager Bill Whitney feels as if he doesn’t quite fit in, even among his own family. He is given a disturbing tape that may prove incest within his family that involves a weird society. Bill then decides to try to uncover the mystery of this society that seem to be in control.

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To say this film is weird is a massive understatement. Its beyond bizarre, its in a world of its own. It feels Cronenberg-esque, but even I don’t think he would go this far. The effects work is both disgusting and beautiful and with effects by a guy called; Screaming Mad George, what do you expect? I think the film is trying to make some kind of social comment on the soullessness of the upper classes but at the same time, the movie never takes itself seriously at all. There are some pretty disturbing and hard to watch scenes as the picture builds to a 20 minute climax dubbed ‘The Shunting’ that will stick in your subconscious and never leave.

Well that is the end of the 80s in my Incomplete History of Horror and what a strange and wonderful journey it has been. In part VI, I’ll take a look at the 90s as horror films try to be clever.

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Friday The 13th – C64

Today is Friday the 13th so…

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Little Bit of History: From Domark and relased in 1985 for the Commodore 64. Later ported to the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum. The game was inspired by the film series of the same name and became infamous for its jump scares. Some copies of the game even came with fake blood capsules filled with red sugar water that you could use to make it look like blood was pouring from your mouth. Also at the end of the tape was a collection of horror SFX.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: You play as one of the teenagers and are tasked with hunting down and killing Jason Voorhees while trying to protect your friends by taking them to a player selected sanctuary somewhere on the map. Jason could disguise himself as anyone of your friends and this would make him hard to find.

Little Bit of Character: You could play as 1 of 5 teenagers including; Gerry King, Bryan Bone, Amanda Baxter, Wendy Watson and Stuart Palmer. Then of course there was also Jason Voorhees.

Little Bit of Influence: Later Friday The 13th games were made like the more known one for the NES another for mobile games in 2000 and there is an all new Friday The 13th game coming to PC, Xbox One and PS4 to be relased in autumn of 2016.

Little Bit of Memories: I had this one on the same compilation tape as The Evil Dead. I always remember this one being pretty good fun even if it did have a strange soundtrack like Teddy Bears Picnic would play if you went to the woods or Old McDonald when you went to the farm. The map at the time was quite varied and fun to explore all while trying to find Jason. Oh and then there were those jump scares I mentioned as if/when Jason would kill one of your friends, you would be greeted with a image of a teenager with a machete stuck in their head and a loud digitized scream sound.

Little Bit of Playability: I was quite surprised to find this was still pretty playable today. I really enjoyed exploring the map and trying to track down Jason before he killed everyone. Though the controls did feel a little stiff, but after a while I got used to them. Still a pretty fun game to play today.

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The Evil Dead – C64

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Little Bit of History: Produced by Palace Software for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. Though the ZX Spectrum version was never given a full release and only available as a “B-side” to Cauldron. The C64 version was given a full retail release in 1984. This was the first ever licensed game based on the film of the same name.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: The game is set in the cabin from the film where you have to fend of demons attacking you until you can find the Necronomicon (Book Of The Dead) to destroy it and stop the evil demons once and for all. Demons would continue to spawn and break into the cabin, you would have to kill the demons with various weapons while barricading the windows where the demons were getting in. This sounds familiar…

Little Bit of Character: You play as Ash from the movie and he is the only real character in the game aside from the nameless demons.

Little Bit of Influence: As I said before, the basic premise of this game sounds familiar. Ever play the “Zombies” mode on Call Of Duty? Stuck in a building with ever spawning enemies (zombies) and having to barricade yourself in to slow down the horde while you dispatch them with a variety of weapons? The Evil Dead on the C64 was one of the first (of what is now known as ) survival horror games and could really be credited with helping to shape an entire sub-genre of gaming.

Little Bit of Memories: I recall having this on a compilation tape for my C64 and playing it quite a bit. It was never a scary game and the graphical limitations at the time meant you never saw any blood or gore. It was a pretty family friendly game based on one of the most infamous and gory films of its day.

Little Bit of Playability: It seems very rough by todays standards. But its still a enjoyable game, though it quickly becomes repetitive and redundant. The bore factor settles in fairly quickly with this one, but it is an interesting history lesson to see one of the very first survival horror games and main influences for Call Of Duty’s Zombie mode.

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There’s more Evil Dead to come with my look at the original movie as well as try to clear up the “is Evil Dead II a remake?” misconception…join us…

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The Evil Dead

Its Halloween, so I’m going to turn the spotlight on one of my all time favourite horror films ever made…

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Little Bit of History: Written and directed by Sam Raimi. Produced by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Robert Tapert. The Evil Dead was relased in 1981 but filmed over several years between 1977 and 1979.
The film is technically a remake of Sam Raimi’s own (any VERY low quality) Within The Woods which was a film Sam made to show to investors in order to help fund The Evil Dead. Originally titled; The Book Of The Dead, but re-titled to The Evil Dead as there wad concern people would think they would have to read during the film.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: A group of five friends go to a cabin in the woods to do what teenagers do, smoke weed and have sex. However they unleash an evil force by playing a recording that has been made by a professor who translated an ancient text. The evil, possesses the friends one by one turning them into demons (not zombies). Each one becomes possessed until only one remains and manages to survive and beat the evil…or do they?

Little Bit of Character: Bruce Campbell plays the unlikely hero, Ash with Betsy Baker playing his girlfriend Linda. Ellen Sandweiss plays Cheryl, Richard DeManincor (credited as Hal Delrich) was Ash’s best friend Scott with Theresa Tilly (as Sarah York) playing Shelly.

Little Bit of Influence: The Evil Dead started with very humble beginnings but had a strong cult following and went on to spawn its own franchise with two sequels, a string of games based on the film(s), comic books and even a live stage show musical. The film also went on to be remade (really well) in 2013. There is even a TV show called Ash Vs Evil Dead coming out in a few days. The Evil Dead has gone on to become a world (in)famous phenomenon, not too bad seeing as the film was made by a bunch of inexperienced teenagers only filming on the weekends when they could over the course of several years. Writer/director Sam Raimi became one of the biggest names working in Hollywood today.

Little Bit of Memories: I have vague memories of seeing this film on an old projector back in the early 80s and I’m from England where the film was banned outright for many years so where that copy of the film came from I have no idea. I rediscovered the film many years later in my late teens in the late 90s but it was heavily edited. It was not until the early 2000’s when a change in management at the BBFC saw many previously banned or heavily edited films finally relased fully uncut that I saw The Evil Dead as it was intended.

Little Bit of Watchability: This is one of my all time favourite films ever made. Its very low budget, cheesy, badly acted…but it is a film that clearly had a lot of heart and passion from the people involved in making it. Despite its low budget and lack of experienced cast and crew, the film is beautifully shot and really innovative for its time. I urge any and every horror fan to watch this even if only once, but please put aside the low quality script, acting, etc and just enjoy one of the most terrifying and gruesome horror films of the 70s/80s.

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Cheryl:You will die! Like the others before you, one by one, we will take you.

There’s more Evil Dead to come with my look at the original Commodore 64 game as well as try to clear up the “is Evil Dead II a remake?” misconception…join us…

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