Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Vendetta (1986)

Vendetta (1986) is, at heart, a Women in Prison film (or WIP). As I mentioned a while back, this is a genre that I have a particular interest in – and connection to – as I once wrote an important essay about it when I was a film student, and subsequently wrote an entire musical play poking fun at it (which was called  Bad Girls Jailhouse and was first produced in 1994). That play started me on a long path of writing, producing and directing crazy musicals, which was my main focus for over ten years – but that’s another story.

VHS box for Vendetta (1986)Vendetta is not one of the better known Women in Prison films. It came out a little late in the cycle. Caged (1950) is widely considered to be the first official entry into the genre, although there are earlier films that could (and should) be included, such as the wonderful pre code movie Ladies They Talk About (1933). But Caged really started things rolling, and was soon followed by other WIPs such as So Young, So Bad (1950), Women’s Prison (1955) and Reform School Girl (1957). The exploitation possibilities of the genre became clear to producers, and by the late 1960s there were a slew of R-rated WIPs released, such as 99 Women (1969), School for Unclaimed Girls (1969) and Love Camp 7 (1969) (which was also a sleazy Nazi movie, which oddly enough became a sub-genre of its own – but that’s another story). 

Needless to say, there were a lot of WIPs made in the 1970s, including Roger Corman produced masterpieces like The Big Doll House (1971), and Jonathan Demme‘s directorial debut Caged Heat (1974). There were so many great WIPs made in the ’70s that I could spend all day trying to talk about my favourites – but I’ll resist. The plentiful output continued into the 1980s, and included some of the very best efforts, such as The Concrete Jungle (1982), Reform School Girls (1986), and my personal favourite, Chained Heat (1983). 

Cinematheque programmeI first saw Chained Heat when I was 12 or 13, having rented it on Beta with a friend of mine. We loved it of course, and watched it two or three times before returning the tape to the store. I would later describe it as a seminal film-watching experience for me when I hosted a screening of the movie at Cinematheque in Winnipeg back in 2009. Notice that the programme guide mistakenly used a photo from Chained Heat 2 (1993), the vastly inferior sequel. The idea of these screenings was that playwrights (such as me) would host a film that was somehow important or influential in their development, or playwrighting career. Choosing Chained Heat was a no-brainer for me, as it directly influenced the first musical that I ever wrote. Thank you and R.I.P. to Dave Barber, who ran Cinematheque for almost 40 years and just died this past week (far too soon). I had known him since the early 1990s, and would often stop and talk film with him whenever we ran into each other. I will miss him forever.

As the ’80s wore on, the Women in Prison genre seemed to dry up a little, although there were still a respectable number of titles released. Most of them were direct to video
Ad for Reform School Girls, which came out the same year as Vendetta (1986)releases, and not as high quality in terms of production value. 1986 was a pretty good year, however. Reform School GirlsThe Naked Cage (by the director of Chained Heat), and Vendetta were all released that year. Reform School Girls was by far the highest profile film of those three. I remember it playing in the theatres, and I managed to catch it on pay TV a little later. I also bought the soundtrack L.P. which featured Wendy O. Williams (who also starred in the movie) and Etta James (who did not). I found out about Vendetta by reading Video Trash & Treasures by L.A. Morse. He gave it a decent review, and I was eventually able to track down a copy on VHS. 

What I liked best about Vendetta, was that it was a bit of a variation on the usual Women in Prison formula. WIPs are usually about an innocent woman going to jail (often because of a man). This happens in Vendetta, but the innocent woman dies in prison near the beginning of the movie. The remainder of the film focuses on the dead woman’s sister, who happens to be a tough, high kicking Hollywood stuntwoman named Laurie (played by Karen Chase). Laurie gets herself sent to the same prison where her sister died ON PURPOSE in an effort to find out who killed her sister, and to get revenge. And if there’s anything I like almost as much as a Women in Prison yarn, it’s a good revenge story. In fact, it could almost be called a vigilante story, as the police, prison officials, and other powers-that-be, seem unable to solve Laurie’s sister’s murder – or even to acknowledge it as a murder – so it’s up to Laurie to take the law into her own hands. And I do like vigilante stories.

I’ve watched Vendetta (1986) several times over the years, and was very pleased to recently pick up a Blu-ray edition from the good folks at Shout Factory. The film just seems to get better with age, and certainly this is the best it’s ever looked and sounded. It may not be the most famous WIP, it may not be the most loved WIP, it may not even be the best WIP – but it is definitely a #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic, and one one my personal favourites. I would be happy to watch it on any (and every) #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes comes…

The VHS box for Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984)Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984) by #RickSloane


An old movie house plagued with a history of unexplained tragedies is reopened with bloody history repeating itself.

“When the movie starts … the terror begins!”

#Horror #Slasher


Movie House Massacre (1984) got panned in every movie review book I read back in the days before the internet rendered those books somewhat obsolete (although I still love to flip through them and read the opinions of reviewers I trust). As a result, I avoided renting this one for a number of years – but when I found a cheap VHS copy for sale in a bargain bin, I simply couldn’t resist buying it. For one thing, it had Mary Woronov in it, and I’ve been a fan of hers since first seeing Eating Raoul (1982). For another thing, I believed it to a be a slasher film, and I’ve always thought that slasher films are kind of like pizza: even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good.

Of course, the older I get, the more I prefer good pizza to bad pizza – and yes, there is such a thing as bad pizza that really isn’t good at all. More to the point, watching Movie House Massacre for the first time in decades has to led me to question whether or not it is in fact a slasher film. It seems to be more of a weird supernatural story. There are some slasher-like killings, but not enough to sustain it – and most of them happen in the very final moments of the film. The first two thirds of the story seems more like a bad attempt at comedy. Mary Woronov is the best thing in this film, and she did make me laugh a couple of times, but she really doesn’t have enough to do (just like Linda Blair in last week’s #trash-fest).  

So what’s the verdict?

Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984) is #Trash. It’s certainly not scary – and that would be perfectly okay if it was funny, but it only manages an occasional laugh or smile. Mary Woronov completists might want to see it, but… I enjoyed it much more the first time I watched it, after my expectations had been sufficiently lowered by all of the bad reviews I had read. Perhaps if I am negative enough here, I will give other people the same opportunity to be pleasantly surprised by it. So with that in mind…

Don’t watch this movie. It’s a “grindingly bad slasher” — James O’Neill, Terror On Tape. Not only that, it’s “too sophomoronic and leadenly unfunny to work.” — L.A. Morse, Video Trash & Treasures. If that isn’t enough to dissuade you, it currently rates a 2.9 on the IMDb. This movie is bad pizza bad. Don’t waste your hunger on it, when there’s much better bad pizza to be had.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Welcome Home Brother Charles / Soul Vengeance (1975)

I was in an old video store with my friend Den looking for interesting previously viewed VHS tapes to buy. I reached into the sale bin and pulled out a movie I’d never heard of before: Soul Vengeance (1975).

“Don’t buy that one,” Den advised me.

VHS box for Soul Vengeance (1975).I looked at the tape in my hand. It appeared to be a Blaxploitation movie released by the same company (Xenon Home Video) that had released the films of Rudy Ray Moore. How could I NOT buy it?

“I’ve seen it,” Den continued. “It’s not that great.” He went on to describe the one interesting aspect of the film – at least in his opinion – and I would say that it qualifies as a spoiler. But it’s also a huge incentive to watch the film, so I’m a little torn about whether to reveal it here or not. I suppose it only strengthened my resolved to buy the tape and watch it, so….

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read this paragraph if you like to surprised by mind-blowing plot twists that come out of nowhere about an hour into the movie. On the other hand, if you feel you’d like to have a little psychological preparation before having your brain and eyeballs assaulted, then read on at your own discretion… Are you ready for it?  Soul Vengeance features a penis monster. Or a monster penis. I’m not sure if I’m describing this right… The main character of the movie – our hero, Brother Charles, played by Marlo Monte – seems to have a giant, sentient penis which he uses to mesmerize and control the wives of his enemies AND to murder the men who wronged him. For the most part we don’t actually SEE it, but there is one murder during which Charles unleashes his secret weapon onscreen. It’s still a little obscured, but we see the giant monster extending to an impossible length and strangling a victim. There. I said it. I hope I haven’t ruined the movie for anyone. But I suppose that Den revealed it to me all those years ago, and I still bought the movie and was fairly impressed by what I saw.

“So, what did you think of Soul Vengeance?” Den asked me the next time I saw him.

I told him I liked it, and he seemed surprised. “But I enjoy movies like this for all kinds of reasons,” I told him. “For example, the music.”

CD cover for MGM SOul Cinema - which does not feature music from Soul Vengeance.I’d been a fan of Blaxploitation movie soundtracks since first watching Black Caesar (1973) when I was young – and it’s what made me a fan of James Brown’s music. Over the years I’ve picked up many Blaxploitation soundtracks and compilations, like the awesome MGM Soul Cinema collection.  I’ve discovered that even the most obscure, no-budget Blaxploitation films can feature some really great music – or, in some cases, music that’s so bad, it’s wonderful. Soul Vengeance features some pretty decent tunes. There’s a piece of instrumental music somewhere in the middle of the film that I would swear was a knockoff of The Guess Who‘s classic “These Eyes” – which was covered by a lot of other artists, including Junior Walker & the All-Stars. It’s always been a special song to me, party because The Guess Who are from my home town of Winnipeg. Hearing what I believe is a knockoff of “These Eyes” in Soul Vengeance somehow endears the film to me just a little bit more.

Soul Vengeance was made by Jamaa Fanaka, who would go on to some success with Penitentiary (1979), Penitentiary II (1982) and Penitentiary III (1987). Originally titled Welcome Home Brother Charles, Fanaka made Soul Vengeance while he was a student at UCLA film school. It’s hard to imagine a movie like this as a serious film school project, but perhaps Fanaka was attempting to say something about racism and stereotypes. I won’t try to explain it here, but I will say that I saw Penitentiary when I was twelve years old and thought it was pretty cool. So in some ways, I’ve been a fan of Fanaka’s work for most of my home drive-in watching life. I’ve collected all of his movies (except Street Wars (1992), but you can bet it’s just a matter of time). So, in retrospect, I NEEDED to buy Soul Vengeance from that video store bargain bin.

Sadly, that VHS tape snapped while I was re-watching it a few years ago. I took it apart in an attempt to repair it (which I have done successfully with other tapes), but the whole thing crumbled and I had to give up. Luckily, I picked up a DVD somewhere on my pre-pandemic travels and that is what I watched last week.

While it may not be as good as Black Caesar (1973) or Shaft (1971), Soul Vengeance (1975) is a highly entertaining and unique entry into the Blaxploitation genre. And it was made by a serious filmmaker who wasn’t afraid to use commercial exploitation genres to get his message across. Perhaps because of this, he’s a certified master of #NotQuiteClassicCinema – and it’s too bad he didn’t make more films during his all too brief career. But at least we can continue to enjoy the ones we’ve got on any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Sorceress (1995)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes comes…

Poster art for Sorceress (1995)Sorceress (1995) by #JimWynorski

w/#LindaBlair #EdwardAlbert #JulieStrain

An attorney excels due to his wife’s black magic. But another sorceress gets in the way.

“She gets what she wants. She keeps what she gets. She never lets go.”

#Horror #Thriller


I’ve been a fan of Linda Blair since first watching The Exorcist (1973) on late night TV when I was 12. I suppose this explains how I came to have a copy of Jim Wynorski’s Sorceress (1995) in my personal collection. Not that I dislike Jim Wynorski or his films. I thoroughly enjoyed movies like The Lost Empire (1984) and Chopping Mall (1986). But Wynorski has made over a hundred films during his long career, and many of them lean toward the soft core, R-rated, erotic entertainment variety (Pleasure Spa (2013), Hypnotika (2013), Sexipede! (2014) to name but a few). Nothing against these sort of movies, but they strike me as something best stumbled upon late at night in a motel room – not prominently displayed on my home library shelves.

Sorceress (1995), in spite of a stellar cast, is basically one of these kind of movies. There are many long, drawn out sex scenes involving Julie Strain and a couple of the other actresses. Linda Blair does not participate in any such scenes (perhaps having left that part of her career back in the 1980s). Linda is still the best thing in this movie, as far as I’m concerned, but she really doesn’t have enough to do (as so often seems to be the case in her later films). William Marshall, most famous for his performance as Blacula in Blacula (1972) and Scream Blacula Scream (1973), is even more wasted in this film. 

So what’s the verdict?

Sorceress (1995) is #Trash. I don’t think there is a serious scare or a suspenseful sequence anywhere in it. Don’t get me wrong. #Trash can be entertaining, and if you are a fan of 1990s erotic thrillers (minus the thrills), you might be entertained by this film. If you are a fan of Julie Strain, you will have ample opportunity to admire her. To be honest, I didn’t even know who she was when I bought this movie back in the ’90s, and I will never be as interested in her as I am in Linda Blair and other classic scream queens of the 1970s, ’80s, and earlier. But, as they often say, there’s no accounting for taste. 

I will not be continuing to display Sorceress (1995) on my shelf, as I doubt that I will ever get around to watching  it again. I would rather enjoy Linda Blair in films like Chained Heat (1983), Savage Streets (1984) and Hell Night (1981). Those movies might also be #Trash, but they are trash of the highest order – and they are treasures to me. 

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Vault of Horror (1973)

As I may have mentioned a while back, I was a big fan of Tales from the Crypt (1972) when I was a kid. I watched it several times over the years, and each time it just got better and better. The Vault of Horror (1973) was the direct sequel to Tales from the Crypt, but somehow I didn’t see it until I was well into adulthood. And, unfortunately, when I did finally watch it, it turned out to be the censored TV print. I didn’t know this until afterwards, but the whole time I was watching The Vault of Horror, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. It just didn’t have the same spark that Tales from the Crypt had – which was odd, because it was a decently rated film (2.5 stars in Terror On Tape – and some of my favourite movies rated 2.5 stars in that book). Once I figured out that there was actually missing footage in the version I watched, I knew that I had to track down the uncut print…

The new Tales From The Crypt / Vault Of Horror [Double Feature] - Blu-ray from Scream FactoryAnd thanks to Shout Factory (or Scream Factory) releasing a double feature Blu-ray of both films, I finally did.

It turns out that there is only about 40 seconds of extra footage in the uncut print, which doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but depending on what it is, it could make a big difference to the viewing experience. And, of course, I wondered if perhaps there might be alternate footage in some moments. I recall the unrated VHS tape of Re-Animator (1985) being shorter than the censored R-rated edition. According to the IMDb, this is due to the addition of “16 non-violent scenes.” I just remember L.A. Morse, in his book Video Trash and Treasures, imploring everyone to rent the shorter version (which didn’t seem like the obvious choice, but he was right).

I should mention that The Vault of Horror was directed by Roy Ward Baker, who directed a lot of movies and television – including classics like The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970), Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971), Asylum 1972) and  one of my other childhood favourites, The Monster Club (1981). Those last two were anthologies, like The Vault of Horror. The Monster Club is not as well loved as the other films I mentioned, but I rented it on Beta when it was pretty new and I loved it. It was one of those movie that I watched about three times before returning the tape to the store the next day. As a result, the nostalgia level is through the roof whenever I look at it now. I suppose it’s impossible for me to accurately assess it as a piece of filmmaking, but who cares? That’s why the word favourite exists. It has nothing to do with overall filmmaking excellence or critical judgment. 

The Vault of Horror is not coloured by any such feelings in my case. I was over 30 the first time I saw it, and it wasn’t exactly a steller viewing experience. It did make me want to see the uncut version, but I didn’t feel any particular love for the movie. Basically, I was withholding my judgment until I could see it as Roy Ward Baker had intended me to – and last week I finally got the chance. 

I already knew this from the first time, but the cast is truly outstanding. From Anna and Daniel Massey to Terry-Thomas and Glynis Johns to Curd Jürgens and Dawn Addams to Denholm Elliott and Tom “Doctor Who” Baker – the list  goes on and on. The production values are excellent, and the film feels very much like an Amicus Production (which is a good thing). The stories are a bit of a mixed bag, which is often the case in anthologies. I like two of them very much, and I must say that the one with Denholm Elliott and Tom Baker is my favourite. The other stories are more cute and funny, as opposed to scary, but that’s not a bad thing either. Basically, it’s a fun movie. 

The uncut footage is mostly gore, and it does add something to the overall experience. It does not, however, elevate mediocre stories to excellence. For my money, The Vault of Horror is not as good a movie as Tales from the Crypt – but keep in mind that my feelings of nostalgia are working overtime for that movie as well.  I have no doubt that The Vault of Horror is a better movie than The Monster Club, but I will likely never feel as warmly toward it because of nostalgia (or lack thereof). 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this sequel very much and would say that The Vault of Horror (1973) is a fine example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. I’m sure that it has nostalgic fans who would treasure it above many other films I have mentioned – and rightly so. There is no wrong when it come to favourite movies. And while I wouldn’t list this one among my own personal favourites, I would definitely watch it again someday – perhaps on another rainy #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Psychos in Love (1987)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes comes…

Poster art for Psychos in Love (1987)Psychos in Love (1987) by #GormanBechard

w/ #CarmineCapobianco #DebiThibeault

A strip-joint owner and a manicurist find they have many things in common, the foremost being that they are psychotic serial killers.

“”Love hurts…””

“A Deliciously Wicked Comedy”

#Horror #Slasher #Comedy

I first rented  Psychos in Love (1987) with a friend in the late ’80s and we thought it was pretty darn hilarious (or was it darned hilarious? Either way, it made us laugh). We also found it inspiring, as we dreamed of making low budget horror films for the direct-to-home-video marketplace. A pretty modest dream when you think back on it, but at the time it seemed like a great way to break into the business. We eventually wound up shooting (parts of) a couple of really bad horror films on 8mm video, but sadly we never managed to finish and get anything distributed. The market had pretty much dried up by the time we were anywhere close to done, so it may be just as well that our projects crashed and burned – but that’s another story.

Psychos in Love seemed like a very low budget film, but it was funny and had some pretty decent gore. Since discovering the films of Mel Brooks at a very young age, I tended to gravitate toward the satirical in my own writing, so I appreciated the spoofy tone of Gorman Bechard and Carmine Capobianco’s script. I was also a HUGE fan of slasher films, so this movie seemed to be everything that I would have wanted my own no budget movies to be.

A few years later, I picked up a VHS copy of Psychos in Love in a bargain bin and added it to my library. Watching it again as an adult, I remember thinking that it looked even cheaper than I had remembered – but it was still an entertaining watch. Many years have gone by, and still that VHS tape sits on my shelf. I remember the movie fondly, but I never fire up the VCR and watch it. So, it’s time to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test…

It does look cheap. And it makes good use of low budget techniques like having actors talk directly into the camera (almost foreshadowing crappy reality TV). It’s still funny, although not up to the level of Mel Brooks. The gore is still pretty impressive, all things considered. Story-wise, it seems to flatline for a long time in the middle. The beginning is pretty strong, but it quickly degenerates into a series of anecdotes about killing people. Each one, taken on its own merit, is entertaining. But the story simply isn’t moving forward. When the climactic sequence finally begins, it feel like it should have started much earlier, and had more to it. As it is, it’s pretty simple, and the movie ends rather abruptly. It doesn’t feel satisfying.

Having said that, Psychos in Love is a whole lot of fun in spite of its structural shortcomings. It should also be noted that it really delivers on the sleaze front. One of our main characters runs a strip club, after all, and there is plenty of nubile flesh on display. Depending on your point of view, this could be something to admire or to criticize. On #TrashOrTerrorTuesday, we always consider it a plus.

So what’s the verdict?

I would have to say that Psychos in Love (1987) is somehow both #Trash and #Terror. Okay, it’s not scary at all – but it’s not meant to be. It’s a zany, over-the-top comedy, and it succeeds at that better than many bigger budget films I could name. Psychos in Love supplies enough trashy fun to satisfy most discerning connoisseurs of #Trash  – and then some. And for aspiring, low budget filmmakers, I think it could still provide inspiration the way it did for me all those years ago. This VHS tape is a keeper.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Daughters of Lesbos (1968)

I wrote about a movie called Chained Girls (1965) a little while ago. What I may not have mentioned is that it came to me as part of a double feature DVD released by Something Weird Video.  Those who know me, know that I love Something Weird Video, and I have many of their double and triple feature DVDs in my Home Drive-In library. I even have a few old VHS tapes that they put out before DVDs came along. I mainly rented back in those days, because purchasing was expensive, but every now and then I got lucky. What I’m working my way around to saying, is that the second feature on the Chained Girls DVD is a pretty obscure little movie called Daughters of Lesbos (1968).

Daughters of Lesbos is an almost perfect match for Chained Girls as both are politically incorrect 1960s exploitation movies about lesbians. I don’t normally seek out movies about lesbians (although I don’t avoid them, either), but as you may have gathered from my opening paragraph, I will buy (or rent) just about any double or triple feature DVD from Something Weird Video. One thing I love about double and triple features is that if the first movie sucks, then the next one might be better. And vice-versa. But even if they all suck, I somehow feel like I got a better deal buying three bad movies than if I had only bought one. And I believe that a collection which includes EVERYTHING by Herschell Gordon Lewis has more intrinsic value than one with just a few of his best films. But perhaps this is merely revealing a flaw in my character…

I knew nothing about Daughters of Lesbos before getting my hands on this DVD. I also knew nothing about its director, Peter Woodcock (sounds suspiciously like a pseudonym for a guy who only made three movies in his entire career – all of them sexploitation films). Most of the actors are fairly unknown to me as well, although Geri Miller (credited as Dominique in this film) was in 17 things, including Andy Warhol’s Flesh (1968) and The Wall of Flesh (1968) by Joe Sarno. She was also in Andy Warhol’s Trash (1970) and Andy Warhol’s Women in Revolt (1971). Her final appearance seems to have been in Blade (1973), a cop movie that’s sort of like a North American giallo. 

Linda Boyce was in 40 movies, mostly sexploitation, including all three of Peter Woodcock’s trashterpieces. Uta Erickson was in 41 films, including several by the legendary team of Michael and Roberta Findley and Love Toy (1971) by Doris Wishman. Uta Erickson was the only name attached to Daughters of Lesbos that I kinda, sorta recognized. 

Would I have sought out and watched Daughters of Lesbos if it hadn’t been part of a Something Weird Video set? Probably not. But that’s another benefit of buying a set of films that includes unfamiliar titles. It’s a lot like channel surfing late at night in the 1980s and ’90s. You never knew what you might stumble upon, and I discovered some real gems that way. A lot of those gems were films I never would have chosen to watch if I’d had unlimited options, like on a current day streaming service. Too much choice can be worse than no choice in my opinoiin.

Daughters of Lesbos turned out to be a pretty entertaining 64 minutes of beautifully lit black and white cinematography. The use of light and shadows was stunning in places, and one has to wonder if it was all by design, or simply a product a low budget, limited time and luck. Either way, it’s pretty easy on the eyes. Story-wise, it’s almost like an anthology. Each member of the “Daughters of Lesbos” tells a story about something that happened to her in the past – and more than one involves being raped, or otherwise mistreated by a man. In the end (SPOILER ALERT) they randomly choose one member of their group to exact revenge upon one of the rapists.

It’s pretty simple, and the climactic scene comes really late in the proceedings, but let’s face it – watching a movie like Daughters of Lesbos isn’t about the final destination, it’s about the scenery along the way. And this movie provides plenty eye candy for those with an appreciation for soft core sleaze from another era. The music is great, and the female narrator really elevates the proceedings to an almost poetic, surreal level. One of my Twitter friends (hello Peter!) mentioned that he “got a nuance of Silvia Plath” from it. He also made a great montage that highlights some of the other things I’ve been talking about. You can see it on Twitter.

Sometimes campy, never boring, and, most importantly, at 64 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you enjoy this kind of 1960s art-house exploitation, then Daughters of Lesbos (1968) will likely keep you sufficiently diverted for a little over an hour. If, on the other hand, you are easily offended by outdated, politically incorrect material that purports to provide a glimpse into the secret world of lesbians, then you might want to steer clear of this one (and even more so the main feature, Chained Girls). But I think we can all agree that they don’t make this kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema anymore, and it’s probably best enjoyed alone, or with a like-minded friend, on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Slaughterhouse (1987)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes comes…

Poster for Slaughterhouse (1987)Slaughterhouse (1987) by #RickRoessler

The owner of a slaughterhouse facing foreclosure instructs his obese and mentally disabled son to go on a killing spree against the people who want to buy his property.

“Buddy Has An Axe To Grind. A Big Axe.”

You’ll never get out in one piece!

#Horror #Slasher


Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of slasher films, and that I have a huge collection on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray. At first, I only bought the movies that I particularly liked, but after a while it seemed like any slasher film made between 1978 and 1989 (or so) needed to be in my personal library. Slaughterhouse (1987) was not a movie that I had any particular fondness for, it was simply part of the genre. So, I picked up a VHS copy somewhere on my travels and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since.

I regularly re-watch movies like The Prowler (1981),  Final Exam (1981), and My Bloody Valentine (1981) – sometimes I even screen them for others to show them off – but I don’t think I’ve re-watched Slaughterhouse since the very first time I popped it into the VCR back in the mid ’90s. The truth is I just never have the urge. So, with that in mind, I decided to put Slaughterhouse to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test…

Slaughterhouse is, in some ways, closer to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) than an ’80s slasher film. That’s not to say it’s as good as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (not even close), but it features a fat, “mentally disabled” killer (named Buddy Bacon!) who seems to be a second rate stand in for Gunner Hanson’s Leatherface. His father wants Buddy to kill the townspeople who are trying to take their property from them, but Buddy keeps killing innocent people by mistake (or maybe just because he likes it, I’m not sure). Slaughterhouse plays most of this for laughs – occasionally even getting one – but it’s never really scary or disturbing. It does have some decent gore, but no nudity, which is odd for an ’80s slasher film – or even a ’70s proto-slasher film. The story is okay, but features characters who are, for the most part, not very likeable – although they’re nowhere near as obnoxious as the characters in most modern slasher films.

So what’s the verdict?

I would have to say that Slaughterhouse (1987) is closer to #Trash than #Terror – but it’s not a fun kind of trashy #Trash.  It’s more like a very weak attempt at #Terror. If I was in the mood for an ’80s slasher film about a hulking, overweight backwoods killer, I’d be much more inclined to watch Just Before Dawn (1981). Slaughterhouse is not completely terrible, by any means. It’s just not quite good enough – or bad enough – to be worth multiple viewings. I’ve now seen it twice in 25 years, and I doubt that I will live long enough to get the urge to watch it again. I will be passing my VHS tape on to someone else who might want to watch it a little sooner.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Escape from the Bronx (1983)

I rented 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982) on Beta in the early 1980s. It was one of the many post apocalyptic action films that sprang up after the success of The Road Warrior AKA Mad Max 2 (1981) and Escape from New York (1981). My friends and I were always keen to see the latest ripoff – I mean entry in the genre. As far as I recall, we enjoyed 1990: The Bronx Warriors as much as any of them – and I believe that I watched it again on late night TV some years later. But as weird as it now seems to me, I don’t think that I ever rented, borrowed, snuck into or otherwise saw Escape from the Bronx (1983) – which was the official sequel.

Clearly, Escape from the Bronx is trying hard to make us think of Escape from New York, but the two films are really nothing alike. What’s weirder, is that I don’t think that Escape from the Bronx is much like 1990: The Bronx Warriors either – but it does feature one of the same stars, Mark Gregory. I should admit that I haven’t seen 1990: The Bronx Warriors for quite some time, so perhaps I am forgetting some of the finer points of the plot. Maybe there is more of a direct connection between it and Escape from the Bronx than I am remembering. Regardless, watching Escape from the Bronx last Friday, it felt quite different to me – and I think that’s alright.

The plot of Escape from the Bronx is almost like that of an old Western; a big bad corporation (instead of a cattle baron, say) wants to take over the wasteland known as The Bronx and turn it into a profitable city of the future. In order to that, they need to get rid of all the down and out misfits who are currently living there (instead of Indigenous people, or small time settlers and farmers in a Western, say). In Escape from the Bronx, the hapless bums, mutants and old people are easy targets for the squad of goons called Disinfestors (who carry flame throwers!) that The General Construction Corporation has sent to do the job. But much like in an old Western such as Shane (1953), there is a professional gunfighter (or post-apocalyptic ass-kicker) who stands up to defend the neighborhood – and that’s Trash, played by Mark Gregory.

VHS box for 1990: The Bronx Warriors. Escape from the Bronx is the sequel.In the first film, Trash was the leader of a gang called The Riders. Escape from the Bronx takes place ten years later, and Trash is now simply a loner who drifts around The Bronx surviving however he can. He might have been inclined to mind his own business – as silent, brooding loners often do – but the Disinfestors burn his parents alive, and that doesn’t sit right with him. Trash becomes the leader of the resistance, and a major thorn in The General Construction Corporation’s side. 

Most of the Disinfestors seems like cannon fodder when Trash and his allies turn the tables on them, but their leader is played by Henry Silva, and he’s about as bad a badass as any evil corporation could hope to unleash on unsuspecting Warriors of the Wasteland (hey, that almost sounds like it could be the title of another, suspiciously similar movie by the same director, Enzo G Castellari – oh, wait, it is). Watching Silva do his thing, you just know that before the end of the movie there’s going to be some sort of epic showdown between his character and Trash…

I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to finally watch Escape from the Bronx, after all these years. Sequels can often be pale imitations of the original; a disappointing display of diminishing returns (Teen Wolf Too (1987) anyone?). I’m happy to say that Escape from the Bronx entertained me as much as the original – perhaps even more so (keep in mind I haven’t seen 1990: The Bronx Warriors for many years, and may be forgetting how truly awesome it is). There’s no Fred Williamson this time, which is always a letdown, but there’s Henry Silva and his army of Disinfestors so I’m willing to call it even.

Apparently there’s a popular episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featuring Escape from the Bronx – although under the alternate title Escape 2000. I haven’t watched it, because I prefer to experience this kind of movie magic in its purest, most unadulterated form. But perhaps it’s more proof that Escape from the Bronx (1983) is high quality #NotQuiteClassicCinema that must be seen by all fans of 1980s post apocalyptic mayhem. It’s worth the price of admission and then some on any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.