Friday, June 4, 2010

The Double Feature Movies From Hell With Nick and Steve

Co-editor extraordinaire Steven Duarte is usually my partner in crime for this particular section, but he had to take some time off from the torture which is THE DOUBLE FEATURE MOVIE FROM HELL REVIEW. My guess is his head was ready to explode from the pure terribleness of the movies we subject ourselves to for this section of the magazine. So, I had to beg someone to double on this little beauty from hell, and, lucky me, Brian M. Sammons just happened to have sat through a movie that easily qualifies for THE DOUBLE FEATURE MOVIE FROM HELL REVIEW. After reading his review of HARD RIDE TO HELL (2010), I feel sorry for him. Jesus what a stinkbomb!
But read on...

By Brian M. Sammons

Director: Penelope Buitenhuis
Starring: Miguel Ferrer, Laura Mennell, Katharine Isabelle.

Ah the satanic panic movies of the late 70s and 80s. It seems that filmmakers are trying to bring them back. Some pull this off well, like last year’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. Others do it, but not so well. And still others do it but suck horribly. Sadly this movie falls firmly into the last camp. HARD RIDE is a collage of clichés held together by horrible acting and uninspired direction. As such, it really should be avoided. It’s a bad movie, and not even, “so bad it’s funny and therefore kind of enjoyable” kind of bad. No, this movie is just bad, bad. It was a chore to sit through and writing tis review is no picnic either, so put on your helmet, this is one RIDE I plan to make as short as possible.
The movie beings with a group of friends in a Winnebago heading out to the most desolate Texas campground they can find for a vacation. You know, if “desolate” and “Texas” are two words that can ever be used to describe where you are heading here’s a hint; DON’T GO THERE! Trust me, nothing good will come from it. What, has no one ever seen THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE? Anyway, the group runs afoul of a bunch of satanic, cannibalistic, immortal bikers (no, really) led by someone Aleister Crowley thought was a joke back in the 20s. The name of this undying black magic badass? Jefe, and he’s played with scenery chewing aplomb by veteran character actor Miguel Ferrer. Old Jefe wants a son so he can usher into the world a baby antichrist. Unfortunately every girl Jefe’s knocked up over the last seventy some years hasn’t been “strong enough” to bring the little terror tyke to term. Enter our hapless friends, two of which are women, one of whom is still depressed over a recent miscarriage. Gee, can you guess who the lucky mother to be will be?
Naturally the vacationers get captured by the gang, some of them get killed and eaten while others are forced to walk over broken glass and do the nasty with Miguel Ferrer. Lucky for our “heroes”, before being captured by the demonic bikers they made friends with the most friendly, honorable, and completely bad ass traveling salesman ever. The salesman comes back to the campsite to check up on the kids in the Winnebago after noticing that tons of people have gone missing from this area over the years. Arriving in the nick of time, he manages to escape with most of the kinds in the RV. Then for the next 30 minutes or so this movie rips of 1975s RACE WITH THE DEVIL as the bikers chase the Winnebago, boarding it pirate style, and getting kicked out of it several times during the course the chase.

The movie ends up at a deserted church and that’s good news for several reasons. First, if the satanic bikers step on holy ground they are no longer immortal. Second, the priest that runs this church out in the middle of nowhere just so happens to know all about Jefe and his hell riders so he can act as an exposition dump to bring everyone up to speed in the movie. Third, and best reason of all, the priest also has a magical amulet in his possession that can control the weather, blast bad guys with awful looking CGI green lighting, and do all sorts of other neat party tricks. It’s Deus ex Machina in shiny bling bling form! There’s an anticlimactic big battle at the end, lots of blood splashed around, but very little real gore other than the watery red stuff, and naturally because this is Texas, there’s some hot chain saw action. Also, because this is a satanic panic flick, I don’t think I’m giving anything away if I say don’t expect a happy ending. In fact, this movie just couldn’t help its self from ripping off another, better film about Old Scratch before ending. I won’t give the “surprise” away (*cough* *cough* ROSEMARY’S BABY *cough*) but you’ll see it coming from a mile away unless you’re asleep, which in this movie’s case is very real possibility.
Now this isn’t to say that this film is all bad, just 97% (give or take a percentage point) bad. It’s got some gratuitous nudity, that’s always a good thing. Miguel Ferrer is in full on over the top mode and that’s always fun to watch. And hands down the best thing about this movie was the inclusion of Katharine Isabelle (of GINGER SNAPS fame) as the wisecracking best friend of the destined baby momma of the devil. Not only is she always easy on the eyes, but she adds some much needed comic relief, and is easily the best actor on the screen at any given time. However that small saving grace alone is not enough to raise this movie out of the pit of direct to video, grade D horror swill. Therefore I cannot recommend this movie, not even for a rent, and sadly not even for a laugh. HARD RIDE TO HELL, or as I call it, HARD MOVIE TO WATCH, is just not fun or good on any level. Avoid at all costs.

--Brian M. Sammons

Well, I decided to sit through a movie which I've unfortunately had the hell of siting through once before. I thought it would be fun to revisit one of those public domain stinkers that lives in infamy with the drive-in culture of years gone by. Yes, I'm talking about...

I EAT YOUR SKIN (1964/in glorious black and white)
Cast: William Joyce, Heather Hewitt, Betty Hyatt Linton, Dan Stapleton, and Walter Coy
Director: Del Tenney

Egads! The horror, the horror...
Written, produced, and directed by the same man who brought us the 'classics' "The Horror of Party Beach" and "The Curse of the Living Corpse" we have one of drive-in culture's landmark films, "I Eat Your Skin". But, hey, let's get this straight right off the bat: There is no skin eaten in this movie. That being said, one CAN feel brain cells dying. Swiftly. Never to be reborn again.
This bottom of the barrel schlock fest (originally known as VOODOO BLOOD BATH) sat on the shelf for six years before it was rescued from cinema obscurity by a distributor who got the nifty idea to make it part of a nation wide drive-in double feature with the infamous (and just as lame) I DRINK YOUR BLOOD.

The plot is simple: A cancer researcher on a remote Caribbean island discovers treating the natives with snake venom turns them into bug-eyed zombies. But his employer has no interest in seeing bug eyed acting, and forces the scientist to create an army of the creatures in order to conquer the world. There's a pretty daughter with all the acting skills of a Tonka toy, a vulpine evil scientist, and an ass load of pissed off natives sporting the latest in bone-wear and fake spears. The natives seem pretty embarrassed by the whole thing, but some of them try hard to keep a straight face while mumbling 'voodoo' rites and dancing around (actually the dancing isn't bad, really).
Slow is a nice way of putting it, as brash, young thriller writer William Joyce dashes from one end of the darkened island to the other, always without breaking a sweat, and his shirt open to display his hirsute acting talents. He falls in love, fights zombies, an evil scientist, and is just an all around funny, charming guy. His agent and agent's wife are along for the ride.
And who said being a writer was boring, eh?

The production values are typical for a Z-grade studio, working on a less-than shoestring budget. The music is early 60s lounge lizard. And the effects range from derisive snicker to downright tear-inducing, side-clutching guffaw.
But if you want a laugh, and looking for your own homemade version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, "I Eat Your Skin" is just what the evil zombie scientist ordered.

--Nickolas Cook (from somewhere in Double Feature Hell for the good of all Horrorheads)