Yesterday, we posted a clas-sick VHS screener promo for Child’s Play featuring Chucky. Well, it turns out that Mr. Fredrick Krueger was in the VHS promo business before Chucky was even packaged! To scare up some profits, Media Home Entertainment brought Freddy out of the dream world and into the TV screens of potential clients with a 7-minute video promo. The video features Robert Englund in full fright gear, hamming it up with the panache of Hulk Hogan. At this point, Freddy was more of a morbid funnyman than an unholy terror. But we like yuks with our yucks, and Freddy knew how to slay ’em! 😉 Once a monster has had at least one truly scary film, I think they’ve earned the right to sell out. In addition to some masterful salesmanship from Freddy, there are clips from The Late Show with Joan Rivers, scenes from the first three films, news footage, and other vintage goodies. If you ever wanted an idea of how big Freddy was in the ’80s, all you have to do is watch this video.
1953’s War of the Worlds is, without a doubt, one of the seminal science fiction films of the 1950s. It has been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress, won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, spawned countless imitators, and gave MST3K’s Dr. Clayton Forrester his name(clearly, the ultimate ho-nor ;)). Even after 63 years in Earth time, the film is still one of the greatest achievements in Sci-Fi cinema. There have been many adaptations of the H.G. Wells story, but the 1953 one towers above them all. Heck, I still get chills every time I watch this scene:
At the end of the 1953 film, the seemingly indestructible aliens perish. The narrator informs the audience on what has happened:
“The Martians had no resistance to the bacteria in our atmosphere to which we have long since become immune. Once they had breathed our air, germs, which no longer affect us, began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall. After all that men could do had failed, the Martians were destroyed and humanity was saved by the littlest things, which God, in His wisdom, had put upon this Earth.”
But what if that wasn’t the end? What if the aliens weren’t killed, but had slipped into a state of suspended animation? We didn’t really defeat them the first time, so what could possibly do to stop them? Unfortunately for Mankind, these grim speculative questions became a horrifying reality…
In 1988, the invasion continued with a TV series of the same name. The series was indeed a direct follow-up to the 1953 film, utilizing the same war machine designs and other familiar elements. However, these Martians are far more brutal than the originals ever were. These extraterrestrial devils gouge out eyes, pierce checks, and graphically burst out of human disguises. For a show from the ’80s, this was pretty gnarly stuff.
The producer of the original film, George Pal, actually started developing a War of the Worlds TV series back in the ’70s, but passed away before it came to be. Personally, I think the first season of this show is an excellent continuation, even if it’s a tad more gruesome than its predecessor. (That’s a plus in my book, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup o’tea. ;)) The second season changed the formula for the worse, but I still recommend the first to my fellow Earthlings.
Watch the pilot below and witness the War of the Worlds:
April Fools, you fabulously frightful fear freaks! Today on KH, we’re living in a prankster’s paradise! To honor this day of jokes and japes, we’ve got one from the vaults. Starring Caroline “Forever Goddess” Munro and a not-so-jolly jester, it’s 1986’s Slaughter High.
Slaughter High began life as April Fool’s Day, but was forced to change its title to avoid confusion with Paramount’s April Fool’s Day, which was released the same year. Our plot concerns a group of friends reuniting at their old high school. The sins of their past come back to haunt them in the form of Marty, a former classmate left disfigured by a particurlary cruel April Fool’s prank the students played. In classic slasher fashion, Marty dons a jester mask decides it’s time to knock his former classmates dead in a very literal sense. Despite the clownish mask, Marty certainly isn’t fooling around.
Slaughter High is sleazy schlock… and we love it for that! Filmed at derelict school, the film has wonderfully dirty, grimy vibe that only adds to the fun! Harry “Friday the 13th” Manfredini contributed the score, so you know you’re in for some prime musical horror. For lovers of slasher mayhem and sharp implements of terror, this film will have much to tickle your fancy. Axes! Acid! Hooks! Lawnmowers! Javelins! Electrocution by jumper cables! It’s all so horribly wonderful!
Weirdly enough, Slaughter High is a British picture masquerading as an American one. At one point, a character says, “If we wait til noon, April Fool’s Day will be over and he won’t kill us.” In the UK, April Fool’s Day ends at noon and if one plays a prank after noon, they are deemed the “fool.” Apparently, the filmmakers were unaware that we Americans do not follow that tradition. Adding to this, the cast is a British as steak and kidney pie, but they all attempt an American accent. The results are, as you may imagine, are quite mixed. However, it does give the film a distinct flavor. None of the performers are particularly brilliant, but it’s always lovely to see Caroline Munro.
For all you April Fools out there, we present Slaughter High in its entirety, No foolin’!
(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…I used to love this film when I was little, but haven’t seen it in years! Thanks for the reminder to go back and revisit it this Halloween Season, Mr. Goon-y Goon! 🙂 xoxo)
You know, there isn’t a whole lot of family friendly horror out there anymore, is there? It’s something that was a lot more prominent in the 80’s, even a little in the 70’s. PG didn’t mean that the movie was watered down, heavily edited and not scary. Hell, Tobe Hooper was trying to get a PG rating for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and films like Poltergeist and Gremlins were PG. Look at Jaws and that’s filled with blood and swearing! PG use to have some serious balls and was used as more of a guideline to what they (the MPAA) felt was appropriate for an audience and not a way to get asses into seats. I could go on forever about ratings, but I’ll stop there.
Of course, some of those PG horror films might be just a little too scary for the little ones, so it’s a hard balance to find just that right one that’s spooky enough for the kids, but good enough for the parents to enjoy. Lady in White is that good balance. Being a ghost story, it has some pretty scary imagery for children, but nothing nightmarish, a pretty intricate plot that’s captivating enough for an older audience, but not confusing for the young ones and it’s full of whimsy and wonder that will leave you feeling pretty good. Well, maybe a little too much of the latter, but my point is that it’s a fantastic film, perfect for a family’s scary movie night. I think one of the elements that helps propel this movie is the fact that it’s a ghost story based on an urban legend in Rochester, NY… which is a little over an hour from where I live!
Presented in flashback form, Lady in White is the story of an author who tells an experience to his cab driver about something that happened to him as a child in the ‘60s. Little Frankie Scarlatti is the quiet, creative type, but he’s not necessarily picked on. Sure, his big brother chases him to school until Frankie crashes his bike in wet cement, but he helps him out of there or his friends try to play tricks on him, but it’s out of love (right?). He lives with a very loud, and wacky Italian family; grandpa is always sneaking off to have a smoke, grandma is always yelling at him in their native tongue or cooking big meals, his brother is a bit of a ignoramus and his father is single, but still hard working to keep the roof over his family’s head. He does have more positive support, however. His teacher encourages his scary stories he writes for his class and lets him read them to all the boys and girls on Halloween. Frankie is a such a good boy that he even help out his teacher with whatever tasks she needs, probably because she wants to bone his dad. Yeah, everything seems to be just gravy, nothing bad happening to anyone ever and it’s all hunky-dorey.
Until Frankie’s two friends have to throw a monkey wrench in this perfect world and lock him in the classroom’s coat closet on Halloween when Frankie returns to get his hat. With nobody around, Frankie has to spend the night in that coat closet, dreaming of his dead mother when something spectral wakes him up. He sees the ghost of a young girl being abducted and murdered, but before the poor kid can react, someone else enters the closet looking for something. Frankie is spotted and is nearly choked to death, but manages to survive. Believe it or not, back then you could totally have child murder and it was okay to show as long as it wasn’t gory. It was actually kind of shocking to see this kid nearly get strangled to death. However, death only makes Frankie more curious. Who was the man who strangled him? What was he looking for? Who was that little girl? We’re only about halfway through, so now the film kicks into murder mystery mode as Frankie gets to the bottom of all these questions when he seeks out the mysterious “Lady in White” legend and sees more than he can handle. After Frankie’s brother Geno witnesses the ghost for himself, the two brothers set out to find the mysterious lady in white and maybe find out who killed her little girl and Frankie maybe gets choked out again.
There’s also a more racial angle to the film, using the film’s black school janitor as scapegoat. He was passed out in the school’s basement when Frankie was getting choked slammed in the coat closet, so all evidence points to him as the suspect, but Frankie’s dad isn’t quite convinced. It’s actually kinda touching how the town turns on the janitor’s family with the exception of Frankie’s dad being the only person to treat them like human beings, even after the janitor is shot in the head after his trail. As powerful as this subplot is, it could actually be cut from the film as it adds nothing to the overall story. It actually could be a separate movie on its own seeing as how it has no real connection to the main storyline. I could be wrong, but I don’t think this subplot was in the original theatrical cut.
Scream Factory did a fine job releasing this haunting little gem on Blu-ray, cleaning it up real nice and loading it up with them features you love so much. Director Frank Laloggia provides an audio commentary for the film as well as an introduction (to both the movie and some behind the scenes footage). There’s also various photos, trailers and TV spots, but there’s also deleted scenes and you get all three versions of the film; the theatrical cut, the director’s cut and extended director’s cut. There’s the usual reversible cover art as well, so this is definitely one for the collection.
It’s rare to get a horror film that you can not only watch with anyone, regardless of age, but actually enjoy it. There’s a lot of comedy and scares for all ages and neither one crosses a line of being too gross or raunchy. However, there is far too much whimsy (for me, anyway), like when the strings are playing real loud and upbeat as the kid rides his bike through people’s yards and WHOOPS, almost runs over grandpa who drops a cigarette in his cuffed pants, setting those ablaze as grandma scolds him in Italian and then throws her hands up, like, “why me?” It gets to be overbearing too much at times so much, that I was expecting them to break out into a song as if it were a Disney movie. Luckily the film is decent, so it’s easy to look past that. Anyway, I’m just nitpicking. Watch this film. Enjoy.