May 29th, 2008

GORE BEAT (2008) ***

Exploitation movie guru Johnny Legend made this entertaining video magazine showcasing the best (and worse) in horror films from today and yesteryear.  Legend interviews directors John (Animal House) Landis, Fred Olen (Cyclone) Ray, Brian (Society) Yuzna, and Ray Dennis (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies) Steckler and tells a lot of behind the scenes stories.


Landis by far gets the most screen time and is easily the most entertaining as he talks about promoting his first film Schlock, making clay-mation shorts as a kid, meeting Rick Baker for the first time, being cut out of 2001 Maniacs, and how in the 70’s Hollywood Boulevard rivaled New York’s 42nd Street for quality grindhouse movies.  Legend interviews Ray about his surf music album, how he put up money to make Star Slammer (outtakes and bloopers are shown), as well as his professional wrestling career.  Legend recounts with Yuzna how he weaseled his way into a small part in Bride of Re-Animator and Steckler pretty much just pimps himself.


Trailers for Schlock, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Society, Primitive Love, Bloody Pit of Horror, Invasion of the Blood Farmers (“Don’t eat before you see it, and you’ll have nothing to lose!”), and Death Farm are also shown and are a lot of fun.  Like most of Johnny Legend’s recent DVD releases, it’s a little spotty and jumps all over the place, but if you’re a fan of any or all of these directors (especially Landis), you’ll definitely want to check it out. 


Robert Altman protégé Alan Rudolph directed this extremely shitty horror flick about a warped psycho named Andre (Andrew Prine) who picks up some sexy Vegas showgirl hitchhikers and chains them up in his trusty barn.  He gets his kicks by dressing up like a ringleader and parading the girls around like cattle and makes them perform in his imaginary circus (they just mill around a lot) while he whips them constantly.  He thinks one girl is his long dead mother so he gives her special treatment (she doesn’t get whipped, but she’s still has to be chained to the wall) and he also keeps his mutant dad locked up in the shed because of his habit of ripping out young girls’ throats. 


The desert locations, amateurish acting, crappy music, long pointless shots where nothing happens and non-existent editing will remind you of Manos, the Hands of Fate, which isn’t the best compliment in the world when you really think about it.  The movie has the benefit of a great title and a grungy grindhouse look, but when you’re talking about 70’s exploitation films, looks and titles can be deceiving because although there IS a barn in this flick, it doesn’t contain any nekkid bodies. 


The gore is OK (throat ripping, severed head, etc.) although most of the blood looks more like Heinz 57 than the real deal.  There is one good scene where Prine molests a girl with a giant snake, but other than that, the film is utterly worthless.  Speaking of Prine, he gives a pretty good performance as the whacked out Andre; it’s just too bad the rest of the movie is a complete mess.   


Despite the film’s high level of suckitude, it WOULD make a good “Awful 70’s Horror Double Feature” with another stinker of a Prine flick, Simon, King of the Witches.  Rudolph later went on to direct more “respectable” fare, but most of his flicks are just as bad as this one. 


AKA:  Nightmare Circus.  AKA:  Terror Circus.