June 19th, 2008

CEMETERY OF TERROR (1985) **

Here’s a ripe slice of Mexican What the Fuck Cinema.  Cemetery of Terror starts out as a third rate South of the Border Halloween rip-off and switches gears halfway through and becomes Night of the Living Goonies.  It sure doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense, but I’ve certainly seen worse.

 

On Halloween night, a hulking satanic killer named Devlon murders a woman in an elevator and is promptly gunned down by the cops.  His impassioned doctor knows he’s got some sort of occult power so he advises that his body be cremated, but the police refuse.  Meanwhile, a bunch of college kids break into the cemetery for a party (the girls think they’re going to a “jet set” party and are extremely disappointed) and drink a bunch of Pepsi Free and listen to a lot of fake 50’s rock music.  They get bored, so they decide to steal a body from a morgue (always my idea of a good time on a slow Friday night). 

 

I’ll give you ten guesses whose body they steal and the first ten don’t count.

 

The idiotic teens read some satanic rites over the body, which naturally brings the maniacal killer back to life.  While all this is going on, Devlon’s doctor is frantically running around Mexico like a refried version of Dr. Loomis looking for the body, but when he finally shows up at the cemetery, it’s too late ‘cause Devlon’s torn everybody to shreds with his unhygienic fingernails. 

 

Because all the annoying teenagers are dead, that means that a bunch of trick-or-treating youngsters has to show up to carry the rest of the movie.  When the Menudo Fan Club goes into the cemetery, they are terrorized by zombies who rise out of their graves and chase the little tykes around for about a half hour or so.   Eventually, the kids get sense enough to throw Devlon’s evil book into the fireplace to vanquish the zombies.

 

I don’t have any confirmation on this, but it seems to me like the editor got blasted on Tequila and accidentally Scotch taped two unrelated horror movies together. 

 

The first half of the movie is a thoroughly mediocre Halloween knockoff.  Besides ripping off the Dr. Loomis character, there’s also a scene where the killer lifts a victim off the ground that’s just like in Halloween.  (The synth music also sounds awfully similar to Carpenter’s score too.)  This section of the film does have some juicy, gory kills (the killer has a penchant for ripping out people’s guts with his bare hands) and some surprising moments (like the self inflicted axe-to-the-head death), but things take a turn for the worse when the movie becomes nothing but the Menudo Fan Club running around the graveyard.

 

Although the first part of the movie mostly consisted of lame-o party scenes and characters wandering aimlessly around in the dark waiting to be butchered, at least when they DID get butchered, it was pretty good.  The second half of the film, while featuring some impressive zombie make-up, is thoroughly innocuous and seems more like outtakes from the Thriller video (one of the snot nosed kids wears a Michael Jackson jacket) than anything else.  The gore also dries up completely in this section of the film and by the end of the movie; things start to resemble a Telemundo version of Goosebumps. 

 

All of this is sporadically entertaining, but in the end, things would’ve been much better if the filmmakers did either Halloween Dos or Menudo Meets the Zombies.  Having both just doesn’t work.    

GRAVE ROBBERS (1990) ** ½

 

During the Spanish Inquisition, a musclebound Satanist is caught by the church for practicing black magic and gets an axe into his chest for his troubles.  On his deathbed, he proclaims that whenever the axe is pulled out, he’ll come back to life possessing supernatural powers.  Cut to the present day Mexico, where some miscreant teens sneak into a graveyard looking for buried treasure and remove the axe, effectively waking the decomposed devil worshipper.  Holding true to his word, the skull-faced Satanist resurrects himself and boy, does he have an AXE to grind!

 

He quickly dons his Satanist robe and sets out to use that bad boy on people’s throats, skulls, hands, heads, and eyeballs like it’s nobody’s business. 

 

In the end, the teens must bury the hatchet with killer… LITERALLY!

 

Once you can get past all the Inquisition flashback shit and the inane treasure hunting malarkey, Grave Robbers settles down and becomes a fairly decent Mexican slasher flick chockfull of wonderfully moist gore scenes.  There are plenty of gruesome axe murders to be had, but the best death happens when the hulking killer rips out some dude’s guts with his bare hands. 

 

If only the movie didn’t take so long to get going, this might have been a classic.  As it is, it’s a moderately amusing slasher with plenty of gore, hideous 80’s fashions and pseudo-porn music to keep you entertained.

DEMON RAT (1992) **

 

In the future, the world is so polluted that everyone has to wear gas masks and dress like Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation era back-up dancers.  A sexy schoolteacher has a big rat problem in her apartment so she gets a hunky biology teacher to set traps for the rodents so he can study them.  But these ain’t no ordinary rats.  No sirree.  You see, because of the mass plutonium dumpage that happens in the future, these rats are now GIANT rats. 

 

When a giant rat eats her poodle, our heroine calls an exterminator, but he’s no match for it.  You see, the plutonium infused rat transforms yet again into a two-legged Demon Rat (it looks like the werewolf from Silver Bullet with a rasta wig), and it’s diet now consists not only of poodles, but exterminators as well.  Her slimeball husband also shows up (he also happens to be the one responsible for the massive plutonium leak that caused all of these transmutations, FYI) and tries to come between her and her new beau, the hunky biology guy.  Luckily for the audience, Demon Rat shows up and turns that sumbitch into Rat Chow.

 

This is definitely one cheesy enchilada of a movie. 

 

SOME of the ideas in this movie are actually pretty good.  I mean this is the only movie I can think of that combines a futuristic dystopian society with a gigantic two-legged killer rat and a heavy handed anti-pollution message.  It’s just too bad that the budget was about 98 pesos. 

 

The giant rat effects are some of the goofiest since The Killer Shrews (Yes folks, that IS a compliment), although I preferred the briefly seen giant rat-on-a-string to the corny looking man-in-suit-Demon Rat that dominated the second half of the film.  The scenes where the two romantic leads try to emote from under their cumbersome gas masks were also pretty priceless as well.

 

And I don’t know whose idea it was to shoot this futuristic sci-fi flick as if it was a Skinamax movie (there’s an overabundance of soft light and tons of Vaseline on the camera), but it was an odd choice to say the least. 

 

The biggest problem with the film is not the micro-sized budget, the amateurish acting, or the inept special effects.  The thing that brings Demon Rat to a screeching halt is the idiotic love triangle shit involving the ex-husband/plutonium dumper with the Steven Seagal ponytail.  Had the filmmakers completely 86’ed the fact that he was the heroine’s husband and just kept him as the greedy conglomerate type, it could’ve worked.  It’s a sad waste that this superfluous character had to gum up the works late in the game, because Demon Rat really had potential for about 55 minutes or so. 

 

While this flick may not be a candidate for Best Foreign Film, its miles better than a lot of similarly themed crap you catch on the Sci-Fi Channel at 3:00 in the morning. 

 

Best line:  “A normal rat wouldn’t have eaten my dog and destroyed my house!”