Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Offerings is often written off as a bad attempt at a HALLOWEEN clone. sort of from the plot. sort of from the style. even right down to the soundtrack. even i will admit that it is hard not to see some faint similarity. also, it is hard to not mention that Offerings is a very flawed movie. but when are fans of garbage cinema ever concerned with that? in fact, that would be a selling point! i refuse to acknowledge the bad rap this film gets, and believe me, i have scanned through many a bad review for this one. instead, i am here to say that we should not find ourselves shrugging our shoulders and sarcastically saying "god, how many of these exist?" no, not at all. rather, we should be thanking the gods of cheap horror and sleaze that we have one more piece of trash to add to the collection!

Offerings follows a plot line that we are all familiar with. the mullet-sporting john is the mute weirdo neighborhood kid with a bad home life that gets repeatedly fucked with by the heartless bike riding ruffians of his town. Johns only friend and possible pre-teen love interest, Gretchen, half-asses her attempts of sticking up for him when these kids come peddling through the streets. John attempts to defend his name by a test of bravery-- walking around the mouth of the local well. of course, one of the jerk kids jumps at John, which makes him flinch and lose his balance and down the well john goes. Instead of running for help, all of the kids (including his only friend Gretchen) ditch him out down there.

fast forward 10 years and we find out that John has been comatose since the accident. sadly, even in his comatose state, john just cant catch a break. as a nurse looks him over, one of the doctors balls up a wad of gum he was chewing and sticks it on johns comatose nose for a cheap laugh. poor john. at this point, for some reason, the nurse then starts babbling about the planetary alignment with the sun and the moon and its gravitational reaction. i guess this was the reasoning for Johns sudden return to consciousness! immediately, the nurse meets a fairly gruesome end with a large needle to the forehead (and the plunger is pulled back to suck out some brain juice for good measure!). now it is time for john to return home, to find Gretchen and make the others pay.

Back home, Gretchen is now all grown up, and dumb as ever. all of the kids still maintain the same friend group, but oddly look way older than the 18 year olds they are supposed to be playing. one by one, they are starting to get picked off and pieces of their bodies keep ending up on Gretchen's front porch as (follow me here..) an "Offering" of John's love for her. there! we have made the connection! we are also introduced to one of Johns doctors who is trying to track him down before anymore violence occurs (sound familiar?). also, we get the treat of being introduced to the hero of the film, the staple of any so-bad-it's-good slasher, the bumbling overweight town sheriff.

I found myself pretty astonished during this film. i just couldnt imagine how the characters actually reacted in certain situations. for instance, a scene where the teens find out that the sausage on the pizza they just ate may have actually been human flesh, they just seem to let it roll off their back. when gretchen finds severed body parts wrapped in bloodied newspaper, she just kind of shrugs her shoulders and waits for the sheriff to figure it out. even when John is trying to break in the house to kill gretchen, she makes her best friend wait by the door to let her know if he actually makes it in. what!? obviously, this leads to a beheading. i guess you dont know if you should laugh out loud of be appalled at the level of stupidity projecting from your television screen.

Offerings is a pretty fun movie if you are able to turn the "intelligent" button off on your brain. it is a HALLOWEEN knock-off in a time when HALLOWEEN knock-off's were overdone to the max. the acting is fairly wretched and the dialouge is spoken is some hybrid of hick twang and california valley. this only adds to the aura of brainlessness you get from the characters in the film. it is low on gore and special fx and it also, shockingly enough, has no nudity whatsoever. despite its lesser qualities i would say Offerings is a good watch if you are ever feeling nostalgic about late 80's trash movies.


(not the trailer...but the needle scene)

Saturday, July 5, 2008


by the late 80's, the slasher genre had gone into a state of overkill. every plot idea, kill, and cliche you could think of had already been done over and over again. it was so over saturated at the time that you even began to have a string of "slasher spoofs", which could easily be viewed as a final nail in the coffin for the genre. as a result, there were two types of slasher films that existed during this time that were trying to keep the genre alive- the ones that continued to follow suit and act out every run of the mill idea, or, there were the ones that tried to go for a different feel and do something new- which ended up giving us all the awful bullshit that came out in the early 90's. CHEERLEADER CAMP was one of those films that stayed true to the slasher formula and ends up being a total slice of late 80's cheese that is impossible to pass up.

judging by the artwork alone, you can tell we are up for some wacky camp antics. in fact, if you remove the winking skull faced cheerleader from the picture, it'd look like we were in store for some sort of 80's camp comedy like MEATBALLS or POISON IVY or something like that. this is exactly how the movie plays out for the first half. the fat kid pranks, scantily clad/bare chested girls, and toilet humor are all intact. we even get washed up former teen idol, Leif Garrett, who acts his little blond mullet off.

the story begins with the cheerleaders of lindo valley high roadtripping their way to the well-named Camp Hurrah for the cheerleading all state finals. right off the bat, it doesnt make much sense to me why something as prominent as the all state finals would be held in the middle of nowhere, but thats besides the point. here we meet the wild gang of characters. among the ranks of slutbag cheerleaders, there is alison, the pill popping drama queen who is plagued by frightful nightmares, and is, by all means, crazier than a shithouse rat. we also have her flirtatious boyfriend brent and his best friend tommy, the overweight funny guy that ends up providing the laughs for the film. we also have
the camp leader/leading clueless bitch miss tipton, the equally clueless local sheriff, and the whole place is held together by the drunken grounds keeper and his pal, the ultra creepy silent cook. though we have a crazy collection of characters, its not that hard to almost immediately figure out who the killer is. this almost benefits the movie because instead of trying to pay attention to figure out who the killer may be, you can just turn the thinking part of your brain off and enjoy the cheese-fest that ensues.

after one of the most popular cheerleaders mysteriously commits suicide, the rest of her fellow cheerleader campers are left on edge and trying to figure out why she did it. now, in the real world, a situation as bad as an unexplained suicide of a teenager would probably shut down the camp for quite some time with authorities being involved, grieving parents asking why, and crime scene investigators trying to piece it all together. however, miss tipton feels that the all state finals must go on- by any means nessasary. so they pop the girls dead ass into the meat cooler without even acknowledging the proof that this may not have been a suicide, problem solved. this unfortunate event also has no effect on the flirtatious brent, who continues to scum his way around every hot cheerleader in his sight. as a result, his girlfriend alison is sent deeper into a weird schizophrenic downward spiral of bad dreams and jealous anxiety. alison can only find help and comfort in her new friend, the unappreciated girl in the gator mascot uniform. her new mascot friend convinces alison to stop with the pills and start with the venting. she starts asking alison if she really wants to be the best cheerleader on camp. is the somewhat jealous mascot girl really trying to help, or does she have ulterior motives of her own...

its only a short time before the mental back stabbing turns phsycial and the lindo valley cheerleaders begin to disappear one by one. it may baffle you how clueless the cheerleaders are in response to missing people or how they never question the mysterious things that are happening around them. my advice is to just brush off all of that with a laugh and wait for the awesome shears through the back of the skull scene! the kills start to happen somewhat late in the movie but they are definitely worth the wait. the gore is graciously topped on during some fairly rad death scenes (such as the bear trap to the face scene!) and should help you avoid the frustration of how stupid these people really are. as the bodycount grows, alison has pretty much lost her mind completely and now starts to believe that she is the killer. but is her self-realization the truth or is there someone else behind the annihilation of everyone on the lindo valley team?

CHEERLEADER CAMP can be slow at some points but as a whole, its a definite feel good slasher film. plus, if youre a fan of tan-lined breasts and fart jokes, then this is a sure shot for you. one of the best highlights is an especially amazing rap performed by leif garrett and his fat friend that will definitely be stuck in your head for weeks. its an enjoyable cheese festival basking in all its dairy glory and i would highly suggest it to anyone for a quick and brainless waste of time. it also features a pre-porn film appearance by Teri Weigel which is pretty interesting as well. give me a K, give me an I, give me an L, give me an L...whats that spell?


Monday, June 30, 2008


i will start this out by going right ahead and saying it- CHOPPING MALL is a total blast of a movie. right down to its amazing cover art and ridiculous title, you know youre in for a fun ride when you put it in and hit play. the cover art is actually somewhat deceiving though. from the looks of it, youre in for an actual slasher flick with some kind of a cyborg styled robot as the antagonist, and this idea is only secured with the title of "CHOPPING" MALL. in reality, the movie is like a mix of slasher and sci-fi/action with the "slasher" being 3 bulky looking robots that resemble Johnny-5 from SHORT CIRCUIT. also, there is no actual "chopping" in the movie whatsoever. this is due to the fact that the original script was changed from teenagers on the run from a slasher in the mall to teenagers on the run from robots in the mall, and it was re-named from KILL-BOTS to CHOPPING MALL during its production (which im guessing was to keep it from venturing off too much into the sci-fi/action realm). usually this would spell out disaster for a movie, but CHOPPING MALL withstood all the turnarounds and came out one campy and fun movie.

the park plaza mall has just been introduced to the future of mall security, the Protector: series 101. these state-of-the-art machines not only act as standard night watchmen, but if met with a security breach, they are fully able to subdue any would be robber or bad guy with their highly effective "sleep darts". as bad luck would have it, a bad storm is rolling through the area
during the robots first night on the job. a freak lightning strike hits the mall which ends up disrupting the robots computer mainframe. these machines that were once known as "protectors" have now gone haywire and have transformed into dangerous KILL-BOTS!

on this very night we are also introduced to a handful of mall employees who have an after-hours party planned to take place after the mall closes. why anyone would want to stay at their jobs to party is beyond me, but youre not supposed to think about these obvious things when youre watching a movie like this. the characters in CHOPPING MALL are all stereotypes from this time-period. the guys are all handsome, gum chomping, party animals, and the girls are all big haired sex-pots ready to give it up anytime and anywhere (even on the beds in the mattress store!). its not but a few minutes after the sex scenes ensue that the kill-bots begin to make a name for themselves. in a barrage of throat slashings and laser blastings our mall employee party-goers are now on the run, looking for a means of escape and a way to defeat these robotic killers.

from here on out the guys and girls get split up and each have their semi-futile chances at destroying the kill-bots while being picked off themselves, one by one. the women have home-made gas can bombs to defend themselves with, while the guys picked up some superior firepower themselves, which should leave you wondering if sporting goods stores back then actually sold high-powered M-16 assault rifles (i highly doubt it.). this is where the more action/slasher part of the movie kicks in. the bad dialogue and overly cheesy one-liners float somewhere between the best and worst action movies you have seen. the frantic mall employees rattle off on banter filled with forced fortitude, and our kill-bots catch-phrase themselves after every kill by saying "thank you, have a nice day" in that standard deep monotone robot voice. and, i dare you to keep a straight face when you hear one of the guys say "let's send these fuckers a rambo-gram". as the movie makes its way towards its climactic and explosion-ridden end, unlikely heroes are made and the weak are weeded out by way of a neon-pink laser blast from the cyclopean eye of the kill-bots.

as i said before, CHOPPING MALL is a fun later-day-slasher experience filled with cheap thrills and such head-slappingly bad lines as- " sorry, i guess im not used to being chased through a mall by killer robots" (you dont say!?). and, i cant forget to mention a particularly awesome exploding head sequence. it has a relatively short running time, so you never find yourself feeling like the movie is dragging on and getting boring. plus, if the ridiculous acting and dialogue doesnt grab you, there are enough loud explosions and rapid gunfire to keep you wide-eyed and attentive. the vintage 80's mall as a background is also a nice touch and fulfills any nostalgic fixes you may need. the movie doesnt take itself too seriously so i definitely suggest this one if you need to blow some time and have a good laugh.


Friday, June 27, 2008


GIRLS NITE OUT is an odd little slasher from the sub-genre craze of the early 80's, but take my word for it, that doesnt make it great. dont get me wrong, there are some highly enjoyable parts of this movie, but most of them were during the middle part, which could also be known as the "slasher-part". so, in the end, im left with a beginning that plays out like a comedic drama about sexed up college kids and a final act that is more like a "whodunit" cop-thriller. sometimes thats the typical slasher formula, but this time, when you add them all together, youre in for some serious confusion.

the movie starts at West Hills Sanitarium where we are immediately introduced to the hanging corpse of Dickie Cavanaugh. just as quick as youre saying "who the hell is this guy", we are whisked away to a small midwestern college where the Dewitt Bears are about to win the big basketball game that will land them in the championship. at this point we are introduced to all of the movies characters. the unfortunate part is that although the movie spends an excruciatingly long time giving a story to each of these kids, youre still stuck asking yourself throughout the movie- who "he" or "she" is again. the one trait that holds true though is that all of these kids are a bunch of over-sexed, unfaithful, and over-dramatic jerks. you have the head of the basketball team who goes behind his girlfriends back every chance he gets to sleep with (or at least tries to sleep with) anything that moves, his best friend who is emotionally destroyed over a lost love, and the weird-o mullet sporting boyfriend with a jealous mind, just to name a few.
the comic relief resides between 2 class clowns who are more annoying than funny, and a ultra-cool-guy radio DJ who plays on every stereotype of what a "cool guy" should look like. there is an especially memorable part in the movie where one of the girls talks about how it hurts for her to sit down as a result of a thorough screwing from some top notch stud, which happened to be her cousin. yeah. gross. im guessing this was a good way to give you an idea of how promiscuous these college kids are.

that night there is a big party on campus called "The Golden Oldies" party, where, you guessed it, they play a bunch of oldies songs. im sure this was due to the fact that these songs were probably the cheapest ones to buy the rights to, but oddly enough, the soundtrack is part of the enjoyable aspects of this movie. you get kids getting slaughtered to the sounds of great pop-hits from the 60's. anyway, during the party sequence where drugs are smoked, whiskey is downed like water, and people are all up on other peoples people, we are clipped away to 2 gravediggers preparing the final resting spot for old suicide Dickie from the beginning. they ramble on drunkenly to eachother about how Dickie's sister paid them to bury him. well before they finish the job, some mysterious person brains both of them with a shovel. cue possible killer plot #1. however, back at the party there are some cheating shenanigans that blow up into a huge fight from one of the members of the basketball team who then swears vengeance on everyone. cue possible killer plot #2. and from there it continues on. little quips and issues that spring up possible killers everywhere. the writers of the film were really trying to mindfuck the viewer by introducing every character as having a reason to go on a kill rampage. they may have succeeded, in a bad way.

during this time, the students are prepping themselves for a campus scavenger hunt. this is an annual event where clues are given out over the radio by the cool DJ and the students form teams, but then split up for some reason, and head out alone to opposites ends of campus to locate the hidden items (a bad idea maybe?). well, even from the start this scavenger hunt has a bloody past, and this is where the legend of Dickie Cavanaugh is told. it seems Dickie was a former student at the college some years back who went crazy over a cheerleader and ended up killing her during the scavenger hunt, which landed him in West Hills. that murdered cheerleader also happened to be the daughter of the campus head of police, who still happens to be running a tight ship on campus to that day. cue possible killer plot #200. at the end of the night, the Dewitt Bears Mascot is slashed to death in his dorm room by someone you think you may know. this "killer" steals the mascot costume which then brings us to the most interesting, notable, and odd aspect of the movie. the slasher wears this huge and ridiculous looking bear costume for the duration of the film.

with a contraption fashioned out of tape and 4 steak knives, the mascot slasher hunts down the scavenger hunters one by one, slicing them up and saying really off the wall misogynistic things while doing so. if you can picture a really silly looking bear slicing some girls throat open and calling her a "dirty whore", then that should give you an idea of what youre in for. the killer then prank calls the radio DJ leaving cryptic messages about the murders. the DJ then calls the head of police and reports the calls which conjure up memories of his own daughters murder during the scavenger hunt and then all hell breaks loose. we are greeted with even more sub-plots involving cheating lovers and more possible murderers. and just when you think the movie is about to burst at the seams with confusing twists and open-ended scenes, we are quickly met with the "surprise" ending and then the rolling credits. which, if youre like me, should leave you saying ".....hmmmmmm"

GIRLS NITE OUT is not a classic slasher by any means. its impossible to overlook the obvious number of things wrong with it. sometimes it was hard for me to get over the "humor" of the characters in the movie, which was about as funny and entertaining as nails on a blackboard. the plot kind of jumped around aimlessly and never really recovered itself fully in the end. there were only a few scenes of gore and, unlike the title suggests, it was surprisingly devoid of any nudity- even the obligatory slasher film shower scene. however, if you fit into that particular category of slasher-fan, then you should definitely check it out, even for its nostalgic purposes. as a sidenote, although there were other films that utilized a costumed slasher, GIRLS NITE OUT gets the award for most ridiculous costume used. also, keep an eye out for Carrick Glenn who played Sally in THE BURNING and Lauren-Marie Taylor who played Vicky in FRIDAY THE 13th Part 2.


Monday, June 23, 2008

mom and pop video stores. R.I.P.

look at this picture. study it. close your eyes and really think about it. remember those days?

i'll give you a minute...

think about swinging open the door and getting hit immediately with that rank stench of old popcorn given off by the half-working machine popping away by the registers. hear that light, but, constant buzzing sound from the fluorescent bulbs shining out crappy lighting above your head. breathe in that moldy, aged, smell from the hundreds upon hundreds of VHS boxes surrounding you. can you imagine it?

well. those days are long gone. the days of the mom and pop video store. if you were like me, you were lucky enough to have one in your town. i was lucky enough to have two. one, amazing. the other, so-so. dont get me wrong though, because they were both great. and the better of the two, which was also the one responsible for corrupting my young brain, was called Star Video.

now, before i get started, excuse my borderline romanticism concerning something as trivial as a video store. it may sound ridiculous to you, but to me, it represents a time long passed and yet, still sorely missed. a time before the watered down, family oriented, corporate owned places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video were on every corner of every town. this was the booming time of VHS. a relatively new format that, by the mid to late 80's, had become way more accessible to both distributors as well as store owners. as fast as anyone could make a film, there were basement companies to release them as well as willing entrepreneurs to open stores to rent them out. and, no genre flourished more than the horror genre. so, between the cracks of all the Hollywood hits, you had the brain melting garbage that was avoided by most who had the right mind to do so, but literally eaten up by every sleaze and gore connoisseur out there. that is where Star Video came in.

Star Video was what the perfect mom and pop video store should be. it was located in a brown and orange color coordinated strip mall known as Almar Plaza. it shared the strip with a vacuum repair shop, a candy store, a grease-pit pizza joint, and a large grocery store that never graduated from its 70's theme and color scheme. Star Video swapped its space with other stores two times before settling in the space of an old Walgreens-styled pharmacy/one stop shop at the end of the strip, which made it one huge video store, to say the least.

i can still picture my younger self riding my bike up there on any friday night and finding the place packed with teenagers looking for a good time. the dudes with feathered hair sporting IOU sweaters and their teased out haired girlfriends, clad in stone washed jeans asking the boys to buy them candy. i can still hear the sound of parents fighting over new releases in the return drop box or haggling over late-fee's for not being kind and rewinding. scanning over the place, you were greeted with one of the biggest selections of Nintendo games you would ever see in your life. they had two full rows of nutty Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest kungfu classics. they had the z-grade ultra violent shoot-em-up action flicks as well as a sci-fi section filled with every unheard of alien attack, mutant killer, amazonian warrior, post-apocalyptic barbarian movie you could imagine. and from what i understand, they had quite the porn selection as well. i can only imagine what big-haired 70's forbidden delights were hidden behind that "adults only" curtain. but that didnt matter to me at all considering my unflinching attention was towards the holy grail of this place, their horror movie section.

picture this- six long rows that ran along a whole wall inside of the store. the racks were covered in fake spiders and spiderwebs, and black plastic chains hung ominously from the ends of the shelving units . the surrounding walls were decorated in cardboard cut-outs of your horror favorites- leatherface, freddy kruger, and jason voorhees. and as far as the quality of their movies goes, believe me, they had it all. from the "classics" that everyone knows about, to the bottom of the barrel, brain rotting, cinematic trash that only true gorehounds and horror fans drool over. it was an alphabetical assortment of zombies, slashers, cannibals, and anything else fucked up that you could think of. and it was all at my pre-teen disposal. while my peers were doing homework or out learning social skills i was sitting in my bedroom, jittery from a cool ranch Dorito/Mountain Dew high, destroying my brain cells with movies that no child my age has any business watching. while kids were getting together and playing sports and being active, i was walking up and down the aisle of the horror section. fully examining every VHS big box or plastic clam shell case. admiring the cover artwork and gory details in the blurbs on the back. i can still remember being wide-eyed at every cover saying "TOO GORY FOR THE SILVER SCREEN!" or "BANNED IN 30 COUNTRIES!". and with Star Video offering their "5 movies, 5 dollars, 5 days" promotion, literally every weekend was turned into late night romps with cheese, sleaze, and splatter. i wouldnt have wanted it any other way.

througout the 90's, the popularity of larger chain stores continued to grow. their corporate support with both finances and promotion made it virtually impossible for small independent stores to compete. slowly, but surely, mom and pop video across the country were forced to close their doors for good. Star Video, on the other hand, was still able to maintain itself. its survival can be directly attributed to the fact that the closest Blockbuster was still two towns away. as a result, i was still able to thrive in glorious horror, splatter, and exploitation flicks for a few more years. that is, until the a fatal blow was dealt. that blow being the introduction of a brand new format known as DVD.

though DVDs mainstream existence was still in its infancy, any video store that wanted to compete for business had to make the switch in formats. the stores that couldnt afford to do so were met with their unfortunate end, and Star Video did just that. one day as i walked into Star Video, i was met with "vhs and fixtures for sale" signs. what could be considered its inevitable end had finally come. all of the racks i spent so much of my youth digging through were now on the chopping block- 5 VHS for $10.00. i tried to take advantage of the sale, but what 17 year old has any money to blow on hundreds of VHS tapes. i gathered what money i could and made my way to barter with the owners. during the walk over i can remember daydreaming about walking in, slamming my money on the counter, and saying "give them all to me...". in reality, i walked in and was shocked to see that 90% of the horror collection was gone. was it a private collector? maybe they threw them away? it didnt matter. all that did matter was that they were not mine. i was able to find a copy of Bloodsucking Freaks for $1.00, but that was that. i made my final purchase, made my way out of the exit doors, and said goodbye to my youth.

in a years time after Star Video had gone out of business, the empty store front was taken over by a chain store called Video Village. though i had high hopes that this new store would be at least somewhat similar to the amazing Star Video, i was sorely disappointed after only a few short minutes of walking around in there. they didnt even have a horror movie section, let alone ANY sections. all the movies were placed in one big alphabetical mass, with a huge porn section in the back.
the shoddy, beaten up, and long forgotten VHS boxes that i loved so much were now replaced by slick looking DVD cases. the place was polished and sterile. it didnt even smell the same.

its amazes me how similar my Star Video story is to the stories i hear from fellow vhs horror addicts from the 80's. it seems like everyone had their own mom and pop video store that served them up the best in gore, cheese, and sleaze. and their stores, just like mine, were killed off by corporate business. we are like a unspoken club, if you will. some go on "video hunts" by tracking down independent video stores that are still in business and trying to buy from their rentable stock of VHS. most are successful considering a large amount of those tapes havent been rented out in a decade or so. others, like myself, rely on small scale companies devoted to the days of a true horror genre, who re-release these forgotten trashy classics on DVD. of course, there are those rare titles, or the truely awful garbage titles that nobody wants to waste their time or money on professionally re-releasing. for those gory delights you can always count on some dedicated horror fan to have bootlegged them to DVD. thanks to these people, i can still rot whats left of my brain by watching these same movies i did 15 years previous.
i feel like a kid again. still wide-eyed like i was the first time i saw the bare-chested linnea quigley get impaled on a pair of antlers or seeing a pissed off Cropsy hack up a whole raft full of teenagers.

and that is what this blog is all about. reflecting on my childhood obsession with gore and sleaze. reviewing these old movies that are still so important to me and waxing nostalgic about the real golden age of horror flicks. all the while, acting like a big "fuck you" to every PG-13 rated, CGI infested, watered down piece of trash that hits the mainstream horror circuit and is supposed to pass for a horror movie. long live big boxes. long live real cover art. long live real horror. long live the memory of the mom and pop video store. its time for some serious VHS BRAIN DEATH!