Movie of the Week: Night Train to Terror (1985)

This anthology was mostly assembled post-mortem in an editing suite, condensing three features - in order, Scream Your Head Off (unfinished), Death Wish Club (1983) and Cataclysm (1980) - to digestible length. Voiceover dialogue tries its best to fill in the plot holes. There's also the train scenes: newly shot interstitial footage to  allegedly link the stories together. It's a disorienting, fun, stupid, short-attention-span experience. It could be the strangest, dumbest filmmaking you've seen in all of your years, and yet, few other films have this much entertainment value to offer.

Technical note: this youtube rip is surely copied from one of those bargain basement "50 movies for ten dollars" DVD box sets. The picture quality is wretched. Embrace it as a nostalgic VHS experience, or rent/buy the hi-def blu-ray that was released last year.


Movie of the Week: Just Before Dawn (1981)

New to me, but apparently it's had an enthusiastic following for years. Easily the finest film I've seen from director Jeff Lieberman, best known for Squirm, Blue Sunshine and Satan's Little Helper, movies that aren't all that great. But this has a nice on-location Oregonian setting for the entire film, talented cinematography, and a buildup of suspense that takes its time and doesn't transition to full-blown horror until the third or fourth reel.

Unfairly grouped into the Slasher genre because of the era in which it was released, as well as the teenagers-in-peril scenario. But if you except the opening and closing scenes, there's almost no onscreen violence. It's more closely related to Deliverance, The Hills Have Eyes and Blastfighter: crazy redneck retards hunting down unarmed civilized people in a remote environment is a tried and true, can't-miss formula when done well. It's an assured, practically tasteful thriller.

This youtube video resolution sure is crummy. Looks like a VHS rip. Maybe even a rip of a copy of a VHS done at the cheapskate six-hour EP speed that I always used. There's a better free version here. Or you can always buy or rent it on disc, if you're the type who does that sort of thing.


Jack Hill Double Feature: The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972)

A double-dose of feminist / misogynist Filipino thrills! Doll House invented the genre, with a 125k budget and a 10 million dollar box office draw. But I way prefer the followup Bird Cage for being more technically accomplished and fun. Also, unlike the first film, Bird Cage had a screenplay written by Jack Hill, so his tongue-in-cheek satirical edge makes the inherently sleazy scenario more palatable.

Related: if you have Netflix streaming, don't miss Machete Maidens Unleashed, a recent documentary regarding exploitation movies shot in the Philippines.


Bizarre: The Show for 11-Year Old Boys at Sleepovers

The above title describes how I personally experienced Bizarre, which began airing in 1980 (when cable television first became available in our neighborhood). Staying over at a friend's house, watching a premium channel I didn't have at home, late at night on a weekend, with the volume way down so his parents wouldn't hear, slogging through unfunny skits just for those couple seconds of nudity at the end. It was quite the treat in the pre-internet era for a kid in the sixth grade, let me tell you.

Amazingly, this show was produced by CTV in Canada. It was broadcast there without nakedness or swears (they filmed alternate takes, with the actresses wearing bras or shot from the back) and sold the uncensored version to the Showtime network here in the states for syndication. But without the "adult" content, there seems to be no point. The script is just a means to an end. Witness these three examples, below. They're the Showtime versions, but nudity is obscured by the uploader in accordance with Youtube policy. Even so,  if your co-workers see you watching this, they'll think you're a creep. And a dumbass. Enjoy!