NOVEMBER 9 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : REST IN PIECES (1987)
I have read that Rest in Pieces is only for the Jose Ramon Larraz (that’s the director’s name) completist. Well, after seeing Edge of the Axe several times, I decided that this meant me, so I ordered it online. Also being an 80s horror completist, I found to my delight that Rest in Pieces did not disappoint.
Helen (Lorin Jean Vail) has inherited everything her rich aunt (Dorothy Malone) owns after auntie commits suicide on camera after delivering the heartfelt message, “you should have been my daughter, because my hated sister stole my boyfriend.” Gosh, I’m glad I didn’t have a sister! Anyway, now Helen and her greedy yuppie tennis coach husband Bob (Scott Thompson Baker) head to auntie’s mansion, only to find it overrun with undead suicided jerks who don’t pay any rent and who like to kill people! Worst of all (for avaricious Bob anyway), auntie hid her money instead of keeping it in the bank. Will they evict the zombie ghosts? Why are the undead waiting for auntie to return when Helen keeps seeing her everywhere? Will Jack Taylor (Pieces, Virgin Killer) appear in any old thing? If so he should totally call me, cause I’ve got a great short film in the works that could use someone who knows where the pecs are located and hates roller coasters.
Heaven help me, I really dug this movie. It’s like Dead and Buried with Lisa and the Devil for dessert. People say it’s hard to understand, but the plot made perfect sense to me. The aunt wanted to keep her niece forever, so she has her minions try to convince her to kill herself. The evil doctor (Jeffrey Segal) must be using the murder victims to keep everyone undead. The ending means that Helen thought she escaped, but didn’t. Standard nightmare crap.
The only problem I have at all, besides that the movie was hard as hell to track down, is that the lead actress was the worst thespian I’ve seen in awhile, and because of her acting I am now stupider. So much so that I think I lost a year of my high school education, meaning I only made it through trig and I never read Macbeth. But at least I didn’t date that idiot in 12th grade, so I gained a year’s worth of self-esteem. See what bad movies can do?
Those of you who own penises that point at women won’t care about her acting, however, because she spends so much screen time nude. I think that’s where the budget went. I’m sure Ms. Vail’s a lovely person with nice boobies, but her voice reminds me of the older sister from Sixteen Candles, and that ain’t right.
Oh, and I found a new horror rule. If you are living in a horror movie, and you inherit a house from a relative you don’t know well (or at all), just forget it. Don’t travel to the house, or you will die. Stay in your cramped apartment and live.
NOVEMBER 9 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : REST IN PIECES (1987)
I enjoy horror movies to some extent. As we all may know, I'm a coward, no doubt a result of watching too many episodes of Criminal Minds. With that in mind, I enjoy horror movies that cross the line of unbelievability - I don't cower at something like a burnt monster with blade fingers who haunts your dreams, nor do I fear a hulking man in a hockey mask breaking down my door with a machete, simply because it'll never happen. That doesn't completely exempt realistic horror movies, either, since things like Scream doesn't bother me, and I can't think of something more "realistic" than a (physically beatable) psychopath running around in a mask with a knife. The things that do bother me, though, are things like the Exorcist or things dealing with the paranormal: okay, sure, not possible in real life, but they maintain a level of believability which gives me the chills.
You can't have a good scary movie without gore. Beyond horror films, gory violence is a largely prevalent factor in action movies - I would know, my favourite movie ever is Kill Bill. Why, then, is gore necessary?
(On a similar point, though partially a digression: crime shows. Flip on the television at 8pm and you're either watching Glee, a reality show, or, more likely, a crime drama. Why is it that everyone is obsessed with watching television shows with realistic crimes, bloated and bloody bodies, and cop shoot-outs? Who knows. Maybe it's gratifying to witness justice in a world sometimes devoid of some - who knows)
It's distressing to think of the general audience as obsessed with bloody violence and gory deaths onscreen, but it's undeniable. Horror movies attempt to outdo each other by creating unrealistic, over-the-top gory ends to their characters - I think of, for example, Final Destination, a series based completely around the idea of disgusting death, or perhaps the Saw franchise, once great (and I use the term "great" liberally given that the first was marginally good and shocking but the rest are just freaking ridiculous) but now nothing more than "torture porn." Don't get me started on the Saw movies. (I'm gonna go off anyways. I really can't believe the studio churned out sequel after sequel with more elaborate and disgusting deaths. Even if you're a fan, it's chilling to think of the creative process: "guys, I know! Let's throw a girl into a pit of needles!" "No, no, let's put a guy on a cross device that twists every segment of his body in a different direction!" "Excellent idea! You're promoted." That's disgusting)
I fail to come up with an answer as to why people are obsessed with violence and death. I could argue that it comes down to everyone's obsession in the extreme: nobody wants to see a tame action movie, for example, they all want to see an entire city blown up by robots while a brainless female runs out of the explosion in slow motion. Nobody wants to see a person in a horror movie have a heart palpitation out of fear (goddamn it, I would if Ghostface was after me), they want to see a prolonged chase sequence where the female victim just barely gets away before the killer reappears and drives a knife into her stomach or fake rack. I suppose, then, a society already consumed in the extreme, a natural extension of said consumption is to want to see it onscreen.
Perhaps, though, a better reason for the obsession with bloody death, is the idea of indulgence. I'm a firm believer that everyone is capable of the most unspeakable evils possible; it just comes down to heart, and whether or not a person acts on it. I could very possibly kill someone, it sickens me to think, but I could. (Let's please not take that the wrong way, I'm kidding) Everything is possible. In that sense, then, perhaps watching bloody offings onscreen is indulgence on behalf of the audience's "dark side."
I'm truly unsure as to why audiences are obsessed with this, though. Maybe it's just for the thrill of watching something so horrifying; maybe it's for an unconscious reaffirmation of security, knowing that, in your moderately comfortable theater seat, you're safe from the crazed killer and that would never happen to you in your life. I don't have an answer, it's merely speculation.
I am, though, sitting in eager anticipation for Scream 5.
NOVEMBER 9 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : VAMPIRE KNIGHTS (1987)
Directed by: Dan Peterson
Release Date: 1987
There are some films that should fade into obscurity and yet the VHS will surface and we are faced with the eighties in ‘B’ minor. This one even has a cheesy 80s Vampire Knight theme song. It is a comedy, though not a great one, and it is a vampire movie, again not a great one.
It begins with a classic, however, as we see Nosferatu on TV. The trouble, of course, with Nosferatu being public domain is that any vampire movie can add scenes from it (though, as Murnau stole the story of Dracula to make the film makes it almost a fitting irony). Many a vampire movie does, whether they are worthy or not.
Anyway the film is being watched by Ken (Ken Abraham), a bit of a nut who makes his own horror props and has an attitude written into dialogue more fitting for a 12 year old. Sir Peterson (Pierre Turson) appears on screen, he is the host of Vampire Knights and is selling membership of the knights at $29.95, for which you get a medallion, a membership and a crossbow. He neither knows the name of the film nor the year it was made. Later he tells the audience that God spoke to him and they should join the Vampire Knights or God will take him away – we could only hope.
Ken shares his house with Bobbie (Billy Frank) and Tom (Thomas Kingsley). They are going to a party – Ken doesn’t want to go – but Bobbie wants to wear the Vampire Knights medallion and promises to join if Ken will lend it to him. En route to the party they pick up a hitchhiker, who loves the moon and speaks of monsters. She becomes a fanged monster (presumably meant to be a werewolf), they scream, she falls out the back of the van and they continue on their way as though nothing happened. Ken, meanwhile, is playing Vampire Knight pretend radioing Sir Peterson (told you it was written as though he was 12).
They get to the party and are looking to score with some girls. There are some gags flying around, such as the guy saying that he has been asked to make a film but has refused to add a nudey scene as it has no place in horror, that then opens to a gratuitous nudey scene. Three bats fly towards the party and become three ‘babes’.
Now let us stop for a moment and talk bats. Now often we have crap bat syndrome, but in this case it is something worse. The scene is animated and the same animation of the moon is used a couple of times (included with the werewolf girl). What we have is crap moon syndrome as the clouds pass behind the moon! Hmmm… well, be that as it may, the girls spot the Vampire Knights pendant and make a beeline for Bobby, suggesting they go back to his place and they know the way somehow.
As they leave we see that vampires have a new ability. A party-goer pats the bottom of Ellissa (Mary Logan), one of the three, and finds that his hand is on fire. This leads him to stumble out of the party in full blaze – an event that seems to pass un-remarked upon by the other guests. This is the first (and I hope the only) time that I have come across the vampire ability of combusting posterior. Also, just in case we were in any doubt that they were vampires we get some fang and the ripping of the heart from the chest of party host Suede (Lee Martin).
Anyway, they get to the house and Ken agrees to meet them (after being promised that Tom will join vampire knights as Ken thinks girls are horrible – again a 12 year old attitude). The other two vampires are called Zane (Ann Michaels) and Tasar (Robin Rochelle). We note that they react strongly to the cross – indeed later we see Ellissa flinch each time Ken says cross my heart.
Long story short. Ken and Ellissa get on like a house on fire, eventually. He finally meets a girl he can relate to and she is very much like him. She is also a vampiric virgin and there is a ‘funny’ scene where she is instructed in the ways of giving neck – a none too subtle reference to oral sex that, in case you missed that reference, ends with the question “Do you swallow?” The others pair off and the vampires are trying to assess what sort of danger the Vampire Knights are. They don’t realise that it is a marketing gimmick and that only one person (in total) has bought membership. That one, of course, takes his membership seriously.
Vampires can be stopped by stake (or crossbow) but remove the stake/bolt and they come back to life. Sunlight has a more permanent effect. Ken wears a neck brace to prevent bites – ineffective as it is easily ripped off – and has a Sir Peterson vampire attack alarm that actually seems to work.
Not a good film, poorly performed and directed, unfunny gags and bad effects (such as the moon). Fangs get in the way of enunciation, though some of the staking effects look okay. All in all this is a poor effort. 1 out of 10.
NOVEMBER 9 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : VAMPIRE KNIGHTS (1987)
Release date: 1987 USA
Running time: 84' (cover 87') - Source: VHS PAL
Rating: Germ.: 16; UK: 18
Main Crew: Director: Daniel M. Peterson (Girlfriend From Hell 1990)
Producer: Mezcal Films
Score: Peter R. Melnick
Writer: Daniel M. Peterson
Director of photography: Thomas L. Callaway
Summary: Kenny (Ken Abraham) lives along with his friends Bobby (Billy Frank) and Tom (Thomas Kingsley). He's one of the few fans of the weekly Sir-Peterson-Horror-TV-Show and a member of his Vampire-Knights-Society. Not only is he fascinated by the show, but truly believes in it. His friends, on the contrary, are complete disbelievers and try to cure him from his vampire-obsession. So they hook up with three girls and start a party. While Bobby and Tom only think about having sex with the chicks, Kenny is the only one suspecting the three girls to be Transsylvanian vampire-beauties. And already the most unbelievable events are set in motion. Only Kenny knows how to use a bunch of tricks to put an end to this horror-show…
Short review: This movie shows one of the most "memorable" scenes in film history: clouds sailing BEHIND a full moon!!! Though I had heard of this amazing sequence before, I couldn't believe it to be true. And that scene is symptomatic for the whole movie. The supposed hero outs himself in the very first minutes to be a complete nutjob, and none of the other characters nor the story does any better. As time passes, it's getting somehow funny (at least), but only because of the sheer stupidity of it. Best thing in the film are the excerpts from F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu". Fortunately, "Vampire Knights" is not known as one of the genre highlights!