Monday, 7 April 2014

TRICK OR TREAT (1986)

Note: here it is, the final review to be posted on DIARY OF A GENRE ADDICT, and it's the perfect film to sum up the whole site. TRICK OR TREAT. Read on, and thanks for years of addiction alongside me!   


This film brought my appreciation of genre cinema to a whole new level when I first saw it as an impressionable kid way back in the mists of time. Mixing together 80s horror tropes with 80s hard rock and metal, a misfit outsider kid and cameos from Ozzy and Gene Simmons, Trick Or Treat blew my mind. It comes in for some flack from some people due to some script inconsistencies and a fair few cliches, but I love it so damn much I don't care about what the naysayers may think of it.

Very much in the vein of a Nightmare on Elm Street movie, Trick Or Treat feels very much like the makers were trying to set off a franchise, but that didn't pan out. However, the mix of comedy, horror and rock music works perfectly for me and still to this day provides me with a huge amount of entertainment value. From the second the film starts and we hear the opening notes of Fastway's awesome soundtrack, Trick Or Treat drags me in and makes me its own for the duration.

The plot was the perfect concept for my young mind at the time - a young metalhead invokes the demonic version of his recently-deceased musical idol via subliminal messages on an album, and chaos ensues while the demonic form of Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) wreaks havoc on all and sundry.


It starts out as Sammi giving our hero Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price) what he wants, in the form of entertaining revenge against high school bullies, but things soon take a much more sinister turn and people start to die. eddie ends up waging war against Sammi, resulting in a climactic showdown at a radio station studio after a Carrie-esque massacre at the high school.

There are so many things about the film that I connected with as a kid, and those things still resonate with me now. Eddie Weinbauer is an unpopular metalhead, a bit of a geek, and thoroughly despised by the cool kids at school. That was me in a nutshell back in the day. As soon as I saw Eddie's bedroom (an awesome attic room stuffed with metal albums, metal posters and believable clutter) I could relate to Eddie, and I could also relate to the esteem in which he holds the rock star Sammi Curr.

Like many young and impressionable rock fans, I believed that rock and metal would never die (a thought I maintain and am constantly justified in), and often dreamed of getting caught up in some supernatural battle for survival (don't we all have days like that?). Plus I always also wanted to meet a girl like Leslie (Lisa Orgolini) because she's actually a pretty nice character, and I was a sucker for 80s teen movies in my own teens during the bland and annoying 1990s. For me, Trick Or Treat has everything – horror, comedy, metal, a geek as the main character, comeuppance for the jocks, lightning effects, cameos from rock legends and a tale of the underdog overcoming the odds.


Of course, the film is absolute fluff of the highest order and in no way a masterpiece of cinematic artistry, but dammit, I love this bloody film so much I have a shrine to it in our house. Seriously. I have the vinyl soundtrack framed, the VHS release poster framed, the original big-box rental VHS and the soundtrack on CD, as well as clippings and posters from horror magazines of the era.

The film has some weak parts, such as the tacked-on scene in the second act where a girl listens to Sammi's possessed tape and somehow her clothes vanish, followed by the appearance of a demon flicking its tongue over her. This wasn't just needless- it wasn't even in the script! It suffers from a few plot inconsistencies and the fact that Sammi, as awesome as he is, just isn't scary in the slightest. You just kinda see him and think he's cool.

Trick Or Treat is the perfect film for my addiction, and remains a firm favourite of the VHS era and the 80s metal scene that I have always loved so much. Trick or Treat is mostly a treat, and I will always love it for what it is – fun. Now you must go and watch it and appreciate it for the piece of perfect trashy art that it is. As I bid farewell at last to Diary Of A Genre Addict, I shall go and do the same in celebration of the film, the Diary, you brilliant people reading this and everyone like us.

Andrew Hawnt, 2014

TRICK OR TREAT - TRAILER


FASTWAY - "TRICK OR TREAT" with clips of the film


FASTWAY - "AFTER MIDNIGHT" From the soundtrack -  Starring Sammi Curr!

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Thank you all so much for joining me on this journey. Thank you for fuelling my addiction to genre cinema. Thank you all for being just as screwed-up as me. Thank you for reading. I hope we meet again.

Andrew Hawnt

Thursday, 3 April 2014

SCANNERS (1981)

 Scanners is one of the most perfect examples of how science fiction and horror can mix to great effect. Written and directed by David Cronenberg, the film features one of the most memorable (and still one of the most shocking) moments in genre cinema - the notorious exploding head. That scene happens quite early in the movie, but from that second onwards, the film grips you to the very end.

A masterpiece of low-key sci-fi and horror in both the physical and psychological sense, Scanners is a bleak and atmospheric thriller with big ideas (and a wonderful score from Howard Shore) which are strong enough to overcome the budget limitations.

With a solid cast featuring Michael Ironside and Patrick McGoohan, the film follows the emergence of a new breed of human, the Scanners, people with potentially dangerous psychic powers. A shady company, ConSec, is seeking out Scanners in order to weaponize them. A Scanner named Revok (Michael Ironside) is waging war against the company, who send another Scanner named Cameron Vale to fight back.


The film had some productions issues (it started shooting before the script was finished, for starters), but the final outcome of the crew's endeavours is excellent, thanks to some creative cinematography throughout and the show-stopping Scanner battle at the film's climax.

While imperfect, Scanners grabbed me straight away thanks to its stunning poster artwork and THAT exploding head scene (how can you not love an exploding head in a movie?), but the film's unsettling story of a hidden war and underlying feeling of unease held me from start to finish. It's a beautiful example of science fiction ideas mixed with an everyday city setting, and the outcome is just wonderful.

There were two direct sequels plus two spin-off movies, and a TV series is still apparently in development, but nothing will match the power, the grime or the impact of that first movie. One of my favourite genre films of all time.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN (1987)

It's impossible to deny that Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 is an absolute masterpiece of genre cinema. While the first Evil Dead was brilliant and groundbreaking, its first sequel is by far a better film. The director and crew had developed their craft hugely by the time this second film came around, and while it is basically a remake of the first, it is totally fresh and remains a powerful and entertaining viewing experience to this day.

You know the drill - a bunch of people visit a cabin in the woods to see a girl's parents, only to discover the cabin is seemingly empty. Upon discovering a chilling recording and the skin-bound Book Of The Dead, a demonic force is unleashed and all Hell breaks loose, leaving the characters to fight for their lives.

At the centre of all of the mayhem is our hero Ash, played by the godlike chin and persona that is Bruce Campbell, returning from the first movie. I'd imagine it's no longer a spoiler if I told you he chops off his own possessed hand and replaces it with a chainsaw. I mean, how can something like that not turn out to be brilliant onscreen?


The inventiveness of Evil Dead 2 doesn't let up from start to finish, and while a few effects may look a little dated now, keep in mind that every single damn thing in the film is a practical effect. No CG. Very little in the way of camera tricks. The effects were all practical, models, prosthetics and the like along with a ton of awesomely creepy stop-motion animation.

The chaos and comedy are both heightened in this film, with some shots during Ashe's descent into madness both hilarious and terrifying. Take the scene in which the lights and deer head and books and furniture come to life in the cabin and start laughing. That's demented, and depending on how you look at it the scene is either really funny or really unsettling. Maybe both. Actually, more likely both.

It's a horror movie in every sense of the word, but Evil Dead 2 is also definitely a comedy, the two genres mixing together into something which wouldn't have been out of place in the old EC horror comics of the 1950s.

Evil Dead 2 is a badge of honour and a rite of passage - you really need to have seen it several times and own at least one copy if you're going to call yourself any kind of genre movie fan. It's funny, scary, fast-paced and a marvel to watch every single time. A great deal has been written and said about the film by a great many people, so I'll wrap things up by saying you need it, and if you already have it, you need to watch it again and bask in its glory. I think that's tonight's viewing sorted for me!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985)


Return of the Living Dead is responsible for a lot of young men (and I would imagine a fair few ladies too) developing something of a crush on b-movie legend Linnea Quigley thanks to her uproarious portrayal of the punk kid called Trash in this frankly brilliant piece of 1980s horror-comedy perfection. Trash is just one element of the film which was carried off perfectly, as ROTLD is one of the most fun horror movies of the era, and remains a massively entertaining experience tot his day.

John Russo of Night of the Living Dead fame (aka the guy that isn't George A. Romero) developed the story from a novel he wrote, and although Dan O'Bannon changed a lot of it, the film retains some of Russo's influence.


Thus Return Of The Living Dead was sort of intended as an alternate sequel to Night Of The Living Dead. George Romero, of course, had already followed it up with his own sequels DAWN OF THE DEAD and DAY OF THE DEAD. The tone of ROTLD is far lighter than Romero's apocalyptic entries, with an anarchic feel to it in keeping with the screwball comedies and outrageous horrors of the time.

The story is simple and satisfying: A military chemical called Trioxin is accidentally unleashed by two bumbling medical supplies workers, and it quickly starts reanimating corpses and body parts. The chemical's vapours are carried into the air and infect a rain cloud, which batters a nearby cemetery with polluted water. Immediately bodies are clawing their way out of the ground to feast on the living.


In the middle of this is a gang of punk layabouts ( including the aforementioned Linnea Quigley) who become our unwitting heroes in the fight against the undead. Some, of course, end up as zombies themselves.You can't help but feel Quigley must have been freezing during filming, considering how much of her screen time is spent without her costume on.

ROTLD also brought the horror world the joy that is TARMAN, a gooey, droopy, skull-faced zombie with the iconic war cry of "Braaaaaiiiinnsss!" TARMAN is an amazing piece of special effects joy, both funny and freaky at the same time. The joy of the film is the tongue in cheek sense of sick fun which permeates every frame. Even the scenes of violence and gore seem cartoony and lighthearted in a weird way.

A punk rock atmosphere helps things stay on the right side of edgy, and the visuals are somewhat comic-book style to go with that atmosphere. With a top soundtrack, a punchy edit and so much going on throughout it, Return Of The Living Dead is a firm favourite with genre addicts all over the world.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

VHS? FOR FREE? WHY YES, I THINK I WILL!

A good friend of mine, Natalie, got in touch recently to tell me her dad was moving house and wanted to get rid of his old boxes of VHS. She told me he asked if she knew anyone who would want them, and yes indeed, she certainly did. My friend dropped me a line and I was astounded that the gent didn't want anything for them. I promised a large homemade lunch at the very least, and a date was set for my dear friend to visit.

The day came this past weekend, when she arrived with her boyfriend David and brought three huge – and heavy – boxes out of their car. She warned me there might not be much I wanted, but when I opened the boxes up my eyes almost popped out of my head. This was the VHS haul that VHS dreams are made of.

Video Nasties... Rare NTSC horror... a stack of horror movies on home-made tapes and a plethora of retail releases. There was even a selection of hilarious 80s Electric Blue porn tapes, including a couple of Betas! I couldn't stop laughing or going “Ooooh!” as more horror classics and rarities came out of the boxes.

Actually, my favourite moment was in-between pulling out The New York Ripper and Last House on Dead End Street, when I found a copy of... The Tigger movie! I'm almost tempted to keep that and shelve it alongside some extreme horror. Some might say that I'm easily pleased if you stick three boxes of dusty videos in front of me, but these tapes are absolute gold to cult film addicts.

Hell, I just finished writing a book about VHS horror and the VHS hobby, and thus these tapes felt like a reward for finishing the long slog of writing a book which has been delayed an entire year due to changing day job commitments and childcare. These boxes of videos are a message. A reminder that I still need to make time for the things that I love while maintaining the lifestyle I must now lead.

For a long while it has seemed that my VHS collecting and cult film fandom have been drawing to a close due to time and money issues, but these boxes reawakened the dying embers of my fandom in a big way. I was pretty much done. It felt like that chapter of my life was drawing to a close and I was supposed to move on, but here with this huge haul of new (new to me anyway) treats to enjoy, my love for the format and the delightfully mad things it brought us once again.

So far I have enjoyed uncut versions of Bloodsucking Freaks, Splatter University, Absurd and a Sisters Of Mercy live tape. But there are some seriously surprising finds amongst those tapes. Nekromantik 2. Faces of Death. An original InterVision Creepshow. And hidden amongst them, a tape labelled up as containing notoriously unsettling Video Nasty Fight For Your Life. Yeah. I never saw THAT one coming, I can tell you.

Hell, a lot of the tapes might not work any more, but it's going to be a lot of fun finding out. Slipping off those cases, enjoying the chunky sound of them going into the machine, and then the thrill as the static clears and the film can begin.

It may all just be the last hurrah, the last big explosion of VHS love before my hobby fades into the mists of time and I am swallowed forever by Suburbia and my mortgage. Whatever it is, I have masses of videos to explore, and who knows what delights they will yield? Dear friends, amazing hauls are still out there. Somewhere.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

DIARY OF A GENRE ADDICT VOLUME TWO - FINAL COVER

Hot on the heels of the release of VHS ATE MY BRAIN next month will be DIARY OF A GENRE ADDICT VOLUME TWO, which completes the project and will be the final output from the DOAGA site for the foreseeable future. It includes all of the remaining reviews and diary entries plus additional diary entries and an original essay on the cult film lifestyle.



VHS ATE MY BRAIN - THE NEW COVER!

VHS ATE MY BRAIN, my 7th book, has a brand new cover design from the awesome Lunchmeat VHS fanzine. Check it out! The book will be out next month. More new soon!