Please excuse the lack of a really grandiose, Cryptkeeper-style introduction. I did briefly toy with the idea of writing one, but I couldn’t come up with something that didn’t sound like Snoop Dogg propositioning young girls into having sex with him.
This Halloween, in celebration, I’ve decided to host my very own movie marathon. And by “host” I mean, I’m going to stay inside, dressed up, watching low-budget horror films and drinking a brand of cheap wine that TESCO has rather creatively labelled “Australian”.
Admittedly, it doesn’t taste very Australian, but it does taste like somebody has mixed bleach with red — which for just £3.10 a bottle, seems like a surprisingly good deal.
The Schedule for the evening:
Horror Hospital (1973)
A Reading from “The Steve Guttenberg Deception”
Naturally, I’ve chosen to dress up for the occasion; I’m zombie Groucho Marx! This is because I dressed up as Groucho Marx last year and I really couldn’t think of any new ideas. This also only required smearing some make-up on my face and destroying a pair of over-priced 3D glasses.
Happy Halloween! Boooo! BRWAAHH! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!, etc.
Film 1: Popcorn (1991)
I’ve had this DVD lying around my house for some time now. The version that I own, for some reason also features the film ‘Leprechaun in da Hood’, a reasonably well-funded film about a leprechaun in, well, “da hood”. Needless to say, it somehow manages to offend people of all races.
Popcorn situates around a group of film students, who in an attempt to raise money for their faculty, hold a Halloween movie marathon in an old, rundown cinema. Meanwhile, one of the students, Maggie, has been having disturbing nightmares, although up until now she hasn’t seemed too disturbed by the dreams, believing them to be unconscious inspiration for a script that she is writing – this is allegedly how the film Paul Blart: Mall Cop was conceived.
While the students are preparing for the marathon, they stumble across an old reel of film marked “DO NOT OPEN”. The film students decide to watch the film anyway, which turns out to be the work of Lanyard Gates, an experimental filmmaker who murdered his family during his first and final film screening back in the 1970s.
The film, Maggie notices, contains strikingly similar imagery to her dream. Later, with the help of her ridiculous jock boyfriend Mark, Maggie returns to the cinema to find out more about the film, its meaning and Lanyard Gates.
Despite the primary focus being very much on Maggie, the film’s biggest star for me personally, is one-dimensional “gotta-support-the-team” goon Mark, who makes his grand entrance in the opening few minutes of the film. Perspiring with sexual frustration, he sprints up to Maggie, approaching her like an excited dog, and immediately begins passionately gnawing at her face.
“C’mon, Mark!” Maggie chuckles. “This is the age of safe sex, and sex with you is definitely not safe!”
Mark says something along like lines of, “BUT ME WANT SUCK SUCK FACE!” firing his tongue back towards Maggie.
Maggie stops him again. “Mark, it’s just…I’m trying to work on my script and I don’t want any distractions.”
There’s a short pause as Mark attempts to compute Maggie’s rejection. “NAWH! I just hope I’m still around when you decide to get distracted,” Mark strops, storming off with a very visible line of boner-induced sweat down his back.
As well as Mark, I was also particularly fond of a deformed, semi-faceless villain who is introduced later in the film. Although, I suppose, semi-faceless isn’t the best way to describe him. He kind of does have a face; it’s just not a very good one, so to compensate, he’s taken to wearing other people’s faces — which is something I’ve briefly experimented with myself.
In one scene, he’s shown disguising himself as Toby, one of the film students. Finding Toby at a urinal in the men’s bathroom, he proceeds to remove his own penis and pee against Toby’s leg. Confronted with what appears to be himself, Toby is stunned. Fixed to the spot, he stares in horror as his exact image continues to soak his leg. The villain slowly nods his head and pulls a boastful, “Oh, yeah!” facial expression.
It’s scenes like this that make Popcorn such a fun little film to watch. Most horror films use the villain’s deviousness and supreme intelligence to come up creative ways of massacring his or her victims, but having a villain use their psychosis to creatively pee on somebody’s leg? Now that’s just pure evil.
Film 2: Society (1989)
Next up is Brian Yuzna’s Society, a satirical horror film in which the upper class are depicted as incestuous, murderous scum, who regularly partake in depraved orgies whilst they literally feed off of the poor. It’s basically what I’ve always suspected, except the wealthy, morally questionable assholes in Society are much better at hiding their inherent racism, selfishness and greed than their real life counterparts often are.
Society raises some interesting points, though I generally prefer to take my skepticism and paranoia much further, choosing to believe that 95% percent of all people are sociopathic mutants, existing solely to annoy and champion terrible things like dub step and The Vaccines; sociopathic mutants who happen to commission cock-themed sketch shows for BBC Three and have no real defining characteristics apart from their irrepressible dickishness.
I also think black people should live in cages.
Still, Society is a lot of fun, primarily revolving around the character of Bill Whitney, a rich popular teenager who gradually discovers the horrific truth about his parents and friends.
Film 3: Horror Hospital (1973)
I first watched Horror Hospital after a night of heavy drinking, crashed out in front of the TV, in the early hours one Saturday morning. This was back when TV channels played films late at night, as opposed to cheap call in quiz shows designed to exploit drunks and the depressed.
The films chosen by the BBC for this time slot always seemed like such random selections, occasionally introducing audiences to some truly bizarre and sometimes wonderful gems. Most of these films were not big-budget Hollywood movies, but largely forgotten B movies, often from the 1970s. More often than not, of course, the films were pretty bad, but with hindsight, that was all part of the fun of the Friday night/early-Saturday morning slot.
Horror Hospital was definitely one of the more notable films that I remember watching during this time, a low-budget film from the early ‘70s. Much of the story is situated around main character Jason Jones, a kind of horrific Jim Davidson/Mick Jagger hybrid, who manages to define the word “smug” simply by existing.
Jason spends much of the film running around a mansion, using out-dated terminology and manhandling a dwarf. Played by British sex comedy regular Robin Askwith, Jason’s also quite partial to a nice bita totty (or women, if you’re not a twat).
After failing to break into the music business, Jason decides to take a break with “Hairy Holidays”, an outfit run by a hilarious gay stereotype. Homosexuals in the 1970s were very different to those of today, of course; they were all sick sexual deviants, determined to molest anybody with anything remotely resembling penis. So, naturally, the gay-by-numbers travel agent attempts to chat Jason up.
Uninterested, Jason is then sent to what he believes to be a health farm, which in reality is a front for a confusing experiment that turns wayward hippies into zombie slaves.
To give you an idea of the general tone of Horror Hospital, here’s a scene taken from early on in the film. Jason is traveling by train to the fake health farm and the scene begins with him walking into one of the carriages and sitting down next to the window. Across from him sits an attractive young lady, quietly eating a sandwich and attempting to avoid eye contact with the incredibly smug man sitting opposite her. Jason fixes his attention on the young lady, specifically her legs.
“Hi!” Jason suddenly yelps. “That taste good?”
“Not bad, thank you very much,” the girl replies, slightly taken back.
“You’re lucky,” he says, “I didn’t have time for any lunch!”
Feeling sorry for Jason, the girl offers him an apple, which he snatches off of her and begins stuffing into his smug face. Revolted, the girl makes an excuse to leave.
“No need be so uptight!” Jason suddenly barks, “ I’m not going to rape you!
And with that, we suddenly cut to an exterior shot of the train, fortunately not traveling through a tunnel or providing us with any equally unsettling symbolism for what might be going on inside.
We cut back to the inside of the carriage; the girl is, fortunately, untouched. “Would you like a piece of cheese as well?” she says, apologising for being rightfully cautious of a potential rapist.
And there you have it — “I’m not going to rape you” . . . “Would you like a piece of cheese?” — this is the essence of the film’s incredibly campy appeal. Yes, it’s stupid, dated and unintentionally offensive, but it is undeniably ridiculous, which is why it’s such a fun film to watch, and one I love to occasionally stick on to confuse friends.
Caution: film may appear better after heavy drinking.
Film 4: Psychomania (1971)
Time for another British B movie, Psychomania, a 1971 film about an undead motorcycle gang – specifically their sideburns-wearing leader, Tom. As the film’s rather excellent Wikipedia article explains: “Tom enjoys riding his motorcycle with his girlfriend and loves his mother, but he is no ordinary fellow. He is an amiable teen psychopath…”
Yes, Tom is definitely no ordinary fellow. He manages to discover a mortality loophole, which allows him to commit suicide and then resurrect himself as a zombie. In death, he is totally badass, and whilst he’s technically a zombie, Tom doesn’t have that unfortunate death smell that often comes with being part of the undead. He’s also manged to miss out on contracting vacant Michelle Bachmann eyes, although, unfortunately, the sideburns still remain.
Now a zombie, Tom has reached immortality, allowing him to pull rad bike stunts that he would never have previously attempted. Impressed, the rest of his motorcycle gang decide that killing themselves is a good idea, each one of them coming up with unique and unusual ways of committing suicide. One of them, for example, strips down to his boxer shorts, ties a heavy object around his neck and walks into a river, which raises the question: even through you’re not technically going to die, won’t you, surely, just be stuck at the bottom of a river in your boxer shorts with a heavy object around you neck, in turn completely destroying the point of killing yourself in the first place?
This would have bothered me a lot more if the whole idea for the gang to kill themselves hadn’t been conceived by a satanic pet frog thing that appears to Tom in a mirror occasionally. He calls the frog his “little green friend” — as I said, he’s pretty badass.
Whilst there are many strange moments in this film, perhaps my favourite is a scene in which a long-haired hippy folk singer laments Tom’s death with an upbeat little song, the lyrics to which are: “He really got it awhn! He rode that sweet machine just like a bomb!”
“He rode that sweet machine just like a bomb!” — a metaphor that sounds quite impressive until you realise that riding a motorcycle like a bomb is, in fact, the exact opposite. And whilst the singer sings his 100% factually inaccurate song, Tom sits proudly on his bike, though dead, in an open grave. Needless to say, it’s a great scene.
A Reading from “The Steve Guttenberg Deception”
Finally, it’s time to close the night with a reading from one of my favourite horror books — The Steve Guttenberg Deception by Dunston D. Reich. Based on a true story (according to some guy on IMDB), the book takes place after the death the biggest actor of the 1980s, Steve Guttenberg, and proposes the idea that Guttenberg’s brother secretly replaced him in order for Warner Bros. Pictures to continue making Police Academy movies.
“The Steve Guttenberg Deception”
By Dunston D. Reich
. . .
For Sarah . . . my wife.
Chapter 1 – “Laughter Dies”
8th July 1991. Steven Lesley Dusseldorf Guttenberg lies naked and cold. A combination of speedballs, Jack Daniels and intensive partying with buddy and fellow actor Randy Quaid has resulted in one of the most severe cases of death the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has ever seen.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, a meeting takes place to discuss the future of the Police Academy franchise.
“Listen,” says Hugh Wilson, the director of Police Academy 1, “and listen good. We need to do something about Guttenberg.”
“He’s dead, Hugh! Oh man, is he dead!” cries comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, hysterically.
Wilson gets up slowly from his chair and slaps Goldthwait with the back of his hand. Goldthwait falls to floor and slowly crawls out of the room on his knees.
“Dammit, Wilson!” yells Mitch Monroe, an executive for Warner Bros. Pictures, “you’re a loose cannon!”
“Well, you’re a goddamn son of a bitch, you bastard!” Wilson replies, dabbing the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. “Don’t you know who this is? This isn’t Robin Williams we’re talkin’ about here. Steve Guttenberg. Ring any bells? Three Men and a motherfuckin’ Baby? Huh!?”
Monroe runs his hands through his hair. “I-I-I know. I’m – I’m sorry. What do you suggest we do?”
“Re-animation,” says Wilson.
“This is madness!” laughs Bubba Smith, Guttenberg’s Police Academy co-star.
“Let me finish,” says Wilson, taking a deep breath. “Re-animation — or, we simply force Guttenberg’s brother, Rudolph, to live out the rest of his life as Steve.”
“It’s perfect,” says Monroe, with a smile. “This way we can make Police Academy 7, the most important movie in the Police Academy franchise and the sole reason that the first 6 Police Academy movies were made.”
“Exactly,” says Wilson, turning to his PA. “Get me Rudolph Guttenberg on the phone. Police Academy 7 must be made!”