Burnt Offerings (1976)

It’s time for some “Classic 70s horror” that you’ve never heard of, which mostly means a couple of well-known actors getting caught up in some supernatural shenanigans until their next big serious role comes along. In this case, it’s Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith, and one of the first appearances of the soon-to-be “ooh, I know them! They were in the thing!” Anthony James. It’s all very intense, it’s all very moody, but is it any good? Read on or watch the trailer that follows the era’s trend of giving away all the best bits.
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The Undertake (1988) is underwhelming

Whilst this 1988 film has nothing to do with the most successful persona of Mark Calloway, of the great wrestlers of all time, it does have a lot of the hallmarks of professional wrestling of this era. Bad acting, weak camera, incredibly cheap tricks, a near-incomprehensible plotline, and the audience constantly having to work to maintain the willful suspension of disbelief are all on show here. The end result is something that is utterly unenjoyable as intended, and only marginally fun as a beguiling slice of bad cinema.
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Studio 666 (2022) is good dumb fun

According to Dave Grohl, this movie happened because whilst recording the Foo Fighter’s tenth album he had an idea to do a very cheap slasher video about the band and the studio, like a little youtube home movie, and then suddenly there were millions of dollars in production money and John Carpenter doing the soundtrack. I’ve got no way of knowing if it’s true or marketing hype, but I imagine that kind of thing happens a lot in his world and it probably explains why this film exists. It also explains why it can only exist because the Foo Fighters are in it, and why this ends up being “A Hard Days Night” done by Hooper and Craven.
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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is an okayish disappointment.

If psychotronic cinema, or, when you get down to it, any cinema, is about experience then The Texas Chain Saw Massacre must be one of the greatest movies of all time. It is an unrelenting, exhausting, almost total-body experience; be it during its moments to shocking terror, its nightmarish social observations, its frequently disjointed surrealist turns, or its nihilistic horror spectacular. Even its soundtrack, which for the final third of the movie is dominated by the constant screams of its Final Girl being dredged through a stygian hellscape, is an emotive and evocative tour de force.

Obviously, it’s not to everyone’s tastes and the bulk of its greatness comes from pushing the boundaries of genre conventions, seeking to indulge the worst excesses of exploitation cinema, budget and talent constraints, and just plain dumb luck. But it is a singular, majestic vision that few have come close to matching. Especially its sequels, which for the most part cranked up the gore they thought was in the original and pissed away the cultural commentary that they clearly thought was an irrelevancy. So, when I heard (in the same week it was being released) that Texas Chainsaw Massacre* was coming out I was filled with indifference towards it.

Then I spotted it on Netflix, draped across the front page as its big welcoming offering, and it was Friday night and it would be rude not to.
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The Howling (1981)

One more unto the horror-series-that-won’t-die breach, and this time it’s the furry favourite of The Howling series. Eight movies over a 30-year time span (so far), all kicked off by the eponymously titled 1977 best seller which doesn’t actually get made into a movie till Part IV. Still, the first movie meant that director Joe Dante and producer Michael Finnell got to make Gremlins three years later, so it can’t all be bad.
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Bloodbath At The House Of Death (1984) is comedy horror, done in the best possible taste

Now calm yourselves, for I must give you a warning. This film is silly. Very, very silly. It’s very obviously being daft by making a mockery of a lot of what would have been popular movies at the start of the 80s, especially the so-called “video nasties”. Thankfully the cliches and styles that it rips into are still with us after 40 years, so you should be able to get the majority of the jokes. Especially those about boobs and willies, you filthy degenerates!
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The VelociPastor (2019)

Yes, I know this was the talk of the psychotronic town a couple of years ago. I was too busy watching other junk to get around to it, and I’ve got a weird (possibly anti-hipster) aversion to popular B-Movies, so that’s another cheap newscycle I missed out on. Anyway, I’m here and I’m sorry I missed the start of the party because, holy heck, this is one fun movie. Continue reading

Nightmare Beach (1984)

I saw this one doing the rounds on the “so bad, they’re good” social media conversations recently, but to risk a fight with the people yelling “cult classic!” one too many times I can safely put this slasher on the “so bad it’s actually just a disappointing viewing experience” pile instead. And I use disappointing with great care because had the filmmakers put any care into it there was the chance of a decent film.
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Candyman (2021) – Because the candy man can…

If there’s one thing horror cinema loves, it’s a reboot, remake, or sequel of a damn fine bit of cinema from a couple of decades ago. And if there’s one thing horror cinema is awful at, it’s making reboots, remakes, or sequels that are any good. They forget what made the original worth watching, add nothing to the narrative, or alienate fans of the original. Well, good news for all: whatever Candyman 2021 is, it’s a damn fine follow-up to Candyman 1992.
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Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape (2010)

For fans of psychotronic cinema there are few things more enticing than forbidden content and establishment outrage, and Jake West and Mark Morris’s 72-minute documentary on the often-oversimplified era of the “Video Nasties” brings both in the bucketful. Information, education, and entertainment abound in this vivid and engaging oral history.

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