5 Forgotten Horror Movies You Can Watch For Free on YouTube

SPOOKIES (Genie Joseph, et al 1986)

We covered this one on Episode 2 of Good Movies For Bad People, but I bring this one up again because it really deserves to be seen. Spookies is not a great movie, it’s not even a good movie, but it IS a fun mess to watch with your friends and a few beers. The whole film has a really weird vibe to it. Like it was meant to be either much more violent, or more sexual, and ends up with no nudity and no blood, but it doesn’t have a lot of strange dialogue and nonsensical plot twists. Part of this is because the movie was patched together from an unfinished movie called “Twisted Souls.” When that project failed, the producers tried to shoot some new footage (several years later) around what they had to make it look like a complete film. The result is a mind-melter not quite on the level of NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR or NIGHTMARE WEEKEND, but it’s a great way to kill 85 brainless minutes, and there are some cool monsters (flatulent Muck Men notwithstanding).

Watch it here

CAST A DEADLY SPELL (Martin Campbell, 1991)

CAST A DEADLY SPELL is the best Lovecraftian horror flick that you’ve never seen. Unless you watched it on HBO back in the day or you really know your obscure horror on VHS. This isn’t a straight-up adaptation of Lovecraft, rather, it’s a neo-noir flick starring Remo Williams himself, Fred Ward, as Det. Harry P. Lovecraft, a hard-boiled cop who hates magic in a world where the supernatural is the everyday. David Warner, Clancy Brown and Julianne Moore round out the excellent supporting cast. This flick has everything going for it, great cast, an intriguing story that perfectly blends horror and noir tropes together, and some great practical FX. The only problem is that HBO owns the rights to it, and to this day, it hasn’t been released on anything other than VHS. CAST A DEADLY SPELL deserves to be seen. It’s easily the best film on this list. If you want to know more of my thoughts on it, check out the episode of Talk Without Rhythm I was on where El Goro and I reviewed this an Stuart Gordon’s Dagon (2001).

Watch it here

BLOOD DINER (Jackie Kong, 1987)

BLOOD DINER is what I always wanted Troma films to be like, but it’s so much better than actual Troma films. It’s a goofy, splatterific horror comedy about two cannibal brothers trying to resurrect an ancient Egyptian god that they and their uncle (who is a brain in a jar) worship. It’s an homage and pseudo-sequel to H. G. Lewis’ BLOOD FEAST. The movie is hilarious and the plot goes off on so many weird tangents that you never have a chance to be bored as the bodies pile up.  BLOOD DINER is available on Blu-ray in the UK and Europe but in North American the rights are owned by Lions Gate so chances are it will never see the Blu light of day. It is available on DVD in a six-pack with a few other forgotten horror gems, like SUNDOWN: THE VAMPIRE IN RETREAT starring David Carradine.

Watch it here

NECRONOMICON: BOOK OF THE DEAD (Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko, 1993)

NECRONOMICON is a mostly forgotten horror anthology that is really only well known by Lovecraftian acolytes and fans of Brian Yuzna projects. That’s a shame, because this is one of the better horror anthologies of the early 90s and a great continuation of the Lovecraft projects Yuzna was involved with throughout the 80s. The basic premise is that H.P. Lovecraft is trying to steal the Necronomicon from the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and as he reads the book we see various stories featuring people who fucked with eldritch powers and got fucked back. I would buy a North American Blu-ray of this in a heartbeat, but unfortunately it remains VHS only.

Watch it here

MOM (Patrick Rand, 1991)

MOM is an underrated horror movie that mixes werewolves and zombies with a surprisingly dramatic story. You would expect a horror flick from ’91 to be silly splatter-fare like THE GRANNY (1995), but it manages to avoid being campy. The movie features Brion James and Stella Stevens. This one is due for a re-release to bring it back into the consciousness of the horror community. I don’t want to talk about it too much though, as there’s a good chance we’ll cover it on a future episode of the podcast.

Watch it here

Splatter: Architects of Fear (1986)

Directed by Peter Rowe

Released by Slasher//Video and Olive Films

Starring: Christopher Britton, Paul James Saunders, Amber Wendelborg, Patti Aldrich

1986

Buy it Here

The Film

“It’s the Year 2002. The world has been destroyed by the final holocaust of nuclear fury. All that remains are savage barbarians and mutant men.”

SPLATTER: ARCHITECTS OF FEAR is a shot-on-video documentary of a post-apocalyptic gorefest that looks it’s being shot in an abandoned Toronto warehouse circa 1986. Though calling it a “documentary” might be misleading. Think of it more as a behind the scenes look at a movie that was never made, spliced together with the special effects footage that was salvaged from the cutting room floor. Maybe the filmmakers intended this to be a documentary about the making of a fake movie all along, but I kinda doubt it.

The movie opens with a shot of an Amazon Queen stabbing a captive man in the eye with a needle and menacing another bound dude with a knife. Alright, barely a minute in and already we’ve got an eyeball gouging and femdom torture! I’m hooked. Then the movie’s British narrator (Christopher Britton) takes us out of the action and introduces us to the “Architects of Fear,” the camera and special effects crew responsible for the video violence we’re about to enjoy. There’s also a mutant crew member named Fang who just sort of hangs around, quotes Shakespeare and eats fake rats when no one is looking. You know, typical movie-set stuff.

SPLATTER cuts in footage from the movie being shot without any introduction or forewarning. The plot of the movie, as much as it can be said to have one, is about a war between Amazon women and mutant men in the future. I think the Amazons are supposed to be the villains, but I’m rooting for them to win over the mutants. Fuck the mutant Patriarchy. The Amazon raiders are led by a Queen, and the mutants just seem to be scavengers. The Amazons all look like post-apocalyptic exotic dancers, and the mutants usually have some rubbery scabs on their faces. None of this really matters, but it makes me wonder what kind of movie this might have turned out to be. Based on the gore effects that were shot for it, I’d say it would’ve been a pretty fucking cool post-apoc cheapie.

For example, one of the first sequences we see involves some Mad Max rejects (the men) wandering through an abandoned building. One of them kind of looks like that guy with a bone in his nose from CLASS OF NUKE EM HIGH. They find a case of beer and get wasted. After passing out, some Amazons find them and that’s when shit gets real. One of the mutant’s gets his belly and throat sliced open by a machete and the other is taken out by a crossbow bolt shot through his mouth. It’s not badly shot, it’s pretty gory, and the whole thing feels like a cross between a music video and something like 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK. That’s not the best scene in the movie though. The real highlight is when a barbarian with a burned up face encounters an extremely hot Amazon with huge 80s hair who proceeds to fuck him up against a wall until blood drains out of his nose and ears and his head explodes. She then turns to a fellow Amazon and says, “I fucked his brains out.” IMDB tells me that it took her twenty takes to say that. This whole sequence is replayed at least 10 times during the “documentary footage” of how the scene was made.

The documentary scenes in SPLATTER don’t really work. There aren’t any characters, and there’s no plot or arc to the documentary. There’s a whole lot of talking from the narrator, but none of it is that interesting. If you know anything about special effects, you know what squibs are or how shots are filmed in reverse, and you don’t need a low-budget David Attenborough to tell you how it’s done. However, most of these documentary scenes are really just opportunities to replay the gory highlights of what we’ve already seen. The documentary aspect just sort of  ends after the movie’s big Mad Max-esque conclusion, with lots of exploding cars and a gory go-for-broke battle between the Amazons and the mutants. I’m assuming was meant to be the final act of whatever movie this was supposed to be, if it even was supposed to be anything, but either way, it makes an entertaining and explosive finale to this strange shot-on-video hybrid.

Audio/Video

SPLATTER: ARCHITECTS OF FEAR was originally released on DVD by Slasher//Video in 2014, but is being new life thanks to Slasher’s recent partnership with Olive Films. The movie is presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and it was remastered using the best available elements provided by Slasher//Video. Yes, it’s a shot-on-video movie, but I’m honestly surprised that Olive decided not to release this on Blu-ray as it’s one of the best transfers from these recent Slasher//Video releases. It looks like the best possible representation of what a movie on VHS looks like in your memory, without having to worry about your VCR eating the tape. The audio quality on this release is also really good. The dialogue was clear and easy to hear, and the Sega Genesis-esque soundtrack was booming in my living room. If you’re reading this Olive, please release this one on Blu-ray. I think the A/V elements you’ve got here warrant a HD transfer.

Olive and Slasher have a put together a nice selection of bonus features for fans of the movie. There’s an audio commentary with Bill Smith, Cannibal Cam and Slasher//Video’s Jesús Terán, a Q&A with Producer Bill Smith, a review by Paul Zamarelli of VHSCollector.com, a Photo Gallery, and a trailer for the movie.

Final Thoughts 

SPLATTER: ARCHITECTS OF FEAR is best seen as a precursor to the kind of making of features that we take for granted on most DVDs and Blu-rays today, with the weird caveat that it’s a behind the scenes look at a fake movie. That said, there’s some great, low-budget gore effects on display here along with a generous amount of nudity and a nerdy film crew with some fantastic mullets. If you’re a fan of shot-on-video horror, this is a movie you’ll want in your collection. Recommended.

 

Deadly Prey (1987)

Directed by David A. Prior

Released by Olive Films and Slasher//Video

Starring: Ted Prior, Cameron Mitchell, David Campbell, Fritz Matthews

1987

Buy it Here

The Film 

“You made me the best. Well I still am. I still am.”

-Mike Danton, DEADLY PREY

David A. Prior directed 34 movies in his career and most of them were kick-ass ultra-macho action movies like MANKILLERS, THE FINAL SANCTION, and OPERATION WARZONE. DEADLY PREY is the most kick-ass, most macho, most accidentally homoerotic action movie in his filmography. That’s really saying something. DEADLY PREY was made in the same year that Prior directed KILLER WORKOUT, and several cast members from that film appear here as well, including his brother Ted Prior. Ted is something of a cult action hero thanks to this movie. He stars as Mike Danton, an ex-special forces marine who is kidnapped by a group of mercenaries that want to hunt him in a deadly training exercise. The film is a riff on THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME with a little bit of FIRST BLOOD mixed in for good measure, only Danton kills more people in this one movie than Jason does in the entire FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise. He kills like sixty-five people in eighty-eighty minutes. It’s incredible. A lot of movies claim to be “all action,” but they’re lying. These movies have subplots, characters, themes. DEADLY PREY doesn’t have any of that filler. Oh, there’s a subplot about Mike’s wife hiring her dad (played by Cameron Mitchell) to look for him, but that’s maybe eight minutes tops out of the total running time. DEADLY PREY really is all killer, no filler.

After an opening montage of men cocking their guns and holstering knives over black and red credits, the movie opens with an introduction to the mercenary group run by Col. John Hogan (David Campbell) and his right-hand man in black aviator sunglasses, Lt. Thornton (Fritz Matthews). Thornton and some soldiers chase down a man in the woods, who puts up a pretty good fight considering he gets shot several times and even manages to walk away with both legs after stepping on a land mine. Now that’s swagger. Eventually he gets killed though by Thornton and his squad of cool uncles who probably read Guns & Ammo and shop at Cabela’s.

Next we’re introduced to one-man-army Mike and his wife Jaimy (Suzzane Tara), but it’s barely a minute after they’re introduced and Mike is kidnapped by the mercs while taking out the trash in his jean shorts. They take him to their secret base and it’s not long before they set him loose and start hunting him for sport. What they didn’t realize is that Mike is a total fucking badass that Hogan trained to be the perfect killer in Vietnam. What a coincidence. Almost immediately, Mike starts stalking and killing the mercs and looting their bodies for weapons and ammo. Mike is a primo survivalist, and he makes John Matrix from COMMANDO look restrained when it comes to kicking ass. Eventually Mike runs into a guy he saved in Vietnam, who’s now working for Hogan’s mercenary outfit. Mike gets the skinny on Hogan’s operation and vows to end it (and Hogan).

The movie then sets into this rhythm of Mike running around killing soldiers in his jorts and that is pretty much the plot for the rest of the film. Eventually he takes a break to eat some worms and cook some rats over a fire. Bit of an extreme measure considering he’d only been alone in the woods for a few hours. Some country bumpkins try to shoo him away, and then it’s back to killing more of Hogan’s mercs. Eventually they kidnap his wife, which only pisses off Mike even more.  He channels this rage by blowing up a tank and a helicopter, and eventually, by defeating Hogan in an unforgettable climax. Spoiler warning, but Mike goes completely apeshit. After beating Thornton to death with his own arm, he goes after Hogan and scalps the man after defeating him in combat. The final scene in this film will have you on your feet, raising your arms into the air in triumph and roaring like a wild manimal.

Audio/Video

Deadly Prey is presented on Blu-ray for the first time ever by Olive Films and Slasher//Video in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This release comes with a disclaimer that it was remastered using a PAL Beta SP which was then upconverted to Blu-ray specifications. Like KILLER WORKOUT, this looks like a slightly higher-definition Beta transfer. However, the elements used to bring DEADLY PREY to Blu-ray look like they were in much better shape than KILLER WORKOUT’s. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of wear on the print, and you sure can see the sweat glistening off of Ted Prior’s mostly naked body. So yeah, it looks pretty good. Just don’t go in expecting a pristine HD transfer and you’ll be happy with how it looks.

The audio fares a little bit worse than the image quality, but it’s not a huge deal-breaker as honestly, this movie has a fairly repetitive, bass-heavy score and very little dialogue. When someone does talk, it’s usually “Son of a bitch” or “I’m gonna kill you.” About 99% of the film’s score is clangy synthesized rock guitar, the kind that John Carpenter became really fond of after BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.

Extras on this release include a Photo Gallery, a scene of DEADLY PREY dubbed, a trailer for the film, an interview with Makeup Artist Jack Hojohn and Outtakes from the film.

Final Thoughts

DEADLY PREY comes highly recommended. It’s not the kind of bad movie you should watch alone. It’s the kind of bad movie best watched in the company of friends. You need to get a squad of movie lovers to riff on this movie and survive it together. It’s a lot like another classic so-bad-its-good action movie, Bruno Mattei’s STRIKE COMMANDO (which we covered on Episode Five of our podcast). Not just because it’s a low-budget RAMBO ripoff, but because it is utterly unaware of how goofy it is while attempting to make a deadly serious action film. If I had to choose, I’d say KILLER WORKOUT is my favorite David Prior film, but DEADLY PREY is still an incredibly fun, enjoyably cheesy action movie.

 

Killer Workout (1987)

Directed by David A. Prior

Released by Olive Films and Slasher//Video

Starring: Marcia Karr, David James Campbell, Fritz Matthews

aka Aerobicide

Buy It Here

The Film 

“Just teach the class and stop showing off your tits and your tight little ass!”

– Rhonda Johnson, KILLER WORKOUT

If there’s one thing that a lot of people associate with the 80s and early 90s, it’s aerobics. The fitness revolution really kicked off in a big way in the 80s, and a big part of that was due to the huge sales of workout tapes on home video. Because of the fitness craze, it’s not hard to find an 80s movie with a random scene of some character doing aerobics or wearing an aerobics outfit. Remember that scene in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV when the night janitor at the hospital is just watching some random aerobics video in the dark? It seems weird to us now, that aerobics was so popular that it created a minor subcategory within the horror genre. I call these movies “Health Club Horrors.” This includes films like THE TOXIC AVENGER, which mostly takes place at a gym, and the awesome DEATH SPA (aka WITCH BITCH). Even DEMONS 2 has some scenes of violence and mayhem that take place in a gym. I bring this up because KILLER WORKOUT is the king of the health spa horror genre.

KILLER WORKOUT has been popular on the VHS trading scene and with the more underground torrent sites for years. Occasionally it appears under the title AEROBICIDE, which is what the opening titles read on this print. I almost thought would never see the light of day on DVD or Blu-ray, but thanks to Olive Films and Slasher//Video, it’s now available on both formats. The film was directed in 1987 by David A. Prior, a filmmaker who made a few horror films but mostly focused on low-budget action movies. KILLER WORKOUT was shot in the same year as another classic David Prior movie, DEADLY PREY, which Olive and Slasher//Video have also released this month. I don’t know if these two movies were shot back-to-back, but considering that a lot of the same cast members appear in KILLER WORKOUT, I’d say there’s a good possibility.

The movie stars Marcia Karr (MANIAC COP, SAVAGE STREETS) as Rhonda Johnson, the owner of Rhonda’s Workout, a popular health club in an unnamed California city. We see in the opening of the film that a young woman is savagely burned in a freak accident by a tanning bed that looks like a coffin for space vampires. I’m not sure whoever built it has ever seen an actual tanning bed before. After this, the film moves ahead to the present day where Rhonda is running a health club and teaching aerobics classes while a killer is stalking her staff and patrons with a giant safety pin (no, really). A new employee named Chuck (played by DEADLY PREY’S Ted Prior) starts working at the Club, and while he’s hiding a secret, it doesn’t seem like he is the killer. In fact, Chuck seems really keen on finding out the identity of the killer for himself. The rest of the movie involves your typical stalk-and-slash formula, only with a lot of gratuitous nudity and aerobics, and one of the strangest twist endings I’ve seen in a slasher movie since SLEEPAWAY CAMP.

KILLER WORKOUT doesn’t really have a plot, but it does have a constant desire to please the viewer. That’s fine, because what makes the movie memorable is all in the execution. The actors constantly look directly at the camera when they’re supposed to be delivering their lines to another character. The dialogue is incredibly stupid and crass. The scene-to-scene continuity is completely fucked. You want some sleaze? The first shot of breasts occurs at the 3-minute mark, and the film waves tits and asses and full-frontal nudity in front of the camera every time it’s worried you might be getting bored. Trust me, you won’t be. The fashion onscreen couldn’t be more 80s, with incredible aerobics outfits that look like gynecological torture devices made out of lycra and spandex. There are so many g-strings onscreen in this movie that I lost count (and I was counting, at first). The aerobics routines occur more often than the death scenes in this movie, and so often these routines look more like practice fucking than actual exercise. When the death scenes do occur, you’ll be falling out of your seat laughing because the killer uses a fucking giant safety pin. Later in the movie the killer switches to using a knife, but then goes back to the safety pin! I haven’t even mentioned the music, the gloriously 80s new wave workout music. The only song missing from the soundtrack is Olivia Newton John’s “Physical.”

I could go on and on about what makes KILLER WORKOUT so much fun. Here are a few ways you can make KILLER WORKOUT even more fun:

  • Drink every time you hear a song on the soundtrack that is either about working out OR looking sexy and having a hot body
  • Drink every time someone is stabbed with a safety pin
  • Drink every time Chuck (Ted Prior) gets in a fight
  • Drink whenever the obligatory fat guy is working out at the gym
  • Drive every time you see an advertisement for L.A. Gear
  • Drink every time the people working out look like they’re humping the air
  • Finish your drink when the killer is revealed (and try not to throw up)

No one will ever mistake KILLER WORKOUT for a good movie, but it’s perfect for a night of cheesy flicks and 80s nostalgia with enough T&A and violence to keep you well entertained for eighty-five minutes. Watch it back-to-back with Gorgon Video’s Blu-ray of DEATH SPA and you will be aerobicizing in heaven.

Audio/Video

KILLER WORKOUT is presented on Blu-ray for the first time ever by Slasher//Video and Olive Films in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer on this Blu-ray was made using the best available elements provided by Slasher//Video. The transfer was remastered from a PAL Beta SP, and not an HD master, so right now I am going to say that if you’re expecting this to look like some finely polished Blu-ray, it doesn’t. It does however look like an improvement over the source that was provided, as even for a Beta tape the transfer here is pretty good. The video and audio quality takes a brief but obvious dive around the 27 minute mark, where it looks like maybe it was spliced from a VHS source, before then again jumping up in quality.

The audio is flat and mono. It can hard to hear what the actors are saying occasionally. I had the volume turned up about 10 decibels higher than I usually do, but eventually my ears got used to it. All the dialogue sounds like it was recorded on an old cassette tape. This is just the way it is with some extremely low-budget movies like this. Personally, I think it’s all a part of the movie’s homemade charm.

These audio and video issues did not diminish my enjoyment of this movie at all. Olive Films and Slasher//Video have been very up front since Day One that this release was put together using the best available elements, and considering the work that has gone into the other Slasher//Video and Olive releases, I believe it. If you’re an A/V snob who will only watch old movies if they’re presented in the most pristine quality available, then you should probably keep your VHS copy of KILLER WORKOUT (if you’re lucky enough to own one). Personally, I’m just glad that this movie is finally available on Blu-ray and DVD and accessible to a wider audience.

Extras on this release include a Photo Gallery, the original Killer Workout title sequence, and a trailer for the movie.

Final Thoughts

This release of KILLER WORKOUT is a must-have item for collectors of trash horror and movies that are so bad they’re good. If you have a hard on for the 80s and an aerobics fetish, you will love KILLER WORKOUT.

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989)

Directed by J. Lee Thompson

Released by Olive Films

Starring: Charles Bronson, Juan Fernández, James Pax

1989

Buy it here

The Film

“Some oriental guy touched my holiest of holies!”

-Rita Crowe, KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS

1989 was not a good year for The Cannon Group. After the expensive flops of LIFEFORCE (1985), MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987), SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987), the company was sold off to the French firm Pathe’ Communications, who then quickly ran Cannon into the ground after an aborted reboot in the early 90s. Along with the awesome CYBORG starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, one of the final films produced by the dynamic duo of Golan and Globus was the extremely sleazy Charles Bronson revenge drama, KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS (1989). This was the final film that Bronson made for Cannon, who had a huge role in resurrecting his career with the DEATH WISH sequels, and it was also the last film of director J. Lee Thompson, who had collaborated with Bronson a total of nine times throughout his career on films like 10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) and THE WHITE BUFFALO (1977).

KINJITE is regarded by many as one of the sleaziest films Cannon ever produced. A large part of the film’s infamy likely is due to it opening scene, which is one of the most depraved introductions to a main character I’ve ever seen- in a Cannon film or otherwise. In leering detail, the opening credits flash as a woman in black high-waisted panties and thigh-high stockings, who we later learn is a teen prostitute, is tied standing against a bed frame. Then her John removes the following items from a briefcase: a leather riding crop, a large vibrator, a tub of vaseline, and rubber gloves. Then we see a Japanese man snorting cocaine off a mirror. Meanwhile, the hotel where the action is taking place is being staked out by Bronson and his partner (played by Perry Lopez of CHINATOWN fame). Bronson is sick of waiting and he barges into the hotel room, and beats up the John in order to get him to testify against the girl’s pimp, Duke (Juan Fernández). Bronson doesn’t just beat up the man though. Bronson tortures the John by sodomizing him with the vibrator offscreen. 

KINJITE is really two films that eventually converge into one narrative. On the one hand, you have the story of Bronson and his quest to put the pimp Duke behind bars, and then the other half of the film involves a Japanese salaryman named Hiroshi Hada (James Pax, who played Lightning in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA). Hada is a recent immigrant to America, and he and his family are trying to integrate into the American way of life. For Hada though, this is all a means to an end. Hada is a businessman and simply wants to immerse himself into American culture so that he can climb the corporate ladder. He’s also a pervert with some serious sexual issues. When he’s not cheating on his wife, Hada fantasizes about a woman he watched being groped and raped on a subway. He becomes so obsessed with this fantasy that one night, in a chance encounter, he attempts to molest Bronson’s daughter on a city bus. ” Eventually, Hada’s youngest daughter Fumiko is kidnapped by Duke and sold into sexual slavery, and it’s up to Bronson to find the child and get revenge.

Extremely sordid, KINJITE is a major contender for the sleaziest film in the history of Cannon Films. The title, which literally means “Forbidden hand,” refers to those subjects that are forbidden in Japanese culture. Well, this film throws just about every taboo into the mix. Child prostitution, molestation, pornography, prison rape, gang rape, subway groping, drug abuse, sadism, blatant racism and the list goes on and on. For what it lacks in action, KINJITE more than makes it up in sheer depravity. None of the DEATH WISH sequels even come close to how filthy this film is. KINJITE’S sleaze factor is likely a major selling point for some fans, but this is an repugnant, nasty film with an extremely nihilistic outlook on crime and justice.

Audio/Video

KINJITE looks even seedier in this high-definition transfer from Olive Films. This is a very good-looking transfer, with a nice level of film grain, no evidence of digital manipulation or noise reduction, and vibrant colors that really bring out the rain-slicked streets and neon signs throughout the movie. In terms of its audio, the film is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. While I didn’t notice the audio being particularly dynamic, the score sounded great, the dialogue was clear and easy to hear, and the sound of gunfire was appropriately explosive.

In terms of extras, this release continues Olive’s recent trend of including an Original Theatrical Trailer as a bonus.

Final Thoughts

KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS walks this really weird line between trying to paint Bronson as an ideal if somewhat overprotective father figure, when he’s not sodomizing criminals and shoving gold watches down their throats. It’s also an extremely orientalist and offensive movie, with some potentially triggering subject matter. If you want a movie that revels in breaking taboos while delivering a reasonably entertaining action-drama, KINJITE might be for you, but I can’t see myself returning to it anytime soon. If you’re already a fan of the film, then I would recommend picking up this Blu-ray release from Olive Films.

 

Boardinghouse (1982)

Directed by John Wintergate

Released by Olive Films in partnership with Slasher // Video

Starring: John Wintergate, Kalassu, Lindsay Freeman

1982

Buy it here

The Film

“Actually, I’m into harnessing the energy of the universe so I can learn the secrets of creation itself.”

-Jim Royce, BOARDINGHOUSE

I had the weirdest dream last night. It was about a haunted house in a California suburb that was sold to this telekinetic guy who looked like a coke-addled car salesman. He liked to sleep upside down and practice yoga in a mesh banana hammock. He rented the house out, but only to bimbo models and wannabe actresses. They hung out by the pool a lot and the models liked to splash around with their tits hanging out. Everyone seemed to like their landlord, despite the fact that he was kind of a creep and a jerk. Eventually the bimbos start hallucinating, and are killed one by one by some kind of spectral force. One of girls was being chased through a cemetery for some reason. Then there was this outdoor concert featuring a band that kind of sounded like the Electric Light Orchestra, and then whole thing turned into a foggy heavy metal music video with dueling psychics fighting to the death.

That was no dream. It was BOARDINGHOUSE.

BOARDINGHOUSE is the kind of movie that will melt your brain. Handle it with care. Be kind and rewind. This is no ordinary b-movie. This isn’t even an ordinary shot-on-video movie. It was the first SOV movie to be released theatrically. People paid actual money to see BOARDINGHOUSE in a theater. Think about that. I can’t even imagine how these people must have felt, sitting in a darkened theater, watching this beautiful disaster unfold as writer-director-svengali-star John Wintergate begins to move ordinary objects with his mind while sitting on his desk in mesh bikini underwear, eyes bulging out of their sockets. What did they feel as John Wintergate’s eyes stared into their soul? Transcendence.

There’s no real plot to speak of in this movie. Or at least, there’s not much of one besides what I mentioned at the start of this review. The opening scene, which has got to be one of the longest and most boring text crawls to a movie ever, introduces us to the curse of the Hoffman House. We see a couple horrific (read: hilarious) death scenes attributed to this accursed two-story. A man sitting by the side of his pool falls in and drowns while a weird video effect bleeds over the house. Is this supposed to be some kind of paranormal presence? Probably. Then a woman sticks her hand in the garbage disposal and it turns on, eating her hand. The evil force did it, but I feel like she had it coming. I mean, she shouldn’t have had her hand in the drain like a dummy.

Anyways, next we learn that there was a surviving Hoffman who was sent to live at mental institution, but like all good slasher villains, escapes in the opening of the movie. At the hospital where the Hoffman boy is being kept, a Doctor hands some release papers to a character just offscreen. All we see of this character is a pair of gloved hands. The hands start gesturing to make her undress, and it seems like the killer has some kind of psychic power. After the Doctor takes her clothes off, the hands use their strobe effect powers to make her climb a ladder and then hang herself. Then the killer uses his epilepsy-inducing special effects to make an orderly pull his own guts out. BOARDINGHOUSE cranks up the crazy to 11 right away and doesn’t tone it down at all during its 98 minute runtime.

I’ve seen BOARDINGHOUSE appear on lists of slasher films, but it’s more of a haunted house movie than a slasher, even if Wintergate claims he got the idea for the movie by seeing many of the films that had come out in the early years of the slasher boom. There is also an obvious giallo influence in the film, as seen by the movie’s clumsy red herrings and black gloved killer. Neither “slasher film,” “giallo” or “haunted house” movie really do much to describe just how bizarre BOARDINGHOUSE actually is though. It’s as much a “haunted house” movie as Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s HOUSE is. Which is actually a fair comparison. Both are mindfuck movies of the highest order, and BOARDINGHOUSE is to the SOV genre what HAUSU is to Japanese cinema.

If you’re new to shot-on-video horror, I can’t think of a better introduction to the genre than BOARDINGHOUSE.

Audio/Video

BOARDINGHOUSE is presented on DVD on two discs in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The Original Theatrical Cut is on Disc 1 and the rare Director’s Cut taken from John Wintergate’s own betamax tape is on Disc 2. This is an updated transfer of BOARDINGHOUSE from the existing Slasher//Video release, however Olive Films have taken great pains to ensure that on both discs there is a clear disclaimer noting that these two separate transfers from the movie are based on the best available elements from Slasher//Video. These disclaimers are designed to keep people from bitching about the transfer who aren’t smart enough to know what a “shot-on-video” movie is going to look like. Frankly, both transfers look incredible for an early SOV horror movie. They don’t look HD, how could they? But they’re free of debris and damage, and the image quality is better than it ever looked on the original Paragon VHS or subsequent bootlegs of the movie. Likewise, the audio sounded much clearer than I was expecting.

Olive Films and Slasher//Video have rolled out the red carpet for BOARDINGHOUSE. The first Olive and Slasher//Video release of SATAN’S BLADE was stacked with extras, but this DVD release is double-stacked!  There is an exhausting list of extra content on these discs. If you love BOARDINGHOUSE, trust me, you are getting your money’s worth with this release.

Final Thoughts

BOARDINGHOUSE is proof that you can make a movie without a script, without special effects, and without film. All you need is passion, some blood, and lots of hot babes. Mostly babes.

Olive Films and Slasher//Video have done an excellent job of restoring this insane SOV classic. There are some collectors who would argue that the only way to watch movies like BOARDINGHOUSE is on VHS, but movies this weird deserve to be seen by as many people as possible.

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Stray Observations

  • The killer makes the ki-ki-ki-ha-ha-ha sound from the Harry Mancini score to FRIDAY THE 13TH. I don’t mean the score makes this sound when the killer is onscreen. I mean the killer makes this sound, like they’ve got a rhythmically patterned and suspenseful breathing problem.
  • BOARDINGHOUSE is as much a vanity project for John Wintergate as it is for his wife, the actress-singer-model Kalassu. The band that appears in the movie is her actual band, 33 1/3.
  • I’ve heard the score compared to HALLOWEEN, but if I was actually going to compare it to anything I’d say it sounds more like Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s score to HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH.
  • There are frequent camera zooms on bare bodies for no other reason that to zoom in on the nudity as close as possible. Jess Franco would be proud.
  • Has any horror movie had so much action centered around a pool? This movie is like if DEATH BED if DEATH BED took place at  pool party.
  • The women in this movie make constant jokes about being on the “casting couch” but not in the sense that the casting couch is this horrible sexist reality for working actresses. They talk about it like they’re looking forward to it.  They even dress Kalassu up at one point in lingerie for her meeting with Wintergate.
  • Jim aka Wintergate is so casual about being able to move stuff with his mind. He acts like this is something anyone can do if they put their mind to it.
  • The 95 minute version is cut at really weird moments. Conversations just end in the middle of characters talking. Scenes that feel like they’re meant to go on longer just end. There are characters and subplots that are hinted at but never explained.
  • John Wintergate will show off his ass at any opportunity in this movie.
  • There are at least two scenes in the movie where naked breasts are pressed up against a shower door.
  • There are enough naked breasts in this movie that I lost count.
  • Sometimes BOARDINGHOUSE feels like you’re one of Wintergate and Kalassu’s home movies. This is especially true of their sex scene in the shower, which looks like a homemade porno without the penetration.
  • The actress who plays Debbie Hoffman is Lindsay Freeman, who was a former Penthouse Pet.
  • The 157 minute cut of BOARDINGHOUSE is even more insane than the Theatrical Cut, if you have the endurance for it.