Ah brilliant, it’s finally Massacre Night. We’d been talking about this one for ages actually, with the line-up changing quite a lot over the past few months, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect.
For example, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is far too obvious and as such was never in the running. House of Evil was though, but that’s because I thought its alternate title was Sorority House Massacre when it was in fact House in Sorority Row, so that was out too. Northville Cemetery Massacre, the infamous cult biker movie, was right in there up until last week when I found out it’d had a super duper DVD makeover and quickly decided my crappy VHS copy wouldn’t do it justice, and Slumber Party Massacre was left out for the same reason. Zombie Island Massacre, on the other hand, was left out because it sucks and it hasn’t got any zombies in it.
So in the end we have two from Zomblee’s collection and two from mine. Zomblee’s are Drive-In Massacre, that he bought because George ‘Buck’ Flowers co-wrote it (”He’s the old drunk guy from all the John Carpenter movies.” - Zomblee), and Memorial Valley Massacre that came in one of those massive cheapo horror box sets. And my offerings are Nail-Gun Massacre, which I got of Dr Bob at www.visual-pain.com in a trade for a DVD master of Moon Zero Two, and Mardi Gras Massacre which I bought randomly surfing ebay while flicking through the DPP’s original video nasties list.
So let the massacre commence!
This Zombie Club presentation is bought to you by Jim in alliance with the ‘Oh please let there be a decent massacre body count in this movie’ Association of Great Britain and our good friend Dan Persad who stayed for the first couple of films.
Drive-In Massacre (1976)
Plot Machete mayhem at the local drive-in theatre. Could it be it Orville, the local peeping Tom? Or is it Austin, the 'Chuck Norris'-stancing theatre owner? Or how about Germy, the downtrodden ex-sword swallower? Could be!
Jim Well we were all pretty excited so, after a bit of confusion setting up Zomblee's projector and the DVD's questionable quality ("I like shitty transfers." - Zomblee, "Isn't that Jim's wall?" - Rawshark), we finally settled down to watch Drive-In Massacre.
And the opening is quite amusing as a load of cars quietly take their places in front of the big drive-in screen and a couple in one of the cars chat about their futures, although just as the girl brings up the whole ‘trying for kids’ thing, the guy suddenly becomes very interested in the movie. What a guy! Anyway, one minute he's reaching out of the window to grab the speaker, the next he's getting decap'd by a samurai sword and then his screaming lady friend is getting sworded in the neck! ("That's a good face to pull when you're getting sworded in the neck." - Zomblee) Great start!
Of course it all goes downhill pretty fast. The two fat cops on the case (one of whom "looks like a fat Tony Curtis" - although I can't remember who noticed that resemblance) plod along interviewing the cheeky employees of the drive-in to see if they can suss out the culprit. Is it Germy, the former sword-swallower? Is it Austin Johnston the badly dressed bald manager? Or was it goofy Orville, who I believe had a collection of swords, or something? Or is it someone else entirely?
Well, for a while they think it is. After another drive-in death scene, which starts with an amazingly long sequence of cars slowly jostling for position almost in time with the wholly inappropriate music ("Hey, musical cars!" - Dan), the movie skips off to a warehouse where a suspected killer is surrounded in what seems like a whole different movie that's shoved in to pad the running time. Then it's back to the drive-in for a distressingly ambiguous ending.
It had us for a while, especially in all those riveting sheriff's office scenes we seem to love so much, but all in all I can't really recommend this baby. Still, at a sprightly 72 minutes I guess you can't complain.
"You stay on your side of the car."
Rawshark And so Massacre Night began as the four of us (special guest Dan joined us for tonight’s mammoth mission of movie mayhem) pulled up to our positions, directly beneath Zomblee’s projector beaming directly onto Jim’s white living room wall. It was almost like the opening scene of Drive-in Massacre itself, although admittedly none of us did get ”sworded in the neck”. The opening two deaths were a good way to start this pretty cheap 1976 drive-in extravaganza, a film that had at least one or two things playing in its favour.
First (and most probably second) of these was the comedy cop couple who Zomblee thought looked ”unnervingly similar”. These two fat moustached cops were a real treat and their investigations include bullying local truck driver (and porn collector / peeping tom) Orville, as well as visiting the drive-in cinema in drag in an attempt to catch the killer undercover. They don’t of course; it’s merely a scene to show killings number 5 and 6, a girl in red and the afore-mentioned Orville.
Jim then got a bit confused about the ”bizarre sandwich scene”, before we all got a bit confused at the random ‘man takes girl hostage with a machete in a warehouse’ scene (that had, as Zomblee noted, ”a really bad filing system”. It was pretty irrelevant to the plot, so the film soon jumped back to a final scene at the familiar drive-in theatre with the final victims being Austin Johnson and prime suspect Germy in a pretty cool final scene that ended up projecting itself, Snuff-like unto a whole unsuspecting audience of movie-goers. FINAL MASSACRE TOTAL: 8.
”I’m going to sell this car and buy a new old car.”
Zomblee Yeah, I remember something about that endearingly random warehouse hostage scene, in that it felt like a completely different movie to what we had been watching for the previous 60 minutes. But we knew it was the same movie, not least because it probably had that god awful soundtrack accompaniment - random synth gibberish of the lowest order which Rawshark described as sounding "like a John Carpenter warm-up session".
I can point out much here that the guys haven't already described above; yes, the budget is low, yes, the police station scenes are from the Herschell Gordon Lewis school of crap police stations, and yes, Austin Johnson (the drive-in manager) is terrific fun. Even though he's a shit.
Even though it has a 72 minute running time, it still manages to have many scenes that could do with a ruthless trim at the editing stage, but we do get some entertaining enough deaths, and, given the running time, you know you're never going to have to wait around long until the next one. So it's not all bad.
As Jim pointed out, I brought this one along because Carpenter regular (i.e. not a a regular Carpenter by profession but one of John Carpenter's early ensemble) George 'Buck' Flower co-wrote it, which of course prompted the typical Zombie Club bad jokes like "You get your buck's worth" (you can blame Rawshark for that one), and this one, from Jim, which appropriately enough concludes my incredibly intelligent review: "The buck stops here."
"He's what you'd call a perfect asshole."
Director Stu Segall
Cast Bruce Kimball
Runtime 72 mins
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Memorial Valley Massacre (1988)
Plot A bunch of campers head off to Memorial Valley and get massacred by a feral boy reject from The Hills Have Eyes. Sort of.
Zomblee With a title like this I think we were expecting a little more than what we got with MVM. Even having Massacre in the title promises more than this cheap slice of 1988 crap could possibly deliver. But, it had ZC veteran Cameron Mitchell in the cast – surely that’s credential enough for inclusion at Massacre Night? Hmmm... only just. He merely walks about for a bit, trying to look important, then gets into his car and drives off (”Good luck with the rest of the movie!” - Rawshark). Believe me when I say, they needed all the help they could get with this turkey.
Shot with a horrid, made for TV feel and featuring a cast of less than memorable acting "talent", this horribly 80s-ish feature nevertheless manages to conjure up some laughter, mostly non-intentional and sometimes, strangely, on purpose. Using a fun-raising campsite (occupied by a less-than-flattering cross section of the American populace) as a backdrop for a summer massacre, the whole thing moves very slowly in terms of body count until the final 30 mins or so, at which point the bodies start piling up. But don't get too excited - the kills are uninspired, gore-free affairs, and, appropriately enough, are executed by one of the most pathetic killers ever seen, looking something like an un-used extra from The Hills Have Eyes II.
Going back to the hideous array of characters - surely the only source of enjoyment you're likely to get from this movie - there's a really annoying fat kid who gets killed, a very over-the-top William Smith in his Winnebago, the crappest bikers you've ever seen ("I love how she's not wearing a bra." - Jim), and a few forest rangers who try their best to look really hard by doing those manly poses that include placing one foot on a chair, or, even better, sitting on a picnic table with legs extra-wide apart - "Oh...that's the pose of the movie!". Sure was, Jim.
"Screw the dog - is the water fit to drink?"
Jim Yes, that was the pose of the movie ("Now that is a wide leg pose." - Rawshark). But do you remember the hair of the movie, sported by the feral kid? ("He's got a very robust head of hair." - Zomblee). Or the wisdom-spouting black man in dungarees? ("Black man in a jump suit, you gotta listen to him!" - Dan).
Now, I know you remember the cameo of the movie by B-movie legend Cameron Mitchell ("I knew there was a reason we were watching this!" - Zomblee), but how well do you remember the bikers? Because at the time we weren't too keen on them ("They are rubbish bikers" - Zomblee). Even more so when they go on the run through that sort of mountain forest where you can't ride bikes, but the posse find them anyway. ("Why are they looking for them there?" - Rawshark, "Because they are rubbish bikers." - Zomblee). And do you remember when the fat kid shuts himself in the camp store and starts rummaging - hairbrush, ashtray, pocket watch, bike keys - ("It's a three minute game, I can't see what I have to do!" - Dan).
Yes, we all remember those things and many more, but really there wasn't a lot going on in this movie and the massacre count was woefully low. Cameron Mitchell's son (I'm sure it's not his son in real life) has a reasonable stab at a romance with a sexy camper, the punks get themselves in trouble, the foreman guy is an asshole but sports a healthy range in wide leg posses and the feral kid - who learns fast I might add ("Jungle boy certainly knows his way around a Winnebago!" - Dan) - has got the most rubbish prosthetic teeth ever. Once it gets going it is fun I suppose, but the fun doesn't last long and there's lots of shouting at the film to get on with it. Oh, and the ending is another lame one, although Zomblee disagreed slightly - "Well, at least it's resolved, in the fact that they know who did it."
"What woman? I've got cigars older than her!"
Rawshark Yep, Cameron Mitchell makes another fairly graceless appearance here, although it really isn’t for very long at all. I’m sure he was just glad he could cash his cheque and get the hell out of there, because let’s face it, MVM is not exactly the best film on his CV. You know, with all the shitters he’s appeared in over the years, I bet Mr Mitchell really does sometimes feel like a motherless child.
Anyway, so Mr Sangster, the big Summer Camp owner soon leaves, and we’re introduced to several groups of randoms ready for a camping trip of a lifetime, despite the dead dog in the water well. We have the six Hells’ Angels (who claim themselves to anachronisms!), the three kid New Romantics (who you just know are going to get sexually mixed-up and all die horribly) and the old couple with their fat, spoilt kid Walter. Yet, these introductions take so long, we soon realise we’re almost half way through the movie and haven’t yet seen anyone die. ”We need a kill! We’re still Kill-less” cried Zomblee, but thankfully feral kid (soon after nicknamed Stig) leaps into action to dispatch fat-ass Walter and the massacre begins.
Skipping merrily passed a brief late night wet T-shirt contest and a spot of the two ‘good-looking’ leads copping off (”To the inner sanctum of Memorial Velley!”), it’s next the turn of the shit bikers to be taken out as various weapons such as axes and spikes are used to varying degrees of effect. Stig then stumbles upon Wendy (”Very tight jeans” - Jim, ”Very tight top” - Zomblee, ”Very tight budget” - Dan) and breaks her back, before also dispatching ‘Kate Bush’ and the black man in dungarees. Unfortunately, there’s no happy ending for ‘daddy’ who falls prey to the spikes in the tree trap, and poor old Stig is left all alone to howl at the moon from the top of a hill comes the film’s conclusion. A better body count then, but a worse film than the first. FINAL MASSACRE TOTAL: 14.
”This park is closed!”
Director Robert C. Hughes
Cast John Kerry
Runtime 93 mins
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The Nail Gun Massacre (1985)
Plot Killer kills people with an industrial nail gun and then says really cheesy Arnie lines.
Rawshark By this time, third movie syndrome was kicking in, and although none of us expected The Nail Gun Massacre to bring the goods, in the end it really did prove to be a good laugh. Some great kills, a wisecracking cool killer (who’s identity you will be guessing all the way to the end) and a lot of fun. Yes it’s shit, but this is fun shit, not shit shit – there IS a slight difference!
Ok, so the opening rape is not nice, but it does indeed set up the tone of an evil killing Nail Gun Massacrer who wears a big helmet and stomps around with an enormous Nail Gun. Indeed, we get a kill before the opening credits, and not long after the credits we get our first “long boob get firewood” scene (”Early Nail Gun, early breasts!” - Jim). Then, quite inexplicably, the NGM gets pissed on, so he shoots the perpetrator in the cock (”you just pissed me off”). Skip forward one or two dull shop scenes and he’s at it again, nailing young lovers to trees (”Hang around for a while”) and letting doddery old dads fall into barbecues, before a pretty cool car chase and quarry-fight ending.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly no lost classic, and a lot of if is a bit ‘boring’ one-shot shit (especially that long scene of the couple making out for about 5 minutes) but as the murders continue and the one-line wisecracks get worse and worse (and therefore funnier and funnier), you can’t help but have a laugh and cheer-along as our Nail Gun dude takes on yet another evil wrong-doer, and drills a pile of wibbly nails into them. FINAL MASSACRE TOTAL: 15.
”“What can spark a rampage like this?”
Zomblee For the title alone, this one was always on the ‘to do’ list. The words, ‘nail’, ‘gun’, and ‘massacre’ all joined up together for a movie title? I’m sold. Even better though, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this low-grade trash. At the time. Was it the rubber nails? Was it ridiculously prolonged standing-up-against-tree sex scene? Was it the woman with the large breasts? Was it the nail gin killer's ridiculous 80's Arnie style lines after every nailing? It could have been a bit of everything, really, but I hazily remember that an (annoyingly?) consistent soundtrack which featured echoed victim's screams seemed to work pretty well, but of course this is the third movie; our critical faculties are beginning to wane, and we could have easily mistook a shit scene for a work of undiluted genius. Ah...such is Zombie Club. Where shit becomes sweet, sweet sugar.
In the cold light of day, Nail Gun Massacre is shit. Really shit. Comprising a series of incredibly sustained scenes, which make it difficult to keep your attention, this cheapo effort was made by the double act of Bill Leslie and Terry Lofton, who, unsurprisingly, have never made a movie before or since. Except, that is, for a documentary. About Nail Gun Massacre. Amazing. Even the killer doesn't look menacing, despite obvious cheapskate attempts at creating something different with the killer-on-motorbike look ("It's just a motorbike helmet with gaffer tape on it!" - Rawshark)
Having said all that though, this is worth a look. Especially if you fancy seeing a movie just because it has the words ‘nail’, ‘gun’, and ‘massacre’ in the title. Just be sure to medicate yourself first.
"Can you think of any reason why someone would want to kill your father?"
Jim Yes, medication is important before most Zombie Club movies, but with Nail Gun Massacre it’s a must. Not many films start with a pre-credits sequence where a bunch of construction workers assault ("He looks like Bob Carolgees in the background." - Zomblee), then have the credits, then cut to a really long boobs scene. Admittedly the boob scene introduces the main good guy - the Doc I think - but as Zomblee said, "it doesn't alter the fact that there's a really long boob sequence after the credits." And he's right, it doesn't. That Zomblee always talks sense, and I also agree with him that "...if I lived in the middle of nowhere, I'd get really fat." Wouldn't you?
Anyway, after the veritable massacre drought of the last two movies, any film a badly voice vocoded short-arsed bike-helmeted killer with an industrial nail gun was bound to get a few laughs, and they did. Especially at the beginning, when the killer seemed to be hanging around the same street and killing whoever pulled up. But then we discover that the killer has his own set of wheels ("You just don't get beige hearses!"- Zomblee) and is prepared to use them. Cue a double figures killing spree with rubber nails being fired liberally, to great applause.
But for as much as fun as the death scenes are the in-between bits suck, with many a scene just consisting of pointing the camera at the actors and filming one take, sometimes for as long as five minutes at a time. The silly tree shag sequence was the first biggie ("And... cut!" - Rawshark), but the Doc's phone call scene really took the biscuit. It went on forever as first the Doc got pissed about on the other end of the line ("Thirty seconds of just trying to talk to Mr. Leg?" - Rawshark) then goes on to talk about nothing much for ages. Sighs and groans ensued, although none as loud as Rawshark's when the Doc picked up the phone to make another call almost immediately ("Oh no, not again!" - Rawshark)
After that we were prepared though. Prepared for the overly long car chase with the dramatic left turn in the middle, prepared for the overly long quarry ending and more than ready for the final unmasking of the killer, which involves a twist so dodgy that it's almost cheating.
Nail Gun Massacre is a lot of fun though, and great Zombie Club fodder. It's even got a beautiful ending with a shot of them walking off into the sunset, or as Rawshark put it, "That's a lovely sunset shot...", and that's not easy when you're a bit smashed.
"All you wanna do is ride around in that Police car, you asshole!"
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Mardi Gras Massacre (1978)
Plot A very camp guy is looking for the most evil woman in the room. Three times.
Jim Damn, I knew I'd end up starting this one, which is something you never look forward to after an all night Zombie Club. Yes, trying to do a write-up of a movie you've watched fourth in line after going through several bottle of wines (both collectively and individually), smoking so much that, well, at one point we had to open the window to let some air in just so we could see the screen (well, so we could see the wall, Zomblee had brought his projector over, remember?). So if you thought Second Movie Syndrome was bad on regular Zombie Club nights, you ain't seen nothing yet!
Anyway, it only took the opening scene for one of my Zombie buddies to remark "It's Blood Feast all over again!", but I couldn't quite work out who it was through the smoke. Either way they were right, This flick looks and smells like a Herschel Gordon Lewis movie from the word go. Essentially it's all about this very camp guy who talks like a game show host, and his very short killing spree. It's his modus operandi that makes this all so bizarre though.
"I'm looking for the most evil girl here." he asks, and three times in this film the barman obliges and most evil woman in the room, who the killer promptly takes home, ties to a sacrificial table and systematically, ceremonially guts in a very gory fashion. Three times. And that's it.
Well that's not quite it. There was a police investigation and a bit of a hunt for the killer (with a wonderful "Hunt for the killer montage!" that Zomblee got very excited about), plus a guy who apparently talked in rhymes and according to my notes was very entertaining, but I don't remember much about that at all. Um, over to you guys to see if you can recollect any better.
"I'm looking for the most evil girl here."
Zomblee I love a good montage - especially of the police investigation variety - and I know you guys do, too. Unfortunately though, this montage was probably a) not a very good montage in the first place, and b) probably the best thing in the entire movie. That said, this was certainly something a bit different, unless you have watched Blood Feast recently, because the similarities are alarming and at this time of night I was no doubt expecting Fuad Ramses to walk through the door and present his ridiculously large eyebrows.
So... back to MGM - it's about a nut job who sacrifices "evil" young ladies on his altar. He cuts off a hand, he cuts out a heart, and then ingeniously disposes of the remaining evil lady flesh by placing the remains in a bag which he then leaves on the railway track. Nice eh? Well, if you do happen to catch this turkey, make sure you enjoy these gore scenes for all their worth, because the rest of it is just cops and tits. Loads of tits here, which, thinking about it, can't be such a bad thing. I'm not sure Rawshark would agree though: "There is an abundance of breasts but not all of them good."
I always like to comment on the music, so here I am, commenting on the music. This soundtrack consisted of the most inappropriate 70s disco funk, which no doubt was used during the actual sacrifice scenes, all of which consisted of one and the same close-up knife-in-fake-chest shot over and over again. That's just plain rude if you ask me. Where's Tom Savini when you need him?
"Listen honey, I could probably take first prize in any evil contest!"
Rawshark A guy walks in to a hotel and asks, "Who's the most... Evil?"
Sounds like a joke I know, but Mardi Gras Massacre, known primarily for it’s quite cool and sexy Video artwork, for being one of the 39 films on the original DPP banned list, and also for being quite, er.. crap, is exactly that. A joke of a film that you've most definitely heard before, especially if you've ever witnessed any of HG Lewis' 60s and 70s output.
Luckily we were swimming in non-sobriety by this stage, so were able to overlook the extremely wooden acting (especially from the overly-dramatic villain), the awful music (”He’s sacrificing her to the evil Disco God” - Zomblee) and the terrible gore effects. In fact, the highlight of the whole film (which is pretty much the same scene played three times) is the appearance of the scat-singing Catfish, a pimp who talks in riddles and rhymes that make him seem like Ted Rogers from that awful old game show, 3-2-1.
The final straw though is the absolute misnomer of the title. For a start, all of the sacrifices take place before the Mardi Gras festival (none of the them actually occur on the day of the festival itself), but worst of all is that the FINAL MASSACRE TOTAL is only a measly 3. Only bloody 3? That’s not a massacre! That’s not even a spree!
”I’m the fish, what is your wish?”
Director Jack Weis
Cast Curt Dawson
Laura Misch Owens
Runtime 97 mins
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Is it over? Is it finally over? It had been quite trying, you know. Drive-In wore as down, and Memorial Valley nearly killed us (it did kill Dan, who staggered to his car and drove off after it finished), but luckily Nail Gun woke us all up in time for the ridiculousness that was Mardi Gras. That last picture needed some serious drinking just get us through it, so I didn't even suggest bringing out a dodgy NTSC VHS copy of Slumber Party to make it a round five. Nobody would have made it to the end, so I think I'll save that puppy for Massacre Night 2, which will happen I can assure you.
Tune in next time where things are going to go back to normal with two movies, both of which have zombies in. What do you know?
16th Mar 05 Lewis’s passion for shamelessly soaking the screen red with blood can’t fail to appeal. That was his whole point. Before Blood Feast, he dabbled in nudie / mild exploitation flicks (including...