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Deadtime Stories is another of the ever growing gore crammed horror multi-packs from Brentwood Home Video, featuring a sundry mix of some popular titles, with ones that you may never have come across before. It also features a showdown, of sorts, between a pair of horror movie regular Cameron Mitchell and director Amando de Ossorio. It’s not a Freddy vs. Jason like showdown, but more of a marquee battle, since both guys boast three appearances each within the collection. Here’s the rundown…
Horror Rises From The Tomb (1973)
The version on this disc is actually under an alternate title (marked with lame-o video graphics) — Horror From The Tomb. Don’t let that discourage you, though, because all the good parts (i.e naughty bits) are still intact. The story is your basic evil guy comes back from the dead after some curious arty-fart types wanna play séance, and ignorantly bring upon themselves the dead guys wrath. Fans of Paul Naschy (here as Jacinta Molina - the Spanish Lon Chaney — will rejoice at his murderous turn as the 16th century knight who comes back to life to quench his bloody lust. The good part is that the dead guy likes to have all his women naked when he takes their souls for damnation. What a dude! Also featured as the focus of his lust is the adorable Emma Cohen, the scream queen of many a Spanish gore flick.
Zombie Flesh Eater (1975)
The third installment in the gory, zombie line of director Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead series. This time the Knights Templar are back to snatch up some buxom young models adrift at sea in a fashion media-stunt gone wrong. Ossorio should have killed these zombies long ago, but hey, that’s the horror genre for you. Always ready to milk the cash cow even after it’s expired.
Unfortunately, this transfer is probably the weakest that I’ve seen on a Brentwood Video. The opening 10 minutes are marred with tape wrinkles from the source videotape. But, again, I reiterate that the real appeal to these collections is quantity, not quality.
The Demon (1979)
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horror movie out of South Africa before, but now I can say that I have. The plot revolves around a disfigured monster of a man who stalks the female teachers from a nursery school. Why? I’m not real sure. I just know that the guy sits in his room and rips up pictures of magazine models all night. Guess maybe he finally wanted to see what tearing up a real girl felt like. Writer/director Percival Rubens was obviously influenced by previous slasher greats, borrowing the supernatural undertones of Michael Myers existence, and the sadistic creepiness of the killer-in-the-house from Black Christmas. But The Demon lacks the skill to build the thrills found in those two films. For half the movie Rubens has Cameron Mitchell running around, picking up psychic clues with his ESP, trying to solve the murder a young girl at the open of the film. Mitchell never does cross paths with the killer, or uncovers any good clues. Then, out of nowhere, the mother of the murdered girl shoots him… but not before taunting him with the age old question, “Did you predict that this would happen?” Bang! On with the rest of the unrelated plotline.
The last ten minutes are the real treat in this creeper, when the malevolent killer finally catches up with the heroine (Jennifer Homes). Don’t ask me why but just when the creep has the girl cornered, she sheds her bathrobe to keep the killer off her track. How this trick was supposed to confuse him, I don’t really know, and I don’t really care. All I know is that she had to run around in her all-outs for the next five minutes. What an ending!
Night Of The Ghoul (1975)
Nothing like a couple Hammer Horror alumnus to class up the joint. Freddie Francis, director of many a Hammer Studio classic (and lenser of some great films like Scorsese’s Cape Fear), teams up with the legendary Peter Cushing for the last time in this moody tale of dark secrets in a dark English mansion. Though this was not officially a Hammer production (Hammer closed it’s doors after To the Devil a Daughter earlier in 1975), the filming took place at Pinewood Studios, a popular Hammer hangout. Look for John Hurt in one of his earlier and creepier performances.
Night Of The Death Cult (1975)
Amando de Ossorio must have had some extra time on his hands in 1975, cuz he pumped out the fourth and final installment of his wicked Blind Dead series. This time around the Templar Knights terrorize a small seaside village, capturing and raping the young virgins left tied up by the raging waters, sacrificed by the town’s frightened elders. Feel free to use and abuse the FF-button on your remote on this one. You won’t miss a bit of story, but it will save you from yawning through the long-winded, redundant sequences of the slow-footed old ladies dragging virgin after virgin down to the beach. Then, the knights enter on horseback, slo-mo style, to snatch the damsels up. Don’t forget to put it back to “play” to catch all the nudity after the virgins are dragged to the cave. But, when that’s all over, hit the FF again, cuz the crabs that crawl in to eat the virgin’s remains are ten times slower than the old ladies on the beach. These Blind Dead movies do tend to drag on, but the eerie look of the skeletal, long whiskered, hooded Knights Templar will give you nightmares for weeks.
Fangs Of The Living Dead (1969)
Amando de Ossorio is back in the director’s seat with this witty parody of the gothic vampire thriller. Anita Ekberg stars as the young damsel who inherits a gloomy old castle. When she arrives she finds it still inhabited by a rather youthful looking distant uncle, and his bevy of sexy young ladies. Naturally, she falls head over heels for this charismatic relative, and her fiancé has to come rescue her. And naturally, the fiancé and his buddy fall under the spell of the nubile vampiresses, who flit about the castle. Loaded with great performances and dialogue.
Night Train To Terror (1985)
Imagine what it would be like to have three previously released full length gore flicks crammed into 90 minutes, separated by some innocuous conversations between God and Satan. Then imagine what it would be like to throw in the crazy kids from Footloose in to do their own little MTV thing. One crazy mess, you say? That’s exactly what Night Train turns out to be. It looks as thought the production company had a bunch of clunkers lying around the studio floor, so they hired a hack editor to cram the stories together into a Tales From the Crypt style flick. The resulting effect is equal to watching a 90 minute film with your fast-forward button. The only good part to this flick is Cameron Mitchell in a really buffoonish role.
Memorial Valley Massacre (1988)
What appears to be a stab at combining the body count of all those campers-stalked-by-killer flicks with the modern caveman charm of The Hills Have Eyes, really turns out to be a hilariously amusing (unintentional humor abounds!) and generally goreless horror movie. Cameron Mitchell strikes again as the greedy camp owner who ignores the obvious signs that trouble is straight ahead and opens his desert camp to the public. Soon, the more nubile patrons fall prey to an ugly dude in a loin cloth. Some good Friday night popcorn munching fun with this flick.
Slaves of The Cannibal God (1978)
This amusing and disturbing movie tries to capture the charm of the heroic jungle safari actioner - often packed with big name stars — with the guttural ferocity of the cannibal gore flick - often packed with real jungle pygmies. The result is a cannibal gore flick with a budget! Ursula Andress and Stacy Keach beat a jungle path through cannibal country in hopes to find a stash of gold. Along for safari is a cast of no-name extras who all end up on a veritable buffet table of bloody body parts. As usual, these cannibal flicks are heavy on gore and gratuitous real-life animal death sequences (an iguana gets eviscerated and eaten by the jungle folk, and a monkey is slowly suffocated and swallowed up by a snake) - not for the queasy movie patron!
The Severed Arm (1973)
Oh boy! What a miserable end to an otherwise impressive collection. I can’t even recommend this flick on the it’s-so-bad-it’s-good ticket. What a huge mess this movie is. The writer has absolutely no idea how to craft a story or develop tension… and character development? Forget it. The story (?) is about a bunch of guys who get trapped in a cave and, after fearing they’ve been long forgotten, draw straws to see who will sacrifice an arm for dinner. Ironically, just as they hold the loser down and saw off his limb, their rescuers come a-knockin’. Years later, it appears the armless man is out to get revenge. For the rest of the hour and a half the viewer tries to figure out why the police haven’t been called in, or why each guy puts himself in harms way by insisting on going out alone in the dark, knowing his arm is then next to fall. This one is a true clunker.
A final note on the Deadtime Stories collection - an excellent collection, this box set is one of my early favorites from Brentwood. Though it doesn’t have any extras at all, and only has one letterboxed version (Slaves Of The Cannibal God), the variety of films is fairly broad, ranging from cannibal gore, to zombies roaming, to serial killers, to classy gothic chills. Good stuff!
Barry Meyer is a writer living with gory pygmies in the jungles of Jersey.
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