In 1987, after struggling to work within the studio system and the unfortunate box-office performance of Big Trouble in Little China, John Carpenter decided to go rogue once again.
And rogue indeed, producing a straight-faced and strange (maybe even ahead of it’s time) film that I can’t imagine any major studio green-lighting.
What emerged was an atmospheric, dread-drenched affair of Science converging with Religion to prove the existence of God.
Or perhaps more appropriately, the existence of Satan.
Sub-atomic. Moving within the atoms of things, where logic need not apply. Liquid evil. A green, putrid substance filled with all the abominations of the earth.
It was captured and sealed up long ago. A race of Humanoid Aliens, of which Jesus was a member, kept watch. But the truth was hidden. Wrapped in metaphor and buried under ritual.
Now, in light of our faithlessness, it has awoken, and it wants control.
I like Prince of Darkness. It’s a little talkie, sure, and maybe a tad slow, but I don’t mind. I could listen to Egg Shen spout off about theoretical physics all night. Donald Pleasence is solid, even if he feels like he’s just plugged in from The Devil’s Men, andA.J. Simon is only distracting if you actually used to watch Simon and Simon, which you probably didn’t. The supporting players do a fine in their respective roles, including Carpenter regulars like Victor Wong, Peter Jason and Dennis Dun.
And, once the scientists start getting slowly absorbed by the evil and the hobos begin to gather, John turns on the gas a bit.
Speaking of the street people, Alice Cooper jumps in to play the pale-faced, beanie-rockin, head-hobo. He even kills a dude with a rusty, old bike. A dude who happens to be listening to this very song on his Walkman….meta.
Seems this bike was Alice’s own personal prop too, as he used to do this gag live during his stage show. Now thats pretty bitchin’.
Here’s reigning All-Star Alice Cooper rockin’ again with Prince of Darkness.
Odds are you’re not reading this. It’s not exactly rush hour over here at The Shindig. I’m the site administrator. I see the numbers and I wouldn’t call them encouraging.
If you do happen to be reading this though, odds are you don’t really like Pet Sematary 2. That’s just simple math. The number of people who actually like that movie divided by the number of daily visitors this site gets makes it practically fucking impossible for you to be a fan.
You may use such tempered words as “tolerable,”“serviceable,” or perhaps even “forgettable,” to describe your feelings toward it, but I’ll wager “good” probably won’t be among the ones you choose.
Cause let’s face it, it just wasn’t that great of an idea, at least not artistically. Financially, sure, in that they turned 8 million dollars into 17 million at the box office alone. I doubt anyone involved considered that a failure in any monetary sense.
As a movie to just watch (either then or 25 years after the fact) it just doesn’t do enough of anything particularly well to be all that entertaining or to justify its own existence beyond being a sound financial investment.
There are 3 positive things I can say about Pet Sematary 2 however.
It’s a Halloween movie, complete with costumes and trick-or-treating, a Halloween party at the Pet Sematary and a satisfying autumnal-leafy-vibe.
Clancy Brown is well cast and fun to watch. He’s fittingly menacing as the main antagonist and he definitely does all the heavy lifting here.
Someone thought it would be cool if they had The Ramones provided the end credit track again.
And it was. I hope that person got at least a nice piece of that 17 million domestic gross.
Lead-in by the Friday 2-styled, sequel-requisite “tell the story of the previous installment as a spooky campfire story” move, here’s The Ramones returning to the Micmac cemetery with Poison Heart.
PS: that voice you’re hearing is from young actor Jared Rushton, whom some of you may remember as Tom Hanks’ buddy in Big. However, astute Halloweeners may recognize and even younger Jared from Lady In White, where he locked Frankie Scarlatti in the cloak room on Halloween. Yep, Jared is a 2-time Halloween prick and honorary Shindig All-Star. Good work Jared, your agent was pretty keen. Send him a fruit basket.
From 1985’s made-for-TV Halloween bonanza The Midnight Hour comes this creepy curio with so much mid-80’s budget-pop pizazz it even features a Soundwave-styled vocorder performance. Radical!
Harry Belafonte’s daughter Shari (pops wasn’t big on creativity, I guess) stars in the film and sings this tune, perhaps fashioned after the recent mega-hit Thriller.
In fact, the whole project seems to be an attempt to cash-in on Michael’s occult success; semi-spooky, family friendly, monster-mash madness with a throwback, 50’s drive-in flare. And this tune, an ensemble dance number staged at a Halloween party, appears to be the piece de resistance.
Though clearly made for TV and a little toothless, The Midnight Hour is a pretty enjoyable and festive addition to anyone’s October line-up. It’s even a fair bit more creepy than something you’d imagine was just made for TV.
You’ll get some fun guest appearances too, from the likes of Spaceball’s King Roland, Clarence Boddicker, that one guy from 21 Jumpstreet, UHF’s R.J. Fletcher, Yori from Tron and The Reading Rainbow Dude who wore that bitchin’ visor on Star Trek. Studded.
Plus there’s tons of Halloween ambiance, creepy Thriller-Lite graveyard scenes, a lot of cool make-ups and FX, a bunch of fun Halloween costumes, more monsters than you can shake a stick at and this kickin’ ‘digger. What more could you want from an October evening’s Televison adventure?
A lot of people dislike Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood. I’m not one of them, but they exist and I can’t say I don’t blame them.
Its heavily censored kills feel like highway robbery, it has one most disappointing endings in the series, the teenage fodder on display isn’t particularly interesting and the film just feels tired. Psychic girl unwittingly resurrects Jason? C’mon…
However, 7 has a lot going for it. I think of it as Jason’s last hoorah, for it’s the last time he’s in his element doing what he does best, before he takes off to Manhattan, other peoples bodies, Hell, Space, Elm Street, and ultimately Remakewood. Say what you want about 7, it never gets this good (or as true to itself) again.
But it is stretching its limits, as the whole thing finally succumbs to the Elm Street Effect and goes full-on supernatural.
The psychic angle, while a bit much, offers some interest though. Mainly, it puts a new spin on a formula that had already well worn out its welcome, having seen probably it’s best reworking in Jason Lives. It also finally gives Jason a formidable opponent, something really unseen up to this point in the series, silly as that opponent might be.
However, New Blood’s biggest plus come in the form of Jason himself, namely the addition of literal new blood, Kane Hodder, and the make-up work of John Bulcher.
Jason never looked this good before, or after. This is it. This is the most badass Jason around. With his spine-exposed and masked destroyed, he’s constantly dripping water and stalking around with a menace unmatched. And lets face it, that’s what we’re all here to see.
The soundtrack is coming up pretty short here too, in my opinion. Mostly just handed over to prog-wavers FM out of what feel like laziness, the songs never play much prominence, or hit any high notes. Even the score here feels wrong.
However, I’ve chosen one of those FM tracks for the Shindig, mostly so I can rant a little about 7 and post some gifs. Besides, that opening narration is too cool not too use somewhere.
And as if the psychic wasn’t Elm Street enough for you, this song’s all about dreaming. Sure, it’s a more figurative kind of dreaming, but I still I think it’s safe to say that by 1987, Freddy was winning the fight.
Freddy Krueger: What can be said about the quintessential 80’s man-specter that hasn’t been said a thousands different times by a thousand different nerds? Who am I to pretend like I’ve got some groundbreaking shit to drop on you? I’m no one, and I don’t, so I won’t. I’m simply another nerd with a foolishly myopic blog, so I’ll just stick to the script.
Freddy (whether I’ve said this before or not I can’t recall) is the reigning champ of horror tunes. He owns the 80’s pop-music-via-monster-icon scene. The guy even cut his own album. He’s all over it.
Jason comes close, but the Friday people didn’t fully climb aboard this particular train until part 6, and they never really bought a ticket. Freddy was shoveling coal in it’s boiler room.
And from jump too, as even his first outing got its own little referentially inclusive tune in the form of 213’sNightmare.
Well, who the fuck is 213? Apparently they’re no ones, as no one seems to have any information on these guys. Well, aside from the painfully obviously “they were some local LA band that provided this track” or the goofier and obviously nonsensical “they were Johnny Deep’s band” theory.
Whoever they were, they’ll go down in the Shindig’s book as they guys who churned out that thoroughly apropos end credit song from the original Nightmare On Elm Street, and baby, that’s enough.
So, up yours with a twirling lawnmower,…whatever the hell that even means.
Speaking of Paul Williams, let’s take this moment to segue right into one of Horror’s most beloved rock operas, Brian DePalma’s 1974 pitch-perfect send-up of the entire recording industry, Phantom of the Paradise.
Elements of Faust, Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Portrait of Dorian Gray and even a little Dr. Phibes are fused together to tell a tale of love, betrayal, fame and revenge set to the backdrop of the doped-out, sinister 70’s music scene.
The Phantom, Winslow Leach, in his awesome modular tomb!
Williams scored the entire film for DePalma, and stars as Swan, the unscrupulous producer who collects talents and souls for his Death Records label.
Phantom is unique, visually arresting, kinetic and humorous all in equal measure. From DePalma’s active camera, to Gerritt Graham’s flamboyant Beef, to Winslow’s killer Phantom disguise, to Swan’s bitchin’ giant record-shaped desk, to the parodic music, to the satire – it’s all just works.
Even getting Rod Serling himself to handle the opening narration is like a stroke of genius.
Here we have the film’s final track, a rocking little number played over the picture credits, that has all the seeming of Satan himself speaking directly to Swan.
If you’ve never seen Phantom of the Paradise, give this pop-rock-horror-satire a spin this October. And if you already love it, watch it again, just for the hell of it!
While fairly understated and never quite as rousing as it seems like it should be, The Devil’s Men is a somewhat worthwhile endeavor, if only to see card-carrying good guy Peter Cushing all cloaked out and evil, raising a 10 foot, fire-breathing Minotaur statue he calls “lord.” Oh yeah, and all the creepy robed Minotaur worshippers. Oh yeah and them all exploding at that end. That shit is pretty awesome.
But it’s mostly worth seeing for the grooviest title track this side of Scream and Sceam Again, which incidentally, Cushing also appears.
Paul Williams, whom many of you may know well from his performance in and musical contributions to, Brian DePalma’s Phantom Of The Paradise, wrote and produced this shindigger. And props all around, cause it’s a doozy.
However, much like the last 2 cuts in this True Title Track block, someone had it out for TheDevil’s Men, someone who sucked at their job.
They took it and retitled it Land Of The Minotaur. Which (while in and of itself isn’t such a bad title) seems pretty unnecessary, particularly during the 70’s satanic panic where one would imagine a film called The Devil’s Men might play just fine.
They also saw fit to removed a bunch of violence and all the nudity. Seriously? What’s next? Did they cut out an awesome Title Track too?
Yes! That’s exactly what they did, and they should be tried and hung for the successive severity of their crimes.
So, if your gonna watch The Devil’s Men, make sure you watch The Devil’s Men, and not Land of the Minotaur, cause it doesn’t have a lot going for it to begin with, and the censored version removes just about every reason there is to watch it at all. For shame.
Here, now returned to its former glory, it’s Paul Williams with The Devil’s Men!
Aerobicide/Woman On Fire by Mary Hylan/Jill Colucci
For a certain type of 80’s horror junkie, Aerobicide might be a wet dream come true.
There’s a formulaic and totally telegraphed whodunit plot. There’s an impractical and ridiculously oversized safety pin for a murder weapon. There’s an awesome hard-boiled detective. There’s even awesomer private investigator played by 80’s cheeseball-badass Ted Prior. There’s cheap karate, a rake fight, nudity and no shortage of 80’s babes in workout gear getting physical.
But above all, there’s absolutely relentless 80’s synth-pop soundtrack.
However, there’s a couple injustices besetting this soundtrack. Namely, it was never officially released. Why? This thing is great. And why hasn’t anyone resurrected it yet? Where’s Death Waltz Records on this forgotten gem of a soundtrack?
There are rumors of promotional copies floating around that were release in ’84. It’s also said that all of the songs were released separately on 7″ vinyls by their various artists. Good luck finding any of those.
Secondly, and most unfortunately, the greatest of all these tracks is featured so briefly in the film it beggars belief. Worst of all, it’s the film’s Title Track. What? This isn’t the song played over the credits? This is the song that gets barely a minute of screen time so as we can’t even steal it properly? What cruel rouse is this?
Perhaps it can be explained by the inexplicable decision to retitle the film Killer Workout. Why would someone do such a thing? Is Aerobicide too high-concept? Too confusing? Similar to Land of the Minotaur, it’s not a bad title on its own. But when you compare it to Aerobicide, it’s no contest.
And because of that, this song should be all over this movie, or at the very least played during the credits. As a people, we need this whole song.
But, beggars can’t be choosers, so well provide what’s available of that track and just lead it into the aptly titled Woman on Fire by Jill Colucci, cause what else can we do?
On a side note, if you happen to find the voice of Jill Colucci sounds a bit familiar to you, it may be because she’s responsible for the theme to America’s Funniest Home Videos. Ok, that’s pretty weird.
For now, take what you can get and try to grab a copy of Aerobicide for yourself, which was finally made a whole lot easier last year when Slasher//Video released both a DVD and Blu-Ray of a video transfer.
Oh, and keep and eye out for this spray paint, which predates the film Death Spa by about 3 years. Coincidence? I dunno, but these 2 would make for one heaving, sweaty double-feature.
There’s an 80’s horror fan reading this right now. Aerobicide is their favorite movie, they just don’t know it yet.
If there’s one thing The Shindig hates, it’s when foolish producers try to bench a perfectly good Title Track. The Shindig lives for Title Tracks and finds this practice to be an affront to both the movies and their visionary creators.
A great example is our next digger, a song we absolutely love, Fall Break.
Now this is a Title Track; tailor made, vaguely referential, tonally incongruous and totally bizarre. It sounds like an 80’s sitcom theme and it’s awesome.
But somebody with a suit and a wallet thought no one would watch a movie called Fall Break. He was probably right. It’s a strange title. Is Fall Break even a thing? I’ve never heard of it outside of this movie. We certainly never got one growing up. Fuck, the school year just started, they need a break already? It sounds like some lame version of Spring Break in New Hampshire with no bikinis. Who’s getting jazzed for Fall Break?
Nobody, that’s who, and the money guys know it. They want rentals at the local Video Stop, and that same nobody is renting Fall Fucking Break.
Enter: The Mutilator.
People wanna see The Mutilator. Hell, I wanna see The Mutilator, it sounds tough as shit. It’s direct, violet, unambiguous, and a hell of the lot more intriguing then whatever stupid shit is happening in, what did you say that title was again? Fall Break? Yeah, that’s gotta go.
”But the movies already been made, cut and released as Fall Break. We even have a song called Fall Break playing during the opening credits and everything!”
Yeah, whatever to that bullshit, it’s The Mutilator now.
And a Title Track died.
Except, technically the film was released as Fall Break, so here on The Shindig we’re keepin it real; resurrecting all Title Tracks and returning them to their rightful seats on the throne!
Fall Break, like its title, is a strange song. It’s a great fit for the playlist, inspiring autumnal images perfectly befitting our night of All Hallows. As a Title Track to the film however, it feels a little out of place.
As mentioned above, it seriously sounds like a sitcom theme, with a tone straight off the Silent Night, Deadly Nightsoundtrack. There’s nothing ominous here. In fact, it’s a rather nice love song of sorts, ringing with the hopeful promise of an Autumn getaway; beer, football, leaves, skinny dipping and fun at a beach house. In a way, I guess it’s like the beginning of a slasher movie. No fear, just fun. Maybe it’s not so out of place after all.
Speaking of the beach house, here’s a warning to all would-be college kids seeking a weekend getaway at a similar beach front condo…
If the man who owns the house has a framed picture of a guy he “accidentally” murdered with his ski boat – leave. That’s it. Just take off. Politely excuse yourself, and say “Nope. Not stayin’ here. I hope you understand, but that photo is just too much” and leave. I don’t care if dude’s there or not. Doesn’t matter. Just terminate your presence immediately.
Because this is not just any picture of the guy, mind you, it’s a photo of his actual corpse. Not the guy hanging out during better times, ya know, as a nice reminder of their friendship – it’s his dead fucking body, gore strewn, presumably only minutes after the incident.
This photo is crazy. Why does Big Ed have this picture, and framed no less!? Why aren’t any of Ed Jr.’s friends the least bit perturbed by this photo? It’s absolute madness.
As far as the movie is concerned, I’d say apart from a couple of pretty interesting murders staged by Anthony Show and Mark Shostrum (who would later go on to produce FX for Dream Warriors and Evil Dead 2 amongst other things) Fall Break is a rather throwaway mid-era slasher devoid of any laughs, intentional or otherwise.
There’s barely any skin and all the tension of an untied shoe, kind of like the prospect of a Fall Break. Essentially, this is a who-dun-it where you already know who-dun-it before they’ve even dun-it. What’s the point? I dunno, some cool gore scenes, I guess. Oh yeah, and an awesome title track.
Speaking of which, here it is, the best thing about Fall Break, its Peter Yellen and The Breakers with Fall Break!