Saturday, February 6, 2010

Death Ship - 1980 - Dir: Alvin Rakoff
Location: Micah's Theater
Horror Movie Night

This week's Horror Movie Night selection was a classic horror at sea film that I had never seen but glad I watched. A cruise ship goes down and only a few people remain alive on a raft floating in the middle of the sea. This group boards a mysterious black ship anchored in the middle of nowhere and strange things begin to happen. Evidently this was a Nazi torture ship and some ghosts still exist if for no other reason than to kill off anyone who comes aboard. Along the way the sunken cruise ship's captain, Ashland (George Kennedy), is possessed by an evil Nazi spirit and he helps the ship try to kill off the rest, including is second-in-command Trevor Marshall (Richard Crenna) and his wife and two kids.

I'm not sure if this is the best horror film set on a ship, but it's certainly better than Ghost Ship. There are some pretty weird choices when it comes to the use of things like slow-motion. In a big chase sequence the slow-mo is just plain weird but that's not the only odd thing about this film. Marshall's young son spends half of his screen time peeing, or asking to pee. At one point they even show the boy urinating on the deck of the titular death ship. The gore is relatively light in this film save for a couple brief scenes but there is a blood shower and that is definitely awesome.

My favorite comment about this movie has to be something Micah said via his twitter. "You can tell George Kennedy has turned evil because he's reading from a German Bible (Picture to prove it). That about sums it up.

Black Caesar - 1973 - Dir: Larry Cohen
Location: Micah's Theater
Alamo Drafthouse Weird Wednesday

What a great way to kick of February, aka Blaxploitation Month!

This film is the story of Tommy Gibbs who spent the majority of his youth behind bars for whatever B.S. reason the man had to put him there, but dreamed of a time when he would get out and run things like the crime bosses he admired. He takes the initiative and kills a guy with a contract on him and becomes the first black guy to get in good with the Italian crime syndicate. Over the years he rapid moves up and starts to run things just the way he always wanted. He gets the power and the money but he still wants revenge.

First and foremost the awesome that is Fred Williamson plays Gibbs and he is the epitome of badass. It's not hard to see why he was such a mainstay of Blaxploitation films. The film tells a great story that's much like Scarface and other organized crime films in a way except taking place in Harlem in the 60s and 70s, and it's much shorter. This is one of those instances where the film is not long enough Marcus hit the nail on the head when he said this should have been a mini-series. If not that, having another hour to the runtime could have only helped the story because it seemed to skip over things. There is a sequel, Hell Up in Harlem, which I will definitely be watching.

Many of the Blaxploitation films are known for a ton of racial slurs but this one might take the cake for the widest variety. Anyone can throw around an N-word, but I think every race gets every derogatory word thrown at them that I have ever heard, and probably some I didn't even know existed.

This is still a great Blaxploitation flick you should check out, made by the man behind such classic films as The Stuff and the original It's Alive series. Luckily it's still available on DVD so pick it up here.

Alternate Title
- The Godfather of Harlem

Return to Horror High - 1987 - Dir: Bill Froehlich
Location: The Comfort of My House

This DVD has been on my self for at least a couple years now and I just finally got around to watching it. What I got was something very different than what I expected. The plot concerns a school where a bunch of grizzly murders occurred and the film crew who came years later to make a movie about the story. While there they are all killed except for one, by an unknown person so you are left with a movie about making a movie about some real horrific events.

This is not all horror because there are plenty of laughs thrown in, some on purpose and others from 80s cheese. There are mullets a plenty, including one adorning the scalp of a young George Clooney! His performance is brief, but funny nonetheless. Another famous face in the film is Marcia from The Brady Bunch, Maureen McCormick. In the film she plays a very sexual police officer in the wraparound story who has a very odd side to her. She comes out from the school with her uniform shirt unbuttoned most of the way, blood all over her kneck and chest and looks sexier than I have ever seen her.

At times during the film it's hard to tell what is actually happening or if it's part of the fake movie being made, but that's part of the fun. Then you get to the end and everything gets really weird. I was very confused, but in retrospect I can't think of a better way to end the film. It must be seen to be believed, as does the FX guy's hair, lucky for you the DVD is only ten bucks right here!


Beth said...

I tend to agree - Return to Horror High was definitely confusing at times, but I couldn't help but be entertained anyway :)

btsjunkie said...

George Kennedy definitely made Death Ship. Loved him in that movie. The fact that our introduction to him as the CAPTAIN OF A SHIP is him saying "I hate passengers" is classic!

I immediately put Cohen's other blaxploitation movies (BONE and HELL UP IN HARLEM) in my queue after BLACK CAESAR. Totally dug it. That last confrontation goes places I did NOT expect... Should have known better with Cohen. Haha.

I saw RETURN TO HORROR HIGH maybe 10 years ago. Remember liking it but your write-up has made me want to revisit it.

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