Blood Legacy (1971)

(courtesy of guest review – GORELORD)

Not too long ago, that maniacal misfit Dr. Psy Chosis asked me, “Where the hell do you find these things anyway?” Of course, he was referring to my wacky horror/sci-fi movie collection of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, I have a variety of sources I like to utilize to help add to the weirdness. Sometimes I hunt around my local flea markets and hock shops. Other times I go out to stores that I know hold some of the stuff I’m looking for. When it comes to an obscure, hard-to-find piece of schlock film making, I contact my good friends at Movies Unlimited, where they have a lot of rare horror and sci-fi. So I usually have no problem finding a fix for my B-movie addiction.

I found this chunk of insane bizarro sleaze in the $5.00 bin at my local hock shop. As they say, one’s man trash is another man’s treasure. Well, whoever trashed this treasure obviously had no taste. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want a hilariously over acted cheesefest featuring brutal bloodbaths and grade Z movie legend John Carradine? Actually, that sentence describes most of Carradine’s films. This one however is a real strange addition to John’s filmography. It’s got a cast full of veteran actors who would probably all consider this one of the weirder movies they’ve appeared in. Of course, if you’ve read some of my past reviews then you’ve probably come to expect this kind of stuff from me. Get used to it! There’s a lot more where this came from.

This one concerns the troubled family of a “dead” millionaire named Christopher Dean (played by John Carradine) who gather at his estate for the reading of a will. In the will (which is a tape recorded message from Christopher Dean), the deceased man states that in order for his four offspring to collect a large inheritance, they must spend a night in his luxurious mansion. If something should happen to them during their stay, the money will be divided among the butler Igor (played by Buck Kartalian), the maid Elga (played by Ivy Bethune), and the chauffeur Frank (played by John Russel). If anything should happen to them, well…

Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that most of this fucked up family aren’t gonna be breathing by the end. The Dean family, which consists of Greg Dean (played by Jeff Morrow), his wife Laura (played by Merry Anders), Victoria Dean (played by Faith Domergue), Johnny Dean (played by Richard Davalos), Leslie Dean (played by Brooke Mills), and her husband Carl (played by John Smith), ain’t your average clan. Especially Johnny and Leslie, who have incestuous desires towards one another. Also, the butler Igor is a crazy sadomasochist who likes to be beaten with a wooden stick. Christopher used to bruise his body with it all the time, much to Igor’s enjoyment.

Someone doesn’t seem to be too fond of the eccentric bunch and begins to prove it in various gruesome ways. It first starts with Greg and Laura’s little dog Chin, who gets too close to the unknown killer and ends up floating in a pond. The local law enforcer Sherrif Garcia (played by Rodolpho Acosta) comes up to the house to investigate and ends up getting violently axed in the forehead a couple of times. His head ends up in the fridge. The director Carl Monson used a brief freeze frame in between axings, which along with some decent gore made the scene more effective. I should say, more effective in a cheesy kind of way.

As usual in films of this nature, I don’t like to give away too much about who gets killed. I will say that there are a few mildly inventive kills, such as a head dunking in a piranha tank and a nasty face stinging by a swarm of bees. Look also for a duel electrocution and just a plain old bullet in the forehead. Something for everyone in the kill department.

As fans of this kind of bargain brand cinema, we crave the terrible dialogue that comes with the territory, and this one isn’t lacking in that. I laughed my ass off when Sheriff Garcia’s car breaks down in the driveway of the estate and he pounds the steering wheel and yells, “Damn it Christopher Dean! You and your kooky family. Hippies ain’t weirdos, you are! Even six feet under. You’re a freak, do you know that?” Or how about when Johnny comments on one of the much used cliches in a horror film and says, “Well, the phone’s dead of course. This is getting to be like some kind of horror film.” I suppose you could call it that, Johnny.

Non-dedicated horror fans who aren’t diehard enough may not want to sit through portions of the movie. At times the movie seems like more of a corny soap opera rather than a horror film. A few scenes drag on for a while as members of the family whine about their dysfunctional childhood’s and attempt to renew old love affairs. Director Carl Monson also attempts to focus quite a bit on the psychological problems of the family members, Johnny in particular. Johnny is constantly tormented by flashbacks of his romp in the sack with his sister Leslie. These flashbacks cause Johnny to act like a demented coke freak and actor Richard Davalos gives new meaning to the term “hamming it up”. The director also tries to give the flashback scenes a few odd psychedelic touches (I guess to keep up with the times), but they just come across as cheap. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

As is the case in a lot of these movies, some of the cast members have past experience in the horror and sci-fi genres. John Carradine being the most obvious, has appeared in all types of horror and sci-fi, from the greats to the most obscure celluloid nightmares. THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), INVASION OF THE ANIMAL PEOPLE (1960), HILLBILLIES IN A HAUNTED HOUSE (1967), BIGFOOT (1970), HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES (1973), THE BOOGEY MAN (1980), and THE HOWLING (1981) are just a handful of the nearly 100 horror films the legendary Carradine has appeared in.

Others in the film are also veterans of science-fiction and horror, including Jeff Morrow, who has appeared in: THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955), THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956), THE GIANT CLAW (1957), and OCTAMAN (1971) among others. Buck Kartalian has also appeared in OCTAMAN, as well as PLANET OF THE APES (1968) and CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972). He also teamed up with the director Carl Monson prior to this in the drug movie THE ACID EATERS (1968), which Monson wrote. And also after this in Monson’s Little Shop of Horrors softcore sex remake PLEASE DON’T EAT MY MOTHER (1971).

So there you have it. This one’s a mixed bag. Some may find it tedious, while others like myself will find this brick of moldy cheese quite tasty. Decent gore and goofy acting galore! This one’s still lingering around on video for those interested. Also known as Legacy of Blood (but not to be confused with the film of the same name).


Zero Effect (1998)

Would you vote for this man? Really?On the surface, Zero Effect appears to be a honest attempt by writer/director Jake Kasdan to bring the classical detective story forward, into the modern world (circa 1998). Obviously, certain conventions of nineteenth century detective fiction had to go away. Others required radical alteration. But take heart: the same dime-store morality that rule the best (and worst) of those nineteenth century tales is still in force here, though good Victorians would hardly recognize it, dressed in its late-twentieth century ambivalence. The film almost succeeds, fumbling only because it feels it must fulfill the expectations of its small-but-vocal audience, rather than fulfilling its own inherent promise.

Depending on how you look at things mysteries have either decayed as a genre or triumphed beyond all expectations. Only Romance enjoys broader social saturation. What’s a story without a Problem for a protagonist to Resolve? And what’s a story without a Love Interest to spice things up and lure women into theaters? So goes the logic of Hollywood marketers and the artists who labor under them, forced to dress even their best ideas in these tried n’ true tropes, the better to “market” them. {More}

Night Warning (1983)

(courtesy of guest reviewer – GORELORD)

Poor Billy Lynch. All he wanted was to go to the University of Denver and pursue a scholarship in basketball. Instead, he was caught up in a world of murder and madness which he could not escape. Aunt Cheryl wouldn’t dare allow it!

I hadn’t really heard of this warped little gem before I stumbled across it at my local flea market one summer morning in 1999. I usually like to go through the many horror film books I own, trying to discover some of the forgotten treasures from the genre. For some reason though, this one escaped me. Well thank the lord for small miracles because this film was a wonderfully twisted surprise.

It’s about an unstable, sexually repressed woman named Cheryl (played by Susan Tyrell) who has been caring for her “nephew” Billy (played by Jimmy McNichol) ever since Billy’s parents were killed in a horrific car crash and explosion 14 years ago. It seems that someone tampered with the break lines, causing the accident. Aunt Cheryl wouldn’t know anything about it, now would she? When Billy begins to look ahead to his future in school and with his cute girlfriend Julie (played by Julia Duffy), Aunt Cheryl’s jealous rage begins to build inside her and her incestuous urges begin to come to the surface. A possible basketball scholarship has Billy looking at leaving for the University of Denver, which is where Julie will also attend. But Aunt Cheryl will have none of it! {More}

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

This is my little contribution to the holiday slasher sub-sub-genre. Why am I doing this instead of, say, reviewing something patriotic for the 4th of July? Because.

Besides, I’m obligated to watch The Patriot. I can’t escape it. It is my destiny! Whether I’ll review it is another story, but, well there you are.

So, let’s get into it, shall we? After Gorelord sent in his rant, I got the Urge. I just had to find these movies (well, the one’s I don’t own). I just had to watch them. And I just had to review them. I mean, come on, two out of seventeen? What kind of crappy average is that? While formatting that rant I realize something: much to my dismay, I had to review more slasher movies.

Here’s your plot. Twenty years ago, in the small, cheerfully named town of Valentine’s Bluff (“A Town with Heart”) a big explosion trapped several workers deep in the local coal mine. The town, in the middle of it’s annual Valentine’s Day Dance, didn’t do a damn thing about it. By the time the mine was cleared, only one man remained.

So he, of course, went on a murderous rampage, killing the Town Fathers, and swearing that, should another Valentine’s Day Dance ever be held again, he would soak the town in blood.

So the town, of course, decides to hold . . . (wait for it) . . . a Valentine’s Day Dance. Wow! I would have never seen that coming in a million years! Gee, Shaggy, you think this will prompt someone to copycat the legendary mad man’s killing spree? Do you think the above mentioned copycat will wear some sort of mask to protect his identity? You think his victims will be sexual promiscuous teenagers and people who say “I’ll be right back,”? Boy, do think the inept Town Leaders will panic and blame the infamous mad man, while simultaneously loosing all powers of reason and judgement?

“Well, I don’t know, Scoob, but I could sure use a joint right now.”

I always knew you were a pothead, Shaggy. But, if you said “yes” to any of the above, well, you’d be right . . . with one exception. While most American Slasher movie’s revolve around an isolated group of teenagers (the kind who would sneak off to the mine in order to have a Valentine’s Day Dance after the official one is canceled, say), this is a Canadian slasher movie. Yes, this flick hails from the land of Terrence and Phillip. This means the movie revolves around an isolated group of miners (and their girlfriends). Wow, what a change, huh?

When the movie isn’t ripping out people’s hearts (and putting them in festive heart shaped boxes), the movie focuses on a love triangle between T.J. (Paul Kelman, who looks like Rufus Sewell from Dark City), Axel (Neil Affleck, no relation to Ben), and the girl they love, Sarah (Lori Hallier, who looks like no one in particular, and acts just the same way). T.J. “went away” somewhere “out west” and came back when things didn’t work out to find Sarah (his former love) going out with Axel.

The love triangle might have worked. And Survivor might win an Emmy. Unfortunately, all 3 of these people are gigantic pantywaists. They spend the whole movie moping and sulking, completely unable to let go of the past, accept the present, or even think about the future. Mostly because Sarah can’t decide what the hell she wants. And T.J. can’t get over the fact that, sometimes, things can’t go back to “the way things were”. These, again, are our leads: giant thirteen year-olds with learning disabilities.

And besides them, we know absolutely nothing about anyone in this movie. People die in stupid ways (one idiot gets two rivets in the head, one for each time he says “I’ll be right back”) and I don’t give a crap about any of them.

Acting ranges from bland to cliched. Writing barely gets a blip on the radar. Jeeze, there aren’t even any good jokes in the sucker.

Now the killer (dressed as a coal miner, complete with helmet and oxygen mask) isn’t all that bad. He gets to kill some people in interesting ways that never get to far Out There. Plus his costume is actually kinda threatening, for a change. If it weren’t for the fact that he uses his powers of Offscreen Teleportation way too much, I might actually like the dude.

The gore FX work here is pretty impressive, too. Severed human hearts and other Evil Acts are well staged. But not even that can save this turkey. Crappy actors, crappy writers, characters you know nothing about . . . there’s almost nothing going for this flick.

Except, of course, the fact that you can really MST3K the crap out of it.