The Lost Highway's B-movie Reviews and Cult Films
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Dec

 

1980 – R – 87 Minutes – Scorpion Releasing
Starring Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Linda Gentile – Directed by David Hess

You mean to tell me that there’s a Christmas slasher flick written by The Incredible Melting Man himself, Alex Rebar and directed by David Hess, the sadistic Krug from The Last House on the Left? Well, sign me up! This sounds like a jolly-good show! You would think so, right? David Hess was a talented actor, but as a director, there’s nothing that really sticks out about To All A Goodnight. It’s a bland looking movie, not even using the Christmas element or lighting to make it stick out on a visual level. I wouldn’t say that it’s poorly directed, but it’s not exactly a masterpiece in cinematography. The writing is about as stock as a slasher can get, like made-from-the-can kind of slasher. Just pop that open, dump all the contents into a bowl and microwave it for five minutes. Sure, it may smell like a slasher film, but it sure doesn’t taste the same.

It’s hard to tell whether or not the writer and director duo wanted to capture the same spirit as Friday the 13th or if they were just hired guns, although I think it may be the latter considering the two are actually quite talented people. The film does reek of producers stepping in and taking control. After all, producers always know what’s best and have never screwed up a film. Ahem.  Again, that’s speculation on my half, but either way the end product isn’t really all that impressive, but I do have to admit there is a certain kind of sleaze to it that makes it watchable.

The story starts off in the past during Christmas vacation at the Calvin Finishing School For Girls where a prank goes horribly wrong, as they usually do in a horror film, and a girl falls off a balcony to her death, kinda reminding me of Prom Night, which came out the same year. So, there’s your slasher’s motive. If it feels like you’ve seen this done a hundred times before, it’s probably because you have. Fast forward two years later and the five girls responsible, Nancy, Melody, Leia, Trisha and Sam, have whatever reason to stay at school for Christmas break once again, which is quite a convenient coincidence for our killer. There is another girl, Cynthia, but she’s dispatched of by the killer only moments after being on screen that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Each girl takes on a cliched trope, but all seem to share the personality of spoiled, selfish teenage girl, making all but the lead, Nancy, unlikable. But hey, if there is anything that modern slashers have taught me, it’s who needs likable characters in a slasher?

All girls just wanna have fun, but how can a group of girls do that if their bothersome house mother, Mrs. Jensen, is there to babysit them? Why, by drugging her of course. Something about this feels very wrong, as the girls slip some sleeping pills into her milk and off to bed she goes. Now the girls can invite their rich, alcoholic boyfriends in their private jet, drink and get laid, basically every girl’s Christmas dream. Hell, porn legend Henry Reems (under the name Dan Stryker, a name better suited for a terrible ’70s cop show) pilots the spoiled, young men to the party. Now that there is a whole slew of victims, it’s pretty much paint by numbers here. Eventually one or two wonder off to do their own thing, usually sex, and get killed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a slasher, heck, it’s encouraged, but the kills are so dull and virtually bloodless that it hardly qualifies as entertaining. The only thing that really sticks out in my mind at the moment (which keep in mind it’s only been a few moments since I’ve seen it) is a Mario Bava-esque inspired killing when one couple is going about the horizontal rumba, the guy on top is shot in the back with an arrow, pinning down his lady lover and she is promptly decapitated. Oh, did I mention that the killer is hiding in a suit of knight armor when this happens? What I’m more interested in is how he found the time and snuck into knight’s armor all quiet and patiently waited in there until a couple decided to have sex right in that room in that exact spot placed in front of them. It’s actually pretty clever… or poorly thought out screenwriting.

Why, there’s even a Crazy Ralph knock-off named… Ralph. What the hell, why not? The film has absolutely no shame in ripping off Friday the 13th‘s fan favorite prophet of doom. He’s not only an obvious red herring (even by 1980 standards, near the beginning of the slasher genre), but he’s literally a red herring, dressed in red onesie and carrying around gardening sheers, spouting out nonsense about evil and protecting the girls and blah, blah, blah. I don’t know at what point slasher flicks decided that it would be implied that this particular type of character would be a simpleton, but even for the lowest common denominator of slashers, this feels pretty weak. Like, a copy of a copy of a copy. The man is essentially a giant toddler in his red underoos and his seemingly childish behavior and babbling.

At this point, the film is going to be taking the have-sex-and-get-killed rule a little too serious since just about every character is having sex or attempting to have sex and immediately murdered for it. I can picture in my head an overweight, balding producer demanding more sex and nudity and trying to justify it by murdering the teenagers for it. Of course, the final girl, Nancy, no longer feels like part of an ensemble, but sticks out like a sore thumb. Like, putting an Amish girl in a crowded punk rock show. While the others are drinking and having intercourse, she’s walking around fully clothed in what looks like a 1920’s nightgown and drinking a glass of milk. You know, just in case you couldn’t tell she’s the innocent one. So, one by one, or two by two actually, their numbers dwindle until it’s Nancy and some geeky guy who only got a handjob, so I guess that doesn’t count as intercourse, so he gets to survive. Now, I wouldn’t want to steal the excitement of revealing who the killer is from you, but if you really want to know, just think about who’s left alive. Yeah, it’s pretty underwhelming. I will tell you that it very much echos Friday the 13th, wherein a mother is seeking revenge for the death of her child. It’s pretty predictable in that sense, plus you know, Friday the 13th did it, so every cheap slasher film had to also.

If you thought that To All A Goodnight was a quick, cheap cash in on the then new slasher boom, you’d be correct. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, even for 1980, that I’ve mentioned was basically the start of the slasher boom, this one feels like a really, really bad cash-in. It’s like it took a look at Friday the 13th and Halloween and basically just said, “yeah, do that, but we don’t want to spend a whole lot of money and it has to be done next week.” This was the only film David Hess directed and to his credit, it’s not the direction that’s terrible… it’s everything else. To be fair, Alex Rebar would go on to write Demented and that was a pretty decent film. However, there is a sleazy vibe present throughout the movie and perhaps that’s because of the low budget nature of it, but it could also be porn star Harry Reems presence in the film.

I do have to ask, where were all the protesters and whiners when this movie came out? Silent Night, Deadly Night was targeted, picketed and pulled from theaters, but you never saw one person complain about a killer Santa in To All a Goodnight after their children saw an ad for it. Well, there’s your answer right there; it’s all in the marketing. I couldn’t find any information about the film’s budget or even so much a TV promo or radio spot. Plus, this movie is pretty awful and nobody cares if you protest a bad movie.

 

As time has been proof of, To All A Goodnight isn’t regarded as a great holiday classic or even a good slasher flick. It’s there and it exists and I’d recommend checking it out at least once, but I get the feeling it’s not going to be something you’ll get a hankering to watch every so often. Not even at Christmas.

Check out the whole dang movie.

Nov

posted by admin | November 16, 2017 | 70's b-movies, 70's movies

Comments Off on Logan’s Run: Pure 70s sci-fi

Logan’s Run

“Welcome to the future. Our wall light technology is centuries ahead of yours”

It’s the 23rd century and the human race is confined to a giant indoor golf dome where life is full of no work, all play and for some reason no indoor golfing. Instead you’re killed off when you hit the ripe old age of 30 in a weird 70’s disco version of Cirque Du Soleil. I guess it’s some sort of societal right of passage to thin the herd. You even have a little red light on your hand to remind you it’s time to go. Kinda like a mortality alarm clock without a snooze button. The few people tha try to escape the dome are known as runners and the police that track them are known as Sandmen. Logan played by Michael York is a Sandman who learns the truth of their society (who in turn has his light-hand switch to dead) and starts his own running man game. Along with his new found girlfriend Jessica played by Jenny Agutter, they make their way to the legend of sanctuary to escape the dome and bring the truth back to their people. The truth is pretty lame as they find it’s just an old crazy guy with a thousand cats. Maybe they should have just stayed in the golf dome. Maybe next time they’ll try to scout for a better location. If you like THX 1138 you’ll love this movie. Great 70’s sci-fi nostalgia.

rated 8.3 out of 10
learn more about this movie at imbd.com

Sep

posted by admin | September 26, 2017 | Feature

Comments Off on What is a superstition?

“What is a superstition? A well-known encyclopedia defines this word as a prejudice, which is a belief in supernatural, in forces from the other world. A superstitious man is one who relies not on logic and common sense, but on some irrational speculation and classified stereotypes of society. This phenomenon is spread among all types of people. Even among celebrities. Guys from rouletteonline.net made an infographic with some interesting information regarding popular stars and their superstitions. ”




See infographic here
(via www.rouletteonline.net)www.rouletteonline.net.

Aug

posted by admin | August 9, 2017 | Feature

Comments Off on Overview of the Planet of the Apes

 

One of the more successful blockbuster releases from this summer was War for the Planet of the Apes, which is the latest instalment in a franchise that will reach its 50th anniversary during 2018. That was when the initial adaptation of the novel was released and in the years since it has proven to be one of the most enduring franchises, even moving successfully into other entertainment platforms.

Original film series

The novel that the Planet of the Apes film from 1968 was based on was French and had the title La Planete des Singes, when it was published five years earlier. That original film starred Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowell and was a huge hit at the time – as well as going on to become an iconic film of its era. There are very few people who are not familiar with the closing scene featuring a destroyed Statue of Liberty, which has been affectionately parodied many times. The box office success of the film led to a string of sequels, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, during the early 1970s. These lacked the star power and critical acclaim of the original, but proved reasonably successful at the box office – albeit none achieved anything close to the $33,395426 worldwide box office gross of the first film. By the time of the final film in 1973, the sense of diminishing returns was clear, backed up by worldwide box office figures of just $8,800,000, and the franchise disappeared from cinema screens for nearly thirty years.

Other mediums

Perhaps this was partly down to oversaturation as this era also saw a television series launched – with McDowell on board. The show centred on a similar premise to the original film, with humans oppressed by apes in the future, but did not prove a hit with audiences and was cancelled after one series. There was also an animated series – Return to the Planet of the Apes – briefly screened in 1975, but this failed to find an audience. The franchise has made a much more successful move into other entertainment mediums in recent years however, with the launch of spin-offs like the themed Planet of the Apes slot game.

Burton reboot

The franchise was finally revived in 2001 by acclaimed director Tim Burton, following a long period in development, and his Planet of the Apes featured stars like Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham-Carter. Burton was criticised by many fans of the original for the changes he made to the story however and the film flopped at the box office.

Current film series

The franchise then lay fallow for another decade until being rebooted as Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, which featured a storyline about humans raising a genetically enhanced chimpanzee. This proved to be the real rebirth of the series and was followed by this summer’s film, which won praise from critics for its thoughtful and adult depiction of war.

Last year saw the announcement that a fourth film in the new series would be made, and the studio might give us more information on that next year, to coincide with the anniversary

Jun

posted by admin | June 9, 2017 | Feature

Comments Off on Jurassic World 2: Is it Time to Leave the Island?

 

Source: Jurassic Park on Facebook.

Whether it’s Archaeopteryx, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurs Rex or the humble chicken, there’s a dinosaur for everyone out there – and still more being dug up; the Chinese Beibeilong sinensis or “baby dragon” was found inside a fossilized egg and made the news worldwide as recently as May of this year. Our near universal love of giant lizards is encapsulated by just one movie series though: Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.

A film that made cinemagoers fear long grass the way Jaws kept an entire generation out of the water, Jurassic Park has gone through a number of plotlines over its five-movie run, with the third installment built around arguably the most baffling; namely, velociraptors that can “talk”. The success of Jurassic World repositioned the franchise as one of the top adventure movies out there though, serving as something of a “soft” reboot for the dinos.

Source: Cinemas Kristal on Facebook.

 

Jeff Goldblum

Jurassic Park’s fame goes well beyond the silver screen now though, with video games and even LEGO sets based on the movie series. A five-reel slot machine made by Microgaming and playable on the Guts casino website is a distinctly modern use of the Jurassic Park brand, featuring the likeness of Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), and the female Brachiosaur from the original film.

The  Jurassic Park Online slot game is one of the more popular titles in the Guts catalogue due to its 243 paylines, range of Free Spin features, and the T-Rex Alert Mode, which can add 35 wilds to the game at any given moment. The slot is one of a number of pop culture-branded games on the Guts website, along with Game of Thrones, Hellboy, Tomb Raider: Secret of the Sword, and Hitman, a title based on Square Enix’s popular video game.

But what’s next for Jurassic Park? As the film with the third biggest opening ever, Jurassic World 2 was inevitable and has in fact already been greenlit for a June 2018 release. Starring Chris Pratt as Owen and possibly Jeff Goldblum as shirtless scientist Ian Malcolm, the fifth entry in the long running franchise will actually take its cues from the first: remember when Dennis Nedrey (Wayne Knight) tried to steal and sell InGen’s research?

Open Source

Concerned with the implications of a black or open source market in dinosaur DNA, Jurassic World 2 will ostensibly deal with a domesticated dinosaur, creatures bred for war, agriculture, transport, and other human-oriented tasks. It’s a dystopic concept that’s superficially similar to that of Greg Bear’s 1998 book Dinosaur Summer – but whether the sequel will go for a Planet of the Apes-style rebellion or a standard chompfest is anybody’s guess at this point.

Source: Jurassic Park on Facebook.

Part of the groundwork for the plot was laid in the first Jurassic World, with one of the most memorable scenes Owen’s efforts to “train” velociraptors. The idea of weaponized dinosaurs has parallels with the San Diego Incident (The Lost World) too, in which a rampaging T-Rex destroyed part of the city as it searched for its stolen child. Significantly, Jurassic World 2 will also leave the islands of Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna behind.

There’s still a year to go until Jurassic World 2’s opening night so a lot could change in the franchise’s canon before then. Regardless, as the archetypical adventure for all ages, the fifth dinosaur romp could be the movie event of the year.

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