Can you believe it? You survived another miserable year on this wretched Earth, which can only mean one thing – it’s time for The 8th Annual Spectacle Shriek Show! A chance to reward all your hard work by allowing your brain to slowly turn into a big, wet blob and leak out of your ears as you subject it to sights so unholy, you’ll never be the same. You earned it, champ. So settle in to what one person (probably) called “the only comfortable chairs in any theater in New York City” for 12 to 14-ish hours of mutant cats, Filipino vamps, real (?) snuff footage, possessed psychics, lots of zombies, and one rampaging bear. We’ll have the usual cavalcade of shorts, music videos, and more and, as always, tickets are $25 for the full day or $5 for individual films!
NOON: THE DEAD TALK BACK
1:30 PM: THE BLOOD DRINKERS
3:00 PM: DR. BENDERFAX
4:30 PM: EFFECTS
6:00 PM: UNINVITED
7:30 PM : BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL
10pm: FEAR NO EVIL
MIDNIGHT: TERROR A LA MUERTE
Poster Art by Benjamin Tuttle
THE DEAD TALK BACK
dir. Merle S. Gould, 1957.
USA. 65 minutes.
After a model is murdered **WITH A CROSSBOW** on the porch of her boarding house, metaphysical philosopher Henry Krasker (Aldo Farnese, best known as Philly UHF children’s show host “Dickory Doc” and “Adam Android”) uses the weapon as a means of communicating with the dead to find out who killed her! Toiling in his lab he sets up a seance so the spirits can speak…with, like, car horn sounds for some reason? Also, there’s a cool scene in a groovy record store featuring some heady bongo work. Meanwhile the murderer is still at large in their shared apartment complex – who can it be? The religious zealot? The pervy German? The local DJ? The old-ass landlord?
Made in 1957 but shelved until 1993, when it aired as part of beloved cult show MST3K, the film was originally set to be released by Headliner Productions, who were responsible for bringing such cinematic gems as Ed Wood’s THE VIOLENT YEARS and THE SINISTER URGE into the world. It was also one of the first movies to utilize Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) recording, now a staple of ghost-hunters everywhere.
THE BLOOD DRINKERS
(aka KULAY DUGO ANG GABI, BLOOD IS THE COLOR OF THE NIGHT)
dir. Gerardo de Leon, 1964
Philippines. 88 minutes.
Ronald Remy plays a bald, hoity-toity doctor (who also happens to be a vampire) who’s heartbroken by the deteriorating health of his wife Katrina. And so he sets forth to traverse the countryside with his dwarf assistant, sexy vampiress, and floppy rubber bat in search of blood to aide her revival. They also have to obtain her twin sister’s heart; you know how twins are.
When it comes to THE BLOOD DRINKERS, the devil truly is in the details. Though it’s often touted as the Philippines’ first color horror film, THE BLOOD DRINKERS’ rich tapestry is ironically due to full-color film stock being scarce in the region. To compensate, many scenes were color coded with rich tints of red (during vampire attacks) and blue (when things are safe), adding visual depth to a film already rich in symbolism.
Director Gerardo de Leon had an actual medical license he eschewed to become a filmmaker and racked up over 80 directing credits in his career, including the stellar MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, also starring Remy. Producer Cirio H. Santiago and actor Vic Diaz went on to be involved in the 1978 chef-kiss worthy John Carradine film VAMPIRE HOOKERS.
Dir. Tom Hosler, 1997.
USA. 85 min.
Special thanks to director Tom Hosler!
The titular Dr. Benderfax (Nigel Hazeldine) is an esteemed researcher (read: mad scientist) willing to go the extra mile for his experiments investigating a rare psychic phenomenon known as the “Telefaximial Field.” Unfortunately for the good doctor and his lovely assistant Nurse Clench (Caroline Hazeldine), many of the “volunteers” end up in the morgue. Actually on brief reflection, it’s probably more unfortunate for the patients. After some finagling the medical duo end up in a local nuthouse and use this fresh batch of patients to further their research. Just as they’re on the verge of a major breakthrough, in saunters Dr. Andrew…
Fresh out of college in 1992 Tom Hosler decided to make his “first and only feature script worthy of production.” Armed with a savings account and several credit cards, the film was shot over the course of many weekends. After multiple years of post-production, the film finally saw the light of day in 1997. Fans of last year’s Joe Sherlock double-up MONSTER IN THE GARAGE/DIMENSION OF BLOOD take note – DR. BENDERFAX is a true-blue Shriek Show entry if there ever was one, and it’s chock full of schlock, gore, yuks/yucks, and a genuine feeling of fun.
Dir. Dusty Nealon, 1980.
USA. 84 min.
Special thanks to American Genre Film Archive.
RIP producer Pasquale Buba (April 16, 1946 – September 12, 2018)
Deep in rural Pennsylvania (aka Romero Country), a film crew is holed up making a low-budget horror movie. Helmed by director Lacey Bickel (real-life filmmaker Tom Harrison of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE fame), the crew is plagued by scheduling hiccups and close quarters. At first, not everyone is having a bad time, as the cinematographer and gaffer begin a romantic entanglement.
Suspicions arise when, during a late night hang session fueled by cheap beer and plenty of cocaine, some of the director’s early work gets passed around. The gritty footage shows what appears to be an actual murder of a woman by a man in an executioner’s hood. Tensions flare up and the line between fiction and reality blurs – is anyone safe?!
A cinematic love letter to practical effects and regional horror, EFFECTS is the product of many Romero Regulars with ties to MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD, and CREEPSHOW. Though the material enters some very dark territory, it’s clear the crew were friends having fun covering each other in as much stage blood as they could handle. An underseen gem that, like THE DEAD TALK BACK and BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER FROM HELL, was shelved for almost 25 years (due to a distribution error), until it was finally released by Synapse on DVD and later picked up by our friends at American Genre Film Archive.
dir. Greydon Clark, 1988.
USA. 90 min.
Strange things are afoot at the lazily named Genetic Laboratories when two chowderhead scientists discover a mysterious growth in their test subject – A CUTE CAT! The cat escapes and while trying to make its way out of the lab attacks many a security guard with some help from the grotesque mutant living up in its guts.
Meanwhile, it’s Spring Break, baby; time to get wild with Suzanne (Sharri Shattuck from DEATH SPA) and Bobbi (Clare Carey from WAXWORK) in that famous party city – Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The two get kicked out of a fancy hotel for loitering and are “saved” by wealthy Wall Street tycoon Walter Graham (TV star Alex Cord), who invites them aboard his yacht. The ladies meet up with some bozo dudes (including SILK STALKING’s Rob Estes!) who they invite along for the ride. On the way to the yacht, they just happen to pick up a stray cat…and carnage ensues.
As evidenced by past programming we here at Spectacle are suckers for a killer cat movie, so when you combine that with director Greydon Clark and the one-two punch star power of George Kennedy and Clu Galager – you know you’ve got something special on your hands.
BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL
(aka JIGOKU NO CHIMIDORO MUSCLE BUILDER)
dir. Shinichi Fuzakawa, 1995
Japan. 62 min.
In Japanese with English subs.
Heartbroken over a recent breakup Naoto (director Shinichi Fuzakawa) turns to working out to soothe his worried soul – and to get jacked in the process. One day mid-workout, his photojournalist ex-girlfriend calls him up with hopes he’ll help her investigate a haunted house.
Joined by a local psychic, the trio make their way to the property once owned by Naoto’s deceased father, who decades ago murdered someone on the grounds! Upon their arrival the presence of evil is all around them, and soon after demons take hold of the psychic. It seems the angry spirit of Naoto’s stepmother isn’t going to let them off easy – or maybe at all!
Another entry in this year’s lineup that almost never was – BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL was made in 1995, edited in 2005, finished in 2009, and not released until 2012. Clocking in at just over an hour, BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL doesn’t waste any time getting to the bleeding heart of the matter. Although it’s often compared to 1977’s HOUSE or described as “the Japanese EVIL DEAD,” the film manages to subvert all expectations and take viewers on a ride unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Truly one of a kind.
Special thanks to Wild Eye Releasing.
FEAR NO EVIL
dir. Frank LaLoggia, 1981.
USA. 99 min.
“One can only say that if George Eastman had lived to see the use to which his cameras and film, which brought prosperity to the city, have been put, he might have gone into another line of work.” – Tom Buckley, The New York Times (Feb. 6, 1981)
Outside a castle in upstate New York, Father Damon kills a man he believes to be Lucifer, but not before he promises to return. Flash-forward to the early 60’s when a child with the unhallowed name of Andrew is born, paralyzing his mother in the process. A local priest is visited by a woman named Margaret claiming to have knowledge of the late Father Damon, saying not only did he strike down Lucifer but that he himself was the angel Raphael. Could another angel be in their midst?
Now a senior in high school, Andrew is an awkward nerd who gets constantly bullied. In his daydreams he feels drawn to the looming castle set to be demolished to make way for a new golf c(o)urse. Strange things begin happening to Andrew’s tormentors – their guts explode, they’re plagued by terrible nightmares, they feel…inclined to…make out with him in the showers of the locker room.
The night of the big dance Andrew finally makes his way to the castle, where he summons undead monsters and wreaks havoc on his classmates. Margaret arrives with backup wielding the cross of Father Damon, and the battle to save the world is ON!
The debut writing/directing/producing effort of then 26 year old Frank LaLoggia, FEAR NO EVIL certainly doesn’t get as much praise as it deserves. A psycho bible study with wild effects work (that cost $250,000 to produce!), and a soundtrack featuring the likes of Patti Smith, The Rezillos, The B52’s, The Talking Heads and more!
TERROR A LA MUERTE
(aka: MIEDO A LA MUERTE, SCARED TO DEATH)
dir. Mario Alcantara, 1989.
Mexico. 98 min.
In Spanish with English subs.
Famed martial arts instructor (and one-time Chuck Norris student) Ruben Gonzalez plays famed martial arts instructor Ruben Gonzalez, whose daughter is mauled to death by a bear while meeting her boyfriend. A loco local named Nestor becomes convinced she’s his lost love, so he takes her body home and puts her in a dress. Nestor whiles away the hours talking to the corpse and feeding the ghoulish undead creatures he keeps locked in his basement.
Gonzalez sets out with a team to get his daughter’s body back, managing to piss off law enforcement and biker gangs alike along the way. Upon their arrival, Nestor won’t go down without a fight and sets the zombies on the rescue team. Luckily for everyone (but especially Gonzalez), the zombies also know martial arts. Don’t worry, the bear shows back up too.
TERROR A LA MUERTE is listed in some places as a sequel to Gonzalez’s earlier film GARRA DE TIGRE, but information on either film is hard to come by, making this rare screening a must-see!