Category Archives: Films Released in 1981
Directed by Frank De Felitta
Screenplay by J.D. Feigelson
Story by J.D. Feigelson and Butler Handcock
We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks
We don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground
We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks….
Forget about this film being a TV movie; Dark Night of the Scarecrow is as scary as any theatrical film you are likely to see. This gem of a horror film about four stupid rednecks that gun down a defenseless and innocent mentally challenged man in cold blood, only to be picked off one by one by an unseen killer is the real deal. Director Frank De Felitta lets the tension build up and that only serves to make the scenes that we don’t see all the creepier. Remember, this is television in 1981; so they can’t actually show a guy getting chewed up by a wood chipper or the rotting corpse of a dead man. Everything has to be implied and that is exactly what makes this film a strong entry in the horror genre. Writer J.D. Feigelson gives us a teleplay that brought to my mind the demons that haunted my southern upbringing as I was growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The characters in the film may look different and act different, but I was reminded of the crimes of Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins and of the Gaffney Strangler, both serial murderers of the South in the past. Don’t misunderstand me; the film has nothing to do with them. It merely revives those old memories of my past.
Charles Durning is redneck sleaze as the leader of the bigoted vigilante mob that brings about an end to the life of the innocent Bubba Ritter. I don’t think there’s any part that Durning can’t play. Quite frankly I believe he was unfairly looked over for a Best Supporting actor Oscar for “Tootsie.”
Although his role is short, Larry Drake reminds us all why he was picked to play the role of Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law. Drake was so convincing in the role (as he is here), that people actually treated him as if he was slow. That is the sign of a talented actor.
Finally, Dark Night of the Scarecrow keeps us guessing as to the identity of the mysterious and unseen killer. We are given suspects, but one by one they are eliminated. That makes perfect sense. After all, doesn’t not knowing seem scarier than the truth? Oh, and not to mention a final scene that sent chills down my spine.
Strother Martin was originally scheduled to play the part of Otis Hazelrig, but passed away before the film could be made. However, a few lines of script suggested by Martin remained in the final film, but spoken by Charles Durning, who eventually played the part.
Charles Durning did most of his own stunts of the climatic chase scene when he’s running away from the tractor. A double can be seen for a few shots with darker hair.
All the nocturnal scenes were shot night for night.
- When A Stranger Calls (1979) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
- Dark Night Of The Scarecrow (cayobuay.wordpress.com)
- Nicolas Cage Almost Played Scarecrow in BATMAN (geektyrant.com)
- Scarecrows and school. (drunkonplanes.wordpress.com)
- Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Sunday Salon! (idhbic.com)
- Swamp Devil (2008) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
- Night Terrors Becomes Anthology Feature Film In The Dark (dreadcentral.com)
- How to: Stat a Scarecrow in Zombie d6-lite from KORPG Games ” Roleplaying game (RPG) (korpg.com)
- “I Love Me Some Rednecks!” (valleywx.com)
- The Skinny On Sam Raimi’s Oz: No Singing, No Scarecrow, And… (perezhilton.com)
- The Skinny On Sam Raimi’s Oz: No Singing, No Scarecrow, And… (lukewilliamss.wordpress.com)
- The lady hiding in the redneck (greatpoetrymhf.wordpress.com)
BLOW OUT-United States-1981
Written and Directed by Brian De Palma
Blow Out is a masterpiece of a suspense movie. John Travolta is brilliant in the role of Jack Terry. A sound man for movies, Terry is on a bridge one night listening and recording different night sounds on his tape recorder (this is the 80’s; we still used tape back then). Suddenly, Jack hears a car coming across a bridge, out of control. He hears a bang and then the car goes into the water below. He rescues a young woman from the car, but is unable to save the other passenger. At the hospital he tells his story to the police; what he saw, what he did and most importantly what he heard. The police and another man tell him to forget all about the woman in the car as if she was never there. It turns out that the man who was killed in the accident was the governor of the state and likely the next President of the good old United States of America. They tell Jack that surely he doesn’t want the governor’s family embarrassed by finding out he had his hand up some woman other than his wife’s skirt. But that’s not the issue with Jack; the issue is what he heard and not what he saw. Did Jack hear a gunshot before the tire blew out? The bigger question is that if that is indeed what he heard, how he is going to get anyone to listen. Pretty soon, he finds himself and Sally (the woman in the car) in the middle of a conspiracy that puts the both of them in grave danger.
Blow Out is a film that brings me back to a time when Brian De Palma was a master of the suspense film. Blow Out borrows heavily from the infamous Chappaquiddick incident involving Senator Edward Kennedy and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. The only difference being that in Blow Out it’s the politician and not the “mistress” who dies in the accident. The point here is not in the similarities, but in the way De Palma directs this film as if the camera were grafted to his hand. There are scenes in the film where the tension builds so high you think the screen is going to snap in two.
Before Pulp Fiction made him a household name again, and before you could hear his name without hearing the words ‘Scientology’ or ‘jet plane’, Blow Out was easily the best performance of John Travolta’s career. It was the first film of his that shows us that there was a lot more to the man than Vinnie Barbarino and Welcome Back Kotter episodes. Blow Out is Travolta’s moment in the sun and he makes the best of it in every scene.
In the role of Sally, Nancy Allen proves that she can go from bitch (Chris Hargensen in Carrie) to bimbo in two seconds flat. There is a sweetness to her performance that almost makes you forget the real reason she was in the car in the first place. Dennis Franz is appealingly slimy as Manny, her somewhat partner in crime. The creepiest performance in the film comes from John Lithgow as the assassin on the trail of Jack and Sally. I personally don’t think any actor can play menacing as naturally as Lithgow.
Blow Out not only alludes to the Chappaqiddick incident; it also alludes to Watergate and the Kennedy assassination. But the main theme above all that is the movie-making process in and of itself. The matching of sound to film, the editing process and the end result of it all. With Blow Out, De Palma has made his masterpiece. This is his film through and through.
- Jason Statham Will Star in Brian De Palma’s Remake of HEAT (geektyrant.com)
- Not Necessarily Noir II: Roxie Theater, San Francisco, Nov 4-8 (mrmovietimes.com)
- John Travolta Addicted to Hookers? (celebs.gather.com)
- Brian De Palma Adds Dominic Cooper and Karoline Herfurth to ‘Passion’ (slashfilm.com)
TARZAN THE APE MAN aka The Worst Movie Ever Made-United States-1981
Directed by John Derek Screenplay by Tom Rowe Really loosely based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Do not even remotely expect this to be a serious review. First of all there is no way anybody in their right mind could review this film with any degree of serious. Secondly, I watched this film many years ago and remember it well enough to know that it sucked worse than Jenna Jameson with braces. If I were to watch this movie again I would have to pour bleach in my eyes and Formula 409 in my ears. How bad is this movie, you ask? I’ve come up with a few ‘facts’ to illustrate exactlly that.
1. Do you remember the scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden and his henchmen are de-magnetizing the tapes in the video store? Now here’s the rest of the story. Tyler and the gang had just watched Tarzan the Apeman. They wanted to make sure that no one would ever have to suffer the way that they suffered ever again.
2. All the animals that were in the film have dis-associated themselves from the film. At the San Diego Zoo a man was horribly mauled when he insisted that one of the lions was in the movie. He just wouldn’t let it go.
3. The movie is so bad that Playboy ran a pictorial showcasing all of Bo Dereks nude scenes. Buy the issue and you’ve seen all the good parts. Oh and don’t even get me started on the dialogue. If I recall there was a scene in the film where Jane says to Tarzan, “Are you a virgin?” I think Tarzan replied with something like “Awwww, shucks no. Tarzan has made love to all the chimpanzees in the jung—-oh you mean have Tarzan ever done it with a woman? (Sighs) No. Dammit.”
It’s that damn bad, folks.
Now, before I list some TRIVIA for the film I thought I would have a little contest. Nothing fancy, mind you. I can’t afford to give away cool prizes. But I can give away a “Way to go!” I am going to list four pieces of trivia for the film. All but one of them is factual. The first person to tell me which piece of trivia is false gets a “Way to go!” TRIVIA
- Woop! Bo Derek admits to having Linsanity (bazaardaily.com)
- Cheetah, of Tarzan movie fame, dies at 80 (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Animal sanctuary says chimp from ’30s Tarzan flicks has died (thestar.com)
- Bo Derek Has Linsanity, Excited for ‘CSI: Miami’ [Video] (inquisitr.com)
- Tarzan’s Cheetah Dies At 80 [Update: Or, Maybe Not] (outsidethebeltway.com)
THE EVIL DEAD-United States-1981
Written and Directed by Sam Raimi
The very first word that comes to my mind regarding Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead is masterpiece. Stephen King described it as ‘the most ferociously original horror film of the year’ at the time of its release and nothing could be closer to the truth about this movie. There is ferocity to this film that a hundred other horror films could only have wet dreams about. It starts off slow and picks up speed like a forest fire. Get in its way and you will be burned to a crisp and trampled underfoot and left in a pool of your own boiling blood and gore.
The Evil Dead possesses one of the most threadbare plots that I have ever seen in a film. Five friends venture to a remote cabin where they find The Book of the Dead and a tape recording of demonic incantations. They read the book and play the tapes and all hell breaks loose. One by one they are all taken over by flesh possessing demons. All but Ash, that is; he’s the final girl of the film. He’s the one who has all the fun chopping off limbs, decapitating, poking his thumbs into eyeballs and listening as his now demonic girlfriend chants ‘We’re gonna get you’ over and over and over again. It seems the only way you can beat these evil dead baddies is through total bodily dismemberment. Oh, what a joy!
I watch The Evil Dead at least twice a year. It helps to remind me just what a horror film should be made up. Three parts fun, three parts fear and three parts blood and gore with a simple uncluttered plot. If you haven’t seen it, what the hell are you waiting for, a written invitation? Geez!
- 25 Things You May Not Know About ‘The Evil Dead’ (moviefone.com)
- Bruce Campbell Talks Evil Dead Remake (dreadcentral.com)
- Bruce Campbell Says That Ash is NOT in ‘The Evil Dead’ Remake (moviefone.com)
- Drag Me to Hell (jmountswritteninblood.com)
Directed by Rick Rosenthal
We interrupt this blog to bring you a special news bulletin. Michael Myers, the killer responsible for all those deaths in Halloween, is back for a sequel. On the scene at the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital is our roving reporter, Debra Carpenter.
“Debra, can you tell us anything at this moment?”
“Well, John, it appears that not only have Michael Myers and Laurie Strode returned for the sequel to Halloween, but Dr. Sam Loomis has signed on as well.”
“Is there any truth to the rumor that Michael is still trying to kill Laurie Strode?”
“John, it appears that Laurie was taken here to Haddonfield Memorial. The hospital is known for being the darkest and most deserted hospital in the world, but I myself believe that it’s merely for scary effect. As for Laurie, she’s doing her best to run as fast as she can on a broken ankle. Meanwhile, Michael is taking his sweet time and is keeping up with her just like all the other great horror film villains.”
“So, Debra, is it easy to assume that there will be a highly important plot point revealed in this particular film?”
“Well, I don’t want to just blurt any major details. There may actually be someone out there who hasn’t seen the film even though it’s been 40 years since its release.”
“Ouch, that really makes me feel old, Debra.”
“I do my best, John.”
Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Michael Myers has returned along with Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis for an illogically written and directed sequel to the original Halloween. Released nearly 40 years ago, this film makes me feel really old as I was 19 when it was released. The good part about the film is that Jamie Lee Curtis still looked like a cute girl and not like Harrison Ford.
We return now to this blog, already in progress.
Dana Carvey made his movie debut in this movie playing an assistant. He can be seen receiving instructions from a blond reporter in front of the Wallace house.
The film is set immediately after the first Halloween. Since Jamie Lee Curtis had begun to wear a much shorter hairstyle in the 1980s, she had to wear a wig that matched her original hairstyle for the film.
Ben Tramer, who gets killed, is a reference to John Carpenter’s friend Bennett Tramer. They went to USC (University of Southern California) as Tramer wrote episodes for ‘”Saved By the Bell” (1989)’.
Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Ron Kurz and Victor Miller (Characters)
They got the formula down pat with the first Friday the 13th and now those randy teenagers are back at Camp Crystal Lake for more drink-smoke-hump-slash-hack action. Jason’s all grown up and he is seriously pissed off. It was hinted that he had watched his dear sweet mama Mrs. Voorhees get her head chopped off at the end of part 1. Well, he is just not gonna stand for that. He marches right over to Alices’ house and drives an ice-pick into her brain. By the way, how far is it from Camp Crystal Lake to Alice’s house? Did he hitch? Surely somebody noticed a guy wearing a potato sack over his head and found it odd. Not only that, but now he has to get back to Crystal Lake and start chopping up that new batch of horny teenagers and their counselors. Hmm, it was a little ways into the film before the first killing at the camp. Maybe Alice did live a good distance from there.
Now that Alice is out of the picture we set our sights on the new final girl of the series, Ginny Field. Played by Amy Steel with a wide eyed innocence that is a refreshing contrast to Jason and his hatred for all the things that horny, rowdy teenagers do. But, we all know that the final girl has to have a hero to help her save the day. That, ladies and gentlemen comes to us in the form of Paul Holt. Portrayed by John Furey with a tough yet sensitive side to him. You just know that after they get rid of Jason and get all patched up that Ginny and he are gonna make sweet love by the fireplace, yeah bay-byyy!!
Alright, I’m done messing around. I just want to say that Friday the 13th part 2 is a decent sequel to the first film. It picks up where the first one left off quite effortlessly. There’s more gore in this one than in the first one and the make-up effects are improved as well. All in all a welcome edition in the saga of Jason Voorhees.
CORPSE MANIA-Hong Kong-1981
I apologize for not having a trailer for this film. If anyone knows where I can acquire a trailer or clip please let me know.
Directed by Chih-Hung Kuei
Written by Chih-Hung Kuei
Ni Tien as Madame Lan
Yung Wang as Inspector Chang
Tsui Ling Yu as Yan-erh
Siu-Kwan Lau as Lin Pin
Okay, so my editor (publisher? manager?) sends me a letter in my e-mail asking me if I would review a few films that he has listed. One of the films is the one I am talking about right now and that of course would be Corpse Mania. It is a film released in 1981 by the legendary Shaw Brothers studio that operated out of Hong Kong.
Now, this is my first time actually watching a SB film and I have to say that this one is a doozy. The plot of it is real simple. Boy meets girls. Boy has sex with girls. Wait, scratch that last part. Make that boy has sex with girls after they’re dead. Yes, dead. Deceased, pushing up daisies, taking a dirt nap…you get what I’m saying. Well, after they discover two maggot infested bodies in the guys home they have him sent away to an asylum. That was the flashback. Now the guy is out and has picked up where he left off, only this time he’s killing the girls at a local brothel and having his way with their corpses.
This movie has a little something for the Hong Kong kung fu crowd and a little something for the horror crowd. There’s karate and there are stabbings, beheadings and dead girls covered in maggots. There’s not much of a plot and there’s even less credible acting. But, hey, you know what? When you’re playing a corpse covered with maggots you really don’t have to be Meryl Streep.