A Very New World Year: HIDE & GO SHRIEK (1988) Review

Okay, so as far as this New World retrospective goes, including this movie is a bit of a cheat. I know a lot of people think that only New Star Entertainment distributed VHS copies of Hide & Go Shriek, but this is untrue. New World Video also distributed some copies of this little-seen title in Canada (I think), and those VHS tapes are now somewhat rare (it will have both the New Star and New World logos on the bottom, and the banner on the top right corner of the box will be black instead of white). Either way, I’ve still got it on a technicality, so let’s just go ahead and play a little game of…

 HIDE & GO SHRIEK (1988) Review

Eight teenagers who just graduated from high school decide to celebrate by spending the night in a furniture store owned by one of their fathers. The night consists of lots of beer, sex, hide-and-go-seek games…and an unexpected visitor. Someone begins killing them off one by one, then sporting the clothes of the recently slain (no matter what gender) in order to fool the other members of the party into thinking the killer is that person. With no chance of escape and their numbers dwindling, they are forced to fight back against this psychotic madman. Will anyone survive, or will they all be victims of this terrifying game of hide-and-go-shriek?

I love Hide & Go Shriek. It’s essentially a wonderful melting pot of eighties hilarity, suspense, creepiness, likable characters, and homoerotic undertones that explodes across the VCR like a Technicolor dream-movie. There are some faults, but as a whole, this rounds nearly all the bases as far as an entertaining slasher movie goes. The body count isn’t exactly astronomical (the death toll reaches 7), but the deaths themselves are very memorable. The death sequences were done by renowned FX-man Screaming Mad George, and they include impalement on a random spike, one guy getting stabbed with a mannequin arm, and the best decapitation I have EVER seen, where a girl gets her melon lopped off by a lift!

The characters are surprisingly likable and entertaining, especially considering this was during a time where most people who made slashers stopped putting any effort into the characters. They’re your stereotypical bunch of teenagers (the boys all have mullets, with the exception of the “jokester” character, who constantly gets teased for his “buzz cut”), but they were all fun and had some really fun lines, such as, “Fear? Fear is not in my vocabulary…squid!” and, “You’re stupid, jerk-face!” It's all very corny, and that's for the better. Heck, there’s even a brief montage in the beginning where they head off to the store in their red van (at one point they stop at a red light and proceed to do a Chinese fire drill. Genius!) that is set to the beat of “Walk this Way!”

The killer here is easily one of the most interesting villains out there, and certainly one of the most unsettling. While the whole idea of the killer donning the clothes of his victims does sound a bit silly (did I forget to mention he also dons lingerie at one point?), it’s actually pulled off, very, very nicely! Most of the scenes in which the killer darts past another character while obscured by shadows are creepy, and the guy’s voice just makes things even creepier. However, the reveal of the killer’s motive is laugh-out-loud absurd and is one that certainly won’t be forgotten any time soon.

If you couldn’t tell by now, Hide & Go Shriek has some gay undertones that would make Elm Street 2 blush and the owners of Chik-Fil-A puke. There is, of course, the aforementioned cross-dressing killer, as well as some other stuff that may or may not have been intentional. First of all, there’s a scene that occurs immediately after the credits in which two of the teens are shown lifting weights together. One tells the other to meet him in the showers, and then takes a seductive bite of his banana. Was this intentional, or did director Skip Schoolnik not mean for the dialogue to be taken this way? Then there’s the reveal of the killer which I can’t spoil, but it’s taking all my will-power not to because it’s so funny!

But even though it’s pretty funny, don’t get fooled into thinking the movie isn’t suspenseful. There’s one great scene (which was used for the cover art) where one girl hides under a bed to surprise her boyfriend, yet discovers the person in the room isn’t her partner! Another girl is bound and gagged on top of the lift, which her unsuspecting friends riding it don’t realize! The furniture store filled with mannequins makes for a great, atmospheric setting, filled with lots of shadows, several nooks and crannies, and dozens of creepy mannequins! Despite being relatively straightforward, there were a few little touches dabbled here and there that I did appreciate a lot. For one, when the teens find the doors locked, they actually try to smash the windows to escape (If I had a nickel for every time most teens in slasher movies just run away without even trying the windows…), and when that doesn’t work, they try turning on all the lights in the store to attract attention. Also, when they find themselves being confronted by the red herring, they actually rush him and manage to take him down. I won’t spoil what happens after that, but these little scenes did feel very refreshing.

I really love Hide & Go Shriek. Even though New World didn’t have any part in the production of the movie, this is still one of my favorite movies that they released. It’s filled to the brim with hilarious dated fashions (slouch socks!), likable characters, gory deaths, a creepy murderer, and genuine suspense! It is only stopped from being perfect by some brief moments of boredom when the gang plays a lengthy game of hide-and-go-seek. But oh well. Unfortunately, this has only been released on DVD in Australia and is in desperate need of a R1 special edition Blu-Ray with commentary, featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage, etc., because this is one for the books.

The Verdict: Able to please on nearly all levels, Hide & Go Shriek is one of those lost eighties gems that is a must-see for anyone who calls themselves a horror fan, or just a fan of eighties cinema in general.

Score: 8/10


A Very New World Year: MAKING CONTACT (U.S. Cut) (1985)

For the first review as part of my New World Pictures tribute, I decided to take a look at the U.S. cut of a German fantasy film. Originally entitled Joey, this movie was brought to the U.S., trimmed of 19 minutes of footage, dubbed, re-titled to Making Contact, and released by New World. Have the Germans done well with this movie, or is it a colossal failure?

Making Contact (1985) Review

Joey (Joshua Morrell)’s father has just died, and, as one would imagine, he’s very distraught. Luckily, he soon discovers that he can talk to his father (or is it?) on a toy telephone and he now has the ability to move things with his mind. The neighborhood kids all make fun of him because of the stories he tells about talking to his dead father and things get even worse when Joey finds an old ventriloquist dummy in a dilapidated house nearby. It turns out the dummy has the same powers as Joey, and warns him that the person on the telephone is not his father. Is the dummy telling the truth, or is the wooden plaything secretly out to destroy Joey?

Making Contact had all the elements to be a really fantastic movie: outstanding score, beautiful cinematography, and a good story. Unfortunately, it trips over its own feet several times during its runtime before eventually falling flat on its face. Really, the main problem Making Contact has is its convoluted story that feels like a mishmash of Poltergeist, The Goonies, and many other films. Many plot points are left unexplained, and nearly nothing makes a lick of sense. Perhaps the cut 19 minutes cleared up several things, but as far as the U.S. cut goes, I think something got lost in translation.

This was made by the same person who directed such summer blockbusters as Independence Day, 2012, Anonymous, and more, and it shows. Aesthetically, Making Contact may be the best movie in New World’s catalogue. The orchestral score was beautiful, did a great job of setting the mood, and was VERY reminiscent of the music in most Spielberg movies. Considering this was one of the director’s earlier movies, the camerawork on display is absolutely stunning, and when coupled with the score, I wouldn’t be surprised if Spielberg actually did direct this.

The acting was good all around, but the dubbing was HORRIBLE. It’s not like the words don’t match up with the actors’ mouths; it’s just that all the voice actors they got to dub the characters are almost always completely devoid of any emotion. When I first saw this, I had no idea it was dubbed and I just thought all the performers were crappy, but no. The dummy was fairly creepy (even though it had a monocle; monocles = not scary), and there are some cool monster effects towards the end of the movie. However, to a child (the film’s target audience), all this would probably be terrifying.

At the end of the day, Making Contact isn’t very entertaining for me, but I can’t really blame a movie for catering to its target audience, now can I? This is a children’s movie, and a pretty good one at that. It’s got scares, suspense, wonder, romance, and more elements that are sure to please. However, to a mature audience, it’s very routine and sloppy. This was released a while ago on a 2-Disc set by Anchor Bay and included both the U.S. and German cuts, and I now out-of-print and fetching ludicrous prices. Maybe the German cut will clear some problems I had with this, but then again, it might make them worse. We’ll just have to see. Not New World’s worst hour (by far), but it’s nothing special.

The Verdict: Making Contact is your run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers fantasy adventure, but it’s not atrocious. Don’t be in any sort of rush to see this one, but don’t avoid it either.

Score: 5/10


It's A NEW WORLD Year At OC101!

To spice things up around here, I have decided to create a theme for a set amount of time. Usually, websites do them for about a month, but considering the amount of material this theme will give me, I’m extending it to a whole year! That’s right, I’m going to be covering several films made and/or released by the one, the only…

New World Pictures!

New World Pictures was originally started in the early seventies by master B-movie maker Roger Corman, and they produced several fantastic exploitation movies, including favorites such as Galaxy of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Starcrash, TAG: The Assassination Game, and more goodies.

In 1983, Corman sold the company to Larry Kupin, Harry Sloan, and Larry Thompson. The three began producing their own films, and distributing others. They even created their own video company to capitalize on the ever-growing VHS market, entitled New World Video.

This new company, which lasted from 1983 to the early nineties, is what I will be covering from now until this same date in 2013. I will take forty films from their catalogue, including movies they distributed on their home video label, and review them.

New World is, in my opinion, the best retro-eighties film company out of all of them. They released a variety of great movies in nearly all genres: horror, action, science-fiction, drama, comedy, and more. I remember seeing several of their movies as a child, and now, I’m going to see which films in their catalogue are great, as well as which ones should be avoided (if any).

The first one on the chopping block is the German fantasy film from 1985 entitled Making Contact, AKA Joey, and will most likely be posted later tonight or tomorrow.

And if you're wondering why I'm doing this at such a random date in time, don't strain yourself, because I don't either!


Dry Up, Tubbo: A Complete Breakdown of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974)

To say I'm a fan of Brain DePalma's 1974 cult classic Phantom of the Paradise is an understatement. It's one of my favorite movies of all time, if not my favorite. I know all the words to most (if not all) of the songs in the movie. I listen to the soundtrack daily. I cannot praise this movie enough. It's a deeply layered movie, filled with symbolism and messages that most people don't pick up on.

The only sad part about it is the seemingly lack of love for it. Sure, there's this whole "Rocky Horror vs. Phantom" debate going on on the internet (Phantom is easily far superior than the former), and it does have a sizable cult following, but there aren't any cool releases or anything of it. A special edition DVD and a Blu-Ray were both released in France (complete with bonus features), but stateside, all we have is this DVD with OK picture and audio and only one bonus feature (a crappy trailer). And since there is no commentary available (yet), I have decided to go through and break down the various elements of this great movie. I also explain what some of the elements symbolize, but don't take my word for any of this. I could be completely wrong, or get very lucky and be completely right on some of these, but this is what these things symbolize to me, and I hope you enjoy it.



0:00:16That’s Rod Serling, the creator/writer/host of the best TV show of all time, The Twilight Zone, doing the opening voiceover.

0:01:20“This film is the story of that search. Of that sound. Of the man who made it, the girl who sang it, and the monster who stole it.” Of course, the man is Winslow, the girl is Phoenix, and the monster is Swan.

0:01:22Here we have our first song, “Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye.” This is easily my favorite song in the movie, and definitely one of my favorites of all time. Despite having a depressing premise, of a singer who kills himself so his new album will be popular enough to make enough money to pay for his little sister’s operation, it’s is a really upbeat song that’s a throwback to fifties music. It does have some relevance, as the subject matter does foreshadow Winslow giving everything he has to his love. The people singing the song (Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor, and Peter Elbling) sing all the Juicy Fruits songs in this movie, with the lead singer alternating. Here, Hahn is the lead vocalist while Comanor and Elbling are backup.

0:02:50 – This isn’t very important, but I love that giant joint the back-up singers pull out and make all the instrumentalists smoke. Classic.

0:03:20Here we have Winslow Leach, our main character and future phantom, played by the late, great William Finley (Eaten Alive).

0:04:57 – I think the audience waiting to see if Swan would clap before they started applauding is DePalma’s message on how people will just follow what celebrities do and not use their own judgment.

0:06:51Now we have a really good and beautiful song by Winslow entitled “Faust,” about the legendary German musician who sold his soul to the devil.

0:11:11PLOT HOLE: If Winslow hates The Juicy Fruits so much, why is he blasting their music in his room?

0:11:57Swan’s record producing company is called Death Records. It was originally called Swan Song Records, but then Led Zepplin’s record label took that name and sued, so they had to change it.

0:12:37Look on the secretary’s card index, and you’ll see they also have files on Alice Cooper, Peter Fonda, Dick Clark, and more.

0:13:36Here we get a little snippet of what might be a full song or just an excerpt inserted into the movie. Either way, it’s really catchy and I love it.

0:14:50Here we meet Phoenix, the love interest, played by Jessica Harper (Suspiria). My guess for why her name is Phoenix is because a phoenix is a bird that bursts into flames, yet rises from the ashes as new bird. In this movie, Phoenix’s personality changes as she becomes more famous, like her old self as combusted and she’s now a new, albeiut not better, bird.

0:16:55And here we see Brian DePalma create a better love story in two minutes and five seconds than Twilight did in four books.

0:17:45DePalma mustn’t have been a big fan of some musicians in the seventies, so this is how he explained them getting famous (sleeping with the producers).

0:18:35No good seventies movie can be complete without an orgy!

0:19:43Here we finally see Swan, the devilishly handsome yet very evil musician/producer, played by famous seventies musician Paul Williams. I assume he was given the name of Swan because a swan is a beautiful creature, yet it has the tendency to attack violently when provoked, much like him.

0:19:56And one of the best entrance lines, delivered to Winslow, who is dressed in drag so he could meet Swan: “Get this fag out of here.”

0:21:21Winslow’s taken to Sing-Sing. Get it?

0:22:45Winslow having to work in the prison wearing a Swan Foundation hat was a nice touch.

0:23:47 – When Winslow breaks into the record press, you can see a poster reading “Swan Song” above the door, but “Song” is obscured by some sort of object.

0:24:35 – The scene where Winslow gets his face burned in the record press was cut, because in one trailer, the scene is extended and we get to see Winslow stumble out of the press and see his gruesome burn in all its glory.

0:25:45 – Note how this scene, where we get a POV shot of Winslow breathing heavily, walking around, and putting on the bird mask, is eerily similar to the opening of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween. Coincidence? I think not.

0:27:21 – Now we have another musical number, a sixties beach-song throwback called “Upholstery.” While it’s hard to hear the song because we also listen to Philben and some other people conversing, it’s obviously a re-written rendition of Winslow’s ‘Faust.” It’s hard to tell, but the lyrics are similar (“I was not myself last night; I ran a light, without my registratioooooon…”). Here, Comanor is the lead singer, while Hahn and Elbling are backup.

0:27:33 – Here we have DePalma employing his “split screen” effect, showing the Juicy Fruits (or The Beach Bums, as they are now called) singing and a time bomb placed in the trunk of a prop car. DePalma would use this effect again in, of course, Carrie.

0:33:23 – Now there’s the weakest song of the movie, “Special to Me.” It’s not a bad song per se, but it’s definitely the weakest one in the movie. It doesn’t really have any sort of relevance, either.

0:35:11 – This is pointless, but I love that woman in the background’s afro.

0:37:33 – In this scene, Swan is repairing Winslow’s voice with his computer. However, the person singing isn’t Finley, but Williams, which is why it’s a funny in-joke when Swan calls the voice “perfect.”

0:40:14 – In this scene, Winslow is meant to symbolize Faust as he signs his contract and unwittingly gives his soul to Swan, all so he could be with Phoenix again.

0:41:21 – Yet another wonderful musical number, “Phantom’s Theme.” It’s also put to one of the best montages that isn’t cheesy.

0:43:50 – This is the introduction of Beef, one of the film’s most popular characters and certainly my favorite. Beef is played by the underrated character actor Gerrit Graham (Child’s Play 2, Used Cars, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D., etc.), and was most likely meant as a parody of how ridiculous musicians had gotten at this point.

0:45:40 – This is the scene at the airport when Swan “comes back from Transylvania” with Beef. On the podium, it’s painfully obvious that the Death Records logo is superimposed over the Swan Song logo.

0:51:49 – It’s inconceivable how someone could possibly escape with those tin foil doors blocking them!

0:52:20 – The most iconic, as well as my favorite, scene. Beef is taking a shower and singing, Winslow comes in with a knife, slices open his shower curtain, and sticks a toilet plunger over his mouth. Still classic to this day.

0:53:58 – The best dialogue exchanges in the whole movie. Beef wants to leave and Philbin won’t let him. They begin arguing about what Beef really saw, and it’s great.

0:55:20 – Now we get a glam rock send-up with “Somebody Super Like You,” a song complete with creepy sets, ghoulish singers, and mannequin dismemberment. Finally, Elbling is the lead singer, while Hahn and Comanor are guitarists.

0:59:54 – Yet another glam rock send-up with “Life at Last,” sung by Beef (actually, it’s sung by Ray Kennedy), which is supposed to be a rewriting of “Old Souls.”

1:01:05Winslow’s look here is classic. You can just see the hatred and shock in his eyes as he watches Beef mutilate his song.

1:01:44 – Instead of a chandelier falling on his head like in the original, Beef gets struck with a neon lightning bolt and bursts into flames, all while wailing out the final notes of the song a la Rocktober Blood. This was probably unintentional, but I like to think they intentionally had “Cooked Beef” on their minds while shooting this.

1:02:51My biggest complaint: why did the spotlight guy have to die? He didn’t do anything wrong, and Winslow just came behind him and strangled him. Granted, he could have passes out and not died, but that was still unnecessary.

1:03:05Now we get to hear what “Life at Last” was originally. “Old Souls” is a truly beautiful song, and Jessica Harper’s voice is fantastic.

1:03:22In case you doubted that William Finley was a great actor, just look at his eyes in this scene and how much emotion is in them. The man was truly a genius.

1:10:25Now Phoenix and Swan are getting it on at swan’s mansion while Winslow watches from a skylight while “Old Souls” plays. While “Old Souls” does make the scene very emotional, I can’t help but feel that Swan’s “Faust” (which is on the soundtrack) was meant to be playing. I think I might have preferred that, since that would have really driven the point that Swan has taken everything from Winslow deeper, since it would show that swan now has taken his music, his true love, his face, and his voice.

1:11:09Once again, Finley manages to convey so much emotion with his eyes.

1:14:45Phoenix is snorting cocaine in Swan’s Rolls Royce, which shows that now she’s no longer the sweet, loving girl that she was, but a drug-addicted woman who is high on fame.

1:16:00The only truly horrible acting in this movie: that girl that says, “You’re old enough to be his mother!” and “My God, he doesn’t look any different!” I cringe whenever she opens her mouth.

1:17:00Now we see Swan in the Faust role, as he sells his soul to the devil, only to keep himself young instead of love.

1:17:54Now it’s a bit like Picture of Dorian Gray, as Swan can only age on film and if the film’s destroyed…no more good looks.

1:26:00I love this part. Throughout the whole final climax/party scene, there’s just a whole bunch of noise with some “music” playing (it’s really just a beat). However, when Winslow’s wound opens and he is unmasked (the burn effects on his face aren’t the best, I’m afraid) and Phoenix slowly begins to realize who it is, the obnoxious noise fades out and is replaced by the soft noise of a piano playing Winslow’s “Faust.” It’s beautifully executed, very emotional, and has to be one of the saddest endings every to grace the silver screen.

1:27:10The final song that plays over the credits is “The Hell of It.” Supposedly, it’s meant to be sung by the devil to the deceased Swan, and when you listen to it with that in mind, it’s very cool. It also hearkens back to when Beef and Philbin have a conversation about how people don’t care about lyrics anymore, because the song itself is really chipper and upbeat, but the lyrics are really mean-spirited in a humorous kind of way. The credits also include clips and outtakes of each actor in the movie, which is fun.

Other notes:

-Sissy Spacek of Carrie was the set dresser.

-Sadly, the movie was a box office flop, except in Canada. Maybe they're not so bad after all...

-Betty Buckley, who also went on to be in Carrie (as Mrs. Collins), did a lot of the voices for minor characters (like at the auditions and the orgy).

-The casting process was a bit confusing, as originally, Williams was cast as Winslow, Graham was Swan, Peter Boyle was Beef, and Finley had no part. However, Williams didn't want to play Winslow and Boyle was unavailable, so Finley, Williams, and Graham all landed their respective parts.

-During the record press disfiguring scene, they used a real record press, put in foam pads to substitute for an actual press, and put in chocks to stop it from closing all the way on Finley's head. However, the machine broke the chocks, but thankfully, Finley quickly made it out in time.

There you go! I hope you liked it or have at least grown a new appreciation for the movie, because if you can't tell by now, it is one of my all-time favorities. Of course, this was more than a little inspired by the April Fool's Day commentary over on the fantastic Retro Slashers website, so check that one out too!:


Drama Or Gory Slasher? SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE (2011) Review

It’s no secret that I really dislike modern horror. Sure, there are a few stand-outs, but usually, we just get the same cast of whiny characters, no sense of fun, shaky camera work, cheap jump scares, etc., and it all makes me angry. And you know what also gets my blood boiling? Lack of originality. It seems that everyone is afraid to step outside the box of the clichés I previously mentioned, and I hate it. Then again, a movie comes along every once in a while that promises to be original, and I will, of course, check it out. Such is a movie that was made a while ago and just got released by Anchor Bay. Does it fulfill on its promises, or does it fall flat on its face?


Some Guy Who Kills People (2011) Review

Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan) is a man whose life hasn’t been the best. He still live with his overbearing mother Ruth (Karen Black), he works at an ice cream parlor, only has one friend in Irv (Leo Fitzpatrick), and he kills the people who once traumatized him. One day, he gets confronted by his long-lost eleven year old daughter Amy (Ariel Gade). Now, he has to contend with hiding his secret from his daughter, dodging the local sheriff (Barry Bostwick) who’s investigating the rash of murders and also dating his mom, and just being a father.

I love the title for this movie, because it pulls the rug out from under you in more ways than one. And actually, for the first half hour or so, that title is exactly what we get. We get some murders and the police investigating…then the daughter comes in, and this is where a lot of people are going to start liking Some Guy Who Kills People or they’re going to start hating it. It turns into a drama. Yes, for a good chunk of the film, we get lots of father-daughter bonding. And for me, I really appreciated it. If the film had just gone straight with just killing, I know I would have tossed this aside as “just another slasher.” But no. It dares to try something original, and it works. While the concept is definitely a “hit or miss” idea, the writing is expertly done and the direction does the script complete justice.

But that’s not to say the slasher elements we do get are terrible. The body count in this movie is very low, but there are some impressive kills (or one in particular). First, we get what is perhaps the best decapitation I have ever seen in any modern horror movie. It’s all practical, complete with prosthetic head and a HUGE blood spurt. I’m not going to spoil the other deaths, but they really aren’t the main focus of the movie. There isn’t a whole lot of suspense either, because all the characters that die are completely reprehensible and I couldn’t care any less about them.

However, the main characters are very likable and the parts are all well-acted as well. Ken himself is very likable and very sympathetic, and I found his reaction to everything that has begun to happen in his life very realistic. Barry Bostwick was hilarious as the sheriff, who I imagine is a parody of the cliché inept sheriff in almost all slasher movies, as he literally does next to nothing throughout most of the movie. Karen Black is good, I really liked Lucy Davis as Ken’s love interest, and Ariel Gade was actually pretty good as Amy (I usually hate kid actors).

Some Guy Who Kills People is going to disappoint many people looking for a straight slasher, but for those who can appreciate a good heart-warming drama, it’s great. I’m one of those people, so I got a lot out of Some Guy Who Kills People. It’s nice to actually see some sort of attempt to make characters likable, and it actually pays off because I liked all of them (save for the antagonists, whom we are supposed to hate). It’s also a comedy that doesn’t beat you over the head with humor and instead uses funny dialogue to make you chuckle. The kills themselves are well-done, and I really like the back story they gave us on why our killer is killing them. This was released quite recently on DVD by Anchor Bay, and it looks great. I’m not a big video or audiophile, but I liked the quality. There are some good special features as well, including a feature commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, the trailer, and an entertaining short film called “The Fifth.” This is a movie I can see myself pulling out every once in a while and enjoying, and if this sounds up your alley, it’s definitely worth the purchase, especially with that $10 price tag.

The Verdict: Some Guy Who Kills People is an entertaining mixture of gory slasher and engaging drama with a dash of comedy for good measure. Definitely an independent movie worth watching.

Score: 7/10