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Fowler’s Flix 03.25.19: Blood in the Blu-ray

Joe Spinell delivers the performance of his career as a sweaty psycho in "Maniac."
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Whenever I receive a mailbox full of horror films—something old and something new—you can almost guarantee a small stream of video-coded blood will start dripping directly from my blu-ray player, pooling near my shoed feet with every on-screen faux-slashing by whatever monster of mayhem is onscreen at the moment.

Some people can’t handle it…their loss.

William Lustig’s shocking 1980 flick Maniac (Blue Underground) still has the power to repulse today, with the late Joe Spinell in the sweaty title role. Suffering from the remnants of a brutal childhood, Frank Zito now scours the streets looking for women to add to his collection of living mannequins. When he starts a seemingly normal relationship with a fashion photographer (Caroline Munro), his tendencies get the better of him and he sinks deeper into the madness.

The role that, for better or worse, defined Spinell’s career, he gives a horrifically believable performance as a man well over the brink of madness. Additionally, Lustig throws in plenty of surreal moments that has both Spinell and the audience wondering if the Tom Savini-supplied gore is real or the crazed renderings of a sick mind. Or maybe both?

Almost as sick is Christmas killer Ricky (Eric Freeman) in the goofy retread Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (Shout! Factory). With two-thirds of the film made-up of clips from the original SNDN, young brother Ricky is relaying the story his hatred of Christmas to a scheming psychologist. Of course, this pushes him over the edge as well and he goes on an amusing killing spree on a closed neighborhood street. Of course, his story was continued in part three, which I hope is released soon.

Slightly more legendary is the horror madman Leatherface in, sadly, his least legendary movie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (Shout! Factory). Filmed in the early 90s and shelved for a few years, this iteration finds the infamous Sawyer clan (led by future star Matthew McConaughey) torturing a group of kids on their way home from the prom, with the center-piece being a now-transvestite Leatherface.

An uneasy mixture of horror and comedy, this sequel also introduces strange conspiracy elements that make no sense and was ultimately forgotten—as was most of this flick—in the next installment. Most notable for introducing both McConaughey and Renee Zellweger, this is a mostly watchable volume in the Texas Chainsaw mythos, but not really a notable one.

From splattery gore to supernatural girls, we’ve got the 1996 witchy take on high school, The Craft (Shout! Factory).

A huge hit in the teen-terror pantheon of the 90s, this flick has four social outcasts using the mystic arts to do their bidding; however, once their spells come true, it also comes back threefold against them and then the true horror starts. While much of the movie is a badly dated thriller, it’s also a nostalgic fright-show that should bring back better memories of your own schooling and the movies watched back then.

Finally, there’s Glen Morgan’s sadly unappreciated remake of the killer rat film Willard (Shout! Factory).

Picked on and put upon Willard Stiles (a surprising Crispin Glover) lives a sad and lonely life, with his only connections to the world being a sick mom and his bully of a boss. When he discovers rats in his basement however, he befriends them, in particular one named Socrates.

This makes the jumbo rodent Ben particularly jealous and when Socrates is heartlessly killed, Willard and Ben go on a reign of vermin-sponsored terror, the rats eating everything in their way. Full of both tearjerking pathos and tear ‘em up horrors, this is one of those cases where the remake is slightly better than the original.

It’s kind of funny…all these psychopaths and cannibals and witches and the most frightening monsters of all is a four-legged critter named Ben—he delivers more blood in the Blu-ray than all these guys and then kill the rest of us off with a deadly rat-disease that’ll leave us puking up our insides in no time.

Next week: Sonny Chiba is The Streetfighter!

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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