Tag Archives: exploitation

‘Maniac 2’ Comic Review -The Gory Story Continues!

Fans of the exploitation cult classic Maniac (directed by Bill Lustig) have a lot to look forward to thanks to the macabre talents over at Eibon Press. The gruesome exploits of deranged serial killer Frank Zito continue in this carnage-strewn comic sequel no one knew they needed. And you won’t want to miss out, my Nasties. 

Now fans of the original movie will note (SPOILERS! If you’ve not seen the movie skip to the next paragraph…and go watch Maniac!) Frank ends up with his guts spilled all over his scummy bed at the end of the film. So questionably, and rightly so, how could there be a sequel? The answer lies in the fact that Eibon not only gave fans a page-by-page adaptation of the film but included lots (and I mean a fuck ton lots) of extra stuff in their sensational adaptation. 

Eibon Press is gifted with grotesque imaginations. Not being content to just retell the Maniac story they included the goddamn New York Ripper into the story which leads to a blood-soaked showdown between two of the Big Apple’s most disturbed serial killers! If for nothing else that is worth it alone to own this modern horror-comic masterpiece. 

But the comic also features some exceptional artwork that is pure eye candy for gore fiends. That same nasty beauty is continued in this sequel. So after faking his own death Frank sets out on the open highway to Hell itself as he hunts down that one special lady, the one who got away. By issue 2 (which goes on sale this week) we learn that the open road has way more deviants out there than one might want to think. 

In ish 2 the unholy creep factor gets cranked up on a meth ride into pure sadism. It’s a pungent resemblance to exploitive motifs of past horror on-the-road staples. Not so much Texas Chainsaw Massacre as it is The Hills Have Eyes, which, let’s face it, is horrifying. It makes ya think twice about that cross-country joyride you had planned. You just might not make it back in one piece if Eibon has anything to say about it. 

By now Frank has gained some notoriety for his crimes of sadistic passion. He’s also amassed a fan club of the worst sorts of people. Human degenerates who would just kill to meet their idol. Frank learns he’s not the only maniac out there and his world proves to be a very unforgiving place. The level of violence splashing across each page is what I’ve come to gladly expect out of Eibon Press, but, if we’re being honest, I really think they’ve outdone themselves. They really want you to know that, like Pieces suggests, you don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre. 

Oh, there is chainsaw massacring a plenty here. The pages literally run red as Frank gets himself kidnapped by a deviant family of psychos who waylay unsuspecting travelers along the road only to bring them back to their little house of horrors. Some may say that Frank is about to get his comeuppance for all the dirty little things he’s done in life as he finds himself now the victim of sexual assault and sadism. 

Like its predecessor, this is a must-own for horror collectors, fans, and lovers of exploitation. But let’s be honest, I could say the same thing for anything published by Eibon Press.

These guys are fans who live for horror. With each new release, they prove their passion for the genre by giving us the best fucking horror comics this side of Hell. So don’t miss out and be sure to order your copy here

The Scandalous VHS Artwork of Exploitation Horror

The subject material you’re about to encounter has vehemently been condemned and is strictly considered immoral by nanny courts. These images are bound to exhort nothing short of moral panic.

They depict excessive amounts of blood, guts, violence of the most enthusiastic sort, lots of sexy filth for the sake of making people blush, and, in short, are certainly enough to make your grandmother feel ashamed of you for enjoying this kind of stuff. You may enter at your own risk, my Nasties, but let’s face it. I already know you want it. So grab a shovel because we’re gonna dig deep into the shocking world of exploitation art!

They were criticized upon their release, made people feel very icky in the gutty guts, and were considered to be the precursor of an oncoming collapse of society.  That collapse though never happened, as if anyone was surprised. But in a quick panic the leading authorities rushed to ban each of this movies due to the explicitness of their covers and their lurid titles. I mean each one promised an apocalyptic orgy of violence and indecency for Heaven’s sake.

This banning was for your protection. And of course, those of us from all aspects of the horror community, be it the Drive-In Mutants, the Slasheristic Gore Fiends, or, oh yes, you, my lovely Nasties, all join together to flip a fervent middle finger right in the smug face of the censor boards. 

Long live the nastiness, and long live horror!

BRING ON THE EXTREME! 

Zombies rising from the dead to tear out the throats of the living, chainsaws waving in the early morning air, splintering eye gauging, arterial spray, beheadings a plenty, and oozing guts being pulled out for the sake of self-cannibalism! These are the images splattered across exploitation horror covers like a heavy misting of an open vein.  

This is where the splatter film was bred and given room to mutate. These grotesque visions led way to Death Metal inspirations, influenced the likes of Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino, and led way for future horror extremists to realize their own wicked visions.

One common thing was shared between these extreme films: a complete disregard for the human body. The imagination behind these titles was to break apart the fragile human shape and leave it (literally in some cases) in messy pieces as some titles suggested. And when it came to exposing the human form there was no discrimination. The male nude body was often thrown before an unsuspecting audience as well as plenty of wang-doodle chopping. Like seriously, that weeny hacking stuff happened alot (and not saying the characters didn’t in fact deserve it) so be ready to cross your legs, fellahs.

They’ve been called filth, exploitation, and Video Nasties. Fans call them classics and consider them a rite of passage as one matures from Psycho to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These movies are the next step, a slippery slope dipping into a very seedy world of drills, kills, chainsaws, and rusted hooks where our heroes face the ravenous undead, sadistic psycho maniacs, nuns who are anything but pure, and lots, and lots of stabby things with pointed-ends.

In the days long before Google horror fans with a flair for the more extreme side needed to rely on either word of mouth or the images these harsh titles presented on their covers. 

The artwork was what sold these movies

In many, many cases the artwork alone was the only sneak peak we were given to make up our minds on whether to try out a movie or not. You’d hold a copy of I Spit On Your Grave in your hands, and, if you didn’t know anything about the flick, your imagination would swim out into a very dark lake of possibilities to what this film could hold in store. The cover suggested a fair deal of sexuality and, based on the knife in the unknown lady’s hand, plenty of good ol’ violence. I mean I was a kid when I first held this movie in my hands and – in those naïve days – I thought it would have something to do with a graveyard and zombies. 

I was a stupid fucking kid. 

In many cases the cover art alone was enough to earn these daring movies an explicit rating. And, in most cases, the posters left very little to the imagination.

These movies were very upfront about their ghastly content. And you gotta remember these were years before we had Death Metal bands and heavy metal was just starting up. So for the most part culture – as a whole – was not at all prepared for this level of hardgore material. This stuff was crawling out of the crypt whether people were ready for it or not. Now it’s almost old hat, but back then this stuff, (art, keep in mind art alone), was a serrated knife cutting the nerves of society’s disquiet.

Art And Repulse

But it wasn’t like we had the internet in those days. We couldn’t pull up IMDB or watch a trailer on YouTube. We had a brief description on the back and the cover art that lingered in our minds. So it was all up to that cover art to pull us in, and the artwork did a very good job.  

Maybe a little too good actually.

But these movies not only had macabre covers, they also had names that screamed at us, slapped us in the face, and captivated the attention. The Last House on the Left, House By the Cemetery, Isla: Shewolf of the SS, Driller Killer, They Call Her One Eye, Cannibal Holocaust, Make Them Die Slowly, Eaten Alive, Nekromantik, and Zombie Flesh Eaters to name just a few. 

These movies were built on razor-thin budgets and had nothing left over for advertisements. They solely had to rely on the artwork of their covers and their brilliant titles to lure in audiences and make back a profit. And not only did the plan work, it went and worked a little too well.

And in many cases once these films hit foreign markets the grotesque and macabre were both raised to new levels of alarm as even more explicit images came into being to promote the titles. Here’s a small sampling of just one of these movies (in this case Zombi 2) and how it changed (mutated) around the world.

Judging by the different versions of the movie’s international artwork leaves a feeling like you’re gazing at four entirely different films even though it is Zombi 2, yours truly’s favorite zombie flick btw.

And just because, here are a few more examples. The stark difference between home release and the foreign market’s has fans now scouring the internet and hitting conventions hoping to obtain some of these rare and unique posters to add to their horror collections. And who can blame them? This stuff is bragging rights.

The writing was on the wall, written in blood and clear as day. Shock sold. The competition for gore and the grotesque was on. When Deodato released his infamous Cannibal Holocaust Umberto Lenzi followed suit and released his Cannibal Ferox aka Make Them Die Slowly.

Stakes were raised and film makers strove to outdo what came before them. More guts! More flesh tearing! More death! Make it slow and more brutal! More sex, more screams, more everything! It didn’t take long though before this underworld of rebel cinema was discovered and promptly exposed.

Many of these titles were labeled Video Nasties and wound up on the banned list in many parts of the world. It became an insane time when the ultra-right sent police officers into people’s homes if it was even rumored some poor sap owned a copy of the Evil Dead. So the popularity of the films backfired on video shop owners and fans alike. 

It’s a case of an art form working a little too well.

Just how insane did it get, you ask?

Bill Lustig (director of Maniac) mailed a copy of the movie’s soundtrack (the soundtrack mind you) to a friend over in England but custom agents seized the record and kept it due to the Obscene Act. It was only a fucking music record! What the Hell did they think the music could do? Rip the listener’s eardrums out and fuck the ear hole to death? But the Video Nasties paranoia was in full effect and these people were taking shit far too seriously. 

Adult men and women went to storming video fronts and apprehending movies as if they were contraband, and it was all due to the film’s covers and titles. In a stupid mistake (as if the whole Act itself wasn’t stupid enough) the movie Apocalypse Now (Marlin Brando, Martin Sheen) was banned for a quick moment because of its title alone. 

And that’s just it, no one took the time to actually review these movies. They took them at surface level alone. Dolly Parton’s Best Little Whore House in Texas found itself in hot water due to title alone as well. That means a Dolly Parton movie sat on the same banned shelf alongside the Ilsa series! You have to see the humor in that.

These movies struck a raw nerve, more like severed the motherfucker with a rusty pickaxe, and everyday normal people were being threatened with jail time and fines. 

I would have been utterly fucked, my beloved Nasties! My library would have made their toenails curl. 

Fans pushed back and the restrictions just made us want to see these obscene films that much more. And, as it always seems to do, the people who would censor these moves (and their naughty covers) out of existence finally lost the fight and had to shut the fuck up. Even so it took decades before Last House on the Left was legally allowed distribution in the UK.

Today fans can own each of these lurid titles thanks to boutique Blu-ray companies like Synapse Films, Blue Underground, Severin, and Vinegar Syndrome. There are also the large companies, like Arrow and Scream Factory, that make titles available for fans. So we’ve got it made for the most part.

In the end, horror won. If you now want to own a copy of Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibal, well that’s your right.

Art doesn’t mean it’ll speak to everyone. Some will be repulsed by it while others are amazed. That’s how you know it’s done right. 

The world of exploitation not only lives on in the memories of its fans but today is faithfully continued forth and allowed to expand to new depths of visceral art by Eibon Press who capture the spirit and lovingly expand upon many of the classic titles fans love. They aren’t paying me to promote them but they’ve won me over as a fan and I can genuinely say go check them out. Anyone who loves exploitation will love these guys.

But before I go if you have any posters or VHS copies of these titles (or others) be sure to share them in the comments. We’d love to see what dark wonders sit in the crypt of your collection.

And if you like our style and want to support us:

Be sure to subscribe to Fangoria, who we’re now affiliated with, by clicking here!

Click here for some cool merch.

And for back issues and other slimy goodies click right here for Fangoria’s shop.

We really appreciate your support and wouldn’t be who we are without our loyal readers

The Doppelganger Effect: The Horror of Remakes!

Chances are if you’re a long-time horror fan you’ve lived to see your favorite horror movie fall under the Remake Guillotine. ‘Guillotine,’ I think that’s somewhat fitting. Makes the process sound just as scary as we imagined it would be. We dreaded the news that Halloween, Poltergeist, The Omen, Fright Night and Last House On the Left were all lined up to be decapitated so new filmmakers could inspect the intimate moist jelly of some of the greatest minds behind titanic horror titles. Often times our beloved movies were nothing more than a quick cash in as studios banked on making bank just from a film’s title alone. Nightmare on Elm Street’s name would be more than enough to pull in an audience, or so it was believed. However, that movie proved to be dismal at the box office and left studio heads standing around scratching their scalps trying to figure out why. That’s part of the problem – the people (mostly) behind making these remakes do not get what made the original movies great, to begin with.

Slashers and exploitation films seem to have fallen victim most of all to this post-current trend. Both genres are notorious for their graphic use of sexuality and violence; normally, both are used interchangeably as a grotesque malformation of Life and Death. That’s the essential formula of the Slasher and Exploitation genres.

 

DVD Talk
image via DVD Talk

 

These are movies that elicit very negative feelings from their audience. We find ourselves somehow trapped within the Hellish circumstances of the tragic heroes and victims we set out with. For nearly two hours we will have our senses assaulted by hyped-up violence and the glamorization of helplessness against cruelty. Should you enter this seedy underworld of depravity and carnage don’t be surprised if you feel the need to shower once the credits roll. No one would blame you either. These are disgusting places we must stomp through. The topics handled inside are seldom pleasant.

Who in the new millennium would dare venture out with the goal to remake some of the most notorious titles in cinematic history? Never in my life did I ever think someone would get the gumption to remake I Spit on Your Gave. Then, that remake inspired two sequels, and, admittedly, I really enjoy the second movie in the trilogy. It offered us something new out of the familiar rape-and-revenge slough. But the idea alone that it was greenlit in the first place is astonishing!

 

What Remakes Get Right/Wrong

I remember back in the late 90’s someone had the bright idea to remake Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho. Why in the world was that ever an option? Just why? The movie happened and is nothing more than a shot-for-shot retelling of a film classic. Of course, it doesn’t hold a candle to the master’s vision. Now, on the other hand, the Psycho lore was rebooted via Bates Motel on TV and gained a successful fan following. Why did it work? Because it offered viewers something different out of the familiar lore.

 

Nerdist
image via Nerdist

 

Praise is due to the show Hannibal for accomplishing similar success. They managed to retell a section of the lore which we already knew, but they did it in a manner that had fans hooked and desperate to see what new grotesque beauties awaited us each subsequint episode. The storyline of Red Dragon has already had two cinematic interpretations, but this time around – even though it was technically the third retelling – it offered us something exquisitely new and innovative. Proving how the retelling of a familiar lore can (and should) be should be handled.

 

 

 

 

That’s where remakes work! That’s the key, the masterstroke of success! You see, I don’t attack remakes, I attack bad movies, and sadly most movies that are remade just suck. But there are plenty that gets it right. In the case of Hannibal, initially, I wasn’t prepared to like the series. How happy was I to be wrong once I realized how beautiful and profound this show was determined to be. It brought the stories to life, more like breathed new life into the characters, thus demonstrating how to do things properly.

Films like The Fly, The Thing, all of Hammer’s Dracula and Frankenstein movies, and even last year’s IT all proved to be successes. Why? Well, as I’ve already mentioned with Bates Motel and Hannibal, these movies work as remakes simply because they give us a brand new look at the familiar material. We’re not forced to watch a shot-for-shot retelling of a beloved title.

With the original The Thing, society was eaten alive with a growing paranoia that Communists could be living right next door. Who can you trust when there could be a dirty Red hiding just beyond your own front door? The Cold War was in full effect and was reflected in the spooky movies of that time.  When Carpenter released his updated take, The Thing no longer spoke about ‘neighbor danger,’ but focused on the terror growing in our own bodies. The 80’s decade was a war on drugs and unsafe sex. AIDS was a real threat and people were terrified. One moment a person could appear just fine and healthy, the next that same person would be diagnosed with a terrifying disease that would end in the grave. Society was very aware of how quickly our own bodies could turn viciously against us if we weren’t careful.

 

The Thing Wiki
image via The Thing Wiki

 

The Thing became a cautionary tale about how the body can transform with a viral enemy inside of us ready to malform our anatomy to suit its own selfish purposes. It’s no surprise that it was released during a time when people were being warned of cancer. It got to be that everything would give a person cancer. People couldn’t even feel safe breathing in the air they inhaled for fear of second-hand smoking – and you guessed it, that gave you cancer too. When you look at The Thing it’s a hideous amalgamation of swollen tumors that destroy and ruin all they touch. The movie was not well received in its day, but has now grown to cult fandom and is praised as one of the best sci-fi horror films of all time.

 

WiffleGif
image via WiffleGif

 

The remake of The Fly is about losing control of one’s own body.  All it took was one innocent night of carelessness. This body-horror classic has an underlining theme of cautionary sex, it may not be noticed at first, but once it is it’s hard to deny. Our unfortunate hero (Jeff Goldblum)  gets infected by an experiment gone deathly wrong. He took every precaution. He crouches himself into the womb-shaped sanctity of the teleporter he’s built. Everything is a go, but unforeseen to him, a single freak chance of fate happens beyond his grasp, a fly lands in the teleporter and the two become merged as one entity. The consequences are dire for him. It was a simple accident, one slip of chance and all of a sudden it doesn’t matter how cautious he was. He is infected, but he hasn’t really realized it yet. He has sex with his girlfriend because of course, he does. Once she learns of his disturbing fate his girlfriend (Geena Davis) has some vivid dreams about the consequences of sleeping with her infected lover. I’m saying the word ‘consequences’ an awful lot, but that’s what this movie is all about.  It’s pretty obvious that the social fear of venereal consequences is in play here.

I’m not one to argue that a good horror movie has to have come underlining social message in it to make it good. It could be simple coincidence,  or maybe some deep thought was put into the making of those films. However, my point was, in the case of these remakes and what made them work, they weren’t just a rehash of the original source material. They were social up to date and played on the current fears of the people. If you make a horror film then you better at least try to aim at scaring your audience for fuck’s sake.

The only way you can scare an audience is by engaging them with the characters, make what scares them scare us, and then, after earning our trust rip our hearts out. That’s horror.

theterrortime

There’s no doubt people hate Rob Zombie still for remaking Halloween, one of horror’s most cherished films. To this day that movie stands like a plague in the minds of many fans. But this is what I’ve gathered from most of the people who hate it. They seem to praise the first half of the movie but curse the latter half. The first half of the film is a complete departure from Carpenter’s vision. It’s a gritty and uncomfortable look at a domestic meltdown.

Michael is from a highly dysfunctional household. The making for disaster is found early on in the movie’s opening. Michael’s upbringing is anything but nurturing. His mother’s boyfriend is a screaming, foul-mouthed abusive man who taunts Michael every chance he can. Being the only male role-figure in his life, the man is only too happy to mock Michael’s premature sexuality, calling him girly names that almost echo John Gacy’s own abusive relationship with his dad.  Even Michael’s older sister throws around oddly arousing jokes at his expense. For adults, we can laugh at sick shit like this, but this is all very damaging for the young psyche of an impressionable growing boy.

To top things off, his mother is a local stripper and her intimate way of living is constantly thrown in Michael’s face by the run-of-the-mill shitheads at school. Combine all of this and you have the gathering elements of the perfect storm. One of destruction, pain, and misery. It will not feel empathy, it will be cut off from the social norms of what’s acceptable and what’s illegal. You have the disturbed making of a true psychopath.

 

Jarvis City
image via Jarvis City

 

This is the household environment that spawns the likes of John Gacy, Albert Fish, and Edmond Kemper – all of them real-life boogeymen. Killers, slashers, serial rapists; monsters in suits of men.

 

fanpop.gif

 

This is not the Michael Myers we know, and that made him fascinating! This was a problem, a toxic danger that could be building right next door (or behind closed doors right upstairs). Were we going to get some actual psychological inside-looks into real-life murderers through the imaginative eyes of Michael Myers? Or, what I’m trying to say is, were we going to get inside of Myer’s mind? Would we see through the eyes of madness and true darkness all from behind his mask? It was really exciting. We already had a movie that followed the babysitters, so would this movie explore a very evil world that is hiding in plain sight all around us? That heinous world of the serial killer?

Oh, forget allllllllll about that, my nasties. It doesn’t take long for this to turn into a near shot-for-shot remake (oh sorry, ‘reimagining’) of Carpenter’s movie. People love to hate this movie and use it as the poster-child of poorly made remakes, but I have my own criticism of Zombie’s movie. That being: we almost had a great movie! Almost. Had Zombie just stuck with an original idea, something like following Michael’s journey into – not only madness – but also his heart of darkness; in essence, watch him become pure evil, and go on a blood-soaked murderous rampage. Make it an exploitation film, kinda like how it started out as.

It could have been great and I feel we got robbed.

And when it comes to Nightmare on Elm Street, instead of seeing the exact same movie we’ve all grown up with, why couldn’t we see the Springwood Slasher before he became the Dream Demon? Why not show us his vengeful demise at the hand of vigilante parents? Start out with him being a good neighbor, someone who would walk your dog for you. Someone you ask for an opinion, and who is glad to give it. Someone who loves his daughter and part of the PTA board. You know, like actual serial killers from the past? They always lived across the street. Why not give us that kind of movie, something we’ve not seen? Then pull the rug out from underneath us as we follow Fred Krueger down some very uncomfortable places, places where little skulls sit in the smoldering ash of a furnace deep in the depths of his boiler room.

 

Addicted to Horror Movies
image via Addicted to Horror Movies

Why not give us something like the rise of the Dream Demon?

Freddy could have come back and targeted the households of the parents who burned him alive and made it, oh I don’t know, something more relatable and personal to the families along Elm Street.

Eh, what I’m getting at is these remakes that are hated so much could have been good. They had potential and a chance, and that’s what I gave them – a chance.

Now whereas remakes don’t erase the original movie (thankfully), they do pose a problem for audiences nonetheless. A person can watch a really bad remake and not want to give the original a chance.

Cinepop
image via cinepop

Imagine if someone watched that awful Fog remake and then had no desire to see the original one? They would be missing out on a great experience. I kind of dealt with that. Thanks to Quarantine I had no interest in seeing [REC], like at all. In fact, I only just watched [REC] this year. That’s the problem with bad remakes – they may turn people off of some really amazing movies.

Not to mention we now have to distinguish which movie we’re talking about. My best friend was so happy when she bought me Night of the Demons for my birthday. It’s one of my all-time favorites and she knew I had been wanting it. Thing is, she bought me the remake (yes, that has a remake too) when it’s the original movie I love. Bless her heart, she was so thrilled to get me that Blu-ray though. She didn’t know there were two out there.  Someone else sent me Texas Chainsaw Massacre not knowing it was the remake. They honestly thought it was Hooper’s movie. There are too many remakes out there and it does get confusing.

Now we have a Suspiria remake to look forward to. Am I mad about that? No, and I’ll go to see it. Not only that, but we’re getting Pet Sematary, Tommyknockers, and honestly the remake train doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

 

 

To be honest I’m excited. I know that may shock some of my readers, but this was not meant to be some ‘I hate all remakes’ article. I don’t hate them, I just want to see them done right. IT proved a remake can be done right, and, if done so, will be a massive hit.

So there you have it, my ghoulies. This has been your Manic Exorcism once again. I encourage you to not let bad remakes ruin good movies. Keep checking us out here at Nightmare Nostalgia for all your retro needs.  Now go forth to enjoy the horror line-up before us.