Shadow of the Thin Man – 1941 – United States
Shadow of the Thin Man is the fourth in the poorly named series of Thin Man movies. I don’t even think the first movie features an especially thin man, but even if it does, none of the sequels do.
Screamers – 1995 – United States
Starting in the 1970s, sci-fi seems to take a pessimistic view of the future. Obviously, there are lots of causes for that: nuclear escalation, climate change, ubiquitous surveillance. This is one reason why sci-fi author Philip K. Dick is so ahead of his time. The stories he wrote in the ‘50s and ‘60s are just as bleak and paranoid as anything since. Movie adaptations of his work include Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), and Minority Report (2002).
Screamers, based on a 1953 Philip K. Dick story, is oppressively pessimistic in the best way. It is set on a war-torn planet where an endless conflict between a corporation and a labor union has turned the world into a wasteland and made basket cases of the soldiers on both sides. One army defends their territory with “screamers”, insect-like killer robots covered in buzzsaws. They burrow underground and consume corpses to harvest methane gas for fuel. Now the screamers are evolving and targeting all human life on the planet.
Amsterdamned – 1988 – Netherlands
Amsterdamned isn’t quite as much fun as its outrageous title suggests, but it is set in Amsterdam. The story follows a police detective as he hunts a homicidal diver who is stabbing people in Amsterdam’s world-famous canals.
There are some nasty stabbings and a decapitation. The movie opens with a cab driver trying to rape a prostitute. Minutes later, that prostitute is murdered, and her body is hung from a bridge where it leaks blood all over a boat full of children. A person also commits suicide with a speargun. Despite all this gruesome content, Amsterdamned isn’t really a horror movie. It’s more of a police procedural. Much time is spent on the mundane reality of detective work, although a motorcycle chase, a speedboat chase, and an underwater knife fight break things up.
Deadly Manor – 1990 – United States/Spain
Considering its generic title, you shouldn’t be surprised that Deadly Manor is a generic movie. The most notable thing about it is how little sense it makes.
Some young people on a camping trip stay in a seemingly abandoned mansion during a rainstorm. Except it isn’t abandoned, and it doesn’t even look abandoned, but they stay there anyway. In the yard, there is a wrecked car that has been made into a monument. There are coffins in the basement. Every wall in the house is covered with pictures of the same woman. And there is a closet full of human scalps. Why would anyone stay in this house? In those most ridiculous scene, one of the young people finds a photo album full of pictures of naked corpses. After flipping through it, he shrugs and puts it away.
Kwaidan – 1964 – Japan
After being utterly revolted by Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand, I needed to cleanse myself with something tasteful. I ended up with Kwaidan, a movie I had been putting off watching because it’s three hours long. Kwaidan would have been even better if it was two hours long, but nonetheless, I really liked it.
Kwaidan is an anthology of four ghost stories. They are unrelated aside from the fact they are all based on traditional Japanese folklore and set in early 20th century Japan. The stories are simple and predictable, but they are also poetic and tragic, and they have a certain emotional appeal.
Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand – 1992 – Germany
I was utterly revolted by the original Violent Shit, so you’re probably wondering why I would ever watch the sequel. Knowing that I like strange and extreme movies, someone gave me a DVD containing all four Violent Shit movies. I just couldn’t give up without seeing how the series progresses. What if the sequels are radically different? Sadly, that isn’t the case so far. Time will tell if I watch any more of this crap.
Straight to Hell – 1987 – England/Spain
This is one of those “What the hell did I just watch?” sort of movies. It’s like a Quentin Tarantino movie mixed with a Troma movie. It was directed by Alex Cox, who also directed Repo Man (1984). All that sounds mighty promising, but don’t get excited. Straight to Hell mostly sucks.
The story follows four incompetent bank robbers. After a heist, they flee to Mexico with the stolen money, bury it in the desert, and hide out in a tiny village. The village is home to a gang of criminal freaks and misfits who constantly drink coffee, shoot guns, and harass each other. Sometimes they break into song. They all dress like homeless people or extras from a Mad Max movie, and almost all of them have gold teeth.
Violent Shit – 1989 – Germany
If you want to know whether Violent Shit is as gross and nihilistic as its title promises, the answer is yes. You can stop reading now. But if you’re the sort that really has to know how violet and shitty Violet Shit really is, then read on.
Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity – 1987 – United States
Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity is pretty easy to summarize. In the space-faring future, some sexy women steal a spaceship and crash land on a jungle planet. They are imprisoned by a rich hunter who resembles Christian Bale, wears vinyl pants, and wields a laser crossbow. Escaping the hunter’s mansion (which looks like a hunting lodge combined with the set of Legends of the Hidden Temple), the women flee into the jungle and must fight for their lives like in The Most Dangerous Game. There are some robots, some mutants, and an alien that looks suspiciously like the Predator with its mask off.
Child’s Play – 1988 – United States
Fifteen years ago, when I first saw Child’s Play, I recall liking it. However, after just rewatching it, I totally love it. Obviously, I’m growing and maturing as a person. You probably know the story of Child’s Play already. Through a voodoo ritual, a serial killer is reincarnated as a toy doll named Chucky (who resembles a My Buddy doll). Chucky proceeds to terrorize a single mother and her young son.