By Eric Polk of The Audio Descent Podcast-
As someone who was born in the mid-70's(Yes Reaplings, I am a senior citizen by today's standards), I was fortunate enough to catch the last wave of the Drive-In craze that, in the days before cable, the vcr and the Internet, swept our fine nation. It was here in this Americana atmosphere I was introduced to Superman, Police Academy, and Friday the 13th, Part III.
It was also here that many horror lovers of that generation could catch grade z schlock fare if they can survive the usually dopey first movie. But today, I present two exploitation movies, both vary in quality, but nevertheless, I'm sure these were shown in the backwood country of the U.S.A on a Friday or Saturday night.
Before I begin, let's scope a preview:
And now our feature presentation...
Our movie opens in the 1300's as a satanic cult prepares a human sacrifice in order to retain their youth. They succeed, of course, and behead a few monks afterwards. We fast-forward to NYC and the present day(1988). The sect continues their ritual mutilations. But the next winter sacrifice is coming up and one of the cult members suggests using his granddaughter because she's still a virgin. Meanwhile, the leader of the cult engaged a convicted killer to randomly kidnap the granddaughter's best friends and then – finally – there's also a sub plot about a devoted nun going undercover in the cult by order of the Catholic Church. Eventually, the nun gives up her faith and joins the Satanic Mouseketers.
While this is going on a pair of homicide detectives, who make the cops in the original Last House on the Left look like Sherlock Holmes, investigate the matter. This movie is plagued with the same afflictions that have haunted low-budget fare since time out of mind. There's no atmosphere of suspense whatsoever and even the whole devil-worshiping concept seems redundant. They're just a posse of bloodthirsty priests craving to cut open voluptuous young girls. There's fairly little gore until the climax arrives and that reddish puppet with horns, supposedly representing Lucifer, is just plain pitiable.Btw, towards the end, there's is perhaps the most unerotic orgy scene ever filmed this side of Eyes Wide Shut.
Still, it does have the cheezy-80's horror moxy I'm so fond of, which is why I didn't hate this film.
And now our feature presentation...
Now this is what I'm talking about when it comes to great low-budget horror/psychological films! This cult classic took the rare step of telling part of the story from the killer's POV as well as the last girl and the cliched bumbling detectives.
Former Vietnam vet and photographer Kirk Smith is a crazed killer who stalks the streets of Los Angeles, picking up young women and strangling them in lurid fashion. He repeatedly contacts Dr. Lindsay Gale, the psychologist on a radio show. He targets Dr. Gale's patients, commits a murder while on the phone to her show (forcing her to listen to the victim's cries), and eventually goes after Dr. Gale herself. Two goofy policemen track him down.
How this got lost in the early-80's slasher shuffle, I have no idea. Yes, this film is quite unsettling, but if you can see past the 'boobs and blood', you will see a hollow, sadistic man who just couldn't quite come to terms with his past. Of course, while it's not mentioned, I'm pretty sure his stint in the 'Nam didn't quite help his cause, either. There is nothing really wrong with this film, other than why haven't you seen it?
GOOD NIGHT! DRIVE SAFE! AND BE SURE TO ATTEND THE CHURCH OF YOUR CHOICE!
(At least that's what they said at the drive-in I went to.)