Saturday, October 14, 2017

Halloween Moviethon - Twice Dead + Popcorn

Today I took in a double feature today with a very specific theme. Horror films starring raspy voiced actresses named Jill who were born in 1963 and made their film debuts in 1981. Starting with Twice Dead starring Jill Whitlow, followed by Popcorn starring Jill Schoelen.

In Twice Dead the Cates family inherits the house of their dead lunatic uncle Tyler Walker. The Cates; Harry, Silvia, and their teenage children Scott and Robin (who kinda act like they're dating) arrive to discover that a local street gang has made their new home their hangout. Some of these gang members remind me a lot of the ones from The Lost Boys, only these guys aren't vampires. They're just assholes. If a gang of assholes isn't bad enough, the house turns out to be a bit haunted as well.

The family has to deal with constant harassment and at least one attempted daughter rape in an apparently uninhabited Los Angeles neighborhood while the cops do nothing. Eventually the parents have to leave town for two or three weeks to take care of some business so they won't be "ruined". I don't own any kids, but if I did I don't think I'd leave them home alone for several weeks with a gang of violent criminals constantly showing up at the house. Especially if the perviest member of the gang has a major fixation on my pretty daughter. 

For some reason the kids think it might be a good idea to scare the shit out of the gang by drugging them one at a time and staging elaborate gruesome murder scenes using props Scott borrowed from film school. As you can imagine, this just pisses the gang off even more. They show up later and shit gets real. And the murders. Those also get real.

I liked this one. I'm usually not a big fan of "home invasion" scenarios, but it worked for me here. Maybe because it wasn't as "rapey" as a lot of these movies usually are. This one is cool because you get to see the bad guys get offed twice. I haven't really mentioned the haunted house part of the movie because there's really not much to them, mostly a ghost in a mirror and a bit of light possession towards the end. Overall, not a classic but certainly worth a look for 80s horror fans.

Things to look for:
  • A cat named Meow
  • Hearse car chase
  • Extreme stop sign running
  • New from Cadillac - The casket launching hearse
  • The world's strongest dirt bike
  • Jill Whitlow, who plays Robin/Myrna. She was always really likable in stuff like this, Night of the Creeps and Weird Science, kind of a shame her career never really took off - she doesn't even have a headshot on her IMDB page. 

Up next was Jill Schoelen's Popcorn from 1991, shot entirely in Jamaica for no apparent reason. Popcorn is a pretty solid film, in my opinion the one thing holding this one back from being more fondly remembered is that the movie's maniac is just too over the top. Once he's fully revealed himself and his motive he goes into full spazz mode. He's got a cocaine-era Robin Williams level of energy. He's jumping around, shouting, doing voices - can someone calm this guy the hell down? The director should've reeled him in, at least a bit. The makeup is actually pretty gruesome, this dude could've been legitimately frightening if he didn't spend his final 20 minutes running around like Rip Taylor.

Synapse's Blu-ray is pretty great, I'm definitely glad I just waited for the standard release though instead of paying $24 more for a highly damageable steelbook case. Steelbooks look pretty cool, but I'm not really up for dropping more money for them. Maybe a few dollars difference, not $24. With the money I saved there I got Universal's 8-film Hammer Horror set.

Things to look for:
  • Dee Wallace in a very rare horror film appearance
  • Why would a bathroom stall have a key lock on the outside of the door? When would someone ever need to lock another person into a stall?
  • Death by giant mosquito prop. Twice!
  • Half price perms for white guys
  • Not to nerd out too much here but they put "Rated R" on the marquee, but the movies they play at the Horror-thon - Mosquito, The Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man and The Stench were shlocky sci-fi films from the 50s and 60s. Those would not have been Rated R. 

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