Rupert Pupkin Speaks: September 2012 ""

Thursday, September 27, 2012

An A-Z of VHS Gems (from Phil Blankenship)

Phil Blankenship is one of my favorite film programmers of all-time and is the mastermind behind the wonderful Heavy Hitter Midnites series currently running at Cinefamily.  Thusfar he's featured movies the likes of NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE, DETENTION, JOYSTICKS, ROLLING THUNDER, BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, PURPLE RAIN and many more. 

Phil has also been instrumental in putting together the jaw-droppingly amazing Video Nasties midnight series running at Cinefamily all through October(See the lineup below)!

Monday, Oct. 1st, 10PM (free admission): Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape
Monday, Monday, Oct. 1st, midnight – Night Warning
Tuesday, Oct. 2nd, midnight – Hell of the Living Dead
Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, midnight – The Witch Who Came From The Sea
Thursday, Oct. 4th, midnight – Axe
Friday, Oct. 5th, midnight – Evilspeak
Saturday, Oct. 6th, midnight – Inferno
Sunday, Oct. 7th, midnight – Dead & Buried
Monday, Oct. 8th, midnight – Visiting Hours
Tuesday, Oct. 9th, midnight – The Funhouse
Wednesday, Oct. 10th, midnight – Cannibal Apocalypse
Thursday, Oct. 11th, midnight – The Burning
Friday, Oct. 12th, midnight – XTRO
Saturday, Oct. 13th, midnight – The Evil Dead
Sunday, Oct. 14th, midnight – Possession
Monday, Oct. 15th, midnight – Night of the Bloody Apes
Tuesday, Oct. 16th, midnight – The Toolbox Murders
Wednesday, Oct. 17th, midnight – Driller Killer
Thursday, Oct. 18th, midnight – Mardi Gras Massacre
Friday, Oct. 19th, midnight – The Beyond
Saturday, Oct. 20th, midnight – Blood Feast
Sunday, Oct. 21st, midnight – Anthrophophagus
Monday, Oct. 22th, midnight – Snuff
Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, midnight – Fight For Your Life
Wednesday, Oct. 24th, midnight – The House on the Edge of the Park
Thursday, Oct. 25th, midnight – Nightmares In A Damaged Brain
Friday, Oct. 26th, midnight – Faces of Death
Sunday, Oct. 28th, midnight – Cannibal Ferox
Monday, Oct. 29th, midnight – The Last House on the Left
Tuesday, Oct. 30th, midnight – I Spit On Your Grave
Wednesday, Oct. 31st, midnight – Cannibal Holocaust

Without any further ado, here is Phil's list:
(featuring pics from his remarkable personal collection of VHS tapes)


There’s so many fucking amazing movies!!!! So many treasures have already been discussed here on Pupkin Speaks, so many have yet to be discovered and so many are still not ready for prime time viewing. I’ve made tough decisions (H alone has Home Sweet Home, Home For The Holidays (1972), Hit List, and Hunter’s Blood!) but here’s a primer for awesome tapes that will help you live a more fulfilling life while keeping your VCR rolling.

The Abomination (1986)
This shot-on-super-8 backyard gorefest operates on its own insane wavelength and features the classic tagline “tumorous parasitic beasts are nesting in the bowels of their victims.”

 Blackout (1985)
A bleak made-for-tv thriller that predates The Stepfather by two years. Following a brutal car crash and facial reconstructive surgery, Keith Carradine starts a new life. But is he also a vicious killer who slaughtered his family? Police chief Richard Widmark is on the case and running out of time.

Cats (1994)
There are a lot of sub par pet videos out there safe for families & old ladies. This one, however, is a real life Best in Show, detailing the feline & fanatical: a cat astrologer, a cat therapist, a new age priestess and even Gus the miracle cat.

 Disconnected (1983)
The IMDb plot synopsis says “twin sisters are implicated in a series of slasher murders. The question is, did one of them do it, did both of them do it, or did neither of them do it?” Is that really what this movie is about? I’ve seen it a few times and still have no clue what they were doing or what they were trying for. It’s great!

Equalizer 2000 (1987)
More films should feature ridiculously oversized fictional weaponry.

Fatal Games (1984)
This classic era slasher flick deserves more attention, especially during an Olympics year. Teenagers at an athletic training camp are being stalked by a javelin-wielding maniac!

A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990)
Michael Anthony Hall teams up with a gnome to catch a killer. I don’t gno how this was made but I’m glad it was.

Heavenly Bodies (1984)
The Canadian aerobicsploitation flick that deserves to show up on EVERY best-of list ever is a heart pounding sex missile. An upstart aerobics studio collides with their cross-town rivals and only a marathon exercise competition can settle their differences.

 Interface (1985)
Computer hacking. Secret societies. College hijinks. This movie has it alllll!!

 The Jar (1984)
A holy grail for fans of what the fuck am I watching / I don’t think I can finish this / please make it stop / I want to watch it again cinema. It took me nearly 6 tries (and nearly as many months) to get through this the first time. A mini-masterpiece.

 Kill Squad (1982)
If you’ve been looking for a movie where EVERYONE fights (x 100,000!), this is what you need. Completely over the top and entertaining in nearly every way.

 Lady Avenger (1988)
You know, I'm all into revenge and Lady Avenger totally delivers the back alley gold as the pinnacle of David DeCoteau’s noteworthy career.

 The Man Who Created AIDS (1992)
Been looking for a four hour conspiracy doc made by an insane dude named Lanoo on how the World Health Organization and various US Presidents supervised the production and injection of AIDS? Look no further than this two tape. “Will we all be HIV positive by the year 2000?”

Nukie (1988)
There were a lot of family-friendly alien flicks in the wake of ET but none so freakishly terrifying as this truly fucked adventure.

Out of Bounds (1986)
A seriously underrated action flick featuring a psychotic Jeff Korber chasing fresh-from-the-farm Anthony Michael Hall across the streets of LA. With cool Siouxsie Sioux concert footage!

Pulsebeat (1984)
Pulsebeat is to Heavenly Bodies as Heavenly Bodies is to Flashdance. A Euro entry into the aerobicsploitation scene awesome enough to cast Hands of Steel star Daniel Green as a gym owner!

Quarterback Princess (1983)
Early ‘80s tv movie has a young Helen Hunt showing the team that, yes, she can play football even though she’s a girl. Bonus: young Daphne Zuniga & Tim Robbins! The film was FINAAALLLLLY released as an MOD dvd this month but I’m going to conveniently ignore that due to my need for a quality Q title.

Revenge of the Mercenaries (1985)
Vietnam vets. Ritual murders. One of a kind performances. This Canadian shot-on-video classic is on permanent display at my house and is required viewing for psychotronic fanatics who think they’ve seen it all.

Second Chance vs the Cop Killers (1975-1992)
This 7 hour 45 minute (yes, you read that correctly) tape is a wild one and perfect background for parties, weddings or any other type of special gathering. A promotional sales aid for police and military from the inventor of the kevlar bullet proof vest featuring tons of dopey reenactments and drop dead “comedy segments.” The real selling point, though, is extensive footage of the company’s founder shooting himself to prove that his product is a life-saver.

Thunder Warrior II (1987)
God bless the Italians. If there was money to be made hopping onto a Hollywood trend, they were there. Thunder Warrior showcases 1990: The Bronx Warriors star Mark Gregory as Thunder, a Native American as a picked-upon Vietnam Vet (think John Rambo). But Thunder Warrior wasn’t the end of the story… Thunder returns in the excellent, same-movie-but-more Thunder Warrior II – this time as a fucking COP! Who gets sent to PRISON! Who escapes and enacts further REVENGE!!!

 Unholy Rollers (1972)
Even though I’ve seen Unholy Rollers, Kansas City Bomber, Derby & Whip It, I still have no understanding how roller derby is played or scored. But the girls in this AIP drive-in staple are foxy hellcats so it’s ok by me.


The Vindicator (1986)
A Robocop-meets-Frankenstein manborg goes on a destructive rampage because he’s dead but still loves his girlfriend.

Witchtrap (1989)
The director and star of Witchboard return with this not-a-sequel brain destroyer. What would have been a fun little haunted house movie crossed into all-time HOLY FUCKING SHIT material when the on-set audio was stolen forcing the filmmakers to go back and completely re-dub the movie resulting in alien performances for the ages.

Xtro (1983)
This is a cheat as Xtro has been officially released at least three times on dvd but the letter X is hard and Xtro is just so good on any format.

Young Warriors (1983)
Students by day, vigilantes by night! A Cannon classic with an all star cast: Ernest Borgnine, Richard Roundtree, Lynda Day George, James Van Patten and more!

The Zebra Force (1976)
Vietnam vets vs. the mafia with one of the greatest twist endings ever recorded to celluloid!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warner Archive Pick of the Week: CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER

 I recently had the pleasure of meeting a couple of the gentlemen behind the Warner Archive Collection. Amazing individuals and remarkable cinephiles. I got into a discussion with one of them regarding this film and it was pointed out to me the distinct similarities between this film and one of my all-time favorites, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. There's seems little doubt that this film influenced one of the filmmaking folks involved in in BTILC. Could have been the writers, could have been John Carpenter himself, but regardless, that's pretty cool. I only saw this movie for the 1st time a couple years ago(as it has been quite hard to track down) and I really liked it, but I was having trouble articulating what exactly it was about it that got me. I have come to realize there must have been some perhaps subconscious reaction to those elements from this other film I love so much. That being said, will all BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA fans enjoy this movie? Absolutely not. I was first made aware of it by master director and cinemaniac Joe Dante. If you haven't seen it, his Trailers From Hell commentary is highly recommended:

You can order the DVD here:

Monday, September 24, 2012

VHS Gems Guest Post: Michael Monterastelli

 Michael Monterastelli is a writer for, where he reviews films and contributes a weekly column called Collecting VHS that features rare exploitation movies currently not available on DVD. You can also ‘like’ his Collecting VHS Facebook page and follow him on Twitter at @VHSnerd.

Directed by Ken Russell

This is director Ken Russell’s most powerful and resonating film. It takes place in 17th century France and tells the lurid tale of Father Urban Grandier (masterfully played by the always-intense Oliver Reed) who is trying to protect his city from a coup by a corrupt Cardinal. But when a sexually repressed, hunchbacked nun (Vanessa Redgrave killing it), who’s secretly in love with the handsome priest, accuses him of being a warlock who has possessed her, Father Grandier must defend himself on trial against a devil-obsessed jury spearheaded by his main opponent. This film goes into some very dark places and the ending is possibly one of the most soul-shattering examples of pure, vicious cruelty I’ve ever seen displayed on screen before. I can only imagine that the reason this film has not been given the Criterion treatment it deserves is because of its deeply controversial depictions of early Catholicism, however it’s an unquestionable masterpiece that’ll hit you square in your moneymaker.

Directed by Martin Campbell

A perfectly written, directed and acted film about a fantastical alternate 1948 Los Angeles where everyone uses magic. Well, almost everyone. The incredible Fred Ward plays Harry Phillip Lovecraft, a private eye with a very personal reason for abstaining from usage of the occult. He’s hired to recover a stolen book called the Necronomicon that can be used to control the world through supernatural means, as well as releasing the “Old Ones” upon our realm. This movie is a tremendous amount of fun. Think WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, but in a Lovecraftian universe. It also features a very young and sultry Julianne Moore in one of her first lead roles. The movie was produced by Gale Anne Hurd during the height of her powers and was one of Martin Campbell’s first features. Why it’s never been released on DVD is a mystery to me.

Directed by Michael Rubbo

This bizarre children’s film from Canada MUST be released on DVD as soon as possible just so it can provide some closure to the generation of young adults it fucked up, whom all recall watching it as kids like they’re reliving a UFO abduction. The movie concerns an eleven-year-old boy named Michael who’s frightened by two old hobo ghosts in a haunted house. The next morning he wakes up to discover that all his hair has inexplicably fallen out of his head. The ghosts provide him with ingredients to a concoction that will make his hair grow back, but he must be careful not to use too much peanut butter or it will never stop growing. Of course, he uses way more than he should and his hair grows back so fast, it becomes life endangering. But before you can say, “What the FUCK?!” Michael is abducted by an evil ex-art teacher named The Signor along with most of the other children in town. They are forced to work as slave labor in a factory making magic paintbrushes out of Michael’s hair so The Signor can sell the paintings he creates with them to an unscrupulous art dealer. This is like what would happen if David Lynch directed a kid’s movie. Most of the people who saw this film when they were very young have claimed to suffer from nightmares for many years after and some believed that they fabricated its memory in a dream, because it’s never been released beyond the VHS that their parents once rented for them.

Directed by Mark Buntzman

One of a few choice Cannon Group releases that have not yet been released on DVD, this is possibly (next to NINJA III: THE DOMINATION) one of the most desired simply for its pure gonzo lunacy. Robert Ginty returns as John Eastland, the flamethrower-wielding vigilante who’s declared war on the drug-dealing scum of New York. He burns one punk to a crisp after another, getting closer and closer to the sadistic gang leader X (Mario Van Peebles). This sequel to James Glickenhaus’ nihilistic revenge epic THE EXTERMINATOR is far less realistic and gritty than the original, however unlike its predecessor, this movie really delivers on the flamethrower carnage the first film only teased at. Ginty disposes of every bad guy in the movie by barbequing them alive and the only thing missing is a shot of him roasting marshmallows over the burning corpses.

Directed by Gordon Hessler

The TV movie that was made by the rock group KISS has never been officially released on DVD… and I’ll bet it never will if Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss have anything to do with it. The band stars as themselves in a ridiculous plot that concerns a mad scientist who has figured out a way to turn humans into robots in his laboratory within an amusement park. He decides to use the big KISS concert to unleash his devious plan upon the world, so it’s up to the band to use their superpowers to defeat the diabolical genius. Apparently, the guys were fed their lines while waiting for action, because they were all too spaced out on drugs to memorize anything. They didn’t even know how the film was supposed to end. At one point it’s rumored that Ace Frehley walked off the set in disgust and was replaced by an African-American set assistant who was thrown into the space man’s costume and makeup. The acting is so bad many of their lines are dubbed over. Still, this campy rock ‘n’ roll tragedy has cemented itself (for me) a permanent place in Kisstory.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

VHS Gems Guest Post: Zachary Kelley

As the first title on my list says, here we go again. I’m very proud that Rupert asked me back again to do some more listing fun, and this time it’s a subject near and dear to my heart. When I was a kid, the magic of movies on VHS seemed endless, and being from the first generation of kids who got to take movies home and watch them at my leisure, I think has a lot to do with why I started my website and the passions I have in my life. Where I used to dig around in rental shops for movies I haven’t seen, now that quest entails thrift shops, swap meets, and garage sales. I can smell a stack of tapes at a hundred yards, and the scent of whatever VHS the pile could contain is intoxicating like few things are. It’s my pleasure to share with you a few of my favorites (in no particular order) most of which (but sadly, not all) I’ve managed to mine up in my own quest for VHS gems. 

10. Here We Go Again (1942) This is one for all the Fibber McGee and Molly fans out there. I’m the last one? Fair enough, well some people are bound to remember Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen, and this film finds the radio ventriloquist (and boy, he shoulda have stayed on the radio as it is much easier to not move your lips when no one can see them) and his pals/ props Charlie and Mortimer Snerd as they have a chance encounter with the McGees, also big time radio stars, at a mountain resort. It’s got slapstick, rapid fire bickering, and even a dwarf dressed up like a ventriloquist’s dummy chopping wood. Yeah, creepy. Even creepier, McCarthy and Snerd have their own IMDB entries. Now how does that work?

9. The Final Sanction (1990) Mining the same ground as Robot Jox, released the same year, The Final Sanction boils down the cold war to head to head battle, and what heads they are. Instead of fighting an all out war, Russia and the United States each decide to pick a champion for a fight to the death to decide the fate of the world. You know, because that’s the kind of thing you do. Repping for America is the one and only Ted Prior and for the Ruskies, the only chin that can make Bruce Campbell tremble in fear, Robert “Maniac Cop” Z’Dar. I really don’t feel like I need to say another word about this movie because if the premise and cast don’t convince you, well, you’re probably dead inside. Just sayin’.

8. The Plumber (1979) Ever have someone working in your house that you’re just sure probably had sex with his dead mother before he started work today? Well, then this is the movie for you… or not depending on how you look at it. Peter Weir, oh he of Witness and Dead Poet’s Society fame, wrote and directed this tense little thriller about a creepy plumber who just can’t seem to get his work done. The question becomes, is he hanging around because he’s not a very good plumber or does he have something more sinister in mind for the resident? Weir made a couple freaky little Australian films before coming over and getting classy in The States, notably this and The Cars that Ate Paris, and it’s a shame that The Plumber has never gotten a DVD release. The way it plays with the slasher formula and expectations has yet to be recreated in any other film, and it both pokes fun at the genre as well as makes for an excellent tribute.

7. Robbers of the Sacred Mountain (1982) Starring Simon MacCorkindale a.k.a Manimal, who looked uncannily like Aaron Eckhart at the time, stars in this cut rate Raiders of the Lost Arc rip-off also known as Falcon’s Gold. This is despite the fact that there is no gold in the film as I recall. It concerns an archeologist heading into the jungle in search of strange and powerful stones from space which can be used to make an incredibly strong laser. This is because lasers are cool. MacCorkindale stars as a journalist who tags along for the story but ends up more deeply involved. Ten times better than Crystal Skull with 100% less fridge nuking, Robbers of the Sacred Mountain is a fun little adventure romp that hangs its hat on just enough action and adventure to warrant a DVD release.

6. Disturbed (1990) When I took my VHS copy of Disturbed to Horror Hound Weekend for Malcolm McDowell to sign it, I had no expectations at all. So imagine my surprise when Mr. McDowell saw the name across the top of the tape, and, more animatedly than he had been seconds before signing yet another Clockwork Orange poster, looked up, pointed right at me, and said, “Disturbed! You must be one sick mother.” This is a moment I will cherish all my life and his quotation I would like emblazoned on my tombstone. It doesn’t get better than Alex calling you a “sick mother”, but I digress. McDowell stars here as the head of an insane asylum, but while treating his newest patient, it starts to become unclear if she’s the crazy one or if the doctor is slipping into insanity. There’s also the chance that he’s always been nuts. Either way, it’s McDowell, so it’s easy to believe and he is in surprisingly good form. Full of twists and turns, the flick keeps the viewer guessing as few films do. So if liking Disturbed makes me a “sick mother” then so be it.

5. Son of Dracula (1974) Ringo Starr of the Beatles plays Merlin the Magician. Do I really need to say more? Alright, singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson plays the title role (Well, technically his name is Count Downe), and he sings a few tunes about it as well notably his tune “Daybreak” and his big hit “Without You“. Filmed by trash auteur Freddie Francis, Son of Dracula makes almost no sense, but honestly, it doesn’t have to. There’s something about the Count trying to cure his vampirism, and Dr. Frankenstein is going to help him with the process though secretly he is in cahoots with Val Helsing to destroy the vampire. Made in what must have been a haze of marijuana smoke and cocaine dust, the cohesiveness of the plot is not as wonderful as the hammy, crazy performances by the rockers. Keith Moon, Peter Frampton, and John Bonham all appear along the way in cameo roles, but the film belongs to Nilsson. I just can’t live if livin’ is without this flick getting a proper DVD release.

4. Remote Control (1988) There’s nothing better than a VHS where VHS are the scourge of the world, and no where was this done better than in Remote Control. While sadly it isn’t a documentary about the MTV game show, it does star Kevin Dillon as a video store clerk who uncovers an alien plot to control the world via Video Home System Tapes. Not any tape, of course, but specifically a tape of a 50s era cheesy sci-fi flick, exactly the sort of thing I would have wanted to take home from the rental place in 1988. What I didn’t ever take home was Remote Control, but after I saw it a few years ago, this cheese-fest became an instant classic. Remote Control could have won a place on the “Bad Movies I Love” list, but I’m glad that I left this VHS-centric choice for this list of movies I wish were on DVD.

3. Fair Game (1986) The Most Dangerous Game is a classic story, and it is one which has been retold time after time in the movies. While Hard Target and Surviving the Game tie as my favorites, Fair Game definitely comes in a close second. The Australian production stars Cassandra Delaney as Jessica, the owner and operator of a kangaroo sanctuary. When she catches three poachers on her land, they decide hunting ‘roos won’t be as much fun as hunting Jessica. What they don’t count for is how much ass she’s going to kick. Fair Game plays around with the gal on the run premise for a minute, but the real fun comes when Jessica strikes back taking the fight right to the hunters. More often than not Australian movies are fun, and this is among the most fun there are.

2. Hands of Steel (1986) As fans of the GGTMC know, Sergio Martino’s futuristic action film involving an arm wrestling cyborg and John Saxon wielding a shoulder mounted laser is a certifiable classic. Starring Daniel Green, who played Elvira’s beau in Mistress of the Dark, as Paco Quarac, Hands of Steel is nutty, silly, and crazy, crazy watchable. I defy you to find a fan of trashy, cult fare who won’t love this, but if you find one, be suspicious, probably a double agent of some sort. Anyhow, what else can I say? How about some arm wrestling over snakes? What about George Eastman covered in flop sweat in a dirty tank top? What about putting this on DVD folks? Please?

1. The Girl Hunters (1963) There have been many men who have played Mike Hammer, Stacey Keach, Darrin McGavin, and Ralph Meeker just to name a few. However close these gentlemen got, they never really hit the exact mark of who Mickey Spillaine’s Mike Hammer was. For that you needed one man, the only man who really knew, you needed Mickey Spillaine as Mike Hammer. I’ve tried to come up with other occasions where a novelist eventually played his own character, but you don’t see a lot of book authors who make the leap to the screen. The only question of Spillaine’s acting is “how did they not make a dozen of these films.” The hard nosed writer perfectly fills the shoes of his hard boiled detective, and director Roy Rowland, who also helmed the cult weirdness The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, fills the film with great action balanced with heavy late-Noir. More than a curiosity, The Girl Hunters is an excellent example of a film that bridges the gap between the Noir crime thrillers and the stylish capers of the 60s. Not only was The Girl Hunters not on DVD it was barely on VHS with only one hard to find issuing available.

Honorable Mentions:
Ocean Drive Weekend (1986) It was on my “Bad Movies I Love” list so I left it off, but this film on DVD is my holy grail.

Banzai Runner (1987) Dean Stockwell gets his Fast and the Furious on, but sadly, it has been issued on a long out of print DVD.

Fade To Black (1980) Again, released on DVD, but OOP.

Hearts of Fire (1987) Again on my “Bad Movies” list, but Dylan, Rupert Everett, a fist fight, classic I tell you, classic.

Cocksucker Blues (1972) This Rolling Stones documentary has never been officially released as far as I know (snippits can be seen in the documentary Stones in Exile released alongside a remaster of Exile on Main Street), but I wish it would come to light in any form. Featuring everyone from Dick Cavett and Truman Capote to Andy Warhol and Stevie Wonder alongside Mick, Keith, and the boys, C.S. Blues not only shows a slice of a band out of control, but also an era. C.S. Blues and Dylan’s Renaldo and Clara both deserve the DVD treatment as slices of musical film history.

Sons of Steel (1989) This Aussie picture was never even released on VHS in the US which is really too bad. A post-apocalyptic, hard rock musical starring Black Alice as Black Alice the pro-peace agitator who time travels to the future to check out the post-post-apocalyptic world and sing some more songs.

Thanks again to Rupert for having me in today to talk tapes with you folks. Calling this segment VHS gems seems completely appropriate to me. Just like panning for a hint of sparkle amongst the grist, those of us who live to uncover movies and to hunt VHS are always looking for that sparkle. For dozens of unheard of titles found, only a few of them will have the quality, the shine, and the brilliance of a real VHS gem.