James Branscome: Beyond Fest video editor / Cinematic Void film programmer over at the Egyptian Theatre where he screens a variety of cult, horror, sex comedy, and exploitation films.
THE FOREST (1982, Don Jones)
A group of inept campers (one with a bitchin’ moustache) head out to the woods only to be hunted by a George Lucas lookalike who has gone cannibal. Throw in the fact he’s also haunted by the ghosts of his dead wife and kids and you got some next level absurdity. One of the most bizarre entries in backwoods horror which mixes in slasher films and the paranormal into its moonshine.
BLOODY FRIDAY (1972, Rolf Olsen)
Filmmaker Elijah Drenner (That Guy Dick Miller) brought this one to my attention and I was proud that I was able to premiere the very first uncut US screening of the film. An ultra violent thriller about a bank heist that goes off the rails and because a hostage situation. Rolf Olsen directs and tight and tense thriller that goes for the throat. Criminally under seen for now, once Subkultur Entertainment’s blu-ray restoration is released I feel like this one will be making a lot of people’s 2017 discoveries list.
MARK OF THE WITCH (1970, Tom Moore)
An evil witch is executed and promises to take revenge on the descendants of the witch hunter who put her to death. Cue years later at a pretty hip Texas college where after a drunken evocation, a pretty female student becomes possessed by the witch. Turns out her professor is a blood relative of her executioner. At first the witch decides to see what modern life is like and attends the possessed girls classes and parties up. But this is just a clever ruse to seduce and destroy her nemesis. Although it gets a bit goofy in spots, it’s still a highly entertaining regional horror worth checking out.
MALATESTA’S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD (1973, Christopher Speeth)
A family goes deep cover working at a seedy Carnival looking for their son who vanished there. Turns out the weirdo who runs it, Mr. Blood, is a vampire and all the carnies are a collection of various flesh-eating ghouls. Creepy and weird horror filled with psychedelic imagery and inventive death scenes (the rollercoaster decapitation is pretty ace).
HELLBENT (1988, Richard Casey)
It’s not often that a film kicks off with an Angry Samoans’ song on the soundtrack … actually, that pretty much never happens, except for here. Taking the “sell my soul for a record deal” motif and filtering it through a sleazy punk rock aesthetic, HELLBENT is quite a drugged out trip down the scummy streets of the Sunset strip.
HIGHWAY TO HELL (1991, Ate de Jong)
Oscar winner Brian Helgeland and the director of DROP DEAD FRED put the pedal to the metal in this Satantic inter-dimensional hopping road movie where Charlie Sykes must try to rescue his bride to be before she becomes another one of Lucifer’s concubines. Along the way he must face an unstoppable demonic police officer, the whole Stiller family, Hitler, and Lita Ford to name a few. Sort of like the ROAD WARRIOR meets the THE PRINCESS BRIDE that takes place in hell, HIGHWAY TO HELL is the sort of 90s high concept pitch that actually delivers with fun and entertainment.
PRIVATE LESSONS (1981, Alan Myerson)
They don’t make sex comedies like the used to … probably because the idea of a French maid seducing a 15 year boy just isn’t going to fly in this day of age. Rich kid Philly is left alone by his dad under the watchful eye of the chauffeur and the new French housemaid. Tired of his line of work, the chauffeur concocts a scheme for the housemaid to seduce the boy and then fake her own death, thus blackmailing him to steal a wad of his dad’s fat cash. Why would maid go along with such shenanigans? Turns out she’s an illegal immigrant and the chauffeur threatens to have her deported if she doesn’t take part. The plan at first is successful, but the maid has a change of heart because she has true feelings for Philly. So with the help of Ed Begley, Jr. they turn the tables on the chauffeur. While watching this under the modern lens, some of the pedophile scenes were squirm inducing and I was curious about how this one played during its initial release. Turns out it was just as controversial at the time. But the film does have its charms and some really genuine funny moments. It functions more of coming to age than sex comedy though and if you want to make a high brow pairing, watch it with Louise Malle’s MUMUR OF THE HEART … although that one doubles down on pedophilia and slaps on incest on top of that.