When asked to list their favorite slashers, most folks will immediately list the classics; HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. There is no question that these movies are horror masterpieces and the superstars of the slasher world (as illustrated by the number of sequels they spawned). There are, however, many more obscure ones worth checking out also. Often they are rip-offs of the aforementioned films, sometimes unique, and usually lots of fun. During the past 20 years, I’ve searched for as many slashers from the “golden age” that I could find. This era, most all fans of the genre will agree, lasted from the mid to late 1970′s on through the mid 1980′s. At this date, I have counted close to 140 slashers from this period.
There’s little I can say about the classics that hasn’t already been written. On the other hand, there’s lots to be said concerning the “lesser known” slashers. Reaching into the slasher movie vault, I’d like to pull out one of my favorites; MADMAN. Released in 1981, this film was a regular feature at the drive-in for several years. It was also a favorite VHS rental of mine back in high school.
Many horror enthusiasts, including myself, consider this to be one of the best examples of the 80′s slasher. Lots of parallels with FRIDAY THE 13th, but still having enough individuality to stand on its own. The movie takes place the week before Thanksgiving at a retreat for gifted children. Although there are teenagers among the group, this is one of the few slashers in which horny teens are not the victims. Instead, it is the adult cast that falls prey – though they are no less horny!
The film begins at a campfire, on the final night of the retreat. Max, an older gentlemen and the director of the camp, tells the local legend of Madman Marz. Marz was a farmer with a nasty disposition. Just how mean was he? After killing his wife and children with an axe, he calmly goes to the local tavern and orders himself a beer! The townspeople, outraged by his actions, send a lynch mob after Marz and hang him from a tree. The next day, they are shocked to discover that Marz, along with the bodies of his family, have mysteriously vanished.
Max warns the crowd that they must never utter the name of Madman Marz “above a whisper,” or he will seek vengeance upon them. Naturally, one of the teens in the group decides to test this theory, thus beginning Marz’s bloody rampage. Although a similar setting to FRIDAY THE 13TH, the chilly, fall season does make for an exceptionally creepy venue. While some of the campfire antics range from the sublime to the ridiculous, Max (Carl Fredericks) does make an excellent storyteller.
Madman is a cut above the average slasher. The cast displays acting abilities better than many slasher films (not great, mind you, but better) and fans of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD will recognize actress Gaylin Ross as one of the camp counselors. The movie is fun, though far from perfect. Some of the dialogue is amazingly corny and the goofy “hot tub love dance” number has to be seen to be believed! That, along with the Madman Marz “theme song” at the end, is one of the reasons I would also recommend this movie as an effective “Terror on Tequila” - if you’re with the right crowd.
Marz, himself, is an overgrown woodsman. He has a deformed face and fingernails sharpened to claws, making him an odd mix of man and monster. As far as being an iconic killer goes, he may not have been in the same league as Jason, Michael Myers, nor Freddy Krueger – but certainly had enough personality to warrant at least one sequel. This was not to be the case, however, and MADMAN remains a stand-alone slasher.
While this film had been released on DVD, it is now out of print. Those interested in acquiring this slasher gem, however, won’t have long to wait. On September 28th, 2010 it is slated for a special 30th Anniversary re-release. This one will offer a documentary feature and surely to be a worthy addition to any slasher enthusiasts collection. It has suitable gore, some nudity, and NEVER gets boring! You’ll enjoy MADMAN…even if you won’t want to admit it above a whisper.
Why is it that every time I hear of a new horror movie coming out it’s a remake? Has Hollywood honestly run out of ideas to scare us with? I grew up in the 70′s and 80′s and some of the all-time best horror movies came from that time period (and hell, some of them were remakes). Films like THE EXORCIST (1973), HALLOWEEN (1978), FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), THE EVIL DEAD (1983), DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979), HELLRAISER (1987), THE FOG (1980), JAWS (1975), PREDATOR (1987), PUMPKINHEAD (1988), and even remakes like THE THING (1982), THE FLY (1986), THE BLOB (1988), were what I was watching in the movie theaters and later on VHS videotape. Back then Hollywood was full of original ideas and even with the remakes, they would breathe new life into an existing classic. Remakes of INVADERS FROM MARS (1986) and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978) were fun and at times terrifying. To this day I will not swim at the beach because of JAWS and I am always fascinated by fogbanks thanks to John Carpenter.
Nowadays Hollywood is remaking everything under the sun, putting some “big” name stars into it and loading it with CGI effects. On top of that they are even re-doing complete scenes, line by line, as the original! Perfect examples of this are the 2005 remake of THE FOG and the recent remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. I certainly understand companies wanting to get the biggest bang for their buck with these franchises, but c’mon! Seriously? You are paying people to remake movies scene-by-scene with awful CGI effects? At least hire some writers to do something original with the concept!
The big Hollywood horror-movie-remake buzz is with FRIGHT NIGHT. The original, from 1985, is a classic in every sense of the word. It had everything…sex, violence, likeable characters, great special effects and really good writing (Tom Holland should be commended on this film). According to HorrorHound magazine (THE horror magazine) Colin Ferrell will be playing Jerry Dandridge, Anton Yelchin (from the amazing J.J. Abrams STAR TREK film) will play Charley and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (SUPERBAD’S McLovin) will play Evil Ed. The Peter Vincent character will be played by David Tennant (DR. WHO) and he is going to be a Criss Angel type of character instead of a horror movie host. I am also sure that instead of hiring an awesome effects company like KNB Effects to do all of the effects in actual latex it will all be handed over to a CGI company. I already do not like the sounds of this. C’mon people…wake up! I would actually rather see them re-release the original in an all new digitally remastered print. Why remake something, that even 25 years after its release, is still just as good?
JAWS, according to HorrorHound, is another movie being remade. I saw this movie when it was originally released and I was only 7 years old. Needless to say it scared the crap out of me! Sure the shark is not accurate looking to an actual great white but guess what, it is still scary as hell! When I watch that movie today I still enjoy it just as much as when I first saw it 35 years ago. Now get this…it is going to be in 3-D! Hello??? Does anyone remember JAWS 3-D (1983). Actually you probably don’t…it was THAT bad! Who knows, maybe Tracy Morgan (from 30 ROCK) will help make this movie a smash hit! And once again, I am sure it will all be done with CGI and you will see a lot of the shark throughout, instead of building suspense like Spielberg did by not showing the shark too much.
And what is up with everything being in 3-D now? Yes, the technique has been perfected and it is an amazing effect. Movies like James Cameron’s AVATAR really benefitted from the 3-D by adding a whole new depth to the world of Pandora. I will even go as far as saying that films such as the latest TOY STORY benefit from it but now everything is being released and 3-D and guess what, too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing. People are going to get burned out on it and the fact that it costs more to see a 3-D movie means less people will pay to see them. Just recently I took my nephew to see AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER. We had the choice of seeing it regularly for $6 each (it was a matinée) or $12.50 each for the 3-D version. We opted for 3-D and BOY was that a waste of money! There was absolutely nothing in this movie that was 3-D! You did not have things coming out at you and it did not add any depth to the world the characters were living in. If people get screwed out of their hard-earned money like this enough they will refuse to pay for 3-D films anymore (and talk is they want to raise 3-D film ticket prices even more!).
I wonder if Hollywood even realizes that all of these remakes are a financial disappointment at the box office…people are not going to see them! They keep remaking the classics (even the 2010 remake of THE WOLFMAN left a lot to be desired) and they get in the theaters and yet really good horror movies, like HATCHET (2007), SPLINTER (2009) and TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007), go straight to DVD. Go figure?!? Let me know what you think of what is going on in Hollywood! Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!!!
It’s hard to imagine what my life would have been like had I not had the honor of growing up with Svengoolie. The “1970′s world” I was raised in was devoid of VCR/DVD’s and DVR cable. Consequently, watching monster movies at your own convenience was simply not the option that it is today. I suppose this is the “you kids don’t know how good you have it” story that my generation gets to tell in place of “having to walk six miles to school in the freezing cold.” All kidding aside, however, you really did have to be home at the right time to catch a rare showing of what interested you. During this era, many of us “scary movie” kids depended on our local horror hosts to reliably deliver those goods.
I was eight years old when I was first introduced to the “Son of Svengoolie.” Played by Rich Koz, he was actually the second Svengoolie, after the previous Sven (Jerry G. Bishop) moved on to pursue other endeavors. My parents tell me that while my mother was in labor with me, my father sat out in the hospital waiting area watching Jerry G Bishop’s Svengoolie. I suppose it’s a great example of irony that I should grow up to be so enthralled by his protege. To say it was a match made in heaven was definitely an understatement. “Son of Svengoolie” came on every Saturday night here in Chicago via UHF channel 32 (WFLD). Those nights were sacred in my household as I was not only guaranteed to see my favorite genre of movie, but also have it presented with a comedic flair that would influence me well into my adult life.
Like his predecessor, The Son of Svengoolie was chock full of flying rubber chickens (usually directed at our self-depreciating host) along with the occasional poke at the Chicago suburb of Berwyn. Any time that city (or any other for that matter) would be mentioned, you were sure to hear a humorous “Berrrr-wyn” sound off in the background. Aside from airing my favorite movies, the show was also characterized by funny skits and commercial spoofs such as “Dr. Rabies” – a send up to THE AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON actor, David Naughton, and his popular “Dr. Pepper” commercials that aired during that time. Often during the next school day, my friends and I would re-enact those commercials, usually taking great liberties with, and arguing over, the “correct” lyrics. To us it was like a live action version of the Topp’s “Wacky Packages” cards many of us avidly collected during that time. These trading cards would mock popular products of the day and were prolific in my third grade world. Needless to say, we couldn’t get enough Son of Svengoolie!
The Son of Svengoolie could also be counted on to deliver a hilarious parody song, often designed to compliment the featured film. I remember during an airing of THE DEADLY MANTIS, he sang “Eating Folks Alive” to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5″ illustrating the giant, voracious insect’s penchant for devouring people. In another show, he sang “Raw Hen” to the “Theme from “Rawhide” while cracking a whip at oncoming rubber chickens. This part of the Svengoolie legacy I would carry with me for the rest of my life. Later, in my teenage years, my co-worker/friend, Jason, and I would write and perform parodies of KISS songs revolving around a local grocery store we worked at. To this day if I get a jingle stuck in my head I will often create my own lyrics and start singing it as a parody (which my kids have now come to simply accept as one of my many idiosyncrocies). With all due respect to Weird Al Yankovic, it is Svengoolie that us Chicagoans will always regard as the master of novelty songs. In fact, it was the Son of Svengoolie who had first mocked Michael Jackson’s “Beat it,” also using a food theme. Before Weird Al’s “Eat It” brought national laughs, us Chicagoans had already been treated to the Son of Svengoolie’s “Re-Heat it” sung by a Julia Child character amid some very unappealing images of “left-overs.”
One of my favorite memories of Son of Svengoolie was when he presented the classic film, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, in 3D. I remember my mother coming home from the local Dominick’s Food Store and presenting us all with special 3D glasses designed specifically for the show. That evening, we all camped out in front of the television set wearing our special glasses and gobbling air-popped popcorn. Years later I learned that there had been a lot of controversy concerning the quality of the 3D and some disgruntled viewers. I’m happy that my memories of the event are anything but disappointing. The anticipation and fun we all had far outweighed any negatives. My parents had recently divorced and money was tight. It can be said that the free movie and those cheap glasses made for one very priceless evening.
By the latter half of the 1980′s, many local channels succumbed to the onslaught of corporate television. WFLD was no exception with channel 32 becoming the “new” FOX Network. It wasn’t long after this that many horror host programs, including the Son of Svengoolie, found themselves canceled. Time went on and I reluctantly grew up (well..sort of). Gradually those old memories of Svengoolie would become locked into the back of my psyche. It would not be until my early thirties when these recollections would finally be released.
I’ll never forget that fateful day in 2003 when I was channel surfing and stumbled upon a familiar visage. The face was a bit fuller, and the make-up slightly different, but there was no mistaking that Svengoolie had returned! I was literally knocked back into my chair when I saw, once again, the image of my favorite host gazing back at me. Much to my chagrin, I learned that Rich Koz had returned to hosting movies back in 1996 on a new local channel known as WCIU (The “U”). With Jerry G. Bishop’s blessing, Rich Koz dropped the “Son of” moniker and was now simply known as Svengoolie. His new show still consisted of parody skits and songs, while dodging the customary rubber chickens. The only thing different was my ability to see him clearly, without constant fights with “rabbit ear” antennas. My thrill at rediscovering him was tempered with my wondering how the hell I managed to miss him for seven years(?)! Regardless, Svengoolie was now back in my life and there to stay. Now I would not only have the privilege of watching him again, but also the ability to tape his broadcasts for endless replay. Best still, I could share a bit of my childhood with my own kids.
2003 was also the year that I would have the honor of finally meeting Rich Koz. He was appearing at The Ford City Mall up north and I anxiously made the trip. The event was a promotional gathering for WCIU and I arrived at the perfect time, finding my idol sitting alone at a table. It was a great honor and one that I would repeat many times in the coming years. The quick access I had at the mall was a definite fluke; last fall I waited over two hours to see him at The Party City store in Orland Park. But that first meeting, we had him to ourselves. I took a picture of my son and daughter with him and was delighted when he showed the photo during one of his mailbag segments, immortalizing the moment even further.
In 2004, my son did as many Chicagoans do during the Halloween season – dressed up as Svengoolie! That November our favorite host made an appearance at a new horror themed store (appropriately located in Berwyn) called “Horrorbles.” As of this date, Horrorbles is also the “official” supplier of Svengoolie rubber chickens as well as the perfect venue for meeting a horror host. Prior to this event, I had submitted my son’s Halloween picture to the show. It was a great thrill when he walked into the store, immediately pointed at my son and said, “Your picture is going to be on TV next week!” Although it was hard to tell through the make-up, my son was grinning from ear to ear. We couldn’t wait to tell all our friends and family that Alex would be on the Svengoolie show. Everyone stayed up to watch, including my 80 year old grandmother who almost had a coronary sitting through TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT.
While corporate TV has killed the connection that many hosts used to have with their local communities, it brings me great pride that THIS city, via Svengoolie, has retained theirs. In fact, I would argue that Svengoolie is even MORE connected to his public than past hosts via his daily blogs, interaction with the Svengoolie YAHOO group, monthly newsletters, and numerous public appearances. But the biggest thrill to kids (as well as to a big kid like me) is to get an on-air mention from the man himself. It’s a great feeling sometimes to have that “local” connection to your community – particularly those that still choose to watch their local horror host despite now living in a VCR/DVD and DVR cable world.
I submitted the photo I had taken of my costumed son meeting Svengoolie along with my memories of Svengoolie to “Scary Monsters Magazine.” The “blurb” I contributed at that time was pretty much a “Reader’s Digest” version of this one. Both the piece and the photo saw print in a special tribute issue to Svengoolie. There is no doubt that Svengoolie’s popularity is getting ever stronger. On May 1st, 2010 he scored a ratings bonanza by receiving the highest Chicago Nielson ratings for his HD presentation of THE BIRDS. This is virtually unheard of with local horror hosts and, as my friend Michael Monahan (Doktor Goulfinger) stated in an email to me, “I couldn’t help but be reminded what a big impact Svengoolie continues to have in Chicago. Just amazing. The quality and consistency of the films he’s showing these days is incredible. It’s a real reflection of his status.”
This past year, I have discovered many new hosts from across the country and also had the opportunity to sample their work. They are all quite unique and many of them are absolutely hilarious. I intend to pay tribute to many of these personalities in future posts. But before I could do that, I knew that I had to start with the man who, in my world, started it all. He not only enhanced mine and my family’s lives, he has made a positive impact on the city itself. He, along with Brookfield Zoo and deep dish pizza, is one of the many reasons to love Chicago!
What can I say? I love this movie! To be honest I don’t even remember it being in the theater (and if it was…was it even in there long?)! When this came out on DVD I bought a copy figuring I would take a chance, not really knowing what to expect. Sure it had Megan Fox but to be honest, she never really did it for me. Amanda Seyfried is more my type and I didn’t even know she was in it! That tells you how little I actually knew about this movie. When I put the DVD in for the first time I was totally blown away! This movie, in a nutshell, is alot of fun! The characters are entertaining and the chemistry between Fox and Seyfried is awesome. Some of their nicknames for each other are hilarious and you’d really believe these two have been friends for a very long time. The scenes with Megan Fox as a demon are terrifying at times and she is a force to be reckoned with (but don’t sell Amanda Seyfried’s character of Needy short…she kicks some major ass too). One thing I like about Amanda Seyfried is that she always has great chemistry with her co-stars creating a more realistic movie. It’s also nice to see a movie that doesn’t rely on CGI effects and actually relies on a good story! Oh, and did I mention that Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried share one of the hottest onscreen kisses I have ever seen? Its worth seeing the movie just for this kiss! I do have one complaint though…the scene of the bar catching on fire just hit too close to home for me. Being a Rhode Islander this scene was a painful reminder of what actually happened here with The Station Nightclub fire. They should’ve figured out some other way for Jennifer to meet the band that ultimately turns her into a demon. Other than that this is a highly recommended movie and it is one of those rare gems that I can watch over and over again without getting tired of it. Check it out!
Hello readers of TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES. This is the “other” Dave, aka Dave A. I have had a lifelong love of all things monsters. I grew up in Rhode Island so every Saturday I watched the Creature Double Feature that was shown on WLVI Channel 56 out of Boston, MA. Yes, I had to draw the signal in with rabbit ears and yes the picture was usually VERY snowy but there I was, tuned in every Saturday. As time went on and we got cable, I started watching Super Scary Saturday (hosted by Grampa Munster) on WTBS and Morgus The Magnificent on WPIX. I just could not get enough of these shows! Then came videotapes and so started my extensive collecting of horror/sci-fi/monster movies (which of course later had to be replaced in DVD and Blu-Ray format). In addition to collecting movies I also collect toys and monster masks. I am a huge fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Godzilla so alot of my collection does revolve around that. Me and Dave created this site so that we could share our interests with everyone out there with similar interests. We hope to add to this site regularly and since this is a work in progress I am sure it will evolve quite a bit in the coming months! We hope you enjoy reading our rants and raves as much as we enjoy making them!
I know, I know…it seems like everyone has a blog going these days. Several months ago I met (online) the other Dave. Being a Chicago man, I grew up with the legendary Son of Svengoolie horror host and was delighted to discover, years later, that he was back on the air – this time simply as Svengoolie. I joined the Svengoolie YAHOO group and that’s where I met Dave A. He’s lived in Rhode Island his whole life but managed to catch the Son of Svengoolie when it aired via a Boston channel. Needing someone to send him Svengoolie shows I was happy to oblige, though he ended up contributing far more missed episodes to my collection which he had somehow managed to acquire. Cursory emailing led to Facebook and we soon realized that we had lots more in common than Svengoolie. We both shared a love of horror/sci fi movies (both vintage and modern) as well as warm feelings towards a Japanese monster named Godzilla. We also shared in the discovery of other horror hosts from across the country. Notable personalities such as Wolfman Mac, Penny Dreadful, Zomboo, Doktor Ghoulfinger, and Mr. Lobo (to name but a few). These are names that you’ll be hearing a lot as this site progresses. The idea came up that we should start an actual website months ago but, after numerous attempts to figure out how to go about it, we remained stuck in neutral. Hopefully we can still accomplish our original goal in sharing our love of horror and horror hosts with current friends and new ones. We look forward to hearing from anyone who wants to add to this rather broad Mission Statement. I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few folks for making this possible. To my friend Nikki who came up with this whole idea and to Richard Braden – the extremely talented guy who designed our logo. I hope you’ll enjoy my sardonic wit and Dave A’s enthusiasm as we venture into the world of horror fandom.