The Flesh and Blood Show (1972)

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More like The Bland and Boring Show if you ask me!  The Sci-Fi channel has a rule for their made for TV movies that, regardless of what happens, the monster has to be shown on the screen every eight minutes.  While I think this is limiting for the director’s artistic vision, especially if the director wants to build up some sort of suspense, I can see the logic to it.  Like, if a rule like that were applied to The Flesh and Blood Show, it might not have been such a snoozer.

Indeed both the salacious poster and trailer claim that the movie will offer up some tasty goodies in the form of naked nubile actresses and lots of gore.  Well it certainly has one of those things.  But, if director Peter Walker was intending to just make a piece of Eurotrash ertoica, he could have been a bit more up front about it.

Instead, we get so much promise and so little payoff, it’s a wonder why the director bothered with the film in the first place.  Did he really just want an excuse to film naked flesh?  The very opening scene is two ladies (lesbians?) sleeping in bed, one getting up completely naked (because women with big boobs forget to put on clothes) to check the door and finds a man who has been STABBED IN THE STOMACH… only he wasn’t actually stabbed and was just playing a prank.  By the way the woman is still naked during all of this.

Apparently this movie has a plot; something about a group of actors and actresses going to an old theater to rehearse a play called (you guessed it) The Flesh and Blood Show.  During the course of their rehearsals, some mad man picks off one actor and/or actress after another.  Or rather that is what is supposed to happen.  Instead we get long, drawn out dialogue sequences, a lot of people hanging in various locales (dining room of some house, out on the pier where the theater is, etc.) talking to each other about god knows what.  Occasionally a new actor/character will be introduced into the story and not add or take anything away.  You would think the more characters, the more kills but this movie is supposedly a “thriller” rather than a “slasher” and thrillers are the ones that are supposed to build up the suspense and not just offer up a bunch of violent kills facilitated by stupid characters who make bad decisions (makes jerk off motion with hand).

I gave the movie two iron crosses so there must be a reason other than the hot women who are often disrobed.  The first of those reasons is that, in spite nearly nothing happening, the movie takes place in an old grand guignol style theater with some old torture props lying around and thus kinda looks cool and the other reason is that one of the victims gets her head put on a plaque within the first 20 minutes.  The only problem is that kind of stuff doesn’t keep happening.  Another woman gets stabbed but, by that time, I stopped caring.

Also, I have absolutely no desire to recall any of the actual actors since their acting can be described as serviceable at best.  Even the old man charcter is just, ya know, meh.  Typically I let others crow about the whole “male gaze” concept but, in this case, I can’t help but think there were some noticeably gratuitous shots of some of these ladies such as this:

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and this:

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In that second one, she was sleeping like that in the theater.  Why?  I dunno, maybe they’re hippie free spirits or something.  Or maybe Peter Walker wanted to a chance to frame this shot and do as many takes as possible.  Anyway, unless you like what I described above, I’d highly suggest skipping this movie.

The Silent Scream (1980)

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According to someone on IMDB, The Silent Scream grossed $15 million at the box office.  Really?  I’d never heard of it.  No matter though.  I really wanted to like the movie and it looked as though I was definitely going to but, unfortunately, someone dropped the ball in the third act.  I would like to think there was some sort of time or budgetary restrictions and that the blame can not be placed entirely on director Danny Harris because, if that is the case, then Harris needs to back to film school 101 or something.

The Silent Scream apparently was marketed as a slasher but it’s more just a horrific thriller with very little killing or violence.  Other than its being a supposed slasher, the film’s other main draw is Barbara Steele and Yvonne de Carlo, both of whom do fine jobs in this movie.  In fact every actor does a good job with the movie as does the director in the first half or so.

The set up is well made if pretty standard but the plot doesn’t follow any of the genre cliches such as “sex = death” that are so typical to slashers.  Scotty (Rebecca Balding), Peter (John Widelock), Dorris (Julie Andelman) and Jack (Steve Doubet) are college students who move to a creepy mansion being rented out by Mrs. Engels (Yvonne de Carlo) and her geeky son Mason (Brad Reardon) for the semester.  I was fairly impressed by the characterization and the acting; not half bad for this type of movie.  All four college kids have their personality quirks and the movie builds that up – perhaps a little too much.  For instance the romance between Scotty and Jack goes on so long that it makes the movie seem more like a drama than a horror film.

The shocks start right where they should when the first kid is picked off while drunkenly passed out on the beach.  This inevitably leads to a police investigation and the tone of the movie turns towards the horrific.  So far, so good, right?  But then, the ball is dropped.  Way too much time passes until the next person is killed; albeit the kill is juxtaposed with a sex scene and the moaning and groaning occurs in tandem with the stabbing so that’s a neat trick.

But then the film delves way too much into past events and apparently just begins to reveal information way before necessary, stripping away any possible shock or twist that would occur.  It would have been way better if the Barbara Steele character wasn’t revealed until later in the movie in a Psycho-like twist.  But, alas, we see flashbacks of her attempting suicide and being taken to a psyche ward and other bits of history which are revealed to no useful end.

The end result is anti-climactic.  We’re not quite sure who the true villain is and all we really know is that the college students happen to be innocent bystanders in a family’s past squabbles, something to do with a father that was killed and some other such nonsense.  It’s unfortunate that whoever was involved couldn’t have stepped back and seen what they were making and asked what the point was.  There are a few great scenes but it doesn’t really add up to much.

Maniac Cop (1988)

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This movie drove me crazy!  On one hand, I enjoyed it quite a bit as it’s a very well made horror thriller.  On the other hand, the inconsistencies had me pulling out what little hair I have on my  head and yelling, “what? how? why????”

Maniac Cop was directed by William Lustig (also known for Maniac, Maniac Cop 2 and Maniac Cop 3 among others) and he did a great job!  This is definitely a good movie with solid build-up, tense scenes and payoffs for those scenes.  There is plenty of gore for the gore fiends yet not so much as to not be able to receive that coveted “R” rating.  And of course how can you knock a movie that stars Bruce Campbell?

Given the movie’s title, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what it’s about.  Like any good slasher film, once the plot is established and we watch in delight as one victim after another is stalked and killed – primarily by strangulation, stabbing and cutting – we want to watch the good guys eventually figure out what the bad guy’s weaknesses are and stop him.  And that drove me crazy!  But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Three or four people get killed in the first 10 minutes; one victim is a woman outrunning muggers only to get killed by the maniac cop.  I forgot the others.  Then we’re introduced to Jack Forrest (Campbell) who is having an affair with fellow officer Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon).  After Forrest’s wife follows her husband to a cheap motel and catches him in the act, she is found brutally murdered.  This inevitably makes Forrest a suspect for the recent killings and he and Officer Mallory go to work to figure out what’s up.

We eventually learn the history of the maniac cop; that he used to be a well liked but overzealous hard ass who went to prison for some unrevealed reason and was apparently killed.  And therein lies the rub!  What happened to him?  Is he a corpse that came back from the grave?  Is he a mad scientist’s experiment gone awry?  His makeup job is pretty good, with his face covered in scars and gashes.  But why is he impervious to bullets yet feels pain when impaled by a metal pipe?  The bullet proof vest theory is out of the question since one character shoots him in the head and he still lives.

And I don’t want to give away the ending but I’m going to have to.  He gets impaled by a spike while driving his car off a pier.  When the car is pulled up by a crane, he isn’t in it so he disappeared leaving the ending open to sequel, right?  Then, seconds later, his hand reaches out of the water.  You’re thinking, “so what?”  Let me explain why this drove me up the wall.  If he were to have just disappeared like Michael Meyers in Halloween this would be fine.  However the people were still on the scene, so ultimately what is the movie saying?  That maniac cop was too lazy to continue killing people once the credits rolled?  Do you get what I’m saying?  The characters have to believe that the bad guy is dead before the credits roll.  Otherwise the end is left completely open!  There’s no conclusion!

So, if this movie was just a cheaply made pile of crap, then I can understand this lazy plot hole.  The fact that the movie is well made and drew me in makes the plot holes that much more egregious!