Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I'd Buy That For a Dollar Part 2: Horrible Horrors

Once again I return to the stack of VHS tapes I purchased for a dollar a piece. Since Halloween is coming up soon, I figured I'd focus on some of the horror titles this time around.

City of the Walking Dead

I had always heard how awful this particular hunk of parmesan cheese was, so until now I had avoided watching it. Now however, having suffered through far too many shot on video homemade horrors in the last few years than I care to remember, I figured I was up for anything this movie had to throw at me. The fact that Umberto Lenzi (one of the biggest hacks of seventies and eighties Italian exploitation cinema) was the director didn't exactly bode well, but I popped the tape in.

The movie starts with a television news reporter rushing off to an airport for an interview with some political mucky muck or something. Instead, he winds up reporting on a strange aircraft that makes an unscheduled landing. Airport security waits with guns at the ready as the door to the plane opens. All hell breaks loose when the occupants rush out, their faces disfigured, and start attacking the forces of law and order.

I'm not really sure if the attackers are supposed to be zombies or mutants or what. You still have to shoot 'em in the brain to kill them, and they infect their victims who subsequently rise from the dead to become zombies/mutants themselves. They chomp down on human flesh, but they also run and use guns. It's strongly suggested that these are victims of some sort of radiation, and they seem to have more intelligence than your average walking corpse. You make the call. Not like it really matters.

The rest of the movie focuses on the reporter trying to rescure his girlfriend, and a few other unrelated supporting characters. The script is uninspired, and Director Lenzi just goes through the motions. The acting can best be described as competent. Every aspect of this film is carried out with the barest minimum of professionalism needed for a theatrical exploitation film of the early eighties, with no one involved expending even an ounce of passion.

Even as an exploitation movie, 'City of the Walking Dead' offers up nothing more than the bare minimum requirements. The zombie/mutant make-up is shoddy, as are most of the gore effects. There's not one single zombie attack scene that comes close to being scary or even interesting. The only thing about the movie that's even slightly disturbing is the ending, where it turns out to have all been a dream. And then, it looks like it's all going to start for real. While this produced some genuine chills when used in 'Invaders From Mars', here it merely scares the viewer into thinking he or she might have become stuck in some awful loop in time, forced to rewatch this mediocrity over and over again. Thankfully the tape stopped when I pushed the button on the remote.

The Dorm That Dripped Blood

Released in 1981 to cash in on the slasher movie craze ushered in by 'Halloween' and 'Friday the 13th', 'The Dorm That Dripped Blood' is easily one of the more forgettable entries in the cycle. While in some ways this is more of a murder mystery, with lots of red herrings and an emphasis on "whodunnit", the attempt at a more complex plot than "insane guy kills teenagers with an axe" isn't interesting enough to really add to one's enjoyment of the movie. If anything, it just slows things down.

The plot involves two couples who are helping close down a college dormitory. There's some creepy guy with a frizzy white guy afro lurking about, too, which gets everyone worked up. After several thrilling scenes like the one where everyone tells how they'd like their eggs cooked, eventually the killing starts. A couple other supporting characters are brought in to up the body count.

Now there's nothing inherently wrong with the basic premise here, but it's handled in such a dreadfully dull manner that I really felt like turning the movie off. It didn't help that the print used for this VHS transfer was dark and excessively grainy, but even a pristine restored version would still be saddled with the same bland dialogue and performances. There's little if any suspense, and even the murder scenes fail to relieve the tedium.

That's it for now, but I'll be back soon with more reviews from my stack of one dollar wonders.

1 comment:

Crimson Screens said...

hey, doesnt city of... have that great scene where the guy gets his eye ripped out with a knife? one of the best eyeball violence scenes ever! the rest of the movie sucks though.
the dorm that dripped blood... one of my fav lost slasher movies. ill buy it from you.