Producer: John Dunning
Director/Screenwriter: David Cronenberg
This is the film! After Shivers, you could still believe that Cronenberg was a regular director. But with Rabid it was clear that he was truly twisted.
A woman gets a skin-graft after an accident. But it turns her into a kind of vampire. But not one of those wimpy ones who can live off rat blood. She needs the real thing. And as usual in a Cronenberg film, things just get worse.
The film stars Marilyn Chambers of Behind the Green Door fame. It features: Joe Silver (Shivers), Frank Moore (The Third Walker), Susan Roman, and Howard Ryshpan. Director Allan Moyle (Pump Up the Volume) has a cameo.
The film is copyrighted. There is a “Roger Corman” DVD release with commentary by Cronenberg. (I hate the use of Corman’s name to sell the films of better directors.) There is also an amazingly packed Blu-ray version.
Rat Fink (1965)
Producer: Schuyler Hayden (as Lewis Andrews)
Director: James Landis
Screenwriter: James Landis (story: Matthew Cheney & Jack Miller)
A young man leaves his home to make it as a rock star. And he will do anything including theft, setting a rival on fire, and ultimately, murder.
This is a shockingly good film. It was shot by Vilmos Zsigmond in low-grain black and white. The acting is very good and that fire scene is impressive.
Starring Schuyler Hayden (Riot on Sunset Strip), Hal Bokar (Graduation Day), Warrene Ott (The Undertaker and His Pals), Eve Brenner, and Don Snyder (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?).
23 January 2021
Creator: Evan Romansky
Executive Producers: Aleen Keshishian & Margaret Riley & Jacob Epstein and Michael Douglas & Robert Mitas and Sarah Paulson and Ian Brennan and Tim Minear and Alexis Martin Woodall and Ryan Murphy
Directors: Ryan Murphy (2), Michael Uppendahl (2), Nelson Cragg (1), Jessica Yu (1), Jennifer Lynch (1), Daniel Minahan (1)
Screenwriters: Ian Brennan (6), Evan Romansky (3), Jennifer Salt (2)
When a murderer is put in a mental hospital for observation, his sister gets a job there to help him. And she does anything necessary although there are many other characters with their own motivations.
This is a surprisingly good series with fabulous sets and acting. It also has an interesting visual style with overall good scripts.
Starring Sarah Paulson (Levitation), Cynthia Nixon (One Last Thing…), Judy Davis (My Brilliant Career), Jon Jon Briones (Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage), Finn Wittrock (Locating Silver Lake), Charlie Carver, and Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct).
Ratched is copyrighted. It is currently only available streaming on Netflix.
15 April 2021
Rated X (2000)
Producers: Dick Berg and Allan Marcil
Director: Emilio Estevez
Screenwriters: Horman Snider and Anne Meredith and David Hollander (book: David McCumber)
The true star of the rise and fall of the Mitchell brothers. They rose from suburban boys to be prominent producers during the Golden Age of porn and then to be innovators in live sex. And then they saw a spectacular though unsurprising downfall.
Estevez does a great job directing what is ultimately a pretty boring biopic. I’m just so tired of the usual: local boys make good and then do too many drugs. And the visual elements of cocaine sniffing have been overdone, to say the least. But I suspect most people will like it. It’s very well made.
Starring Emilio Estevez (St Elmo’s Fire) and Charlie Sheen (Major League). Featuring: Megan Ward (Encino Man), Rafer Weigel, Tracy Hutson, Terry O’Quinn (Blind Fury), and Nicole de Boer (The Dead Zone).
Rated X is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with commentary by the stars, interviews with Marilyn Chambers and Assistant DA Bernard Walter about the real-life story, and some minor things.
Rats: Night of Terror (1984)
Producer: Jacques Leitienne
Director: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Screenwriters: Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei (story: Mattei)
Alternative titles: Rats: Notte di Terrore
Our Discussion: Rats: Night of Terror
A group of bikers after a nuclear war scavenge for food in an abandoned town. But they are tormented and murdered by super-smart rats that live there.
This is basically Night of the Living Dead with rats. It’s got good and sometimes disgusting effects, and a compelling story. It’s all over-the-top but it works.
Rats: Night of Terror may be in the public domain; there is a good copy on Archive.org. It is available on DVD with an interview with Mattei. It’s available on Blu-ray with Hell of the Living Dead with a 50-minute documentary.
23 May 2020
The Raven (1963)
Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: Richard Matheson
Our Review: Roger Corman Poe Cycle
The Raven is one of my favorite horror comedies. It has nothing to do with the poem, of course. But it’s hard not to have fun hanging out for an hour and a half with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein). It isn’t quite up to the best of the other Poe Cycle films (eg, The Masque of the Red Death), but it’s still good. Jack Nicholson plays Lorre’s son. (Sure. Why not?)
Producers: Adam Fields & David Heyman
Director: Antonia Bird
Screenwriter: Ted Griffin
A half-dead man shows up at a remote military post mid-19th century in the western United States. He tells them about escaping from a stranded party that had resorted to cannibalism. But wouldn’t you know it? It’s a trap!
This is a beautiful film that plays with different genres but is probably best described as a black comedy horror western. It’s fun watching different parts, which work as parodies of various styles. And, of course, the cast is excellent.
21 February 2021
Rawhead Rex (1986)
Producers: Kevin Attew & Don Hawkins
Director: George Pavlou
Screenwriter: Clive Barker
In Ireland, a farmer removes a large stone from his field and unleashes some kind of pagan god who is perpetually pissed off. It goes around creating messes when it doesn’t have humans to kill and eat. A visiting historian and his family struggle against the beast.
Barker may not have directed this film but it’s very much like one of his films. It features loads of great scenes and a meandering plot. The monster is ridiculous but strangely compelling. If you liked Nightbreed, you’ll probably like this.
27 January 2021
Producer: Brian Yuzna
Director: Stuart Gordon
Screenwriters: Dennis Paoli, William J. Norris, and Stuart Gordon (stories: HP Lovecraft)
A medical student, Cain, shares a house with a recently matriculated student from Europe, West, who behaves oddly. Eventually, Cain is drawn into West’s experiments to reanimate the dead. Things get completely out of control.
This is a classic. It’s shocking that it was made by a group of first-time filmmakers. It’s endlessly creative as well as professionally made. It rewards repeated viewings at the same time that it works as background entertainment at a party.
Re-Animator is under copyright. In 2007, Arrow Video released it on a great DVD with a great print and lots of extras. But in 2018, they released a new 4K version with even more extras on DVD and Blu-ray. There’s also a 2-disc box-set Blu-ray, but it’s very expensive.
21 September 2020
Producers: Wynn Winberg and Bret McCormick
Director: Bret McCormick
Screenwriter: Keith Kjornes
Scientists at a secret military lab invent a replicator that turns men and ugly women into hot women. But when the women become sexually aroused, they turn into alligators. Can the scientists set things right before it’s too late?
This is a really low-budget comedy with gloriously cheesy effects. It’s something of a male fantasy with lots of topless women sexually attacking men about as sexually appealing as I am.
Repligator is under copyright. It is available on DVD with minor extras.
6 April 2020
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Producer: Tom Fox
Director: Dan O’Bannon
Screenwriter: Dan O’Bannon (story: Rudy Ricci & John Russo & Russell Streiner)
Two guys working at a medical supply company accidentally release a chemical that reanimates the dead. Soon the dead are walking around looking for brains to relieve their painful rigor mortis.
This is a funny and fast-paced horror comedy with lots of great gore effects. The ending is kind of a copout but it fits with the original Night of the Living Dead.
Starring Clu Gulager (From a Whisper to a Scream), Don Calfa (Weekend at Bernie’s), James Karen (Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster), Miguel A Núñez Jr (Juwanna Mann), Thom Mathews (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives), and Beverly Randolph. Linnea Quigley (Savage Streets) is naked through most of it.
The Return of the Living Dead is under copyright. It is available on DVD with both crew and producer commentaries and some featurettes. There’s also a cheaper widescreen DVD release, but I don’t know what it comes with. There is a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray with a huge number of extras, but it’s really expensive.
14 November 2020
Retro Puppet Master (1999)
Producers: Vlad Paunescu and Kirk Edward Hansen
Director: David DeCoteau
Screenwriter: Neal Marshall Stevens (story: Charles Band)
A young puppeteer in Paris learns the secret of putting human souls into puppets by an ancient Egyptian magician. An Egyptian god reanimates three mummies to search for and kill the magician and, eventually, the puppeteer.
This is the origin story of the Puppet Master franchise. It’s a solid little entertainment even if it seems to have the makings for about five different films.
The Ring (2002)
Producers: Walter F Parkes & Laurie MacDonald
Director: Gore Verbinski
Screenwriter: Ehren Kruger (based on Ring written by Hiroshi Takahashi)
A woman investigates people dying a week after they watch an unusual video tape. She sees it and must solve the mystery before she too dies.
This is an excellent, slow-burning horror film that is genuinely scary at times. And its popularity means you can probably pick it up for a buck at a yard sale. Don’t pass it up!
22 March 2021
The Ritual (2017)
Producers: Jonathan Cavendish and Richard Holmes
Director: David Bruckner
Screenwriter: Joe Barton (novel: Adam Nevill)
Four friends go camping in Sweden after the brutal murder of a friend. As they bicker, it becomes increasingly clear that they are being stalked by some creature with very ill intent.
I know Bruckner’s work from V/H/S and Southbound. This isn’t quite up to the level of those shorts (he made the best one in each), but it’s still excellent. It’s gorgeous to look at, the acting is great, and the monster is beautifully designed.
The Ritual is under copyright. It seems only to be available on a Region 2 DVD. You can find it on streaming services.
22 January 2021
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Producer/Director: Mel Brooks
Screenwriters: Mel Brooks & Evan Chandler & J David Shapiro (story: J David Shapiro & Evan Chandler)
Robin Hood has come home to fight with the Sheriff of Rottingham and Prince John while he wins the favor of Maid Marian.
This is another of Brooks’ film parodies, this time primarily of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). It’s far superior to Spaceballs, which isn’t saying much. It features lots of meta and literal humor if that’s your thing.
13 February 2021
Producer: Arne Schmidt
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Screenwriters: Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner
Detroit is kind of a hellscape and when a cop is killed, his body is used to create a new crime fighter: RoboCop. But a corporate leader wants to destroy it to sell his own badly-working crime robot.
This is a wonderful film: satirical, exciting, and above all fun. It also has some impressive gore. It’s definitely a must-watch for psychotronic fans.
8 March 2021
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Producer: Jon Davison
Director: Irvin Kershner
Screenwriters: Frank Miller & Walon Green (story: Frank Miller)
Detroit is in debt to a corporation that is going to foreclose. And there is a madman flooding the city with a new drug. The corporation is trying to come up with a new version of RoboCop but they keep killing themselves. So they turn the madman into a RoboCop.
This isn’t as good as the original but it’s still quite enjoyable. It’s funnier with more violence.
8 March 2021
RoboCop 3 (1993)
Producer: Patrick Crowley
Director: Fred Dekker
Screenwriters: Frank Miller and Fred Dekker (story: Frank Miller)
OCP is back again trying to bleed Detroit dry. They effectively control the police and are using that power to force people out of their homes so that they can build Delta City. A group of poor people fight back — eventually with the help of RoboCop.
This is probably the silliest of the RoboCop films. It still works well. We have a cool little girl who is a computer genius. And it doesn’t suffer from some of the less-than-stellar stop-motion in the second film’s climax.
Robert John Burke (Thinner) takes over as RoboCop this time. With Remy Ryan (Monkey Trouble), CCH Pounder (Bagdad Cafe), John Castle (Blowup), and Rip Torn (Heartland). Nancy Allen (Dressed to Kill) dies early in the film. Stephen Root (Office Space) has a small role.
8 March 2021
Robot Monster (1953)
Producer/Director: Phil Tucker
Screenwriter: Wyott Ordung
Our review: Everybody Loves Robot Monster
What is there to say? Robot Monster is one of the greatest films ever made and Ro-Man is the greatest monster ever created. People who hate it almost always haven’t seen it and base their opinion on clips of Ro-Man wandering around. But the film is delightful and always interesting.
It features George Nader (Congo Crossing) and the gorilla in countless films, George Barrows.
Robot Monster is in the public domain. Archive.org has a so-so print. You can get it on DVD but the film has never been released as it should be. I’d really like to see it in 3-D.
Robot Ninja (1989)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: JR Bookwalter
The cartoonist of “Robot Ninja,” Leonard, is not happy. They’ve turned his serious work into a campy TV show. So Leonard becomes the real Robot Ninja, fighting crime and largely getting his ass kicked.
Despite the premise, this is an exceptionally gory film. There’s one scene where Leonard repairs his arm (an homage to The Terminator) that’s hard to watch. An excellent party film!
Starring Michael Todd, Bogdan Pecic (Chickboxer), and Maria Markovic (The Dead Next Door). With Floyd Ewing Jr (Skinned Alive), Michael Kemper (Zombie Cop), Bill Morrison (Ozone), and James L Edwards (Bloodletting).
Robot Ninja is copyrighted. It is available on DVD. But you are better off getting the Tempe Blu-ray because Bookwalter fixed numerous problems with it based on the original 16 mm footage. There is also a widescreen version available on iTunes, which you should only buy if you are a complete freak. I own it, of course.
The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy (1958)
Producer: William Calderon Stell
Director: Rafael Portillo
Screenwriter: Alfredo Salazar (story: Guillermo Calderon and Alfredo Salazar)
Alternative titles: La Momia Azteca Contra el Robot Humano
Dr Krupp survived his apparent death in the last film and again tries to steal the gold breastplate. This time, he builds a robot to destroy the mummy. If he spent half the time on his research that he does trying to steal to fund his research, he would have won the Nobel Prize by the end of the first film.
Half this film is just a rehash of the first two. It does move events around, which makes for a nice ending. Overall, this film is not as good as the first two. But it’s worth checking out just to watch the mummy tear the robot apart.
The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy may be in the public domain; there’s an okay print on Archive.org. It is part of the expensive Aztec Mummy Collection. But it’s all over the internet. And, of course, you can get the MST3K version. It’s from the first Comedy Central season, so the film is not destroyed with over-riffing.
26 February 2021
Robot Wars (1993)
Producer: Charles Band
Director: Albert Band
Screenwriter: Jackson Barr
A reporter and a scorpion shuttle pilot must combine forces when a Chinese (?!) general steals the scropion shuttle and kidnaps a bunch of people.
This film exists in the same universe of Robot Jox and Crash and Burn. The effects by David Allen are excellent. But overall, the characters aren’t that interesting. I think it’s best to stick to the other two films.
4 April 2021
Producer: David S Sterling
Director/Screenwriter: Mark Polonia
Alternative titles: Battle Bots
In 2039, after a global nuclear war, two remaining groups remain in the US. First is the New Order, a cult that basically enslaves everyone and worships robots. The second is the Fighters. You know: the Nazis against the resistance. The Fighters learn of a dead robot that they send out a search party for. Eventually, the destroy the New Order.
No-budget science fiction is hard. The film suffers from the feeling that the leader of the New Order is hanging out in a junior high auditorium. But it’s strangely engaging and the robot fights are pretty cool.
Robowar doesn’t seem to be available on disc. It is available on Amazon Prime.
17 July 2020
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Producer: Michael White
Director: Jim Sharman
Screenwriters: Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien (songs: Richard O’Brien)
A young couple must seek refuge in a local castle where a mad scientist is doing his thing. The couple is gradually seduced into his world.
The first half of this film is very strong. The ending lags a bit but the excellent songs pull it through. It’s not as much a tribute to 1950s science fiction and horror films as I would personally like. But “Science Fiction/Double Feature” is close to my heart.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is under copyright. It’s been released in various forms. If you love it, you should probably get the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray.
10 November 2020
Rolling Thunder (1977)
Producer: Norman T Herman
Director: John Flynn
Screenwriters: Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould (story: Paul Schrader)
An American POW comes home to a hero’s welcome — and a wife engaged to another man. Mentally unstable, things get worse when four thugs torture him trying to get his money. So he spends the rest of the movie killing them.
The screenplay by Paul Schrader certainly brings to mind his then-recent success, Taxi Driver. Regardless, this is a really good revenge film.
Starring William Devane (Knots Landing). Featuring Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men), Linda Haynes (Human Experiments), James Best (Shock Corridor), Dabney Coleman (9 to 5), Lisa Richards (Dark Shadows), Luke Askew (Night of the Serpent), and James Victor (Stand and Deliver).
Room 33 (2009)
Producers: Eddie Barbini and Craig Piligi
Director: Eddie Barbini
Screenwriters: Eddie Barbini and Donnie Dale
A group of roller derby players and their friends take a wrong turn and end up at an abandoned mental hospital without enough gas to get out. They find a confused and frightened young woman who seems to be psychically connected to a man roaming the woods killing people.
I really liked this film. The acting is first rate and the story unfolds in a constantly engaging way. It also cleverly uses normal violence caused by the fear of the supernatural forces at play. My friend Andrea, however, was not impressed. She did allow that it was much better than The Pit.
13 October 2020
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Producer: William Castle
Director/Screenwriter: Roman Polanski
A young couple, Guy and Rosemary, moves into an apartment next door to an odd old couple. Guy becomes strangely close to the couple while Rosemary thinks they are creepy. Then she has a vivid dream in which Satan impregnates her. Then she finds out she is pregnant, and things take a turn for the worse.
About an hour of this film is straight body horror. It’s fantastic. The last part of the film is more like The Stepford Wives. Overall, a very engrossing and well-rendered film.
Starring Mia Farrow (Broadway Danny Rose). With John Cassavetes (The Dirty Dozen), Ruth Gordon (Harold and Maude), Sidney Blackmer (High Society), and many other familiar faces. William Castle plays the man waiting for the phone booth.
Producers: Joel Stillerman and Ted Demme
Director: John Flynn
Screenwriters: David Levien & Brian Koppelman
A professional poker player goes bust and lives a regular life. But when his best friend gets out of prison, he is drawn back to the game and loads of trouble.
This is a quality melodrama that for all its common tropes is still very compelling. Sure the main character’s arc is clear from the beginning but that doesn’t make the denouement any less delicious.
Starring Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) and Edward Norton (Leaves of Grass). With John Turturro (Barton Fink), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Gretchen Mol (The Thirteenth Floor), Michael Rispoli (The Rum Diary), and Famke Janssen (The Faculty).
Producers: Gregory Bernard and Julien Berlan
Director/Screenwriter: Quentin Dupieux
An abandoned tire comes to life with psychic powers — in particular, the ability to make people’s heads explode. Throughout the film, it falls in love, fights off attacks from the police, and raises an army of tires that descend on Hollywood.
This is one of my favorite recent films. It’s very postmodern — fully self-aware. I would caution not to overthink it. It’s about a tire that rolls along killing people in spectacular ways. What more do you need?
Rubber is certainly under copyright; however, there is a copy on Archive.org. It’s available on DVD with some interviews and test footage. It’s also available on Blu-ray. There is also an expensive Region 2 version with 2 DVDs and a Blu-ray, but I don’t know anything about it.
The Rubber Gun (1977)
Producers: Allan Moyle, Stephen Lack, and Paul Haynes
Director: Allan Moyle
Screenwriters: Stephen Lack
Steve is the leader of a small group of drug addicts and artists. He allows in sociologist Allan to observe them. The group is on the verge of breaking up due to economic issues and Steve’s cautious leadership.
Although it sounds boring, this is a fascinating movie — probably the best illustration of the lives of drug addicts I’ve ever seen. It really feels like you are hanging out with these people for an hour and a half. The film features a number of songs by Lewis Furey off his first album.
The film stars Stephen Lack (Scanners). It features a number of fine actors who haven’t done much in film (neither has Lack), Pierre Robert, Peter Brawley, Pam Holmes, and the film director Allan Moyle.
As far as I know, The Rubber Gun has never been released on disc or even video! You can find it online, but be careful. The film is 86 minutes long. There is a 74-minute copy floating around and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it does give you a sense of the film.