Blood On The Highway
, directed by Barak Epstein and Blair Rowan, 2008

Blood On The Highway is a gleefully vulgar vampires-take-over-a-redneck-town horror-comedy that I've been championing since I first saw it at AFI Dallas 2 or 3 years ago. Until a few weeks ago I'd only seen the film once. From time to time I'd mention the movie to fellow film geeks when talking about favorite horror comedies, but no one else seemed to have seen (or even heard of) this film. For months and months there was no word on whether the movie would ever again see the light of day.

And so, when I came across the filmmakers at Texas Frightmare Weekend selling "pre-release" DVDs of the film, I jumped on the opportunity and bought a copy. I watched it later that night with a friend, and am happy to report that it completely holds up. Blood On The Highway is the real deal, the spiritual successor to films like Evil Dead, Basketcase, and Re-Animator. It is no exaggeration when I say that I laughed more and laughed harder at Blood On The Highway than I have at most comedies I've seen theatrically over the past few years.

According to the film's website, Blood On The Highway will be getting a proper DVD release on June 29. Do yourself a favor and pre-order this one. I guarantee you'll dig it.

Blood Rage, directed by John Grissmer, 1987

The next two titles were films that I watched as part of @btsjunkie's weekly Horror Movie Night. Although he holds his long-running series in Austin, there's a small DFW chapter that meets at my house every Wednesday night.

I've long preferred horror and genre cinema from the 70s to similar cinema from the 80s. But @btsjunkie's selections over the past few months have caused me to be more receptive to the charms of the neon decade. Much like I long ago learned to appreciate exploitation cinema of the 70's in spite of (because of?) its many limitations, I am starting to come around to a new way of viewing 80's horror. In other words, the jean shorts and the bad hair aren't bothering me as much as they once did.

Anyway, the basic plot of Blood Rage is that there is a set of twin brothers and one is a psychopath. When they're 8 or 9, the crazy one kills a necking couple at a drive-in and frames the normal one for no good reason. Crazy homicidal kids don't need a reason, I suppose.

The normal brother spends the next decade in an insane asylum, and then suddenly escapes. Upon hearing that his brother is coming home, the nutzo brother starts killing everyone. Again, for no real reason. But the lack of motivation didn't bother me, because the deaths are bloody and moderately creative. As an added bonus, there were several post-kill shots where the victims' severed body parts twitched and jerked around on the ground on their own accord. I'm not sure why the director went that route, but it made me smile.

None of the actors are particularly great, but the guy who plays the twins as adults (Mark Soper) had a certain something about him that made me like him, especially when he was playing the crazed brother. Soper reminded me a lot of Spencer Pratt, actually, in that he had a thinly-veiled I-dare-you-to-call-me-out-for-being-a-complete-tool vibe.

Yes. I know who Spencer Pratt is. Deal with it. You do too.

Monster (Humanoids from the Deep)
, directed by Barbara Peeters, 1980

One week after I watched Blood Rage, I watched this Roger Corman production. Although it is perhaps best known as Humanoids From The Deep, the copy we watched was called Monster. Hooray for generic titles.

Regardless of the title it goes by, the film is a compact slice of genre gold. Genetic experimentation has caused aquatic mutations. Aquatic mutations have inspired terror in a tiny coastal town. The tiny coastal town rallies and combats the aquatic mutations in a MASSIVE 20-plus-minute final battle sequence. Seriously. The final battle sequence starts off gloriously, and then just keeps getting better, and better, and better.

And then... and then... man... whatta ending. I won't say any more because part of the fun is finding out where this film is headed. I will, however, recommend that you track this one down if you haven't seen it.

categories Features, Horror