First on my list is Alligator, one of the few films that I still truly love from my twisted childhood. In this nature run amok flick, a pet alligator is flushed down a toilet by a young girl’s angry father. Years later, the once tiny reptile has grown enormous due to a diet of dead lab animals that were pumped full of experimental drugs. Eventually, the gator’s insatiable appetite forces it to leave the sewers and it begins hunting for dinner on the city streets above. Alligator is by far, one of the better so-called "Jaws rip-offs," and showcases some nifty old school f/x as well as a few highly memorable scenes. I still get goose bumps whenever I recall the swimming pool scene, in which two children at a costume party decide to play pirate and make one of their friends "walk the plank" (i.e. the diving board) with some messy results.
I’ve had a dubbed VHS tape of this film for years and I watch it every now and then (don’t want to wear it out too much), and finding the DVD has become my a veritable quest for the holy grail. I’ve heard rumors that the film (and its awful sequel, Alligator II: The Mutation) were available on DVD, but I still have yet to run across them. (I think both films are actually available in Canada and probably many overseas nations! But why not in the U.S.?!) Could someone out there please release this film on a legitimate Region 1 DVD?! I’ll buy two of them if you do! I swear!
Another horror flick that I saw on cable television back in the day, was The Brain. This film stars the late (and great) David Gale as an evil scientist/talk show host that utilizes a giant alien brain creature to take control of a small town. How do Gale and his brainy man-eating ally manage this? By using television of course! (At last, a film for all those psychos that think T.V. is evil!) It’s up to one determined youth and his friends to stop the mad scientist and the evil brain monster from taking their show worldwide! This movie is pretty darn cool and is one of the most overlooked horror/sci-fi films of the 80’s. David Gale gives a fairly restrained performance (which is odd because the man likes to chew his scenery) and the creature effects in the film are fun and sometimes quite gruesome. I’ve had a used VHS of the film for years and I’d love to see it cleaned up and put onto a shiny new DVD. Is that really asking too much?!
Harry and the Hendersons
The film that asks the question, "What would a normal suburban family do if they invited a Sasquatch into their home to live with them?" George Henderson (John Lithgow) and his family are returning from a hunting trip when they accidentally hit a bigfoot with their station wagon. They tie the massive ape-man to the top of their car and bring the creature home where it begins to destroy their house and win their hearts. This is a fun, family oriented comedy that I haven’t seen for years and I miss it dearly. Seriously folks, why isn’t this movie out on DVD yet?! (By the by, I just checked out Amazon.com and found at that this will be released on DVD in December of 1969?! Great Scott! I need to build me a time machine out of a classic car and go back in time… and then go "back to the future!" Zing!)
Howard the Duck
Rumor has it that George Lucas (yes, that George Lucas) is embarrassed is embarrassed by this film and is the sole reason why it hasn’t seen a DVD release yet. Howard the Duck is the tale of Howard, a duck-anoid from another planet who gets whisked to present-day (1980’s) Earth. While here, he falls in love with a struggling musician (Lea Thompson) and must save our planet from an evil alien being. The movie itself is fun and has some groovy special effects, but there’s one glaring problem that even I can’t overlook. Howard the Duck’s voice is annoying as hell and could have only been worse if he talked like Donald or Daffy Duck. Aside from that though, Howard the Duck is a fun sci-fi/comedy romp that I remember fondly from my youth. Now come on and grow a pair of balls Lucas, and put this movie out on DVD!
The Monster Squad
If this was under my tree on Christmas morning, I would weep with joy. The Monster Squad is about a group of young kids who have a monster club. They all hang out in a treehouse and talk about monsters, but their normal every-day lives are shattered when Dracula, The Mummy, the Wolfman, Gillman (i.e. The Creature from the Black Lagoon), and Frankenstein’s Monster suddenly show up in their neighborhood. Frankenstein’s creation proves to be friendly and childish, but the other creatures are pure evil and are searching for a special amulet that will allow them to conquer the world. Sound like fun? Well it is and this damned movie should be available on DVD! (Side Note: There is a DVD-R of the film going around that was taken from the old Vestron VHS release, but be careful how much you pay for it. Me, I’m happy with my old VHS. But if it breaks… I will surely die!)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
Wait what? It was already out on DVD? Well I knew that! However due to some sort of rights issue, MST3K: The Movie is now out of print and very damned expensive (at least fifty bucks, unless you buy it from someone who doesn’t know any better or actually hates the movie!). This film is based off the hilarious and ingenious TV show where a captive temp worker in space (Michael J. Nelson) and his two robot pals (Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo) are forced to watch bad movies. To survive their ordeals in the movie theater on the S.O.L. (Satellite of Love), Mike and the bots verbally bash the bad films they watch with hilarious results! The bad movie of choice for the feature film was This Island Earth, and the witty trio tear this sci-fi classic apart mercilessly. Come on Universal; get off your butts and put this back out on the shelves!
Night of the Creeps
With the exception of Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps is probably the greatest film ever made by Fred Dekker. This film involves an alien invasion of a different sort: An alien bio-weapon falls to Earth and infects a young man who is then cryogenically frozen for several decades. After a frat prank goes awry, the host of the alien bio-weapon thaws, resulting in hundreds of slug-like creatures that turn people into zombies. The film is fast paced and highly imaginative and stars b-movie veteran Tom Atkins as a down and out cop that’s trying to piece together the strange happenings in his small town. If you’re looking for a good horror/sci-fi/comedy, then Night of the Creeps is definitely for you. (Unfortunately it’s been out of print for years!) I have a DVD-R of this movie and the picture and sound quality isn’t too shabby, but I yearn for a nice special edition DVD with all the trimmings. I’d especially like to see what was cut out of the film because it seems that quite a bit of gore was taken out in the final edit. (Side note: This movie has inspired a somewhat remake that’s going by the name of Slither. Look for that this March in theaters everywhere!)
No Holds Barred
Ok, let me get this straight… Suburban Commando is on DVD, and yet the quintessential Hulk Hogan film, No Holds Barred is still in VHS limbo? Fate is cruel! In No Holds Barred, Terry "Hulk" Hogan plays Rip, a professional wrestler and all around good guy who ends up battling against an evil network TV mogul and Tiny "Zeus" Lister! I actually caught this in theaters when I was a youngster and watched it frequently once it hit cable TV and the home video market. Sure the movie is cheesy as all hell, but I always have a good time watching the Hulkster hamming it up and pummeling on Tiny Lister. Columbia/Tri-Star released the film on VHS a ways back, so it’s probably a safe bet that Sony owns the rights to No Holds Barred. So hurry up Sony and give me my damned movie! Christmas isn’t far off you know!
Phantasm 2 & Phantasm 3
Both Phantasm 2 and Phantasm 3 have recently been released in a really nifty Phantasm boxed set over in Europe (You lucky Region 2-using bastards!) resulting in a lot of hard feelings amongst us non-European horror fans. Both films have been missing from horror DVD collectors’ shelves and I’m just plain lucky that I managed to snag DVD-R’s of both films. The second and third installments of the Phantasm franchise follow the further exploits of Jody and Reggie as they battle against the evil Tall Man (portrayed by the always creepy Angus Scrimm). There’s not much more to tell you about these films as they are simply a continuation of just one waking nightmare that just won’t end. The usual oddities can be found in these fun and action-packed sequels, including the evil monster-dwarves and the metallic spheres of death! Sadly, despite a huge fan base here in the States, these films still remain unreleased on DVD.
The Wizard of Speed and Time
Mike Jittlov’s Wizard of Speed and Time is one heck of a trip and never fails to astound me. The film concerns an eccentric fellow named Mike Jittlov, a special effects wiz who wants to hit it big in Hollywood. Fate intervenes when he’s given the chance to direct a special effects segment for a TV special. The only problem is that Mike is hired by two dueling TV producers who have a $25,000 bet on his success or failure to deliver some movie magic! Because of this bet, one of the producers is constantly trying to sabotage Mike’s project and makes things harder for the film’s good-hearted hero. Wizard of Speed and Time is a great family-oriented film and contains some impressive stop-motion and animation effects sequences. Perhaps one day, when the movie’s cult following grows, some kindly company (like oh say… Blue Underground or Anchor Bay) will buy up the rights and sell this baby on DVD! I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
This one was actually a request from Rogue Cinema’s very own editor, contributor, and all around good guy, Duane L. Martin. Once I got the idea worked out for this article, he wanted me to add Zapped to the list and I couldn’t help but agree. I haven’t seen this movie in a very long time and only remember it vaguely. In Zapped, a nerdy kid (Scott Baio!!!) gains telekinetic powers and uses them to his advantage in high school. In a nutshell, this is the movie Carrie would’ve been if Stephen King had a sophomoric sense of humor and wasn’t such a weirdo. (And before Stephen King fans find out where I live and lynch me, it was just a joke! I own and have read many of King’s novels and I think he’s a fantastic author. I just wish that he’d decide on his retirement stance.) I heard a rumor that this film was coming out in a new special edition DVD, but nothing ever came of it. To make matters worse, the horribly sucky sequel Zapped Again, is in fact available to purchase online! What gives?!
That’s only twelve of the films that I want to be released on DVD but I have more, and I’m sure all of you readers do as well. If you want to discuss what films you’d like to see on DVD, please feel free to discuss them in the forums. If you’d rather skip that and e-mail me directly, you can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts on this subject. And lastly, I’d like to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas, a Joyous Kwanzaa, and a Happy Chanukah!