Friday, October 16, 2015

In short: The Horror Show (1989)

Even after he has been fried in a particularly intense electric chair session, evil-bad record-winning serial killer Max Jenke (Brion James chewing the scenery of not only this film but also of at least two films next to it in a video store) is still making trouble for his arresting detective Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henriksen only chewing one and a half films and valorously attempting to add some dignity to the proceedings) beyond having traumatized him for life.

You see, it’s not just a moral and societal failure to murder people on the electric chair, it’s also tactically unsound, as parapsychologist (or whatever he’s supposed to be) Peter Campbell (Thom Bray) will explain later, because people like Jenke’ll only step over into “the other realm” when killed this way. Which in this case means that Jenke isn’t just haunting McCarthy’s dreams anymore (though he has that dream demon thing down pat like that other guy with a somewhat German looking name) but has moved into the cellar of his family home, from where he makes the man’s – and his family’s – life a living hell.

The Horror Show must have been a pretty troubled production – one of the scriptwriters uses the old Alan Smithee nom de plume, and original director David Blyth was fired some time into the production and replaced by James Isaac, the future director of Jason X. So it’s not much of a surprise the resulting film isn’t very good at being anything like a suspenseful, exciting, or coherent movie. It seems cruel to even begin to list all of its failings, really.

Fortunately for my mood in this year’s pre-Halloween celebrations (we don’t want to repeat the sickening horrors of last year’s slasher sequel marathon, after all), the film is also a cheese-fest of the highest order I found absolutely impossible not to enjoy. This is, after all, a movie where you’d be drunk after ten minutes if you started a drinking game based on the number of times our potty-mouthed supernatural serial killer says “fuck”, whose hero is arrested under suspicion of having cut in half his daughter’s boyfriend with a meat cleaver while the guy was waiting in the cellar for said daughter and some nookie - the true killer of course being James who spends a few minutes talking with Dedee Pfeiffers voice to convince the boy to undress for reasons of some choice male half nudity – and one that features a scene where its villain spends some time as a talking poultry roast, among other absurd, sometimes gory stuff the film doesn’t seem to be embarrassed about at all.

It’s not exactly the sort of thing you’d want to watch sober (this, mind you, comes from a guy who isn’t much of a drinker), or with somebody you want to convince of the intellectual value of horror, but if you’re in for what just might be the stupidest supernatural slasher film not called Freddy’s Dead – a film this one beats by a mile by virtue of being so damn entertaining – this one’s for you (and me).

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