Tourist Trap (1979) Review

The iconic Chuck Connors stars as an isolated lunatic in the somewhat surreal Tourist Trap, in which a group of young friends are terrorized by his telekinetic ability to animate mannequins and other found objects. While the mannequins receive a little too much attention when they come to life and continuously pile on to victims, their movements and voice controls are completely eerie. Though some scenes are rather goofy and Connors’ character has the uncanny power to appear wherever his victims might end up, Tourist Trap still stands as a worthwhile curiosity. [Rating: $6] -Kenyon

Similar: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Magic, Puppet Master

The Pit (1981)

 A disturbed boy lures victims to a sinkhole containing humanoid wolf (or ape?)-like creatures referred to as “tra la logs.” Before you can make sense of it, an elderly blind woman is hurriedly pushed in a wheelchair, flailing her arms before she is dumped into the tra la’s dwelling. The Pit is actually a unique horror-comedy, intentionally (you can tell by the music). That’s great and all but this is one of the few films of the era that needs to be drastically improved with a sequel. Instead of a sloppy mess where local police officers make goofy appearances, the premise of the creatures being fed bodies by an insane kid who obeys his teddy bear is begging to be re-worked into something dark, scary and memorable. Recommended if you like Troll 2 for its non-acting or Burial Ground for its strangeness. [rating: $6] –Kenyon

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Burial Ground aka Nights of Terror aka a bunch more (1981, Italy)

While not one of the best-made Italian zombie efforts, Burial Ground is unique within the sub-genre. Lumbering yet somewhat intelligent undead terrorize a small group of brainless visitors to a rural mansion. After a formulaic first half, business picks up with numerous unforgettable scenes and one-liners. An overwhelmingly awkward little man portraying a boy can be credited for the increasingly twisted chaos. Goofy, gory and outrageous. [rating: $7] –Kenyon

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) If there has ever been a film that you can call “not for the squeamish,” it’s Cannibal Holocaust–hell, it was banned in like 50 countries. A groundbreaking, shocking cannibal film that, although isn’t perfect, set the bar for copycats (Welcome to the Jungle, anyone? Kenyon raises his hand). Shot on 16mm, it’s gruesome and explicit, even by today’s standards. It’s even controversial within the film itself, while the production and filming faced all sorts of problems. If you want to get deep, read up about the social-political messages it represents. Without spoiling anything (really, it’s just something you have to see), most of the first half of the film follows an anthropologist searching in the Amazon jungle for a lost group of people who were filming some sort of twisted documentary about native tribes, and apparently, cannibal tribes. Although the group is notorious for setting up graphic scenes, they are now dead, and likely eaten. The search party is able to obtain the film reels and bring them back to the U.S, where they discover that the footage is not at all appropriate for public exposure. As the film within a film progresses, the documentary crew pushes things WAY too far in their quest to fabricate their story. Inevitably, they end up as bones. Now, there are some scenes in Holocaust–some of it is REALLY effed up–that are REAL. That said, the uncut version deserves an NC-17 rating, as it is difficult to forget. [rating: $10] –Kenyon

Here’s a smart comment someone posted on this video: “Pathetic how people bitch about the killing of 7 animals that were killed 32 years ago, whilst in the meantime, hundreds of thousands of animals are being ‘processed’ in farms and the like. At this very moment, imagine how many animals- like Sheep, Cows, Goats, Chickens and the like -are savagely being slaughtered just so your fridge doesn’t have an empty meat section. There’s no such thing as ‘Civilization’. We’re just cocky because we’re clever. Humankind is and always will be, savage.”

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) A psychological chiller rarely mentioned, Let’s Scare pre-dates some of horror’s most influential films, allowing it to walk its own path. While it does have that 1970s horror film atmosphere, the movie only plays mind games with the namesake character and ultimately the viewer. The emotional mess Jess has recently left a mental hospital. She, her husband and a pal move to a big house in rural Connecticut, where Jess starts seeing things and hearing voices. It’s not clear if all the images she sees are real or in her mind. Meanwhile, they are acquainted with a woman who they find already living in the house. She turns out to be either a vampire, a ghost or just a sick and twisted drifter who strums a stringed instrument with audio dubbed over it (yikes!). In the early 70s this must have spooked people, but with a lack of meaning and no closure, the film–even with its moments of suspense–comes up short in its attempt to scare. [rating: $5] –Kenyon

Blood Sucking Freaks (1976)

Blood Sucking Freaks (1976) Misleading title and cover–there is only one freak that does any sucking and it’s only one scene. The original title was actually The Incredible Torture Show, which makes hella more sense. Hella hella hella. BSF is a gorey S&M torture film that overcomes the dreadful acting with dismemberment, nude slave brainwashed girls and a leader of the freakazoids (whose sidekick is a black midget) who periodically enjoys getting submissive just like his slaves. Over the top shock value for its time and effin bizarre to say the least. [rating: $6]Kenyon