WINTER B-FEST 2015

Part 3 - It came from the 80s



Well it's the last part of this little horror show so we might as well go off the rails completely. Where better to start. Part corporate marketing satire, part The Blob, you just can't get enough of The Stuff. After a mining crew find a mystery substance coming up from the ground and uh decide to taste it... (yeah) a new mystery product appears on the shelves, one that is outselling ice cream even if nobody knows the secret. Well it has no artificial ingredients, they are least being honest about that part. But as it turns out the contents are a little more alive than pro-biotic yoghurt as people start turning into addicts, and later worse than that. The plot is all over the place and the acting varies from bad to acceptable ham levels, as an ex-FBI agent, and an advertising exec race to do something about the popularity of the treat. The effects are fun for what they are in a bloodless but still grotesque feature, but the pacing kills it in the third act when it rushes to a conclusion. That being said it's hardly forgettable like many of these other viewings.



Basket Case does a similar job of sneaking in some interesting elements of depth to a silly concept. I was pretty sure that the term does not actually refer to someone in a basket, until now. Like Frank Henenlotter's creature feature come addiction story Brain Damage, this is a grim and unsettling horror with a few choice pokes at society along the way as Dwayne takes his brother on a journey of revenge against people that deemed him a freak. The effects lack any kind of finesse and the characters are all over acting oddballs but it has a certain filthy charm about it even if the nastier moments towards the end go a little too far. Still as sibling rivalry goes this is a ... different take on the idea.


On the other hand I have no idea what Spontaneous Combustion is trying to say, maybe radiation is bad? Besides the fact the name of the mysterious occurance was too long for an effective movie poster. The human part in this case is Brad Dourif who does a great job of a guy who slowly finds out that his life is not quite what it seems and that the things that upset him may also become a fire risk. He's the reason to watch this. And he gets angry pretty frequently. The bulk of the plot involves 1950s nuclear testing and anti radiation drugs, protests against a power station and shady doctors that seem to be watching the main characters. It's a convoluted way of getting what the end results inevitable bring but its effective for the most part even if it's nothing special.


Since this last round is a total mixed bag of random ideas we might as well go out on some animal brain experiments I guess. Monkey Shines is a lesser George Romero picture but it still has a lot of 80s charm and thanks to the subject matter it manages some emotional engagement despite the ridiculous plot. After a car accident, a quadriplegic man gets a new helper in the form of Ella - his new monkey assistant. They note in the intro text that this a real thing which is pretty neat, though in real life I'm mostly sure they aren't animals being subjected to brain drugs that drive them to kill. That's right, when wheelchair bound Alan gets angry, his new friend starts to act against anyone who upsets him. The idea of animal and man swapping roles as he becomes more aggressive and Ella becomes more cunning is interesting, but it soon loses out to weirder plot developments about telepathy that are far less effective. You get some good drama as things fall apart later on but it's an uneven ride with imaginative ideas clashing with predictable elements.


PART 1 - PART 2