Highway to Hell and other cheeseball horror


Continuing the discussion from Cop in bikini tackles thief to the ground before his arrest:

Overdue to fork this away, but anyway, yep! That’s the one! I can’t believe anyone saw it but me. When I read the script, I kinda doubted it would ever actually get made, but I loved the concept. I just wish they’d spent more money on it. The big-ass apocalyptic horizon-to-horizon traffic jam of lost souls just ended up being a really brief shot of a flock of old VW bugs racing by. Wish I still had that script (though I picked it up through semi-nefarious means, and had no actual right to be in possession of it).


I remember some really cheesey effects with …the devil maybe? Is that the same movie?

And oh man, some of that old 80s horror was the best. I’m a HUGE sucker for monster movies, even though they’re all kind of lame compared to real critters (They should have an Attenborough type on the set of every horror movie to point out better examples)…there’s just something fun about them.

Some of them are actually kind of rewatchable, not quite of a ‘The Thing’ quality, but not awful. Things like C.H.U.D. and XTRO and Pumpkinhead!

And then they had that one studio with the puppets … Full Moon? Is that right?


Ohmigod! I forgot one of the wrongestly rightly so bad it’s good ones!

Have you seen Society?


You mean the Puppet Master series?


This is one genre I am sorely lacking in exposure to.
One of these days I will have to take my the advice of my mom, my brother, and niece and see Basket Case.
I have always been more of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy guy when it comes to cheesefest movies.


I’ve always wanted to see Basket Case but I could never talk any of my friends into seeing it, and these movies are so much fun to watch with buddies. My pal Tom swears by The Stuff, Larry Cohen’s movie about killer yogurt.


That’s another one the niece says I need to watch and the Trailers From Hell on it had me interested as well.

I did pick up Mephisto Waltz from the library to watch this weekend.


I am drawn to this. Drawn, hung, and quartered by my weakness!

I checked out Highway to Hell on allmovie.com, and bumped into this - “Hard to Die”.

The years of deep thought it must have taken for the plotline: “The horror portion of the plot kicks in when they inadvertently open an unmarked package, releasing a malevolent ghost which possesses one of the girls. A convenient twist reveals a crate of weapons, leading to a hot-lead showdown with the demonic cutie”.

Nonetheless, both Highway To Hell and this are now on my watchlist!


I enjoyed Hard to Die. It’s very cheesy and somewhat generic, but it’s got its tongue in the right place if not its heart. And it contains this deathless dialogue (slightly paraphrased):

Said by the director during a porn shoot:

Cherry, put your shoes back on. Maybe there are guys out there who are into women with dirty feet. But if there are, I don’t wanna know about it!


I enjoyed The Stuff although I think it became a little too unfocused towards the end.

I love Basket Case and most heartily recommend it. Besides who can resist a film praised by both Rex Reed and Joe Bob Briggs?





Couldn’t resist–a dearly departed friend always used to get me with that one whenever I asked him if he’d seen a particular movie.


The post about Elvira’s retirement announcement got me thinking about horror hosts and how much I loved them because they were like buddies watching the movie with me even when I was watching alone.

And, yeah, I’ll put in another word for Basket Case.


I’ll just leave this here…


Most of Henenlotter’s movies are tremendously entertaining. His all-around best is probably Brain Damage, a perverse allegory of addiction personified as a talking brain parasite. Voiced by horror host Zacherly, no less. Frankenhooker is hilariously OTT and not at all limited to the bounds of political correctness or good taste. I saw it on the big screen several times. His recent-ish return to features Bad Biology is not quite as good for several reasons, but still a freakish spectacle. When it starts with the line “I was born with seven clits”, you know it’s going to be a wild ride.

Larry Cohen I hold in regard also for being someone who could make schlocky sounding concepts into something more interesting than one might expect. Something about his screenwriting style just impresses me as being very direct and streetwise. It’s Alive, God Told Me To, Q, The Stuff, and The Ambulance all get strong recommendations from me - as well as his two early “blacksploitation” (I hate that term!) films Bone and Black Caesar.

Speaking of The Stuff, another good horror movie of the 1980s about dissolving people is Street Trash. It’s a horror-comedy about life on the streets which is pretty unrestrained about the ugly sides of life - made worse by a toxic form of booze which actually causes people to dissolve. It is both truly funny and truly horrific.


God, I fuckin’ love Street Trash. And C.H.U.D.


Those films really made a virtue of excess at least partly by being so unrepentant about it and also because there’s an almost naive quality to them. It’s as though everyone reacts in horror and Henenlotter innocently says, “What?”

I look at the recent Sharknado series which I think is trying to capture that same quality but they’re too self-conscious and trying too hard.

And @GilbertWham The only thing that made the first time I saw C.H.U.D. even better was the tongue in cheek asides by Commander USA.


Sure! As if to say “Isn’t horror what you said you wanted?” I think that horror is a tricky genre, because it’s so easy to make, but also easy to make shitty. Most of the movies count on scares being about generic death and violence, which IMO are too inevitable to be interesting. Your average housecat could easily match the sadistic glee of a slasher movie villain with a weeks work. What I realized when trying to write horror screenplays in my teens is that “scary” can be an elusive quality. That what motivates people and what forms the bases of their reactions is where things get interesting. For me it becomes a sort of meditation upon why something seems to press my buttons in a certain way.

Maybe. Many of the examples here such as the best movies of Cohen, Carpenter, Gordon, Henenlotter, et al are IMO competent pulp movies. They are not generally “bad” but simply playing in what is regarded as a disposable pop culture medium. Problems of suspending disbelief occur due either because of excess, or when the ambition drastically exceeds the budget.

Whereas I think of “so bad it’s good” as being more naive. Usually true art brut as a result of faulty premise, severe style-over-substance, bulldada dialog and acting, etc. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come around to thinking of most of them as awfully tedious in their pacing when one is not stoned and riffing them with friends (I miss that so much!). SBIG is not rare, but examples which aren’t also boring are. Most of what really pushes the so bad it’s good quality I think is naive earnestness which veers into extreme absurdity, and that is hard to capture or fake. The key to making an entertaining bad movie is to strive to make a good movie and fall drastically short - not in trying to make a bad movie in the first place. And to not run out of ideas!


Speaking of balls, I am looking forward to the final Phantasm movie this fall.

ETA the other teaser:


Yes! Those guys! They were so delightfully campy!