Tis the season to be scary: the growing popularity of Christmas horror films

Christmas is usually a time of giving, caring, and sharing, but if you’re the maker of exploitation movies, it’s also a time for brutal murders by killers in Santa Claus suits, deadly snowmen or, in the case of our screening this month, genetically-engineered Nazi elves with a taste for virgins.

Sint 2010

Christmas horror films are not a new thing. Whether they’re good (Gremlins, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale) or bad (Santa’s Slay), there’s no denying that they’re steadily becoming more popular…

With that in mind, we look at some of the most recent Christmas horror films that you may not have heard of.

Sint (2010)

Sint 2010

This recent Dutch horror film sees St. Nicholas portrayed as a murderous bishop who kidnaps and murders children when there is a full moon on December 5. If you ever wanted to see Santa as a medieval zombie saint who likes to wield his staff with brutal efficiency, this is for you.

Jack Frost (1997)

Jack Frost

Ever wanted to see American Pie’s Shannon Elizabeth assaulted by a killer snowman in the shower? What? You have? You’re weird…

Either way, this film is for you. Worlds apart from the Michael Keaton-schmalz fest that came out around the same time (and is the subject of a fantastic How Did This Get Made? podcast), this Jack Frost sees a serial killer become a snowman after he is involved in a car crash with a genetics truck!

Christmas with the Dead (2012)

Christmas with the Dead

Always thought Christmas movies were missing a zombie/post-apocalyptic vibe? Then check out this low budget horror flick from the creator of Bubba Ho Tep.

In his quest to fulfill a promise made to his wife, Calvin sets out to right his wrongs and make it the best Christmas ever for his family. If only it wasn’t June and the majority of the population, including his wife and daughter, hadn’t been turned into flesh-eating snappers by a mysterious atmospheric phenomenon, he’d be in pretty good shape. Driven by guilt in a race against the apocalyptic clock, Calvin teams up with G.M., a wily ex-garbage man turned undead slayer, as together they attempt to deck the halls during the most magical time of the year. It’s Christmas in June. And snappers be damned… The lights and decorations are going up. 

A Cadaver Christmas (2011)

A Cadaver Christmas

Another zombie Christmas film? Think of it as a festive version of Assault on Precinct 13… with zombies. Hang on, Assault on Precinct 13 was set at Christmas wasn’t it?

When a dark force takes over the morgue, a ragtag band of heroes has to save humanity from the growing army of walking dead.

Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998)

Feeders 2 Slay Bells

So cheap, so nasty, but how many other films feature aliens that look like mothballs to have their revenge upon the Polonia family from the first film?

If you’re looking for more Christmas carnage, then check out ‘The Ultimate Christmas Horror Movie List’ complied by Best Horror Movies.

Think we’ve missed some out? Let us know below and don’t forget – 17 December – ELVES at Bierkeller!

Black Samurai: Afros, beer and chronically-bored strippers

“Surprise turkeys!”

Black Samurai screening

When we can, we like to find a suitable venue for our film screenings. Last October, we showed Samurai Cop in Broadmead’s Old Police Station, in November, we screened StarCrash at the Bristol Planetarium, and then in September, we hired the MV Balmoral for our Shark Attack 3 event.

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The top 5 “worst” blaxploitation films ever made

If you thought the likes of Dolemite, Shaft, Cleopatra Jones, Truck Turner, Sheba Baby and Trouble Man were of a dubious quality, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

This November we’re showing Jim Kelly’s Black Samurai which, despite the presence of midget hit men and a killer vulture, is not regarded as one of the high points of the blaxploitation genre. However, it is by no means the worse…

5. Blackenstein (1973)

Blackenstein

And you thought we were going to choose Blackula…

“Loosely” based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Blackenstein holds the distinction of being one of the worst and least scary horror movies of all time. The plot revolves around a black Vietnam veteran who undergoes unusual “DNA” surgery to reattach his lost limbs, but of course it all goes wrong and it isn’t long before he’s on a murderous rampage!

4. Disco Godfather (1979)

Disco Godfather

Sucking the last breathes out of the genre, Disco Godfather sees a retired cop (Dolemite’s Rudy Ray Moore) become a DJ – until his nephew overdoses on ‘angel dust’ forcing him to take to the streets to “personally come down on the suckers that’s producing this shit!”

3. Black Samson (1973)

Black Samson

He’s a nightclub owner who beats people with a massive stick (Oooh eeeer) and has a pet lion, but this film is nowhere near as ridiculous as it should be.

2. The Thing With Two Heads (1972)

The Thing With Two Heads

You can imagine the pitch: “Hey, people like The Defiant Ones, but what if the racist and the brutha had to share the same body!”

1. Black Gestapo (1975)

The Black Gestapo

Almost the pick for November, Black Gestapo sees a revolutionary leader opt for a more extreme option after members of his neighbourhood are terrorised by racists. As you do, he looks to the Nazis for inspiration. Starring Charles Robinson, the film is also noticeable for an eye-watering castration scene!

Check out:

Three The Hard Way (1974)

Three The Hard Way

One of the main inspirations for Black Dynamite (the funniest film of the last decade), this sees Jim Kelly, Jim Brown and Fred Williamson team up to take down a neo-Nazi sect that want to poison the country’s water supply and kill all black people!

Those honkies be trippin’!

Get your tickets for Black Samurai here!

The cordially Uninvited

On Saturday, over 200 people filed into the Doubletree Hotel at the end of BristolCon for the latest Bristol Bad Film Club screening Uninvited.

Over 200 people prepare to behold Uninvited

Over 200 people prepare to behold Uninvited

With plenty of time at the bar, the crowd’s appetite was suitably whetted for the film. The film starred George Kennedy, an actor who you see and go, “I know him from somewhere…” without quite being sure where. It also starred a cat. Well, more than one cat which were carefully selected to look like the same cat. (No, actually, they weren’t. At all.)

Said cat proceeded to terrorise a boatload of (self) Important People, and our bearded hero Hedgewood. Remember people, beards are heroic and cool. We’re not biased in saying this. It’s essentially turns into a portion of The Wolf of Wall Street, but with a killer cat on the boat.

We’re very grateful to BristolCon and the Doubletree for hosting us, and to Holly Hedge with additional promotion, to whom proceeds from the night will be going.

Screening 16, 21 November, 2014, Templegate Dojo

The evening was a sell out, so if you don’t want to risk missing out on next month’s BLACK SAMURAI, or December’s ELVES, best get tickets now! Black Samurai is on 21 November at the Templegate Dojo, and Elves is on 17 December at the Bierkeller. Tickets available here.

We’re also excited about our new t-shirts, available through Call of the Brave. More info is available here. It’s a perfect Christmas present! 

All new exclusive Bristol Bad Film Club t-shirts!

We are very pleased to be able announce that we are working with local ethical t-shirt producer Call of the Brave to bring you an all new, previously unavailable, Bristol Bad Film Club t-shirt!

What is Call of the Brave?

call-of-the-brave

At the heart of Call of the Brave is the fight against unfair fashion. When the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed in April last year, 1,134 people were killed, all of whom were working in horrendous conditions making garments for big name clothing providers. This inspired the creation of Call of the Brave. The t-shirts that Call of the Brave use are locally designed, ethically-sourced, high-quality, and not made in sweatshops. You can read more here. We’re really pleased to be able to work with them to bring you this exclusive BBFC design, a two-tone version of our logo. You can read more about the t-shirts, and what they’re made of here.

How does it work?

Each design works like a mini Kickstarter. You pre-order the t-shirt, and once enough pre-orders have been made, the t-shirt is made. It means that there’s no limitation on sizes available to you. You’re only charged at the end of the pre-order period, assuming there are enough pre-orders, just like with a Kickstarter.

Enough! How do I get one?

Head on over to Call of the Brave (or you can click on the t-shirt pic above), and place your pre-order for your own personal slice of BBFC memorabilia. The pre-order deadline is Friday 21 November, at 11.59pm, so you’d better act fast… That’s just after our screening of Black Samurai. Once we hit that deadline, assuming we have enough pre-orders, the t-shirts will be made, and sent out with free P&P.

Happy shopping!

When animals attack!

If B-movies are to be believed, every animal species on Earth is out to kill us – bears, bees, ants, sharks, rabbits…

Anaconda

Creature features are a genre unto themselves and while there are certain animals that lend themselves to the genre (killer bees, snakes, sharks, spiders), this hasn’t stopped filmmakers from turning to more ‘unthreatening’ animals to strike fear into our souls.

Ahead of our killer cat film Uninvited, we look at some of the strangest creature features out there.

1. Shakma (1990)

Shakma

A group of medical students are hunted by a psychotic lab test baboon! And yes, that is Roddy McDowell showing up for a quick paycheck!

2. Night of the Lepus (1972)

Night of the Lepus

Dare you face the sheer terror of giant mutant rabbits in this Janet Leight cult classic?

3. Willard (1971)

Willard

Fed up of being constantly abused by his boss (Ernest Borgnine), Willard (Bruce Davison) unleashes an army of rats upon those who have wronged him. This was actually remade in 2003 with Back To The Future’s Crispin Glover.

4. Wild Beasts (1984)

Wild Beasts

An entire zoo goes on the rampage after its water supply gets contaiminated with PCP… turning all the animals into unstoppable killing machines! A classic Italian horror which features a commercial airline being taken out by an insane elephant!

5. Food of the Gods (1971)

Food of the Gods

This is actually based on an H.G. Wells book! It sees a group of hunters discover an ecology where the animals have grown to monsterous sizes! Including a giant chicken!

Other films of note that feature ‘killer harmless animals’ include the recent Squirrels and Black Sheep. Definetely check out their trailers.

Want us to show one of these films in the future? Let us know which one or leave you own suggestions in the comments box below.

Twice the films, twice the action, twice the level of nudity

For our final event of Scalarama 2014, we showed a double bill of cult action classics Deadly Prey and Hard Ticket to Hawaii.

Deadly Prey

Is there anything better than watching a man getting beaten to death with his own arm?

Strange question, but it was clearly one of the highlights of the night, as one-man army Mike Danton went on the rampage killing all those that had wronged him over the previous 85 minutes.

For many, Deadly Prey is the epitome of the direct-to-video boom that dominated the 1980s. Borrowing liberally from the best of the genre, such as First Blood and The Most Dangerous Games, it contains everything you’d expect from the decade – gratutious violence, mullets, dubious fashion and an evil Brit pulling the strings.

Althought the dark ending may have surprised a few, director David A Prior (who we were able to interview) supplied us with the trailer for Deadliest Prior, a 27 years later sequel that reveals that the battle between Mike Danton and Colonel Hogan is far from over.

While Deadly Prey played it straight, director Andy Sidaris went completely the opposite way for camp actioner Hard Ticket To Hawaii. Containing more topless shots than a stripper convention, the film took everything you love about Bond films and threw in everything else, including a killer toxic snake, which got the biggest cheer of the night.

Killer snake

We look forward to seeing you all at our October screening for killer cat movie – Uninvited.

INTERVIEW: Bristol Bad Film Club speaks to David A. Prior, director of Deadly Prey

Bristol Bad Film Club speaks to the director of Deadly Prey!

David Prior

In the world of cult films, there are few people with as distinguished a filmography as David A. Prior (apart from maybe Roger Corman and Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman). During the late 80s and early 90s, the American screenwriter and director was behind a slew of low-budget films that found sizeable audiences, thanks to the popularity of VHS.

Through his own film production and distribution company, Action International Pictures, which he founded with producers David Winters and Peter Yuval, Prior wrote and directed over 15 films including Aerobicide, Operation Warzone, Raw Justice, Mankillers, Night Wars and, of course, Deadly Prey.

As you’d expect from a low-budget production company, a lot of Prior’s films used the same cast and crew including David Prior’s brother Ted (Deadly Prey’s Mike Danton), established actor Cameron Mitchell and the likes of Fritz Matthews and David Campbell.

We were lucky enough to speak to David ahead of our Deadly Prey screening about making the film and its enduring popularity.

Q: I read an interview with you were you said you went to the “David Prior School of Filmmaking” – was it purely a lot of ‘learn by doing’ when it came to many of your films?

A: There is always something to learn, but I think I learned all I needed after two or three movies, especially when you get involved with the editing. That really teaches you what you shot right and what you shot wrong.

Today, people shoot movies on HD-video and can see all their shots as they are happening. In my day, there was no such luxury. The only way I saw the shot was after the negative was processed and a work print of it was sent back to us.

So basically, you would shoot the whole film in the dark and piece it together later.

David Prior films

Q: The 1980s are a goldmine for action film lovers – did you find it was easy to get distribution for your films?

A: At Action International Pictures, we did our own distribution; but it would have been very easy, just not as lucrative, to go with other companies. The movies that we were making then were exactly what the buyers around the world wanted.

Q: The turn around between your films was very quick. Is it true that Deadly Prey was shot back-to-back with ManKillers? 

A: It was not shot back to back, There were several months between those two. Mankillers was second and I would think the reason for a quick turnaround is obvious – buyers around the world wanted action, so I added the hot babes and they liked it even more!

Q: When you were first making Deadly Prey, what were your inspirations for the character of Mike Danton (played by David’s brother Ted Prior) and the film itself?

A: The inspiration for the movie was the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” (which also inspired the cult classic ‘Gymkata’). For the character of Mike Danton, the main influence was clearly John Rambo – only tougher that he was in First Blood.

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR DEADLY PREY

Deadly Prey

Q: You manage to do a lot with what I assume was a relatively low budget. How did you manage to get all those military vehicles that feature in the film?

A: Those vehicles are part of The American Heritage Military Museum. We got them in the film simply by shooting those scenes on their property.

Q: One thing I always notice whenever I watch the film are those hand grenades on Hogan’s desk. Is he using them a paper weights? It seems rather dangerous…

A: Who knows man. We put them there for a reason, but 28 years later I can’t tell you why…

Q: Did Ted ever complain about having to cut around the forest in just a pair of denim cut-offs, or was he game for anything?

A: The worst part for him was being barefooted. He would cover the bottom of his feet with duct tape, but that didn’t help much. Apart from the few mornings when it was chilly out, he also didn’t really mind the shorts.

Q: I have to ask about the ‘cutting off arm, slapping in the face’ scene. Whose idea was that and how did it come about?

A: It was my idea when I wrote the script. I wanted to do something that I did not believe had ever been done – and now it has.

END OF SPOILERS

Q:  Have you been amazed at how Deadly Prey has continued to find an audience over the years? Why do you think of your entire back catalogue that it is the film that has gone on to generate such a cult following?

A: It was quite surprising actually, but I am still somewhat unsure of how big the fanbase is. We recently made and released a sequel for it – The Deadliest Prey – and it’s been getting great reviews, but we’re trying to spread the word. Your readers can check it out at www.deadliestprey.com

Deadliest Prey

Q: Tracking down your back catalogue is quite a challenge. Do you have any advice for fans that want to track down some of your earlier work?

A: I honestly don’t. You have to try Amazon or eBay. I don’t have most of it anymore myself. If we are ever able to make a little money with the Deadliest Prey, then we would look into releasing some of the older ones on DVD.

Q: Tell us about your current projects?

Relentless Justice will be coming out very soon. It is a great revenge movie with a great cast that includes Eric Roberts as well as Ted Prior and David Campbell and other notable actors.

I’m also still working on Assassin’s Fury that was shot a couple of months ago. but we still need to go back and do some reshoots.  I’m also writing on a screenplay for a larger company but am not at liberty to talk about it just yet.

David Prior, thanks for your time!

Get on board with the Bristol Bad Film Club!

On Saturday night, 70 people climbed aboard the MV Balmoral to watch the Bristol Bad Film Club’s latest offering, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, starring John Barrowman.

The MV Balmoral, the venue for the screening

The MV Balmoral, the venue for the screening

No prior knowledge of Shark Attacks 1 and 2 are necessary to enjoy SA3. While the other two are genuine attempts at proper films, SA3 is utterly lacking in anything approaching a script, acting, or quality. What it lacks in those areas, it gains in unintended comedy. Not even Captain Jack can save it.

The question “how many ways can you enter a shark’s mouth” is one for the ages. This film does well to answer that: lots.

The film does little to apologise for its shameless ripping off of the Jaws music. Or indeed Jaws itself. It’s like somebody took everything that made Jaws great, and threw them into the ocean. What is left behind is Shark Attack 3.

The venue, the MV Balmoral, was notably smaller than our last venue – but it made for a more intimate screening that was no les enjoyable for those who managed to snap up the tickets. They were treated to a chance to look around the ship, still being renovated, and see the engine, walk on deck, and generally get a real sense of being on the ship before settling down to watch the film itself.

A huge thanks to Dave Bassett and the volunteers who run the ship, and are responsible for getting it back into a sailable condition. The money raised at the screening will go towards that fund.

Next time…

This Friday, we are back AGAIN with a vengeance. Two 80s films of exceptional quality. It’s the 80s Action Double Bill!

Deadly Prey is, essentially, Rambo with zero budget. It tells the story of an elite squad of mercenaries who are kidnapping innocent people off the streets of Los Angeles in order to hunt them for sport. Unfortunately, they kidnap Mike Danton – who just happens to be one of the greatest warriors who has ever lived and turns the hunters into the hunted… while wearing only a pair of denim cutoffs!

Hard Ticket To Hawaii is best known for its ‘frisbee death scene‘ which has made it a hit on YouTube. The film follows government agents Donna and Taryn (played by Playboy centrefolds Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton) who uncover a diamond smuggling plot. Before they know it, they’re being pursued by hit men, a deadly female body builder and a killer snake that has been infected with toxic waste!

Tickets are just £7 (two films for less than the price of a cinema admission for one film!) and the screening is this Friday, 19 September, at the Redgrave Theatre in Clifton. Get your tickets here, now!

Who is Andy Sidaris and what is the ‘Triple-B’ film series?

We take a look at the films of Andy Sidaris, the director behind one half of our 80s Action Double BillHard Ticket To Hawaii.

Bullets Bombs and Babes

Not many film directors start their careers in sports, but that’s exactly where Andy Sidaris began. During the 70s and 80s, Sidaris directed TV coverage of hundreds of football and basketball games and was even in charge of directing ABC’s Olympic Games programming for 24 years.

He also wasn’t modest.

In a 2003 interview, Sidaris said: “I was the best television director that ever lived and helped develop techniques that are standard today, including instant replay, slow-motion replay and split-screen views.”

That is true. He is also responsible for another camera move that is commonplace in today’s sports – the honey shot. If you’ve ever watched a football game and found the camera zooming in on a beautiful woman in the crowd, you can thank Andy Sidaris for that.

Honey shot

“Once you’ve seen one huddle you’ve seen them all. … So you either look at the popcorn, the guys, or the ladies. The choice is clear to me.”

It is not surprising that when he finally made the move to feature films, beautiful women would play a big part. Between 1985 and 1998, Sidaris directed 12 films which he called the Triple-B (Bullets, Bombs and Babes) series.

The series, which is also known as the L.E.T.H.A.L Ladies or the Girls, Guns and G-Strings collection, consist of:

  • 1. Malibu Express (1985)
  • 2. Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987)
  • 3. Picasso Trigger (1988)
  • 4. Savage Beach (1989)
  • 5. Guns (1990)
  • 6. Do or Die (1991)
  • 7. Hard Hunted (1992)
  • 8. Fit to Kill (1993)
  • 9. Enemy Gold (1993)
  • 10. The Dallas Connection (1994)
  • 11. Day of the Warrior (1996)
  • 12. Return to Savage Beach (1998)

The concept was simple; a series of films focusing on a group of gorgeous secret agents working for The Agency, who get in a series of adventures – mostly based in and around Hawaii, where the temperate climate called for minimal clothing.

Sidaris also hit upon a unique selling point – instead of casting traditional actors, he hired Playboy and Penthouse ‘playmates’, many of whom appeared in multiple films. The main star of the series is Dona Speir, who for eight films starred as secret agent Donna Hamilton. Like an erotic version of Spooks, the main line up constantly changed, but the likes of  Hope Marie Carlton, Cynthia Brimhall, Roberta Vasquez, Julie K. Smith, Shae Marks, and Wendy Hamilton appear in numerous films.

Continuity was also never an issue – actresses like Roberta Vasquez would first appear in the series as a villainess before cropping up a film later as a hero!

Although Andy Sidaris tragically died of throat cancer in 2007, his wife Arlene Sidaris still runs the production company and the websites for all the films – our friends at 80s Picture House recently did a great podcast with her, which we strongly recommend.

In turn, we have trawled the internet for past interviews with Sidaris to give you some insight into why he made the films that he made.

How he went about writing the films: My wife Arlene uses all of these fancy words like “motivation” and “story”. Where the f*** did you learn those words? I couldn’t spell “story” if you spotted me the “s” and the “t”, for chrissakes. I have an idea in my head of locations, and I kind of know who I want to cast.

Lethal ladies

How he went about casting Playmates: Our girls, like Roberta Vasquez, Dona Speir, and Cynthia Brimhall –  they are just as good as the gals who appear in soaps. But because they are Playmates, people thought they weren’t going to be very good actresses. Check out some of the f****** broads on late-night television, they’ve got one blond broad on C.S.I. – she’s f****** awful. I’ve always said at least our girls enunciated.

The trials of working with Hugh Hefner: I did Malibu Express with Hefner, we did that picture for half a million bucks. We both put up the money, I put up $250,000, and Hef put up $250,000. Hef wasn’t crazy about the movie, because it had girls running and sweating and shooting, and he wanted us to do a little romance. I don’t do a little romance, I do f****** action. He wanted Doris Day. This isn’t Doris Day and Rock Hudson, this is girls sweating a little bit, then kicking ass. Especially later on, when I did Hard Ticket To Hawaii and stuff like that.

Why he shot in Hawaii: A lot of people think it’s cute to work 20 hour days, but it’s not, it’s stupid. The dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life was watching Cast Away, which is a terrific picture with Tom Hanks. However they went to some small island that they had to take a hundred boats to get to every morning. They had to leave at 3 in the morning to get there at 5am. Then they’d wade to shore where they built a little city with toilets and things. They could have gone to Molakai! We were shooting on the golf course. We’d be in the “jungle” and turn around and there was the country club! Two hundred yards out from the hotel, there were mountains and the ocean. Meanwhile, they went to some little island. It’s absolutely stupid to take a crew down there and risk their lives every morning.

Why his films are tasteful: We’ve never shown anything below the waist, and we don’t do any bumping and grinding or any of that crap. We just do a little bit of sexy stuff. I like our pictures, because they’re nice little adventure pictures. They’re not mean-spirited, and I think you know that. In our movies, we don’t put a knife to some girl’s throat and say “We’re gonna cut your t*** off, or cut your throat.” We don’t do crap like that. We have a family atmosphere, we pay well, and we pay on time.

How he decides when and how to add a nude scene: I just throw them in wherever it’s convenient.

Get your tickets for Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Deadly Prey here.