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Weekly Alibi Videodrome

By Scott Phillips

July 21, 1997:  Darkness (1992) Wichita homeboy (man! finally got to say "homeboy") Leif Jonker produced, wrote and directed this ultra-low-budget gorefest about vampires on the loose in the Midwest, and despite a few gripes, it's a "Videodrome" fave. We open in a gas station/convenience store, where a blood-drenched teenster enters, screaming and hollering like a crazed ape. Grabbing a cop's gun, he proceeds to blow his own head off. Seconds later, he jumps up and bites the hell out of the cop, and a bloodbath ensues. One customer survives by hiding behind the two-liter soda bottles. Sufficiently traumatized by the carnage on display, this fellow becomes a vampire hunter, setting out with shotgun and (appropriately enough) two-liter bottles of holy water in a never-ending quest to stomp a mudhole in the collective ass of bloodsucking hellspawn wherever they may roam. After chainsawing a few vampires in an abandoned house, he stumbles across a group of '80s Mall-Rocker-Teens who've had their own problems with the undead, and they join forces. Jonker (who sold his blood to help finance the flick) is nursing a serious John Carpenter jones here, and it shows--one big difference being that Carpenter can afford a light kit so we can actually see the action (it ain't called Darkness for nothin'). My biggest complaint about the movie is the plethora of teenage non-actors in all the roles--the lead vampire is some S.C.A.-lookin', Magic-the-Gathering-playin' cheeseball who's nowhere near as frightening as he thinks he is (I can hear Jonker now: "Hey, let's cast Randy, he's got that cool trenchcoat"), and the movie never really overcomes their amateurish acting (it's tough to be afraid of a buncha vampires who look like they spilled ketchup on themselves at a high school football game). However, the blood spews beyond measure, and Jonker obviously harbors some real talent. Give this guy some money, some actors and a better script, and I think he could give us a real buttocks-clencher of a horror flick. (Film Threat)


The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) This spaghetti-bendin' "psychological thriller" contains all the elements to make it a must-see, but for cryin' out loud does it seem to go on forever. Anthony Steffen (Antonio DeTeffe) plays Sir Richie of Cunningham or some damn thing, who brings a lovely hooker home to his rundown mansion. She's appalled by the filthy state of the place and wants to leave, but the instant she enters a clean room, she starts shucking her clothes. Antonio takes her to his torture dungeon, where she says, "It's not uncommon for a man to want to do strange things to get his kicks." Antonio yells at her to "put that whip down--and put those boots on," then straps her to a table and comes at her with a red-hot branding iron. Before he can mark her as a prostitute, though, his dead wife Evelyn starts yapping at him, and he wigs out, finally murdering the hooker. As things progress in their typically rambly Italian way, we discover that Antonio may have murdered Evelyn due to her perceived infidelities and is now slaughtering redheads to make himself feel better--or maybe not, because this sucker has more twists than a can of rotini, and I was never sure what the hell was going on. Aside from the much-beloved atrocious dubbing, we also get a stripper in a coffin, shots framed through weird lamps, tons of nudity and Antonio's battalion of blond-afroed maids who bring him warm milk! I'd watch it if I were you. (Something Weird Video)

--Scott Phillips

videodrome@alibi.com


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