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By Scott Phillips

NOVEMBER 16, 1998: 

Deadbeat at Dawn (1987)

Ohioan writer/director/star Jim Van Bebber plays Goose, leader of the street gang "The Ravens." His crystal ball-fondlin' girlfriend wants him to quit the gang and go straight, but he just wants to make that one big score first. The Ravens are at war with "The Spiders," led by nut-case redneck Danny, and the mask-wearing gang leaders soon meet for a bloody knife-fight in a cemetery. Goose goes home and tends his wounds Rambo-style with a little help from his sweetie-pie, who reads some mystic mumbo-jumbo over his thrashing body. Returning to the cemetery, Goose practices his Kung Fu moves, then screams his fury at the city. He conks a guy with his nunchakus and steals his motorcycle, returning to his gal. She insists that Goose change his ways in the ol' "it's me or the gang" speech, and he decides to leave the Ravens behind. Happier times seem to be ahead for our young lovers, but the harsh realities of the B-movie world quickly trip them up when Goose heads out to sell some dope. While he's gone, Bonecrusher and Stubby, two of the Spiders, make their way to his gal-pal's apartment. Pausing to snort some crank, Bonecrusher gives the greatest Scumbag-Disaffected-Youth speech I've ever heard in my life, then the two viciously slaughter Goose's girlfriend. Goose makes the score and returns home, freaking out when he discovers his squeeze's eviscerated body. In an act of pure love, he dumps her in the building's garbage compactor, then swears vengeance on Danny and the Spiders. He goes to see his dad, a paranoid junkie who shoots up between his toes after threatening to kill his beloved son with a baseball bat. Returning to his old stomping grounds, Goose finds the Ravens are now working with the Spiders. They beat the crap out of him and force him to take part in an armored car robbery--after which the Spiders double-cross the Ravens. Goose suits up for revenge, the action and bloodshed mounting as the flick ass-kicks its way to the disturbingly violent finale. Cool fight scenes and some surprising production value make this one well worth the effort it'll take to find. Make it a double-feature with The Warriors and really stick it to the man! (Ketchum)

Demons (1985)

I know a lot of people thought Demons 2 sucked, but I liked it better than this first installment. This one opens with a freaky metal-faced guy handing out free passes to a movie at a new theater. A couple of saucy Italian college girls decide to check it out, although they're a little nervous that it might be a horror movie. Ha-haaaa! Little did they expect the nightmare that would befall them! Our gals meet a couple of horn-doggin' fellas who make a move, but the girls play hard to get. A pimp and a couple of his cheap working girls arrive, and one of the whores puts on a creepy monster mask she finds in the lobby. The pimp yells at her, and she takes the mask off, cutting herself in the process. As the lights fade, a goofy horror movie begins, much to the chagrin of our heroines. The horndogs move in and start holding hands with the gals. Audience members gripe and bitch. Events in the movie start to parallel certain things going on in the audience, and the injured whore turns into a pustulent, flesh-chomping demon! She slaughters her street-walkin' sister, and we discover that each new victim also becomes a greasy creature. As the body count rises, the audience panics and soon finds that they're trapped in the theater with an army of--demons! The gore flows fast and furious as the screaming idiots flee to the balcony, piling up seats to barricade themselves. Meanwhile, a bunch of cokeheads (including one of the skankiest-looking girls you're ever likely to see) drive around town, eventually breaking into the theater to provide more victims. In one scene, the audience members attempt to smash through a wall, and from the hoots and grunts on the soundtrack, you'd swear they were jumpin' around a monolith and learning to use a jawbone to kill. It's all pretty slow going, although the gore and monster action is pretty amazing in places, but I found the movie much more enjoyable once I started pretending the cast was made up entirely of the kind of low-life morons who insist on jabbering away incessantly in movie theaters. I'd love to have witnessed the savage, demonic disembowelment of the shithook behind me at Saving Private Ryan who, about 10 minutes into the invasion of Normandy, turned to his fellow nitwits and asked, "What war is this?" (Starmaker)

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