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George Kenne-Day

7th Aug 10

He's Joe Patroni from the Airport movies. He's Dragline in Cool Hand Luke. He's Carter McKay in Dallas, and Ed Hocken in the Naked Gun movies. He's George fucking Kennedy, and we love him to bits here at Zombie Club. It's not his first time here obviously - his first appearance in these smokey gatherings was as Mr. Doctor Graves in Wacko ("Just mowing the lawn, dear!"), and as the saddled-up park ranger in Jeff Leiberman's great 80's slasher Just Before Dawn. But he always deserved an entire day devoted to him here.

It will come as no surprise to you that George Kennedy's career took a downward turn in the 1980s, when he got involved with all sorts of genre nonsense, and while it's a shame that the ageing, swelling actor was no longer landing the kind of roles that would make him famous, he did nevertheless feature in a handful of B-movie favourites that have rightfully gone on to be endearing gems of dodgy cult goodness.

On tonight's menu we're serving up a starter of biker hokum sprinkled with shavings of Lance Henriksen in Savage Dawn (1985), followed by 1980 evil boat shenanigans of Death Ship. A main course of non-original, post-apoc nonsense is up next, with the 1989 monster flick, The Terror Within, closely followed by the utterly brilliant Nico Mastorakis green goo-fest Nightmare at Noon (1988). A late night treat comes in the form of Demonwarp from 1988, which is every bit as demented as its name suggests.

Today's Zombie Club was brought to you by Zomblee in association with the white comb-over and Giallo Goblin, who supplied some of tonight's movies.

Savage Dawn Death Ship The Terror Within Nightmare at Noon Demonwarp 


Savage Dawn (1985)

Plot
A motorcycle gang take over a small city in Arizona.

Zomblee
Savage Dawn sees hard man Lance Henriksen as 'Stryker', paying a visit to his old war buddy George Kennedy, who happens to be a weapon designer in a sleepy, dying town in the middle of nowhere. This is just the type of place that nasty scumbag biker gang 'The Savages' like to invade, intimidate, and generally wreck havoc, and wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what happens. For the sake of sheer entertainment, they really are a ridiculous bunch of good-for-nothings, one of which looks like he's come straight from a hair metal band ("Looks like Dee Snider has just turned up!". - Rawshark)

If they look stupid - trust me, they do - then their actions really take the biscuit. You see, they keep riding into town, starting fights, getting beaten (by guess who), then retreating with a ‘we'll get you next time’ attitude. This happens over and over, time and time again, while you scratch your head and start to wish that George Kennedy and Lance would just get their fucking act together and physically ensure that they cannot ride into town ever again. Which is eventually what happens, of course, but it all takes a bit too long to happen.

As I'm sure my mates will tell you, the actual fighting, of which there is plenty, isn't too impressive. The choreography sucks a fat one, believe you me, but thankfully the weapons and explosives come out to blast through the lame punching, courtesy of our main man Kennedy who has pimped up his wheelchair with large amounts of destructive hardware, prompting Rawshark to rightfully enquire, "Who would win in a fight between George Kennedy and Mr No Legs?".

You shouldn't go too far wrong with anything featuring Kennedy on a death-dispensing wheelchair, but it sounds better than it is and besides, we were all a little annoyed at the sub-par fisticuffs, which Jim described as a bit like "watching 8-year-olds fight". That said, Savage Dawn does feature cult favourite Richard Lynch as a horny priest, as well as one of the most amazingly random Pentecostal barber scenes in film history. I'll let the guys tell you all about that.

"Get me that flame thrower!"

Jim
Yeah, that preaching barber scene was weird. Big Zero, one of the not very scary biker gang members, has a haircut halfway through the movie, and the barber preaches throughout. Big Zero kills him ("All I wanted was a fucking haircut!"), and we all look at each other in disbelief. And you know what, nobody has posted that clip on Youtube yet. We might have to see what we can do about that.

When the film starts, we all think it's looking great. Lance has a blonde hair do, and from the off looks like a ‘wandering hero for hire’ type of fella, as demonstrated by him standing up to a bunch of bikers at a gas station right at the beginning. And then a so-called fight starts, and we all look at each other again.

To say everyone fights like a girl in this movie, or 8-year-olds as Zomblee clocked me pointing out, is almost an understatement. The look of the film is right, the casting is pretty good, but rather than anyone swinging decent punches, every fisticuff sequence is actually crap - I've seen fat kids fight over a doughnut and it look more convincing. Actually, I've never seen fat kids fight over a doughnut - that's a lie - but you know what I mean.

And it's a shame too - if the punches landed a bit harder and the bikers really got their asses kicked every time they come to town, you'd buy them backing off to lick their wounds before trying again. Instead it all comes across as a bit lame. It's not even actually post-apocalyptic, despite sometimes pretending to be - ("Is it the case that just the biker guys think it's post-apocalypse?" - Zomblee)

To be fair, once the bikers nick the tank from the army base ("It's good that this biker gang have tank driving skills." - Rawshark) things hot up as power mad Karen Black straddles the barrel of the main gun and shouts "Let's go fuck this town again baby!", although we all agreed that none of us have ever found Karen Black attractive. In retaliation George Kennedy pulls out a genius stupid battle bike / wheelchair that looks cool (if you're in to battle wheel chairs, which we are of course) but it is the death of him in this movie, although I believe he blows up the tank before he dies. Not sure on that bit to be honest, memory is a bit hazy there, but I am sure that sleazy preacher Richard Lynch has Karen Black ride the tank over him in a stolen cop car, which is almost enough to recommend this movie. Almost.

"You and I bought flaming hell to a lot of towns over the years, for once I'd like to give a town some hope."

Rawshark
When a movie opens with an orange dawn sky and a motorbike riding towards the camera you’d think you’d be in for a good fun action flick. Then when you see the credits roll including such cult names as Lance Henriksen, William (Bill) Forsythe, Karen Black and Richard Lynch, you may think you’ve stumbled on B-Movie gold. Unfortunately, as the opening ‘fight scene’ shows, Savage Dawn is not quite the sum of it’s parts, or if you will, the omelette of its ingredients, but it does offer a few tasty bites here and there and is fairly nourishing when washed down with a couple of cold ciders.

Good old Bishop from Aliens plays Stryker who rides into a futuristic (?) post-apoc town where he sees some old mates and immediately ”gets lucky with one of their women” (Jim). Turns out Stryker is really here to see his mate Tick Rand (George Kennedy) so after a brief ”celebration fight” (Zomblee), the two guys head to the bar where they meet up with the barmaid who says ”I’d say ‘Hello little fuck’” to a dwarf.

But before everyone can all get along drinking and play-fighting peacefully in this dying town (as Zomblee observed ”A tumbleweed! It’s a dying town – gotta have a tumbleweed”) a group of mean bikers show up, led by Bill Forsyth, and generally cause havoc trying to rape the girls and drag the boys tied up in on chains behind their bikes. Quite rightly Stryker and Tick, who we only notice at this point is wheelchair-bound, get a bit mad (”George Kennedy is seething in this scene” - Jim) and fight back, initially with an electric drill that thankfully has a long enough cord to be used effectively over long distances.

Retiring to the obligatory biker camp fire, where the obligatory biker girls take off their tops to show off their obligatory breasts, the mean biker gang hatch a plan to steal a tank from the local military compound setting up the scene for a big explosive showdown. And this is where the film really gets into its fun stride, as Bill Forsythe and Karen Black straddle the tank’s gun barrel screaming promises to ”fuck this town together” before generally unleashing hell and carnage on the poor unsuspecting townsfolk.

Standout moments include the crazy shaving scene with the ”religious nutty barber” (Zomblee) who insists on singing ‘Amazing Grace’, a decent bitch fight between Karen Back and the rather sexy Claudia Udy, Richard Lynch pimping himself as a pervy preacher, and George Kennedy putting together what Jim dubbed ”The George Kennedy battle bike” - a kind of a fully-armoured side-car pod – complete with rocket launcher - that allows him to go into battle sitting alongside hero-biker Stryker. Unfortunately not everything goes to plan, and although Stryker does eventually save the day (more through luck than any heroic planning to be honest), George bites the bullet in the film, meaning that ultimately Savage Dawn is noted down in our notebooks as a George Kenne-Die film as opposed to a George Kenne-doesn’t.

”Are you brain-damaged you taco breaker?”

Savage Dawn

Director
Simon Nuchtern

Cast
George Kennedy
Lance Henriksen
William Forsythe
Richard Lynch
Karen Black
Claudia Udy

Rating
Zomblee
Jim
Rawshark

Runtime
98 Mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


Death Ship (1980)

Plot
A handful of survivors of a tragic shipping collision are rescued by a mysterious black ship…

Rawshark
Now, I must admit, my first memory of the legend that is George Kennedy was a VHS recording of a late-night double-bill of his films that were shown on ITV back in the late-80s. One of those films was the crazy spoof Wacko (which we covered at Zombie Club here ), and the other one was this ghost ship movie we’re here to watch again tonight – Alvin Rakoff’s Death Ship.

To be honest, my memories of this film haven’t been overly kind – I remember some girl getting naked and covered in blood in a shower (who doesn’t remember this scene from the film?) and that’s pretty much about it. Well, essentially this film is about some survivors – about eight by my count - of a shipping collision (including George Kennedy who this time plays a grumpy captain) who are left stranded on a raft. With the Captain becoming increasingly ill, the motley crew finally sees salvation and boards a mysterious and deserted black ship, which emerges out of the fog

Of course, something’s not quite right about this ship (”these camera angles make you think someone’s watching them” observed Jim), and it seems to take an immediate exception to Saul who is lifted in the air by a hook and cable and promptly dunked back into the ocean before the ship raises anchor and sets sail again. Poor old Saul. Of course it’s not long before the ship begins picking off the rest of its survivors one by one whilst GK’s Captain gets possessed by the boat’s Nazi spirits and joins in trying to kill them all, including the rather annoying kids.

It’s far from brilliant, but there are one or two scenes that linger in the memory. The afore-mentioned naked blood shower (”blood minge!” - Jim) is undoubtedly the ‘highlight’, but we also get the killing of the boiled-sweet eating boil face woman and the Nazi movie house screening of footage of frog-marching Nazi rallies (”it’s funny watching projection on a projection” - Zomblee). I also particularly liked the slow-motion death of the unfortunate guy who’s dumped in the hold of what looks very realistic manky fish remains and human bones – now that’s method acting.

Ultimately George ends up going completely mad, reading German prayers in English and demanding blood but Second Captain Marshall saves the day for himself, his wife and two kids (“he always needs a pee that boy” - Zomblee) as they escape in a dinghy whilst poor old George gets stabbed and has his arm ripped of cogs. Two for two so far then for the George Kenned-die corner…

”You’re off course by about two degrees.”

Zomblee
Wow...is George Kennedy a nasty piece of work in this movie or what? He starts of being a complete shit to everyone he happens upon, and then becomes possessed by a murderous Nazi! Jesus, there's so much fun to be had here. Or at least there should have been. Alvin Rackoff's Death Ship isn't as good as it could have been - that's for sure. But it's still worth climbing aboard this nasty vessel if you haven't done so before, for a number of reasons.

When a cruise liner collides with a scary looking war ship in the middle of the ocean, a small handful of survivors manage to escape on a raft. Somehow - and I'm not quite sure how - the captain of the capsized ship (Kennedy) floats conveniently to the surface and is then dragged aboard, and soon after, this deserted vessel reappears and they climb aboard via the side ladder. They don't get off to a great start, getting covered in what I will call 'toilet juice' while climbing aboard. Kennedy, his captain whites now the colour of pissy shit, starts to hear German voices in his head and starts saying stuff like, ”I gotta get to the bridge”, which is where he promptly goes, only to reappear in a nice, clean German naval officer's uniform. But judging by the look on his face, he still smells of the piss and shit from before.

Increasingly weird and nasty incidents involving the remaining survivors ensue, one highlight being the blood shower sequence, where a girl (Lori?) gets trapped in a shower that won't stop pumping blood all over her. Which doesn't make sense, given the fact that Kennedy's possessed captain later shouts, ”This ship needs blood!”. Anyway, we all enjoyed this sequence regardless, and Jim took the time to ensure that we were all writing 'blood shower' in our note pads. A couple of other incidents stand out, like the sound / light attack in the screening room (a bit daft but somehow effective), and that deeply unpleasant scene where Nick Mancuso becomes entangles with rotting corpses.

In essence, it's a haunted boat flick, and only a moderately effective one, despite some fine ingredients. Director Rackoff effectively employs the use of the active engine room to denote the evil, pumping heart of the ship, and he's really fond of tilting that camera in those haunted corridors...or maybe he just had a wonky tripod. It's great to see Kennedy in evil mode though, and this is something you just can't deny. However the most fun we had during this movie was our own self-indulgent game which entailed 'AKA' names for Death Ship. Evil Tub was one, but I'll let the other guys tell you the rest.

"No-one leaves my ship!"

Jim
I only wrote down Gruesome Cruiser, which sounded a lot cleverer at the time. Shame. Note to self - make better notes!

So, the boys have pretty much nailed the plot, that was described as both "The Shining, on a boat..." and "A bit like Airport, on a boat..." by Zomblee. Cruise ship, scary war ship, collision, raft, rope ladder, 'toilet juice', pissy shit, George Kennedy, Dutch angles (spooky), pumping engine room (menacing), Nazi memorabilia (creepy) and survivors getting the chop one by one.

There's a good ghost crane sequence ("Why does no one go for the levers? - Rawshark) and the bit where the guy falls on the rotting corpses is cool, but notoriety dictates that we discuss the shower scene, which was the point of contention on Ghost Ship following it's initial release. Yes, I did make sure everyone wrote down blood shower. Different versions of the movie have this sequence either cut or altered (sometimes just darkened to make it harder to see, apparently) but here it's restored to it's full, err, glory. If you could call it that - it's actually slightly disappointing compared to modern standards, and feels slightly disjointed compared to the rest of the film. I was even going to say it feels slightly unbelievable, but you can't really say that about a film whose plot line involves a killer ship where George Kennedy gets possessed by the spirit of some dead Nazis.

Still, the whole package is entertaining enough, although we've seen a lot better cheesy crap with GK in. I wasn't expecting it to be this slow, either, but a few key scenes and the pay off ending make it all worth while, even if we got a bit fed up of that character Marshall's lack of wardrobe throughout ("He couldn't find a shirt for most of the movie!" - Zomblee).

Tell me, do you think George Kennedy is going to survive any movies tonight?

"You take care of her, she'll be all yours in a few days.

Death Ship

Director
Alvin Rakoff

Cast
George Kennedy
Richard Crenna
Nick Mancuso
Sally Ann Howes
Kate Reid
Victoria Burgoyne

Rating
Rawshark
Zomblee
Jim

Runtime
91 Mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


The Terror Within (1989)

Plot
At an isolated subterranean complex, a group of people rescue a surface survivor from the gargoyles...

Jim
Oh, do I go first on this one? Right, okay. Well, The Terror Within is basically an Alien / Aliens clone from the Roger Corman factory of filmmaking, and being released in 1989 is the youngest movie of the night. It's set in a post-apocalyptic future where apparently 99% of the population has been killed off by "The Accident", which I take it was when a man-made virus was accidentally released in to the atmosphere killing off most people and turning some into rubbery low budget mutants, or something like that.

The action for the film mostly takes place in an underground compound ("You need 'compound' in your post-apocalyptic dictionary" - Zomblee) where a bunch of surviving military scientist types live. The entrance to the compound appears to be a corrugated shack in the middle of nowhere (let's face it, it's probably the desert just outside LA somewhere). Stepping outside (can't remember why) a couple of the military scientist people find a really hot chick who looks injured and take her inside, only to soon realise she's pregnant, and it's no normal pregnancy considering she goes from not showing much to labour within a couple of days (or minutes of the film's running time). Obviously pregnancy goes badly, much blood and gore ensues and before you know it we have a baby rubber alien running amok. And all the time this is going on there's another monster outside banging on the door (which we know because they leave a microphone attached to the door so they can hear it. I know, we didn't get that either).

Cue lots of activity around trying to snag the monster. First off there's a plan involving splitting into two teams, a welding team and a laser team, not sure why though ("I can't work out whether this is the welder or the laser team?" - Rawshark). Then they kind of just wander about getting picked off one by one ("Has he actually shot that crossbow yet?" - Rawshark), finding the odd bit of monster sick ("Might be poo..." - Rawshark), before finally culminating in what can only be described as a "Shaft Chase!" (Rawshark).

Loads of fun, very silly and some decent gore in that kind of brightly-lit 80s way, shame George Kennedy spends most of the movie at one desk until he finally gets up to get wasted by the monster right near the end. I'm sure he hasn't survived any movies so far.

"Mojave lab calling Rocky Mountain lab, your transmission’s garbled."

Rawshark
What do you get when you cross post-apocalyptic world with Alien and add in a dash of George Kennedy and Roger Corman? Well, you get The Terror Within, a kind of hokey, but mildly enjoyable film from 1989. This film’s future is set after ”The Accident” whereby a few human survivors live underground in fear of the surface-dwelling Gargoyles, a mutant strand of monsters that like to go round impregnating female humans with their mutant young.

During a reconnaissance trip above ground (”they have HUGE walkie-talkies!” - Zomblee), a group who conveniently wear their names on their uniforms stumble upon a young girl called Karen in a cave (”she really is quite pretty” - Zomblee) and decide to take her back to their base, narrowly avoiding an attacking gargoyle that’s all fingers and claws. Karen seems normal at first glance, despite being three months pregnant, but it soon turns out that something’s not right when the next thing everyone knows she’s eight months gone and almost ready to drop.

There’s a quick abortion attempt made, but this only leads to the inevitable exploding baby scene, that’s actually a pretty good Alien chest-burster steal, and a nice little creature – in a cool, crap way – scuttles off to hide in the compound’s air vents. The rest of the film concerns the humans, who split up into two groups – one with a flamethrower, and one with a surgical laser that requires a portable power supply - trying to kill the mutant baby before it kills them.

The monster grows rapidly, the human’s find some monster poo, and Andre is the first to be taken out by the growing creature (Jim’s verdict on the monster? ”Not slimy enough and too rubbery”). George Kennedy decides to go ”double-laser” before the chase ultimately ends up in the shafts of the compound (”Classic shaftworking” - Jim). More people die, yet they finally manage to kill the creature and David and Linda (”She has got a bit of a Ripley look” - Zomblee) escape to the surface. The End.

Yes, there’s no doubting this is a blatant (and late) Alien rip-off, but it does get along with a certain air of cheesy-charm, although we were a bit disappointed that although George Kennedy disappears from the film midway through after an idiotic kamikaze run at the creature, we didn’t actually get to see him die, so the jury’s still out on that one. Maybe he’ll return for the sequel - The Terror Without?

”Hal, it got Sue!” “This is Hal – it got Sue!”

Zomblee
Haha, The Terror Without, I do like that, Rawshark. Maybe it could be The Terror Withstanding? Or The Terror Withheld? Well, I hate to be the bearer of boring news, but there really was a sequel to The Terror Within made in 1991, imaginatively entitled The Terror Within 2, again starring Andrew Stevens (who also directed) and featuring the legendary R Lee Emery. One imdb.com user describes the sequel as "not as good as the first but still ok", which I reckon would make a great quote for the DVD cover.

The Terror Within is largely set in a budget-defining underground 'compound' (yes, that is a very important word in this context), so you can expect this to look a bit like those movies it borrows plot elements from. The guys have covered the plot already; it basically involves our survivors finding a young pregnant girl up on the surface, then they bring her underground (yes, to the compound), where she gives burst to a little monster who grows into a bigger monster (the one Jim said was "not slimy enough"). He does have a point; the special effects crew had yet to discover the slime enhancement qualities of Vaseline, which is a shame because the monster is almost passable otherwise, apart from the mouth ("It's jaw hasn't even moved once!" - Rawshark). You'll never guess what happens next - all the survivors sit down and discuss current affairs and drink some earl grey tea. Just kidding, they hunt down the monster with guns and stuff ("George Kennedy's gonna go double-laser!"), and incapacitate it via the use of sound, before it gets mashed up in a big propeller-type thing.

It's mediocre fare, but you know how it is, there's always a bit of fun to be had if you look hard enough. In Zombie Club we do appreciate how these somewhat shoddy sci-fi movies utilise those many long corridors and the secret passageways above and below, which we like to call 'shafts'. These shafts are particularly good for crawling through as a means of escape of whatever, and Jim in particular appreciates the shaftwork ("We've got shaftwork! Look at that! It's classic shafting!") and Rawshark then backed him up with slightly less zealous praising of the shaftwork ("It is very good shafting.").

So, lots of shaftwork, some decent grue, not enough slime, and not enough George Kennedy away from his desk. But we've seen a lot worse here at ZC.

"He's in shaft number two."

The Terror Within

Director
Thierry Notz

Cast
George Kennedy
Andrew Stevens
Starr Andreeff
Terri Treas
John Lafayette

Rating
Jim
Rawshark
Zomblee

Runtime
90 Mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


Nightmare at Noon (1988)

Plot
Scientists poison the water supply of a small town, turning the residents into homicidal maniacs who kill each other and anybody who passes through.

Zomblee
If you consider yourself a fan of slightly trashy sci-fi horror flicks and you haven't seen Nightmare at Noon, then drop what you're doing, shut down the computer, and watch this immensely enjoyable movie now. Directed by Greek mentalist Nico Masterakis - and I call him mentalist because he gave the world the goat-tastic Island of Death - it is seriously good fun throughout, never taking itself too seriously.

Ken (Wings Hauser), an entertainment lawyer, and his wife Cheri (Kimberly Beck), pick up a hitcher called Reilly (that will be Bo Hopkins then) just outside a small, quiet town where that bloke from The Dirty Dozen and Cool Hand Luke has somehow ended up being Sheriff. Soon after arriving in town, an old drunk dude by the name of Charlie goes completely ape-shit in the street, blowing away a cop with a shotgun, before being shot by the ageing hand of Kennedy. At this point we notice that he has green goo for blood, and that probably has something to do with all that green goo that leaks into the water supply at the very beginning of the movie, courtesy of albino villain Brion James. Oh, did I not mention that before?

Before long, there's lots of green-blooded lunatics running amuck, which is when Brion James (who looks so at home in this movie), accompanied by his army henchmen on horseback, reappears with a green goo gun and plenty of flamethrowers. It seems that the white-suited Brion is conducting a secret government experiment on this small town and now must contain the problem, except our main characters aren't going to make it easy for them. Bo Hopkins is just brilliant as the laconic hero here.

Lots of action ensues. Lots. This movie just keeps giving us fights, explosions, maniac hicks on the loose, fire, more explosions, all topped off with what Jim referred to as a "pointless but brilliant" helicopter chase through canyon at the end. Our protagonists blow the living shit out of a van at one point (Jim: "They sure taught that van a lesson!" Rawshark: "It has great air con now eh?"), and George Kennedy nobly sacrifices himself by blowing up a van and catching fire, for a brief moment becoming George Kenneburn.

Stupid but never boring, this is utterly brilliant trash of the highest order. Oh, and check out director Masterakis facts on Wikipedia - quite an interesting guy. He's not a mentalist at all.

"Didn't anyone hear that this is meant to be a quiet town?"

Jim
Stupid but never boring, yes I think that sums this one up nicely. This is one of those movies when things start of quit normal (Wings Hauser and wife pick up hitcher Bo Hopkins as they ride through a small middle-American town - that kind of thing happens everyday) and then go nuts really quickly (town drunk goes of shotgun rampage before sheriff George Kennedy offs him and he spews green blood everywhere - responding to Zomblee's shout of "Do something George Kennedy!"). What the hell's happening here? Well, it doesn't take the leads too long to click that there's an albino mad scientist (Brion James - yes!) poisoning the water supply, consequently turning all who drink it in to green goo spewing zombies.

What can you say? It's ridiculous, it's very silly, it's very, very entertaining. I hadn't seen Nightmare at Noon so my jaw was on the floor throughout. The exposition scenes were they work out not to drink the water supply ("I had the fish." - Rawshark) really are almost like something out of Airplane, and all the leads are totally calm throughout and never look like they're disbelieving the ridiculousness of it all, especially Bo Hopkins, who has a good line in anger (""He's a one punch hero this guy, then he just goes 'shit!'" - Rawshark).

This film has a small town sheriff played by George Kennedy sharing his weapons arsenal with a couple of civilians, who then shoot a lot of people. It also has loads of car and helicopter chases at the end that are very cool but totally pointless. But when Brion James shoots green lasers out of his eyes, that was it for me - I went out and bought it the very next day.

"This town doesn't need a sheriff any more, it needs a Goddamned Undertaker!"

Rawshark
Welcome to Canyonlonad – Population 963. Expect that figure to be somewhat less by the end of Nightmare at Noon (aka Death Street USA), a terrifically enjoyable B-Movie from Nico Mastorakis, which borrows a fair few elements from George A. Romero’s The Crazies but also adds in a few original elements of his own, including those ridiculously cool green laser eye!

With an excellent B-list cast (as well as Kennedy we have Brion James, Bo Hopkins and Wings Hauser), the film kicks off with Brion James, as an albino Government scientist – even his hat is white! - and his crew poisoning the small town’s local water supply with something that will turn the townsfolk into bloodthirsty zombies with green blood. You can tell they’re evil as they have black vans that make weird noises, or as Jim put it ”awesome sci-fi sounding cars!” A magnetic field is activated and the screen tells us; Experiment Status: Initiated…

Luckily, or rather unluckily for them, Wings Hauser (Griffin) and his lady have stopped briefly in the town with a hitchhiker Bo Hopkins (Riley), so when the shit goes down, these two tough-as-nails out-of-towners team up with Sheriff Kennedy to try and save the day, ensuring the film delivers magnificently on the stunts and action level with car explosions, stunt falls, Priests shot in slow-motion and generally what Jim described as ”Major Mayhem!”

Add to the mix a great shoot-out at the Drive-In (which is screening High Noon - I’m guessing this is how they got the film’s title) and one of the best helicopter chase sequences ever filmed – flying close the ground through canyons and explosions – and what you have here is a hugely enjoyable slice of cheese, a genuine guilty pleasure and a modern-day mash-up genre movie (think Western, action, horror and zombie flick) featuring big guns and laser eyes! And yes, Kennedy does indeed bite the bullet in this film too.

”I’ve got a wife in there who’s half nuts!”.

Nightmare at Noon

Director
Nico Mastorakis

Cast
Wings Hauser
Bo Hopkins
George Kennedy
Kimberly Beck
Brion James

Rating
Zomblee
Jim
Rawshark

Runtime
96 Mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


Demonwarp (1988)

Plot
A man and his daughter are attacked in the woods by what they believe is a Bigfoot-type creature. However, they soon begin to suspect that they may have stumbled onto a nest of aliens in a hidden spacecraft.

Rawshark
The final film of the night then, and although alcohol was taking its toll and making things all blurry, Jim was really excited about Demonwarp. Its cover promised many things; aliens, zombies, UFOs, nudity and Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) as well as George Kennedy, so surely this was the perfect last movie for our mammoth George Kenne-day day?

Well, it turns out Demonwarp is a bit of a mish-mash really, and more like Night of the Demon than we were expecting. Opening with a pretty pointless ‘flashback’ prelude set in 1880, the film really kicks off when a Bigfoot attacks a cabin in the present day, knocks George Kennedy to the ground and runs off with his daughter. Three months later and five teens turn up in a van (”Hapless teens!” - Jim; ”Out-of-towners!” - Zomblee), including Jack, who has a gun, and the older brother from The Wonder Years. Jack is actually looking for his long-lost Uncle who disappeared a while back, but it’s not long before the Ape Man attacks the teens and the movie becomes, temporarily at least, like a cabin siege movie.

Two random girls then turn up in a jeep, but Bigfoot rips off the blonde girl’s head and then, in a quite funny and appreciated scene, runs after a topless sunbather (Michelle Bauer). We have a couple of nice gory spear deaths, the ‘nice tits girl’ turns up in a bloodstained T-shirt and Cindy has her eye ripped out. So far, so slasher, but then the film takes a curveball as large as the Large Hadron Collider as Jack follows Cindy into a cave and shoots the Bigfoot, only for it to turn into his Uncle. Some zombies appear, then there’s something about a spaceship, there’s mention of Asdram his Lord, some more topless sacrifices, devil worship, heart’s being ripped out and then a double-dream ending.

If the above sentence sounds pretty good, I’d just like to point out here that despite all of the above-mentioned, none of it really makes sense (not even if you’re sober, which were most certainly not!). So, in summary, a film that seems to have had everything thrown at it, with only some of it sticking – worth a watch but only if you’re a lover of cheese, such as Swiss cheese, that has a lot of holes in it. Oh, and yes, George Kenne-dies again.

”Well Jack, I don’t know of any Bigfoots…”

Zomblee
The last word I have in my notes from this late-night movie probably sums it up rather well - 'mental'. And I still stand by that drunken scrawl. After a brief and slightly puzzling 1880-set intro involving a priest and a light in the sky, Demonwarp kicks off when a bigfoot creature kills and carries off George Kennedy's daughter from their isolated cabin. Not long after, a bunch of 80s younglings appear, one of whom wants answers as to why his uncle disappeared from the same spot years ago.

What follows for the next 45 minutes is a relatively routine stalk 'n slash scenario whereby the babes in the woods get butchered at the hands of the bigfoot monster, and credit where credit is due, some of the killings are pretty entertaining. However, around the one hour mark, things start to get really fucking weird, with the arrival of what Rawshark called a "non-aggressive zombie", and we soon learn that the kid's missing uncle is in fact the bigfoot creature, and is in service of an extraterrestrial who is really a fallen angel trying to back into heaven. This fallen angel has the power to reanimate corpses for slave labour who are helping rebuild his spaceship, which will get him back to heaven? Er...that just can't be right. Sounds pretty freakin' nuts, eh?

Certain kudos to director Emmett 9 Deaths of the Ninja Alston for having made one of the most confusing, nonsensical horror films of all time. Demonwarp throws all multiple subgenres into a blender and whizzes them up into a madcap mess of ideas and ambition, and completely fails in the process. As a consequence however, it does give us what we want out of movies at Zombie Club. Carnage? Check. Lots of really nice boobs? Check. Bigfoot ripping heads off young folk? Check. Rubbish zombies? Check. Bizarre twists? Check. Aliens? Check. George Kennedy wearing a yellow hard hat because he's laid explosives to kill Bigfoot? Check.

"There's a thing out there. It took my little girl."

Jim
Oh man, don't ask me what happened in Demonwarp. This was the fifth George Kennedy movie in a row, and one of the ones I was most excited about. You see, I have still got a copy of this on cheapo VHS, but the copy I've got is so snowy it's unwatchable. When Zomblee said he'd finally sourced a DVDR I thought we were quids in. I mean, look at the ridiculous monster on the back of the box!

Early on there's a scene where George Kennedy is playing trivial pursuit with his niece (probably), and they're interrupted by a guy in a gorilla suit attacking. Then there's a scene where George tells a bunch of hapless teens to turn back ("Jack has a gun." - Rawshark - must be true because I wrote it down, not sure who Jack is though). Then there's, um, a few more scenes before a final shoot out in a cave (probably) where the monster cuts a girl's booby off ("That's what you pay your money for" - Zomblee).

All I can say is I remember clearly being very excited and coming away being very disappointed. Can't remember why either - I've written enough here to warrant borrowing Zomblee's disc and watching this again! I should have maybe done that before writing this up, but that's not in the spirit of Zombie Club, now is it.

"Don't forget you're first!"

Demonwarp

Director
Emmett Alston

Cast
George Kennedy
David Michael O'Neill
Pamela Gilbert
Billy Jayne
Hank Stratton
Colleen McDermott

Rating
Rawshark
Zomblee
Jim

Runtime
91 Mins

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Conclusion
I think it's fair to say that although George Kennedy did surface in a plethora of bad movies, he was never actually bad in any of them. A bit lazy sometimes, but he's always George Kennedy, and you can't argue with that. Maybe that's what happens sometimes when you win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar towards the dawn of your career (Cool Hand Luke), and things just end up taking a downward trajectory from that point.

Now 85 years old, he has returned from retirement and is still making movies. Though probably not ones where he gets covered in pissy shit. We love you GK.


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