Troma Triple B-Header
Aw, the killer lawn mower movie. In my opinion, one of the most under used sub genres of the horror film. In this 1989 effort from director Thomas R. Rondinella (who also helmed Girl School Screamers, a lot of people are showing up dead at the Tall Grass Country Club. And not only are they dead, they're sliced up pretty good to boot.
The club is owned by a man named Norman Osgood, and he obviously does not want the local press to catch wind of the events going on at his establishment, because soon he'll be hosting a Pro-Am golf tournament. To avoid the negative light that would surely shine down bright upon him if word got out, he talks to a local professional golfer named Roy in hopes that Roy will be able to solve the mystery of the bloody murders in time to save the tournament, and the club.
Norman has another problem that he's unaware of though. Roy is a drunk. And then there's Kelly, jealous of Roy's professional status, who would like nothing better than to see Roy fail and who does her best to try and get Norman to cancel the tournament. When the cops arrest Deke Slater on suspicion, all seems to be back to normal, until Deke starts going off about a killer lawn mower and Roy and Kelly begin to think that he may not be as crazy as he sounds.
Sound goofy? That's because it is. Very goofy, and in fact it's not a good movie at all. It is amusing though, regardless of how bad the acting is, how ridiculous the plot is, or how simple the direction is. It's prime Mystery Science Theater 3000 material. And speaking of Mystery Science Theater……
Jim Mallon, one of the creators of MST3K directed this film about an annual fishing contest called "Muskie Madness." Tons of local and not-so-local fisherman cram in around the lake in hopes of getting lucky and reeling in the big one.
Soon after the contest starts though, a murdering psychopath shows up on the scene and starts eliminating some of the competition. The local police force think that they've got this one solved soon after it happens when they find out that the killer is using fishhooks to land his victims (resulting in a couple of rather nasty murder scenes), but are they right? Are they even close? The fact that the bodies keep piling up probably answers that one for us….
Blood Hook works well as a horror comedy. Don't take it too seriously (I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to… though not positive) and you're at least be entertained. Some of the murders are well done and actually quite painful looking, which keeps the horror elements safely in check, while the humor (even if it is a bit dated) is more often effective than not.
Zombie Island Massacre
The third and final feature on the disc finds a group of American tourists vacationing on a remote Caribbean island. When they head off to a more remote part of the area for a guided tour one night, they lay witness to an ancient voodoo ritual. Thinking it's all in good fun and just part of the show, they remain in good spirits about it all, but some of the spirits may not be so good after all as they slowly but surely find themselves under attack from something that they very obviously don't understand.
All hope seems to be lost when they find that they're stranded shortly after things start to go bad, and when things go bad in a horror movie, you know it's only a matter of time before they get worse. And get worse they do, as the film attempts to live up to it's name.
Zombie Island Massacre isn't well done at all. It was obviously done very, very cheaply and without a lot of professional talent involved. The make up is goofy, the effects are sparse and when present, not very well done. The acting is terrible and the direction is nothing if not pedestrian.
It does have a sense of ridiculous charm to it though, and I found that I enjoyed this one a little bit more than the other two films. Maybe it's because I am an admitted sucker for zombies. Maybe it was because after watching the other two films my brain had more or less turned into a big dumb pile of goop. I'm not really altogether sure. But I did like it on some primal, 'Bizarro World' level.
Blades is full frame, which likes to be its original aspect ratio. If this wasn't taken from a VHS source, then the print used is in pretty bad shape. The film looks to be poorly authored as compression artifacts are quite noticeable. Blood Hook is also full frame, and again, it was probably composed this way. It fares a little bit better than Blades does but it still isn't exactly what you would call good quality. Zombie Island Massacre looks the worst of the three films, which is unfortunate as it's the one that I enjoyed the most. And once again, compression and authoring is the culprit.
All three features are Dolby Digital Stereo and luckily they grade much higher than the video presentation on this disc. There is some hiss in a few of the movies from time to time and there are a couple of moments where the levels are way too high in the mix, resulting in a little bit of distortion, but most of the time the audio is at least acceptable. I didn't have any problems following the dialogue or anything like that, and although it's far from perfect quality, it does get the job done.
Lloyd Kaufman gives one of his usual intros on this disc, much like he does with all the other releases. This time he's accompanied by a cute 'Tromette' who explains the V3 technology that allows Troma to cram three movies onto one disc. Kaufman uses the same technology to cram three intros to the three different films into one, to amusing effect. Aside from the intros, there are trailers for Citizen Toxie – The Toxic Avenger 4, Angel Negro, Tales From The Crapper, and Zombie Island Massacre (which is in incredibly murky condition). Each film on the disc also has scene selection menus, available by accessing each specific films sub menu.
Three goofy, gory eighties exploitation films are well represented on this disc. There aren't a lot of extra features and the audio/video quality isn't exactly mind blowing, but the films are fun and the price is right. The Troma Triple B-Header comes recommended for those who enjoy Kaufman and co.'s unique brand of crass humor and gory mayhem as long as you can look past the far from perfect presentations of the three films contained herein. If you're not a Troma fan already though, this isn't the best place to start so it's probably best served as a rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.