Ghosts, ghouls and goblins. Satanic rights with blasphemous human sacrifices. Witches burned alive at the stake and curses that live down through the generations. Insane killers satisfying their bloodlust with random acts of carnage. These are the bread and butter of the horror genre, the prerequisites to fright and fear. Sure, you can make some manner of the macabre out of deranged sexual tension, or attacks by aliens from outer space, but when it comes right down to it, you need the supernatural, the paranormal and the mystic to make your scares stick. However, there is one big caveat to the creepy in this lexicon of alarm. Just because you get some warlocks, a few flesh eating zombies and an abandoned Gothic mansion or two doesn't mean your fear will be fragrant. Sometimes – sorry, MOST times, having the basic elements of dread leads to B-movie boredom, or worse, out and out cinematic stinkweeds. Nowhere is this notion clearer than in the recently released eight film DVD boxset from Rhino called – of all things – Horrible Horrors Vol. 1. As if the druids and the devil worshippers didn't have enough social strikes against them, this retro-minded entertainment conglomerate has decided to dig up some of the moldiest, most mindless spook shows ever cast onto celluloid and release them on double-sided flip discs, bad prints, content edits and all. By the time you are finished wallowing through this landfill of fright, you'll be wondering what is more horrifying: the octet of abominations found on this disc, or that you've wasted nearly 12 hours of your otherwise valued time with some of the most abhorrent bottom feeders in the canon of crappy creature features.
Okay, it has to be said right up front that when you see the following facets listed on ANY DVD, no matter how cheaply priced or jam-packed with product, you should run, not walk, to the nearest International tribunal and report a set of cinematic war crimes post haste. Indeed, the title Horrible Horrors and the accompanying corporate concept of Crown International Pictures (one consonant off from KIP, the British term for sleep, which is how you'll want to spend several dreamless days after suffering through this album of awfulness) should make you wary, woozy and Hella worried. When a digital distributor, with full understanding of the laws regarding truth in advertising and successful, demographically sound marketing, decides to label its own product as "Horrible", little cow-flop warning signs should be sparking in your sense centers. And while there may be a few nostalgic numbskulls who have longed for a Crown compilation to send them shivering down monster memory lane, this collection of compost barely deserves a discussion, let along a laser encoded transfer. In order to better evaluate the levels of loaf pinching found within these eight errors of moviemaking judgment, there will be five 'crappiness' echelons awarded, varying from the most mild (craptastic = tolerable) to the worst (supercalifragilisticexpealidoodie = flush the f*cker!). For the middle marks we'll give grades in the "stool-pid" (pedestrian), "poo-thetic" (poor) and "dire-rhea" (brain cell slaying) range. Unless you're a glutton for punishment, you'll realize that there is very little here to recommend even a rental. Let's start with:
The Hearse (1980)
Director: George Bowers
Level of Crappiness: Poo-thetic
Scariest Thing in the Film: That local high school kids think Trish Van Devere is hot!
Plot: Bonkers over the break up of her marriage, as well as the recent death of her mother, Jane Hardy travels to a small town to stay in her dead aunt's ancestral home. She figures the vacation will do her good. Turns out, she has walked into a supernatural world of hurt as her distant relative was actually a devil-worshipping slut that everyone in the town hated. And now Pitch is pissed that someone is staying at this Chateau De' Evil. So Hardy is haunted by such spooky stuff as breaking glass, blinking lights and a scar-faced chauffer who drives the title vehicle.
As static in pace as a funeral march and containing the same amount of invention, The Hearse is a very dull, derivative disaster. Nothing much more than some old dark house hokum tossed together with a little string cheese Satanism, this moody, mired mung is about as terrifying as a peel and eat shrimp. Crafted during the Voorhees/Meyer heyday of slasher films, this throwback to a Haunting/Hell House style of scary film just proves why this subgenre was replaced by bloodletting and vivisection. Star Trish Van Devere, chugging along like a baffled boat against the current, spends far too much time looking off in the distance like she's trying to remember some Hints from Heloise. Ghostly goofiness is suggested by constantly crashing windows and music boxes with a mind of their own. Every once in a while, a mustached mook of a hearse driver torments Trish, but she tends to brush off each attack like such circumstances are expected in the everyday life of a small town, along with party lines and cake walks. The fallen angel angle is never fully explored or explained. We hear about a Devil's heart pendant, and some hanky panky hocus pocus, but the love from beyond the grave garbage (with some dude named Tom Sullivan stalking our heroine like a wild asparagus) is incredibly pointless. Trying to get by on mood and atmosphere alone, but only succeeding at getting...on your nerves, this nonsensical demonic drivel certainly lives up to this box set's name. One couldn't imagine a more horrible horror than The Hearse.
Prime Evil (1988)
Director: Roberta Findley
Level of Crappiness: Supercalifragilisticexpealidoodie
Scariest Thing in the Film: The sleazy priest who is constantly on the make.
Plot: An arcane order of priests turns coat and cassock and become devotees to the Devil. Fast forward a few hundred years and the rich people of New York are sacrificing their kinfolk for a chance at immortality. The redolent ringleader of both broods is the defrocked Fr. Thomas Seaton, a sacrilegious sleazoid who likes to get to know his parishioners in the Biblical sense. When Alexandra Parkman moves in with her granddad, she doesn't know she's next on the miscreant minister's hit list. Seems the oldster wants an unlimited lifetime pass to the next world, and is willing to give up his granddaughter for it. Seaton, of course, couldn't be more pleased.
Roberta Findley, along with her late, great husband Michael, created some of the most malicious, wicked exploitation movies of the 60s and 70s. Probably most famous for Snuff (though they disclaimed the notorious added torture and death footage) as well as one of the greatest thrill killer triptychs in the history of the slasher genre, The Flesh Trilogy (The Touch of Her Flesh, The Curse of Her Flesh, The Kiss of Her Flesh), this craven couple made messy, mean spirited marvels. Sadly, it seems that Roberta's malignant touch has gone goofy over the decades. The proof? The poorly executed, nearly incoherent mess known as Prime Evil. This sloppy Satanism scat sample about defrocked priests and bad 80s fashions tries for a Rosemary's Baby level of urban Gothic. Unfortunately, it can't keep its plot points focused enough to create the necessary notion of fear. Characters are tossed at the screen at random, dramatic arcs are undermined by mindless moments of sleazy subplotting (did we really need to know that our heroine was "sold" into child pornography by her oddball father when she was a kid? Ew!) and beyond the desire for immortality, nothing seems to make a lick of sense. Each player in this puke-inducing pantomime has motivational schizophrenia, shifting so wildly between intentions that they induce whiplash. Then Rhino has to go and ruin it further by making this ripe slice of choad cheese even more indigestible by excising all the gore. That's right, whenever a potentially potent killing takes place on screen, the random jump cutting begins. The sole factor that could have saved this retched reject from an Anton LaVey almanac on the afterlife actually seals its stupefying fate as one of the worst films on this set.
Director: Norman J. Warren
Level of Crappiness: Stool-pid
Scariest Thing in the Film: A man is attacked by angry film stock
Plot: A few centuries ago, some people burned a witch (right, tell you something you don't know, huh?). Before she died, she cursed the family forever. Fast-forward and the last remaining relatives finally meet up. James is a famous director who just made a movie about his flawed family legacy. Ann is his distant cousin, arriving in London to seek sanctuary as an actress. At an after party for the film, Ann acts weird, threatening James with the ancestral sword (don't ask). Soon, people close to the couple are dropping like prerequisites for a cruddy killer on the loose flick. All guilty accusations fly Ann's direction, especially since she has the bad habit of showing up at her boarding house with blood on her hands. But there may be more to the random acts of homicide than a crazy British bird. Maybe, just maybe, the curse is fulfilling its purpose. Then again, this could all be some Black Mass misunderstanding. Whatever the case, people are gonna die, and they're gonna die hard at someone's hands.
Proving that a good glop of gore can bolster even the most wretched workout, Terror has no business being as almost-acceptable as it is. For most of this miserable movie, we are left to fend for ourselves as narrative connections are avoided, characters are quasi-sketched out (some almost achieving a single dimension!) and backstory is forgotten. Dario Argento should either be proud or royally pissed by the number of Profundo Rosso/ Suspiria/ Inferno/ Tenebrae references director Norman Warren lifts outright. From knives that penetrate body parts at divergent, deranged angles to blood-drenched Technicolor crime scenes, the bows to Italian horror are obvious and often. Still, Warren has a few freakish facets up his sleeves (and we're not talking about the punkette stripper doing a full frontal routine). Our broasted Wikkan is creepy in a Lucio Fulci kind of way and the porn actresses staircase slaughter is macabre-ific. Then there is the production assistant who's attacked by the film studio itself. Props propel themselves at him. Film stock unspools and tries to strangle him. Canisters careen at his head and lights lunge at his body. Had Warren stayed with such oddball offings, Terror would be a decent grade-Z slice of schlock. But there are elements that keep dragging the film down, making it play out longer and more languid than it should. By the time that everyone dies, Hamlet style, we're satisfied, but confused. This is a film that's convoluted itself into a series of plot holes it could not crawl out of, but knew that by fleshing up the foolishness we'd accept almost anything. And it's almost correct.
Director: Roberta Findley
Level of Crappiness: Stool-pid
Scariest Thing in the Film: All those horrid 80's hair and clothing styles
Plot: A poor abused child has horrible nightmares of her beyond-nasty mother. This overbearing bitch burned her hands with an iron and forced her to eat...OATMEAL (the COW!). She also remembers seeing strange creatures, which mad Mom called "lurkers" crawling out of the walls in her bedroom. Move ahead in time 15 years and the lunatic Luka-wannabe is Cathy, a concert cellist. Engaged to Bob whose so attentive it's scary, she seems to have her life pulled together. But as the nuptials draw neigh, Cath starts going cuckoo. She keeps seeing a little albino girl with a bad British accent. She torments our heroine with really lame poetry. Then there is a phantom-like matron who randomly appears to provide ambiguous warnings. When Cathy and Bob attend a business party, she discovers it's being held in her own, wounded, childhood apartment house. And better yet, Cathy learns her old homestead was/is really Hell, and Bob is one of Belial's bounty hunters, hired on to bring this beaten babe back, once and for all.
It's our second time at the DVD plate for Roberta Findley and her New York horror stories, and this go round is far more fascinating. Telling a rather straightforward story (with lots of dopey ancillary aspects to keep the craziness cogent) Lurkers wants to follow Terror's trail in creating acceptable low budget badness. It too uses the old claret conceit to achieve its enigmatic, if ultimately humdrum ends. We get the pleasant picturesque of a girl getting her head smashed with a sledgehammer, a man with a massively hemorrhaging chest wound and a gang of grotesque human oddities that give new definitions to the concept of facial deformities. Had it kept the putrescence front and center, Lurkers would have locked in with guts and offal aficionados. But Findley can't leave the perverted well enough alone. Her version of Hell has fey gay guys hung up on crooked crucifixes, families getting incest frisky together and women winding each other up with a good old fashioned douche bag - you know, standard Satan bullstuff. Indeed, Lurkers sometimes feels like one of Roberta and Michael's mid-60s psyche-outs, with badly dressed Greed generation goofballs taking the place of the gritty, gratuitous goons from something like A Thousand Pleasures. Occasionally, the clash of genres between roughie and routine killer thriller is too much for the movie to take, and it wobbles violently in tone and entertainment value. The result is a narrative that feels like it's one whipping scene away from a classic exploitation exercise, instead of the Gates of Hell hooey it eventually ends on. Lurkers is one of the better movies in this collection.
Director: George Gage
Level of Crappiness: Poo-thetic
Scariest Thing in the Film: Two half dressed men wrestling in a waterfall.
Plot: A Native American nutjob, Calvin Duggoi (tribal named – Dances with Imaginary Pixies) is locked up in a hospital for the criminally insane after leaving a group of his buddies in the hot Mojave to die. This ex-Vietnam vet masterminds a daring, late night escape, and once on the road, he has just one thing on his mind (and it's not pizza, Pilsner and p*ssy, or the occasional Phenom Phen flashbacks that tend to torment him). Nope, our livid Geronimo wants revenge on the four psychiatrists who recommended his stint at the loony bin, and his plan is rather...dumb. He kidnaps the quartet of quacks and takes them out into the desert. He drops them off, strips them of all their worldly possessions and forces them to survive (guess just KILLING THEM violently and horribly was too much instant gratification for the war painter, huh?). While this would seem like a surefire plan, Duggoi didn't count on Sam the shrink being such a Ewell Gibbons wannabe. Our brain buster is an able outdoorsman, and before long, he's got the group feasting on rabbit and living in cool burrow bungalows. But Calvin means business, and will take his own sweet mofo-ing time to get around to tormenting his hostages. And it means we miss out on how to make a latrine from a Member's Only jacket and a discarded coyote skin.
Somewhere along the line, the people at Rhino decided to reinvent the term "horror". Instead of keeping our caveats between the supernatural and the paranormal, these collection creators figured that a survivalist's story was close enough to creepy to meet the macabre parameters. Well, it's hard to keep harping on how wrong this stillborn schema really was, especially since Fleshburn sort of works – just not as a tale of terror. Unless you're planning on taking part in some Iron John retreat, convinced that political Armageddon is just an election away, or have a pack of boy scouts you need to lead through the boondocks, Fleshburn will be completely useless to you - especially if you're looking for some heebie jeebies. You see, this is a movie more concerned with the intimate details of man vs. the wilderness training than it is providing scares or suspense. Want to learn how to draw water out of shaved cactus and hot rocks? Fleshburn can help. Need to know how far down to dig in the desert sand to find temperatures 40 degrees cooler than on the surface? Fleshburn's got the dynamics (3 feet, to be exact.) Hoping to experience some certifiable suspense or decent dread? You'd be better off picking up a copy of My Little Pony Eats Its Own Fetlock. As the ire-filled 'injun', Sonny Landham (Billy from Predator) is part medicine man, part mild mannered maniac as he stands around the outskirts of his crime scene, shirtless and singing to some manner of ancient spirit (probably asking for a better script). As the doctor with both a PhD in psychology and metal forging, Steve Kanaly (famous to Dallas fans as Ray Krebbs) gets to swear a lot and run around shirtless – neither very good things. Though we never really care what happens to anyone, director George Gage keeps things clipping along at a decent pace. While it may not fit the genre, Fleshburn is a fairly interesting offering.
Satan's Slave (1976)
Director: Norman J. Warren
Level of Crappiness: Dire-rhea
Scariest Thing in the Film: Martin Potter's bizarre performances as a repressed psycho.
Plot: Catherine is going out to the country with her parents to visit weird Uncle Alexander. Along the way, Dad has some manner of strange seizure and smashes the Rolls into a tree. Before she can comprehend just what the kippers is going on, Cathy stumbles from the car, which explodes into flames like a tinderbox on wheels. Taken in by her benevolent relative, Cathy meets the rest of the clan. There is Frances, Uncle's faithful secretary/assistant and Stephen, a very creepy, crazy cousin. While recovering from the trauma of her family's recent flammability, Cathy starts to notice some strange things. Steve has taken an unhealthy interest in her, and visits her room in the late hours of the night. He tells her about a dead witch (AGAIN with the witches) who died on the very grounds where the house stands. And she's lost a bracelet that her boyfriend gave her. Of course, it turns out that Uncle Alexander wants to use the virginal miss in some strange ritualistic sacrifice to resurrect the witch (AGAIN WITH THE WITCHES) and is using Stephen to woo the unwilling victim. But then things get a little confusing, as people we thought were dead show up, and others we believed bedeviled are easily offed. Oh well. AGAIN WITH THE WITCHES!!!
Yep, again with the Witches. Apparently the pro-potion properties of Terror were not the first time director Norman Warren dabbled in the realm of black/white magic. Satan's Slave is a near immobile mess, a stunningly dull diorama that only saves its blasphemous bacon by tossing in some 'far too little too late' last minute gore. When Cathy gives Stephen a bit of pre-laser eye surgery, the spurting wound is wonderfully over the top. And the death of her 'back in London' boyfriend is an ooey-gooey bit of street splatter. But for every respectable reason there is to watch this film – and the total is about 2.876 in a typical statistical analysis breakdown – there are dozens of rationales to avoid this putrid rot. Michael Gough, about as well known a British character actor as they come, sullies his name even further (who knew, especially after Batman and Robin that there were even lower depths to drop) by turning what could have been a campy, kitschy character into a gray Sunday drag of a villain. Sure, he's not supposed to be sinister for most of the movie, but you never guess he's got an evil agenda until 10 minutes before the end. Nope, Martin Potter – a long way from Fellini's Satyricon – is given the thankless task of playing the unhinged hunk who courts his cousin while simultaneously sharking on Frances and most of the local ladies. With an acting approach that can best be described as reserved, he suggests his killer instinct so subtlety that you sometimes wonder if his character is not just suffering from acid reflux after one too many helpings of bangers and mash. With an ending that repeats, laps and then doubles back on itself, and an overall atmosphere of dismal dissatisfaction, the only suggestive thing about this movie is it's titillating title. Sadly, the only slavery to Satan that's apparent is the need to toss still more Salem witch weirdness at the audience.
Twisted Brain, a.k.a. Horror High (1974)
Director: Larry N. Stouffer
Level of Crappiness: Craptastic
Scariest Thing in the Film: A killer guinea pig!
Plot: Everybody HATES Vernon Potts, from his distant, traveling salesman father to the vast majority of the population on the planet Earth circa 1974. A hopeless science geek, Vern is constantly getting into trouble. His English teacher despises his four-eyed fixation with chemistry and the school janitor is just a flash fire away from going Freddy Krueger on his ass. Even the football coach thinks Vernon is vermin, only good for helping his retarded jocks pass their classes. Even through all the adolescent adversity, Master Potts plans on proving to the world that he's not just some emotionally stunted doormat. Deciding to use chemicals to enhance his physical attributes, he stumbles upon a formula that alters his person. Too bad it makes him homicidal instead of hunky. Getting revenge on everyone who wronged him, this loser turned lunatic 'teaches' the entire school a lesson in tolerance and understanding, bloodletting style. It is up to the police to put the kibosh on this pocket protector killer before he successfully sells other oppressed braniacs on the idea of standing up for themselves via slaughter. Oh yeah, and some girl secretly likes Vernon, too. Poor gal.
Twisted Brain, a.k.a. Horror High, a.k.a. I Was a Teenager Hamster is perhaps best described as the terror of being a teen in high school amplified to sick, sadistic extremes. Mixing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with healthy portions of an ABC After School Special and The Nutty Professor, our hero Vernon is such a put upon dork that members of the AV Club are required to beat him up on a regular modular schedule. In this Nerd Guy Goes Nutzoid nirvana, guinea pigs become vicious, bloodthirsty killers (the aforementioned redolent rodent guts a cat like Matt Hooper at a shark convention), police act like far too 'happening' hepcats and English teachers show MOVIES in class (the horror!). Combined with some decent death scenes (our oily janitor meets a drum – of ACID!) and an always effective 'norms vs. jocks' narrative, you can't help but get hooked into this film's freak show fun. Still, there are items here that will mar your merriment. We spend way too much time with Vernon's dyspeptic Dad as he frolics with his bitter mistress in scenes that seem lifted from a bad nighttime soap. And the tacked on love story between a popular gal and Vern WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but come on! But the bigger affront may be the plethora of ham-fisted and acting professional football players called in to take major roles in the movie. Coach McCall was John Niland, a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys at the time, and Joe Greene (a few sacks away from being "Mean") is one of Coach's friends. They constantly drag the film out of the realm of fear being forwarded with their amateur thespianism (and WHY they are part of this cast is anyone's guest). Still, Twisted Brain is some very consistently watchable weirdness that manages to balance boos with bumbling quite well.
Point of Terror (1971)
Director: Alex Nicol
Level of Crappiness: Supercalifragilisticexpealidoodie
Scariest Thing in the Film: A bare butt shot, in CLOSE UP, for star Peter Carpenter.
Plot: Tony Trelos (not TONY TRAVIS, star of The Beatniks – known to fans of the best show ever on television – Mystery Science Theater 3000 - as Episode 415) is a horrid hack singer that needs a break. Andrea is a randy rich bitch whose got an itch that needs man meat scratching. Checking out Tony's 'trunks' one day at the beach, Andrea makes a proposition. She'll get him a record deal if he offers up a 7 inch...SINGLE she can promote. Andrea's wheelchair husband runs National Empire Capital Polygram Records and she shares corporate responsibilities with the crippled CEO – as well as a checkbook and -ered past. Tony takes the bait, and soon he's crooning in the morning and spooning in the evening. The boy toy doesn't see it coming, but Andrea is just using him – at least, that's what the wench's best friend and local lush Fran says. Sure enough, sugar daddy ends up dead and Tony is locked in as Andrea's booty-in-waiting. To make matters worse, his old barmaid girlfriend is pregnant. And then, long lost stepdaughter Helayne shows up. The remote relative is there to do a little estate taxing. Andrea gets antsy and hits the road for a whore's holiday, the wounded wench with child keeps pressuring our poor man's Humperdink, and Helayne falls hard for Tony's tight buns. This quagmired quartet is destined for a deadly end. But the question becomes, who's going to bite the big one first (and no fair saying that the gals have already 'been there, done that').
From the zenith to the nadir, our last film on the Horrible Horrors boxset illustrates the shittiness of selections offered in atonal detail. If for nothing else, at least Point of Terror gets one thing right – there is nothing more frightening, more bone-rattlingly malodorous than an incredibly lame lounge act...and Tony Trelos has one of the absolute worst. Perhaps if someone provided him with a tote bag, a couple of carry-alls and a few muscular manservants, this droning dolt could actually transmit a tune. Instead, he wails like a wounded wombat over ersatz-soul jazz junk that sounds remarkably like Burt Bacharach abusing himself with a butcher knife. Ham, not horror, is on the mind of this meaningless movie as actor Peter Campbell pours on the pork (in more than one way). He walks around wearing barely any clothes, has long, incoherent monologues about his boo-hoo childhood, and can never let us forget he is 'an artist'. This is the very definition of a vanity project (Carpenter co-wrote the script for his starring role) except that, by said designation, such an egotistic enterprise is supposed to make one look GOOD. Instead, Carpenter looks crabby most of the time. Like a far more libidinous Johnny Bravo, his Tony mistakes machismo, artificial stage antics and omnipresent body odor as doorways to show business success. Sadly, not even some swimming pool sex (featuring a nude Ilsa – Dynanne Thorne) or a burlesque level drunk scene (Leslie Simms Fran is a she-male hoot) can convince us of Trelos, or Carpenter's career prospects. Point of Terror is like a Movie of the Week wired to an arrogant asshole's desire for fame. Thankfully, it fizzles as rapidly as the atrocious rock retardation spewed by our 'singing' star.
One has to wonder that, of all the archives one could plunder, why in the name of normalcy would Rhino choose to raid Crown International Pictures. Take a look at CIP's IMDB listing sometime and feel your mind reel at the cavalcade of crud this company specialized in (the examples listed above included). Catalina Caper... Dracula's Dog... My Tutor... Coleman Frances's SKYDIVERS for God's sake!!! Certainly, the price must have been right (one guesses that each negative cost the company around $.37 in Romanian Leis.) and there was obviously few other entities begging to put Peter Campbell's song and suspense debut out on DVD. Don't get the wrong impression. This review is not trying to tout these titles as a 'so bad they're good' grab bag of garbage. Far from it. These films out and out suck. Aside from some greatly appreciated grue here and there, most of these movies would make MST3K curdle like a bottle of bad milk. While you might be able to salvage a good time out of Twisted Brain (beware of athletes bearing scripts) and the Lurkers/Terror couplet are good for a larf, the rest of these films are just foul. Do yourself a favor and save those ducats for Special Edition collections of autopsy footage or some of that new leprosy porn that's taking Asia by storm. The only reason to give these eight answers to agita in this compendium a look-see is to test your ability to maintain your composure under extreme aesthetic torture. Horrible Horrors Vol. 1 is accurately labeled. Don't be taken in by promises of passable panic. These movies blow!
Keeping with the theme of less than acceptable entertainment value, the transfers presented over the course of the eight films offered move from letterboxed legitimacy (The Hearse comes in an anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen wonder) to our cheap cousin's 4th generation VHS dub (Twisted Brain looks especially bad). Most of the movies suffer from age defects, awful open matte images, dirt, lens hairs and other visual vices. There is barely any contrast (Point of Terror looks pretty good, in direct contradiction to how heinous the movie is, while Fleshburn is a washed out waste) and the colors range from dark to subterranean. Moles with eyes like slits would have a difficult time deciphering what the hemlock is happening most of the time (Roberta Findley's films look good during the day, but all detail disappears in the night scenes). The difference between the British and American entries is also obvious. The English films (Terror, Satan's Slave) are foggy and muddled, as if someone forgot to clean the camera aperture before filming began. Overall, the prints are barely passable. Even the most ardent fan of Crown's output will cry FOUL over this flimsy filmic offerings.
Unless you long for the days when Phil Specter's wall of sound mixes ruled the radio airwaves (or when the partially deaf Brian Wilson devised his teenage symphonies to God) you won't get worked up over the Dolby Digital Mono soundtracks that accompany these films. Most are audibly sound, while others present the kind of tinny, hissy horrors that DVD was supposed to avoid/improve. Still, it you're interested in these movies for their sonic situations, you're barking up the wrong bog of brackish water. Who cares if we can hear Peter Campbell crooning in pure digital clarity when (a) Point of Terror's music was poorly produced to begin with, and (b) Pete's about as proficient a vocalist as a castrated sugar glider? Nothing about the decibel dimensions of Horrible Horrors is worth consideration.
Like the amusement value of most of the movies here, Rhino offers nothing in the way of bonus material. And while one could harp like a hypocrite that something like Lurkers deserves the typical DVD treatment, that's an argument best left for a couple of decades on a desert island. Maybe a trailer or two could have been included, but the fact that there is no added content for these films is not surprising at all. The movies themselves lack any real substance to begin with.
There is nothing more depressing than a bad horror film. It's been said before, and it bears repeating. Sometimes, you can amuse yourself and make fun of a fright flop as it unfolds before your befuddled brain. But more times than not, you just sit back in abject disgust as minutes of your existence zoom by like you happen to time share near a black hole. Now imagine having that happen on eight individual occasions and you get the gist of what it's like looking over the brazenly bad burnt offerings on this DVD set. Unless you crave the entertainment equivalent of a colostomy bag, or long for those bygone days where all you could rent from your local small business video shop were off-title trash like this, you're better off skipping this entire entity. Somehow, no matter how evil or awful they are to us humans, the denizens of the otherworldly plane deserve better than to be represented by an anthology of ass like this. Horrible Horrors Vol. 1 is a depressing, degrading experience. It's hard to imagine that something can give Satan an even worse reputation, but this box set is just the slanderous sludge the man-goat needs to ruin his street cred. And Wikka might as well just give up. After seeing a number of their sisterhood sizzle like baby back ribs, it's hard to imagine recruitment in the craft increasing. You'd think that baddies and beasties would have a better sense of self-esteem, being all powerful and strong. But Horrible Horrors Vol. 1 proves that some members of the mystical are less than successful in the transition from bedroom closet to silver screen. So werewolves and vampires beware. There must be a volume of this vomit with your name on it too. And it's far more potent than a dozen silver bullets.