Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover at least two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62+ scary movies perfect for a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Put on your hazmat suit for today’s double-shot of hilarious, toxic waste-themed horror: Dan O’Bannon‘s 1985 cult classic Return of the Living Dead, and J. Michael Muro‘s absolutely absurd 1987 sleaze-fest, Street Trash.
On July 3, 1984 at 5:30PM, at the Uneeda medical supply warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, a foreman named Frank (James Karen) tries to freak out the company’s newest employee, Freddy (Thom Mathews), by showing him a confiscated military drum in the basement of the building. The drum contains the remains of an army experiment gone wrong that actually inspired George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
Frank accidentally unleashes the toxic gas inside the barrel, which has the ability to reanimate dead tissue. Soon, Louisville, Kentucky is overtaken by brain-eating zombies – leaving only a ragtag gang of punks and other ’80s stereotypes to fight the undead horde.
That Creepy Scene:
The gang of teenagers are hanging out in the cemetery, listening to music and talking about death. “Do you ever fantasize about being killed?” asks Trash (Linnea Quigley), the pink-haired gutter punk of the group. The discussion turns imagining the worst possible way to die, which for Trash is, “A bunch of old men get around me and start biting and eating me alive…” As she says this, Trash begins ripping off her own clothes and dances in some pretty fashionable ’80s leg warmers on top of a grave.
Later, zombies attack the group and the gang is split up. Trash is left behind in the graveyard where she falls into a puddle of muddy water, only to be surrounded by a group of old-ass zombies who proceed to eat her. Trash later returns as a zombified nightmare, reminiscent of Marilyn Manson’s infamous Dope Show getup.
Ask me what my all-time favorite zombie movie is and I’ll tell you it’s Dan O’Bannon‘s Return of the Living Dead – a “splatstick” horror comedy with outlandish characters, completely random full frontal female nudity, and dizzyingly eccentric dialogue. While most people might write off O’Bannon’s film as nothing more than a low-budget ‘so bad it’s good’ horror flick, Return of the Living Dead is known for introducing the now-standard concept of zombies eating brains, as opposed to just eating human flesh, like previous zombie films such as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.
While not only inspiring many of the gags in future zombie send-ups like Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, O’Bannon’s film also established a different set of rules regarding the undead – having them retain the knowledge of their former selves and even speak and carry on conversations with the living.
There’s some fantastic visual effects and makeup work in Return of the Living Dead as well, namely the iconic ‘Tarman’ zombie, who was performed by actor and puppeteer Allan Trautman, best known for his work with Jim Henson and The Muppets. There’s also the grotesque yet sympathetic “Half-Corpse” zombie, which was an animatronic puppet created by Tony Gardner, launching his career as an independent makeup effects artist. Gardner would go on to work on films like Zombieland and 127 Hours, and create the signature robotic headgear for the electronic music duo Daft Punk.
Overall, if you haven’t seen Return of the Living Dead you’re missing out on a hilarious bit of ’80s horror that remains as influential to the genre as Re-Animator and Romero’s catalog of zombie films.
When a liquor store owner finds a case of Viper in his cellar, he decides to sell it to the local bums and homeless people at one dollar a bottle. Unbeknownst to the small business owner, Viper causes its consumers to melt into into a technicolor syrup and explode, raining dirty, homeless meat chunks all over the city.
Two bums find themselves up against the effects of the toxic brew, as well as going head-to-head with Bronson (Vic Noto), a Vietnam War veteran with sociopathic tendencies (and a knife he made out of a femur bone), who has taken ownership of the junkyard they live in.
Street Trash is easily one of the craziest, sleaziest films I’ve ever had the good fortune of watching. At one point, Bronson rips off a homeless man’s penis and gives it a herculean toss, leading to an impromptu game of catch in the junkyard. Bill the Cop (Bill Chepil) gets into a knock-down-drag-out fight with a gangster, and after bloodying his nose with one of the softest, most gentle headbutts the screen has ever seen, Bill sticks his finger down his own throat and forces himself to puke on the KO’d thug.
Director J. Michael Muro (who has went on to a long, successful career as a camera operator) created a shlock masterpiece with Street Trash. It’s a hard movie to track down, unless you have an awesome independent video shop in your area, but Street Trash is one of those rare cinematic experiences that will simultaneously shock and disgust you while you’re doubled-over with laughter.
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