In my teenage years, during the storied era of the mom-and-pop video rental stores, my brother and I used to have a semi-regular ritual during weekends and summer months. With whatever money we could get our grubby mitts onto, we would find ourselves a couple terrible horror movies and then spend the rest on whatever generic snacks, soda and candy we could get.
We would then wait until our parents went to bed for the night, and we would take over the living room with these terrible movies.
These are not your typical horror movies. Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees were probably embarrassed that their films were on the same shelf as these flicks. While occasionally we rented a classic (the “Evil Dead” flims, for instance), our real passion was for cheese. Movies like “Pinocchio’s Revenge,” “Little Witches,” “Dr. Giggles” were the orders of the evening.
The cinematic fromage called to us. For 3-4 hours, it was our reason for being. There was no homework. There were no real-world troubles. All we needed was cheap snacks and low-budget horror. There was no IMDB to tell us if a movie was good. We couldn’t pull up a flick’s Metascore or Tomato rating. There were no Netflix stars. We would just pick a movie based solely on its box art and title.
Some could see this as a nascent form of sneering hipster irony. But I don’t think there was much to be found. While sometimes we laughed at the movies more than we laughed with them, we were still legitimately entertained. And we weren’t renting the movies so we could tell others about them. We did it because it was fun.
Jason Felt and I discovered the wonderful “Killing Spree” in a similar fashion one summer. While staying with him and his family, we randomly picked out that movie. It was perfectly aged cheese, with a slight piquant nuttiness to it. We ranted and raved about it. We named a band after it.
My good friend Chris, his sister and I carry on the tradition every Halloween. We hold an informal contest to see who can bring the most dreadfully laughable horror film. One year I “won” with “Kickboxer from Hell.” The year before that, “Hard Rock Zombies” was the winner - I believe from Chris’s sister Charity.
Volumes have been written about the latter-day high-concept, low-budget SyFy movies like “Shartopus.” I won’t go into too much detail, but I side with the critics: The bad horror flicks of the 70s, 80s and 90s at least tried to put together an entertaining piece. The latter-day SyFy flicks think gimmicks and tweets will carry their boring flims across. They won’t. The movies I speak of were a lot of things, but they were never boring.
Recently I decided I need a fix of scary cheese more than once a year. More than that, I’m going to start reviewing them from time to time.
I’ve been batting around different ideas for GreenAdder’s Stupid Podcast, and I think this is a step in the right direction. This won’t be anything I do with regularity; maybe I’ll review something once every few months until I get sick of it. But it will at least be something fun.
In the meantime, if you’ve actually read this far, I may be looking for a guest for my next GASP. The topic (of course) will be cheesy horror movies. Any takers?