UNK SEZ: Today’s Stream Warriors is hosted by none other than JOHN SQUIRES of FREDDY IN SPACE! He’s got some killer picks for you kids today, so lend him your ear!
Like peanut butter and jelly, some pairings were just meant to go together, as if by a decree handed down by God himself. If ya ask me, Claudio Fragasso and a video camera is one of these divine pairings. Just a few years before creating his masterpiece, Troll 2, Fragasso lensed a little gem called Monster Dog, an Alice Cooper star vehicle that saw the Coop battling off a horde of vicious dogs … and a bunch of hillbilly dudes … and a giant werewolf monster. I don’t know how the Italian director and the American rock god ended up in bed together, but I’m sure glad they did.
In the film, a dubbed over Cooper plays Vince Raven, a rocker who returns to his hometown with some friends to film his latest music video, only to discover that the grounds are hunted by a pack of killer dogs (aka a bunch of friendly looking pet pooches dubbed to sound angry.) Turns out they are ruled over by a giant Monster Dog, which may or may not be Cooper himself given his father may or may not have passed on the weird heart condition he had that made the townsfolk think he was the titular monster, which he may or may not have actually been.
Flirting with the zombie movie, the werewolf movie, the killer dog movie and even the spaghetti western shoot ’em up flick, Monster Dog is rife with that same peculiar and even otherworldly quality that makes Troll 2 so gosh darn lovable. It’s admittedly not as compelling as Troll 2 throughout much of its runtime, but there’s some real tasty morsels in there including a couple highly catchy faux Alice Cooper music videos as well as his transformation into a werewolf at the end, which is worth the wait in and of itself. What’s not to love about Alice Cooper wearing makeup and a ruffled sleeve jacket while talking in someone else’s voice and blowing off hillbilly heads before ultimately turning into a monster dog himself? If you answered “absolutely nothing,” then you should the hit play button on this one as soon as possible.
Few people are more captivating to watch, both onscreen and off, than the late German actor Klaus Kinski; a pariah to all those who worked with him and a real treasure to those of us who just get to sit back and watch from afar while he does his thing. As deranged Nazi landlord Karl Gunther, who loves nothing more than to stalk his beautiful female tenants, kill them with D.I.Y. traps that would make John Kramer jealous, talk to his imprisoned and tongueless friend and play solo games of Russian Roulette each night before bed (with a bullet with his name literally etched into it), Kinski is at his most captivating and utterly creepy best.
I first discovered the film when I found a copy of it on VHS at a yardsale several years back and instantly fell in love with its totally off the wall and completely original vibe. It’s fast paced with a weirdness scale that escalates by the minute and it’s frankly unlike any other movie I’ve ever seen. The majority of that praise is all thanks to Mr. Kinski, who brings to the proceedings one of the most interesting and unsettling killers in all of ’80s horror, a mix between Dr. Kevorkian and Adolf Hitler himself (who Gunther delights in watching footage of while prancing around with lipstick smeared all over his creepy little face).
Maybe I’m biased given that I could sit down and watch Kinski watch paint dry for an hour and a half and be completely amused and interested, but I’ve gotta say that Crawlspace is one of the best little known horror flicks circulating out there. The coolest thing about it being on Netflix Instant is that the only DVD release of the film, which saw it paired up with 1980’s The Attic, is long out of print and fetches upwards of $40 these days. So be sure to check it out before its instant status is revoked. Oh and you also might want to watch “Please Kill Mr. Kinski” afterwards, a nine minute little short documentary the director of Crawlspace made after Kinski‘s death as a sort of oddball tribute to the notoriously volatile actor. It can be watched in full over on YouTube.
AFRAID OF THE DARK
Imagine being completely blind and living in a city that is being stalked by a slasher who is targeting … blind people. This is the premise of Afraid of the Dark, a fascinating early ’90s export from Britain that sees a curious little boy taking it upon himself to investigate the attacks and ensure that the blind community in town, which includes his own mother, is kept safe. Unfortunately, that’s just about all I can say about the movie because it’s the kind of film that’s best to go into without knowing a lick about it. The whole movie basically shifts gears about halfway through and it’s a completely disorienting and thought provoking journey into the psyche of both children and blind people and to really comment much on it would spoil some of that mystique. What I will say though is that this film is a perfect example of why I love Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature so much. It exposes you to films you’ve never seen and oftentimes have never even heard of before, films that you probably either wouldn’t add to your queue or wouldn’t even know about to add to your queue, but ones that you will be more willing to delve into when they’re right there in front of you for the taking. Afraid of the Dark is one of those movies that I had never even heard a peep about before and I’m thankful to Netflix for introducing me to it. It is films like this one that make me a bona fied Stream Warrior, loud and proud!
UNK SEZ: Thanks for the excellent recommendations! Kinderkids, make sure you stop by JS‘s home base FREDDY IN SPACE very soon and very often! SQUIRES‘ enthusiasm for horror is pretty much unmatched so there’s NO chance you won’t enjoy yourself THERE!