Retro Film Report #42

The immense amount of downtime that comes with air travel provides an excellent opportunity to watch a butt-load of movies (if you're prepared, with flicks loaded on your laptop or tablet).  In this installment, I'll lay down my review of a couple I caught on the road: Hospital Massacre (1981) and Zombeavers (2014) as well as Roar (1981) which I was lucky enough to catch at the theater.

But before we hit the reviews, I'll mention that I also I watched all six episodes of Garth Marenghi's Dark Place (2004), a hilarious British parody of 80s horror TV. I simply cannot recommend this enough.  I also caught Death Screams (1982) and A Blade in the Dark (1983), both amazingly shitty, and I won't bother to review them here.

I also watched a couple docs.  The first,  Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013), a Mike Myers directed film about the manager of Alice Cooper and Teddy Pendergrass (among others). While Shep certainly crossed paths with an amazing amount of celebrities, and his life surely makes mine seem woefully uninteresting... it didn't knock my socks off, but still worth a look.  Also worth a look is Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded (2014), a doc about the insane explosion of violence as a result of the cocaine influx into Miami in the 1980s.

Anyway, on with a few reviews...

Roar (1981)

I say this with no sense of exaggeration or hyperbole: Roar is the most batshit crazy film I have ever seen.  It's enjoying a re-release (courtesy the Alamo Draft House) and I highly encourage you to check it out on the big screen while you can.

It stars Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith, Noel Marshall... and about 50 freaking lions. Watch as seemingly untamed large cats take down, maul and bloody cast members (supposedly 70 were injured - Melanie, herself, needing 50 stitches to the face).  This is the most irresponsible piece of filmmaking ever made - it's amazing no one died.  I know the Hedren clan actually had lions in their Hollywood home for 11 years, but this is another thing entirely.

It's all very harrowing and stressful, yet the audience and myself couldn't stop laughing throughout.  There's something hysterical about watching these actors trying to complete their lines, only to be completely beat down by a full grown lion.

You would think that watching silly humans being manhandled by lions would grow old, but it only gets better.  I think we're supposed to be taught a lesson in how humans can co-exist with our friends, the wild animals; however, the message is constantly sabotaged by lions mauling the living shit out of their human cohabitants.  A beautiful thing to behold - please check this one out.

Hospital Massacre (1981)

I remember seeing this VHS box all the time back in the 1980s, but for some reason never bothered to rent it.... which is a surprise considering it stars Barbi Benton.  I guess I'm glad I saved the four bucks (which was a significant expenditure in 1985), because this was a total dud.

Basically, Barbi goes into the hospital for a routine checkup and a crazed doctor fibs on her medical records, and the next thing you know she's considered a dangerous psychopath.  They've got her in shackles and the whole staff treats her like a raving maniac.

Such is the power of medical records.

Nothing against hospital based horror flicks: I happen to love Halloween II and Coma.  However, this just didn't have a compelling story, scares or any degree of suspense.  The routine of Barbi getting restrained and tranquilized (repeat) was a little tiring...

In fact, this could have easily qualified as an ABC Movie of the Week.  A title like "Misdiagnosed!" or "Cage Without a Key" would have worked well enough... a lot better than Hospital Massacre anyway, considering there is no massacre.

Not only no massacre, but basically no killing.  No gore, no scares, no profanity.... so, why wasn't this a TV movie?  Well, there's that infamous medical exam...

Yes, we get to see Barbi topless, but this scene is so bad, it's actually hilarious.  It goes on and on for a ridiculous amount of time.  The director obviously wanted to milk Barb's mammaries for all they were worth.  Unfortunately, what you get is a scene so gratuitous, it's laughable.  For a film that tries to play it straight, without an air of camp, this didn't quite fit.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed this scene back in 1985, but I'm also sure if I had rented this VHS back the, the tracking would have been all screwed up, and I wouldn't have been able to see it anyway.

(For those not in the know, VHS tapes got royally messed up in scenes that were spots of repeated pausing.)

Zombeavers (2014)

I don't normally review movies on Retrospace that go past the year 1990; but when things go old-school, I like to give them a nod.  Zombeavers is very much in the vein of the 1980s slasher mixed with a healthy dose of the "when nature attacks" phenomenon that was so popular in late seventies/early eighties cinema (ex. Piranha, Grizzly, Prophecy, Frogs, Slugs, Kingdom of the Spiders, Ants, etc.)

Since this is so new, I'll stay away from spoilers.  Basically, it involves three girls and their horny boyfriends having a good time in the backcountry... until Nature Attacks.  This time it's not rabid piranhas or a plague of ants, but rather zombiefied beavers.

(Above) The gang thought they'd killed the undead semi-aquatic mammal and laid it's mangled remains in a garbage bag on the porch. However, in the morning they notice it's no longer there.  Probably nothing to worry about, right?

They behave like typical idiotic, hormone driven, college-age retards throughout... and I loved it.  Watch almost any horror movie on Netflix Instant and you'll find similar characters, but they just don't have the mojo.  They're not funny, not interesting, and above all, they're intensely annoying.  This crew harkens back to the 1980s for their mojo, and I'd say they nail it.

Not to say this is a great movie by any stretch.  I'll just say it delivers the goods the way cheesy 80s horror flicks did: with a goodly amount of gore and T&A.   There's basically only one nude scene (just topless) and the gore is all pretty hokey, but it's all so much fun, you'll forgive them if they didn't go far enough.

Yes, there's a lot of beaver jokes, Yes, we've seen this all before.  Yes, it's incomprehensibly stupid.... and, yes, you will have a damn good time.  Let's face it, if you're clicking "play" on a movie called Zombeavers, you're not expecting Citizen Kane.  .You're expecting Boobs, Blood and Beavers, and I'm pleased to say that's exactly what you'll get.


  1. Oh yeah, Hospital Massacre. Did you talk about that one at some point in the past? I remember watching it a couple years ago maybe, on somebody's recommendation.

  2. I see yesterday "Hospital Massacre"...is a fantastic bluff; It is true the director extends the chase scene, surely you will not think of anything to complete the final. Barbi Benton it was in its glory, she deserved something better.