To kick start the new year in style, Justin Richards, Andrew Skeates and Bill Old ventured over to my home in Lincoln to enjoy/endure another one of our much-loved Weekends of Trash.

It was our 27th (recorded) weekend of horror, action sleaze and cheese, and we ploughed through an impressive 12 titles over a couple of days. For those new to Blueprint: Review’s Weekend of Trash tradition, previous write-ups can be found in the category archive.

As usual, I’ve done some brief reviews of all the movies watched and I’ve included clips and trailers when possible too.



Director: Allan Arkush, Nicholas Niciphor, Roger Corman (uncredited)
Screenplay: Nicholas Niciphor, Donald E. Stewart, Allan Arkush (uncredited), Frances Doel (story by)
Starring: David Carradine, Claudia Jennings, Richard Lynch, William Smithers, Will Walker, David McLean
Year: 1978
Country: USA

David Carradine in a loin cloth stars in this bafflingly dumb sci-fi/fantasy movie, produced by Roger Corman. Carradine and the scenery-chewing Richard Lynch are obsessed with each others’ character names. Their rivalry plays out against some weird class-based hokum centring around the titular event, which sees prisoners of the state fight it out to the death on motorbikes to gain their freedom. Most of the film is set after Carradine and the sexy Claudia Jennings escape the games though and go on the run with Lynch and his goons not far behind.

The stunts and pyrotechnics are impressive in this. Everything blows up spectacularly, often in slow-mo. Whenever anyone opens their mouth it’s less effective though. The actors take their terrible script far too seriously and there’s lots of weird spiritual stuff that is rather dull. It’s a fun watch overall though, particularly in the final act when it turns into all-out motorbike and swordfighting carnage.


The House of Lost Souls

Director: Umberto Lenzi
Screenplay: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Joseph Alan Johnson, Stefania Orsola Garello, Matteo Gazzolo, Laurentina Guidotti, Gianluigi Fogacci
Year: 1989
Country: Italy

The House of Lost Souls is a TV movie directed by Umberto Lenzi. It sees a group of young geologists (and one of their kid brothers for some reason) get stranded in Italy, forcing them to stay in what initially appears to be an abandoned hotel. After one woman in the party, who is psychic (or something), sees visions of murder surrounding the hotel, it kick-starts a chain of her friends getting knocked off, one by one.

This is a pretty generic haunted house film with some terrible dialogue (though this could be blamed on the dubbing). However, it’s very watchable and has some effectively surprising kills (stay away from washing machines kids). With it being a TV movie, it’s not as gloopily gory as some Italian horror movies but it’s bloody enough.


The AGFA Horror Trailer Show

To cap off Friday night, we thought we’d watch a few trailers but ended up watching the whole of The AGFA Horror Trailer Show. This near-80-minute compilation of obscure horror trailers was loads of fun, showcasing some weird and wonderful horror ‘classics’, with strange ads inserted in-between.

Whilst most of the trailers were fiendishly enjoyable, the one for Worm Eater was a step too far though. Demons, serial killers and vicious brain-eating monsters are fine but eating what looks like live worms… No thanks.

I also watched the bonus trailer reel on the disc, Videorage, by myself on Sunday evening. This focussed on low-budget shot-on-video titles, so had a strange, grubby and ultra-violent vibe all of its own.




Director: Adam MacDonald
Screenplay: Adam MacDonald
Starring: Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne, Romeo Carere
Year: 2017
Country: Canada

Pyewacket sees Nicole Muñoz play Leah, a teenager with a love of the occult. She has a shaky relationship with her mum (Laurie Holden), who is struggling to cope after the death of her husband. The last straw for Leah comes when her mum decides to move them both out to the sticks.

Furious at not being consulted about this big life change, Leah performs an occult ritual, summoning the Pyewacket to get rid of her mum for her.

After the mother and daughter come on better terms, however, Leah wishes to call off the ritual, but it isn’t as simple as that.

This was quite a surprise, being a far classier affair than we expected, and probably far too good for a ‘weekend of trash’. It’s very much a slow-burn horror, with minimal violence but plenty of atmosphere and a strong sense of unease.

It’s the story and characters that hold your interest though, bolstered by an excellent central performance by Muñoz. Film of the weekend for me.


The Reckoning

Director: Neil Marshall
Screenplay: Neil Marshall, Charlotte Kirk, Edward Evers-Swindell
Based on a story by: Edward Evers-Swindell, Antony Jones
Starring: Charlotte Kirk, Sean Pertwee, Steven Waddington, Joe Anderson, Suzanne Magowan
Year: 2020
Country: UK

Neil Marshall was a big name after the success of Dog Soldiers and The Descent but he fell off the radar a little after his follow-ups weren’t as universally praised. He moved into TV, working on several high-profile shows but has continued to make films, even if these haven’t received the same kind of attention as before.

It’s a shame, because if The Reckoning is anything to go by, he still knows how to craft a gripping and intense film.

The Reckoning is a period piece that sees Charlotte Kirk play Grace, a woman who loses her husband to the plague, leaving her and her newborn child alone on their farmstead.

Squire Pendleton (Steven Waddington) soon comes to collect their rent and, knowing she will struggle to pay, demands she covers the cost in other, less savoury ways. Grace refuses and fights him off, denting his pride.

In return, Pendleton spreads a malicious rumour that Grace is a witch in league with the devil. She’s promptly arrested and faces the wrath of the Witchfinder General, John Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee).

This is pretty grim and gruelling in places but, thankfully, the tables are turned somewhat towards the end. The performances are strong, particularly the loathsome villains played by Waddington and Pertwee, and the production design and cinematography whip up a wonderfully gothic atmosphere.


Action U.S.A.

Director: John Stewart
Screenplay: David Reskin, James Desmarais (additional material), John Stewart (story)
Starring: Barri Murphy, Gregory Scott Cummins, William Hubbard Knight, William Smith, Cameron Mitchell, Ross Hagen
Year: 1989
Country: USA

Action U.S.A. stars Barri Murphy as Carmen, a young woman whose boyfriend is murdered at the start of the film. She soon discovers her life is in danger too, as Frankie Navaro (Cameron Mitchell), the gangster who put out the hit on her boyfriend, thinks she might know where her boyfriend hid a large stash of diamonds that he wants his hands on.

Whilst more goons are sent to knock off Carmen, a pair of FBI agents (Gregory Scott Cummins and William Hubbard Knight) fight to keep her alive and find the diamonds themselves, to return them to the authorities.

I had high hopes for this, being a big fan of action movies and having heard good things. It delivered in many ways, having some great stunts and action sequences. However, it didn’t work very well overall. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I appreciated, and has fun characters and decent performances but there’s too much aimless banter and not enough story, so it drags in places. It’s a shame, because with a little script tweak it could have been a corker.


Highway to Hell

Director: Ate de Jong
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Chad Lowe, Patrick Bergin, Adam Storke, Kristy Swanson, Pamela Gidley, Jarrett Lennon, C.J. Graham, Richard Farnsworth
Year: 1991
Country: USA

Highway to Hell is a wacky caper that opens with the young couple Charlie (Chad Lowe) and Rachel (Kristy Swanson) running away to get eloped. However, after taking a back road to avoid the authorities, the pair happen upon a portal to hell and a ‘hell cop’ (C.J. Graham) takes Rachel through in his custody.

Charlie is forced to follow, to save his beloved, but Hell is a strange and disorientating place. The only person who seems to be of any help is Beezle (Patrick Bergin) but there’s something suspicious about how far he goes out of his way for Charlie, without asking for anything else in return.

I’ve got a soft spot for high-concept 80s/90s movies and this certainly fits the bill, being wonderfully off-the-wall from start to finish. I did find it rather messy and episodic though, so I didn’t always feel fully invested in the story and characters.

It’s very enjoyable overall though and it was fun to see the majority of the Stiller clan on screen, with a young Ben Stiller, his sister Amy, his dad Jerry and his mum Anne Meara all having cameos. Plus it has some pretty cool special effects, including a pair of literal handcuffs and a brief appearance from a stop-motion Cerberus.


The Hospital

Director: Tommy Golden, Daniel Emery Taylor
Screenplay: Jim O’Rear, Daniel Emery Taylor
Starring: Andrea Collins, Jim O’Rear, Daniel Emery Taylor, Jason Crowe, Jennifer Gibson, Amy Boyatt, John Dugan, April Monique Burril
Year: 2013
Country: USA

It was all going so well, until we stuck on The Hospital. This ultra-low-budget horror film sees a pair of sleazy filmmakers (Jim O’Rear and Jason Crowe) dupe young women into spending a few days in a reportedly haunted disused hospital, supposedly to make a documentary about the paranormal but really to get laid.

However, whilst there do appear to be some apparitions haunting the grounds, it’s the caretaker, Stanley (Daniel Emery Taylor), who everyone should be afraid of. He has a habit of abducting women and keeping them prisoner as sex slaves, whilst killing some that he can’t get what he wants from, as well as any men that get in his way.

As the film goes on, we learn he isn’t the only depraved and dangerous person in the party either.

I can forgive low-budget films for their technical shortcomings or their reliance on a less professional cast. However, The Hospital falls short far too often. More importantly, beyond its terrible writing, cinematography and performances, the film is just too unpleasant all around. It’s a grubby, rape-filled affair that surely only appeals to those who get off on seeing people get sexually abused.

It does have a wonderfully cheesy rap theme song though that explains the story. So there’s that…

Trailer (including the rap theme song):


Director: Joe Mari Avellana
Screenplay: Steve Rogers
Starring: Blake Bahner, Ronald William Lawrence, Gary Rooney, Roxanne Baird, Michael Vlastas, Paul Holmes
Year: 1988
Country: USA, Philippines

I won’t lie. I nodded off a lot during this, so can’t remember much of the story. Basically though, it starts with the millionaire Roderick Pendleton (Paul Holmes) hiring a bunch of mercenaries to find his son, who’s been missing in action after fighting in Vietnam.

This operation goes wrong and a former POW, who knew Pendleton’s son, is killed, along with the POW’s brother, Lee Stokes (Ronald William Lawrence), a cop who tried to help.

Lee’s partner in the police force, Brad Spyder (Blake Bahner), wants to find out what happened, so heads off to investigate.

As mentioned, I was drifting in and out of consciousness during this, but when I was awake I saw a lot of explosive action, which seemed pretty cool. I must revisit this when I’m more awake.


Bloody Birthday

Director: Ed Hunt
Screenplay: Ed Hunt, Barry Pearson
Starring: Lori Lethin, K.C. Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jayne, Andrew Freeman, Melinda Cordell, Julie Brown, Joe Penny, Bert Kramer
Year: 1981
Country: USA

Bloody Birthday was made among the early wave of slashers riding on the successes of Halloween and Friday the 13th. Like many others, it focuses its killings around a celebration but, this time, the killers are a group of young children rather than any masked, adult figure.

The three kids (played by Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jayne and Andrew Freeman), who are just turning 10 together, are unrelated but were all born during a solar eclipse. For some ridiculous reason (explained through astrology), this phenomenon has resulted in the trio having no conscience. As such, they have no qualms about killing anyone that gets on their bad side.

Thankfully, I had woken up by the time we put this film on, aided by a compelling, if rather daft, story. Having the kids be the villains adds a nice twist to the slasher formula, allowing the killers’ identities to be clear to the audience whilst making it plausible that the other characters wouldn’t predict it.

The kids are suitably creepy too and there are plenty of kills, some of which are fairly inventive. A good way to end the Saturday night then.



Quest for the Mighty Sword (a.k.a. Ator III, The Hobgoblin or Troll 3)

Director: Joe D’Amato
Screenplay: Joe D’Amato
Starring: Eric Allan Kramer, Margaret Lenzey, Donald O’Brien, Dina Morrone, Chris Murphy, Laura Gemser, Don Semeraro
Year: 1990
Country: Italy

Quest for the Mighty Sword is a sword and sorcery flick that sees an honourable king, Ator (Eric Allan Kramer), lose his life in protection of a magic sword from an evil God (Don Semeraro) who wants it back. His son is told to retrieve the sword when he comes of age, as well as to save the Goddess DeJanira (Margaret Lenzey), who tried to defend Ator’s claim to the sword but was trapped in a prison of flames for her troubles.

Once grown up (and still played by Eric Allan Kramer), Prince Ator sets about fulfilling his promises. This sees him pitched in combat against various creatures, sorcerers, a mad king and even a robot!

Make no mistake, this is low-budget trash, with recycled footage and sets (it even reuses the goblin mask from Troll 2!), laughably bad performances and even some flubbed line readings that are inexplicably kept in. However, I found myself enjoying every goofy minute of it.

Other than a lot of shots of people running, the film is relatively free of flab, with plenty of sword-swinging action, so you never get bored. Also, whilst some of the creature makeup is God-awful, the costumes, on the whole, are surprisingly good for the era and a whole lot of smoke and fire keep things suitably atmospheric.

Keep your expectations low and your brain switched off and you’re in for a good time with this.


The Halfway House

Director: Kenneth J. Hall
Screenplay: Kenneth J. Hall
Starring: Janet Tracy Keijser, Mary Woronov, Shawn Savage, Stephanie Leighs, Athena Demos, Monica Shere, Joseph Tatner, Michael Gaglio
Year: 2004
Country: USA

Our final film of the weekend was the Lovecraftian comedy horror The Halfway House. It opens with the abduction of a young woman who’s out jogging. Her sister, Larissa (Janet Tracy Keijser), goes to the police for help finding her. Inspector Hinds (Michael Gaglio) isn’t very supportive but Sgt. Dick Sheen (Shawn Savage) offers some off-the-record help.

Sheen believes a local halfway house for wayward young women might hold the key to Larissa’s sister’s disappearance, so Larissa goes undercover, posing as a troubled runaway, to find out more.

At the halfway house, she discovers its ‘in-house’ priest, Father Fogerty (Shawn Savage), is a sexual deviant and the nun in charge, Sister Cecelia (Mary Woronov) is a cruel taskmaster. The audience know there’s more to this than just evil religious figures though, as the victims are being fed to a mysterious monster deep in the cellar.

The Halfway House is filled with gratuitous nudity and sex, some of it rather eye-opening. However, it’s more than just cheap sexploitation. There’s a knowing, tongue-in-cheek sense of humour to it all that keeps things entertaining, alongside a game cast.

It’s well-paced too and has a cool monster that looked like it was done practically. With a splashing of gore on top of the aforementioned fan-service, you couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to the weekend.


About The Author

Editor of films and videos as well as of this site. On top of his passion for film, he also has a great love for music and his family.

2 Responses

  1. Andrew Beeken

    What a lovely selection of sleaze and cheese! Definitely adding The Reckoning and Halfway House to my watchlist – the latter is on Prime Video at the moment!


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