If there is one 80s film that really caught a gorehounds attention from looking at all the MPAA censored shots in magazines like Gorezone, it would be the James Issac / David Blyth film THE HORROR SHOW. And when you can see it uncut, as the German unauthorized release I watched is, what you get is a supremely fun showdown of some iconic presences, effects by KNB and an embracing of the whole “Elm Street” cycle that manages to be gritter than most Freddy offerings. Plus, Brion James vs. Lance Henrikson is just perfect. They could shoot My Dinner With Andre and cast those two in 1989 and have a hit.
Max Jenke (James) loves his meatcleaver, and on his way to the electric chair he requests to be buried with it! Detective Lucas McCarthy (Henrikson) put the crazy serial killer on Death Row and is haunted by the incredible carnage of the night he captured the madman. He can’t stop dreaming about the scene, and those dreams are all bent up in classic Kruegerisms as well. But after the Death Sentence goes haywire and a bursting and popping Brion James swears vengeance against the cop amidst yelling UP THE VOLTAGE ASSHOLE!! at his executioner. Well, Jenke has a post grave plan.
Now we go to Elm Street, but the pacing is so fast and the stars so entertaining that it outdoes most all of them! Jenke uses electricity to Shocker his way around and become a ghost that can kill all those important to Lucas, and manages to frame him along the way. But, will the psuedoscience guy that shows up to explain this think he is going to see the end credits?? Nah…but who cares. What we have is a psycho turkey with a tiny Brion James head battling head to head with Lance Henrikson that acts so intense that it looks like his head is going to turn inside out–DEATHMATCH style!
While the plot is a bit shopworn, but who cares? The characters are clearly defined and it must have been a fun day at casting to see James and Henrikson arguing who was going to play the psycho and who would play the cop. These two could have swapped and made a different, yet interesting, film as well. The only thing I can say about the multiple directors is that I like both. Blyth was fired early on, but DEATH WARMED UP is a favorite of mine! Isaac directed Jason X, so that gives him some massive splat-cred with me. AND the music is by Harry Manfredini! You have to see it uncut to enjoy it fully, the German edition is very well done and it becomes obvious where the edits are made. This film was cut A TON, and without all that extra splat it would lose a few steps. The opening sequence is gore loaded and paced incredibly well.
And..there is a European Trash Cinema connection! Mac Ahlberg of Flossie and Justine och Juliette (????) is the cinematographer and he does a great job at pulling the most from the locations and sets. Spooky boiler room? CHECK! Power Plant with lots of generic stairs? CHECK! Looking cool regardless? CHECK!
Any horror fan that loves 80s films should revisit this one!