Screams from the Crypt: Code Red Spotlight

Screams from the Crypt: Code Red Spotlight

I frequently pull from numerous distributers when compiling Screams from the Crypt - as these companies are the unsung heroes of bringing us those rare out of print titles that are usually overlooked by the major labels.

From what I could gather, Code Red was formed in 2006 by Bill Olsen. The California based company specializes in various exploitation, grindhouse, and horror films originally all being released on the DVD, and now on Blu-ray. No matter what the release, even if I haven't heard of it, Code Red is one of the only companies that I trust implicitly. I will blind buy without hesitation as I've never been let down by any title I've picked up, and most of these are a real trip to watch! 

Neon Maniacs
1986 d. Joseph Mangine

In the heart of San Francisco, the legions of the damned lay waiting beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. As night falls, they are unleashed upon the city to carve terror into the souls of the innocent. But when a young woman named Natalie (Leilani Sarelle) and a group of her friends are partying in the park, it becomes a slaughter! Natalie escapes but she cannot convince anyone that a rampaging army of psychotic monsters have mutilated her friends. Now haunted, hunted and having a hard time in high school, Natalie must arm herself and her classmates for one final bizarre battle against the horror of the Neon Maniacs!

This was my first Code Red purchase, the insane movie poster sold me immediately and I was not disappointed. This movie is a time capsule, pure 1980's. It has some cool creature design and even has a 1980's high school battle of the bands! This movie is pure 80's crazy pants and a fun time, best watched with a group of friends!

Messiah of Evil
1973 d. Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz

Husband and wife filmmaking duo Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (screenwriters for American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Howard The Duck) direct this obscure and often unseen 1973 horror film that is considered by many to be one of the first “nightmare films.” Characterized by surreal, dream-like sequences, obscure plots and unrelenting eeriness, this is slow burn, arthouse horror cinema that delivers dollops of dread and drips with atmosphere. An unsung classic of 70's horror, this unsettling little cinematic nightmare prime material for fans of H.P. Lovecraft.

Narrated by a woman confined to an insane asylum, Messiah of Evil opens with her giving a warning as she proceeds via flashback to relate how and why she came to be locked away. Arletty (Marianna Hill) travels up the California coast to an isolated seaside town in search of her artist father (Royal Dano) and teams up with a well-dressed hippie (Michael Greer) and his two groupies (Anitra Ford and Joy Bang) to unravel the cryptic diary she finds in her father's abandoned house. The walls are covered in bizarre paintings that blend '70s pop art with Edward Hopper-style imagery and the film soon becomes a nightmarish fever dream indistinguishable from said artwork. 

The quasi-surreal, one of a kind apocalyptic "mystery" contains two set pieces that are extremely unsettling, one in a supermarket and an insane movie theater scene! Also, special shout outs to old school actors Elisha Cook, Jr who plays the local town drunk, and Royal Dano as Arletty's father.

This thing just oozes dread. I mean oozes. A cross between Romero's Dead world taking place in the town from Carpenter's The Fog, all that by way of Carnival of Souls and Lucio Fulci's The Beyond.  As a matter of fact, I'd be curious to learn if Fulci had seen this movie at some point prior to shooting City of the Living Dead. In that film, those who become victims of the dead first bleed from the eyes. Interesting. All these elements produce in the viewer a constant feeling of uneasiness and insecurity that makes this movie captivating to watch! 

Big shout out to Bill aka 'Banana Man' at Code Red for putting out a great anniversary edition Blu-ray of Messiah of Evil. The restoration is superb and the disc can be found at along with other gems such as: 

-Just Before Dawn

-Cut-Throats Nine

-Devil Times Five

-House on the Edge of the Park

-Voices from Beyond

-The People Who Own the Dark

Code Red, we salute you!

Until next time, Stay Spooky!

Heading East: In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Heading East: In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Overlooked & Underseen: The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)

Overlooked & Underseen: The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)