Brian Yuzna films and why they rule.
Just a few days ago I picked up the new Return Of The Living Dead blu-ray that's been part of this amazing retro series of films made by Vestron video. So far they have released such titles such as Chopping Mall, Chud II, the AMAZING Waxwork/Waxwork II Lost In Time, and Blood Diner. All of the releases have been packed full of amazing special features, and transferred into crystal clear HD. Having always loved the Return Of The Living Dead series I picked up part III wanting to finally see it uncut and in all it's glory once and for all. Return Of The Living Dead 3 was a movie I owned on VHS and watched as a child, always being blown away by how much darker this installment was compared to the silly and pretty awful part II. In my eyes this was the true sequel to the classic punk rock original and scored even more points in my eyes for featuring some truly epic work by my favorite effects artist Steve Johnson. This was one of the many truly underrated horror films from the 90's. I often disagree when people say the 90's were the death of horror until Scream. Sure there were some pretty terrible movies made during that time, but that does for every decade. I feel so many people were still riding high on the slasher and splatter boom of the 80's that the transition into the 90's was dark. But honestly think about how many great movies came out during the earlier side of the 90's...
Popcorn, When A Stranger Calls Back, Amityville 1992 It's About Time, Amityville The New Generation, Phantasm III, Psychic, Hellraiser III, Nightbreed, Spontaneous Combustion, Child's Play II,Waxwork II Lost In Time, Warlock II, Jason Goes To Hell, To Die For II, Army Of Darkness, and many, many more. Sure they weren't masterpieces but still fun movies that often get over looked. One director at this time was cranking out movie after movie and truly had an eye for the strange and unusual. This man's name is Brian Yuzna.
Thanks to him Return Of The Living Dead III got some new life breathed into it, as well as showing a bizarre world that truly only an artist could create.
Beginning with producing, he worked on the cult classic Re-Animator and From Beyond. Working on other productions like Warlock and Dolls, he finally got his chance to direct but made a two film deal when offered Bride of Re-Animator. Worried he wouldn't get hired again, he agreed to make the sequel to the 1984 classic as long as he could make his own film Society first.
Filmed in 88/89 Society was a film I must admit I used to get mixed up with because of it's poster. I always mixed up Waxwork and Society together (...) Still, besides buying a bootleg of it I never really remembered this movie besides seeing the cover a few times as a kid at the video store. It wasn't until Arrow Video (one of the best blu-ray companies around) released an EPIC US release PACKED full of special features, and transferred into by far the clearest HD I've ever seen. In fact the reason I even ended up buying it was because my tattoo artist Shane Murphy told me about how clear it looked and how perfect the sound was. About two years ago I jumped at the chance to get it and instantly fell in love with the packaging as well as the killer comic sequel that came with it. Once I re-watched it tons of memories came flooding back. I had rented this movie as a kid and I did love it. Society was the perfect movie for the late 1980's. It really is a study on social class at the time as well as the inner battle of becoming something you don't want to be. This is a movie I wish I had remembered back in college because I could honestly spend days writing about it picking it about. It's rare you get a solid script with decent writing as well as having a strong director. This movie being a freshmen effort doesn't show at all. Yuzna made the smart movie with insisting this was his first movie. Due to his work with Gordon it shows how strong of a filmmaker he is, and what a strange sick fairytale he's stilling. Yet again, we have a male lead (which I love) Billy Warlock did a great job even though a girl can dream it could have been Zach Galligan or Damon Martin.) Here we watch him living as a rich teen in Beverly Hills yet always feeling he doesn't quite fit in with his family. I will agree the movie starts as a slow burn but has some great moments such as the backwards image of the sister in the shower, or the images of the slugs and skin pulsing. This is total body horror which I've always loved. I love seeing the late 80's where teens were in the Less Than Zero era. They were on the debate team, had grand scale parties, and did enough coke to fill the North Pole. Here we show a very unsettling tension beginning to build as Bill starts to suspect something is going on with his family and the higher class people in his neighborhood. This movie the best way to explain is a sleek, sexy gothic take on Beverly Hills at the end of this decade. When the last act takes place this is when we go completely balls out. Society is in my top ten favorite horror movies of all time, and the last fifteen minuets is why. After all this build up, the payoff is AMAZING. Thanks to a team of very talented effects artists all led by Screaming Mad George (besides Johnson and the fellas of KNB I feel he was one of the best makeup guys of the 80's/) we get some of the best and grossest effects shown on screen. With little to no blood, we get to see some of the best creatures and effects shown in this decade. It's an orgy of flesh, melting, and monsters and it's truly beautiful. Society's payoff is by far one of the greatest and a movie I show people whenever they want to see great old school effects that still hold up today.
Next we had Bride of Re-Animator. This is one of the Yuzna movies I do need to re-visit since it's been years since I've seen it. I always enjoyed the Re-Animator movies but I've never been a super fan like so many other horror fans. From what I do remember this sequel is just as good as the original continuing the storyline from the first bringing back the two main characters and featuring some truly gross and amazing creatures and effects. That's what I love about Brian's movie, they are effects movies. Taking a page from the classic Universal movies, we get Bride where they are attempting on making the lead's dead girlfriend by taking pieces of different dead women and putting her heart in last. I remember this is a very gory movie, and yet again in classic fashion has a great payoff. It's wonderful to see women monsters and I hate to admit this but I love the third movie as terrible as it is so as a trilogy this is one of the stronger points in the sequels. I'm surprised Yuzna never directed a Puppet Master movie, or Warlock movie. Those seem right up his alley...
We then got the very oddball sequel Silent Night Deadly Night 4 Initiation. I've been a sucker for this movies (even part II) and I sorta like how they pulled a Halloween III and went away from the Killer Santa storyline and Brian made this strange twisted movie about a crazy cult trying to bring back a dead goddess. The movie is beyond whacky, featuring spontaneous combustion, more Screaming Mad George effects (loved all the bug effects as well as the lead's fingers twisting!) This movie makes little to no sense, and really doesn't feel like a Christmas movie. Sure it takes place during that time and we see decorations, but maybe the LA setting did that. Still, I had owned this movie for YEARS and it finally took me until last year to buy on this cool 3 disc set to watch. I ended up LOVING it. Exhausted and more than a little hungover from yesterday I put up my decorations and are making this a tradition on watching the oddball sequels every black Friday now. Between the cool opening credits, the beautiful lead, Clint Howard sex, and great effects this is a fun twisted movie that feels like a Yuzna holiday movie. Yuzna also produced part 5 The Toy Maker that I discovered years ago and actually really love. I'll be posting more about this gem as as the holiday season continues. This movie again is a strange and very unusual take on a holiday tale, this time with killer toys attacking people. We get a great scene of a kid on roller-skates who completely eats shit, and a robot that dry humps the lead. (I'm not kidding) Goes to show you what kind of person I am that I enjoy these types of movies...
Brian then directed the third installment of Return Of The Living Dead which breathed life into the series after the terrible part II. Return's main shinning moment was having such amazing practical effects as well as showing a very twisted and tragic love story. If you ever wanted to see a romance by Yuzna this is it. The movie shows that the government still are trying to figure out what to do with the toxin gas as well as the zombies that you can't destroy after they are brought back to life. Tragically a teenage boy who's father works on this top secret project witnesses some of the terrible experiments with his girlfriend. After an accident claims the life of his girlfriend, completely driven by grief he uses the gas to bring his girlfriend back to life. Here we see how the girl discovers that the only way to drive the horrible hunger away that she now craves is to hurt herself. Here we see Steve Johnson's wonderful creation of Julie, who's the movie's star and is front row and center on the cover. I feel making the lead character a movie, unable to stop this horrible hunger is a perfect reflection of a junkie or someone who self harms. Here she slowly becomes worse and worse as her boyfriend becomes over his head trying to protect her.
Brian continued working in movies such as The Dentist and The Dentist 2, Progeny, and Beyond The Re-Animator. (My mind was blown that he worked on the Honey I shrunk the kids/blew up the kid films) and is still cranking out his movies and is always a friendly face whenever he's at a convention. With more and more of his classic movies from the 80's and 90's being released on blu-ray it goes to show this man has lasting power even if the movies at the time didn't get the respect they deserved. I plan on watching Yuzna movies all through the holiday season and urge more and more people to check out his work!!!
Thank you Brain!