One of my favorite trends in movies of the late 80s & early 90s was to poke fun at the super successful (and at times super ludicrous) FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise. Case in point, I was watching Chuck Russell’s excellent and vastly underrated 1988 remake of THE BLOB last night, and there’s a moment when two of the kid characters are in a theater watching a hockey-masked mad man trim hedges while spying on a couple making out. The oblivious male of the lovebirds says, “I thought hockey season ended months ago!”
This scene gave me a chuckle. But it got me thinking about other movies that have used similar tactics, not just with the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise spoof idea, but just movies within movies. I’m going to enlighten you with a few I’ve caught from some of my favorite films, but let’s be honest… once you see these titles, tell me you wouldn’t want to see these movies immediately, as an Arrow or Scream Factory special edition Blu-Ray! Here we go…
GARDEN TOOL MASSACRE (From THE BLOB 88)
As I mentioned above, the movie that inspired this whole piece was last night’s viewing of THE BLOB! The two kids in the film sneak off from a sleepover to instead catch this “slasher” flick featuring a hockey masked maniac that uses garden tools as his weapons of choice. Sadly, we only get a glimpse of one brief scene from the film within the film before the Blob attacks, but man, doesn’t GARDEN TOOL MASSACRE sound like something that should exist?
GROUNDHOG DAY PART 12 (From THE MONSTER SQUAD)
Another very Jason-esque killer appears in the movie that Monster Squad leader Sean wants to see called GROUNDHOG DAY PART 12! He begs his dad to let him see it on opening night, otherwise his friends will spoil the entire plot for him by Saturday.
Det. Del Crenshaw: [about the killer in the 12th Groundhog Day movie] I thought they killed him in the last one.
Sean: They did, he returns from the grave.
Det. Del Crenshaw: He always returns from the grave. If they blew him up, put his head in a blender and mailed the rest of him to Norway, he would still return from the grave!
Sean: That was part 7.
CHAINSAW DATE On A Double-Bill With HEMORRHOIDS FROM HELL (From ONE CRAZY SUMMER)
This one’s just fun. I love Savage Steve Holland. And most of us that grew up in the 80s have a soft spot for his two John Cusack flicks BETTER OFF DEAD and ONE CRAZY SUMMER. The more and more I watch them both, the more fun tidbits I find in them. (For example, did you know HALLOWEEN II director Rick Rosenthal has a cameo in BETTER OFF DEAD?!) At one point Hoops McCann (Cusack) is on a drive-in date with Cookie, who already has a boyfriend named Teddy, who also happens to be the town bully/douche. So, when they catch the double feature of CHAINSAW DATE and HEMORRHOIDS FROM HELL, Hoops is even more on edge when the killer on screen is threatening his victim because, “you touched my girlfriend!”
Fun side-note: it was actually star Bobcat Goldthwait who directed the “CHAINSAW DATE” scenes that appear on the big screen within the movie!
CHUBBY RAIN (From BOWFINGER)
One of my favorite movies about making movies has to be the Steve Martin / Eddie Murphy comedy BOWFINGER! In it, Martin plays Bobby Bowfinger, a down-on-his-luck filmmaker that just hasn’t quite gotten his break in show business yet. He comes across Afrim’s script for the horror/sci-fi epic CHUBBY RAIN and decides this is the one. This is the one that’s going to make him and his friends break big. When they can’t get mega-star Kit Ramsey (Murphy) to star in their film, they decide to make it anyway while following him around town. Basically, it all boils down to the final shot and line of dialogue when Kit’s character looks up at the invading aliens and says, “Got you, suckers!” Sure enough, by the time it’s premiere night, it’s magical. I want CHUBBY RAIN to exist so, so badly.
Triple Feature! MOSQUITO, ATTACK OF THE AMAZING ELECTRIFIED MAN, THE STENCH (From POPCORN)
Here’re three for the price of one! In the 1991 cult favorite “slasher” POPCORN, a group of college students plan an all night horror film festival! Taking a page from the William Castle school of schlock, they decide to pick three features with interactive elements. Sure, one of the group turns out to be a killer with ulterior motives, but hell, had that not happened, this would’ve been a pretty killer night at the movies! Up first, MOSQUITO!
Although Mark Herrier was brought on to direct the majority of POPCORN, the original director was Alan Ormsby. Ormsby did in fact direct all the footage for the movies within the movie. So, although he’s uncredited in the final product, these are his contributions. The first being a tribute to the atomic age giant insect horror films.
Second is ATTACK OF THE AMAZING ELECTRIFIED MAN, a movie about science gone wrong when the execution of Bruce Glover transforms him into a Horrace Pinker-style “shocker” monster! Pretty goofy, but fun.
Last but not least is the Japanese flick THE STENCH, where nose pluggers are handed out to the audience so they don’t have to smell the horrific odors unleashed by this fine feature film.
And of course, there’s a short film titled POSSESSOR, but it’s not technically part of the triple feature, so it’ll get a notable mention here instead.
ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES (From MORGAN STEWART’S COMING HOME)
I’ve talked about MORGAN STEWART’S COMING HOME quite a lot over the years, and on this site as well. It’s one of my favorite of the late 80s comedies, and definitely the best character Jon Cryer has played! (Take that, Duckie!) In it, he plays horror-obsessed Morgan Stewart, who has been in boarding schools for the majority of his young life. But alas, his parents suddenly have a change of heart and bring him back home to live with them in Washington. It turns out that bringing Morgan home is all part of their political campaign to “vote for the family” rather than a genuine family reunion. But his one bright spot in all the drama is meeting Emily (“Call me Em like in Dial M For Murder”) while waiting in line at the mall to get George Romero’s autograph. Sparks fly. Nerdom ensues. And on their first date night, they catch a late night screening of ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!
Wait… this is a real movie?! And it’s got a sequel?!
Well, of course, I knew that. But I actually didn’t at the time when I first discovered MORGAN STEWART! This is the film that introduced me to the KILLER TOMATOES, and more importantly RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, which for my money is one of the most fun horror/comedy sequels ever. Plus, it’s got George Clooney in it. Tip of the hat to you, Morgan and Em. Here’s one movie within a movie that I can actually see!
Any other ones I missed? Let me know in the comments below!