You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...
'Horror House on Highway Five' - 1985, Directed by Richard Casey
This might be my new favorite slasher film. It's always nice to find something like this, that you might've otherwise overlooked due to a generic title. Suffice to say, this little movie is ANYTHING but generic.
I'm going to go ahead and say that this is a film made by musicians, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it's got a lot of music that you wouldn't normally hear in a horror film. Everything from dissonant cellos to instrumental surf rock to deranged psych-rock. It's also got a lot of bizarre humor atypical of films like this, and quite a bit of drug use. Not that musicians all use drugs or anything...but it is displayed very casually in the film. There are also a few political jokes throughout that seem as though they could've been made by punk rockers.
The plot is a little thin, but it doesn't even matter because so much is going on here. Some college students go off to get information on a mysterious WWII scientist who helped design the V2 rocket. He is a German expatriate, and is possibly (read: probably) a Nazi. I've never had a class where the professor instructs you the exact people to interview for a project, and the exact location to perform an experiment (which is apparently building a model V2 rocket??? Seems dangerous) but that's what happens here. Thinking back, maybe the professor was in on the whole thing?
Anyhow, our 'heroes' end up in the woods where a killer in a Nixon mask is terrorizing people. There is also the interviewee, an insane scientist, who lives with his simpleton helper. They drug some of the students and tie them up for some weird black magic ritual which is never performed. They also don't do a very good job.
This isn't a spoiler, because it's pretty obvious from the beginning, but the Nixon killer is the aforementioned rocket scientist who the kids are studying. This has absolutely NO outcome on the story, just like everything else that happens.
As I said before, it is a silly film, but it is knowingly silly, and the humor seems to be intentional. It is also very strange humor. For example:
Jock: 'My dad says that a college degree is just as important as a GED was in his time!'
Girlfriend: 'Tell your dad to eat s***!'
On top of all this, when the film tries to be frightening, it actually is. Some scenes are genuinely creepy, and I even jumped at one point, which is a rare occurrence these days. Basically, if you want to see 'Friday the 13th' done by a bunch of insane musicians, check this one out.
VHS photo by Toby Hudson.