Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grandmother, What Big Teeth You Have

First, the bad news:
There are no grandmothers to be found in Rabid Grannies. Nor is there rabies. Our two sweet nonagenarians do become monstercized, but as demons more akin to Anjelica Huston’s Grand High Witch and far removed from poor Old Yeller. Also, they’re aunts.

Now the good: Rabid Grannies is fun, plain and simple. Not a classic and 99% not frightening, but this Troma distributed Belgium horror does provide 90 minutes of gooey kills and occasionally clever jokes, all at the expense of a humorously unlikable extended family that the world could do well without.

Quick Plot: In a picturesque European village, two sweet and wealthy old ladies--one resembling a softer Elaine Stritch and the other a poor man’s Betty White--and their Chaucer-esque house staff prepare for their dual birthday party. Meanwhile, a vast collection of money grubbing nieces and nephews make their ways to the secluded mansion for the annual inheritance baiting kiss-up competition. We slog through a funny but definitely overlong 40 minute introduction to the nastiness of these would-be heirs, including a horny playboy, a fat dildo maker, a WMDs dealer with possible blood ties to Timothy Dalton, the world’s worst lesbian, a squirmy priest, and a few more characters in need of a good demon eating. The real horror would be meeting the family black sheep (because how much worse could it get?), but instead, the unseen disinherited Satanist sends a mysterious smoking box to his not-so-beloved aunties.

Finally, after one performance of Greensleeves and plenty of pointed squabbling, our senior citizenettes are transformed into man-hungry monsters with Deadite senses of humor. After a few quick kills, our characters find themselves separated into mixed groups, all the better to show their true, mostly cowardly colors. A few heroes/heroines emerge, but more importantly, the oilier folks die painful yet creative deaths, sometimes involving post-mortem blinking.

High Points
The initial transformation and first kill are, agreeable to the little boy’s assertion, “smashing!”

The fate of Belgium’s least loved priest comes in a funny yet surprisingly disturbing scene with a rewarding payoff

You just can’t go wrong when you toss a child’s limbs down a staircase

Low Points
The ridiculously simple seduction of the heroic lesbian by the smarmiest of sleazebags is just plain offensive

Lessons Learned
Having your hand chopped off is no big deal, since it will be immediately bandaged in an impossibly fast cut

Never inhale a gift from someone that hates you

Opera singers sober up quickly when pursued by elderly demons

WMDs have come a long way since 1988

I have a special nostalgia for Rabid Grannies, as I can recall the gleeful rental during my judge-a-film-by-its-title days of yore (okay, first, those days are far from over as witnessed by my queuing of The Sinful Dwarf and second, this phase is dangerous as witness to my less than stellar Gourmet Zombie Chef From Hell experience). Does it hold up? Yes, in that it’s just as much fun as I remember. Although this was distributed, and not produced by Troma, all the standards are there, including gratuitous nudity, colorful gore, and hit-or-miss jokes. Rabid Grannies won’t change your life, but it will give you something to smile about. The DVD is packed with extras (or so I hear, since I used the Netflix Watch Now service) so a well-priced release could easily warm your shelf with senior citizen scariness.

Not Stritch:



  1. Nice. I remember quite a few of those old Troma acquisitions. My favorite titles (and covers) were Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator and I Was A Teenage T.V. Terrorist. Rabid Grannies, I remember, like yourself Emily, was a fun one.

  2. Stuff Stephanie and Teenage TV Terrorist are new ones to me. Would you recommend them? I'm quite tempted by the titles.

    Troma's collection is pretty mixed, but you can usually count on some form of entertainment. Redneck Zombies was a big hit in my house growing up. I may try to revisit some of the other more obscure ones (like Luther the Geek) to see how they hold up nowadays.

  3. Stephanie is awful, but a great title and a great cover. I saw tv terrorist on USA's Up All Night, a very long time ago. I liked it when I was a kid and would have to revisit it. Take a look at their entries on the imdb--you can see the cover art (usually the best part).;) I'd love to hear you're review of Redneck Zombies, btw, a Troma classic.

  4. I'm bumping Redneck Zombies up on my queue. I hope it holds up after so many years and many many more movies since.

    Good to know about Stephanie, and I'll look into TV Terrorist.