Archive for October, 2016

Fright Night 2 (1988)

October 31, 2016

For a couple of years running, I have participated in a good friend’s family tradition. Three years in a row, I have watched the original Fright Night at their house. The movie is cheesy as heck but it really is a near perfect, extremely nostalgic horror movie. It pays tribute to the time-honored tradition of horror hosts. It also gave us another reason to love to hate Chris “Prince Humperdinck” Sarandon. It had every box checked off on the checklist of Eighties horror adventure movies. It is a close cousin to The Monster Squad but is a little more adult. I have the advantage of seeing the movie a few times but I have yet to see the sequel. I have seen the remake (but also not the sequel to the remake). I suppose it is time to fix that.

They say there is bliss in ignorance and while this may be true, there is also safety in ignorance. If you do not know about the monsters then you have no inclination to get between them and their prey. More importantly, if you know about the monsters, then they probably know about you. This is not good for your long-term health and happiness. It is better not to know but when you know, there is a moral duty to act. Those who stand idly by and let the monsters have their meal are doomed to regret it for the rest of their life. The rest of their life is probably going to be short because they are probably the next meal. However, when there is a moral duty to act against supernatural creatures, you are going to have a bad time. So let us talk about Peter and Charley’s bad time.

The movie starts approximately three years after the events of Fright Night. Obviously, nobody believed Peter Vincent or Charley Brewster about the incidents surrounding Jerry Dandridge. Supposedly, Amy is languishing in some insane asylum somewhere. We are deep in the Eighties still and deep in time of horror hosts and strange fashions. I really like the setup for this movie because it deals with what happens after the hero’s big epic adventure. It also doubles down on the original movie’s premise which every good sequel does. Brad Fiedel is the composer of all of the incidental music and the score and he did a great job. His iconic synth and guitar riffs are so memorable just like in the first film. Once again the makeup and practical effects are great in the tradition of the first movie and other iconic Eighties horror movies. The lighting and set decoration are on point again as well. It did feel like there was a little too much dry ice in this one which is saying a lot considering the original.

William Ragdale plays Charley again and he is once again both relatable and kind of a dick. He is your typical teenage boy who is a little too much in his own head and up his own ass but now he also has trauma from vampires. Peter Vincent is still the foremost member of his own fan club. Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent was kind of the heart and soul of the first movie along with Chris Sarandon so it was great to see him return. In the end, there should have been more Peter and less Charley in this movie. Tracy Lind plays Alex who is a much more proactive female lead whereas Amy spent a lot of time just whining. The new vampires are intriguing and definitely as Eighties as Jerry Dandridge was. Julie Carmen as Regine is particularly charming and fun. I also have to give a shout out to the unique look and understated acting of Brian Thompson as Bozworth as well.

Overall, it was a pretty good sequel of a movie that is very iconic in my mind. It is not as well-paced as the original but that was a hard act to follow. This movie walks some of the same paths that the original movie but it also explores some new territory as well. We see the vampires pulling a lot of new tricks but also a lot of Jerry’s tricks as well. It also includes the unforgettable vampire bowling scene. There was one particular plot point that impressed me heartily but I cannot spoil it for you. It was a good attempt but it was probably a good thing that this movie ended the franchise (until the remakes). This one would be interesting to fans of the original but that morbid curiosity does not extend to people who did not see the original. For that reason, I cannot recommend it although I did enjoy it.

The Hunger (1983)

October 31, 2016

We lost David Bowie this year. Bowie was a magical, mystical being of light, shadow and music even without being on film. Putting him in movies as a natural move that, among other things, gave us the Goblin King who was the anti-hero of The Labyrinth. He released an album the day after he died. He was obviously a well-loved demigod and, like many other people, I wanted to pay tribute to him. Now, when the wound is no longer fresh, I wanted to watch one of his most famous horror roles. I think we all kind of thought that David Bowie was an immortal beauty anyway. Besides, this is another movie that it is probably hard to believe I have not seen. The Hunger is a cult film although some of its stars are not too keen on it. Even David Bowie loves it but thinks it might be too bloody.

David Bowie’s contemporary and collaborator Freddie Mercury once sang “Who wants to live forever?” Of course, most of us would raise our hand before we hear the rest of the deal out. Eternal life is attractive when we all fear death but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Vampirism often comes with a dramatic loss of quality of life. When you have to hunt for sentient beings in order to obtain your next meal, your social standing and sanity come into question. There is also a burden of secrecy along with that eternal life. Also, there is no promise of a good and happy eternal life. It is definitely a deal that would give me pause but it is hard to accept.

This movie was immediately more punk rock and new wave than pretty much anything I reviewed this month. I mean we start with the song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” as sung by Bauhaus in the middle of a club atmosphere. There are plenty of sunglasses and spiky hair and I dig it. This is a sexier vampire movie but is way trippier than most stuff I have seen. The beginning felt kind of like a music video but it definitely set the tone for what I was about to see. There are a lot of fast edits and artsy shots used in the film that ends up being very disorienting which is not a bad thing for a horror film. They definitely knew how to set a tone in this movie. I guess if I had to apply a label to this movie it would probably be New Wave Goth.

Bowie is on point in this movie. He is great as a brooding vampire which is not far from what we all thought he might be. Bowie is just an impossibly charming performer who had an iconic look and it is impossible to look at anybody else when he is on the screen. Catherine Deneuve plays Bowie’s vampire paramour but she is actually more of a main character than he is. She is stunningly beautiful and she has such an alluring voice to go with some amazing eyes. I certainly believed that she was a powerful, ageless vampire. They both also really successfully portray how bored vampires must be after centuries of life. Susan Sarandon plays a human doctor who gets wrapped up in a relationship with both vampires. She plays her part straight and is actually the most fascinating character to me because she is the outsider among outsiders.

Overall this is a really weird vampire movie. Most vampire movies follow a victim trying to protect themselves from a vampire attack but this movie is different. This follows the lives of the vampires just as much and maybe more than the humans. It is definitely intended as a more erotic film but most of that is more implied than explicitly shown. The camera lovingly lingers on details in a very beautiful yet creepy way. The makeup effects are very well done and they use a very Jaws method of hiding the monster when it comes to vampires in this movie. I also have to applaud the LGBTQ and addiction issues brought up in the movie as well. It is definitely something different from a lot of what I watch but I still recommend it because it is so different.

Night Watch (2004)

October 31, 2016

The Other can be a frightening concept. As I have discussed before, The Other is anything that is not us. In this movie, “The Other” is anything beyond our normal natural world. This is even more frightening because it comes from a world of secrets and the unknown. Generally, ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds violence and hate. Not knowing what was out in the darkness and why bad things happened gave birth to folktales and religion. Both have their bogeymen who we are told we should fear and perform rituals to protect ourselves from what goes bump in the night. We also are told often to embrace a duality and are told that picking a side will protect us and empower us. However, in the old tales often neither side was really the good guys. If you look at most material covering faeries, both courts are to be marveled at but also feared. Looking at things as Light and Dark without seeing the Gray is dangerous. However, the great thing about fiction is that they can often simplify things so that evil is evil and good is good.

I have been thinking about what makes a monster in these tales of supernatural horror. Do we do bad things because we are a monster or are we a monster because we do bad things? Freddy Krueger was a horrible human being even before he became a dream demon. However, in the Buffyverse, the very act of becoming a vampire removes the soul and usually turns a person evil. Our justice system says that we are innocent until proven guilty. Religion says that it is our actions that define us and not our thoughts. So if you are a vampire who refuses to feed on humans, are you a monster? I think not. However, just watching and experiencing the misdeeds of others can be enough to darken the soul. Police officers and military are often as irreparably changed as gang members and other violent criminals. Hunting vampires can be almost as troubling as being one.

We have yet another foreign horror movie which makes it the sixth of sixteen reviews this year. This one is Russian and might just be the first pure Russian movie I have watched outside of a certain Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. Yet again, this means that I have no preconceived notions about any of the actors in this movie. The movie stars Konstantin Khabensky as Anton, a man who basically tracks monster criminals on behalf of the Light side. I like how Anton is not perfect and his journey on behalf of the Light is plagued by the temptation of evil. He is a great example of the reluctant hero. I like to think that even when pressed, we are all the reluctant hero. Nobody gets supernatural abilities and suddenly leaps up excited to risk their life. Anton and everybody he meets is  hardened by life outside the norm where things are more dangerous.

I really liked the visuals in this movie. Everything is bleak from the very beginning of the movie. The world is full of shadows and muted colors and light is almost a godsend. Even in sunlight, everything is just dark and dangerous looking. It makes light and splashes of color a very welcome contrast. I really love the digital effects of the supernatural world. I especially loved how various vampiric powers and abilities are depicted. For example, vampiric vision makes everything but the veins of a human body invisible, making it easier to feed. There is also some great drawn animation which makes some of the exposition easier to get through. The editing is smooth and keeps the movie clipping along at a pretty good pace. The action is easy to understand and the subtitles made the Russian language clear.

Overall this is a pretty good horror adventure movie. The depiction of the supernatural world just beyond our natural one is one of the most interesting examples I have seen in pop culture. The movie was the top grossing film in Russian history when it was released but the record has since been topped. It is also one of the first Russian blockbusters after the fall of Soviet cinema and is therefore automatically a success. The movie has some great ideas but I would say its only sin is that it is too long. It incorporates two plots that do not ever fully connect. However, I feel like the world building and character work mostly make up for this. I would recommend watching this movie because it is so different in how it depicts the creepier side of things.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Other Media

October 29, 2016

I was wondering what to do with this last Saturday before Halloween. I know I wanted to do a WILPW segment because I have not done one in a while. I was wondering what would be a good topic so I sat and had myself a think. I mean, I have already written a post about the Undertaker and another one about spooky performers or gimmicks. I thought about doing a segment on vampire wrestlers to match up with Monday’s theme but there are really only four or five of them. Maybe I will let that one simmer a bit longer and come back to it next year. Instead, let’s talk about Beyond The Mat and representation of sports entertainment in other media. By Beyond the Mat, I mean the episode of Supernatural and not the well-known documentary that led to a career resurgence for Mick Foley. This is going to be more spoiler-y than most of my reviews because I feel like it.


Shawn Harley vs. “The Hangman” Larry Lee

We start off immediately with a shot of Mike “The Miz” Mizanin before his most recent white hot Intercontinental title run. Of course, Miz was not playing himself or his WWE character. He played “Lightning” Shawn Harley, a rookie in the Top Notch Wrestling promotion. His character struck me as kind of Dolph Ziggler mixed with pre-sober Shawn Michaels. He is a young, promising talent who is a bit of an asshole backstage. The Miz has been on fire this year and this episode definitely has a bit of that Miz magic. I can think of few other performers suited to be ambassadors on the level that he has been. Plus, every single opportunity he gets in Hollywood just feeds his gimmick. The bigger his gimmick’s ego gets, the more of a treat he is for fans.


The Hangman’s unprofessional attitude pisses off Harley.

Anyway, the Winchester brothers are pulled into investigating Top Notch Wrestling when bodies start turning at each stop of their tour. At first, we are led to believe that it is Miz who is killing people. However, we know that he would just get Maryse to do it. The Miz faces an unprofessional oldtimer named The Hangman who gets hanged after their match. The brothers decide to attend the funeral to honor their dad. It turns out the Winchesters are huge marks for Top Notch Wrestling. Their father, John, used to bring them to shows when the three of them were not otherwise busy killing monsters. It really is a shame that none of this was mentioned in the previous ten and a half seasons. Even a shot or two of Dean watching an old wrestling tape in the Bunker would have been cool. Still, it’s cool that the brothers enjoyed sports entertainment.


Gunner Lawless makes his way to the ring.

The two have not really kept up with the product but Dean’s hero is an oldtimer named Gunner Lawless. Gunner is kind of a mix between Kevin Nash and The Undertaker and is played by a good stunt man. Anyway, the bodies that have been found have a symbol carved into them that indicate the soul has been stolen. Soul stealing was kind of a running theme in Season 11 so the boys are wary but think it is a demon. It has to be connected with one of the wrestlers on tour. Though if this was ECW, I would suspect Sign Guy. Cane Dewey? That monster!

The original Cane Dewey promo for those who are uninformed.

At one point, Shawn Harley spots Gunner meeting backstage with a suspicious man and overhears this man reminding Gunner what he owes him before giving him a packet of some kind. It looks like a steroid drug deal so Harley calls him out on it in front of the rest of the roster in the dressing room. Steroids used to be a rampant problem in the industry and, if you pay attention to headlines, they are still a problem. It was nice to see it addressed even if it was a little clumsy.


The crossroads demon himself.

However, we find out that Gunner has not been using steroids. He has gotten his longevity in the business from a deal with a crossroads demon. Crossroad demons have been part of the show since the first season. IT was nice to revisit the whole “deal with a devil” bit from way back when. When Harley (The Miz) gets too close to figuring out the truth, the demon urges Gunner to kill him. We get a great scene where Miz is begging for his life while tied to a chair. Gunner kills him anyway and we will never know if “Lightning” Shawn Harley would have won the belt. Dean and Sam burst onto the scene and are almost taken out by the Crossroads demon. At the last moment, Gunner pulls a face turn and takes the demon out. As the Hell hounds close in, looking for Gunner, he decides to take his punishment and turns down Dean’s offer of assistance.


The Winchester Brothers taking in a live show.

I really liked the plot of this episode. Finding out about normal things that John Winchester did with his boys is always great. Those kids had a hard childhood and knowing they had fake heroes similar to the ones I had is a great thing. In fact, at one point Dean gets a chance to play around in a ring. He takes a moment to strut and Wooo! like the Nature Boy and does a quick Macho Man impression as well. I do not know if Jensen Ackles is or was a wrestling fan but it was believable. In addition, Dean’s FBI alias for the episode is Agent Roussimoff which was Andre the Giant’s real last name. These details were really appreciated.

Woooooooo!

It is also neat to see the southern mythology of the crossroads demon mixed with a form of entertainment that draws a lot of its roots from the American south as well. It was also interesting to see the juxtaposition of the world of pro-wrestling and what the Winchesters do on a daily basis. Sports Entertainment, as we have discussed, has kayfabe which is the “fakeness” of the business. At the same time, Sam and Dean fight and kill things that everybody knows are fake but are actually real. I felt the whole mix of “fake” and real stuff very interesting.

Phantasm: Ravager (2016)

October 28, 2016

I vividly remember when I saw Phantasm II. I used to hang out with a theater group called Mobtown Players (they still exist). On my birthday, they were going to take me to Bengies Drive-in Theater to see something but it was closed. As we have discussed, my birthday is in December when a lot of fun things are closed either for it being cold or because it is close to the holidays. As a plan B, we went to the now defunct Blockbuster Video and it was suggested we get Phantasm II. I was dubious because I had not heard of the franchise but I relented because I trusted my friends. So, I sat down with a bunch of people twice my age to watch a horror movie I had never heard of. I had also not seen the first movie and I still have not. I was thoroughly creeped out and spooked and thankful for a good birthday suggestion. In the tradition of watching these movies out of order, let us watch the last one now. (By ‘us’ I mean me and maybe you later after you have read this paragraph)

The series has a lot to do with funeral homes and dealing with the dead. The main villain is early on posing as a funeral director after all. Funeral homes scare the crap out of me. They represent real death to me instead of Halloween or Hollywood death. Real death is maddeningly scary. The final curtain and its reminders are something that nobody really wants to think about for long. Funeral homes are quiet and funeral home directors are suspect. I am sure that most of them are fine human beings but they deal with the dead all the time and I feel like I do not want to know them. Dead bodies are creepy too. The fact that we dress them up and put makeup on them is kind of weird when you think about it too much. I can deal with a funeral but a wake fills me with despair and fear though obviously, I can deal with it if I need to. It is that fear that we push through because we are there to honor our fallen loved ones and continue the mourning process. We deal with death because it is an inevitable end to every life. We fear it because it is easier than being sad about it, I guess.

The tone of the movie is set instantly in the very first scene of the movie. This is an action horror franchise. This movie is not about people getting stalked by the things that bump in the night but is instead about a war against the supernatural. For people who have not seen the other movies or people who have not seen them in a while, there is a brief recap Army of Darkness style. This is handy since I am kind of in both categories. The film is shot excellently and might just have the best cinematography of the month. At least, I really got excited about the lighting design in particular. The movie’s hero is Reggie who has been a main character since the first movie. That first movie was 37 years ago so Reggie (played by Reggie Bannister) has some years on him. He is an everyman hero and is less than smooth and more than personable. I instantly liked the guy again, kind of like every time I see Ash Williams or John McClane. His journey in this movie is not what I expected and deals a lot with what an aging hero might deal with and the problems associated with people of an older persuasion. Though, the series has had some dalliances with the “just a dream” trope before.

Of course, the main focus of the franchise has always been The Tall Man, the silver spheres and the Lurkers. The spheres are about 4 inches in diameter and look like polished stainless steel. They look harmless but quickly prove that they are anything but. I have had nightmares about those little silver spheres. The Lurkers are human beings compressed into vicious dwarf-like creatures. The main villain of the series is The Tall Man who is played by Angus Scrimm. Mr. Scrimm died this year after being in a lot of horror movies but The Tall Man was his most iconic role. He is grim looking and his lightly accented voice sounds like both death and evil. Scrimm is used excellently near the end of his life. The years had taken their toll and he looked even more like a weird corpse than ever before. This is his swan song and it shows in his performance, Reggie’s performance and the plot of the movie. We finally get a bit more of the mythos behind the weird dimensional powers that The Tall Man controls. We also get some interesting time travel motifs as well which fits with the general feel I remember.

Overall, this is a great finale for a horror franchise that has quietly plodded on since 1979. Horror movies have very particular fans and if the movie does not remain in theaters then the mainstream forgets it immediately. Loving horror (or any fandom) is kind of like living in an alternate dimension very close to the mainstream one. There are a lot of franchises that are a big deal but nobody you talk to on the street knows about them. You probably should not be talking to people on the street anyway. I recommend it but you should probably watch the first four movies to get the full effect.

Media Update 10/27/2016

October 27, 2016


Demonic Toys

Once upon a time, I watched a movie called Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Toys because I’m a fan of the Puppetmaster series. I vaguely understood what was happening with the Demonic Toys half of the movie but I knew that at some point I wanted to watch the original movie. The movie is kind of a blend of Child’s Play and Puppetmaster as demons possess toys and alter them into something less childlike and more murderous. There is also a little bit of Rosemary’s Baby and some Evil Dead thrown in as well. Of course, this is the kind of movie to have more than one clown face in it. This movie is another good example of what I love about Full Moon Entertainment. The movie is cheap but it is obvious there is a lot of charm and heart put into it. It is cheesy but it is also obvious that it’s supposed to be cheesy. The practical effects are actually really good and so is the gore. The puppetry and the construction of the toys is surprisingly really expressive and creepy. They work to turn a lot of toys into something demonic and trippy. Of course, I always thought baby dolls were creepy anyway. There is also some pretty good stop motion animation which isn’t surprising at all. What is kind of surprising is that this was written by David S. Goyer who wrote the Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. Weird. I definitely recommend this one as it is short and a pleasant little horror movie.


Bad Channels

Fun fact, this movie has three Blue Oyster Cult songs in it and they scored the film. This was their first foray into the horror genre since Halloween. Though that is such a small movie that I am sure you have not heard of it. This movie is weird even before the aliens actually arrive. This movie is about extraterrestrials who take over a radio station to use the power of rock and roll to try and kidnap Earth women. You know that old chestnut. This is kind of a mix between Hobgoblins, Killer Klowns from Outer Space and UHF. It has the whole Full Moon Entertainment treatment so everything is charmingly goofy although this one is more Sci-fi than Horror. The effects are weird but they really work for this movie. I know Fool Moon’s work by now and I know that they can do really good work (see above) and this is no different. While the premise of the movie is kind of silly, there is a sinister edge to it and it can be pretty creepy. Like Invasion from Mars, this movie also has a lot to say about why nobody would believe you if aliens actually did invade a small town. I guess it also kind of plays with the same concept from the (fictional) panic caused by HG Wells’ War of the Worlds broadcast. Predictably, the soundtrack for this movie is really good. Not only is there great Blue Oyster Cult music but there is also some great Metal from Sykotik Sinfoney as well. There is the usual Full Moon offbeat sense of humor but without the violent edge present in their horror movies. Still, it can be pretty disconcerting. I definitely recommend it even if the professional critics tell you otherwise.


Evil Bong 2: King Bong

It feels like ages ago when I named Evil Bong as one of the worst horror/Halloween movies ever made. It feels like there are not a lot of pot-themed horror movies which is kind of strange. Evil Bong was probably a little too much on the nose. It was a movie about an evil bong that transported people’s souls into the bong and then trapped them there by killing them in their fantasy. Sort of. It was really low budget so everybody’s fantasy was pretty much a weird strip club. The sequel picks up a period of time after the first movie and the victims (who all escaped) find themselves cursed with extreme cases of stereotypical side effects of pot use (horniness, paranoia, binge eating and narcolepsy). They travel to South America to find the source of the evil bong and find magical curative pot. However, they also encounter the remade evil bong and her ex-boyfriend (yep) King Bong. It is about as corny as you’d expect but even though I was rolling my eyes hard during it, I was in a more positive headspace this time. It pretty much ends with a flood of bare-breasted women and too many puns. It is bad but it is not uninterestingly bad, I guess. I do not recommend it but I will probably keep watching this series since I am only three sequels behind. Don’t judge me.

Halloween Short of the Week:
SNL – Haunted Elevator

Music of the Week:
Angel Witch – Dr. Phibes
Battle of Mice – Sleep and Dream
Impetigo – Breakfast At The Manchester Morgue
The Cramps – Zombie Dance
Timeless Miracle-Curse of the Werewolf

Weekly Update:
– I finished Season 11 or Supernatural
– Who am I kidding? There are bare breasts in all of these movies
– Watched more Arrow Season 4 and it just gets better and better
– Watched more Flash Season 2 and it’s great
– I finished watching Luke Cage, stay tuned for my thoughts
– I finished iZombie Season 2 and it’s so good.
– This week’s theme is “Under a Full Moon (Entertainment)”
– I have so many ideas for next year, you guys
– I love Halloween so much

The Houses October Built (2014)

October 26, 2016

I picked this movie at random from the Netflix library which is a tactic that has worked before. That tactic makes it so I have little idea what to expect. This movie is produced by Zack Andrews and Steven Schneider who produced Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside and The Visit. It should not be a surprise that this film is a found footage movie. I am not a fan of found footage movies which is most often used in the horror genre. You may have noticed that I have not talked much about found footage on this blog before and that is because I usually do not seek them out. Still, I know that the sub-genre is successful so I did not want to dismiss it outright. Found footage (in a first-person viewpoint) works in horror movies much like a haunted house works. Your viewpoint is guided toward specific scares as things jump into your field of vision. It can also be very frightening to feel like you are in the action but cannot control yourself.

I have been fascinated with haunted houses since I first went through one. The first haunted house I ever went through was set up at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roland Park in Baltimore. There were shadows, dry ice, strobe lights and a ton of jump scares that made me pray for the exit. It would probably seem kind of tame now but it rattled me hard while I was still in elementary school. That seed of interest was planted but it would not really grow until I was a bit braver. My interest in haunted houses mirrored my interest in live theater and theme park attractions. All three of those things are about establishing a story and a mood. You are basically crafting and controlling somebody’s experience without literally pushing them along. I love looking at the costumes and reading narratives from haunted houses and especially the ones that are too far for me to visit. I also love to see how the effects are done.

We start with a lot of probably real interviews and promotional footage concerning fans of haunted houses and workers at haunted houses. These are intercut through a lot of the movie. People get to explain in their own words why they love haunted houses and Halloween in general. It is edited together in a half documentary, half stock footage kind of way. I can definitely agree with this, setting up the premise of the movie. This movie is about how the love of a good scare can go wrong. We never tire of hearing those kinds of stories of people who found the limit of what they love and things go badly. The interviews and news stories do a good job of setting up a foreboding mood. I am not sure how much of it was real and how much of it was produced but it does a good job. The segment also introduces us to what we will be getting for the rest of the movie with the digital effects. There is static, focusing and color adjustment effects applied to the film to mimic what you might see with a camcorder. It is a little bit hokey but it does kind of jangle at my nerves and makes me a little more susceptible to scares.

I did not recognize anyone from the cast in this movie which, as I have stated before, can definitely be a good thing. I could definitely tell that these people are friends even if they are a little bit too bro-esque for my tastes. The acting is pretty good as they are going for realistic reactions and a lot of the time I think the actors had no idea what was going to happen next. Unlike a lot of horror movies that I have seen, there is little internal logic that governs what the scares will be. I guess that makes the movie built like a haunted house in that they try to frighten and surprise you just as much as actually scare you. I am going to do another clown warning here, by the way. I cannot escape clowns this Halloween and I think I might just have to hit the clown stuff even harder next year. It creeps me out. There is a lot of variety in this movie and while it is kind of cheesy in places, that is kind of what good horror movies are about.

Overall, this was a surprisingly good horror movie. The pacing was a bit off but I chalk that up to it being a found footage movie. At least they made a good enough excuse for all of the cameras being present at every moment and did not do another Skype horror movie. This is very close to an actual documentary on haunted houses and that part was really great. The movie kind of just grinds on and on and I wish it would have been paced better. It could not have been much shorter without classifying it as a short film. When the action is rolling, the movie is great but there is a lot of messing around. It is a creepy kind of a jumble sort of like House of a Thousand Corpses but not bad like that movie is. I guess I would recommend it but it would be best put on in the background of a good Halloween party.

Wicked Journals 4

October 25, 2016

wicked-journals

“Where are you going?” Molly asked. She acted as if she did not already know. It was an insult to both of us. It was obvious that I was packing up my tiny university bedroom.

“I am leaving and I’m never coming back,” I replied.

“I am surprised at you, Caleb,” She said. Her disapproving look gave me a moment’s hesitation but I pressed on. She had that effect on me.

“Frankly, I am surprised at you, Molly. Those things we saw were horrible. They were almost beyond belief. I have to leave. I cannot understand why you are staying,” I said. I closed another suitcase full of my possessions.

“Caleb, we saw things few have ever laid their eyes on. I agree that they were terrible but the next find could be fantastic. There is still so much we can learn,” She said.

“Or it could be worse. I cannot take that chance, Molly. We should not take that chance. Nobody should take that chance. Maybe the past is meant to stay buried,” I said. I knew it could be considered an insult to the field of archaeology but it was how I felt.

“We were a team, Caleb. We promised to be there for each other,” She said.

“I remember. That promise was genuine. I still feel the same as I did then but I simply cannot continue. I will not continue, Molly,” I replied.

“I cannot make you stay here. That is still not within my power to do that.” She paused as we both took in what she meant.

“I know. But I still must go. And soon.”

“I guess so.”

*               *              *

I had expected the stone door to shut behind me but it remained open. I am not sure if I liked that idea worse or better than the thought of those things from town following me inside. There was a torch already lit near the door which immediately felt welcoming. I am sure this was not meant to terrify me but it did. How had anyone known that I would get in the door soon enough that the torch would not go out?  How long had it hung on the wall while lit? It raised too many questions that I did not know the answers to.

I walked down a winding path in a tunnel carved out of the rock of the hill. The air was still horrible but I had slowly adapted to it. I hoped I was not breathing in anything dangerous. The tunnel went on forever or close to it but I kept walking. I had already walked for miles during the morning and now my feet began to throb with pain. But still, Molly Price must be just ahead and in need of rescue. I carried on.

What felt like miles later, I looked at the walls of the tunnel and I had to stop for a moment. There were those alien symbols again and they were glowing, reflecting the torchlight as if they were wet. My hand itched, wanting to reach out and touch the symbols but I stopped and pulled back at the last moment. I did not need to know. I needed to carry on.

The tunnel suddenly opened up into a larger chamber. I say suddenly because it had looked like the tunnel would extend another couple of miles. I noticed that there was no sound in the chamber except the sound of my breathing. The air was still and the chamber was far too quiet. Then there was a sort scuttling noise from the ceiling to my right and then to my left and then ahead and behind. I had heard nothing like it before in my life.

“Hello?” I called out. “Is anybody here?”

There was no answer but the scuttling sounds stopped as if they were waiting. I walked further into the chamber and the torch lit up more of it but not the high ceilings. I tore my eyes from that direction and tried to look around. There was a large throne made of what looked like marble with blood red veins in it. There was a female sitting very still on the throne and I hurried forward. It was her but strangely she was still heavily in shadow no matter how close I brought the torch. Her eyes suddenly opened.

“Caleb Newsom, it has been a long time. Ages, I think.” She said.

“If ages are years,” I said. “I missed you. Are you alright? I got your journal, I was afraid something happened to you.” There was urgency in my voice and I realized there was none in hers.

“I have discovered a lot, Caleb. So much I wanted to show you,” Molly said. Except for her eyes and mouth, no part of her had moved yet.

“Molly, something is wrong. You have to tell me,” I said.

Molly turned her head to look at me. The shadows still clung to her as if they were physical attributes. She stood ever so slowly and stepped toward me, I stepped backward. I was nervous. The shadows fell away from her as if she had decided to let the light touch her. I gasped. Parts of her face and her body had been replaced with something I cannot begin to describe. It was monstrous, yet beautiful.

“I was a fool back in school. I thought I could only have a career. Now I realize I can have both the knowledge of the ancients and a man I love.” Her eyelids flicked closed and open again like a scarab’s wings.

“That’s not what I want anymore. Definitely not like this, Molly,” I said. I tried to back away but I heard the scuttling again very close behind me. They were closing in.

“I have so many things to show you,” She said. She smiled and kept advancing.

I hope that nobody ever finds this journal or Molly’s journal. I hope the lilies grow and grow and cover the entrance to this place. I hold out hope for the world.

Mother’s Day (1980)

October 24, 2016

I love my mother. I have been on record stating that before and I do not think is a very controversial statement. I think most people love their mother even if they do not actually like their mother as well. I not only like and love my mother but I trust her. Thankfully, she never abused that trust as I grew up and never told me to do things that I should not. However, there are plenty of people who grow up without learning right from wrong. Their parents, if they were present, plant hate in their hearts instead of love and they grow up trusting that hate more than human kindness. If they were born with empathy, it can be dulled by being taught that only your family’s feelings matter. I have met these people who feel they are right no matter what and even if they were wrong, they still would hurt people. This is a scary notion to think that just down the block or even over your neighbor’s fence, there are people who just do not care. The worst thing is, you cannot spot these people by sight alone.

This movie is written and directed by Charles Kaufman but it is not the Charles Kaufman who wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation. Instead, this Kaufman is the brother of Lloyd Kaufman who founded Troma Entertainment. You might remember Troma from the Toxic Avenger movies and Cannibal: The Musical. If you are familiar, you know that Troma is one of the most tasteless yet strangely popular film studios in history. Today’s selection is an exploitation film. This means that the violence and gore are usually increased a lot. This movie also has quite a bit of rape in it. Obviously, rape is an unforgivable act and the people who commit it in the movie are evil. They also kill a lot of people. I thought long and hard about including this review but I decided that if I can watch Law and Order: SVU, I can watch this. If you want to refrain from watching this movie or reading this review you would be in good company. Roger Ebert gave this movie zero stars.

As the IMDB description says, this movie is about an elderly mother who raises her two sons to kill. The movie is set at the dawn of the eighties when disco was dying buy cocaine was still on the rise. Thankfully we get a rest from teenagers and college kids as the usual targets of horror movies, especially in the Eighties. Instead, the killers are after women who are at least in their late twenties if not mid-thirties. It also takes place in one of the nicer areas of New Jersey although they definitely make sure to highlight a lot of the crummy parts. They use a lot of fictional place names but some of the areas are definitely familiar or similar enough to the area I lived out in the middle of nowhere in Jersey. The main characters are kind of stupid. Like the grown up characters in It, they have not grown up much. There is a lot of bad Eighties humor and slapstick leading up to the violence.

This movie uses a lot of popular horror movie tropes in it. It has your spooky synth music to mimic Halloween and Friday the 13th. It has the old man warning the victims before they head into danger. It has the tight group of friends who like to play pranks on each other. It has the jumpscares that lead to nothing, jangling your nerves so that you are already unsettled when the bad stuff starts. It has a lot of naked female breasts. It has masked killers and killers with mutated faces. It has vulnerable people out in the wood away from any possible help. All of these familiar elements are both played straight and parodied. There are plenty of moments played for comedy even after the crap hits the fan. The same comic timing is applied to the horror elements but it is not funny. It is all the more terrifying that these people are having a really good time.

Overall, it is not a great movie. However, I think it was worth watching. The rape scenes were mercifully short considering movies like I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left. That does not make them any less disgusting or horrible. The movie is supposed to be scary and awful and it definitely succeeds at that. The actors playing the villains are actually pretty good and terrifying. The titular mother is especially unnerving with her horrible smile and cheery demeanor. The movie is cheap and dirty and that serves it well in some places but not in others. By trying to parody horror movies, it falls into similar traps but there are some new bits that I did not expect. The movie did succeed in its mission as a horror movie and it did provide scares and horror. I would recommend it but only to horror connoisseurs with strong stomachs.

Top 11 Favorite Horror Villains

October 22, 2016

The following villains are my favorite horror villains mostly from film franchises. There are three that were also in books and one that was also in a play. These guys are my favorite villains and, on a sidenote, I wish there was more than one woman on the list. However, instead of talking about them generally, I wanted to talk about their motivations and how I identify with them somewhat. No matter what I say, I cannot condone or excuse anything these characters did. You should not respond to personal tragedy with violence or supernatural terror.


11 Jack Torrance

Jack is a great example of how the human mind can break if you apply enough of the right kind of pressure. He is arguably one of the most sympathetic characters on this list while still being incredibly sadistic and violent. He is a writer who just wanted to get some work done before his inner demons came out to play. It is hard to fight against that anger and resentment inside even if it is for the sake of people you love. When you lose yourself, anything can happen in the midst of that rage. Added to that, he was being egged on by a vortex of murderous ghosts. I definitely understand how powerful that anger is.


10 Hannibal Lecter

Lecter was a cannibal and a serial killer and you really can’t get past that. However, Dr. Lecter was also incredibly intelligent and had a personal code of honor he adhered to. More often than not, the people he killed or maimed were rude or jerks. They were assholes. Dr. Lecter had a clear picture in his head of what a good, useful person is. Personally, I can’t stand a bully. I would never kill or even physically harm anyone, though. I definitely have a lot of things that people can do that cause me to instantly lose respect for them. I wish a lot of the people who commit these things could disappear from my world but I would never actually act on that.


9 The Woman in Black

Regrettably, she is the only woman on this list and she might just have the saddest story of anybody here. She was not always a homicidal ghost. She was once a trying to get back to her baby when she drowned in the swampy land within a stone’s throw of her child. Now, anyone who sees her loses their child to the Grim Reaper’s bony hands usually by some impossible accident. It is horrible to feel cheated. That feeling gets even worse if being cheated hurts both you and your loved ones. You just want to burn the world down for daring to be so unfair. It is hard to accept the bad places we are put in.


8 Jason

When you take away all of the dead teenagers, Jason is hard not to feel sympathy for. He feels slighted for dying while those who were responsible for his safety neglected him. He wants revenge for this slight but cannot really go to a lawyer and file a wrongful death suit. Eventually, he just doesn’t want people in his territory and yet they keep invading his space over and over despite the danger. On top of all of that, they killed his mother. Sure she was murdering teenagers but you just don’t kill a guy’s mother. Really, he combines the motivations of Dr. Phibes and Jerry Dandridge strangely enough.


7 Pennywise

While Pennywise is probably the least scary clown in the history of horror clowns, I still like him. Pennywise is a great example of turning symbols of childhood into symbols of hate and fear. Pennywise just does not like kids. I often feel uncomfortable around children and sometimes I joke that I ‘hate’ children but they’re alright in small doses. Still, as uncomfortable as I can be around them, I really like some of the stuff that kids like. It is kind of a weird feeling sometimes to like all ages material but not really get along with all ages. Of course, Pennywise hates adults too so maybe we are pretty much alike.


6 The Leprechaun

The Leprechaun is a happy little fellow who lived with anger issues in Ireland. The trouble starts and the whole franchise is pretty much put into motion by people taking his gold. Unfortunately, he does not call the authorities to track down his stolen property and instead decides to kill for it. Unfortunately, I understand that impulse. I am fiercely territorial when it comes to my property. I get really upset when people enter my bedroom without asking. I get antsy when people handle my phone or go near my car. So I understand that impulse to get people away from my stuff. I do not believe that violence is the answer, though.


5 Dr. Anton Phibes

Phibes was undoubtedly a very smart person who suffered a horrible tragedy. He loved his wife and only wanted to hurt the people who had hurt her. I can understand that instinct. I don’t like it when people hurt me but I really don’t like when people hurt the ones I love. It can be too easy to lash out to protect or avenge the people you love even if it won’t actually help you. I don’t actually take action against those perpetrators but I find it nearly impossible to forgive. It is really hard to let go of that anger because letting it go feels like somebody is getting away with something.


4 Jerry Dandridge

He is possibly the most Eighties-tastic horror villain in film history. Jerry Dandridge moves into a peaceful Iowan suburb. He’s got a great big house, great furnishings and his buddy Billy Cole who lives with him. The only problem is that Jerry is a vampire and Billy is a… something else. They are killing people but they are really discreet about it. As far as we knew, he did not want to rule the world or anything. They just wanted to be left alone to do their own thing. While Jerry was indeed evil, I can definitely identify with that hunger for privacy. Thankfully, I do not also share his hunger for blood. I think a lot of us just want to be left alone.  I also wish I was as smooth and confident as Jerry Dandridge and of course I am talking about Chris Sarandon.


3 Evil Ash

In the entirety of the Evil Dead franchise, it is hard to pinpoint many actual villains with names and faces but the biggest one is Evil Ash. Evil Ash, for lack of a better name, is born two different times during the franchise when Deadite magic gets into Ash’s body. He literally splits from Ash’s body like an amoeba and looks and sounds just like him. He is a fairly intelligent deadite (undead) creature. Really, when he is born, he is stuck on the side of the Evil Dead. As with all deadites (except Sam), Evil Ash is immediately drafted into the dark side and is tasked with fighting for the Deadite army. Throughout his appearances, he is only playing the cards he is dealt. To a certain extent, it is hard to blame him for being evil since that is the way he was made. He has all of Ash’s positive and negative qualities, he just ends up on the wrong side of the fight.


2 Chucky aka Charles Lee Ray

Sometimes, I think that Charles Lee Ray is my spirit animal. By that, I don’t mean that I am confessing to being a killer doll who dabbles in voodoo and wisecracks. Well, I do like a good wisecrack. What I mean is that I think Chucky and I might share a similar trait in our brain chemistry. I was born with Attention Deficit Disorder and I think Chucky has it too. He has a lot of the symptoms, at least. During the Child’s Play films Chucky usually has one goal and that is to transfer his soul into a human body. Sure, he makes a lot of assumptions about how or why he can do that but it is still his stated goal. However, he is constantly diverting from his task to kill somebody else. Hell, in Child’s Play 2 he takes the time to murder a non-sentient doll and then buries it. He has a deadline but he just loves killing too much to get it done.


1 Freddy Krueger

Imagination is why I love and identify with Freddy Krueger. He puts so much thought and work into each and everything he does. It is not just the killing either. His taunting is so well laid out that it’s a good thing the dead don’t sleep or else he would never get it all done. He tailors each death individually like some weird boutique/concierge murderer. Usually, his only audience for these morbid art projects are the victims themselves who are going to be dead in a minute anyway. That shows dedication. He must have files on everyone in Springwood because he almost automatically knows how to kill just about anybody he meets in the most poetic way.


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