Posts Tagged ‘Charles Band’

Shrunken Heads (1994) A Spoiler-Filled Rundown

February 20, 2023

In the early 1990s, producer Charles Band was friends with Richard and his brother Danny Elfman. Yes, that Danny Elfman. Richard kept bugging Band to let him direct a movie for Full Moon Pictures. He came up with the concept for Shrunken Heads as superhero-loving teens who die and become the heroes that they idolized. On paper, it looked morbid but doable and definitely in line with Full Moon’s usual fare. Richard swore that he would get Danny to score the movie. At the time, Full Moon had made a distribution deal with Paramount which generally meant straight-to-video. However, Paramount came to Band and offered to make Shrunken Heads the first Full Moon theatrical release due to Danny Elfman’s name being attached. 

Predictably, Danny Elfman was busy with more important and more lucrative projects (probably Nightmare Before Christmas and Demon Knight) and so he only composed the main title theme. Charles Band’s brother/in-house composer Richard Band scored the rest of the movie. Paramount was still on board. Then came the screening for Paramount executives. It was only then that Band realized that the teenagers were cherubic 13-year-olds and having them slaughtered in the first third of the movie totally kills any universal appeal for the movie. Band likens it to murdering the main cast of Stranger Things after the first episode and then reanimating them. Traumatizing. In the end, Paramount passed on releasing the movie in theaters and Richard Elfman funded the LA theatrical release with his own money.

We begin the movie with vague chanting, a lot of smoke, and a vintage Danny Elfman track as the credits play. The picture coalesces eventually into a bubbling cauldron before we fade to a quiet street. We see Tommy Larson sweeping the floor of his family’s old-timey general store as his father tends to a customer. Tommy’s friend Bill Turner bursts through the door of the shop and tells him that Mr. Sumatra has the newest DC comics. On the way, they see a young kid riding his bike. This kid is accosted by some local greaser-style bullies called the Vipers led by Vinny. Tommy and Bill jump in to help the kid but the fight is actually broken up by a mechanic (?) who threatens the bullies with a wrench. Vinny’s girlfriend Sally has more sense and manages to convince Vinny to take his boys elsewhere. 

The three boys (from left): Bill, Freddie, and Tommy.

Tommy and Bill help the poor asthmatic kid off the ground and he introduces himself as Freddie Thompson, a new arrival to the neighborhood. The three, bonded by having experienced the same bully, continue together to Mr. Sumatra’s newsstand. The boys introduce Freddie to Mr. Sumatra. They buy comics and jellybeans and the boys tell Freddie that Mr. Sumatra was a policeman in Haiti and that’s why he’s so intense/weird. Freddie is introduced to comic books but the trio are interrupted by more bullying by Vinny and his gang. Tommy stands up for his friends but Mr. Sumatra intimidates the gang into walking away. The boys talk to Mr. Sumatra and ask for advice on how to deal with the gangs since he was a cop. He says that he would have run surveillance on the gang to inform on them.


The next day, Sally visits the Larson’s shop to apologize to Tommy but she also defends his behavior as the product of a bad home. However, Tommy says that’s no excuse and expresses incredulity that Vinny is her boyfriend. He is an asshole. Sally storms off and as she walks down the street, Vinny pulls up his car to give her a ride. She refuses to get in the car or talk to him except to chide him for his behavior toward the boys. As she passes Mr. Sumatra, he asks her if the gang is bothering her and she says to leave it alone. Instead, Mr. Sumatra casts a spell on Vinny’s car which causes it to crash with no injuries.

At night, the three boys finish up a strategy session where they worry about reprisal from Vinny’s gang. When Bill and Freddie leave, Sally calls on Tommy. She climbs the fire escape to talk to him. Sally tells Tommy that she is done with Vinny and that she likes somebody else now. It’s Tommy. As Tommy kisses Sally, Bill and Freddie contact him over a walkie-talkie. They have spotted the Vipers pulling apart a car on the street. Tommy jumps into action to film the crime in action. Sally warns him against going against the gang but he goes and gets Vinny and the gang on videotape. After the theft of car parts, the cops roll up on the Vipers as they walk away from the crime scene. Tommy swoops in to snitch to the cops and the Vipers are arrested on the spot.

Big Moe

We cut to a warehouse presumably full of stolen goods run by Big Moe, the androgynous leader of crime in the area. Big Moe is approached by Vinny who laments that his boys were all arrested. Vinny relates what Tommy did but Big Moe berates Vinny for turning soft. She tells Vinny to bring the three boys to the warehouse the following night and gives Vinny three grand for bail money. The next morning, Vinny bails out his boys and they go and snatch the three boys off of the street. They are taken to see Big Moe who warns them to keep their mouths shut. Tommy says that Vinny and his gang deserve to be in a cell. Big Moe offers the boys a job but Tommy turns it down. The boys are tied up in a storeroom where they break free from being tied up. They witness Big Moe bribing the local cops. They find stubs for a numbers racket in the storeroom. They steal the stubs and escape through the air vents. This, of course, loses Big Moe a lot of money.

The Boys brought before Big Moe

Big Moe goes to visit Vinny and tells him that the boys are Vinny’s problem. They direct Vinny to take the Vipers and gun down the three boys. In short order, Vinny and his boys catch the boys walking down the street with the stubs. They kill all three in cold blood, leaving them dead on the street. They retrieve the stubs and drive off. The whole neighborhood sees the aftermath of what went down. Vinny returns to Big Moe who congratulates him for doing so great. Vinny regrets having killed children which frightens Big Moe’s girl, Mitzi. Big Moe makes Vinny his right-hand man and in charge of collecting protection money.

Watching the bloody aftermath

Sally and Mr. Sumatra watch as the boys’ bodies are carried away. Sally tells Mr. Sumatra what happened and he comforts her as his gaze goes steely. We see the funeral where Mr. Sumatra pays his respects and offers condolences to Mr. Larson and Sally. In the night, Mr. Sumatra sneaks into the mortuary and steals the heads of the boys before they can be buried. In his cauldron, Sumatra performs vodoun magic.

Vinny confronts Sally on the street and offers condolences for Tommy. He acts like he had nothing to do with what happened to Tommy. Since nobody saw anything, nobody can prove anything. Vinny claims that he is going straight and going to night school. Mr. Sumatra passes them on the street and Vinny calls him a freak under his breath. Sally makes him apologize and he does. Sally is hurting but leaves the door open for a future with Vinny. 

Mr. Sumatra returns to his apartment where he is boiling the heads of the boys. He puts a dead cat in the pot with them. He works into the night on the rituals and when he is done, the now-shrunken heads come to life. The boys are disoriented and frightened. It is very gross and the boys express that they would rather be dead. Mr. Sumatra tells them that they have magical powers now. All of them can fly, Tommy can emit bolts of electricity, Bill can drink blood, and Freddie has a retractable blade from his mouth.

The three shrunken heads

One year later, we see that Vipers have full control of the neighborhood. The only one not paying protection money is Mr. Sumatra. Sumatra finally unleashes the shrunken heads on the neighborhood to fight crime. (Note: The movie is half over at this point)  The boys kill two muggers ruthlessly. On the way back, Tommyhead decides to visit Sally and he floats through her open window. He sees that she has not gotten over him and he leaves troubled before she wakes up. The three heads are summoned back to Mr. Sumatra who congratulates them on their crime fighting. Back in the alley, the muggers they killed rise as zombies. We see them start to pick up trash in the alley as they fart.

Vinny’s thugs shaking down Mr. Sumatra

We briefly see Sally watching the morning news where we find out that there is a sudden “illness” afflicting local criminals that includes a shuffling gate, a drop in blood pressure, and loss of bowel control. Vinny calls Sally to ask her on a date and she agrees. He has evidently convinced her of his sincerity to go straight. The problem is that he is calling her from Big Moe’s hideout. He is still lying to her. Vinny tells his boys to take care of Sumatra and get him in line. Vinny’s boys go to intimidate Mr. Sumatra into paying protection money. He intimidates them with magic and sends them running. He then sics the heads on them. The two gang members are murdered quickly and efficiently. They rise as zombies.

Mr. Sumatra

We briefly see Sally being pressured for sex by Vinny and when she delivers an ultimatum, he kicks her out of the car and she breaks up with him. Pissed off, Vinny goes to confront Sumatra. Sumatra calls Vinny “doomed one” and tells him that his friends are suffering in Hell. He points Vinny to the alleyway where his zombie friends are weeding the community garden in the middle of the night. They tell him that Mr. Sumatra wants to see him and he runs off scared.

Sally visits Tommy’s grave and apologizes for not telling him how she felt about him. She tells Tommy that she always loved him. Tommyhead swoops in and declares that he loves her too. When Sally rightfully freaks out, Tommy casts a spell that implants his own memories of the events after his death into her skull. She sees Vinny kill Tommy, the vodoun rituals, and the killings of the gang members. Tommy wants a last embrace so he slides up Sally’s shirt and bra and between her breasts before flying off. 

Sally goes to Mr. Sumatra and reveals that she knows everything. Sumatra confirms everything and Sally lectures him for letting her date Vinny for a year without telling her that Vinny is a killer. She objects to the treatment of the three boys but Sumatra says that the boys are no longer human and are fueled by vengeance. Sally defies this and says that Tommy is still a good person. Tommy apologizes for disgusting her. She opens her shirt and lets him nuzzle her breasts. Mr. Sumatra leaves them to have their privacy. We thankfully do not see any more of that.

One of the fart zombies

Vinny cowers in his apartment but the zombies come for him to take him to Sumatra. He fights them off and runs away. It is then that Vinny is finally confronted by the three heads who laugh at him as they repeat Mr. Sumatra’s invitation. 

Sally in her ceremonial vodoun gown

Mr. Sumatra and Sally are back at Sumatra’s apartment where she offers to help with the mission. He needs Sally’s help in a final spell. She agrees even though it means taking part in “capital punishment”.

Vinny reaches Big Moe and rants and raves about the shrunken heads and the zombies. Big Moe thinks Vinny is cracking up but Mr. Sumatra chooses that moment to enter, shooting a gang member point-blank in the head. He laughs as he unleashes the zombies and watches them beat the tar out of the criminals. Vinny begs Sally to call the undead off. When the heads go to attack Vinny, Mr. Sumatra reminds them that vengeance must occur at Sumatra’s apartment. That hesitation allows Big Moe to kidnap Sally and shoot Mr. Sumatra in the gut. 

Big Moe taking Sally hostage (with Vinny and Mitzi)

The zombies help Sumatra back into his car and they give chase. The heads assault Big Moe’s car with Vinny, Sally, and Mitzi inside. Big Moe is able to fight off two of the heads, shooting them, but Tommyhead crashes through the windshield and uses his lightning powers to incapacitate Vinny who was driving. The car crashes. In a standoff with Mr. Sumatra, Mitzi saves Sally from Big Moe. Mitzi is allowed to go free. Sally and Sumatra retrieve Billhead and Freddiehead. They will be revived. 

Big Moe and Vinny performing their priestess-ordered community service

In Mr. Sumatra’s condominium, Sumatra passes leadership of the heads to Sally who casts the revenge spell on Vinny and Big Moe as we cut away. We cut to Sally and Tommyhead looking lovingly at each other on the balcony before all three heads fly off into the city presumably to fight crime. In a post-credits scene, we see Mitzi out on a date where she happens upon a fully zombified Vinny and Big Moe cleaning up graffiti. 

Random things I noticed after two viewings:

  • There is a shower scene but it is a male that gets killed while naked
  • Everybody is underage and doing a lot of problematic things.
  • Mr. Sumatra asks 16-year-old Sally if her “maidenhead is still intact” then invites her into his bedroom to change clothes. Nobody thought this was wrong.
  • Meg Foster plays Big Moe and is definitely revealed to be AFAB but seems to present as butch. She has a girlfriend and also flirts a bit with Vinny. Lowkey bisexual representation in 1994.
  • It is not explained fully in the movie but Mr. Sumatra was part of the Tonton Macoute which is a paramilitary law enforcement agency answering directly to the president of Haiti. I won’t go into detail here but these were not good guys at all. They were scary as hell.
  • I didn’t catch the post-credits scene at the first viewing. If you miss it, you never see what happens to Vinny and Big Moe after a lot of foreshadowing from Mr. Sumatra.
  • There are a lot of what appears to be real tears from the youngest members of the cast which definitely feels like it goes against the light tone they were going for. 

Blood Dolls (1999) A Spoiler-Filled Rundown

February 6, 2023

Written, Directed, and Produced by Charles Band under his Full Moon Features banner, this movie is a great example of the weirdness Band has always churned out. His movies do not worry about making sense and are instead full of wacky hijinks mixed with gruesome imagery. The movie went straight to video which was not abnormal for Full Moon Features which had been at the forefront of the VHS market before many companies had really figured it out. Of course, this was released on DVD. 

We start the movie in the twisted mansion of Virgil Travis. As the opening credits roll, we see a bit of Travis’ office as he prepares for a meeting. We see him pick up his mask and we also see the front page article from the Wall Street Tribune that details Travis Software’s loss in an Anti-Trust case. The paper estimates that Travis Software lost a billion dollars because of the court ruling. Two attorneys who worked on this case arrive outside of the mansion. The guy, Howard Loftus, is understandably nervous about seeing their client but the woman, Cindy Agami, tells him that she can handle Mr. Travis. However, she does have to spout some exposition at him as they enter. Cindy tells him that Mr. Travis is eccentric and to not be alarmed if there is a dwarf and/or clown inside. Also, don’t be alarmed if there is an all-female rock band in a cage. These are Mr. Travis’ personal rock band. Also, don’t be alarmed that Mr. Travis always wears a mask. 

As they reach the door, Mr. Travis speaks over an intercom (did he hear them talking?) and asks if it is Cindy. When she confirms her identity, the door is opened by Mr. Mascaro. Mr. Mascaro is dressed like a butler in a suit but also has full-face clown makeup. He acts sternly and not clownlike at all. He invites the attorneys in and leads them down to Mr. Travis’ office. Howard bumps into a dwarf named Hylias who is surly. Inside a cage, four young women are fighting amongst themselves. Cindy greets them as Cotton Baby, Razor Baby, Black Baby, and Shirley. They are a band called Caged Babies. Shirley tells Cindy that Mr. Travis has a surprise planned for the attorneys. Cindy doubts that Mr. Travis could surprise her anymore.

The two attorneys are summoned into Mr. Travis’ office. Mr. Travis invites them to sit down and has Hylias shock the Caged Babies to get them to play Song #3. Mr. Travis shows off his new acquisition, two dolls. He holds up Pimp and Cindy remarks how racist it looks (and it does look like a very racist depiction of a black pimp stereotype). Mr. Travis brushes off the comment and admits that he is indeed racist. After Mr. Travis shows off the second doll, Howard comments that they look strangely familiar. Mr. Travis mentions his displeasure at them losing the case. Cindy says to blame the judge and the federal prosecutor instead. Travis activates a switch that restrains the attorneys in their chairs. Mr. Travis reveals that three competitors are behind Travis’ ruination. He will get his revenge.

Travis kills Howard horribly in his chair as Cindy, Mr. Travis, and Mr. Travis’ henchmen watch. Mr. Travis takes off his mask and reveals that his head is much smaller than his body. He was genetically engineered by his mother Eugenia. Travis orders Mascaro to put Cindy in a machine. The machine compresses a human body into a doll form. He reveals that the two dolls that they saw before, Pimp and Sideshow, are the judge and the federal prosecutor. Cindy is compressed into the racist doll Ms. Fortune as the Caged Babies play Song #7. 

We cut to a meeting of the three competitors of which Mr. Travis spoke. Mercy Shaw, George Warbeck, and Harrison Yulin (accompanied by his wife Moira) are toasting their success. Virgil Travis and Mr. Mascaro are spying on the meeting through a camera drone. Mr. Mascaro comments that Harrison seems like an idiot but Travis claims that it is a disguise as Harrison was the mastermind. The meeting breaks up and Mr. Travis complains that some countermeasures keep him from spying on the upstairs. No matter. Mr. Mascaro and the dolls will kill Harrison Yulin and his compatriots.

We cut to the Yulin bedroom where it is revealed that Moira is actually the mastermind behind everything. She has Harrison in a highly unbalanced BDSM relationship where she manipulates him into doing whatever she wants, usually through pain and humiliation. She reveals that the Yulins bribed the federal prosecutor and judge who have now been murdered (actually turned into dolls). Moira reveals that she expects Mr. Travis to attempt to murder them next and also reveals that she has secretly had several people murdered to further their own goals. Harrison was oblivious to all of this. If Travis kills Warbeck and Shaw, that will actually be beneficial for the Yulins as it will allow them to acquire their shares. 

Travis sics Mascaro and the dolls on Warbeck. Mascaro shows up at the Warbeck estate without his makeup on and poses as a repairman. Mascaro remotely shuts the power off in the estate which eliminates the security grid. Mascaro intercepts their call for repair and shows up. He unleashes the dolls inside the mansion. The dolls work together to murder Warbeck as Mascaro murders a security guard to prevent him from saving Warbeck. The dolls then murder another security guard.

Mr. Travis once again spies on the Yulin residence. Harrison Yulin and Mercy Shaw are meeting. Moira is guiding Harrison through an earpiece.  Mercy is planning on leaving town to flee from Travis’ wrath. Harrison offers to buy out her shares. Mr. Travis still wants to kill Mercy Shaw even though she is out of the game. Travis also hears Harrison say the words “coming up” and ponders over it.

Upstairs, Moira berates Harrison once again. She reveals that she planted cameras in Warbeck’s mansion. The recordings reveal the existence of the dolls through still images. 

Mr. Travis continues to ponder the meaning of “coming up” and sends Mascaro and the dolls to kill Mercy Shaw. Hylias has the band play Song #4. At Mercy Shaw’s mansion, she loads into a freight elevator. Her security has arranged several identical vehicles to leave alongside her to confuse attackers. The power cuts out and Mercy and her guards are killed in the elevator between floors. 

We cut back to the Yulin residence where Moira is whipping Harrison as she talks with him. She is already in the process of acquiring the shares of their former partners, Warbeck and Shaw. Harrison worries that they are the next targets but Moira reminds him that she looks like a civilian in this war and Harrison would be Travis’ target. Both the Yulins’ and Travis’ security are so high that neither could hope to successfully attack. A stalemate. Moira refuses to give up.  The dolls attempt to attack the Yulin mansion but Pimp gets burned by a fire trap. 

Back at the Travis mansion, Pimp receives healing. Mascaro reveals that the Yulin defenses are impregnable and the design of the defenses reveals that the Yulins know about the dolls. Meanwhile, Moira has shown up at the Travis mansion. Travis is thrown off by her arrival and her desire to meet with him. He asks Mascaro to locate her vehicle. Travis goes to meet Moira with his mask on. Travis suspects that Moira’s presence is part of a plot by Harrison and tells Moira as much. Travis then guesses correctly that Moira actually came on her own. Moira asks for an armistice. She flatters Travis who is taken by her beauty and her wit as they recite poetry and philosophy at each other. Travis declares that Moira will not be harmed when Travis attacks.

The dolls have been loaded into Moira’s limousine and return with her to the Yulin mansion. Travis sends Mr. Mascaro to pick the dolls up and make sure the job is done as the Caged Babies play Song #10. 

Moira was impressed by Virgil Travis but she also claims that Travis was smitten with her. Moira says goodbye to Harrison, saying that his usefulness has come to an end. She already has the necessary signed documents to own everything Harrison owns. Moira leaves as the dolls enter and murder Harrison in a BDSM rack contraption. Moira watches the dolls start to leave (proving that Travis was sparing her) and she captures them in a cage. 

She calls Travis and acts scared and accuses him of lying about sparing her as she acts like the dolls are attacking her. Travis confesses to killing her husband and calls off the dolls over the phone which Moira records. Travis realizes that Moira was the mastermind all along. Travis is heartbroken by Moira’s betrayal and hangs up the phone. He admits to himself that he had fallen for Moira and is angry that she used him. He vows revenge. He has the band play Song #1.

Moira talks to the dolls in her office and muses over her victory. She also plans to surprise Mr. Travis saying “surrender is victory”. Mr. Travis calls and requests a meeting in a public place. Moira turns that down and agrees to come to the Travis mansion. This is convenient for their plan to ambush Moira. This change perplexes Travis.

Moira arrives at the Travis mansion once again and is led to speak with Mr. Travis. Moira explains that she put herself in Mr. Travis’ power to make a deal. She presents Travis with all of the evidence that Travis was involved in the murders. She also signs over her company and signs a confession of the murder of Harrison. She offers up her life to Virgil Travis. She offers marriage to Travis. She also offers to mother his children, creating a dynasty together. The two of them together could do so much better. Her death would return him to the status quo but their union could make them lords of the Earth. Virgil agrees to the marriage. Mr. Mascaro is ordained to perform the ceremony. 

We cut to the wedding in Virgil Travis’ office. Mr. Mascaro performs the brief ceremony and they are married. Travis removes his mask and reveals his tiny head. The sight shocks Moira and revulsion spreads across her face. The dolls maim her legs and Hylias ties her up. Travis declares that he did not like what was under Moira’s metaphorical mask either. His life is no longer pleasant. He resolves to kill himself and his entire staff with toxic death. Mr. Mascaro and Hylias declare their loyalty and agree to go down with their boss. The dolls free the Caged Babies who get their revenge on Hylias. The band carries the dolls out of the mansion and they escape in Mr. Mascaro’s truck.

The movie stops cold and Mr. Mascaro tells us that this is only one of two endings to the movie. They will now show the second ending.

In this ending, the Caged Babies are released to attend the wedding. They still assault Hylias but are threatened to behave by Mr. Mascaro and a machine gun. They play the processional. Mr. Mascaro marries Moira and Virgil in another brief ceremony. Once again, Virgil removes his mask to kiss the bride. Moira is surprised by Virgil’s small head but this time she speaks eloquently about falling in love with Travis. She is surprised by how much she cares for him. They are both marvels and monsters and are meant for one another. Now the world has something to really worry about. The band plays a final song over the credits.

This movie is absolutely insane and that is why I love it. It was anything but formulaic and a lot of the acting is way better than you would expect from a B-Movie. In particular, Kristopher Logan (Virgil Travis) and Debra Mayer (Moira Yulin) have amazing performances. This is also surprising because it was Mayer’s first film. I could listen to the two of them talk to each other for hours. There are also no good guys in this movie. The Caged Babies are prisoners but also revel in Cindy Agami’s “death”. There is nothing to cheer on except the movie itself and what depths it will descend into. It is an atypical horror movie. The deaths mostly include filthy rich people who maintain their wealth through unscrupulous means. That makes it almost a perfect movie for me.

Media Update 10/6/22

October 6, 2022

Castle Freak (1995)

This is one that I have seen on multiple lists of horror movies. A family inherits an Italian castle but a secret family member never moved out. This is yet another Charles Band horror movie directed by Stuart Gordon in an actual Italian castle that Charles Band actually owned. (Thanks, Charles Band’s autobiography). The makeup of the titular character is amazingly done and teased throughout the movie like Bruce in Jaws. As that character, Jonathan Fuller’s mannerisms are fascinating and add to the creep factor. Jeffrey Combs plays the father, a troubled family man who inherits the castle but also causes a lot of conflicts. Barbara Crampton plays the bitter yet well-meaning wife. Jessica Dollarhide plays the couple’s blind daughter and is often the audience’s point of view character. The movie is tense and I feel that it benefitted from being about Americans stuck in Italy where almost nobody speaks English. It added to the strangeness and horror. I recommend this movie.

Lurking Fear (1994)

I kept seeing this in Full Moon Picture’s massive catalog and then forgetting it because it is not on a lot of major lists. A young man returns to his family’s hometown to retrieve a lost treasure but finds the town in a fight for their life with creepy crawlies. Those creepy crawlies look great, by the way, and are kind of unique to a lot of other monsters. Black Adams plays the usual chiseled-jaw, ne’er-do-well, with a heart of gold hero. Jon Finch plays the human villain whose arrogance is his undoing. Ashley Laurence is the tough-as-nails soldier. Finally, regular Jeffrey Combs returns as an almost unrecognizable comic relief character. The movie has a lot of tension and feels like a crime drama mixed with a monster movie. I do recommend this movie.

From Beyond (1986)

Another movie on a lot of body horror lists that I had not seen yet. Two scientists build a machine that can peer into another universe but realize too late that they can peer back. Jeffrey Combs plays the hero, a scientist driven mad by his discovery but determined to make up for his mistake. Barbara Crampton plays a psychologist assigned to evaluate Combs and gets caught up in the horror and she kills it. Ken Foree steals so many scenes as the wise-cracking cop who is watching out for them. Ted Sorel is absolutely vile as the villain of the movie both physically and emotionally. The movie has excellent creepy effects and the body horror feels way too real and is strangely beautiful. Director Stuart Gordon knows how to make the strangest/most disgusting images. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Witch Piss – Hand of Glory

UNI and The Urchins – DOLL PARTS


Muse – You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween

Mashup of the Week:

Alain-Christian – Bon Appétite

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Charles Band and Lovecraft”
  • I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch: Barry Kramer, Attorney Tom, Impact Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Emily D. Baker, Wendigoon, Tamara Chambers, LegalEagle, NWA, Dead Meat, Quinton Reviews, Onsta, Savy Writes Books, Gabi Belle, Brutalmoose, Growing Up in Scientology, Watcher, Some More News, Internet Historian
  • I finished Batwoman Season 3
  • I watched more The Strain Season 1
  • I watched more She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
  • I watched more The Sandman Season 1
  • I watched more The Flash Season 8

Media Update 5/26/22

May 26, 2022

Corona Zombies (2020)

I had learned about this movie through reading Charles Band’s autobiography. The behind-the-scenes story of the making of the movie sounded absolutely crazy to me. Band and his crew struggled to film everything they had to in the three days as California was rapidly locking down. They created a story where Covid-19 rapidly mutated into a zombie apocalypse on several continents. They then bought some old footage from some zombie movies and spent the rest of the time dubbing over that footage with new dialogue, purchasing footage from real-life news feeds,  and then cutting the movie together. The movie was released amidst the maelstrom that was early 2020 while rumors were wild. It is not in the best taste but I feel that it parodies a lot of the misinformation rather than adds to it. It’s hard to walk that line, though. The movie is a meandering mess but it is fun to watch in its badness. I recommend this movie.

The Covid Killer (2021)

This movie came out a little later but it was obviously filmed during the quarantine in New York City. The mean streets of New York are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and while people are just trying to survive, a killer stalks the streets and it is up to one cop to end the threat. The movie takes place over what feels like months in 2020 so little changes are introduced here and there. There is even a scene where the police captain instructs the detectives about wearing masks and social distancing. They then don’t wear masks for the rest of the movie. So, it’s true to real-life cops. While this movie is not super professional, it does have a reasonably coherent plot and plenty of gore. What really impressed me that the movie has an original soundtrack most of which is rapped by Jay Doggs. It also weirdly uses sound clips from the movie Joker (2019) which did not really feel like it connected to anything. I do not recommend this movie except as a curiosity.

Covid-21: Lethal Virus (2021)

This is a movie that I found in my research but the movie actually tried to evade me, possibly from shame. On IMDB and Amazon Prime the movie renamed itself to simply Lethal Virus which was probably a marketing move to shorten the title and ditch the Covid references. In fact, the only reference to “Covid” is in the title sequence from a newscaster. In the far-flung post-apocalyptic future of 2021, a new virus has emerged which is turning people into zombies. The government sends a scientific delegation to the impacted area to stop the spread of the infection. This movie was probably made in 2020 and 2021 and involves a lot of rural, outdoors filming. This one has the best acting of the trio with there being some chemistry between scientist Loretta Hope and backwoods survivalist Christian Stamm. I think this movie was less interesting to me because it was not poorly made in a comical way. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

GIRLI – Hot Mess

Coi Leray & Nicki Minaj – Blick Blick!

BoyWithUke – Understand

Five Finger Death Punch – IOU

Mashup of the Week:

Oneboredjeu Mashups – Bitchrolled

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Covid Horror in Bad Taste”
  • I watched a ton of Twitch and YouTube
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 2
  • I watched more Cursed Films Season 2
  • I watched more Scream Queens Season 2

Media Update 4/28/22

April 28, 2022

The Alchemist

This one feels a bit like a fairytale. It is light and dreamy and meandering. A woman is drawn into the woods where she meets a man who claims that she looks exactly like his wife who died a century ago. Lucinda Dooling plays the lead and she is amusingly brassy and abrasive while also being vulnerable. John Sanderford plays her put upon sidekick of sorts and the only voice of reason. Robert Ginty plays the titular character and does a good job as a tormented and cursed man. The special effects are delightfully schlocky and the pacing is weird but it was still a fun “bad” movie. I recommend it.

Parasite (1982)

Boy, this movie is hard to find online. Gee, I wonder why? I really wanted to see this movie because it has the great Stan Winston doing special effects on the cheap. The titular parasite is actually very creepy-looking and there are some really good effects from it. The movie actually felt like it might have inspired the Bethesda Fallout games. A man tries to find a cure for a deadly parasite that he helped create to keep it from the government in a post-apocalyptic world. Robert Claudini is an unlikely leading man but does a good job as a stone-faced and reticent scientist. Demi Moore plays the sweet-faced young lemon farmer in her very first movie role. The movie is a bit of a rambling mess but some good action scenes and great horror effects make up for it. I recommend this movie.


A strange movie with some very interesting horror elements. Transformation is a heavily used horror trope in both Empire and Full Moon movies. A young man travels to the south where he has inherited an estate from the father he never knew. Once there, he stumbles into a world of dark magic mixed with lust involving a demonic brothel. There are hints of sex but nothing too graphic. The movie dwells more on the horror aspects. Unlike other movies set in Louisiana, it keeps its magic vague and fictional instead of leaning on the usual mix of voodoo or santeria. This is great because most of the cast is white so there’s no cultural appropriation. Michael Bendetti plays the perpetually clueless yet curious protagonist. Denise Gentile plays the seductive and otherworldly beautiful witch/demon/whatever. I recommend this odd movie.

Music of the Week:

Motionless In White – Masterpiece

The Destroyers – Freak on a Leash (cover)

Dorothy – Black Sheep

Becky G – No Mienten

Mashup of the Week:

Bronze is Bored – Fresh Prince of Slipknot

Weekly Update:

This week’s theme is “Charlie Band”

I watched more Blacklist Season 8

I watched more Riverdale Season 4

I watched more Terriers Season 1

I watched more Scream Queens Season 1

I watched more Legends of Tomorrow Season 6

I watched more Archive 81 Season 1

I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 12

I watched more Charmed (2018) Season 2

I watched The Killer Eye (1999)

Dolls (1987)

October 16, 2017

78 minutes – Rated R for horrible people, child neglect, gore and nightmares.

The uncanny valley is such a powerful tool in visual horror. The concept of the uncanny valley says that we will be creeped out by things more as they look more and more human. When something becomes completely human-looking, our unease is allayed. Seeing things trying to be human but not achieving it makes them look alien and frightening. We know what humans can do but near-humans look erratic and unpredictable. If they are inanimate, we have nightmares that they will begin to move around as humans do. This is largely where the fear of dolls comes from. People have long thought dolls are creepy. When I was in theater, we did a show where the set was adorned with Putti which were created by stapling wings to baby dolls and then spray painting them. People swore that the eyes followed them as they walked the stage. The dolls also periodically fell from great heights with no warning during rehearsal as if they were trying to attack. It was unnerving and there is power in that.

Small things are also terrifying. If you do not believe me, think about the story I heard as a kid about living in the desert and waking up in the morning and slipping your shoes on only for there to be a stinging scorpion hiding in there. There are many real tiny terrors in the world which includes spiders, scorpions, diseased mosquitos, ticks, and especially bees and wasps. I never worried about my dolls (ahem action figures) coming to life when I was little. Even when I was thirteen and watched Toy Story, I never really worried about it. However, I know plenty of people do fear that as kids. That is why there are so many horror stories about killer dolls. Childs Play, Demonic Toys, Puppetmaster, and Poltergeist all come to mind but there are dozens. I will probably see them all eventually. Little things are hard to keep track of if they do not want you to find them and they can turn up in the most surprising places. It’s a scary thought that they might be anywhere around.

I love a good horror movie with truly detestable people in it. It makes me feel less guilty to watch them get killed in inventive ways. I have quickly determined that if I have empathy for a character, it makes horror movies scarier because I dread anything happening to that character. This movie does not have that problem as most of the people, except for the little kid, are absolutely horrible. There is a strange combination of mean and moronic that personified a lot of horror movie victims in the eighties and nineties. Also, bonus points for having American tourists in England being completely awful and pushy. More bonus points for lower class British people being loud and rude. The movie not so subtly drops in one of the biggest concepts of fairy tales: be nice or suffer the consequences. The acting is very melodramatic but this is yet another Charles Band movie. The lower class punks are modeled after Madonna and the upper-class Americans are modeled after just about every rich person in the USA.
The saving grace for the adults is Stephen Miller who is kind of funny to watch and definitely a good guy.

They obviously spent a lot of time on post-production on this one. There are so much great puppets and practical effects. Someone obviously had a lot of fun making killer toys on a workbench somewhere in Italy (where this was filmed on a soundstage). I really would love to see a behind the scenes documentary or some blueprints on how they animated some of the dolls in this movie. By the way, based on the title, it should not be a spoiler that there are killer dolls in this movie. I suppose they used a lot of the same types of effects that were used in the early Child’s Play movies. It is difficult to imbue life on an inanimate object even with the aid of CGI and it takes a real puppetry master to make them actually scary. To me, these were way creepier than films like Puppetmaster or Demonic Toys and that has a lot to do with attention to detail and good production values. Of course, that is praise for this movie and I would never denigrate a movie I love like the Puppetmaster franchise. It may not be amazing by today’s standards (just wait for my Cult of Chucky comments on Thursday) but this type of thing fascinates me.

Overall, I thought this was a really twisted yet fun horror movie. I thought it would be a normal run-of-the-mill horror romp and in a lot of ways, I was right. However, the movie takes a lot of random left turns that surprised me or really weirded me out but they never felt forced. They left me dreading what was going to happen next but also looking forward to where the story might go next. This story definitely goes to some seriously forked up places, too. Charles Band rules my dreams and nightmares yet again.

Scary Studies

Horror is fascinating.

The Hidden Message

klaatu barada nikto

Panorama of the Mountains

Liam Sullivan's Ideas and Reflections

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

The Bloggess

Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Damyanti Biswas

For lovers of reading, crime writing, crime fiction

%d bloggers like this: