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Archive for October, 2018

754

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Prom Night 4

franchisebannerOkay, serious question – why did they keep making these movies? I mean, I find it difficult to believe that there was there a rabid audience clamoring for more prom night films every year in the way they were for Freddy and Jason movies. I have a very difficult time even imagining there are those remote groups of diehard devotees for this particular franchise the way there are with hellraiser and phantasm fans. I mean, there is no central figure or premise for someone to latch onto.  Prom Night 4 follows the established tradition of each film having basically nothing to do with the previous.  Indeed, in this film our group of protagonists don’t even make it to the prom. Their destination is a weekend alone at an old house – one that used to be a monastery.

This film is another straightforward story about a catholic priest turned avenging angel – slicing and dicing that which he considers “unholy “.  I’d bristle if the trope wasn’t so common.

Someone’s picked up those night of the Demons references again by the way – we have a swooping racing crane shot through abandon hallways. We have a slow push in to frame. Even that large cavernous living room they hunker down and feels much like the one we saw in Night of the Demons – perhaps it’s just a standard look. You could just as easily be Collinwood from Dark Shadows, but I really feel like this film makers are pulling cues from those films. This one feels just a tad more watered down – almost like a TV film, but with just enough edge to push into direct video territory. I miss the blood and gore of the previous movies, but it’s understandable – this movie was filmed during that period we were entering where the MPAA was seriously cracking down on blood in films – we’d have fairly dry horror for the next 10 years. I also miss the supernatural element, though I have to admit – it’s to their credit that they tried to get the series back to Its stalker/slasher roots. The flick is made particularly interesting by the inclusion of Nicole Debor as our final girl- I of course remember her best to ask the actress to replace Terry Farrell as Dax on the last season of Deep Space 9. My familiarity with the actress, actually makes me want to root for her more! There is a real punch the air moment with bug spray that I genuinely felt myself cheering for her. Nevertheless, she is still betraying the innocent and optimistic adorable kind of character she always does… It’s even present when I watch her in Cube. She’s definitely got a type.  I’m still trying to decide whether I think she’s cuter with long hair or short.

This film feels like a great missed opportunity.  Once again the whole prom night been is pushed to the background – almost making me wonder if the script wasn’t written first and then adapted into the franchise. But it seems to me like a great deal of catholic mysticism and religious horror could have been injected into this film making it far more interesting then The by the numbers slasher we end up with.

Unlike the second and third films, which are endlessly rewatchable, this one is utterly forgettable. AND LONG. One of the good things about the rest of these films is that the mercifully short – so whose idea was it to make this one two hours? Repeated sequels should definitely not be longer than Star Wars. I

There’s many films that would be improved by trying to stand on their own – but this is not one of them… Even without The prom night name, this would have absolutely been a forgotten VHS rental for me back in the day. One watch and never thought of again. You can probably skip this one, and It’s probably a good thing that the series ended here.

Or did it?


Phantasm Ravager

directorsd14470398_1286341708076916_8484064258982743829_nThis one is not strictly a Don Coscarelli film – he produced it while someone else directed it. However, his fingerprints are deep enough in the movie that I think that should count.

Phantasm 5 is easily my 3rd if not second favorite film in the series. I know I’m in a minority there, but I love everything about this. We have the reunion aspect, everybody is back for one last ride, but we also have a much better sense of finality. The Phantasm films never really end, they’re always cliffhangers, but this one feels more hopeful than any others.

There is a sort of piecemeal look to it, the decision to transition from web series into feature film came on little too late and is obvious, but it still feels like a satisfying end to the series. It’s just as weird as any of the other entries, and the action is just as vlcsnap-2016-10-10-10h38m35s121-copyimpressive and it allows me one more foray into this world.

I went to great detail on this film when it came out, and I don’t feel like rehashing that here, but I do want to let you in on the big secret of the film… Most of it is a dream. No, I mean it… From the beginning of the movie, until Reggie wakes up in the tall man’s laboratory, being rescued by the woman from his dream and her diminutive companion, all of that is a fantasy – one that the tall man has created to extract information. The only part of the film that is in the “real world “are the moment in phantasms end. Even when we start flashing back to the nursing home, that is the dream… It’s still hanging on, it’s still clinging along the edges. At the moment that he leaves the nursing home, the moment he dies in the nursing Home, that’s not REGGIE’S death – it’s the dream dying. It’s Reg choosing to live in the real world.

vlcsnap-2016-10-10-10h32m15s192-copyThe film makes a great deal more sense once you understand this, and it’s actually a lot more straightforward than ever, despite feeling wierder! It’s the final appearance of Angus Scrimm, and I’m glad for it. It’s a good performance, and the Tall Man is truly scary once more. No goofy companions like the scavengers from 3, he’s surrounded by dares and gas masked gravers. He’s on top of his game (though I wish he had some better lines to say) and even with the short hair feels scarier than ever.

A fitting end to the series, and also to this director retrospective.


753

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Red Robsters!

Remember that time they thought it would be a good idea for me to create the logo for our trivia team at Cinema Wasteland?

And then I had to throw this in for good measure….


752

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Trip With Teacher

boxghmv5bmzkymja1mtc3mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdc0mzkwmze-_v1_uy268_cr90182268_al_From IMDB : “A teacher and her class of female students take a class trip to the desert. Their bus breaks down, and they find themselves terrorized by a gang of psycho bikers. ”

That’s really about it. This is a perfect example of seventies grindhouse film. It’s a paper thin plot with some action and a lot of exploitation, and reminds me a lot of Graydon Clarke’s Satan’s Sadists.  It doesn’t quite qualify as a Biker movie, or an action one. It’s not quite a rape/revenge flick, though it comes close.

What’s interesting is I can see some potential here, but I suspect time and budget didn’t really allow for any development – even if the producers were so inclined. We have whole unlikeable characters (every one of the girls on that schoolbus are utterly distasteful) and the missed opportunity for a character arc in any of thier cases, opting instead for titillation. It’s what the film was made for I suppose, but it’s not my thing. Check out the trailer instead of the movie. It’ll be largely the same experience but at a fraction of the time.


751

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Prom Night 3

franchisebannerThe thing about prom night three, is that it feels like this director watched 1988’s Night of the Demons, and decided to do a version of it grafted onto the prom night series. Mary Lou is back but it’s a much less convoluted story – more of a very straightforward slasher rather than the slow possession that we got from the previous film. It’s a very stylized looking to me, but then again that’s what we come to expect – each entry in the series seems to have its own unique look and feel.

In Prom Night 3, Mary Lou is a ghost who is attached to a young man – trying to do things to help him. Helpful acts like murdering the guidance counselor or changing his GPA. I’m not entirely clear as to how this helps her, it doesn’t seem like her goal this time around is to return to life but rather merely a infatuation with this boy. Nevertheless, the bloodbath ensues and we get treated to some fun and inventive kills ask the story unfolds. If this movie wasn’t direct to video, it really should have been. In most ways it doesn’t feel like it continues the narrative  in any significant way. Indeed, the prom itself is clearly a minor component of this film – just a happenstance background for the final act .

That’s not to say it’s a bad film, I actually really liked it – I just don’t know what it’s doing using the name “prom night ” or “Mary Lou Maloney “. I’m definately inclined to pull this out again though in the future – particularly if I ever watch any of these films again, or even if I were to take another look at the Night of the Demons series… This would make a great number four


750

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Tony Isabella

I see Tony pretty frequently on the convention scene actually, he’s the creator of Black Lightning and has done some of my favorite Star Trek stories. A couple years ago at the very first MonsterfestMania, he was promoting the release of his new Black Lightning collection and handing these out. My daughter excitedly came up and said “free autograph? I want one!”

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While I like this picture, I’m really pleased to have his signature on one of my older BL issues, one featuring Superman!

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749

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Prom Night 2

I remember the ads for prom night 2 – this particular poster was plastered everywhere, I believe it was even in some of my comic books back in the day. One of the things that makes Prom Night 2 a much stronger film is that it’s its own thing – you have the recognition of the name with the classic film but it really has an individual sense of identity and is a quintessentially 80s slasher film.

This is a slow burn, a gradual possession flick with a very stereotypical blonde, innocent, catholic final girl at its core. We get some slimy greasy FX towards the end, although the gore is actually surprisingly subdued here.

Still, it’s not really the same kind of film that the original wires – it’s not the 70s gritty cult classic type. That’s okay, because it’s more of an 80s slasher classic type and honestly it still stands that test of time – as well as standing on its own as an individual film. The only thing holding this film back from true cult status, is the lack of a truly charismatic villain. Mary Lou Maloney is adequate, but she lacks the panache of the Freddie or Jason or even a Night of the Demons Angela. Still, this movie is definitely a recommend – it’s a good time and a nice fun slasher that belongs in your collection


748

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Cleveland Comic Con 2018

Conman

40417614_1034123063431759_6708631808457572352_nI gotta be honest with you. I think this show is just running out of steam.

Last year I was a bit more optimistic. I figured, they’ve just shrunk down to a manageable size, getting ready to reboot and grow in the future. I’m not so sure now. Cleveland comic con is mostly a vendor show. There is an artist alley, and they still make a slight effort to bring in media guests, but it’s all people who have been out this way already. It’s all been done before.

It’s also noteworthy to observe the lack of cosplay guests.  Not that this is a big deal per se, but last year they had them advertised. They didn’t follow through, and there were none actually in attendance.  This year they didn’t even bother. That’s shrinkage, not growth.  Speaking of shrinkage, I couldn’t help but notice sparse crowds. I can’t tell if that’s con fatigue or confusion. There were two other events going on at the same time in different buildings and I personally had a hard time figuring out where to go to get into the comic con.

Still there were friends there to hang out with and a costume contest to play in. Josh and Steph showed up and we wandered the halls as a deadpool group. I found a handful of comics in the dollar bins – nothing discounted any deeper than that. The 43387547_2415553741818661_6009742429266116608_nguys at the lego booth waved me over and took photos before presenting me with a Lego Deadpool figure – the one my costume was based off of.

I’m not sure what to think at this point. I decided to come out this year because I hadn’t secured a Sunday pass for Cinema Wasteland and Sundays are usually a drag there anyhow, with the hotel emptying out and people leaving. The problem is, I’m getting that same vibe here. It’s just one step up from the Harper flea market type shows. Not even panels anymore (though the strange NES gameshow they were doing was fun to watch….at least for a few minuets). I’m not sure how much longer this show survives.

We’ll have fun while it lasts.

 


Cinema Wasteland Fall 2018

Conmancw_show_logo

I don’t know, something felt different this time around at Wasteland. Maybe it was the weather – sunny and warm, with bright beautiful skies. Absolutely wrong for Cinema Wasteland. This is Cleveland and October is generally cool and overcast. Sometimes rain, occasionally snow. Certainly not blue skies and 80 degrees. Fortunately the hotel noticed the horror of pleasant weather and kept the movie rooms colder than the ninth circle of Hell all weekend.

I managed to kick off the day with Gunga Jim’s presentation of a terrible vampire movie and caught a few of the short films, but the real reason for being here this weekend was the My Bloody Valentine reunion.

God bless the cast by the way, for keeping those autograph prices to $15 on your own item (or $20 on a photo from their table). In this day and age, it’s practically unheard of, and I genuinely feel better about spending on autographs when it’s this reasonable. But even more amazing that this was the directors cut print that Wasteland secured to screen. This particular print managed to restore about 60% of the gore that had been cut out in the theatrical release – that’s the one most people have seen. It’s the one that was on VHS and the common DVD. The added gore makes it almost a completely different film. Sadly, the parts that are still missing, and gone for good. The director revealed that those negatives had been poorly stored by Paramount, and the surviving footage is basically decayed and in shreds.

43253644_2144184492292629_181332664538628096_nI managed to find some truly rare items myself. In addition to a couple films from local filmmakers, ones that had screened over the weekend, I came away with a strange “In-Store” reel from the Crow. A great addition to my odd collection of Crow behind the scenes stuff. I also found a beautiful hardbound collection of Shadow pulps with an introduction by Walter Gibson in 1966. It’s been a long time since I really felt like I was finding hidden treasures at a con. It’s good to be back to that.

Wasteland is always my favorite con, with it’s strange screenings and great guests. I’ll recover this week, and can’t wait to go back in six months and do it all again!

 


747

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Phantasm 4

directorsdPhantasm_4I have my own theories on why Phantasm 4 kind of tanked. Admittedly, the sequels that succeed the second film are all of a week quality, but it seems sometimes that Phantasm 4 gets a much worse reputation then Phantasm 3. I think some of it has to do with limited budget – and that limited budget does show, in other places I think it has to do with the fact that it gets confusing if you’re not already intimate with the series. The tall man is not quite as scary here There’s a lot mystery and it seems to be setting something up… something that never quite materializes. Distribution is a big deal too. A lot of people didn’t know that Phantasm 4 ever came out until it hit the Syfy channel… Those that did know, expected something different.

For a few years, there was a concept for a series finale called “Phantasms End” – it was a post apocalyptic adventure that might just start Bruce Campbell alongside Reggie Bannister where a disease ravaged the Earth and the Tall Man was at the centre of it all. p4reggieDon Coscerelli really couldn’t raise the funds for this movie and 4 was designed to generate interest and revenue in an attempt to get Phantasms End off the ground. It failed, and for the fans who were expecting Phantasms End but instead got Phantasm 4, it felt like a disappointment.

Taken on the own though, this is actually quite a remarkable film. Coscarelli pointed out that his cast hadn’t changed. We are inundated with flashbacks to the original phantasm – unused footage that at been stuffed under Coscarelli’s mattress at home, and is interesting because that’s not some child actor playing Mike Baldwin – it really is him, image71decades ago and young. The flashbacks in the misdirections yield a dreamlike quality, and an even more surreal tone then what has come before. It’s perfectly at home in Phantasm.

It is also once again, a beautiful reunion with the guys and I actually can easily watch this over and over again. My only real criticism, is that it’s very much a middle film – a transitional movie with nothing to transition to… at least, not for another 18 years…


746

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday


Nightmare in Wax

boxghmv5bodizmdazndm4ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjgwmtaymq-_v1_From IMDB : “The disfigured curator of a wax museum murders his enemies and then uses their bodies as exhibits in his museum. ”

All I can say about this one is it’s a poor man’s “House of Wax”. Indeed it really feels like a remake…but without Vincent Price. I even get a dash of the Mad Magician in the performance. There’s nothing particuarly bad about this movie, Bud Townsent directs a fun saturday afternoon horror flick here and I wish it could stand on it’s own, but in the end, I find myself watching Cameron Mitchell and insted longing for Vincent Price.

This would likely make an excellent double feature with house of Wax though (and is far superior to that remake Dark Castle did some years back anyhow….)