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Curtains

index.jpgMy first impression of curtains is that it looks like an old 80s detective show – a Magnum PI or Columbo… We head into a crumbling old mansion as an actress is being admitted to the psych ward (I heard the director played by John Vernon – you won’t recognize the face but that voice is unmistakable from tons of television and animation ) She has an outburst and find herrself in a straitjacket and the movie begins in earnest. Turns out she’s getting herself committed just to do research on the role.

Elsewhere another actress is murdered and then the director gathers all the other prospects for the role to a house for the night. It’s a confusing narrative to say the least, but at least once we get to the house things seem to make sense. The mystery feel pervades the with the masked killer only shopping.jpgvery occasionally coming out to slice up a new victim has a very slasher style. Indeed if not for the slight gore and nudity, I’d be absolutely certain that this were a TV movie.It’s certainly slow enough

Curtains is the weakest entry in this set – and very much feels like it doesn’t belong in this collection. This one is a pass. Enjoy the other three movies in this collection and don’t bother with this one.


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

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

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Recent Pulls!

 

Did I really miss a whole month of comics? Because it sure seems like it… I had a lot of two issue runs waiting for me when I finally headed to the comic shop to catch up. That’s gonna happen again in the near future I suspect, I tend to get really busy around Halloween and just forget about everything else. Still, I had a pretty free weekend and it seemed like the right time to catch up on television and comic books.

Along with some of my other usual suspects, I actually decided to take a chance on Ms. Marvel and venom. It’s such a weird team up that I kind of had to take a peek. I think about Miss Marvel is it really all depends on who’s writing her. Some people write her as a wide eyed teenager, some people write her as a full grown adult, some people only want to write her as a crusading social justice warrior. You gotta get the right balance with her or else she becomes insufferable. Venom too, he’s not an easy character to write… But he learned some self well to one shot like this, and the book ends up being very solid and entertaining.

Also solid and entertaining our old standards like Iron Man and Elvira. These are good books that are pretty much delivering exactly what I want. Nothing earth shaking, nothing it’s gonna change the world, but engaging and entertaining stories that keep me coming back every month. I do still feel Like I missed something in Iron Man, the way they’re kind of shifting backwards to tell the story from the past to the present is a little confusing, but it’s been good reliable fun with Tony and Roady. Elvira too, a lot of fun as this month she is in nightmare in street, although we get a really strange cameo from the time displacement authority from Loki…. They are just pushing the boundaries of copyright as far as they can aren’t they?

So remember when I was talking about worlds finest last time and mentioning that it felt like they had wrapped their story up in five issues, and suddenly had to put together a filler issue…like a weird epilogue? But that was perhaps why Robin got lost in time? Well, I still stand by that opinion. This story feels very much like a standalone filling issue. It’s Robin trying to make do stuck in the time period that he’s in, but it’s not like we’ve got any real epic quest for survival on his end or a long arduous search for him on the part of our heroes. Robin basically leave them a note etched in stone, and they were able to travel back in time to the correct moment and bring him back.

It’s so anticlimactic that I almost wish they hadn’t bothered at all. Then again, as part of a greater hole, it’s still retains the fun familiar feel that I’ve been getting from worlds finest, and it Times up all the loose ends so that I can now move on to the next story arc.

It’s a Multiverse story, we’ve got basically a Superman like figure on a dying planet sent to our dimension. Superman‘s trying to take care of him, and Batman suspicious. All of this is pretty standard operating procedure.

The thing that I really enjoy about this one though, is it gives us another one of those rare glimpses of just how much fun Robin can be when he’s in the right hands. Indeed Robbins always been fun when paired up with Superman. The fact that he’s kind of Batman‘s light side… Designed a balancing out means that he matches really well with Superman, and I remember very fondly some early Tim Drake adventures with him, as well as really enjoying seeing him team up with Nightwing. These guys aren’t quite as cynical as Bruce and are able to enjoy Superman‘s company in a way that Bruce never could.

Daredevils doing some interesting stuff too. I feel like this title is very slowly ramping up to its story arc, and that’s nice. Issue two still gives us some good daredevil action in New York, and has been butting heads a little bit with the newly elected mayor Luke Cage. It’s good stuff, and really my only complaint is I do still miss the secret identity. I always liked the juxtaposition of Matt Murdock; lawyer, versus daredevil; vigilante. Still, they’re keeping up the intrigue and the almost detective bit, and it works. And then….there’s that moment, when it REALLY works.

I’ve talked a little about what’s going on over in the Punisher. It’s actually right up there with Iron man and Elvira….solid storytelling (Though it still feels more like a gimmicky mini-series rather than a return to any kind of status quo). DD and Frank have always had a complicated relationship with each other. Some writers like to portray them as two sides of the same coin…I’m not sure that I entirely agree with that though.  They really have diffrent aims. Daredevil is out for justice, while The Punisher is out for revenge. THAT’S what really disturbs Matt about him. Not the killing in of itself, but the darker motives.

And that’s why you can see sheer terror on his face when he’s informed that Frank is now in charge of the Hand. I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t and I love that they can still get me once in a while. It’s just a great moment.

Much to my surprise, I’m still sticking with Nightwing.
This has been a really pleasant run, reminding me a lot about all the things I really enjoy with this character. The main thing that has reall appealed to me in this particular run has been the way they are reestablishing the relationship between Dick and Babs. I mentioned noting this in both previous issues of nightwing as well as it also showing up in Batgirls
We get a potentially heavy moment regarding that relationship kind of subverted in this issue, but it provides me a lot of anticipation for what may be coming up in both titles.

 

It’s all so charming and exactly what I want from a Nightwing and Batgirl series. I really hope it grows from there. Good stuff ahead.

Or is it? Because I saw this ad in the back of the book and it really REALLY bothers me….
Maybe we’ll talk about why next week.

 


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

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Week of 9-22-22

I finally did it! I finally got around to catching up on Stargirl! I’m not sure why I dropped off exactly… I know that Maddie wasn’t really interested in watching it much anymore, but honestly, I thought I Was way further behind than this. There were only four episodes left in the Summer School season, and maybe it’s just because we’re at the climax, but wow, did they deliver.

So, where were we? Eclipse it was free, he’d blasted shiv into oblivion, and was now in the process of haunting each of the JSA members. That’s not too big of a problem, because they’re each dealing with her own baggage. Yolanda still has guilt over killing Brainwave Jr, Beth is watching her parents marriage fall apart, and her only solace is the slight contact she’s managed to get with the original Doctor Midnight. Hourman’s hourglass is broken, and for some reason he’s developing a bond with Solomon Grundy… All of this is fertile ground for Eclipso to work in. Nevertheless, they manage to come together to try and defeat a clip so… And the process, Stargirl is blasted away. It’s pretty shocking, considering how close to the end of the series we are… But we discover that what’s happened is she’s been banished to a shadow realm. a sort of purgatory where Eclipso can toy with her and others, to feed off their negative emotions. It turns out, Shiv is also there… As well as Dr. Midnight. With the help of the shade end guidance from Dr. Midnights goggles, Courtney’s parents managed to rescue them, and heading for the final showdown.

It’s really good, really well done. The characters are rich and complex, and current politics, while sneaking in around the edges, are kept to a minimum… Kind of feels like the good old days.

With that finished, it’s time to move from the summer school season into the Frenemies season. I don’t know if this will be a full 22 episode run or another 13… I have to admit, doing the 13 episode runs has really worked for stalker all. It’s giving them just enough time to do what they need without bogging everything down with filler.

If I have any real complaint about the Frenemies season… It’s that they’re building it as a murder mystery, but the title doesn’t feel congruent with it. Frenemies is a very high school kind of term, well this is leaning heavily into the sort of Agatha Christie murder mystery milieu. On the other hand, it makes sense because the beast storyline is an exploration of whether or not villains can really change… Whether they can truly reform and become allies. This is a very superman take. I pointed this out both and superman and early Supergirl… That part of what they want to do is take the bad guys, find them and fix them… Maybe turn them into friends instead of enemies. Courtney’s cut very much from that same sort of mold… Really trying to embrace shiv and incorporate her into the justice society. Of course sports master and his wife have also moved in right next-door to her, complicating things more than a little bit. Artemis also wants a spot on the GSA… And let’s just say, her mother is quite insistent. Hon

She Hulk on the other hand is a whole different story.

I gotta tell you, it almost feels like a chore watching the show now. Like, I don’t want to give up considering how far into the season we are, and I’ve managed to stick it out this far… But the show is just such a disappointment. This week sees Jen at a wedding, and it really reinforces the whole victim complex that she constantly revels in. Everybody’s mean to her, nobody’s nice except for her… Course the fact that she gets raging drunk and then gets into a fight with a super villain… Well that’s not her fault. Titania hit her first right? Of course back in the B storyline, the assistant and the lawyer from last week are taking over her current case… A “mister immortal“ who can’t die… So he gets married to unsuspecting people, then once he’s gotten what he wants financially or if it just starts to go to Dale, he dies, which terminates the marriage contract, and then comes back to life. It’s one of these stories that you could almost watch them going down a checklist. Seriously, it’s custom made… A “men are bad“ story with room to display a conveniently diverse group of ex-wives… And one ex-husband. Everyone’s different ethnicity, and everyone has a different beef… And it’s just so intentionally politically correct that it knocks you right out of the story. If it had been a group of white haired ladies in their late 50s and 60s, it would actually ring more true and feed into the stereotype they’re going for. I’d also be more convinced if they looked similar. Same race, same general figure. And you can’t make them all black… Because that would just mean Mr. Immortal is a racist. But seriously, most guys have a type… Just look at Hugh Hefner.(sorry, but he’s on my mind because of the trashy podcast Holly and Bridget from the girls next-door are doing). That sort of guy who can get just about anybody he wants is going to go for the same type repeatedly. Doesn’t have to be blonde and busty like Hefner, but skinny, fat, African-American, Latino, men… This is not a natural pattern, and again, it’s smacks of a diversity checklist Rather than organic chemistry, and it’s so jarring that it yanks me right out of the story.

Not there’s really much story here to begin with. She hulk shows up at a wedding, gets to complain about how they don’t want her to be Seahawk at the wedding and take attention away from the bride… She feels like everybody’s being mean to her, Gets into a fight,and then goes home. Seriously, I had a bridesmaid like this. We kicked her out of the wedding party. It is true, that most of the people in this episode are portrayed as jerks and pretty bad folks… The problem is, so is Jen. I don’t like Jen… But I’m supposed to be following her and rooting for her. And that’s kind of the root problem with she hulk in general. She’s just written as such a jerk, and that’s not the Seahawk that I know. It’s a shame too, because I like she hulk. The CGI model looks just fine to me, and I can’t wait to see her team up with the fantastic four. But man, this version is just a drag.

It’s no wonder the show is hemorrhaging viewers, and even though I’m sticking with it for the sheer masochistic duty of it, it’s not one I could recommend. Ugh. Just give me more Stargirl instead.

 



Ponyo

So, my daughter is currently going through a Studio Ghibli phase, something I wholeheartedly encourage. But the thing is, my own knowledge of Studio Ghibli kind of peters off after the 90s, so when I pulled Ponyo out of her movie box, I had no idea what we were in store for. A horse movie perhaps? Pony-Oh. You know, like that Spirit movie She had me watch a while back?

Boy was I way off.

Ponyo is the story of a fish who becomes a girl, to stay with the humans on land. As a goldfish, she was captured by a five-year-old boy named Sosuke.  But when she’s returned to the sea, she just wishes to come back to him, so she chooses to transform into a little girl… But that’s not without consequences. When one of her kind comes to land, they are followed by storms and tsunami and destruction. She must make a choice whether to return to the sea, or to give up magic and remain human. The wrong choice however, will result in her fading away into sea foam.

Despite that simplistic explanation, this is one of the weirder Jubilee stories… At least from an imagery standpoint. Indeed, to accommodate the detail and precision of all the sea creatures present in the storm, there is more art produced for this movie then any other studio Ghibli project to that point. Indeed, the opening alone, a mere twelve seconds, involving massive schools of fish and creatures, took 1,613 pages of conceptual sketches to develop. That’s strange, because it doesn’t look like it. Or the background so beautiful, but that’s just what they are. Their backgrounds… They fade away. The characters on the other hand, frequently look a little more simplistic than usual, and they are in dire need of an additional layer to shade them. Without it, they end up looking flat and a little boring. It’s strange, if I didn’t know better, I’d say they spent all their money on the backgrounds and couldn’t afford to finish the film.

It’s a problem too, because when you’ve got such a simple straightforward story as fish turns into a girl, and boy is searching for his mother, you really have to lean into the imagery in the art. We get some fun little side quests, but everything still feels a little thin.

Nevertheless, it’s fun to listen to Liam Nielsen, Betty White, and Lily Tomlin voice characters here. There’s a few different mythologies you can see them drawing from, elements from the Little Mermaid and themes from Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelungen. and there’s definitely a good film in here somewhere. However, it is one of Julie’s weaker attempts… And the box office reflected that. It’s a good film for Studio Ghibli completist, I’m certainly not trying to steer you away from it. Go in for the genre, and you won’t be disappointed.


Camp Cold Brook

I wasn’t aware that Camp Cold Brook was going to be a ghost hunter mock buster, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. These frequently turn out well.

It’s a really good set up though. We’ve got this haunted squad show and it’s about to be canceled. However the producer has made a deal… One more episode, but it is a special, and if it does amazing numbers, maybe they come back. It’s life or death for them. It’s do or die time.

The haunt squad arrives in a creepy little small town with plenty of doomsayers telling them not to go in. It’s a good way of giving us some of the backstory. It was a tragedy of the camp… Which cursed it cost 30 deaths in order to bring her child back. I set up, I don’t usually get witches in these sort of ghost hunter shows. In any event, it’s time for day one where they’re sitting at homebase in the main office, rigging lights and installing cameras. The special cameras are mounted on gimbals so that we don’t get anything particularly shaky cam. Good way of explaining away no more professional grade video we’re getting.

The first act does an excellent job of establishing the backstory, while the second act is working a lot harder to establish a mood. We start to get some activity, and it’s not subtle at all. The filmmakers here want to make it perfectly clear if something is happening here. The attacks are actually fairly aggressive as well for the second act. You can kind of feel the transition over into the third act though when an assistant tries to leave. Whatever’s here of course isn’t going to let them leave but now it’s time for the third at twist. Ghost hunters mother lives in the area, and she knows about the haunting as well. She knows, because ghost hunter grew up here and was a part of the curse… Only, he doesn’t remember and that’s a bad thing, because these ghosts have a good reason to want vengeance on him.

The film isn’t satisfied with just one plot twist neither, there’s still a few surprises in store here, but I don’t wanna give it all away. This one’s a really good one for you to see gotten watch. A good solid horror film with some genuine creep to it


The Hills Run Red

index.jpgOne of the things that I ‘m always struck by in Parker’s work is how he evolves and grows as a filmmaker. The Hills Run Red is the kind of film I almost expect him to make when not bound by the house style of Full Moon. There’s horror and thriller mixed together in this, with a grittier take than the sort of thing we’d seen before with him.

The Hills Run Red is the story of a young filmmaker trying to research and document the making and existence of a notorious cult film by the same name. To this end he tracks down the director’s daughter who is the only surviving cast member (shades of Manos!) and together with his small crew, they make the pilgrimage to where the movie was born.

There’s still buckets of blood and a masked killer in this film, but it’s far more layered images2.jpgthan The Dead Hate the Living. It’s not as straightforward a story, and it’s not really until you get to the end that you realize just how much misdirection there’s been here.

Mixing obsession, degradation while it twists the heroe’s journey archtype, the Hills Run Red may just be Parker’s best work.


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

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Murder Party

Murder Party is one of those perpetual Netflix denizens that I always seem to skip by when I’m browsing., It’s got a good cover and an interesting sounding premise, but something else always seemed a little bit more interesting. Now that I have A copy of the DVD, it’s a priority. Especially having the special features that help me get to know the filmmakers, I feel like thats something we need. Murder Party was made by people who have been together hanging out and making movies since they were in junior high and had access to VHS cameras and super8 film. Murder Party has been an idea they’ve been kicking around for ages and finally got together the resources to do it properly.

An average Joe comes across an invitation to a party, blowing down the sidewalk on a windy day. It’s Halloween, he doesn’t think twice about the fact that they’re calling in a murder party, so he sets up a bowl of candy corn for the trick-or-treating (who have already smashed his jack-o-lantern), turn the pumpkin into pumpkin bread, and crafts a Knights costume  out of cardboard, jumps on the subway and heads out. The partiers he encounters chain him up, and explain to him that he’s just a time for his own murder. We spent the next 40 minutes or so getting to know the killers. They really do want to commit murder as a sort of ultimate art piece, but at the same time are unsure about actually killing someone. The charismatic leader of the group leads them down some dark paths. The movie culminates in an exciting escape, with the murderers chasing our victim through a party, a club and an art gallery. It’s a satisfying conclusion, but overall, the film feels like it drags… and that saying something for an 80 minuet movie. I respect these guys but I can’t help but wonder if they’ve been off more than they can chew. The film looks slick, professional, well lit and well shot. The actors are all excellent but the story doesn’t fit into the traditional three act structure, and without that structure you begin to lose your audience. The middle part of the movie meanders and vacillates, much like the murders. It’s a one note gag that you really can only stretch so far, and Murder Party seems like it would have been better served yes a short film.

If I were to do my own cut, I’d tighten the beginning and then cut right after the first kill… Cutting over to the victims first escape attempt. I’d include the broom closet to scene, and from there Cut to the chase. If you seen the movie, you’ll note this sort of edit cuts out more than half the movie and and in excises entire characters but I think it would’ve been best for me. I don’t need to know really want to know the murderers. For me, we probably should lean on the wacky premise of the murder party and sell it.

Despite everything, it’s still a buy for me, because I wanna see more from these guys and I’d like to support future projects. Of course, the movies been out for quite a while now and I’m not sure how much my purchase actually helps them, but I really would like to see this casting crew given another chance. Even if this film doesn’t deserve it, they do


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

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Want to steal everyone’s Left Shoe?

toybox

 

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Zombie Walk fall 2022

In  a time when Zombie Walks are growing more and more scarce, it’s nice to know the Monster walk in Lakewood is still going on strong. I’m even happy to see there was a nice uptick in attendance. Fall is usually the smaller one, with a lot of the zombies already at work in the local haunted houses just before October. But the middle of September gives everyone a good chance to get in the Halloween mood and try out new makeup and characters before heading into the gloom and smoke and strobe lighting of their respective haunted attractions. Good to see some friends like Mark and Craig back up  and really interesting to see Epislon spearheading the whole thing.  It’s a good day to be a zombie in Lakewood. And if you don’t believe me….just take a look at the pictures below!

 

 


Nintendo Quest

It was Saturday morning, and I had just finished watching something particularly violent and bloody on television, but when I checked the clock I saw that the wife and kids would probably be coming downstairs anytime now so I had to switch over to decaf. As I was scrolling through Tubi to find something to watch , Something that would make the wife walk out and disgusted and wouldn’t scar the kids for life. I found myself in the documentary section, and one of the first things that came up was Nintendo quest. Interesting enough, I’m not really a gamer, but if you had to categorize me, I am if anything, a retro gamer… 

This is the story of Jay Bartlett. He’s a long time Nintendo fan, and gamer in general. He’s super passionate about three things… Star Wars, music, and video games. Gaming is one of his biggest passions, to the point where he owns a video game store and that’s a lot of what his life is centered around. In a conversation with his best friend Rob, Jay is challenged to collect all 678 of the official retail license Nintendo games… But there’s a catch. It’s to do it in 30 days. The movie is the story of that quest, an epic road trip from Canada through a whole lot of the United States, visiting game stores, flea markets, and neon lit basements full of every game you can imagine.

It’s a brilliant quest, and really humanizes the whole video game genre. I’ve always said I’d rather watch an episode of pawn stars than antiques roadshow… Because pawn stars makes you feel like you’re getting the same history from one of those guys that you’d meet at the swap meet, the sort of dude you’d have over to crack a beer and talk pop culture. Antiques roadshow on the other hand feels like a lecture coming from in a feet NPR tape wearing an impeccable tweet soup… It’s removed and distant… The same thing is true here. I’d rather hear the story told through the eyes of the guy going through the journey… The sort of long-haired rocker type that I have hung out with 1000 times at conventions and back room underground junk shops. It’s a marvelous film, and I walked away learning a surprising amount about Nintendo in general. It’s exactly what this sort of movie attempts to accomplish, and I can’t recommend it enough. I found it on Tubi, which means it’s probably available for free somewhere on a streaming


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

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Greystone Park

 

I first watched Greystone Park about five years or so ago, while I was on a found footage binge. When I saw it on the dollar store shelf, I grabbed it entirely for the special features. I remember it not making much of an impression on me originally, but the idea of Oliver Stone’s son making a movie intrigued me. I recall not thinking much about it. That review kind of still stands.

The Asylum Tapes (2012)

Okay, perhaps I’m being unnecessarily harsh. Really, this is not the genre for what Stone was trying to do. This film is pretentious, and more than a little artsy. It has SOME interesting concepts and some great lines…and all of them are more than this kind of movie deserves. Real people don’t talk like this.

We have the main characters breaking into an abandoned insane asylum, pretty much just for kicks, but there seems to be a kind-of idea floating around that maybe they could make a movie out of this… The filmmaking aspect of the story however feels completly secondary. And afterthought, nothing more.

the-asylum-tapes-01

I think I would have forgiven more if this had been a straightforward cinematic style. When you go shakeycam, you live and die by it, in the plain realism of it. These guys wax philosophical, and jump in and out of first person POV to wide shots and quick cuts of scary images. The idea is to build atmosphere, but all it ends up doing is take me straight out of the movie. I can’t suspend my disbelief so easily when you jump styles like that. This just doesn’t work as a found footage movie. When we do have the shakycam going it was another one that made me sick to my stomach, but interestingly enough it would frequently be just….TOO good. Perfectly framed shots lit for the sheer soul of it……again, a found footage film just isn’t the place for this. It makes me wonder why they choose this form of storytelling in the first place.

The final nail in the coffin for this movie is the lack of monsters or any real threat. It’s all poorly constructed atmosphere, a few quick and simple scares but nothing significant. We get one evil shadow for about three seconds and a brief flash of the girl on the cover – that’s right : she’s not the main antagonist and is hardly in the film. Funny, marketing seemed to figure out what this movie needed far more than the filmmakers. Did I use the word “pretentious” yet?

Seriously, this movie reeks of it. From the beginning scene (which we cut back to occasionally) of the family and guests  having a deeeeeep discussion around the family hooka (seriously) to the final shots of Oliver stone tipping his hat to the camera as his shadow walks away from him, this movie doesn’t earn any of it and it just kind of pisses me off.

The one thing that I neglected to mention in that original review, (perhaps it didn’t affect me that first time? I can’t imagine that’s the case) is the completely bonkers nature of the last 10 minutes or so. When they enter the chapel, all bets are off and it is the single scene in the film that is truly terrifying.

On the other hand, as pretentious and effete as the films dialogue is… The commentary track is twice as bad. I couldn’t get over how utterly pleased Stone and his friends are with themselves. There’s smugness, and a total head in the clouds sort of artistic obliviousnes. These guys are in their own world, and it’s crazy. They’ve convinced themselves that a significant amount of the film is real and it comes off as a bad episode of Ghost Hunters. I will say this, I’m pleased that I had the commentary and the alternate ending. It explains one of the story points that I completely missed…(because the film really isn’t that great and these guys were too busy making art to bother telling a story). The original ending is a little more cheap, cheesier and not as aesthetically pleasing, but on the other hand it actually wraps up the story much better and explains some of what happened.

I still can’t really recommend Greystone Park, but if you’re one of those people like me who came away from it confused when you watched it on Netflix, it’s worth grab them at the dollar tree just for that alternate ending and a little more explanation… Assuming you can swim through all the nonsense they spew without drowning. Good luck.

 

 

Abandoned Asylum

85% of the cast is under 25

Black and white greasepaint

Found Footage

Cover misrepresents the movie

something walks by in the background


Pyewachet

 

The cover of Pyewachet is eerie and incomprehensible, but when the film opens up in a barren woods in the middle of autumn, with some chanting over the imagery, we know exactly what’s coming up. It’s going to be a witch movie. Misfit girl with creepy patches on her book bag wanders to school hall and gets picked up in a car blaring heavy metal music to go home. Her bedrooms lined with black metal band posters and she trudges through an emotionally distant home where the mom is a drunk is still mourning her dead father and doesn’t really care where she goes and what she does. She hang out with her friends, reads books like an occult primer and gets nervous around her not-boyfriend.

One night she comes home to discover that her mother has signed a lease on a new home up north, and that they will be moving shortly. She retreats to her bedroom upstairs and loses her self in her impressive collection of occult books.
You can almost feel the detached sensation of walking through life knowing you’re being ripped from the home that you really want to be out in the front if you know. They argue, and she runs into the woods, furious and despondent. It’s in those words that she will begin her ritual. There are soft noises in the woods, and the crow caws as she’s summons something.

The next morning, the door is ajar and there’s dirt tracked into the house. It’s creepy but nothing else a mess. Lee and her mother head into town for some shopping. Halloween decorations are up. Lee seems to be getting along better with her mother, Mom‘s concern over the cut on her arm actually seem to bond them. But now they’re strange noises in the house, footsteps at night and shadows on the wall. Dark figure clings there in creeps around her room as she sleeps.

And then she wakes in the Woods.

At this point she seeks help from her friends, one of them comes with her to spend the night… mostly because she’s hoping to see weird stuff happen!

She does. Something comes to her in the night and in the morning, she’s fled into the car, terrified and shaking. She’s adamant, she’s not going back inside the house… But she won’t talk about it either.
The entity that Lee’s unleashed can only be stopped if she performs the ritual in reverse, asking forgiveness each time. And time is running out, because once it’s finished it’s task, it’s coming for her
The film feels like an interesting low budget mix of The Witch and Insidious. It’s done well enough to give me the creeps and even goosebumps during parts of the climax in the third act. They show you just enough to scare you, while leaving enough to your imagination to keep you uneasy. It’s incredibly well written and well shot and genuinely scary. This one’s absolutely a high recommend
85% of the cast is under 25
Moving to a new house
Kind of cultist
CGI monster
occultic symbols (bonus if hidden)

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

286


Critters 4

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indexI got to be honest, I’m kind of a sucker for the “in space”  entry of any horror genre. Jason X and Leprechaun 4 our among my favorites in those respective franchises. It took Hellraiser two tries, but they did get it right with Event Horizon. More than most franchises though, Critters is uniquely suited for the space episode, considering that the wee little beasties are aliens in of themselves.

The previous film set us up for this, with the critter eggs being loaded onto an escape capsule that would then float around in space undisturbed, kind of like Buck Rogers. It’s found by a group of salvage people and they run it to a Terran space station  which is eerily abandoned. The critters hatch and begin to do their thing while the crewmates squabble.

It’s actually an impressive cast, with the ship being captained by Anders Hove, the vampire from Subspecies, engineered by Brad Dourif of Chucky fame, and piloted by Angela Bassett. The computer indexvoice on the space station also just happens to be hammer horror alumni and bond girl Martine Bestwick.

On the space station, where they’ve been conducting illicit experiments, the critters lay eggs while our heroes attempt to contain and require them. The movie manages to infuse the general fun of critters with the sci-fi genre and general Critters franchise feeling. Filmed back to back with part three it’s not surprising that they are able to maintain a consistent tone. It’s notable to see some of these actors in early roles but ultimately becomes disposable and silly entertainment, but definitely get the extra points for me for being in space!


Werewolves of the Third Reich

Werewolves of the third reich starts off with a title card telling us it’s 1944. Probably a good idea, and the setting is beautiful. A brick bar that feels like it’s in a basement, with well it light glinting off the bottles. Our main character, Maddog, starts a fight with a Nazi which turns into a shoot out in the bar. They’re good at tension, but that Beretta his partner is holding his way out of place.

We passed the credits to chapter 1, which takes place at a prison camp where the women have more anachronistic hair. It’s an experiment camp, where they’re testing out chemicals and serums on the prisoners, making progress on their biological warfare efforts, even enough for a scientist to deliver a report to the least convincing Hitler I’ve ever seen.

Flashback to the execution of a traitor and his family, filled with CGI blood splatters from the same pack everybody else uses, and then a return to the scientist who talks about combining human DNA with wolves. I’m glad to finally hear something about wolves because we’re a half hour into this thing and I haven’t seen a single werewolf. That takes us to chapter 2, with a couple of our army men arguing.  The junior officer is tossed into the back of an empty van with a group of guys headed for lock up. Stories in the van before we shift back over to the more interesting Nazi scientist, working in his lab. He needs a male and a female, according to his brain research. Meanwhile, the MP then get stopped by a blockage in the road… A suspicious stack of logs. It’s an ambush, but it does provide the prisoners with a chance to escape.

Meanwhile a mad scientist is cooking up a reanimator style serum to turn ordinary men into wolf hybrids. His first test subject is his guy his wife is having an affair with.

It’s just past an hour before we finally see this first werewolf. The thing is, it’s not really a werewolf as much as a monstrous mutant. I’ve always preferred Lon Cheney wolfmen to the American werewolf in London style, but this thing isn’t either. It’s more man than wolf. Practically hairless, with a fair looking appliance on his face. The cheating wife is so heartbroken that she injects herself with a serum to, just in time for the merry band of prisoners to find the installation and launch their own assault.

The good news is we finally get to see the werewolves strut their stuff… Bad news is there’s only 10 minutes left in the movie.

At the end of the day, this entire film comes off looking really cheap. It’s got that unflattering shot-on-video sheen to it, and they make a common mistake that low budget reductions fall into. When you do a period piece, everything has to look period. Not just the army uniforms, not just the Nazi uniforms (which are okay), but the haircuts, the beards, the house interiors, the photographs all of it. On a low budget production, it’s too easy for stuff to slip by or for “good enough” to be the standard of the day. These locations never feel genuine, and the characters just don’t look right. Some pinup hair and harsher make up would’ve gone along way on some of these characters… Even if it were out of place, it’s a sort of thing we expect to see… The sort of thing that conveys the era to us. The uniforms tend to be badly fitting and made from fabric that fails to convince… No matter how historically accurate they may actually be. And the fact that they don’t really commit to the werewolves, makes this a massive disappointment.

More a shame, because somebody had a clever idea, but not the skill to truly develop it. I don’t get to know this group of soldiers well enough… In fact, we really learned More about the mad scientist and his wife that we do about our heroes! I want these army guys to be people I can root for, a group of heroes that I want to revisit again and again, in sequels down the line. I think that’s something they could’ve accomplished… The templates are all there, but they failed to stick the landing and instead of becoming heroic arctypes, they really end up just being cardboard cut outs, and it’s a shame. Werewolves of The Third Reich is a hard pass both for werewolf lovers and fans of natziploitation.

 

 

Mad Scientist or science gone wrong

Girl is in love with Monster

Bad CGI (common, afterFX, same old blood packs)

 


Clowntown

Clowntown actually reminds me a great deal of the remake for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre… But with clowns.

Do I have your attention now? Good.

We have a group of people heading out to a concert in southern Ohio, but they get lost and stop at a diner for directions. They direct them along in the road heading towards their destination, but once back on the road one of the girls realizes she’s lost her phone. She calls it, and someone answers… Presumably someone from the diner who picked it up. He says he can meet at a small town just down the road.

Of course it’s a trap, and the small town is being terrorized by a gang of evil clowns. The kids car is sabotaged and it’s now a race to survive the night.

It’s interesting because we get just enough backstory on the clowns themselves, just a sprinkle. It’s very much a gangster piece, with these characters holding the entire town hostage. It feels like that sort of pervasive terror, where everywhere you turn, people are in thrall to the bad guys, and there’s no safety anymore. It’s a vibe I picked up from the TCM remake, as well as films like Race the Devil.

While it’s not bad, it’s certainly average. I’ve never quite understood the creepy clown thing, especially when in this case, they’re just people… Not monsters and demons, not aliens, just people in costume. The scariest thing about them is that perhaps they are willing to commit murder…and maybe, you’re not.

All in all, very average.

 

 

85% of the cast is under 25

Car breaks down

Clown(s)

 


I Like To Hurt People

indexI like to hurt people was billed as a documentary, and maybe it is… But Donald Jackson presents it as a linear narrative – far more like a feature than a documentary. It lends itself to this format, because of the inherently staged nature of wrestling, pushing a story line  right alongside the gladiatorial combat. Indeed, this feels familiar, with plenty of ringside interviews and grandstanding to inter cut between staged scenes .

We get backstage imagery of one Wrestler threatening the cameraman, spectators at the snack bar discussing the current match, backstage antics and the like. The most notable of these kind of scenes is one with wrestlers waiting in their car to meet their opponents. The camera captures perfectly, their shock when Andre the giant emerges, gargantuan and bigger than life from his ride. I’m going to go on record right now and say this movie is worth the watch just for this and to see more Andre.

In great part, this is the story of heel wrestler Edward Farhat, better known as the Sheik. In the early days of television, the Sheik almost single-handedly escalated the violence and commercial appeal of professional wrestling with a style that was “Hardcore” long before that genre of wrestling ever existed. Steve Slagle, a student of wrestling, wrote in The Ring Chronicle that ”perhaps no other wrestler is more responsible for influencing the current generation of ‘hardcore’ wrestling than the one and only Arabian madman known as the Sheik.” “I like to Hurt people” follows the 6 foot tall, 247 pound villain as he cuts through the wrestling world, changes managers and fights his way through with a showdown against Dusty Rhodes : the American Dream on the horizon. This is professional wrestling, it’s old images2school. It’s not the glitzy polished events we’re used to seeing with the WWE. These wrestlers are a barrel chested, big guys with less muscle definition, but every bit as much attitude and big personality as you have ever seen in any pro wrestling event. There is blood here too, not quite as much as you might see in the underground hard-core wrestling circuit that 42nd Street Pete promotes , but more than what you are probably  used to in your average royal rumble!

I find it particularly amusing to watch Andre the giant literally lift people up over his head and then toss them out of the ring.

In the background, we have the President of the “Stop the Sheik” movement attempting to derail the upcoming match, and get the Sheik out of the circuit. It’s a subplot that helps to hold the entire story together between matches. Interestingly enough, this wasn’s part imagesof the original pitch, but was added in years after the footage was shot to pad the run time and give the film more structure. Eventually the “Stop the Sheik” movement ends when the man behind it just… disappears!

Contrived subplots aside, there’s still plenty of interviews, giving you a clearer picture of why the wrestlers do what they do and what it means to them. It keep the film feeling like a documentary, even as it unfolds as more of a hybrid.

“It’s how I found true meaning. I like to hurt people”

Jackson isn’t content to just cover mainstream wrestling though, we get a side story about a female wrestler named “Heather Feather” who really wants to wrestle a man. Jackson documents  the arm wrestling match that leads to the images.jpgreal thing. We follow her into the ring for what is billed as the first pro wrestling match between a woman and a man. It’s a novelty act, but an Ernest one. Jackson not only covers women’s wrestling but also matches with little people – as brutal and pitched as any fight you can imagine.

Back on the mainstream circuit, trouble arises, and the shiek’s manager quits and has to be replaced by an even more colorful character. The Sheik continues on, bringing his boa constrictor with him to the ring and bowing to it before the matches. He rarely speaks, and what he does say is in Arabic, spoken in sinister tones. In the back on his limo, he and his manager ride off to the future.

When we talk about Donald Jackson, we usually like to focus on the bad films. But I’m going to come straight out and say this is a good movie. How can I tell? Because I don’t like wrestling. I may know some of the names because they are pop culture, but I do’t have any interest in the form or genre. Nevertheless, I was completely sucked in. I was riveted by this film on a subject I don’t care a bit for. It goes on Ebay from twenty to fifty dollars.Do your self a favor and scour the goodwill, salvation army and other thrift stores to find a battered old VHS copy of this.