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Horror

Dominique is Dead

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indexDominique is dead it’s one of those movies that’s full of people that I feel like I should at least be peripherally familiar with, folks like Simon Ward and Jenny Agutter and Cliff Robertson. It starts off on the eve of dinner party, with the wealthy couple that are obviously having friction. The husband just fired the chauffeur and the wife is in a generally bad humor.

That evening, the wife, Dominique is depressed and scared and pleads with the new chauffeur driver to help her, but he’s just kind of weirded out by it and sends her back off to her room. She plays piano a lot. Her husband wakes up, and heads out to the patio to find her hung by a noose in a blue moonlight.

Watch Check; we’re nearly a full half hour into this thing! This chick better start haunting us, and quick like!

Husband comes home, lights a cigar and sits back, very satisfied. He does a quick check of the house before heading to bed and just stares at the piano. I’ve got a bad feeling about that piano.

index1The next day, a gravestone is delivered to the cemetery… It’s a gravestone with his name and the date of death is… Soon. He tracks down the manufacture, who talks about it being ordered by a woman in black, and said she was a mourning for her husband. She paid cash so there’s no trace, but when the husband comes home the piano is playing by itself and distant echoing footsteps ring out through the gloom of the house. Indeed, there is a figure and black walking through the halls, figure that disappears just as swiftly as it manifested.

Over the next day or two similar events occur, and it’s enough to send the husband after the cemetery to dig up the grave and discover whether or not his wife is truly Dead. Dead or alive, the grave is empty.
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I figure in black. In the house, outside the house, outside the office, in the street. He has a vision of his wife hanging again conservatory, but he’s convinced it’s a plan… a conspiracy to drive him mad.

Soon, the grave has a death date etched in its stone surface, and that date is tomorrow. The piano place itself as the husband rises from sleep with a gun in his hand and stocks the house, shooting at the ever present spectral figure. The bullets miss of course and the driver comes out to find out what’s wrong. Wracked with guilt, the husband admits he drove Dominique to her death, then fires the chauffeur.

Now he’s all alone.

I don’t think I will spoil the ending here, because this is a genuinely good film that I’d really like you to seek out and watch. I’ve noticed it in several places, not the least of which is YouTube.
The thing is, the movie is so understated that there are times when I could almost mistake this for a TV movie. It’s not, it’s just the way things looked in 1979 when you’re dealing with this sort of Gothic thriller, but despite the sometimes slow and sometimes flat delivery, it’s a masterful mix of classic mystery and ghostly horror. They get the mix just right, and managed to keep up a sense of dread through a lot of the movie. The trick is to get past that slow first half hour, because the last 2/3 of this film are stellar.

Cruel Will

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indexCruel Will starts with a news report at the scene of a gruesome murder before flashing us back two weeks earlier. A man sits alone in his apartment, smoking and going through bills before having a sudden heart attack. The credits roll, and I still know nothing more about where this song is going and I did when I pushed play

It turns out he’s the father of a young woman, Lily, who has just moved into a new home with her husband Paul. She’s already behind on her exams, and this is only gonna push her further back. It’s also causing a strain on her relationship, considering there was bad blood between Paul and the father. Indeed, we have a kind of bait and switch here as we focus more on paul now, who starts having visions. Visions of the white Lilly possessed, and strange things happening

Out of nowhere, a mysterious man drops off a package for Lilly, it’s a recording from her dead father promising that he’ll come back for her.

Paul thinks he’s going crazy, and gets pissed at his shrink that he won’t prescribe him anything. The doctor is convinced that it’s all in his head and that everything was OK. Nevertheless Paul finds himself sinking into madness, the more he feels as if his father-in-law to haunt him.

It doesn’t help Lily’s teacher has the hots for her and is slowly trying to move in on her. It all culminates into a violent confrontation between Paul, now fully crazy and everyone else as he siezes the urn with the father‘s ashes and runs away, plunging his entire life into an unraveled mess.
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It’s a very personal haunting, a very personal madness. I keep using both words because even by the time I hit the end of this movie, I’m not entirely certain what happened. I’m not sure if Paul was crazy, possessed perhaps, or genuinely being haunted and tormented by a ghost. Same goes true for the wife Lily. It’s not nearly as pronounced with her, for most of the film she’s just trying to cope, but once in a while we see something crack.
Ultimately though, the film is slow and that combined with it’s ambiguous nature, is a bit of a turn off for me. I’d like to have more answers at the end, and the entire movie plays like a CW show… brief moments of action punctuated by long stretches of attractive people talking about their feelings and hallways. It almost feels padded in this way, and this particular subject matter might’ve been better served in a short film that could’ve better made use of what is a thin plot. This one probably would’ve been a pass if it weren’t part of a set like this. However this sort of collection is exactly work in the midst of. A strange curated collection.


Kill Baby Kill!

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indexAs Kill Baby Kill starts, I have no idea what’s going on, a young woman running out of a gothic environment and somebody getting skewered while we get little girl laughing in the background… Even if this wasn’t a bava film, I’d pretty much be on board from this point.

A doctor arrives in a desolate patch of Italian wilderness, surrounded by gorgeous ruins. In the distance people carry the coffin to its final destination as a doctor finds the local pub to meet up with the local inspector so he can perform the duties of coroner.

It’s a superstitious village, and the inspector suspects a murder, but the investigation is going to be an uphill battle.

And autopsy determines that a coin had been inserted into the dead girls heart, it follows local legend about those who die vilently. Still, it doesn’t actually help them figure out whether it’s murder or suicide.

On his way home, the doctor is attacked by two gravediggers who object to the exclamation. The assult is stopped by a mysterious woman who vanishes as suddenly she appeared, leaving the doctor weary and broken to stumble into the inn he is staying at.

Elsewhere, the mysterious woman performs a rite on a young girl, lashing her so death will not touch her. She declares to the doctor that the entire town is under a curse. It index1certainly looks like it, with the foggy ruins, and atmospheric cemeteries. She directs him to the third household to discover his answers.

The house is old and sprawling in empty, covered by cobwebs. He finds a cranky old woman who demands he leave, as well as a ghostly child and bouncing balls floating in the halls. Meanwhile, his assistant is haunted by nightmares and visitations of a creepy doll. Across the street, the bell tolls in the abandoned Church and the assistant is convinced that the devil is here. They’re all bad portends, because the curse of the town is anyone who sees the dead little girl is the next to die, if they’re not buried immediately, the rise like a zombie.

Very much a “kill the outsider” kind of film, as a town is being supernaturally punished for it’s one hidden secret, much like Children of the Corn or the Wicker Man. There’s an undertone of dread and black magic that pervades and feeds right into the highly atmospheric visual style that Mario Bava infuses the film with. It’s worth a watch if for no other reason than just to lose yourself in the lush visuals, and immerse yourself in this dark ghost story.

The Devil’s Partner

boxevilindexIt might be easy to mistake the Devil’s Partner for a redneck, hillbilly film. You got an old mountain man bringing out a sheep in the wilderness, but then we get a good look at the arcane document that he is writing in its blood and see a hand reach over to help him and my faith in the occult thriller is restored.

Our credits go over a bus on the road headed to the flats, and a lone passenger getting off in a rumled suit to pop in to the local café. He’s way out of place in the small town restaurant. And he announces he’s looking for his uncle, the place clears out And the cops show up.

They suspect foul play in his death, he wasn’t very liked in the community.
As our hero Nick inspects the spell written on the floor, the dog mauls the local mechanic Dave, coincidentally opening up a job for Nick so he can stay in town. He takes employment at local garage, catching the eye of the girl who runs the local restaurant. The real horror here though, is that he’s wearing a bowtie in the shop! Also he’s picking up the local drunk for more arcane rituals. He gets trampled by a rabid horse.

It’s really not good to be an animal in this movie.

index2After discovering the body of the dead drunk,the local sheriff pops over to the shack Nick has been staying in, discovers the spell written underneath the rug, while his Yorkie sidekick digs up a goat bone on the side of the building. The sheriff starts to think there’s more going on here than meets the eye, and contrives a way to trick Nick into revealing himself.

Despite being a B feature from 1961, The Devil’s Partner is actually a pretty solid flick. It would be perfect horror host fodder, and I’d be completely content to stick around at a drive-in to watch this after the main feature. It’s flooding around YouTube and has popped up in several collections, it might just be worth your time.


19 Doors

boxevilindex19 Doors starts off with a screen writer meeting with her producer. He’s found her a location for thier next film, an old rooming house above his friends local bar, and it’s perfect for a horror movie. It’s a good efficient preamble and leads into some unique looking credits. Not too flashy not over the top, not the same animation I’ve seen a hundred times befre. That leaves me with a good feeling about this movie despite the shot-on-video resolution.

After scouting a location, the writer locks herself up in a hotel room, and it’s spooky enough to drive her out of her room to go explore some of the rest of the place. She starts to have visions of the place’s brothel history. Ghostly children wander up here and that’s around the time she breaks out the Oujia board.

She brings up a cop, she brings up a priest, but the visions keep coming every time she’s alone, and when the priest comes to bless the building, black cloaked entities command him to leave. The priest suggests about time the writer move out.. before the haunting turns into a possession
The thing about 19 doors  is that it’s just so flat. They try with the lighting, but overcompensate, creating, instead of mood, just a harsh contrast. The music is canned, and none of the scares actually frighten and it just fails to be affective. Good story, with some good ideas, good gags, good characters. I bet this was a great script. However the resulting film is just so bland that instead of creeping you out, it ends up just being boring. Sadly, this one’s not worth your time.

The Backyard Zombie Movie part 13

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The Backyard Zombie Movie part 12

filmography

 


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 11

filmography

Charles Craig from Night of the Living Dead guest stars!


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 10

filmography

 


The Backyard Zombie Movie Halloween

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Hack!

Movie bannerindexFormer Wonder Years star (and current Hallmark/Lifetime movie darling) Danica McKellar stars in Hack as a bookworm who just kind of fades in to the background of her local college. It makes her perfect as an envoy for a pair of psychopathic fans who use her to lure a class of film students out of their private island under the guise of  an extra credit project. Once there, the film students, who are all pretty much horror stereotypes are slaughtered one by one until we come up to an ending that will leave you shaking your head.

In a lot of ways, hack is a very meta film. However it doesn’t wear it’s heart on its sleeve, and it still manages to take it self seriously enough that you never feel like it’s about to develop into parody… though it skirts the edge and comes danger close a few times.

In the end, Hack is a great celebration of horror tropes and more than a little bit of bloody fun.


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 9

filmography

 


The Hospital

Movie bannerindexAs a general rule, I like Jim O’Rear, he’s creepy and off kilter and a generaly fun guy. When I got this copy of The Hospital I was really hoping for a creepy haunted hospital story. The cover gives me a similar vibe as what I get from films like Grave Encounters or Autopsy, and I was really hoping for more of that.

It’s a similar set up, we’ve got a hospital in the middle of nowhere that has a bad reputation and a team of paranormal investigators go to check it out. There’s no ghosts at this place though, however there are a couple of psychopaths that have taken up residency there and One by one pick up the paranormal investigators, murdering and raping them.

It’s a solid enough premise, but unfortunately, rape is one of my triggers… I don’t dig films like I Spit on Your Grave or Thriller. That immediately invalidates this one for me, especially since it’s so prominent and frequent, rape over gore is never a appetizing formula for me. Skip this one and it’s sequel The Hospital 2.


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 8

filmography

 


Underground Entertainment : The Movie

Movie banner indexI never actually got to see Underground Entertainment when it was still in his incarnation as a television show, which makes me incredibly glad that Underground Entertainment : the movie exists.

This documentary chronicles the exploits of a couple of lunatic actor and filmmakers as they make a crazy B-movie based cable show, complete with clips and cameos. It shows how they managed to get exposure in the convention scene but most of all it’s just a marvelous slice of life. It captures that era of the 90s in genre and reminds me a lot of what it was like to live in that period.

Early days for Jim O’Rear, but you can tell this is someone who loves the genre and loves being a part of it and much of this show was his love letter to all things B-movie and psychotronic.

If you’re a fan of documentaries or of the underground horror scene in the 90s, this is one of those movies that you’re going to just sink right into and feel right at home. I know I did, that’s why It’s a high recommend.


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 7

filmography

 


Evil Dead Cabin

3d103974209_3334465903264476_1910597162884592094_nA week or two ago I was working on printing out the house from Nightmare on Elm Street. I found a model on Thingverse called “the puritan” that was really close, so I downloaded it to make some alterations. That’s when I realized the house was actually in pieces, like a model… there were over a dozen STL files. After altering the front so then I had the windows I needed, and extending the porch awning a little, I virtually assembled all the pieces in Microsoft 3D Builder. I’ve been dabbling in Builder here and there, mostly using it as a print engine rather than a design space because it’s so limited. However, when somebody suggested I should do the Evil Dead cabin next it got me thinking about the way I had assembled the Elm Street house.

Typically I use Bryce 7 to do basic 3D modeling. It’s good for organics and basic things, like the nerds candy mascot or a simple spaceship, and is really good for rendering with the way that it puts mapped textures on the models. However creating an object like a cabin, with the physical textures of the slats in the shingles on the roof would be incredibly difficult. Each tile, each board would have to be created individually and there’s no way to shortcut that in Bryce. There might be a way though, in 3D Builder!Roof_shingles_1
While I can’t create complex shapes or use Boolean objects in 3D Builder, it does have a feature that’s incredibly useful. You can transfer two dimensional objects into three dimensional ones. That doesn’t mean that you can put in a photo of something and it’ll create a model of that, but if you take a black and white image, say something like a flag where you change the red stripes and the blue field to black and left the white parts white, 3-D builder will read the two different colors, and import the white elements, and give them some mass. It’ll treat the black elements is negative space and leave those flat. If you look up on Thingverse you’ll see a number of lithopanes done in this manner. I thought, “well what if I apply this to making the cabin?” I started off with a base, the walls have to be about the same size. On that base I drew stripes where the slats would be, and then added two squares for the windows, and one additional one for the door. I also added two black squares beside each window where the shutters would be. After creating the main part, I added a flat base for it to lay on, then created one more picture… The door frame and the details on the shutters (represented in green for the illustration) . I imported these three images into 3D Builder, then layered them one on top of another, each creating just a little extra upraised detail on top of the previous one. Once those three layers were created, I merged them into one object. This gave me my complete wall with wooden slats, and upraised frames and shutters. I repeated this process three times, creating each wall in the shape and detail that I wanted. Once I had all four objects created, I was able to assemble them, much the same way I assembled the Elm Street house.

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That just left the roof.
Front_CompleteInstead of creating individual shingles, the way I would’ve had to in Bryce, I instead drew a profile of the roof. It’s basically a big arrow, with jagged edges going up and down I drew this shape three times, altering the edges each time so that if you were lay those three images on top of each other, you would see some of those edges poke out from underneath each layer. That’s not too far from what I was planning to do in the first place here. I imported each of these images in the 3D Builder, and gave them a little bit of width, then stacked them on top of each other, creating a small portion of roof. I merged, copied, and then pasted. Now I have six sections of roof. I merged again, copied and paste it. Now I have 12 sections. I kept doing this until I had enough length to cover the top of the cabin, and ended up with a nice, rickety looking shingled roof that was uneven and detailed, perfect for what I’m trying to create.

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There’s a few extra touches, adding the floor of the porch, and the four wooden supports in front of the cabin, adding the chimney and even the electric meter for kicks. But all the work this time around was done in 3-D builder. I ended up printing it out without any supports, just for the heck of it… I figured I’d have to go back and try and do the roof separately, but the way these shingles were designed, it actually ended up supporting itself, doing each tile individually, which gave it enough time to cool and set in place.

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The end result is one of the 3-D builds I’m most proud of. Not just because of how nicely it came out, but because it’s something new, something different, done in a completely different program in format than what I’ve done before. 3D Builder is not replacing Bryce anytime soon, I still need to be able to do organic shapes and more complex objects then 3D Builder can handle, but I can definitely see myself leaning more and more into this app. It’s great to have another tool in my repertoire.

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The Backyard Zombie Movie part 6

filmography

Guest Starring Troma’s Lloyd Kauffman!


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 5

filmography

 


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 4

filmography

Night of the Living Dead’s Judith Odey and Kyra Schon guest star!


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 3

filmography

Evil Dead’s Tom Sullivan guest stars!


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 2

filmography

 


Horror Realm 2020

Conman62023466_2732372643452849_6947597294816460800_n88169113_10158079522045909_8638548596678983680_nThe artist behind the table waved me over. I shuffled in my Ghostbuster suit.
“Can I take your picture? I’ve got a guy on the other end of the phone who don’t believe you exist!”
Under the gorilla mask I smiled, and waved my Monkey paw.

I was there for the first Horror Realm, held in this very hotel. It was the year I was getting back into the convention scene and was early in my first big tour. The show was being heavily promoted by the It’s Alive Show (My favorite horror host show at the time) and I kicked off my Dawn of the Dead poster with a reunion there and the rest was history.
I was also there for the last Horror Realm, held in a different hotel, where I managed to plug a bunch of the holes in my Nightmare On Elm Street collection. It had been quite a few years in between, and I found myself remembering how much I enjoyed it and resolved to come back the next year.

Only there wasn’t a next year.

The promoters ran into some family problems, and real life had to come first. They ended up not being able to produce the show any longer and reluctantly retired. We thought, for good but last fall I took a peek at their website and noticed they finally managed to pull things together to bring the convention back and I was determined to be there.

As I pulled into the city limits, I noticed a car that merged in front of me. There was a Jason mask on One side of the trunk and I Michael mask on the other. It was Frankenstein monster on the bumper just below superman license plates from Ohio. I grinned and switched off the GPS, Figuring it would be a safe bet to just follow this guy the rest of the way. Once we pulled into the lot of the hotel, I discovered that he was actually from Lorain – the suburb that neighbors my own hometown near Cleveland. We chatted about Cinema Wasteland and then made our way in.

89373564_3095507000493702_7787305113906839552_nI was severely displeased to discover that Tiffany Shepis had cancelled. I understand cancelling because you’re sick, but the con didn’t post notifications on Facebook until 10 am, and by that time I was well on the road, my pre-departure website check irrelevant. There was a hand written sign posted inconspicuously behind the registration table. I didn’t notice it until I had scoured the vendors room twice searching for her. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the only one I was there to see. I made a beeline over to Kelly Marooney’s table to get her autograph on my Chopping Mall poster. I’m sad that she was overcharging and her price list was (unintentionally?) misleading about the gouging upcharge on photos, but it’s Chopping Mall and she’s the last one the con circuit from that movie available. It’s a terrible film that I have a strange obsession with, and I’m happy to have as many autographs on it as I do.

I moved along, doing some shopping. There was a huge box of loose He-Man figures for cheap. I grabbed several that still had their armor. Some still needed cleaning, but finding a Man At Arms with that breastplate and shoulder armor for four bucks is a big deal. I grabbed a functional Battle Armor Skeletor as well as a few others to hit that five 89292449_3095447960499606_3116333746337349632_nfor $20 mark. I found lip balm for Lydia and stickers for Maddie as well as a catnip Jason Mask for Sparky and loaded up on movie deals. Good shopping here and great vendors.

After hitting up the short film block it was time to get into costume. I’d brought out Tracy the Ghostbusting gorilla, just for fun. I don’t know if the Filmation Ghost Busters was just big in PA or what, but I think I got recognized in this outift more here than anywhere else ever! People got the joke, and several asked me about it – just to make sure, asking if the name tag was intentional and then showing delight when I confirmed that yes, I was doing THAT character. Its also just as fun as ever to watch people explain to their friends just what I am. This isn’t a big cosplay show (It’s not designed to be either) but there were a few notable costumes roaming – a fun Art the Clown from Terrifier and an amazing Chatterer from Hellraiser, not to mention a brief appearance by a Killer Klown. Over at the Happy Cloud Pictures booth, author Mike Watt grinned hysterically and fist bumped me. Actress Patricia Tallman (Night of the Living Dead, Star Trek and Babylon 5) ran over to me and had me video chat with someone on her phone….it was a good day to be a gorilla.

One of the things I really enjoy about Horror Realm is that they do some fun things, beyond just good panels and film screenings. They do a tattoo contest as well as a Match game where contestants get asked silly questions and see if their answers match a group of specially chosen panelists such as Ken from Cinema Wasteland and Amy Lynn Best from Happy Cloud Pictures.

It’s hard to tell, but while the crowd was respectable, it did seem a little thin. Because of the gap, Horror Realm has been knocked back into a rebuilding mode. The film selection suffered and wasn’t nearly as entertaining as previous years. Fears over the Corona virus may have played into it as well, but in any event you can see they are starting over. Still, Horror Realm is a name with some respect behind it and you can still see the heart they put into throwing this con. I still love it and I’m totally coming back, sooner I hope, rather than later.

 


The Backyard Zombie Movie part 1

filmography