The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Horror

Sleepaway Camp 2 : Unhappy Campers

franchisebanner

Sleepaway Camp franchise

I’ve long heard Hellraiser fans lament the fact that in Hellraiser 3, the character of Pinhead kind of got changed from a surreal judge and turned into a flat-out slasher. Moreover, they always talk about how Freddy gets more jokey in the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, and how the whole series starts to get watered down.

I shake my head and tell them “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

sleepaway-camp-iiSleepaway Camp 2 has very little to do thematically or aesthetically with the original. There’s no mystery or intrigue going on here, this is a straight up slasher film designed to maximize boobs and blood. It’s a perfectly predictable formula and barely feels like it’s got any connection to the previous film at all. Even Felssa Rose is absent from the title role. It was such a different reading of the character, that when she auditioned it didn’t quite work for producers. Just as well, as shed been planning to attend college around that time anyhow.

Counselors from camp Rolling Hills telling scary stories around the fireplace, but one of them comes up says you know I know the story about this one girl from the camp about 60 miles from here… And begins to tell the story of Angela Baker. Good recap in 30 seconds of that film, which sets us up nicely in the mythology and continuity. The story ends with Angela being released, advance of this film.
Of course it’s easy to tell where she’s going to come in, she’s already in sconce at camp Rolling Hills as a counselor, with a habit of “sending bad campers home.” Like any good slasher, we get our first  kill within the first five minutes.

imagesAngela’s portrayed as a stuffy, prissy counselor, the sort of one who is obsessed with rules and wants nothing more than to just exist here in the camp. She explaines away her first victem’s disappearance as happy to send her home because she was behaving inappropriate, trying to seduce every boy in the camp!

It’s mostly older campers that we’re seeing here, 18-year-olds who are old enough to provide the requisite nudity and keep the censors from getting too uptight about having too many dead children in the film.

She attracts the attention of one of the other counselors, a bigger guy with a glorious images1golden mullet who is trying to get to know her, but she’s mysteriously distant! Over at the pool, teenagers are on the make, while in the woods, Angela secretly stalks looking for evil doers. She finds a couple of girls getting drunk and stoned, and we definitely know who’s going to get “sent home” next. Pam Springsteen is definitely trying something here, delivering straight faced and campy lines as she torches the bad girl alive. It’s definitely her and take on the character in an attempt to emulate the one-liners you see from other cinematic killers of the era such as Freddy Kruger, but it does come up a little goofy.

index11That night, Angela is off to a camp counseler meeting, we have to get some camp shenanigans in with a panty raid and the boys generally terrorizing the girls in a fun and flirty way. Angela comes back and is furious, putting on the wicked witch of the west attitude. She insists, she’s just trying to keep everyone safe, because she knows what happens at Camp when things get… out of hand. The girls of course decide to take revenge and raid the boys cabin. It’s actually a fun case of turnabout, but only angers Angela further. Time to send another camper home! This is why you should never flash the boys at summer camp.

The next morning at breakfast, Golden Mullet mentions that there’s some things that have gone missing. Things like 50 feet of rope, an electric drill, and the battery to his car. It’s a great bit of atmosphere, played for laughs but setting up where Angela’s getting the materials for her murders. Outside, one of the other counselors seeks out Angela for advice, because she’s shy and Angela used to be shy… but now you can’t get her to shut up. It’s clunky but a nice backhanded connection to the original film.

Soon enough though, we’re back to camp shenanigans to pad out the time between murders, this time arts and crafts. Of course the boys are painting a hockey mask… indexAlthough to be fair it’s more like the mask from Bloody Murder than it is Friday the 13th. It comes into play later on that evening, as the boys use that and an homemade Freddy glove to prank the girls at a campfire, but guess who gets a hold of that Freddy glove? Once Angela dispatches the first boy with his own glove, she turns her attentions to our faux Jason. This time she shows up wearing the other boys face as a mask and wielding a chainsaw! It may be the high point of the film, a great homage to the other horror classics of the time and clocking in right about halfway through. It also justifies the image they use for the movie poster… though curiously enough, that’s not actually ammo Springsteen she was unavailable that day so they used an entirely different model named Connie Craig.

Elsewhere, a couple of campers are getting it on, so it’s time for Angela to go back to work! Sadly, the chainsaw is out of gas and Angela looks so annoyed as her prey gets away.

As we roll into the third act, Golden Mullet starts noticing too many people missing, and for her part, Angela is beginning to spiral out of control, killing one girl just because she talks too much, and another to protect her cover. The dormitory is almost empty, just index121Angela and one other girl now, our final girl who figures out Angela’s secret as she remembers the folk tales from the opening of the film.

Angela gets fired because she is “sending too many people home”. Meanwhile, final girl and her boyfriend discover Angela’s secret cache… ashed she’s been storing her victims in… remember this is a slasher, and we’ve got to hit the tropes! Soon enough, our final girl will then get captured, escape, find a knife and fight for her life! But first, here comes Golden Mullet to the rescue, just in time! Just in time for a face full of battery acid that is…

When our final girl falls down a cliff, Angela just assumes she’s dead and it’s back to the camp to kill everybody else. But as night falls, the final girl wakes up in time to make it to the road and try and hitch a ride away from this nightmare. Just her luck, the first car to come along is Angela, making her escape from the cam! Cut to black and an appropriate 1988 rock song.

This is as fun as any 80’s slasher. It’s creative kills with buckets of blood and a general sense of fun to it. Even though it never quite feels like it’s part of the Sleepaway Camp story, they still try their best to connect back to it and remind us that Angela is the same person as that little girl from 1980. Pamela Springsteen does her best to make the rle her own, a wise move knowing that as soon as Sleepaway Camp two wrapped, she be headed right over to Sleepaway Camp three, shot back to back.

Advertisement

Hack!

indexFormer 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 House That Would Not Die

boxhhindexI had my suspicions about The House That Would Not Die from the word go considering it’s a Aaron Spelling production, and I feel a twinge of apprehension as I realize this is a television movie. Still Barbara Stanwyck is a good sign, and she’s playing opposite Kitty Winn as her niece Sarah . This young actress would go on to have parts in not only The Exorcist, but The Omen and The Exorcist 2 as well! It’s enough of a pedegree for me, so I hunker down and prepare to soldier through.

The film opens with us flying us through an old house with all the furniture covered while eerie music plays in the background. Through the window we can see the new owners pull up in a car, but it feels like you’re being watched.

The next door neighbor shows up and everybody seems astonished when they meet him. He seems friendly enough, and yet his obsession with the house is a little strange… Not to mention insisting they join him for dinner next-door that night.

All the neighborhood shows up and insists that they should have a seance in the new house. This, amid strange dreams and the purchase of a weird old painting from the junk shop that jumped off the wall and into the fire, start to ease us away from the whle soap opera feel the film and into some slightly more suspenseful elements. It’s still has all of the burnt soft camera lenses that we’re so used to from CBS TV movies in the 70s, as well index2as the powder blue tones of Paul Lynds television home.

Barbara Stanwyck‘s in for a good bit of abuse in this movie, getting attacked not only by the next-door neighbor, but also her niece as the spirits of the house possess both of them. As the film progresses, Sarah slips deeper and deeper into her possession, speaking in a different voice and acting strangely. The possessions gone far enough that even once they clean the house, Sarah still carries spirits with her, and the family must resort to an exorcism if they are ever to live in peace again. What happens though, if the exorcism fails? Ghosts in the house forever battle against each other through their human agents?

Like most television movies, it’s competent but not scary. It’s very much a product of its time, and have some interesting ideas, but ultimately fails to satisfy me. It seems like a very strange inclusion with the set, totally very different, while thematically some more. If you’re a fan of TV movies, you may enjoy this, otherwise I’d say skip this one.


Dark Haul

Sinister looking monks and a cursed birth… Dark Haul really kicks things off the right way doesn’t it?

The action starts immediately as A daemonic beast burst out of the pregnant woman and attacks everyone present. But it’s not just one creature she’s having birth to… There’s another baby still alive in the womb. Something less demonic… As long as you don’t look at the tail. Those two children are immortal, with the baby girl still retaining some connection to her winged demonic looking brother… Over nearly 3 centuries.

We shift to modern day with a SWAT team after something sinister, and a young woman running through a factory to try and escape it. Apparently the creature is broken free from prison and the team is there to contain it. It’s fast, moving in the shadows and sliding through the building with minimal noise. Of course because this is a sci-fi movie, the creature is a bad CGI creation. It’s best left in the shadows.

The sister it seems, is also prisoner of this group, and has managed to escape in the confusion. Perhaps prisoner is too strong a word. While she’s held by them, she’s acting more as a collaborator, trying to control her brother.

The plan now is to move the whole operation, her and the beast in the priests that and present it to a sacred land in Pennsylvania where they hope to better control them. A cage covered in mystic symbols is loaded into a semi truck and they had off.
A stop for fuel turns disastrous when a series of seeming accidents caused the gas station to explode spectacularly. Everyone gets away safe, but the truck blows the fuel pump which leads to another stop. The chaos is making the beast stronger. As the strength grows, he can make people see things. These hallucinations or what it used to manipulate people, and the order has decided it may be too dangerous to live now. It’s computer-generated Skull like face glares, lunging side to side in its mobile prison.It’s created enough confusion for his sister to release him.

Final showdown is in a cabin in the woods, where they’ll either contain him, kill him, or lose it… And condemn the entire human race.

For a syfy movie, this isn’t bad. But make no mistake… This is the first sci-fi movie and contains all the elements you’d expect. A pretty girl, foggy blue lights, and a bad CG monster that only appears briefly, with the bulk of the running time filled by people talking about the monster rather than fighting it. The biggest problem here is that you never know who to root for. They do their best to make the beast and his sister sympathetic, Trying to get you on their side with her tales of woe, slavery and captivity.
On the other hand, the heroes of the piece are absolute jerks, and they go out of their way to make you dislike the leader of the military. There’s no one here to actually root for, and even having watched it, I don’t know who the hero this piece is.this is one of those where if it came on television, you don’t need to automatically turn it off. But if you’re expecting anything more than a generic sci-fi TV film, you’ll be disappointed.

 


Charismata

Charismata begins with a couple of cops pulling up to a particular bloody murder scene. There’s an occult sigal on the wall, and the British accents are heavier than a ton of bricks. Also, these guys have obviously seen Silence of the Lambs, in a drawing some influence from it.

All they know back at the home office is that the murder bears similarities… In particular one where the same sign was drawn on the wall. It’s a bad case and a bad day for a rookie detective, and I’ll leave it to get worse when victim number three pops up.

It plays out like a typical police procedural, with a couple of side trips to the doctor for a detective… She’s got a weak stomach and no time to renew her prescription. She’s having bad dreams even as they finger their person of interest, and set up a stakeout. It’s a bum steer though, as the next victim pops up, even as they cut their suspect under surveillance.

The dreams keep coming, and get progressively more intense. Or are they just dreams? The lights in her apartment keep blowing, and she’s obsessed with the exonerated suspect, Michael Sweet.

Even after one of the other suspects confesses and kills himself, she still having visions of Sweet, and they’re getting more and more frequent. He’s following her in her dreams in her life in her mirror in her television… And she’s certain he’s still the murderer.

Here’s the thing, this is not a horror movie. This is more of a lifetime television style Law and Order police procedural. It’s got some occult background dressing, and a heaping helping of am I going crazy injected directly into it. But despite some of the blood and paranoia, this belongs far more in the crime drama section of the library rather than the horror section. It’s not bad at all, but you do have to know what you’re getting into, at Lear until the ending, which will weird you out just a little bit and feels tacked on – but it’s too much asking me to wade through 90 minutes of police procedural just to get six minutes of supernatural horror.

 

 

Catholics and/or Exorcism

85% of the cast is under 25

Cover misrepresents the movie

Stock DVD cover (Distributor’s similar House style)

Trippy Mind games

Thriller pretending to be horror/ghost story


Intruders

Anna’s brother has died of pancreatic cancer, leaving her their family home. After being his caretaker for so long, she is not quite sure what to do with her life anymore and can’t bring herself to leave the house… Perhaps ever.

However, during her brothers funeral a couple of thieves decide it’s a perfect opportunity to rob the house. Little do they know that Anna is still there. She hides, but they find her and begin to interrogate her. We discover that she hasn’t left the house in 10 years. No where to go. An attempt to drag her outside kicks her agoraphobia into overdrive, and eventually she escapes into the house. This is when they find she’s more than capable of defending herself.

Stabbing is one thing, but trapping the guys in a strange panic room downstairs while she makes tea takes on a whole new level of creepy. There’s more going on here than meets the eye and it goes beyond just a case of the tables have turned.

I don’t really want to go any further because this film has an intresting twist and goes into some uncomfortable places, but it’s worth a watch. It’s smarter than just another horror slasher, even if it’s held back a bit by it’s budget. Intruders is absolutely worth a watch.


Haunting of Winchester House

boxhh41maVWogqWL._SY445_.jpgIf the asylum logo showing up wasn’t bad enough, the film is made by Mark Atkins which feels a little bit too close to Peter Atkins – as if the author himself is perpetuating the Mockbuster feel. In this frame of mind then, it’s no wonder that I find the opening scene of the UPS driver delivering a parcel to feel very much homage to Spider Baby.

The house itself is achieved in an interesting manner, it’s obviously a matte or possibly a CG model. But more often than not however it’s quite convincing. Still, the thought of family (even if they are just care takers or something) is just casually moving in and out of the Winchester mansion seems a little ridiculous.

They arrived to find the house unlocked and surprisingly furnished, not to mention painted bright colors. They were originally meant to be lodging in the caretaker wing But a note left on the kitchen table states that it’s uninhabitable so they get to live in the main house.

We get foreshadowing almost immediately. A photograph from the 19th century of old images1.jpginhabitants, a mysterious little girl stalking the family’s daughter and a doomsayer who shows up at the house asking what the family is doing there. They let him know they’re just passing through, staying for a couple of months while elsewhere, the daughter follows a creepy ghost  girl into the cellar. The doors slam behind them giving her a good shock, though no harm done. From the cellar she brings up a chalkboard that was obviously once used by one of the people in the old photograph – a deaf man. It’s enough to spark the further curiosity and the dad decides to go for a walk and explore the mansion further.

Back in the house, the little ghost girl creeps on the daughter while the other ghosts draw closer and closer to the father. The daughters intentions are a natural, almost as if she is asked – before the ghosts take her away altogether, vanishing into the house.

images.jpgTogether, the mother and father find hundreds of newspaper clippings in briefly give us the story of the window Winchester. It’s brief though because we have to move along to the next nightmare. Mother dreams of dead, malformed babies while ghosts haunt the daughter. I’ve got to admit, the fact that they’re going so heavy on the spooky visitations and character affects this early on in the movie is impressive. By the time we’re 20 minutes in we’ve already seen some ghosts and things ramp up to some pretty scary levels before you even hit the 40 minute mark!

We get a non-stop hunting and even a certain degree of hopelessness when the police arrive around half way point. Not only are they unable to hear the family within the house, but they find themselves attacked outside the house and unable to render any aid whatsoever.

There are plenty of greasepaint ghosts here but there’s also a fair amount of grotesque latex cases as well – way more than I would’ve expected from a low-budget asylum flick. The ghosts are everywhere, they provide the house and the filmmaker understands lighting – he knows enough to keep these make-up jobs in the gloom and in the shadows. He understands blocking and finds the most effective angles to have to shoot these ghosts from, arranged to create the maximum tension.

I always say that I try to make it to the third act of a horror movie because that’s when the action really gets moving, but this film is all third act action with a brilliant variety of beans and a constant dire threat to our main characters. Just when you think you’re about to get a lull in the action, they throw a creepy ghost in a rocking chair at you or a shape in the shadows emerging.

They managed to get a phone call out to the neighbor – he is a paranormal investigator and he shows up at the house to explain the rules and help get them through the night and solve the mystery of the house. It’s a weird place for this exposition, we usually get this kind of thing closer to the beginning, not in the last 30 minutes. He explains there is poltergeist activity going on here, probably stemming from a hidden object. There are various ghosts in various stages of death, and those different ghosts are dangerous in different ways.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_Now with some direction, the activity begins again, and they begin to search for their lost daughter (actually I didn’t entirely notice that the house had abducted her) and a way to expel the spirits. There’s multiple twists along the way and an ending that I probably should’ve seen coming, but really didn’t.

While the questing aspect at the end isn’t as intense and some of the ending is over the top, the siege section in the second act of this film makes it a genuinely good horror film and one of the best asylum productions I have ever seen. It’s amazing what a skilled filmmaker can do with such a production. I don’t even care that it’s one of their mockbusters (released at a time to capitalize on the release of the film Winchester) this one is a definite high recommend.

 

 

Moving to a new house

Bad CGI

Ghost Children (Bonus for white dress)

Ghost watching from a window

something walks by in the background

Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Amityville, Ouija, ect)

Mockbuster

Cover misrepresents the movie

Stock DVD cover (Distributor’s similar House style)


Beneath

Dollar

indexBeneath was a dollar store purchase, lost in a stack of other dollar store purchases. With a stack of much more interesting looking and recognizable films. I had sort of dismissed it as just another film with a cool logo in the stack, but probably nothing special considering the MTV branding on the cover. It’s always nice however, to be pleasantly proven wrong.

Beneath manages to mix ghost story and thriller together brilliantly. I spent most of this film about a young woman looking for her sister, killed in a car crash, wondering if I was watching a ghost story or a stalker story. As she explores an old mansion and digs into the mystery of the young woman’s death and burial, I never quite thought that she was going crazy, but was never entirely certain where the story was going.

Beneath this beautifully filmed and gorgeous in its atmosphere. It manages to give you that sort of creepy atmosphere you’d expect from a Gothic ghost story or an Agatha Christie murder mystery. The plot as well thought out and well acted, and much to my surprise I’ve got nothing but praise for this film. This one’s definitely a movie you want to grab if you still see it littering the shelves of your local Walmart or dollar tree.

 

85% of the cast is under 25
Moving to a new house
Trippy Mind games

Sleepaway Camp

franchisebanner

Sleepaway Camp franchise

Agphantom-creative-sleepaway-campes ago, back in the early days of this blog, I did a quick pass at the Sleepaway Camp films. It was a brief seven hundred word overview of four movies in one post which really doesn’t do this series justice. I think it’s long past time for a genuine franchis focus on Sleepaway Camp.

Sleepaway camp used to be one of those films, where even in the horror community only people who were really in the know understood what you were talking about. 25 years later, it started to slowly rise in visibility, notably with the release of the DVD box set. It’s notoriety… or should I say infamy, was only increased by the fact that the box that had to be recalled when the Red Cross objected to the cover art featuring its logo. It really started to gain respect as a beloved horror classic though, once the cast, most notably Felissa Rose  (and to a lesser extent Jonathan Tiersten) started to hit the convention circuit hard. Felissa is a regular now, and I can count on running into 65663806_2559373164107091_7337680539765178368_n_2559373157440425her once or twice every year.  Tiersten was slower to embrace con culture, but these days, even he has started doing more and more shows.

The film opens on an idyllic summer day as a couple of kids squabble on a boat with their father. Little do they know the tragedy is about to strike when a couple of teenagers doing some motor boating and waterskiing get too close and clobber the dad one of the tykes. We fast forward eight years later when Angela, the survivor has been sent off to live with her curious Aunt Martha and cousin Ricky.  There’s definitely something off about Aunt Martha, but you could easily just write it off as the actress chewing the scenery in a grindhouse movie. It doesn’t matter though because the kids are on their way away from home and off to camp Arawak, home of possibly the most pervy cook ever and a hunky counselor who not only  wears the shortest shorts possible and has a penchant for half belly shirts. Stuff like this just images1screams the 80s.

Ricky greets old friends, and introduce them to Angela, who doesn’t really talk and is painfully shy. Ricky’s girlfriend from last year, Judy has gotten a little top-heavy since the previous summer and in addition to growing a bust, she also seems to have grown some significant attitude. The cabin counselor Meg (that’s M-E-G!) isn’t much better. She and the other girls resent any compassion showed upon the introverted Angela.

I’m a short 16 minutes into the movie, Ricky have to rush in and save Angela from the tender attentions of the pervert cook. And yet, mere minutes later, the cook ends up scaleded – somehow just having accidentally toppled a large pot of boiling water all over himself. If you’re here for the gore, this is as good as it gets. There’s a few other latex effects, but this one is by far the best.

We’re not sure exactly who it is that murdered the cook though, all you see are a pair of index1diminutive hands and the killer is left a mystery. It’s here where I really I feel like this film defines itself more as a giallo than a slasher. Things have gotten going, and we’re going to spend the next hour trying to figure out who the killer is, that is if we can draw our eyes away from the hunky counselors pecs, bulging from a shirt two sizes too small for him. The camp owner on the other hand, chomps on his cigar and asks the head chef to try and hush it up. He knew what the cook was, and this is probably all for the best.

We cut over to some juvenile camp shenanigans, to try and keep the atmosphere up. It’s dumb, but gets you right into the spirit of things before we head out to the softball game and then over to the Canteen to hang out.

The more we see of Ricky, the more the kid seems to be on a short fuse, and gets awfully mad when someone picks on Angela. Mad, even violent. Meanwhile, Ricky’s buddy Paul is getting friendly with Angela. Not necessarily trying to make time yet, just trying to help indexout a buddy sister. On the other side of the building, Judy enjoys the attention of the boys, but something about Angela just irritates her and she resolves to take it out on her later.

Out in the dark, the counselors are up to their own shenanigans, the stoners getting baked under the pier, the boys trying to entice the girls in the skinny-dipping in the lake, and a couple rowing out into the middle of nowhere, for the boy to prank his date.
Out of nowhere, a dark head pops up from the water, seizing his scalp and pushing it under. When daylight breaks, they’ll discover another dead body. The camp owner chews his early morning cigar, in denial and terrified of bad publicity. The hunky counselor is not quite so sure though, he remembers the boy being a good swimmer.
Elsewhere, Angela and Paul watch the other girls play volleyball, and Judy makes sure to get her in trouble. Meanwhile, Paul’s trying to steal a kiss.

index2We get into more campground shenanigans, with Judy playing up the mean girl bit to a hilt. Gossiping and teasing and even flirting with Angela’s new boyfriend Paul. Ricky goes off on a few more tantrums as well… It’s amazing amount of energy and profanity coming from such a small package! (Tiersten recalls part of his audition was to cuss out the producers, and he’s fairly certain that’s what got him the role)

Meanwhile, the bodies keep piling up, as one camper suffers death from bees! Dumping an active beehive into a bathroom stall is actually clever and innovative, but it’s threatening to shut down the camp. Word is getting out among the campers that there’s a killer on the loose, and The counselors decide to combine the remaining campers and work on the buddy system.

That doesn’t stop Angela and Paul from sneaking out, Paul’s on the make now and trying to reach second base… But Angela suddenly has a strange flashback of her dad in bed with another dude, and jumps up to run away. She kind of blows it off just explaining that she wasn’t ready. Judy on the other hand sees this as her opportunity to try and cut in between them. She continues to flirt with Paul, and After one more counselor is dispatched, it’s time for Judy to get hers… assaulted mystery killer in the most heinous use of a hair curling iron ever seen in cinematic history. Seriously, it’s the least gory and bloody kill of the entire film and yet absolutely the most memorable.

imagesWe’re about to hit the ending here. It’s the absolute most shocking ending of any Grindhouse horror movie that I can imagine. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to stop right now and watch the movie, because that’s the thing. People don’t really talk about Sleepaway Camp. They talk about the ending. It’s that reveal at the end that sets this film apart from every other campground slasher out there, and makes it a unique film. It’s a sort of movie that stands alone with no real way to follow it up or create a sequel.

Of course, they did anyhow.


The Man Cave Collection!

You know, I got so obsessed with all the marvelous schlock I was getting at the Dollar Store that I kinda dropped off the box set bandwagon. I mean we did the K-horror one last year, but I really haven’t been indulging as much as I used to.

This one caught my eye. Seriously? “Man Cave Pack”? What does that even MEAN??? (Besides fire sale Dimension sequel titles and a bunch of Asylum originals….) And these things are all over the place, from Hellraiser to War of the Worlds….PART 2!

I see a bunch of repeats and revisits here, but there also enough new stuff to get me stoked for this set – and it’s worth it for that WotW2 cover illustration alone!


Krampus

imagesAfter a disastrously disappointing Christmas where are the family constantly argues and bickers, young boy decides he’s done with Christmas. Ripping up his letter to Santa, he turns his back on the holiday and in doing so summons the demon Krampus. At this point I was rubbing my hands together, onboard and eager to see him, but that doesn’t quite happen. In this movie Krampus has more similarities Santa in that Santa come to your house while you’re sleeping, and drops off gifts. Well, Krampus also come to your house while you’re sleeping, and brings things, but in his case they’re small monsters, designed to punish the wicked.

The movie is very much a siege film, with the family trying to survive the night, fighting against all of the Krampus’s minions. They’ve designed these to look and feel much like traditional Christmas toys, giving us an interesting, if grim sort of variety to the carnage.
image4s
Ultimately I found myself a little bit disappointed perhaps more because this wasn’t what I expected. I was hoping fr a huge Pumpkinhead monster or big bad like what we got in Saint or many of  the other low budget movies that flood the market during the holiday season. Nevertheless, considering it’s a Blu-ray pick from the dollar store, it’s a nice addition to my collection and I’ll definitely be giving this another chance once December rolls around.


VFW

VFW brings the blood early just so you know they’re serious. There’s a new drug in town, causing fights creating problems, rising crime. Hooligans are starting to really hang out at the old abandoned theater… Maybe just a little bit too close to the VFW. But when the violence of the junkie club spills over into the VFW, the old guys there including legends like Martin Cove and Fred “the Hammer” Williamson find themselves in for the fight of their lives.

This is gonna be a short review, because quite frankly, this movie so good I’m just sitting here watching it and forgetting to comment. I’ve mentioned before, that’s how you can tell somethings really great.

Here’s the thing, I was hearing about VFW on the movie crypt a while back, and definitely hearing talk about it from my horror friends. This is one of those great, great movies that really live up to the hype, but at the same time… I feel like you gotta know what you’re going into. This is not a horror film. It’s a siege film, and I’d almost classify it more as action. It’s John carpenters Assault on Precinct 13… It appeals to the horror community because of the gore… And perhaps the punk nature of the villains… But mostly because of the gore. This thing lets the blood fly in all directions. There is a liberal mix of practical and CGI blood, but the cgi inserts are forgivable because of it’s balance. For my part, I’m just here to watch the Hammer pound. I love Fred Williamson, and watching him revel in the violence here, kind of makes me want to watch dusk till dawn next. It’s a sort of movie that genuinely makes you wish your hair was maybe a little bit more gray. Martin Cove has gained some notoriety these days from doing Cobra Kai, but for me… This is really one of his finest moments. It’s brilliant action, it’s violent and gory and glorious. Just go watch it. Don’t rely on me to talk about it… Just find it and watch it. I was fortunate enough to score this at the dollar tree, but this is in no way shape or form a dollar store movie. This is a classic, and it’s glorious.


Stalled!

Stalled really tries to establish an identity early on. We dive straight into the credits without a pre-credits kill, and they are interesting. Simple. White on black, but flickering, like a fluorescent light. With a gentleman dressed as a maintenance man standing timidly outside the women’s bathroom. Looks like he’s here to fix something… The speaker, which has been chewed by a rat. Of course he also has a toolbox full of cash, suggesting that he may not be exactly what he appears to be.

He gets sick and dashes for the stall, and while he’s vomiting, a couple of women (in sexy Christmas garb – that’s odd, nothing on the box suggested to me that this was a Christmas movie!) come in. He closes the door to hide so he doesn’t get caught in the ladies bathroom, but things go from bad to worse when one of the girls turns into a zombie and bites the other one. Back into the stall, as the rest of the nights zombified partygoers meander through, finding themselves into the bathroom.

He tried calling 911.

“ emergency services, ambulance fire or police?”

”I don’t know, who handles zombies?”

Unfortunately, the zombies have already taken over the police station, he’s stuck in the bathroom stall. Fortunately, it looks like he’s not alone there are people in neighboring stalls as well, that way we can have some dialogue. Things get really weird when his stallmate pops him some ecstasy… Including a techno dance number; once again proving my theory that if you’re faced with a zombie horde, all you have to do to survive is start dancing… And then dance along with you!

Truth is, it’s a very simple idea. A guy is stuck in the bathroom stall during a zombie apocalypse. They lean into that simple premise, and as a result, Stalled manages not just to be funny but I also have some heart. It manages to deliver more than enough blood and guts and brains to satisfy any zombie gore hand, while still giving us an actual story and some real laughs. It’s a brilliant mix and a good balance… What I’m saying, is a little silly film like this has no business being this good. It’s not necessarily the broad success of some thing like Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse or Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead… It’s a much smaller, simpler film but it works on that scale. A definite must watch. I don’t care if you can’t find this in the dollar store and have to go pay full price. You really ought to have this on your Christmas playlist.


Joker’s Poltergeist

Jokers Poltergeist is not a clown movie. It wants you to think that it is, but make no mistake, that Batman Joker wannabe on the cover? It doesn’t appear anywhere in the cell. We get mask figures with slightly similar features, but never a single antagonist like the film would lead you to believe.

When it says it’s based on true events, they are referring to the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting. Honestly, I didn’t clue into this until after I watched the film and hit some IMDb trivia. I’m not sure I would’ve bought it if I had known, that seems in bad taste…, Even to someone with as dark a sense of humor as me.

A young woman and her father are at their movie theater for opening night. It’s one of those grand old places, like the capital or the palace. But as the director , Eric Roberts, gives his introduction on screen, a madman… just a clown in a sea of clown costumes, open fire with a gun, killing the father and several other people.

A year later the daughter is set to reopen the theater, but she has to fight the city government to do so. She’s staying the night in the theater and is joined later by other survivors of the massacre, and that’s when things start to get weird. They’re haunted by figures in clown masks, similar to that of the murderer. The introduction with the director keeps popping on the screen, so does a message from her father (Martin Kove of Cobra Kai and the Karate Kid) and the entire night to vaults into a maelstrom of terror.

A big problem here, is resolution. I’m not entirely certain what happened. I’m not sure if she was crazy, or the boyfriend was crazy… I’m pretty sure the theater wasn’t actually haunted, which might’ve been a better story. I’m a sucker for movie theater films, and it’s exactly the sort of historic place that I love to go see movies at. It’s a fun ride, but ultimately, I don’t Harley get it. I’d like something a little more straightforward. It’s worth a try though, no I really wish it had been marketed much, much differently.

Fun extra, watch for the late Dustin Diamond, Screech from Saved by the Bell, lurking in the background. He’s in the film, but is almost entirely an extra….

 

 

85% of the cast is under 25

Cover misrepresents the movie

Mostly one location

Clowns

 

 


Beyond Skyline

When I grabbed this at the dollar tree, I was certain that it would be a mockbuster. Some sort of parody or Asylum knock off that co-opted similar words and names, like Transmorphers… that sort of thing that they do. Imagine my shock to discover that Beyond Skyline is actually a real bona fide sequel to the 2010 film Skyline. I remember commercials for the movie, and thought it was interesting, but never made it out to see it. I don’t think too many other many other people did either, Skyline was a flop… Which would explain why it took seven years for them to cobble together any sort of a sequel. I had my doubts about going into this so cold, and wondered if there would be any problems watching the second movie before the first. Beyond Skyline begins with a cop (Frank Grillo) picking up his delinquent son at the police station, before boarding a subway home. That’s when the aliens arrive. This cryptic message is coming over the CB  “don’t look at the light! Don’t look at the light!”. That’s pretty good advice, because the light turns people into zombies obsessed with reaching it. Aliens are happy to oblige, sucking dozens of people off into space.

OK, we have our premise. Looks like I didn’t need to watch that first movie after all.

Frank does his best to shepherd people through the subway tunnels in an attempt to escape the movie I assume that is going on above ground. It doesn’t work, though and ultimately he ends up on a spaceship with a few friends. While he’s there, he runs into a pregnant woman, just about to give birth. This is more than a little unusual considering that she’s about six months along, but the light apparently accelerates the pregnancy. In addition to sucking out the brains of their victims and placing them in biomechanical shells, the aliens also experiment and tinker with unborn children. It just so happens though, that the father of this child, Trent, managed to maintain some of his consciousness even after his brain had been plucked out of his dead body and tossed into an alien robot that looks like it’s straight out of Independence Day. He defended the baby, but now needs Frank to spirit it away. Grillo promises to take care of it and he and his friends get off the ship. Turns out, the ships moving this entire time and now they’re in Laos, finding themselves in the midst of a group of freedom fighters. The baby is growing like a weed, almost up to six or seven years old and she turns out to be the day of Deus Ex Machina – her blood is the key to stopping the aliens. If they can shoot some of that blood into their main engine or drive Or something, it will stop all the aliens cold. At least I think that’s the plot… It was getting a little hard to follow at this point. In any event, it all goes terribly wrong, and the MacGuffin drops out of the ship into the middle of the monastery ruins. It gives us a chance for a big fight between two giant alien biomechanical robots while the little girl rushes over to the unit, and places for hand in… Solving everything.

10 years later, she and her alien robot father would prepare to lead a group of freedom fighters to the aliens home world… Taking the fight to them.

I don’t hate it. The movie has some interesting moments, and the design is beautiful. The alien robots are frequently a combination of CG and practical suits, very smart way of doing things. There’s not an over reliance on CG until the very end, and unfortunately when the computer generated nasties are on screen for too long, fighting their way through computer generated environments, it does start to look bad. It doesn’t look like they had the budget to really perfect these FX. The deus ex machina solution here also feels a little bit too much like V to me… Our young child, Rose, is basically the star child. This like so many other of the elements of this film feels hopelessly derivative. The film is smart, even though it’s building itself off of bits and pieces that it’s stealing from other better films, it does have the sense to steal the best elements and then throw it on twist. Instead of fighter jets and guns, the combat with the aliens is much more personal and brutal. Frequent Hand to Hand fights involving knives and alien blades seem to be the call of the day. Frank Grillos good at action and they’re playing to his strengths. It’s definitely an attempt to turn him into a leading man after playing second banana in the Captain American films, but I’m not sure if I’m sold or not.

At an hour and 46 minutes, the film is too long… They were at least three moments when I was watching the story and thinking… OK, so were at the end now? And would look at the clock and be a palled at how much time this thing still had to go. But all in all, it works as a B-movie. That may be the problem, I don’t think this thing was intended to be a B-movie, but it’s worth watching if it pops up on the Syfy channel.


Bonejangles

Bonejangles was an easy buy for me. We have the horrifying visage of the title character, the Bone Jangler, a.k.a. Edgar Friendly Junior. He’s wearing the half skull mask my buddy Mickey Knox wears for zombie walks, and a quick glance at the back cover reveals an appearance by Reggie Banister. I’m in.

The local police force has captured the notorious serial killer, Bonejangles. Now, all that’s left to do is to transport him to a maximum-security asylum. The only problem is, the handoff will be made at A foggy little town in the middle of nowhere. It just so happens to be one of the cop’s hometown, and it hides a terrible secret. One night a year, the dead rise from their graves to feast on the living. One night a year, this sleepy little hamlet is overrun by zombies. And that night, is tonight.

Of course, that’s business as usual for the cop. He’s completely forgotten about it, he’s more nervous because the girlfriend he left behind still lives there… And tonight is also her wedding night. Once in the town, we get the backstory, that the local Madame was drug out of her house of ill repute, to be burned as a witch. Being a prostitute, she’s not just any kind of which, she’s a succubus. And she laid a curse on the town with her dying breath. Now she lives in the haunted house on the outskirts of town, keeping herself alive in our by capturing young man and using them. Possibly. The only way to stop her, would be if there were some violent being with equally supernatural abilities around to kill her.

Like perhaps, a superhuman serial killer?

This is the brilliance of Bonejangle. They manage to turn this into a versus movie… in the tradition of King Kong versus Godzilla, Freddy versus Jason, Alien versus Predator. They take to completely unknown monsters, and set up these two opposing mythologies with the witch and the Jason clone serial killer (he’s got two machetes to show that he’s even scarier than Jason) and turn it into a terrifying show down that satisfies every bit as much as it would have had it been a franchise with characters that we recognize, and the zombies are just the icing on the cake.

Bonejangles does not shy away from blood and gore, particularly in the third act. They do it well, and make their bad guys look really good. Reggie Bannister is confined mostly to flashbacks, it looks like he came in and worked on the movie for one day so they could put his name on the box and that’s fine. He does an excellent job chewing the scenery and hamming it up as Edgar Friendly Senior, a serial killer in his own right, before passing his madness down to his monstrous son. He delivers some foreshadowing that pays off in spades towards the end, and gives us everything that we could want from a Reggie Bannister performance.

The bordello itself is achieved using curious means, they apparently couldn’t find a house that satisfy them so they built a large miniature, and use some serious forced perspective. We actually get it in frame not only by itself, but also with some of our characters… The big problem is they linger on the house too long, and your eye has time to adjust to the fact that it’s not quite real. Even worse is the use of CGI in this film. A stock blood spatter that hasn’t nearly been color corrected enough, and an explosion that looks like it comes straight out of a video game. The filmmakers obviously don’t know what they’re doing with the CG, but the good news is they’re probably aware of the issue, As they kept it to a minimum. It’s jarring, but there’s so little of it that it doesn’t sink the film.

Altogether, Bonejangles is actually a really fun, bloody horror film that does some very smart things and delivers us some really great monsters. I’d actually like to see a prequel to this, just to see more of the Bone Jangler himself.

 

 

85% of the cast is under 25

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

Horror con star cameo


Critters : A New Binge

franchisebannerindexWow. Can I just tell you something? Critters a New Binge is what totally made me into a true critters fan.

I didn’t get around to watching this until a good year after it was made and I’m surprised to find that it wasn’t well received. I’m surprised because it was really everything that I could have asked for in one of these sequels… It’s still had the gore and the violence, but there’s so much comedy and heart to it that it was everything I wanted.

We start off with the weird little beasties making their way back to earth to hunt down a critter that had been left behind the last time they were there… It’s cheap CGI and I could probably even tell you which bitmap they were using to wallpaper the spaceship, but I don’t care – the design is clever index3and I’m here for the gags.

Back on earth we have a couple of dweebs, one of which is trying to impress the local ingenue. Critters show up with one directive – find a lost crite and don’t eat anybody. This f course, is too difficult of a directive and hilarity ensues. Bounty hunters are close on their trail, and unbeknownst to them there’s already a bounty hunter on earth embedded  and waiting for them. However when they all converge with the young man, things take a shocking turn.

images4I can’t help but compare this so much to the killer tomatoes movies. My great complaint with those was that we never saw enough of the tomatoes, and I wanted  more creature effects. By the time we hit part three f the Tomatoes series, we were starting to see more of what I wanted and once we got part four we were suddenly introduced to some very distinct individual personalities among the tomatoes… mostly lifted directly from the cartoon. That’s what A new binge gives us. We’re getting lots of critters, but we’re also getting distinct individuals, each with their own unique character designs. We get index2characters like the captain with his eyepatch and the pilot in his goggles, not to mention the president in his shirt collar and tie… It’s all ludicrous and hilarious and a delightful extension of what has come before. Mind you, this thing does not stand on it’s own, and it’s not gonna be any sort of terrifying slasher. We get jokes about how things were in the 80s and misdirects about who the lost crite is, not to mention shot of critters catapulting themselves… No I mean really catapult himself with a trebuchet, into the school to attack. It’s loony gory fun with buckets of blood and miles of intestines and I found myself images5loving every demented minutes of it.

The streaming platform helps, allowing us eight episodes at about 10 minutes each – the series is bite-size and easily digestible, but also just as simple to marathon as a feature if you so desire.

Of all the critters movies, this is the one that I want to come back to, and where, if it’s sitting on my DVD shelf I’d probably be pulling it more often than not. However at the time of this writing we don’t actually have a street date for any sort of DVD release and it’s been a couple years now! Here’s hoping that we get a copy of this on physical media that I can watch over and over again!


Return of the Living Dead at the Lorain Palace

I always talk about the film scene in Cleveland, especially the horror scene.  Well, this weekend, we were back at the Lorain palace – one of my favorite places in the world. We had a great screening of Return of the Living Dead with Trash herself in attendance, as well as a Q&A hosted by Lenora from the big Bad B Movie show!

 

 


Lake Fear 2

Besides the name, this is going to be unrelated to the previous entry. (and yes, that was a while ago – way back in August!) While Lake Fear was supernatural horror, all ghosts and zombies and stuff, Lake Fear Two : The Swamp is firmly within the hillbilly horror genre.

It’s subtitled The Swamp for a reason. The film really leans into the swamp vibe, with some rockabilly music playing over the credits. We didn’t get flashes of carnage and terrible scenes to try and set the tone. It’s trying to give us some history here, and  it’s obviously not from The previous film. Right off the bat, you can see this is a very different kind of movie. It’s professionally shot with good actors and a cohesive style. Nudity abounds, because these aren’t amateurs.

The credits kick us off with a psycho stalking and killing a couple of teenage girls,… Enough to set up the news report we get post credits about missing college students.
We shift to Fort Lauderdale at spring break because, bikinis.

It’s normal spring break shenanigans, with a quick cameo from Linnea Quigley (Who we also got to see this past weekend! but more on that tomorrow) behind the bar, but there’s a shadow over the festivities, because one of the girls has been late on her period for a couple months. One of her friends finds her pregnancy test, but we already know how this is going to end.

Meanwhile, back at the bar, Linnea tells the kids there’s a snake catching event going on in the Everglades and they should go down and try their luck. $500 if they grab one. So they decide to forgo getting drunk and partying in favor of driving out to the swamp to catch snakes.

They charter a boat, and somehow It feels more like New Orleans than Florida,… With jazz and bluegrass music and Southern accents and gators in the water. Over the course of their travels they come across an old camp, with a shady past. It even freaks the boat driver add a little bit, bad karma he says.

That’s when the propeller on the boat stops working, and the driver collapses. The boats dead, the drivers dead, and they’re running out of daylight. They can’t stay on the boat, and they decide their best bet is to head to the cabin for shelter.

The reach land, and start trying to get into the house. Seems locked and abandoned, and the entire scene is shot in a disjointed manner. They are quick cuts and POV night vision shots, as if it were a found footage movie. Everyone, especially the girls are freaking out and attention already high before anything even had a chance to happen.

Suddenly, we cut back to the boat. The driver is alive, he only faked a heart attack to Lure the kids to the cabin… And now he’s talking with his sons. Chance of a lifetime… Ton of them, and they’re gonna slice and dice them real nice.

College kids find moonshine and start to get plowed on moonshine and high on weed as the rednecks creep up on the cabin with their large, rusty machetes.

A couple of the girls start to feel sick, and excuse them selves from the party, and the killing begins just a few minutes past the halfway point.

Two more of the kids head off looking for something resembling a shower (I am amused that even stranded in a swamp, the film manages to squeeze in an obligatory shower scene), while another two slip away for some giggity action. Separated, they find themselves easy prey for the rednecks, Who target the boys first before assaulting the girls.

 It’s a predictable pattern, another couple splits from the group, and another, as we watch the redneck Brothers bludgeon and slice their victims … All while doing their best impression of Bill Moseley. They seriously seem to be channeling Otis Driftwood through this entire film (not to mention the obligatory deliverance moment).

At least we get a quick alligator attack. I’m pretty sure he’s the real hero of this movie.

We get a seriously freaky ending With a ritual colts killing. Lots of blood, gore, and violence that feels more on par with the bloody quick cut massacre that punctuated the credits. It’s a stark contrast to be rather dull, conventional murders that we seen through the rest of this film. Up until now, though violence has been largely bloodless and on interesting. All the sudden we have this bizarre ending, and it feels undeserved. There’s no build up or reference to why it happens, and quite frankly it feels like it belongs in an entirely different film.

There’s a good premise here, but they failed to really take advantage of the spookiness of the location. For the most part the only time I felt tension was when the college coeds were bickering and arguing over the dead boat… That and the strange ending. It’s a sort of film that you do flashbacks to and include the best bits on a compilation tape, but not really the sort movie you go out of your way to seek out.


Ski School 2

Ski school 2 is actually a really different movie than the first one. This is weird, because it’s still written by the same guy, and while 1994 is just past the era the first film was made in… It’s close enough that I really expected something similar.
We open with a burn out maintenance man in a small cabana that looks a lot like a low rent frat room. He’s posting a wedding invitation to Dave… The hero from the last film, about his ex girlfriends impending nuptials. Dave receives it at his home… An abandoned school bus which he proceeds to drive back up the mountain to try and stop the wedding and win her back. Or, well stop the wedding mostly. Because he doesn’t have any plan on how to get her back….
Dean Cameron is the only person other than the writer to return for ski school 2. This is perhaps the first big red flag. I was kind of looking forward to it though, because it’s also the first film role for Will Sasso. It’s early days for Sasso, just ahead of his time on MADtv, and he’s still a little rough… Chewing the scenery more than usual.

Cameron on the other hand… Cameron is funny as ever, but he’s trying to show his age. He would’ve been around 27 when ski school came out, and could still pass for 23. But his hairline was starting to recede a little more aggressively than the long floppy hairstyle can hide, so it’s been cut short, and his skin has kind of started to harden. He looks every bit his age of 32… In fact, he looks closer to 35 in this. And see, that’s the problem. Being a goofy broke loser slacker in your 20s is funny. It’s fun. These are party days and you’re still finding yourself. But being that same sort of character in your 30s… It comes off as a little pathetic. Cameron‘s timing is still dead on, but he’s too old for the charm to really work without a bigger storyline. If we were to go back to summer school, Mark Harmon plays a similar sort of goofy slacker… But he’s got an arc there. The entire movie is really about him growing up without losing his sense of humor. Taking on some real responsibilities in his own lazy surfer dude way. But Cameron doesn’t have an arc here. He’s just there to bust up the wedding. And that’s kind of a problem. There’s a few fun antics here, and I think there’s enough Time spent with the main characters for you to be invested in them as familiar faces, but I don’t know if it’s enough for me to really root for them.

Also keenly felt is the absence of a good foil for Cameron. Having Fitz as the best friend to bounce humor off of in the first movie really enhances Cameron‘s performance. It sells the jokes and makes everything work. It also in many ways tries to turn that original one into an example piece. This one has the trappings of an ensemble, but it’s absolutely Cameron‘s movie. It’s star driven and he is the star… And he is just not… sympathetic.
One of the things that really strikes me about this film, is it lives up to its name. We get a lot more ski action this time around. It’s pervasive in the movie and drives a lot of the action. It’s our reason to be. It’s also the only time that Cameron really manages to make any sort of meaningful connection with the ex girlfriend. It’s not when he’s crashing the wedding party with an impromptu chicken dance, it’s not when he’s sabotaging the bachelor party or showing up as a stripper at the bachelorette party. The times he really connects with her is when they’re skiing and he’s coaxing her to go back to basics. This is good stuff, and we needed more of it. We needed more of Cameron‘s devotion to the forum, his lover skiing, his skill and his training abilities. It’s so weird. For a series that is supposedly all about this renegade ski instructor, we really don’t see much about skiing in his life.
I have a hard time recommending this, even if you were a fan of the original. I happen to be a big fan of Dean Cameron, particularly in his prime, but this is not it. I can almost see the down slope of his career starting right here, and it makes me more sad than anything else. Stick with the original, and of course, summer school.

12 Hours of Terror RETURNS!

The poster read “the blood is back“. And they’re right. It was finally that time again… Time for 12 hours of Terror. I’ve been a regular at this film festival since it’s inception, and it’s fair to say that I’m a fan. The selections are consistently excellent, the promotion is fun, always including a secret movie to keep you guessing… and quite frankly, it’s a good crowd of people too. I see a lot of the same folks  year after year, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re not all jerks. You’re not gonna get a drunk Juggalo screaming behind you at 12 hours of terror the way that I did at Cybertronic Spree. A lot of my friends attend this, and I’m usually reasonably confident that just showing up, I’m going to have somebody to sit with. But even if I don’t, that doesn’t matter. Because we’re all here to have a good time. I’ve met interesting folks at the show, include The chef dude with the mohawk who regaled me with stories about Texas chainsaw to being his favorite of the movies, or the guys that I gushed with about getting to see Nightmare on elm Street for the very first time on the big screen.

I got in and secured my seat with some of my crew. Mark and Jenny made it, but Jennifer and Chris we’re gonna be absent this year. I was gonna miss them as well as Bree. On the other hand, I was delighted to see that wolf child had made it in, and Jason was sitting just a couple rows back… Ready to make dumb comments through the entire night. Dave came out and announced the plans for the evening. The secret come with play fifth, and dinner break would be after the third movie.

“We’ve got a new sponsor this year, Citizen Pie… And they have provided pizza for dinner tonight. A lot of pizza. However, I know there’s some of you out there who could pretty much eat an entire pizza by yourself… We’ve got a lot, but we don’t have that much!“.

I don’t know about you, but I feel personally attacked. I grinned and gave him a thumbs up at the “I know there’s some of you who could eat an entire pizza” line… On the other hand, it’s 12 hours of terror, and nobody wants to be that guy. I didn’t think he had much to worry about, and I was right. The food line went quick, and it wasn’t long before they started realizing they had way more leftovers than anticipated. At that point. It was all you can eat… And let’s be honest guys, I take all you can eat as a challenge rather than a description.

The evening started off with Graduation Day. It’s a movie I’ve never seen before, although that may have something to do with the trauma distributing. I don’t hate trauma, but I’m not gonna go out of my way for them. On the other hand, this, like killer nerd – which I was talking about earlier in the wasteland post, was more distributed by trauma than actually made by them. Indeed, my buddy Mark got his film Suburban Legends : Life on Rainbow Road distributed by Troma as well… and considering I’m in that movie…(And also consider considering that Lloyd filmed a cameo for me when Madeline and I were doing The Backyard Zombie Movie) I should probably ease up on the smack talk.

Graduation Day is an interesting little slasher with some surprisingly good kills. I got myself really drawn in and enjoying the movie… And I will straight up admit, they got me in the end. I did not figure out who the killer was, and the misdirects totally worked on me.

They followed that up with Carrie. This is the original version, and one that I’ve really only discovered recently. It’s always been on my radar… Even as far back as my first meeting with William Katt… but I’ve never gotten around to actually watching it until a DVD copy fell into my hands from the dollar tree, along with a fortunately timed retrospective on the production booth podcast. Still, that’s only been about a year… So it was still reasonably fresh in my mind. But I’ve gotten over the initial shock and was able to settle in and just kind of enjoy it for what it is. It definately gets me in the mood to follow it up later this week though, with both the remake and the musical!

The next film up was The Mist. For some reason, I keep mistaking The Mist for The Fog… And I embarrass my little myself a little bit in line while I was discussing the film. Someone had to correct me and point out that I was actually thinking of the fog and that changed things retroactively for me. This is one of the cool things about 12 Hours of Terror though. Mark and I were discussing what influences we saw in it and I pointed out the Lovecraft influences I saw in the monsters. The guy in line ahead of us pointed out that it’s a dead on description from the book, and totally a Lovecraft kind of creature. 

On the other hand, the ending of this is so grim, it’s such a downer that I was a little upset. Seriously, don’t send me out to dinner with the sads! Also, the most unrealistic part of The Mist isn’t the monsters… It’s that the pharmacy still has a comic book spinner rack!

I took my first of many plates of fleet pizza upstairs. There’s a sort of lounge in the upper areas of the capital, and I knew they’d be sitting up there. I also knew a lot of people wouldn’t be flocking up there… It’s not the sort of place they think of. A young man in a mystery science theater 3000 shirts that down next to me and we discussed the new season of MST3K over at the gizmoplex. He’s really enjoying it, and was telling me all about the new host that’s sharing time with Jonah.  This is one of those things that I have long observed about convention life. It’s that you can walk up to anybody there and just start talking to them. We all broadcast our favorite fandom‘s on our T-shirts or our costumes, and the very fact that we’re there tells you that we’re safe to talk to you about those things. It’s something that my daughter has been discovering and leaning into more and more, and I really love that. 12 hours of terror is much the same thing. Indeed, even standing in line for the bathroom… it’s Cleveland.

“If worse comes to worse,“ one person announced “I am perfectly willing to go into the sink.“

“Come on man, this isn’t an Indians game!“

“Man, if we were back at the old municipal stadium… You just go behind a girder… in fact, you’d probably already be sitting there.’

“I don’t know, you’d probably see a few fewer murders at an Indians game… I’m not saying none… Just fewer.“.

 By the time I made it back into the auditorium, they just switched  From competitive pizza tossing on the big screen, two commercials for showbiz pizza – a competitor to Chuck E. Cheese back in the day. It got our hopes up that perhaps the secret film would be something like Willys Wonderland.

In an attempt to make up for bumming everybody out with The Mist, Dave had scheduled Jason X next. Jason X is a fun time, and possibly one of my favorite Jason movies of all time. I broke one of my normal rules about eating during a horror movie. That never ends well for me, but I’m already familiar with this film and it’s kills, so I didn’t feel too worried about my imagination getting out of hand. Besides, at this point, I had a platefull of half a pizza. Props to Citizen pie by the way… My company used them to cater a job out in Cleveland a few months ago as well, and I really dig what they do. That’s good pepperoni, and a very nice crossed. Just the consistency of dough that I like.

 I grabbed posters for the new film Run Sweetheart Run, as well as candy from the table to Netflix it set up. I also noted that the future video was selling stuff here. I almost wonder if more of a dealer‘s room might be a nice thing for this show. I grabbed a shirt from a few years ago that they discounted down to five dollars, and really thought about grabbing one of the trailer compilations future video was doing. In addition to their own original movies, they were selling a trailer compilation of all the movies from the first 10 years at 12 hours of terror. It’s an inspired move, and they sold out before the end of the evening, helping to make my choice for me.

Finally it was time for the reveal for the surprise screening. When we opened on closed circuit camera monitors of chaos in the streets, Mark venture to guess coat diary of the dead?“ i’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of Romero’s second zombie zombie trilogy. I did watch land of the dead, thinking that it was a direct sequel to the Donna the dead remake actually, and it just didn’t do anything for me. I settled in, because well I don’t necessarily object to a screening of diary of the dead, this is indeed probably the only way that I would watch the movie.

But it doesn’t feel right. The camera panned down to a monkey. All of a sudden I found myself wondering… Wait… Is that Cesar? Is this one of the planet of the apes prequel’s? All of a sudden, I want a diary of the dead back. I know it’s heresy, but honestly, I have absolutely no interest in any of the planet of the apes films. Then again, this was all feeling very familiar. Increasingly familiar at the animal rights activists broke into the lab to free the animals. I suddenly had an inkling… One that was confirmed as soon as the lead scientist spoke.

“They’re all infected!“

With what?“

“Rage“.

28 days later. Yes PLEASE.

I like 28 days later. I even have it at home on a VHS tape. But I’m pretty sure I recall call originally watching it back in the days when I was staying home with my first daughter. We watched a lot of zombie back then, baby Maddie enjoyed the bright colors and all the red on the screen. There’s just one problem. The ending. Dude wakes up after getting shot, and he’s in an old house with Selena and Hannah, sewing together a large banner and every bit of fabric they can find to spell out the words hello giant letters on the ground. A plane flies by, hopefully seeing the message, and realizing that there are survivors. But… That’s not how this movie ends. I’m sure that’s not how this movie ends. I’ve seen it half a dozen times… And that’s not right! 

Mark and Jen were no help. It was actually their first time seeing the movie. I twisted behind me to try and get an opinion out of Jason. He shook his shoulders and admitted it been too long since he seen the film. The young woman in the row ahead of us, sing me freak out and wonder if I was crazy pulled some information up on her phone to show me. The movie had it originally had three different endings, and the doubt downer ending that I remembered, where dude died from his wounds and Selena and Hannah walk off sadly into the sunset is indeed one of the ultimate endings. It’s one on my videotape, but not the one presented tonight. Fascinating. It’s a gag the producers had set up ages ago for the original screenings, but here we are, Over two decades later, and they’re still getting me. You have to love that kind of stuff.

Demon Knight was Up Next. My buddy Mike insists we saw this movie in the theater,Though I still feel like it was a rental. In any event, it’s one of those movies where it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, it was like watching a new film. They rolled Crypt keeper bits on the screen  during the intermission before the film rolled. It opens with a typical slasher scene, which turns out to be a movie the Crypt Keeper was supposedly directing. Meta, before meta was a thing!  I completely forgotten that John Lara cat is in the opening bit, and that was fun in a bit sell. But the thing with Demon Knight is, unlike Bordello of Blood, which features very recognizable Dennis Miller, Demon Knight is filled with actors that I just didn’t know… Certainly not at the time. I am familiar with Billy Zane and William Sandler now. And quite frankly, I should’ve understood who Dick Miller was back then, but I’m ashamed to say I do. Demon Knight comes from a time before Jada Pinkett became Jada Pinkett Smith, and one of the worst people in Hollywood. But at the end of the day, this is one of the movies that I really needed to revisit as an adult. A lot of it comes off very different now with 40 year old eyes instead of 20 year old ones, and I appreciate it that way.

One of the big problems with 12 hours of terror, is that it’s rarely actually 12 hours. In fact I don’t know that it’s ever been 12 hours. But this one in particular was especially egregious considering that we already passed 12 1/2 hours by the time we finished Demon Knight. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was spent. Despite really liking what I was seeing with Demon Knight, at the same time I was still kind of falling asleep at points. That’s what happens when you start to push 50. So it is with great regret that I ended up bailing on the last film… Bride of Reanimator. It’s still relatively safe to do, I know for a fact that it’s streaming on Tubi right now, so I can get to it when I’m not quite as exhausted.

Though I am a little bummed out for fitting the opportunity to actually watch it on the big screen. Still, I cannot even begin to express my delight in the fact that 12 hours Manage to return to Cleveland on the other side of the lock downs. Seasons Bleedings is returning as well for another round of seasonal horror! It’s a shorter festival than 12 hours, and may actually be a bit more manageable, but still an absolutely good time. My friends and I will be hitting that up in a month and a half and if you’re in the northeastern Ohio area that first weekend of December, you should absolutely come out!

.


Critters Attack

franchisebanner

indexCritters attack is the unexpected sequel to the 80s critters movie. When I say unexpected, I mean it’s been 20 years since this franchise went dormant and while it’s got a great cult following, I’m a little surprised at this resurrection. Filmed separately and simultaneously with Critters a New Binge, Critters Attack has a very different tone and approach to the series.

In recent years there’s been a push to take series that had gone too comedic and try and drive them back towards a more sinister and scary atmosphere. The Nightmare on Elm Street remake was certainly going for this and Tom Holland’s New Chucky films we’re also trying to drift in this direction. Critters Attack follows suit, dropping the critters onto earth during a meteor shower and unleashing them to inde2xrampage as they will. Their leader is missing an eye, but it’s not the wacky sort of eyepatch gag that Critters a New Binge indulged in, but rather a scarred and hollowed out eyesocket so that you can distinguish them from the rest of the generic in uniform looking critters.

While babysitting kids for one of the local college professors, our heroine finds a fluffy Mogwai like character in the woods, and brings her home just before the critters attack and start to destroy her hometown. Is revealed that this character is the queen, and that this female had come to Earth to try and stop the rest of the male critters from their inde1xdestruction. The male critters on the other hand are incubating other small critters within human bodies until they burst out like the xenomorphs in Alien. It’s all a fairly radical departure from everything we seen in the previous four movies, and definitely a different continuity from a new bench. I almost wonder if x-Men comic writer Scott Lobdell was interested in anything more than deconstructing the mythos and putting his own stamp on it.

Of great note is the fact that Dee Wallace returns for this film. It’s not a major role, she’s imagesthe subplot, an old cat lady turned bounty hunter who spends all but the last 10 minutes or so separate from the main cast, hunting the critters on her own. It’s nice to see Dee back, but she doesn’t really resemble the character that she played in the first movie and this attempt to turn her in the Sarah Connor or Ripley feels shoehorn in.

I don’t necessarily wanna sound like I hate the movie, it hits most of the right beats. Bloodthirsty a little fuzzball‘s that roll from place to place, giant critter ball, bazaar carnage, but it all feels like it’s missing the heart. That’s one thing to play thing straight, it’s another thing to forget just how ludicrous your premise is and I think this movie has image1sdone just that. I miss the subtitles on the critters. I miss the attitude and the gags that we get peppered through these movies. A Critters movie should be perhaps a little scary, perhaps a little gory, but overall it should be fun, and this isn’t as fun as I hoped it would be. I’m glad it exists, and I’d hope that it will keep the series going a little bit longer, but I also hope that The next time we see a critters movie, it’ll be somebody striking a balance between the outrageous slapstick of A New Binge and the too serious tone of Critters Attack.


Hellraiser 2022

There will be mild spoilers. They probably won’t actually reveal anything as much as they may confuse those who have not yet watched the film. Proceed at your own discretion.

You may have noticed on this blog that we are Hellraiser fans. I mean serious ones… I have watched all the movies, even the ones that most people don’t know about. I have written defenses of some of the less beloved ones like inferno, bloodline, and even revelations. I have done up Hellraiser costumes, and in fact even documented the process of crafting my pinhead make up years ago in a series called the Hellraiser Project. I’ve read the books, and more importantly I’ve read the comic books. By the way, the epic ones of the late 80s and early 90s are far superior to the stuff that Christopher Monfette said he was riding with Clive Barker for boom.

So the time has finally come, for a new Hellraiser movie. I know that a lot of us were really hoping to see a continuation of Judgment in some way. Paul Taylor did the role of pinhead justice, but with him banished to earth in a somewhat cliffhanger ending, going further in the series may have explored more of the auditor and the Stygian Inquisition. All of that would’ve been welcome. What wasn’t going to be embraced, was the dreaded word…”remake”.

As production went on though, the word remake shifted to reboot, and then barker himself redefined it as a reconfiguration. That may well be the best description of this film.

Hulu (via IMDB) describes it as “A take on a Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic where a young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that it’s purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.” When opened, you have a choice – let them take you, or let them take someone else and feed the box. It continually changes into diffrent shapes, diffrent configurations -and with each human sacrifice getting you closer to the final configuration, and an audience with the god Leviathan (I’m so pleased to see Leviathan back BTW, and he’s never looked better!) who will grant you a boon. However, you must remember, that just as described in the Hellbound Heart, Leviathan and the Cenobites don’t percieve things the same way we do. “his real error had been the naive belief that his definition of pleasure significantly overlapped with that of the Cenobites.
As it was, they had brought incalculable suffering. They had overdosed him on sensuality, until his mind teetered on madness, then they’d initiated him into experiences that his nerves still convulsed to recall. They had called it pleasure, and perhaps they’d meant it. Perhaps not. It was impossible to know with these minds; they were so hopelessly, flawlessly ambiguous.”

I do take this film as another sequel, not a reboot. Different box, different demons, different methods and aim – same god and same universe. Some elements work, and some don’t. There are times I’d like to see some leather on the cenobites. They’ve taken the description fromn the book to it’s extreme ” the scars that covered every inch of their bodies, the flesh cosmetically punctured and sliced and infibulated, then dusted down with ash”. The problem is the skin doesn’t always look real. It’s too much of that pale color and when lingered on great expanses (such as the skirt on Pinhead or the habit like veil of flesh on Deep Throat) it comes off as fake and rubbry rather than skin. just a touch of leather or some other tatters to break up the monotony of the vast expanses of flesh would have gone a long way to making this perfect. (and to those who keep trying to insist that this is truer to the novella, allow me to remind you ” Frank had difficulty guessing the speaker’s gender with any certainty. Its clothes, some of which were sewn to and through its skin, hid its private parts, and there was nothing in the dregs of its voice, or in its willfully disfigured features that offered the least clue” Yes. There are garments involved in those cenobites too). The gift of the cenobites too – that was really bad looking.  I understand they are trying thier own take on “There are conditions of the nerve endings,” it said, “the like of which your imagination, however fevered, could not hope to evoke.” yes, but I feel like I’d perfer this done hands on, not with a clumsy infernal machine. Whenever it’s tried – whether it’s the transformation chamber in Hellbound, or the more tech based cenobites of part three or the tech feels in Bloodline – infernal machinery always feels ….off. They try to hard to tie the look to the box and always make it too big. I just don’t like it.  Where it does work however, is on the box itself. The new take on the box though is really interesting with it shifting shape after each death and taking on different configurations. These don’t have to look like anything but macabre art and that’s really where it’s strength lies. It’s also fascinating to see a new puzzle – one that works in a different way. I’ve long held that Event Horizon is also a Hellraiser sidequel and that the ship itself was the puzzle. That’s really as close as we’ve truly gotten to a puzzle that works differently in this context until now. I am absolutely here for it.

I like the overall story. It’s as good as any of the sequels, an better than some. I wonder though, if it realizes how much it borrows from the late series entries?
While this feels mostly steeped in Helbound, stalked in the mansion gives me Hellworld vibes (so did the stabby box). A house designed as a trap/cage feels very Bloodline. Multiple victims (Them instead of you) reminds me a LOT of Hellseeker (I’d go as far as to wonder if Kirsty has heard of this cenobite order and it’s methods and thought she might give it a try with Dougs Pinhead). While Helbound establishes only the one the cenobites has come for can see them, that expanded take on “stalked and visions of cenobites” is very Inferno. I feel like there’s bits and pieces of a lot of the series, tossed into a blender and inserted here.
Approaching it as a sidequel he is really what allows me to enjoy the Evil Dead remake as well, and it’s particularly effective here, because despite some of those cosmetic changes, this feels like it fits into that world.

it’s not without it’s flaws though.  It’s VERY much a 2022 film, with all the tropes of current year movies. Not bad mind you. but I can already see boxes being checked off (You can see it in 80’s and 90’s movies too) in ways that make it less timeless than the first two. The recasting of not only Pinhead (and by the way, I’m really not one of those guys that insists ONLY Doug Bradley should ever play Pinhead), but honestly, most of the speaking line cenobites as women along with the heavy homoerotic elements might be less obvious in another political climate, but in 2022, they almost standard diversity slots that studios are obsessed with filling whether they come organically or not. They fit well enough here, but are in your face enough (far more than say, the shoulder pads in Julia’s blazer in the original) that someone looking at this movie will be able to pinpoint EXACTLY when it was made. That’s not necessarily a dealbreaker though. Hellworld has similar problems. It’s a VERY 2000’s movie, but I like it too.

Ultimately I think I’m on board. It’s not a bad sequel, and I think this may be one of the few reboots that could spawn it’s own sequels. That’s a tough trick – reboot is frequently the end of the line for a lot of franchises, (NOES, Night of the Demons, Friday the 13th) other’s fizzle out and return to a different continuity or something ambiguous (Children of the Corn, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween). It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here, and what Clive Barker may have up his sleeve in the future.

 


Cinema Wasteland fall 2022

The two Dracula‘s faced off, grim and ashen. It was a battle of wills, to see which one was more powerful… And which one had bigger hair!

I must say, I’ve been looking forward to meeting Zandor Vorkov ever since he was announced as a guest for cinema wasteland a couple of years ago. Over the craziness of the past few years and events, Wasteland has had to reschedule a number of guests and rethink some of its reunions. I was stoked though for both the star of Al Adamson’s Dracula versus Frankenstein, but also that we were finally getting that Motel Hell reunion off the ground. That poster has been sitting rolled up in a tube in my house for at least 18 months. Also in attendance would be Toby Radlof… Appearing with Wayne Alan Harold,  the man who directed him in such films as killer nerd, bride of killer nerd, and the recent documentary genuine nerd. You may also know Tony from his role in American splendor, he’s one of Harvey Pekar‘s contemporaries as well as managing to parlay that into becoming an MTV personality. Still, he’s a Cleveland denizen, all these years and his cadence and Tanner is unmistakable. Filmmaker JR book water is working on a remaster of the killer nerd movies, and had put together a artwork for a new poster that Tony was giving out over the course of the weekend. He and the Director we’re both signing for free, which I hate to take too much advantage of… But I was not walking out of there without a poster! I grabbed one of their DVDs as well, and it came up in conversation that I actually had the original VHS releases that trauma had distributed. They insisted on signing those as well! The directors a nice chatty guy and makes up for Tony who is very focused and less are going. He’s actually just about at retirement age, and is getting ready to jump ship before the administration changes. This wasn’t his first visit to wasteland But for whatever reason, I missed in the last time, and was really happy to get to meet him this time around.

Alex Vincent had ended up canceling on the show, he was stuck in Florida, hunker down against the hurricane. I got admit, I wasn’t terribly bothered… Of all the people who were coming to the show… He was the most main stream and probably the one I was least interested in! Then again, that’s kind of the whole thing about wasteland. Will you bring in this weird selection of really interesting guests that nobody else wants to post… And I am absolutely here for it. It’s one of those things that keeps me coming back here after year, even as the show begins to slow down and shrink a little. I can’t wait until I return in April!