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Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Killer Tomatoes franchise

Attaindexck of the Killer Tomatoes begins a housewife doing dishes in a Suburban Housing Development. She discovers a tomato in the sink which escapes and rolls towards her menacingly. It’s possibly the greatest pre-credits sequence ever.

We launch into the instantly recognizable theme song, over shots of tomatoes being smashed against the camera. Don’t let the song distract you though, the credits themselves are loaded with gags and we’re off to a perfect start.

On the other side of the credits, we’re already in the middle of a siege film, with cops and Military mobilizing against the Tomato Invasion. The Tomatoes bring down a helicopter, and you watch them slowly roll towards the cops as they unload their shotguns!

Military I’m downstairs secret weapon for dealing with the mutated Tomatoes – a cyborg name bruce! Needs some work but they’ve got a crack team ready to go out and deal with the Tomato problem. Meanwhile, the tomatoes take to the Seas!

imagesThe government is doing its best to keep the media out of it, but the papers and television keep trying to find out what’s going on.

We’re about halfway into the film before the tomatoes start to swell and grow giant size. That’s when things start to get interesting, and they begin to pick off the team, and the master of disguise infiltrates them, disguised as a tomato. There’s senate sub committees, full on musical style showtunes and  tomato treachery. The people fight back and finally corner the tomatoes in a stadium where they destroy them with music.

It’s a bizzare spectacle and a cult classic, but to be honest, I’m a way bigger fan of the sequels it would spawn…more of them than you might have guessed!


Sharknado 2

DollarindexSharknado 2 is one of those movies that I could only really justify buying at the dollar tree. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, in fact just watching the grimaces on my kids as they roll their eyes at me as I pull it out makes it worth the price of admission.

On their way home on the airplane, Tara Reid and Ian Zierling find themselves caught up in a Sharknado, one of them bites off Reid’s hand in what may well be the greatest instance of chekhov’s gun ever. They arrive in New York to the family and it starts raining sharks.

That’s all you really need to know about this movie, there’s great bits at the baseball stadium and on the ferry and all throughout the city. It’s all great CGI goofy fun, packed with cameos like Judd Hersh, Kelly Osbourne, Matt Lauer, Richard Kine, Al Roker, Perez Hilton, Kelly Ripa, Andy Dick and a whole bunch more that either went over my head or imagesI just can’t remember. For my part, I personally was stoked to see Tiffany Shepis show up as well as Kari Whurer. It’s a couple of scream queen appearances that will go right over the heads of most casual viewers, but delights me to see.

We end up with a huge climax that helps to set us up for the next one, and that’s about all there is to say for it. The DVD actually has some surprisingly good special features including commentaries and behind the scenes stuff which is what really makes it worth the buy, especially if you’re into any of this series.


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.
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.

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!

Critters Attack


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.

Critters 3


indexWhat the heck is Leonardo DiCaprio doing in this movie!?

Outside of our returning bounty Hunter, I don’t actually recognize anybody else in the film, but that’s OK, because they’re set up and ready to go, this time move in the action primarily to a single location. While we start off on a road trip with critters arriving, they eventually infest themselves into a condemned building that the landlord is trying to kick everybody out of. It turns into a long night as the surviving tenants and the landlord’s son try to rid the building of the evil critters.
It’s great to see the bounty hunter back, and it’s fascinating to watch Leo – I was hoping he’d get eaten but no such luck. with a solid cast, it feels very by the numbers but that’s index1really what you want from such a film. It ends with a twist though. The bounty hunter is not allowed to destroy the last two eggs, as it would be genocide… These are the last two in existence as far as they know. An escape pod is sent for the eggs and he gets trapped in it – setting us up for the fourth film, Which will give us our first real departure from the formula in the series.

Killer Tomatoes Strike Back!

indexKiller Tomatoes Strike Back immediately gets on my good side by starting off as a slasher movie. Literally, we’ve got a young woman being chased to the woods by a chainsaw wielding maniac… What makes this fun is he is accompanied by several chainsaw wielding tomatoes as well!

We’ve got a slacker detective whose gun fires tomatoes investigating a tomato related murder.

It looks like the tomatoes not only got the girl, they also got the hockey mask killer! Still, our detective is not convinced that this is actually a tomato murder. The cops consults a tomato expert, just before the narrowly missing capturing a small tomato. It flees, leaving behind a big moustache (Did I mention the tomato was in disguise?). Back at the lab, our tomato expert is attacked, surrounded on all sides by killer tomatoes crashing through the windows and trying to break out of the cages.

We cut to a television screen where we see that Dr Gangrene from the previous film has images2returned, and is now posing as a talk show host – something in the model of Geraldo or Phil Donahue. He’s brought Igor with him, the wannabe news man looks quite at home on television set. Today’s guests are going to be the heroes of the tomato war, as well as fuzzy tomato. On the show, Captain Findletter argues with the tomatologist and fuzzy tomato about the antisocial tendencies of tomatoes in general. Dr gangrene uses this opportunity to try and frame fuzzy tomato as a villain and turn the public against him.

Back at the police station, the detectives watch, amused. The detective complains about getting nothing but garbage cases even though his colleague thinks that tomato murder indexmight be his big break… the detective doesn’t believe in killer tomatoes.

He gets the call to go and investigate in a car that had been attacked by killer tomatoes while back at the station, Dr gangrene feeds his killer tomatoes. throw in a quick shower scene with a bunch of fake outs.

Dr gangrene begins he is diabolical plan by posting a fake media appreciation day which allows him to kidnap members of the media – the getaway track is of course driven by a small tomato. It’s his revenge for the way the rest of the media snubbed him when he started his talk show.

indexThe detective decides to visit the tomato expert again to get some insight. All I get him is a bunch of parking tickets on his car and beat up by a rogue gang of tomatoes, hanging out in the park… One of them leaves a note “ stay away or else!” The detective is certain it was fuzzy tomato who set up the ambush. He is wrong of course, it’s Dr gangrene is killer tomatoes, so he sends after their tomato expert next!

The killer tomatoes infiltrate her apartment through the vents and the detective is there just-in-time to rescue her with a golf club. they had over to a bar, patronized by depressed looking tomatoes. (Never order a bloody Mary in a tomato bar!). They find a imagessnitch there, and bribe him to get information for $100. The tip leads them to a shady acting class at camp broadcast school (not affiliated with CBS Inc). fuzzy tomato is hiding out as the bellboy there as they infiltrate.

Meanwhile, Dr Gangrene has kidnapped the police chief and is busy revealing his plans as he brainwashes him. The detective and free him but get discovered in the process. Suddenly they find themselves under attack by ninja tomatoes who kidnap the tomato expert and race off of her. (gangrene is next show is all about hostages!) it’s up to the detective to rescue timages1he tomato expert before Dr Gangrene can turn her into a bacon lettuce and human sandwich!

That’s the level of lunacy you can expect from this installment. I love that they are leaning int the absurdity, and parodying the media here, but even more, I love that we’re getting more tomatoes. It’s a shift we see here, with more character in the tomatoes, one that will come to it’s fullest expression in the next entry!

Someone needs to make a box set of these. They are all must buys!


Critters 2


indexThe best sequels take the formula of the previous movie and turn it up a notch. Aliens took its source material and cranked it up by adding a ton more aliens and increasing the action 100 fold. Critters amps up the ridiculous instead.
We return to Grover’s bend, with the kid who survived the last critter attack. The bounty hunters are back as well, and so are the bloodthirsty little hairballs. Critter eggs get mixed in with Easter eggs and they begin their free-for-all on the town.
When I really enjoy about critters to though is the way the absurdity gets cranked up.
We have a bounty hunter that needs to find a form to take on, the first thing he sees is a playboy centerfold and morphs into her – a significant departure from what we’ve seen previously…and a bit of surprise to see a topless scene in a PG-13 movie! The critters inde1xthemselves are more obnoxious and more absurd, with my favorite scene occurring with them in an all you can eat buffet. It’s the first time we get to see the giant critter ball as well, we are all of the little creatures combined together to make one large rolling wrecking ball. This level of ridiculousness and comedy mixed in with violence and gore would continue throughout the rest of the series, and it’s really from the second film that we see a lot of the heart that we would get used to in the series. Sadly the next two entries would end up being direct to video.




indexI’m not sure why I’ve never tackled the Critters movies before now. I was definitely too young when the first two came out, and even though they were PG-13, my parents simply weren’t about to take me to see a horror movie. When the third and fourth came out I don’t recall much fanfare though, it seems to me that there wasn’t much in the way of advertisement, so even though I would’ve been old enough to rent the movies, I was far more interested in heading out to the theater to see Alien 3 or Hellraiser 4. Ultimately the timing was just off.

It’s  long past time to rectify that so I grabbed copies of these films and began at the beginning (*sings* a very good place to start…..). As far as Gremlins rip offs, I have to admit, I prefer Ghoulies, but Critters is surprisingly well done.

It begins with the critters escaping to earth and bountyhunters dispatched to find them. index1What’s really shocking is the all star cast that we begin to run into here, not just D Wallace, but MM at Walsh as well as The occasional established veteran in their ranks.
As the critters descend upon the town, hilarity and Sue’s. The bounty hunters take various forms, and it’s a clever conceit. One that would be better exploited in the second film. We get to see the little fuzzballs roll around as well as spike people and grin and eat. It bloody and fun, it’s a little more dire than gremlins. It’s easy to see why the steak became a cult classic, and deservedly so. The film attracted enough attention to want to sequel, and that’s really where the ball will get rolling.

Dead Seven

DollarindexFirst and foremost, I want to start this review off by saying I actually enjoy Dead Seven. However, don’t go into this expecting any kind of a serious horror movie. Don’t go into it expecting a serious Western, or serious action or sci-fi or anything of the sort. What is his is an opportunity for a bunch of former boy band members to get together, hang out, dress up, and play. The tagline is “Larger than life” for a reason! The fact that there’s no music is probably merciful, but you’re almost wonder if it’s a missed opportunity.

Dead Seven is a sort of apocalyptic sci-fi zombie epic with a sort of western theme and homage to the magnificent seven overlaid. Somewhere in the badlands, Deborah Wilson is raising a zombie army, and our cowboy heroes are slowly index2assembled to face off with her before she destroys thier small town.

I’m actually a fan of Deborah Wilson, I know her from her work on MAD tv, and think she’s insanely talented. However I’ve never seen her in a role like this. Comedy, drama, sure. The sort of cross between savage and zombie voodoo queen that she’s pulling off here however, is absolutely terrifying. There’s no trace of that charming comedian in this film, only a brutal, terrifying villain. That’s OK, because we’re juxtaposing her with our band of cowboys…*Takes deep breath*

I wasn’t listening to boy bands in the late 90s or early 2000’s, so while I kind of know Jon Secada and remember names like Nick Carter and A.J. McLean, I genuinely only recognize imagesJoey Fatone.  Of all the boy band refugees out There, he genuinely seems to be to have done the most with his life. Joining the other Cowboys as a drunkard gunman, he provides some of the comic relief as a blast their way through the sci-fi undead.

There’s not enough story here for me to really get into a description, and besides, that’s not really what this kind of movies about. It’s more about a fun romp with a bunch of familiar faces, suitable for airing on any weekend marathon on the Syfy channel. Believe it or not, it’s worth it just for the sheer ridiculousness of it and being another dollar store purchase it’s one I absolutely don’t regret. The DVD’s got some genuinely good extra features to give you a little more insight on how they pulled this whole thing together and it’s definitely worth a look.

Exorcist : The Beginning

Dollar95753014_3234720489905685_5357288239319220224_nLooking at this prequel to the Exorcist, I remember shaking my head and literally asking several friends on Facebook, “Doesn’t the Exorcist already have a prequel? That’s the entire point of the second one!” They muddied the water further by telling me not only does this prequel take place before that, but it was remade as an alternate cut “Dominion” a  year later! After the original Director was fired Renny Harlan was put in place of him. The good news is, I like Renny Harlan, and even more so I like Stellan Skarsgård so I fired it up and gave this thing a shot.

It’s supposed to be the story of a younger Father Maren and his first direct contact with the demon Pazuzu. It’s a period piece but, like the Indiana Jones movies, we’re set in a very foreign land in a sort of archaeological context so the period itself kind of fades into the background.

indexThey’ve discovered a church that there’s no record of in any Catholic lore, it’s been sealed and buried and as they excavate and investigate it, they begin to discover it’s dark secrets. It’s low budget of course, with some crummy CGI – particularly in some of the animals. Harlan is trying hard though, he wants this to connect directly to the Exorcist, a tough prospect considering that’s a film that really should never have any sequel or prequels. Harlan crafts the climax to evoke imagery from the original and commissioned a make up very reminiscent of Linda Blair in the third act of the original. I’ve got to say I’m actually surprised how much this does feel like it’s a direct sequel to the original… imagesand that’s something I haven’t really gotten from any of the other Exorcist films. It’s not a bad movie, though it is a little long and drags in places. I did go out of my way to hunt down the alternate cut, Dominion… It’s no better. In fact the more general horror fan and me prefers the Harlan cut to the more cerebral psychological thriller that Dominion prisons.

I’m not sure how much I recommend it, but it wouldn’t hurt to grab it if you spot it on the shelf of the dollar store.

Revenge of Robert

indexLooking at the cover of the Revenge of Robert, you can see they’re trying to strike a balance between the imagery of the Anabelle films and the newer Child’s Play remake. I don’t know this series, I didn’t see the previous installments, (although we do get a quick recap with a few flashbacks at the beginning of the movie) but for my money, this feels more like a puppet master movie then either of the popular killer doll ones. Perhaps it’s the setting, more and more, the puppet master films are increasingly set in World War II, and the juxtaposition of hard plastic, eccentric scientists and Nazis… Well let’s face it, that’s Charles Bands current formula for puppet master in a nutshell!

We have a toy maker who is in possession of a mystic book… and the Nazis want it. He flees, and the book makes it to a train to try and escape their clutches, but the Nazis are relentless and as they draw closer, a toy maker must resort to the last weapon in his arsenal… He must awaken the killer puppets and their comrade Robert.

The problem with doing killer puppet movies on a budget, is that these things are hard! It takes and a enormous amount of effort to manipulate and photograph a sinister puppet… even more so if you’re trying to do it with a sense of personality. What you index2really need are very charismatic actors who can carry the film while still making it a treat every time the puppet shows up on screen. This is actually a big problem and a lot of the middle series puppet master movies actually. We’d see less and less of the puppet some selves, more reused footage, and blander characters. The same thing happens here. While we get our nice montage of puppet mayhem at the very beginning of the movie, we don’t actually get even a glimpse of Robert again until about 40 minutes in… well into the second act, and it appears to be yet another flashback.

The puppets are finally unleashed on the train and begin killing around the 50 minute mark, which is something, considering this movie is only 80 minutes long. They’re creepy enough, but the fact that I’ve had to wait this long, means the film has already kind of lost me. Indeed, the first half of the films almost seems unrelated… as if they tried to smash to shorts together to create a feature.

My advice is that you started out around the seventh or eighth chapter, just past the halfway point and enjoy it as just that… A nice, robust short film, with a good 35 minutes worth of action. I’d also so lean more on it as a horror edged World War II film, because even in this last half of the movie you’re not gonna see a lot of puppet action… Which is a shame. What little we see ( not even 5% of the film ) is nicely done, but it absolutely leaves you waiting for a lot more.

Monster Walk at the 5 O’ Clock and Alien tonight!

10359558_1582196322032139_6962641967273641040_nCome on out to the 3rd annual monster walkMONSTER WALK at the five o’clock bar in Lakewood Saturday April 18th THIS IS AN ALL AGES EVENT SO KIDS ARE WELCOME. I brought my girls last time and they’re coming again this year! They love that they can be different monsters every time and not just zombies!  Make up starts at 1pm and will go till about 3:30ish because the walk will start at 4pm. admission will be $5 plus 2 canned goods. To get makeup done it will be $10  and trust me, there’s always great makeup artists here! This event is to benefit the Cleveland food bank.

The Five O’Clock lounge is located at 11904 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, Ohio 44107

5oclockyszia9zg7nwnhwsjyqdpOnce you’ve walked and creeped everyone else out sufficiently, make a pit stop at home, clean up and then head over to the Capitol for the midnight screening of Alien!

Ridley Scott‘s 1979 masterpiece ‘Alien‘ is part of the Melt Bar and Grilled Cleveland Cinemas Late Shift Series. Admission is just $5! One lucky audience member will win some TUMS to help with their tummy ache!

The capital is located at 1390 W 65th St, Cleveland, Ohio 44102

And if you have trouble sleeping after all that, you can always go back and check out some old violent Blue….


Cinema Wasteland spring 2015

cw_show_logoIt’s Wasteland Weekend! Come on out to the Strongsville Holiday inn and join the Days of the Dead celebration and the best party in town!

The biggest gathering of cast from Days of the Dead ever assembled will be talking about the movie, plus screenings, and vendors galore.

There’s plenty of Horror Host action at Wasteland – Gunga Jim’s show is always great fun and this weekend on Gunga’s drive-in he’s screening the classic “She-Beast”. Son of Ghoul will be hosting Stooges and Wasteland cartoons and Saturday night check out the gameswith A.Ghastlee Ghouls and Sally The Zombie Cheerleader at  Ghastlee’s night at the movies! You never know who else might show up….

cw dodCinema Wasteland

Fright Night 2 : New Blood

Movie bannerindex

I’ve always made a point to state that  I don’t hate remakes just for the sake of hating remakes. I was reasonably positive about Fright Night three years ago here : This time not so much.

First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way. Just because it has “2” in the title, that means nothing. This is not a follow up. It’s a remake. You don’t get to remake a film two years after the last remake! It’s not even a BETTER remake. I think I would have liked this a great deal more if it had been a sequel. It’s DTV horror. It didn’t NEED to have the same actors and it isn’t too much of a leap to make this a follow up. Evil Ed is better realized here, but that’s it. Amy is completely wasted here. She’s always been a damsel in distress, but she was practical in the original. She imageswas stronger in the remake. Here’s she’s just a walking prop. Vincent simply isn’t interesting here…in fact he far less likable than in the 2011 remake and again, he doesn’t actually appear until around the halfway point.

One of my real pet peeves is taking a remake in name only. They use the names and maybe some subject matter, but tell a story that not only has nothing to do with the original but doesn’t even feel like the original (A big reason I never liked the Battlestar Galactica reboot). Again, it wouldn’t have taken much script doctoring to make this a sequel. Simple replace Ed with images3someone else or find a way to humanize him again. State that Vincent has a new career doing reality TV and he pulled some strings to get Charlie and company in on this trip. The Bathory angle would have fit much better like that – especially if Geri Dandridge was somehow related to Jerry Dandridge.

It’s frustrating because this does have some good set pieces, and frankly some brilliant uses of the cross to ward off Vampires. My favorite is a tie between the picture on the cell phone or the full chest tattoo on Peter images2Vincent. The ocular damage scene is nicely squirm worthy as well and the sonic location is a surprisingly original touch. But all of it simply isn’t sufficient to make this a good film, and the “2” in the title just pisses me off.

If you see it on netflix and need something to watch as background at a party or while you are cleaning the house or something it’ll work, but don’t go out of your way to rent it and definatley don’t buy it.


HorrorHound Cinicy 2014


The thing is, this trip had a dark cloud hanging over it from the word go. Ted Raimi cancelled at the last minuet and I personally think the Walking Dead people are charging WAY  too much…especially for autographs without photo ops. HorrorHound is one of the biggest cons I’ve ever done and we’ve covered before how I don’t like big cons, but it was still an opportunity to complete my Evil Dead poster, and also a nice opportunity to do a ED2 poster….so off I go.

Except…I can’t find my keys.

First thing in the morning, I’m pulling stuff together, but my keys are missing. It takes forty five minuets of searching before my wife wakes up and sheepishly remembers she grabbed my keys last night by mistake and forgot to take them out of her coat pocket.

I’m now an hour late and instead of arriving early and getting a spot near the front of the line, I find myself waiting for over an hour to get in. Tickets for autographs with Bruce Campbell are sold out.


New_IMG_0418Seriously, my mood is gone and that’s a shame, because there was still a lot here that can be fun, but it’s a lousy way to start convention season.

It was my first time at Horrorhound Cincinatti. Even though the Horrorhound Indy con was mediocre, I really wanted to hit this one because of the Horror Host Hall of Fame induction.  This was goign to be my one big trip this year.

Another great bit here was the heavy Ghostbuster influence. The Ohio Ghostbusters were there in full force and I got to do the unthinkable…I got to sit in the Ecto-1!!! One of the great costumes floating around as well was a guy dressed as Slimer. New_IMG_0405It’s a costume I now want to make myself….there was also a Stay Puft Marshmellow man and a bunch of Ghostbusters – men and women.  A great display was set up as well, showing off props and memorabilia. So much fun for a Ghostbuster fan like myself.

I was a littel shocked that the line to meet Clint Howard wasn’t longer. This guy is a legend, and easily one of the most recognizable character actors on the con circuit and it was a lot of fun to meet him. He had the head prop from Ice Cream Man there as well, and the detail on that thing was shocking. I was a little put off by his handler who good naturedly insisted on referring to me as a  New_IMG_0417“Geek” because I wanted a Star Trek photo signed, but otherwise really cool to meet Clint.

Another high point was finally getting to meet Charlse Band. I’ve been a Full Moon fan since college (and really before that – if  I were to really examine my UHF viewing as a child). I’ve meet Lloyd Kauffman before, and I appreciate how important Troma is to the genre, but Full Moon is really the other side of that coin, and the full moon astetic appeals to me far more than Troma’s gross out humor ever did. I got him to sign a Terrorvision poster (also signed by Richard Band – the composer for the film.) and was delighted to get a photo with him. That IMG_0422Terrorvision poster is goign to Cinema Wasteland with me in a couple of weeks  for Garret Grahame and Maybe I’ll find something else for Band to sign there!

There were a bunch of composers at this show – a really great idea, thoguh I’m not sure how well it worked out…their tables seemed to be perpetually empty. Still, I was able to get my Evil Dead poster signed as well as my Terrorvision – I wish I had remembered to bring my Conjuring and Wishmaster posters with me, and I could have gotten thier composers as well. One of the coolest however was Christopher Young. My Hellraiser poster has been a little bit of an issue. I originally bought it for a Gettysburg con  where New_IMG_0403Dough Bradley, Ashly Lawrence and Clive Barker were supposed to appear. Ashley and Clive both cancelled and it only got signed by Dough. His dedication was “See you in Hell!” Which always bothered my wife. I suppose I can see why.  At HorrorHound I got to meet Christopher Yong who created the music for Hellraiser.  His inscription was “See you in Heaven” instead and was one of the coolest encounters at the con.

Another appallingly short line was for the Crypt Keeper! He was inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame earlier and truely deserves it. I wasn’t aware that he had also done the voice for Buster Bunny on Tiny Toons – very cool. Another for my voice actor collection. he wasn’t just signing, he was doing answering machineNew_IMG_0439 messages…how cool is that?

All in all, not a BAD con, but poorly orginized and it’s gotten far too big. It’s also gotten a little greed with it’s VIP passes, higher than average prices on admission and autographs and the way they handle their “Professional Photo Ops”. More and more the big cons are leaving a bad taste in my mouth and I wonder if I’m done with the big ones…

We’ll see. Wasteland in Two weeks!

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Freddy Makeup

So I’ve been getting some questions about how I did my Freddy Makeup for Halloween this year.



fredOne of the big reasons I didn’t just go out and buy the freddy makeup kit again is because it really dosen’t come with everything. You really need a bald cap to make this work at all, and then you also need some more texture on the chin and cheeks along with some fairly detailed paint skills. I man, look at this. This is all they give you in the package (also some rubber teeth, elmers glue and greaspaint). I figured I could create that myself…or at least give it a good try, so this year instead I bought a pint of Latex for less than I would have spent on the makeup kit.

While it was similarly involved, it wasn’t as complicated to figure out as the Pinhead makeup was…we should be able to cover this in one post.

I started off creating three appliances on my face, basically making ridges of cotton  and then layering latex over it until I could pull it off.  These are the appliances I came up with in my first session.


First thing we do is shave. Trim the sideburns and make sure thee’s no hair Latex can get caught up in. That is nothing but painful.


Time for the Bald cap.


Now applying these one by one. The real point here is to actually leave a good chunck of my face uncovered, just painted, while the ridges surrounding it confuse the eye.


I can see I need some real texture on my chin. We’ll add some cotton strips first.


Next we will layer latex over it. Also need to add some ridges across the nose.


Drying the latex with a hair dryer. Looks like this will ultimately fuse with the other pieces. I didn’t want one big mask, but it may turn out that way.


Soemthing else I hadn’t counted on. The existing appliances won’t reach all the way to the edges of the bald cap. I’m going to have to extend them. Adding a layer of cotton that will go over the sideburns and protect them, then brushing latex over it. It should come out wrinkly enough on it’s own without making excessive ridges like I did with the other pieces.

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More hair dryer to solidify it. Everything is blending together, and it’s all going to be one piece I can see.


The basic shape is done, but yeah, it still looks fake…after all it’s all that beige yellow latex color. We need some paint on this.


I’m using more than greasepaint this year, I’m also adding blood gel. It’s making a big difference.


I noticed I needed a little more texture on that upper lip (which has no latex or appliance on it) and added some more colors and stripes to it when I redid it for Halloween. Also added more colors to the neck and back of the head. It could be smoother, and I may make another pass at this come Wastland time but all in all I’m happy, and definitely better than that stupid makeup kit from the store! There you go! Freddy!


Halloween Train set!

Marvel Clix

We’re still recovering form all the Halloween Hijinks around here, but I wanted to share some pictures of this before we take it down. We’ve always put up the train set for Christmas, but sometimes on Halloween we like ot put it up too. The sheer numbers of monsters in that Amazing Spiderman Heroclix set made me definitely want to put up the ghost train this year!

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Still some old school horrorclix here too. I so loved that Jason Freddy duo figure!

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Aliens around the chinese temple, hidden in the words


Jason stalking someone.

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Vampire conference – I love putting Dracula and Nosferatu together like this.


I’m playing a lot less these days. The game is getting too complicated. But I still like being ablt to put out a Clix Heros colum this way at least!



Satan’s Bed

Movie banner

aka Batas Impian Ranjang Setan
Directed by H. Tjut Djalil

Also known as “Indonesian Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Normally I’d do a detailed review with my impressions of the film. However, I don’t think I can do any better justice to this movie than my posts to Facebook as I was watching this film.

  • Matthew Skelly there’s the little girls in white jumping rope (not singing theSatansBed19843 song but it’s definately them)…..OH MY GOD….they’re doing the bathtub scene almost shot for shot!!!
  • Matthew Skelly ” I had the same dream…a devil came out of my bed with razor sharp nails…” OH LOOK! It’s the Johnny Depp character and the tape player!…oh and here come the jerk boyfriend making noises outside…..
  • Matthew Skelly Okay…Indonesian Tina and Indonesian rod just went upstairs. I gotta say, Indonesian Nancy is a lot prettier than Heather Langenkamp…..If they actually do the rotating room I’m going to plotz.

  • Matthew Skelly Indonesian Freddy just cut off one of his fingers…..
  • Matthew Skelly No rotating room, but they did lift Indonesian Tina up on wires….they did the skull gag too….only it was Indonesian Freddy’s entire head that came off…..
  • Matthew Skelly COOL! It’s Indonesian John Saxon!
  • Matthew Skelly Indonesian Freddy walks like Frankenstein. Shame. SatansBed19842It’s probably because he’s cold. he needs a hat and sweater.

  • Matthew Skelly okay…bizarre….. Indonesian rod escapes from Indonesian john saxon and is lured away by Indonesian Freddy pretending to be the ghost of Indonesian tina…..SO Bizarre. Still get’s hung though.
  • Matthew Skelly Alcoholic mother..check. Shaman….huh? I think someone got their poltergeist mixed in their NOES……there’s that lady in lavender again to…a little Phantasm influence?
  • Matthew Skelly Why is Indonesian Freddy throwing his head at the shaman?Oh. So he can bite him. Okay.

  • Matthew Skelly There’s the staircase gag….only it’s tar….
    man, this movie really turned int Indonesian poltergeist for a minuet SatansBed19845there….
    This really is a high recommend for any Nightmare fan. It’s just a really strange remake….and a better one than the from 2011…..
    There are a couple odd bits. Freddy has a sidekick…a succubus in lavender which is what I’m referring to as the Phantasm connection. Also by the end, it really does turn into Poltregiest, complete with the skeletons bursting out of the ground and attacking. Indonesian Freddy is after these people not because he was torched alive but rather because the house was built on a graveyard.  But definately, check this out if you can find it.

Join me this weekend for Cleveland Movie marathons!

Auto_RamaOkay….so let me explain what’s going on this weekend.

Friday starting at 7:00 the Aut-O-Rama drive-in theatre will be presenting a horror marathon : Night of the Living Dead, Nightmare On elm Street, Friday the Thirteenth and The Shining (Yay! I was so bummed that the shining screening was cancelled a few weeks ago). The Drive-In has two screens, so on the opposite screen there will also be family friendly films like Hotel Transylvania, Gremlins, Casper and BeetleJuice. The cost for the four film  marathon is thier standard admission of $9.00.

capitol-theatre-cleveland-ohioSaturday night going into Sunday morning is 12 Hours of Terror at the Capitol Theatre on west 65th street in Cleveland. The all night marathon includes the Original Evil Dead, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, From Beyond, Creature From the Black Lagoon (in 3d!), Christine, Street Trash and a surprise feature. Seven movies for $30 at the door (or $25.00 in advance).

After Breakfast at Church, I’ll be heading out to the Lorain Palace for thier double feature of the Friday the Thirteenth remake and Poltergeist.  Cost for the double feature on the biggest indoor screen in Lorain County is $5.00.

Palace_Theater_Lorain_OHA film weekend of Cinema Wasteland proportion (for about the same as a weekend pass). I know we’ve all seen most of these films on TV over the years, but there’s something special about seeing something like this on the big screen at a theater. There’s an experience to it….and these aren’t the sterile, neon lit, faceless multiplexes that are scattered through out the country. These are beautiful old theaters. Places with character. The Palace is one of my favorite places on earth, and I’m so grateful that we still have a drive in like the Aut-O-Rama around here- close to my home (twenty minuets) and already upgraded to digital.

Come join me for one or all this weekend!drive-inPalace-Theater-Lorain-OHCapitol_Theatre_BA

Lakewood Zombie Walk

clownI wanted to try something different this time. Last year at hauntville, I was doing makeup every night and that afforded me t he opprutunity to experiment a little. Instead of making the ridges on my forehead out of mortician’s wax, I’d try cotton and cover it with latex. Then I’d try making it so it could be removed and redone….it worked well with the false nose and ears I bought from the store and the cuts I was making out of cotton and greasepaint….

I made my First pass at zombie makeup from scratch. The idea was to create a full face appliance, with a skeletal look mixed with an infected look – open sores and infection (with an eye towards how I might accomplish this on a Freddy Kruger makeup). After two and a half hours I was a little disappointed. I very much wanted the eye sockets to be deeper. The ridges on the forehead could be more pronounced1233613_637793449598415_2016403214_n and the paint job turned out poorly, giving… too leathery a look to the skin. At least it all came off in one piece as planned. I gave this another pass though, another layer of latex and try to build up those eyes.  This really isn’t what I’m good at. I want to create more of a character, more shapes instead of just torn skin.
I’m GOOD at torn skin. But that’s just too easy.
This is a first attempt creating something out of nothing, and a first attempt at creating more than just cuts and scrapes. I usually buy prosthetics and have plenty of experience applying them, but creating them is another thing. Even the pinhead makeup last year was really just a bald cap and cuts with some foam nails added in. No sculpting, no form. I’m trying to push a little further with this.
So I pushed a bit, I deepened those sockets and extended the mask downward 1379235_638828842828209_463758505_n(i’d later have to extend it further still to reach my hairline).
The result isn’t terrible. My eyes look slightly Asian to me with the angle and different size. I’m covering up a lot more seams with fake blood than I would prefer to, and the skin is a little wrinkely. Like an appliance from an old Hammer film. It doesn’t look quite smooth enough. I realize I’m not working with silicone, but still, my forheads in the past have looked a little smoother.
Nevertheless, this isn’t a “woe is me” kind of post. For a first try, I’ve got nothing to complain about. It still has a great look to it and fits perfectly. The next time I applied it, I pulled it down a little to open the eyes up some more and once I extended that zygomatic bone back a bit to my sideburn it gave  the perfect impression of a skull, just barely covered with flesh.
Old school sinema 219My burst open chest is an old costume, but I finally got around to covering the old company logo (a company I no longer work for – and don’t really want to give free advertisement to) with an Umbrella ID and added these great “Zombie sleeves” that I found at Party Center to the costume (kind of like the false tattoo sleeves you see everywhere – they were featured on one episode of the Big Bang Theory even) I’m really happy with the costume. I wore it out to the Daughter of Ghoul show Friday night to test it out and it worked fine (it stayed dinneron better in the cool evening than the hot sun the next day actually. The edges around my mouth got a little lose during the walk).
And of course when I sat down to dinner with my family that night, still in makeup, my daughters didn’t pat an eye.

Check out some of the other zombies who came out to the food drive this weekend!

Old school sinema 208 524653_10200532133017129_1203776482_n 556744_10200532052255110_1668084421_n 562900_10200532052735122_400026124_n 1209378_10200532037654745_2085450280_n 1238363_10200531995013679_1390070285_n 1239865_10200532044534917_1825283112_n 1375062_10200532005133932_763009206_n 1377005_10200532036254710_932663865_n 1383977_10200532132657120_1026729760_n Old school sinema 174 Old school sinema 173 Old school sinema 162 Old school sinema 164 Old school sinema 170 Old school sinema 006 Old school sinema 005 Old school sinema 002 IMG_20130928_154308 IMG_20130928_154222 IMG_20130928_154144 IMG_20130928_154141 IMG_20130928_154046 IMG_20130928_152127 IMG_20130928_151534 IMG_20130928_151424 IMG_20130928_151404 IMG_20130928_151237 IMG_20130928_151225 IMG_20130928_151157 IMG_20130928_151139 IMG_20130928_151131 IMG_20130928_151125 IMG_20130928_151040 1382421_727708627245844_338065073_n 1381934_10153280666355313_805693106_n 1381825_10151697436388386_1191703108_n 1380490_10151858138903810_678734093_n 1380390_182878731899757_400018189_n 1378595_702538823107258_1313471414_n 1378312_10153280652900313_1385035717_n 1377997_4813006141354_984250332_n 1376356_10151794078160819_1655427167_n 1375750_10151858138943810_1351110056_n 1375072_10153280673680313_1825916662_n 1235177_613229302032841_803873314_n 1233365_10153280670995313_990404480_n 1209320_728093307207034_675541587_n 1209248_439449942843167_1602507581_n 996598_702538803107260_1919853387_n 994896_4813007541389_235453114_n 945836_10151858138273810_683035755_n 598616_10153280674265313_2070401381_n 598594_10151858138533810_1134037151_n 578539_10151697434008386_1282380359_n 552737_10151889219887254_2062027624_n 547056_10151623093721401_430432200_n

Lorain County Zombie Walk

557708_10201359663206671_976052728_nOut for a Zombie walk this weekend with my girls. I handed Maddie the camera and she took most of the photos you see  today. (I had to stop on the way there for batteries for the camera, no armor but still made up. The lady at Drug Mart almost had a heart attack – she had been talking to the customer in line before me and didn’t even look up at me as she rung up my AA’s. Then she lifted her head, saw me and SCREAMED. She told me she thought I had been in a car accident)

It was a decent day, we got rained on for a few minuets, but not long enough t o break up the heat – and really, none of that rain touched me in my armor!

Of course I was doing a Zombie Iron Man this time around. I had kind of planned on this for the Avon parade, but changed my mind at the last minuet, and saved it for the proper Lorain County Zombie Walk. One of the key things with me were my props. A Batman head and a Spider-Man skeleton chained and slung over my shoulder. Spidey was a lot heavier than I had anticipated. But it was important to me to have other characters with me like the spidey skeleton and the Batman head. The best costumes and makeup tell a story. You take one look at that and you understand what happened. Without the props, I’m just some yutz in an Iron Man costume and fake blood. I found it interesting that people reacted far more strongly to  the dead Batman than to the dead Spider-Man. It was also fun that a lot of people didn’t see Spidey until I had passed by. They’d take a picture of me and then I’d walk by and they would suddenly whip the New_1236481_629464183764675_176234175_ncamera out again to photograph the back with the dead Spider-Man!

Lydia also had a prop. She wanted to be a zombie Rapunzel from Tangled. Rapunzel always has her pet lizard Pasquel….and we weren’t going to ruin Lyd’s plushie so I made her a skeleton Pasqual.

I wasn’t the only super zombie though, we ran in to our friends Riley and her husband Derrick along with Stephanie and Marse (you may remember them from Herophoria) all dressed as Gotham villains. We also saw all of the guys from Hauntville (Where I worked last Halloween) and out friend Crystal with her sons.


As we wandered the block, I got pounced on from behind by one zombie hunter who then ran around me blasting me with her pistol. Another hunter came up to me and went “Oh that’s just not fair!” then proceeded to bash me with batons, blocked by my gauntlets before a quick repulsor blast back. It’s a fun time, people stay in character and you get to play like you’re a kid again. We loved seeing the Ghostbusters and the Monster Dolls, and had fun walking around.  It’s all for a good cause as well, proceeds going to the second harvest food bank so no one has to go to bed hungry with their stomach growling like a zombie.
There’s one more in Lakewood at the end of the month. We’ll see if I can coax Maddie into going again (Lydia decided there was too much walking, and not enough brain eating). In  the meantime, we’re heading back to the club in today’s Violent Blue!

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Monster Bash

ConmanIMG_20130720_080654Turns out I did end up heading out to Bash this weekend after all.

I managed to scrape together enough money for admission and gas well most of the gas anyhow, I did end up borrowing a little from my gas allowance from work to get back home.  Bash offers a great deal of fun stuff to do and see that’s included with the admission, starting the day off with cartoons where they serve you cereal – then moving on to old serials on the same screen. I love that stuff.

I really wish Bash would add a second movie screen, and kind of hoped that the move to the new hotel would do that. It’s a big enough con to have a couple things going all the time, but sadly, no luck. Still it has things going for it that no other show does.

IMG_20130720_080215The stand-ups and wax figures are such a great touch. You don’t see much of this around other cons and it fits in perfectly with the old B-Movie theme. This year there was a small wax display in one room, a very cool attraction I could have spent all sorts of time staring in.


One thing that Bash is also a little deficient on is cosplay. We all know I love my costumes and really, that’s never a big part of horror cons. But Bash is so low on cosplayers that they actually have to manufacture their own!


IMG_2945I did manage to say hello to John Saxon during the day, and we discussed the passing of Jim Kelly who had been doing shows with him recently. John told me he had seen Jim no less than three weeks before his death, and you’d never have been able to tell he was sick.

I also got around to the Munster table to meet Butch Patrick and Pat Priest. These two are regulars on the con circuit, but it was still my first time seeing them. I’m very much more of an Addams Family guy, but their panel was still interesting – particularly how they addressed the so-called IMG_20130720_113626“rivalry” between the shows. I can’t say I really came away with a better understanding of the series, but it was fun to watch them talk.

Who I DID come away with a greater appreciation for, was Shemp Howard.

I’m not a stooges fan in the first place, but I know them and  watched them here and there and I subscribed to the general consensus that the Shemp ones weren’t nearly as good as the Curly ones. Everyone knows that right?

Shemp’s daughter in Law and his granddaughter were there along with some Bash mods who are also a bit of historians on the subject. I had no Idea that Shemp was so accomplished in Hollywood before doing the Stooges films.

I also had no idea that he was with the Stooges before Curly.

The original line up was Moe and Shemp, along with another actor who got top billing. As time went on, they added Larry Fine, and when Hollywood came calling, they came for Shemp first. He broke into films before the Stooges, and he and Moe decided to add Curly to the mix. After Curly’s stroke, Moe convinced Shemp to come back.

IMG_20130720_123643They showed some of his other work that I had either never seen or never know was him. I actually had to pull out my copy of Africa Screams when I got home to watch for his performance.

One thing about the new hotel, that dealer’s room is huge. It feels bigger than it has in past years and that’s a great thing

Well, that’s a great thing if you’re not broke.

When you’re at a convention, you kill time in the dealer’s room between screenings or panels and this was no exception. I was really bummed because I found some fascinating IMG_20130720_123838things I really wanted – someone had a DVD of the young Frankenstein musical that’s touring right now! A beautiful volume on the history of the Shadow and another on the history of the Green Hornet. The early student films of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell! The Zacherly scrapbook! ARRRGGGH!

To be fair, I didn’t walk away entirely empty handed, I had four dollars tucked away to bring home goodies for my girls and I stretched that like you wouldn’t believe, loading up candy, tiny monsters, bat rings (which I put in little coffin containers I already had at home) and Simpsons Halloween action figures

Some short Monster kid films by the resident filmmaker Brian Nichols. One of his movies was a retrospective of short spots his daughters had done with him, with the full knowledge that this would likely be the last movie they make with their daddy. Yeah, I know how this goes. There’s a reason I take my girls to cons and zombie walks. There’s a reason we do skits for church at least once a month. Don’t worry Brian, I’m not letting that time slip by either.

IMG_20130720_080158I ended the night by hitting the Abbott and Costello tribute show. It was fine. Not a big fan of the first routine, but the next couple were fun and they capture the spirit of the pair. I’m glad they ended it with a Who’s on First routine…then again they kind of have too.

There’s more going on after that, but it was after nine and I had a three hour drive ahead of me so I headed back to Cleveland. I saw in the program however that Judith O’Dae and Barbra Steel are coming next year so you know I’ll be back – and maybe I can arrange to have my daughters with me next year. 8 and 6 should be old enough…..

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My Found Footage marathon

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grave-encounters2-movie-poster-vicious-brothers-itunesA while back we talked about Grave Encounters 2 ( and by extension the previous film Grave Encounters.

Found footage really isn’t new, The Blair Witch Project pretty much created the genre and Paranormal Activity has made it profitable, grabbing the attention of other studios, indie and big boys alike. Especially in the digital age, it’s much like the zombie movie. Anyone pawith a handheld camera and a little bit of creativity can create one .

I’m not really a fan of Paranormal Activity. Of the modern found footage films, I think Grave encounters is one of the best. It’s certianaly the one I judge against. That’s why I’m looking at the set of movies I’ve got today. These all are done in the same vein, some almost directly coping the film itself.

We’ll start off with “The Tapes”. This movie tries to exploit the whole reality tv genre, much like Grave Encoutners. Of course, these guys aren’t actually looking for ghosts, they are investigating an alleged sex cult. What they find is a Satanic coven and hilarity ensues.

The movie would be far better if I could actually get behind  some of these characters, but they are all just MV5BMTM0OTg5NzU3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjc4OTM0Nw@@._V1._SY317_CR4,0,214,317_completely unlikable and you really kind of root for them to get hacked up. The gore doesn’t disappoint, and if you are into occult movies, I suppose this is a fun way of getting your fix…if you can keep you popcorn down.

This is the first movie to ever give me motion sickness. I got hit really bad, surprising since shakeycam doesn’t usually do that to me. All in all, this one is really a pass.

Next up is “The Asylum Tapes”. Also goes by the name “Greystone Park” This movie is noteworthy because it’s the directorial debut of Oliver Stone’s son. After watching it however, I really hope he can just be content with being a trust fund baby and not unleash anymore of this on the unsuspecting public.

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

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

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

The final nail in the coffin for this movie is the lack of monsters or any real threat. It’s all poorly constructed atmosphere, a few quick and simple scares but nothing significant. We get one evil shadow for about three seconds and a brief flash of the girl on the cover – that’s right : she’s not the main antagonist and is hardly in the film. Funny, marketing seemed to figure out what this movie needed far more than the filmmakers. Oh, and don’t read too much into the inspired by true events stuff. Essentially the “true events” there is Sean Stone and a buddy exploring an allegedly haunted place one night and feeling unnerved. Sure. Whatever. Did I use the word “pretentious” yet?

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

I want to do a quick shout out to “The Amityville Haunting”. It’s a watered down Amityville Horror done in found footage style.  This one is a real shame. It’s not bad, It’s really not, but if it had been give just a little more time and a little more money, this really could have been a great film- it could have rivaled Paranormal Activity and built on the power of the name. As it is, this movie is really just a cash grab trying to capitalize on that name alone and the popularity of the genre. There are scenes copied right out of Paranormal Activity and that’s a real shame. The ghosts are uninspired and not scary looking enough. The writer obviously knew a bit about the original story and throws in a number of great references, it’s kind of like the later Hellraiser movies – you can see some people really trying to create something here, but they just don’t have the time or money or support of the studio who just wants to keep pushing out product, not matter how good or bad it is. A real shame and a real lost opportunity.

Finally, we have “The Speak”.  Like The Asylum Tapes, this is a groups of people exploring a haunted site, in this case an abandoned hotel in the middle of the city (not isolated or tucked away like the other movies we’ve been talking about). Of the bunch, this is probably the most like “Grave Encounters” in that these guys are trying to create a “Ghost Hunters” kind of show. Once inside, they preform a ritual called “The Speak” which is designed to open the door to the spirit world and let the ghosts in.

Really, this is the best of the bunch I watched here. It has an interesting style in that it is billed as one continuous shot through the entire hour and a half film. First and foremost let me just poke a couple of holes in this claim, because I was really excited to check this out. There is at least one sequence late in teh movie that is a cut, but possibly it’s just an insert….they cut to footage they are watching on a camera, then back to the characters in the movie.  There are at least two other moments that could he bidden cuts in the film. The last minuet or two of the movie are cut normally, but that may not count as it not necessarily supposed to be that first person POV anymore. So yeah, not a TRUE one take deal, but close enough that it’s still impressive what they did here.

You have to keep this in mind too. We get some pretty good performances from these actors considering it’s basically one long take. I spent twenty years on stage, and I get how hard that can be in of itself, but you got to understand this is WAY more complex than theater. You’re performance is constant, going up stairs different floors different rooms, up on the roof, the scope of the blocking and choreography in this film is staggering. It makes what might otherwise be considered average performances shine a lot brighter.

I liked this one. Good monsters and possession, incredibly creepy atmosphere (far creepier than Greystone Park and with fewer resources- imagine that) good ideas, and really a genuinely well done film. It’s definitely worth a rental, though it might not really be a buy. If I have this on my shelf next to Grave Encounters, I’m still going with Grave Encounters, but of the lot, this comes the closest and works the best by far.

Okay. I’m sufficiently creeped out for the night. I think I’ll read some Violent Blue to clear my head before hitting the sack. Happy nightmares everyone!