We have the US and Mexico border there’s a special team there just to do investigate possession demonic activity. Our story starts in the maternity ward near there, a very sinister looking nurse locks the door and goes all Stabby on the babies, before cutting her own throat.
OK, you have my attention.
Five years later. School shooting, being investigated by Detective Emanuel, one of those who lost a child at the baby massacre. Mother of the shooter describes an account of her son had with one of them something bad is about to happen… And five more of these incidents were to come. Outside, reporters swarmed the detective, and in the distance, Tobin Bell watches.
The cops asked for help, and in come The paranormal forensics team. In the meantime, we get a second killing, with a spaced out janitor jumping into the public pool with jumper cables attached to her and the electrical outlet
There’s strange things going on at the crime scenes. curious sounds, and prints all over the walls, it’s enough that the detective is beginning to soften and listen to the paranormal forensics team
They consult a psychic, and it all goes spectacularly wrong. A tarot reading, somehow, all the cards come up as the devil. Generally you’re not supposed to take these things literally, but when every one of them is the devil and that’s followed by massive psychic disturbance, knocking and flying things… It may be time to suspect some diabolical influence. It’s definitely enough to spook Detective Emmanuel to the point where he’s sleeping with a gun under his pillow.
The next incident, a bombing at a movie theater, right after a couple of guys, including bell, snatch a kid and runoff in a unmarked van.
Their investigation rules them through a creepy area, tagged with graffiti reading children’s slayer, crazy priest. The investigator asked the detective “do you have faith?“
“In Mexico, even the atheists are believers.“
“The belief isn’t the same as faith… And if things keep up this way, we’re going to need both.“
That’s a great quote. Worth the price of admission all by itself.
In the ruins of the church to find strange markings, things designed to torture demons, and the remnants of an insane priest.
A carriage moves by itself and a babies laugh rings out. Children’s voices chant, and lead them deeper into the building. A broken crucifix comes to life, and a demon speaks through the crumbling statue, as it struggles to free at self from the nails in his hands and feet “It’s almost time for my son to walk the earth” but it’s willing to make a deal… The life of one child and she’ll go away for 1000 years. Or is it just tempting them? It is a spectacular set piece with an explosive climax, leaving them drained and frustrated.
Interestingly enough, it’s Tobin Bell who comes to the rescue. He’s was there to explain the plot. Once every thousand years, the Messiah is reincarnated. And every time, the devil attempts to destroy him as a child, just as he did with Jesus Christ. Bell suggests that the first time he was returning, the child was killed during the crusades. But this time, they have him. Still, the devil is trying to destroy everything around him… Killing the baby that would’ve reincarnated as John the Baptist, reincarnated as Saint Paul. And now his entire mission is to protect this child, that he says is the reincarnations Christ. Get them across the border to a safe place… A monastery that he can grow and develop his power.
Seems to me like that’s the queue for our third act to begin.
Decide the best bet to get the kid to safety is to go through smuggler blue lid and confusing as labyrinth. Full of Catholic skeletons, statues, and nightmares. It is an unholy place, which leads to the detective been possessed.
Tobin Bell initiates the most chill exorcism I’ve ever seen. (but don’t worry, The second try to goes full on gonzo crazy) He’s cool low-key performance consistently conveys more power than any amount of bluster. The lighting plays with the sinister look of the demon possessed Detective forgives Chase as the mother and the Messiah flee into the climax of the film.
It’s a smart film with a lot of interesting ideas. There’s certainly some misreading of the Bible here, but catholic mysticism in the horror movie is always kind of its own thing… Without a lot of resemblance to reality.
Tobin Bell is shockingly good here, in an understanding performance. When is almost tempted to suggest he’s under Used, but really… I think it’s just enough. I’m honestly not quite sure what to make of Joaquin costume. At times he feels wrong as a detective, but he’s exactly the sort of Hawking threat that we need towards the end of the film, and his arrogance and bluster really sell the character.
It’s a good film. It’s exactly the sort of thing that you sign up for Shudder for.
Cowboys vs Zombies
The first thing about cowboys versus zombies that strikes me is that it’s not a old Western. It’s set in modern times. It’s still in the remote western town, but the modern setting definitely isn’t what I was hoping for.
After a brief introduction with one of the main characters burying a body, we switch to a house of ill reputed to try and touch base with the rest of our cast.
Despite being modern day, it’s trying very hard to hit all the western tropes. A shoot out in the street, Mysterious mercenary drifter, drunkin Sheriff, even those swinging half saloon doors.
Still, it’s a very talky first half of the movie, and the zombies themselves are wandering on screen towards the town for at least 10 minutes before anyone notices, but when the zombies finally do attack, it’s a welcome relief. The Cowboys pull out guns and blast away in a brilliant fire fight. The digital blood gets distracted from time to time but trick shots and constant gunplay make for an entertaining spectacle. The muzzle flash is a real, and we have a bit of bone and blood in brain spatter across the screen as they retreat back into the saloon where they discuss the backstory.
While I will admit I groaned a little bit when somebody pulled out of katana, the movie was worth a dollar I paid for it. It’s fun for the zombie battles And the third act is bonkers, a relentless and unending zombie battle. but feels like it falls short and its potential.
85% of the cast is under 25
Bad CGI (common, afterFX, same old blood packs)
Cover misrepresents the movie
Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Cowboys vs Aliens)
Zombies vs Strippers
Man, I cannot believe that full moon pictures mockbustered me. When I looked at this package, I mistook this film for zombie strippers – the one with Robert England and Jenna Jamison. When the full moon pictures logo came up, I knew I was in the wrong place.
Full moon is a staple of indie movies, and usually bring surprisingly good quality, but they never ever had a budget that could afford someone like Robert England (maybe Jenna Jamison cameo but I’m not even sure about that!). Still, with a Full moon film, you know exactly what you’re going to get. They play it straight, they take it seriously. However, they also know when exactly to add some humour and lightness.
This is not the sort of zombie movie that is going to change the world, but that doesn’t keep it from being fun. The movie is entirely set at a strip club, though we occasionally get glimpses of the parking lot, for the most part it’s inside the club.the owner is depressed because businesses bad – indeed throughout the entire movie we never see more than a couple of patrons – and he is planning on selling it. In fact, the paperwork has already gone through and tonight is the last night. It probably wouldn’t have any customers at all, if not for the zombie outbreak… Its early stages and no one knows what’s going on yet. A couple of people show up here because the strip clubs they were at descended into chaos, but they are saying is just your normal Friday night. We get further description of what’s going on outside through news reports and our patrons tales of what happened at the previous clubs they attended. Beyond that, it’s very straightforward – zombies show up, somebody gets bitten, zombies beaten back or hidden from, zombies show up again, someone turns… It’s all extremely by the numbers. The zombies here are also very much what we’ve seen before – shambling mumbling “brains! “.
There is nothing new here, but don’t let that turn you off. While you don’t get the social commentary of George Romero, or the gritty post apocalypse of the walking dead, they still take themselves seriously enough to not tip over into the wackyness of evil dead. While the movie doesn’t really add anything to either the catalogue or the zombie mythology, it also doesn’t take away from it. A box set like this is exactly where it belongs… part of an anthology perhaps. In a set like this it’s going to get more attention than it would on a streaming channel or doing a broadcast on SyFy – in those cases, I can just change the channel. On the other hand , Being a collection like this you won’t feel bad about possibly paying too much for this movie the way you might have if you had bought it for $5 in the dump bin at Wal-Mart. If this were something that I had rented for a dollar at the local video store on a Saturday night, I’m confident to say I would have walked away satisfied that I enjoy this, and it’s definitely a good sign if this is what I have coming up in the rest of the set.
85% of the cast is under 25
Mostly one location
Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Amityville, Ouija, ect)
Daughter of Darkness
I certainly can’t fault Daughter of Darkness for starting in a graveyard. Not only do we have a funeral, we have Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend (The fact that the character is from Chicago just abuses me all the more) chasing a black robed figure into a bolt that transforms into a long handled chamber… Between this opening in the knowledge that Anthony Perkins is going to show up in a second, I’m totally on board.
For a TV movie, this has got a good opening scare, and I kind of dig the Dark Shadows font on the credits. They’re setting it in Romania (actually filming it in Bucharest, Hungary) you know the Stuart Gordon is going to make the most of that landscape!
There in Romania, Mia Sara dreams of more black robes, and mysterious shops, and people catching on fire. She awakens from the nightmare, so it only makes sense for her to pop on down to the American Embassy, manned by Jack Coleman from Heroes… (Or more importantly Nightmare Café ). She’s looking for her father, the only family she has left.
As she searches through Romania for some trace of her father or his work, she discovers the glassworks he used to work at, inhabited now by Anthony Perkins… who introduces himself as her father’s old apprentice. Perkins also informs her that her father is dead. She just can’t believe it, and decides to stick around a little while longer to investigate.
As we learn more about her father’s background, his work as a reformer and his flight from the secret police, one can almost forget that I’m watching a vampire movie … except for Sarah’s dreams, and a brief scene with one of the club kids… but as we get into the second act, we’re definitely about to be plunged into vampire madness. Sara starts to fall for a vampire club kid, but at the same time attracting the attention of the Romanian government who claim her father didn’t exist. Indeed, when the exhume the grave, that’s not her fathers body there, but that of an old woman. Moreover, she discovers that the necklace she wears is the crest an old family, rumored to be vampiric. She is determined to find their family strong hold, which resides of course, in Transylvania.
The castle is now a tourist attraction, but a statue in the courtyard catches Sara‘s attention. It’s the black cloak to figure from her dreams and it’s pendant matches hers. It’s about here, at the halfway point of the film, that the vampire cult catches up with her, and she discovers that Perkins himself is in fact, her father.
It seems like a missed opportunity when she calls him a maniac… She should’ve called him a psycho. Just saying.
While Mia Sara is inprisoned with other vampire victims, the vampire council debates her fate… and it’s the first time I really feel like I am in a TV movie. We’ve got some of these councilmembers pulled straight out of central casting chewing the scenery. Still the entire subject matter is quite a bit spicier than what I expect to see on a CBS movie of the week, and it’s still lit with shocking skill. Stuart Gordon has his fingerprints all over this.
The plan is to breed Sara, to create a hybrid vampire… A race that could in fact, walk in the light. The club kid tries his best to seduce her, two woo her, but she’s not having any of it. Her father to, would not wish that life upon her. He springs her, and spirits her away. The cult however, isn’t willing to relinquish their prey quite so easily, and reach out through their vengeance on her father.
It’s such a strange collection of actors and actresses, that in of itself makes the film feel eclectic. But the mixture of Stuart Gordon and television production values is another one of those things that really makes us curious oddity. It feels like exactly the sort of film that should’ve been a regular rental at Blockbuster, like the Patrick Stewart vehicle Safehouse, or the Curse of the Blair Witch. In many ways, Gordon infuses the fun that I usually find a full moon feature, perhaps with just a touch less lunacy in a bit more sterility. Moreover, he’s come up with a curious twist on the vampire. Indeed, Stuart Gordon has given us most unique creature designs I’ve ever seen for a vampire… completely out of left field and way more creative than anything you expect from a TV movie. I almost wonder what this would be like if Gordon hadn’t given the option to do this as unrated or R rated. But honestly, I can’t see it making a huge amount of difference. The film stands on its own and acquits itself well. It’s actually the best feature in the set.
Way Of The Wicked
Way of the Wicked begins with Christian Slater investigating a schoolyard fight. The young victim didn’t really hit any of the bullies, and yet one of the bullies ended up choking on his own blood. The priest is concerned, but the mother chases them away.
Five years pass. There’s a new boy in town, who’s got a thing for The local detectives daughter. Turns out it’s the same kid from that case all those years ago. Strange things start to happen, when he gets into a fight with a girl‘s boyfriend, and the boy bursts in blood. Later, if I get murdered, run over by a combine in the dark… After he got a little Handsy with her. All the while, the priest lurks in the woods around the school… Watching.
While we’re generally short on gore here, the film does love it’s nosebleeds.
Sadly, the film doesn’t really pass the watch test. At 91 minutes, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, but it’s very talky, with a lot of macho puffery from the various bullies, and not quite enough blood or catholic mysticism for my tastes. Also, Christian Slater’s ever-changing cross… It seems to get bigger in each scene, becomes a distraction. I’ve got admit as well, I have a hard time really sympathizing with the pretty, popular blonde teenage girl who keeps blowing off her dad. She feels like a high school social climber… Even though they’re trying to make her come off as more grounded. It doesn’t quite work In those skimpy or sexy outfits.
Where do I get is OK. Extremely average… Right down the center. The problem is, I feel like I’ve seen this movie before and I’ve seen it done better.
Lady in Black
Our main character awakens from a vision of his death, and visions of murder… And there is a lady in black to be seen.
I did something I don’t usually do with this movie, I watched the trailer before watching the film. The trailer seems to suggest a sort of crime thriller with a premonition edge. That’s not what the cover looks like. Obviously the covers meant to evoke the image of the woman in black, and was released around the same time as the Daniel Radcliffe film. I get the distinct impression that I’ve been bait and switched.
What you’re getting here is essentially ghost whisperer mixed with CSI. Our hero is acting as a consultant to the detectives and the local murder case, trying to convince him of his premonitions and go from there.
I’m afraid this movie is not my bag, but if you’re into thrillers with a mystery and police edge, this might just be perfect for you. Don’t get fooled by the cover. This isn’t a ghost story.
85% of the cast is under 25
Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Amityville, Ouija, ect)
Renamed by marketing to sound like a mainstream horror title/series
Cover patterned after a current mainstream movie
Free Comic Book Day 2023
It’s that time again, Free Comic Book Day is upon us. It’s not quite the social event that it used to be back when we still had midnight parties to celebrate. Still, Carol and John’s does their best to make it celebration on the day itself, creating a small bazaar of artists and crafters at the overflow space they use for the day. While they limit people to 12 of the 40 books offered, they also make up for it by throwing in an extra graphic novel and creating a poster for the day. This time around, they even had the artist who made the poster available to sign it.
It’s a lot of that social aspect that keeps me driving out there those Saturday mornings. There’s enough people around to make it worth dressing up in costume (This year it’s Kraglin. Sean Gunn’s character from the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3), and it’s where I’m most likely to run into friends and acquaintances. Indeed, as I stood in line, the Cleveland Ghostbusters Ecto mini rolled up and found a parking space. Everybody in line was ohhhing and awwwing at it and then looked at me in disbelief when the Ghostbusters jumped out and ran over to come and hang out with me and chat for a while!
Heroes Alliance was there wandering through with Star Wars and Clack Widow characters, and even the Grinch came out on his motorcycle!
After Carol and John’s, I still headed over to Comics Are Go. They offer one of every fcbd comics they have, Which takes the stress out of trying to get a more or less complete set. I skip over a few things… Marvel voices really doesn’t appeal to me anymore than a lot of the kids stuff. But manage to grab a couple of duplications for Maddie, who was just not getting out of bed this morning. You know, teenagers. It’s also a great opportunity to pick up passes for NEO comicon. Even without the passes though, I notice I always spend more over at comics are go. They’ve got really good dollar boxes, and usually an interesting deal spread out on their sidewalk sale. It’s great fun. Between the free comics and the ones that I bought, I pulled a stack about 50 home with me.Looks like I’ll be set for reading material for a while!
(At least until next Free Comic Book Day!)
Plan 9 is one of those rare reimaginings that works. From the first trailer, it reminds me of the 80s remakes like the Blob or the Fly that would take a concept, throw in some homage, and then run their own way with it using modern techniques. It’s far more a re-imagining of the story then simply re-making it for a contemporary audience.
Plan 9 takes an interesting approach, I’ve always viewed it more as a sci-fi horror film – aliens, not monsters. This version of Plan 9 veers firmly in the monster direction, turning the film into a very zombie focused gorefest as opposed to the original which feels very much like a traditional 50s or 60s horror movie, including a lot of those tropes – the fake graveyard, the stereotypical characters, the underlit monsters. This modern retelling plants it firmly in 2016 with the kind of makeup effects and gore a modern horror fan would come to expect. It’s done with the blessing (and inclusion!) of Conrad Brooks, the last of Ed Wood’s troupe still with us which makes it all the better. I can’t wait to chat with him about this at Monster Bash!
Not everything is perfect – the CG looks like late 90s television quality FX and there are more than a few performances in the film that are less than polished. But these sins are forgivable because what the film does give us is a lot of fun. A while back I praised Midnight Syndicate’s feature film “the Dead Matter” for including not only horror actors from the convention circuit but also several Horror Hosts as well. The inclusion of Big Chuck Schdowski, and Count Gore DeVol made the film a great deal more fun and appealing to those of us into the genre. Plan 9 dives right into this same territory, casting Jerry Moore a.k.a. Karlos Borloff into a meaty role – a DJ that Wolfman Jack would be proud of. It’s a great fit for Jerry, being a musician himself and I completely buy him as the character. There’s also the indescribable Mr Lobo. Indeed Mr Lobo is the most perfect casting I’ve seen in a very long time. His exaggerated and intentionally stilted delivery on his Cinema Insomnia show makes him absolutely perfect to appear as the late psychic Criswell. It only takes a few moments of listening to him and watching him, it’s impossible not to believe he’s channeling Criswell the entire time! The fact that he bears is no physical resemblance to Ed Wood’s old collaborator makes no difference, Mr Lobo is absolutely perfect in this role – a role that has been expanded to include him not only as the narrator for the prologue, but also as one of the survivors fighting for their lives against the hordes of zombies that have been resurrected by our fiendish aliens.
Even the aliens have a grisly make over here, all them appearing as the same stranger, lurking in the distance. Thier true nature is only revealed when they open their mouths to reveal rows of razor sharp brown teeth (what IS it about sharp monster teeth in a human mouth that freaks me out so much anyhow?). It’s a good conceit, and director John Johnson manages to even sneak in the same motivation for these aliens as the ones in the classic film. We get a variation of that speech, “Humans using weapons beyond their ability to understand. Stupid!”. Somehow though, what sounded goofy and campy in Ed Wood’s now comes off as far more chilling here.
This is not a blockbuster like this summer’s The Conjuring 2, or 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s not art (but then again, if you’re coming to a film remake of Plan Nine from Outer Space looking for art, you may need more help then I can give you). What it happens to be, is a fun romp through blood-soaked streets filled with fast, angry, rampaging zombies. When I was a teenager, this is exactly the kind of movie that I would grab off of the shelf at my local video store to watch with friends on a Saturday night. In fact, you know what? Nick’s birthday is this weekend – I might actually do just that. You should do the same. Plan 9 is available throughout the US on streaming platforms and at Wal-Marts everywhere.
-Photos unapologeticly stolen from facebook –https://www.facebook.com/plan9remake/ Post your photo with the movie and they’ll send you some goodies.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Killer Tomatoes franchise
Attack 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!
The 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!
Evil Dead Rise
When the last Evil Dead movie came out, I made a big deal about how I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t a remake, and as far as I was concerned, it could easily be in the same universe as The original spirit different cabin, may be the book landed there after all the shenanigans come,
This particular one it’s real nicely with that philosophy. We’ve got a complete change of scenery, with the possessions happening at an old decrepit Apartment building instead of a cabin in the woods. It’s a good change of ocalcoma this particular setting allows for marvelous set pieces And interiors. Indeed, you can see a heavy shining influence on the whole thing. It never overwhelms, but you It is there.
It’s one of those things that also does tend to distract me a little bit. In Evil Dead 2013, I never doubted for a moment that that was Evil Dead. It was absolutely That series, that genrer and that whole franchise. I could feel it. In this one, we lose it for a little while. It’s subtle at the beginning, and almost completely vanishes for most of the 2nd act in favor of the whole “Mommy loves you to death” schtick. We spend maybe a little too much of this movie as a solo possession act. That’s not really what Evil Dead is. Evil Dead is the evil coming in and taking over Not just you, but all of your friends too.
Nevertheless, it comes back with a vengeance in the 3rd act. We get the references that I want. We get the chainsaw. We get “dead by dawn” and “I’ll swallow your soul”. We also get a gorefest that is trying its best to top the previous movie. This It’s no mean trick. Indeed, I think they may have pulled it off, with one of the most bizarre monsters that I’ve seen outside of the Reanimator.
Even the earlier acts though are peppered with call backs. We see Henrietta’s pizza stamped on one of the boxes, we see an eyeball gag that feels a whole lot like the original series. We’ve got a economic con data a slightly different and more biting one And presentations on a record. It all works.
We got a perfectly good new cast as well. I’m not really spending a whole lot of time on them, bbecause while we did get some setup and character developments , they’re really here for us to burn through. Fresh meat. And they do that Just fine. We get to know them just enough to care about them before putting them through the meat grinder.
I think the only thing that is missing here would be a Bruce Campbell cameo. There really should be one… a sort of Stan Lee cameo from here on out. He would make a big difference. However, I’m ready to embrace Evil Dead without Bruce. I know there’s some fans that aren’t. I understand. That’s why you got 3 seasons of ash vs Evil Dead that you can watch again and again. On the other hand, if this isn’t necessarily a sacred cow to you, and you enjoy the things That are actually in evil debt, the blood, the Gore, and the style, you’re gonna Really like this period go to the theaters right now to see this period by it when it comes out. Let’s make sure the thing gets enough ticket sales, because I want more!
Television, last week of April.
I gotta say, The Flash and Green Arrow and Superman all back-to-back – (I DVR my shows) – It kind of felt like being a teenager again, laying on my bed with a stack of comic books.
Over on the Flash, green arrow is back for one last adventure. Back that hes dead isn’t gonna stop him either. It’s actually nice to see Steven a mill back on the show, in this team up felt more like the smaller individual ones we’d get in the 1st couple seasons of the Flash… Back in the days when crossovers were still in novelty, and across the room at 1 character showing up on somebody else’s show….. not the entire team showing up on the show. This smaller, more intimate sort of crossover actually works well for me. Like the arrowverse is winding down, and that’s really what makes it so appropriate to bring back the one who started at all.
I keep using the word small, but that’s really the word to describe this episode. Despite the fact that it’s technically a universal level threat… it really feels local. It’s A quickly dispatched mcguffin, designed really just to get Barry and Ollie back together again. That’s not a bad thing. I enjoy these sort of One off adventure is. I will say though, it still feels a little strange, considering we’re practally on top of the series finale. I almost feel like The CW really stabbed the Flash in the back, ordering those last 13 episodes after they’d already figured out how they were gonna wrap up with the series. It feels like they’re going out a lot more softly and quietly than with the huge bang we were about to see last season. Nevertheless It’s great to see Green Arrow exclaim “you have failed this city” one more time, and if this episode does anything, it makes me really want a Specter TV series. Something episodic, something almost like an anthology that we got in highway to heaven or touched by an angel style.
Over on Superman and Lois, it’s curious. I’m focusing not even on the B storyline… but rather the C storyline. The whole affair between Lana’s ex husband and Lois’s boss Chrissy… It’s just so charming and I find myself really rooting for both of them. Chrissy is getting more development and more stuff to do this season than she’s ever had before. And I’m still gonna point out, Kyle’s really not a bad guy. He was really presented as a frat bro type at the very beginning of the series, but this man has got a lot more heart than the stereotype will allow.It’s really cool to see that come out.
It’s also cool to see Jon Kent get some time in the spotlight for a change as well.He doesn’t quite as often get a chance to shine… and as the jock brother I find him much harder to relate to. But we get some really heartfelt conversations about isolation and loneliness with himAnd Lana’s younger daughter. And gives both of them a real reason to be there, and that’s the halmark of good story. These characters that you almost forget are there, suddenly rise to the top and steal the show. There’s just so much to like about Superman and Lois and I’m so grateful they haven’t dropped the ball yet. I wish that Modern television didn’t do that to me but I don’t have to be holding my breath waiting for the activists to take over And jump to the shark. Because this is near perfect television. It’s near perfect Superman.
Don’t Kill It
Don’t Kill It has a cover that was obviously formatted for Netflix. You can see with the bold blue colors in the background and the close-up of Dolph Lundgrin carrying a very large gun, with a determined look on his face. Nevertheless, Dolph Lundgren killing monsters is pretty much a good enough Pedigree for me.
Don’t Kill It places Lundgren as a Demon Hunter chasing a particular diabolic entity that jumps from host to host, possessing people until they’re killed, and then moving into the body of whoever killed its last host. It’s a brilliant conceit, and it’s a shame this premise didn’t get more attention. Lundgren‘s bounty hunter not only has to defeat this thing with the only weapon that he has, (that is, somebody’s suicide) but convince the small town that he arrives in that the rash of unexplained murders sweeping the place is the work of their local demon. It’s got plenty of action and plenty of gore, and deserves a much wider appreciation. I grabbed this at the local dollar store and continue to buy up copies whenever I see them just so I can hand them out to other people. This one’s a definite buy if you see it at Walmart or record exchange etc.
Amityville : Mt. Misery Road
The Amityville Franchise
Mount misery Road is one of those movies with a remarkable premise… It’s brilliant. A haunted road in upstate New York, one that people vanish from, where there’s ghosts and hauntings… Great stuff.
And they do absolutely nothing with it.
We have the writer/Director and his young trophy wife planning a trip to this road to ghost hunt, despite the doomsayers trying to warn them off. It’s enough to give the hot young wife a nightmare where she’s haunted by a cheap Halloween decoration.
I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s honestly more than the first half of the film.
Once they arrive there, We switch from stationary cameras and third person, to first person found footage and handheld consumer great equipment.it turns into an unintentional parity of the Blair witch Project. They really want the tension and hype, finding black crosses hanging, and stones that are the ruins of an old insane asylum there in the woods, But it’s just so dumb. They keep talking to the camera and saying things like “that’s so spooky!” It doesn’t help that it’s basically all filmed during the day. Fourths can be very eerie at night, much less so in broad daylight. We’re not even trying day for night, it’s just them tramping around a very light words Dash about as dense as the one you might find between your backyard in the local school house… And occasionally throwing in video glitches to show the haunting.
Suddenly the Director holding the camera is struck from behind… We know that because the camera falls to the ground. Trophy wife picks it up and runs through the woods calling for him, screaming, whimpering and pleading to go home. The problem with the scene, is it lasts for 15 minutes! Nothing happens, we don’t even get any real proper haunting or ghost citing… Not until the second before the credits, after the movies over and everyone’s dead anyhow. It’s not just that it’s a disappointment, it’s such a wasted premise. This really could be so good, but it’s such a cheap exploitation cash grab… The word Amityville, is actually superimposed over the credits in a font that doesn’t match anything else. It’s that crass of a rename.
This one’s a pass. Honestly, the dollar I paid for it was too much, I think I might be OK with it if I had discovered it as part of a collection, but this? Useless.
Evidence of Haunting
Evidence of a Haunting tells you flat out at the beginning that this is another paranormal investigation documentary. I appreciate that, because I like these kind of movies but I also like knowing that that’s what I’m going into as opposed to a spooky ghost story.
We get introduced to all the investigators, and see the camera angles in the house knowing that this is a possible demon infestation.
Except… It’s not. As the characters start their investigation and start talking, the editing and the lighting is too slick. The haunting is too obvious and intense, and this is obviously fiction, attempting at a sort of mixed found footage gag.
Still, once we get upstairs and see the demon possessed girl speaking in distorted tones, it’s startling enough to make me jump. The exorcism is profane and disturbing, but derivative. I’ve seen all these bits before, and more effectively deployed. Still, it all makes for a pretty exciting and eventful first 10 minutes. The psychic of the group is convinced that it was a ghost, not a demon. But on their final walk-through they declare the house clean.
We cut to the backstory of the person narrating the story, who had a bad experience with the paranormal when she was a child. This leads into a TV credits sequence, not unlike any of the ghost hunter shows you’ll see on Travel Channel any given night of the week.
With that house cleansed, they’re onto the next target… The house of a single father with two little girls. The father tells them that soon as the family moved in and things started to get active, and they set up the cameras, ready to figure out what’s going on that night at midnight. Once we hit 3 o’clock, the hour they designate as the “hour of the dead”, floorboards creek, TVs turn themselves on and they just happen to discover an Ouija board underneath the bed. The spirits are angry, tossing silverware in the kitchen as if it were confetti. The kids explained that the Ouija board came in the mail from an anonymous source, they played with it and then hid it… which is what’s causing all the problems. The theory is, only way to rid yourself of a Ouija board spirit is to mail the board to someone else and hope they play it. I’ve never heard this theory before, but I’m actually impressed at the movie showing the Ouija board as a gateway to trouble. They build a fire, and destroy it with interestingly heroic music playing in the background. It’s all cool and episodic, and does serve to establish our characters and their bona fides, but ultimately this entire first act has been nothing but establishing groundwork. It leaves me wondering when we’re going to get into the meat of the story.
We get extra background and research on the next target, as they head down into some subterranean tunnels under the local community college (pretty common, our local one has them to) where they’ll be locked in all night. We also use our research time (held at the local bar) to try and flesh out these characters, get some backstory and relate to them as more than just stereotypes heading into a dire situation for the last act of the film…and by last act, I mean last 30 minutes. I don’t think this is properly broken out into a three act structure, but rather has our cast drifting from set piece to set piece (though during the climax they do manage to pay off a brief reference from the beginning. It’s clumsy, but an A for effort).
I got to give them some props, once we have the cast finally locked into those tunnels below the college, it’s a wonderfully creepy and atmospheric set. Even if I hadn’t spent my college years working in the same kind of tunnels doing janitorial work for the local haunted library, the claustrophobia and gloom would be enough to keep me happy. add to this, a threat that is built on the backs of a creepy story told by the janitor about a pregnant student who is murdered in these tunnels by professor… A story that echoes the dreams are narrator is having.
This low budget film benefits from the cramped spaces and the lack of CGI, having to instead rely on sound and visual cues to creep you out and heighten suspense as our intrepid band of ghost hunters go on the hunt of their life, managing to create a genuinely scary climax.
I have to admit, I really enjoyed Evidence of a Haunting. They’re not trying to be Grave Encounters, they’re not trying to be Digging up the Marrow. It’s a much simpler and streamlined concept than that. They’re taking the ghost hunting reality shows and placing them in a heightened reality where we might actually see the sort of evidence and hauntings that we all actually watch these things hoping for. While the actors are stilted and amateur, but director Joey Evans knows what he’s doing, and we can occasionally see that in the framing and in several of the action shots towards the end. What starts off as a very low rent production, still ends up being quite effective and makes this a definite recommend, wherever you can find it.
Reality TV/Ghost hunter show
85% of the cast is under 25
Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies
With a name like Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies that’s kind of the impression you get (the trailer even plays it up that way)! However, while being a lighthearted and fun zombie flick, they play it straight, with a lot less camp than you’d expect. In the Austrian mountains, the owner of a ski hill is exhibiting his new snow making machine to an investor – something that will insure the hill stay open, no matter what happens with global warming. In the first five minutes, we discover that the coolant can be toxic to human beings and other living things (I’m not in entirely certain I’m on board with this trend of Zombifying animals in these movies… It bothered me a little bit in Scouts Guide, and while it drives the story here – it still bugs me), causing a strange sickness, blisters and eventually… well, you know. When a group of professional snowboarders stumbles upon a very “American werewolf in London” type of pub, the shenanigans begin.
Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies is very much a throwback to eighties splatter films – there is a fun yet straight tone going on here, interjected with just enough humor to keep the movie enjoyable without going full on comedy the way films like Return of the Living Dead or Evil Dead did back in the day. The lighting choices and color palette, mixed with that generally fun vibe make the movie feel a great deal like one of Charles Bands Full Moon features… but with less nudity and more gore (I’m totally good with that by the way). Did I mention the gore? Because there is a lot of it. It’s not quite up to The level of Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, but there are definitely some scenes hear that give Romero’s Day of the Dead a run for its money – if you’re looking for entrails, torn skin, and punished bodies, you will not come away disappointed.
It’s a short film, clocking in at well under 90 minutes… But that’s okay – it doesn’t need to be longer, and in the time that they have they managed to tell a fun little horror story in an interesting and exotic locale. It works far better than it has any right to.
I caught this at the Capitol Theatre, with about six other people in the audience. That was kind of fun, you get a genuine reaction from the other folks watching the movie and it makes me feel like it’s 1981 on 42nd Street in New York all over again. I’m looking forward to grabbing a digital copy of this – it’s the sort of movie that seems like it would be best served on a television rather than a movie screen, but if you have a chance to catch in the theatre… By all means head up to see it. It’s worth the time, and these are exactly the sort of filmmakers that I want to see supported. I’m off to Imdb to see if they’ve made anything else!
Ouija Resurrection is a follow-up to Ouija Experiment… And begins the film recapping the last film, then revealed that they were at a theater, in the middle of a screening of the film.
Oh look, we’ve gone meta.
The cast is reunited for a screening in a haunted theater and as people ask questions, we get weird flashes of things happening. It turns out that the screening is just a pretense, and excuse for the theater to give out a haunted tour (while still bringing back the original cast!) Which sets up the main thrust of the film.
Backstage, boyfriend from the first movie is getting his Mac on with one of the local groupies. They find the board from the first movie (really smart move designing it with a unique and distinctive planchette by the way) and it gives him a chance to re-cap the rules. Never ask how they died, always say goodbye. In the gloom of the theater, they start to mess with the board. They get interrupted by the stage manager and just wander away. Any of it, so there’s no real bother to say goodbye. But once they’ve left, and the plan shit starts to move on its own.
There’s a definite upgrade in FX this time around. Mist or smoke here and stuff like that plant shut moving on its own takes a little bit extra muscle. Theater itself is a great setting as well, dark and shadowy with wonderful atmosphere. As we move into the second act, the ghost is already active. It’s a CG nightmare, but perfectly capable of delivering a jump scare. You can see the directors taking some chances here and experimenting with shots and the extent of their technology.The blood seems to flow a little bit more freely this time around as the theaters down get picked off.
I’m sure the town shows up the next morning as the doomsayer, giving the filmmakers attitude for holding a haunted tour. they are undaunted and start to prepare for evenings activities. It turns out, the girls are getting ready too.
The halls of the theater have been transformed into a sort of cheesy haunted house, part of the nights event, with the filmmakers set up at a table towards the exit trying to hock their movies. However, when the haunted house closes, the lucky winners of the previous nights contest get to hang out for what they are billing as the overnight tour! The actors split up, taking your place is ready to scare the guests… But of course that makes it easier for the girls to take them out. It also means that when the guests find The dead body of one of the filmmakers, they just pass it off as being a prop.
Deep in the heart of the theater, the Ouija board makes a return appearance, as our group begins their own Ouija session. The board instructs them to head to the balcony, and they run up there… But things start to go wrong and when they return to the basement, is another dead body.
Things completely spiral out of control when the cops arrive
This is actually a really good example of a sequel done right. The crew has been entrusted with more a bigger budget and that allows them to use new techniques and go in different directions. There’s a genuinely smart balance between even old, giving us more of what we’ve seen before still going in a new direction and trying some different things out. Admittedly, there are times when it feels like they spent too much time experimenting with their new special effects… They get overused here and there, but overall there’s an effective vision hear that guys the whole thing. It’s also interesting to see how they lean into the gore here. While the previous film was largely bloodless, they’ve got the money and affects to be able to actually show some torn bodies and ripped flash this time and they go for it. Just enough to be satisfying, without going completely gratuitous.
If there’s one weakness, it’s the attempt at a big reveal at the end of the film. While the previous film mixed some mystery into the Haunting, this one plays pretty straightforward… Until the last 15 minutes where they present the solution to a mystery we didn’t even know was referenced. It feels a little ham fisted, but I understand the attempt to retain that sort of connection to the previous film. Overall it’s a satisfying sequel and a really well done sidestep creatively revisiting the material while still giving us something new and fresh.
85% of the cast is under 25
Haunted House attraction
Pittsburgh comic and collectibles show
That’s a very big name for a very small show. Indeed, you could probably traverse the entire length of the show in just the time that it Takes to say it. But then again of course, I wasn’t there really for the comic show. This was an excuse to back out to George Romero country for a day trip To Evans city cemetery, and of course, Monroeville Mall.
There’s a cute little comic book and vintage toy store called Time and Space that’s popped up in Monroeville Mall, but most of the time they’re only open on Saturdays. However, this weekend, they opened up on Sunday and threw a whole convention around the shop. They’d cordoned off the area around the shop and down into a small hallway by the JC Penney and Dicks sporting goods area of them all so that they could set up the show. There’s a nice little cross-section of vendors, and if you’re looking for 50 cent bins or expensive key books, it was all represented there. I couldn’t help but notice the adorable craft table as well with Mickey ears and dust sprites and hogwarts signs. Great stuff.
Despite that, it was small. The show is about the size some of the smaller Harper cons… something I had been expecting. They added value to it though, by partnering with the living dead museum that sits on the 2nd floor right above them. Your ticket to the comic show would also get you half off admission to the museum. That’s an attraction that I had passed on my last time out this way, I recall it being more expensive, and Wasn’t hanging out in the store that was still requiring me to wear a mask. This time however, with the price point crunched down to $4, I was delighted to be able to take a trip through and get photos with all the props and zombies back there period of course I didn’t keep me from coming back down for another few passes at the dealer’s. The store itself is amazing. It’s every bit as big as the rest of the show, but packed to the Gill’s. Everywhere you turn there’s something new. I managed to find Both a Link Hogthrob and Janice Muppet figure… and then remembered why I had 3-D printed my own after I saw the $50 price tag! The mailaway Reverse Flash from the Total Justice/JLA line was a lot more tempting. I know it’s just a simple repaint of their Flash figure, but those sculpts are still among my favorite ever.
After emptying one of the 50 cent bins, I managed to find a nice edition of Muppet Robin Hood for $3, and finally found myself worn out from a day of zombie hunting and comic book browsing. A quick stop off to Burgatory before heading home capped off the day.
I like this idea. Truthfully, comic book shows in the mall are nothing new… any more than car shows are. But in the past all the ones I’ve seen done in the mall usually set up in the middle aisles and it’s basically a free admission. It’s like there’s just extra vendors hanging around all day peri think if they want to make this really worth the $5 mission, they need to add at least a 3rd more vendors. There’s space back there, and the show has plenty of room for growth. The partnership with living dead museum was a stroke of brilliance, and it would make sense if they could reach out to some of the other stores in the mall as well. Give us a reason to go shop at their Mini convention rather than at the toy and game store or Hot Topic or Spencer’s down the way a bit. Like I said, I like the idea, even though I wasn’t really planning on coming back. This isn’t for out of towners, but rather a great event for locals. I’m really hoping to see them build this up a bit and go somewhere with it. If you’re local to the Pittsburgh area you should absolutely look the shop up and check out the next time they try and throw one of these shindigs.
Sharknado 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 I 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.
Cinema Wasteland Spring 2023
“Good grief! I can’t believe all you people showed up for this!” Gunga Jim was right, the room actually felt more packed than usual, and that’s good to see. Once again, it was time for Wasteland.
Gunga Jim’s show is one that I usually try to catch actually. He does a very Cleveland style horror host schtick, with funny noises and some commentary over the film. Tonight he was showing Return of The Evil Dead. This isn’t part of the Sam Raimi franchise, but rather a weird side entry in the blind dead movies. It’s one that I’d never seen before, and generally well regarded. Jim acknowledged this as he was handing out small packages of Ghost poop (Tiny stale marshmallows)
“There’s some of you who remember this is a really great movie. Well let me tell you, I got 3 minutes into this thing and already had 5 jokes!”
I rounded out Friday night with the short film block…. a feature that’s making a welcome return to Wasteland. The entries have been trickling in, and all the sudden started to pile up. They managed to squeeze about 5 different shorts by 2 different production companies into the hour. I also stopped for a quick chat with my friend Skullhead before I headed home to assemble my costume for the next day.
I’d brought out a couple of Tomatoes earlier to The Columbus Toy show. This time I wanted to do the full thing. I grabbed my white lab coat and white fright wig. Then I printed up a Doctor Gangrene identification badge to pin on to it. Zoltan’s magnets still worked to keep him on my shoulder, and fuzzy tomato was just fine riding in the pocket. The new addition here, would be the new headband I’d made… white so that it will fade into white fright wig I was wearing. On top of it was fastened a new sculpt of Ketchup, the drooling killer tomato. I’d carry Fang in my free hand, that way all of the monsters from Killer Tomatoes Eat France would be represented. Wasteland isn’t a big cosplay show, although a few outfits do show up. But it’s definitely the sort of event that would appreciate killer tomatoes, and Doctor Gangrene was a reasonable hit.
He’s also easy to get in-and-out of. No make up to speak of, other than a little bit of spirit gum to attach the white mustache. Spirit gum comes off easily and allow you to luxury up being able to get out of costume later on with no visible change. That’s good, because there were a number of people there I wanted to meet this time around.
Before I’d defrock though it was time to make a quick trip to Count Gore DeVol’s table. he’s celebrating 50 years as a horror host and used to be a regular here untill he moved down to Florida. It good to have him back and I still have fond memories of the time he attempted to hypnotize me!
Sadly, inflation has finally hitched Wasteland in earnest, and the prices have just about doubled for most people now. That’s a shame probably because Wasteland had been holding the line with cheaper autographs, and sort of been my Oasis. We had a TCM reunion this year, and you could tell who’d been to the one back in 2004. These people have the exact same poster. You can also tell because of signatures. Sadly, we’ve lost Maryln Burns and Gunnar Hanson, but the remaining cast, alone with few new comers were happy to chat all day. I actually took the opportunity to get photos with a couple of casts that I had neglected to last time. During that 1st reunion, I’d only been interested in getting pictures with the villains… and oversight that I’ve never entirely reconciled. Everybody was happy to catch up and take pictures this time at no charge. Indeed, Teri McMinn took the opportunity to add to her autograph, scribbling a heart underneath the signature…. as is now her standard.
I was also really interested in meeting Alex Vincent from Child’s Play. He was the child that was managed by Chucky Now an adult, he’s sort of a regular on the convention circuit, and an incredibly nice guy. Charming and engaging, hes the sort of guy you can talk to all day. He really seems to enjoy convention life, with a wink assuring me that we’ll be partying up tomorrow later on a new. I was also interested in meeting Nick Benson, the effects person from the Blob, Nightmare on Elm Street 4, and Night of the Demons. It’s the night of the demon’s poster that I’d brought with me, the one Amelia Kincaid had signed a year and a 1/2 ago. I wish I’d gotten started on that poster earlier, when Kevin Tenny was at Wasteland, but who knows….
After getting my autographs I’d hustled over to catch a screening of the blob, it would be punctuated with A quick panel with Benson before launching into one of his other films, a bizarre goofest called Society. It’s one I’d never heard of, and… all I can say is it’s completely indescribable. It starts off as a standard paranoia thriller, but quickly divorced into the strangest latex FX vest you can imagine. Then again, that’s what wasteland is for. To curate Louise for me and show me stuff that I never knew I needed to see.
During Benson’s panel, hes buddy Mick Strawn crashed the show… Mick was really just there as an attendee, watching panels and movies along with his dog. However, Benson spotted Mick in the crowd and brought him up to tell a couple of stories. Strawn is actually scheduled to be a guest at the next Wasteland, and I’m actually looking forward to that.
I stopped by the silver spotlight booth to pick up a copy of Amityville Christmas Vacation. I’ve been enjoying Steve’s films, particularly the ones he had been doing with his cat. Well, Mr. Whisker is now in retirement, but Amityville Christmas Vacation is in the same continuity. I caught it on streaming this December, which was a good thing… because the screening at the show was completely full. I couldn’t even get in the room. Nice to chat with them though, and get my DVD sign by both him and his co-star.
I must say, the one thing that struck me this time around was the abundance of cheap DVD’s available Everywhere I turned it seemed like there were $2 boxes and $1 boxes. I loaded up on movie I came home with a stack. Some of these were just to replace me just, others were once I was genuinely interested in period
They rounded off the evening with film screenings of King Kong, and Son of Kong. Both of these are original prints, and the sort of thing that you can really only expect to see in a place like wasteland. I’d scribbled down the name of a Charles Bronson film, hard times. One that I hadn’t had the time known to watch, but had caught enough clips up that I was interested in seeing. That takes me through the end of the weekend and just leaves me with a taste for more. 6 months and we’ll be back!
Children of the Corn 666
Children of the corn 666 is actually one I’d been anticipating, mostly because it features the return of the actor who played Isaac in the first film. The return of an old villain always generates buzz and excitement. The problem is, it’s also usually a desperate move to salvage a failing franchise. Seriously, think back over different franchises and tell me when this has ever worked? It’s not like Phantasm or Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser where the same actor is portraying the villain consistently through pretty much the entire series. Think of house 4 – with the return of William Katt. Think pumpkinhead 3 with the return of Lance Henriksen. This sort of thing generally does not bode well.
I also can’t help note the tagline on the poster is “latest and most horrifying chapter”. This is almost the exact same tag line that they used on Hellraiser; Hellworld, and seem to be a variant of the same thing dimension was slapping on all of their late series direct to video sequels at the time. I also can’t help but note that this one was released in 1999 – a mere year after children of the corn five. Until then we had a pretty consistent gap of 2 to 3 years between sequels. They were putting them out regularly but this short gap tells me they probably filmed five and six back to back and then staggered the release. Children of the Corn 666 is the story of Isaac, the preacher kid from the first movie waking up from his coma just in time for our ingénue to roll into town. Somewhere around the third act he begins to gather the grown-up grandchildren and try and rebuild his cult.
The big problem with this entry, is it takes itself so seriously. Every frame is dire, and none of it is earned. The budget limitations are also on full display – we don’t get near the amount of blood and gore that we’ve seen in previous entries – one bloody corpse dripping and hanging from a tree nonwithstanding. They make do with the only real special fact that they have – namely the ingénue in her underwear – and there are plenty of shots of that. I also find myself still missing the creepy and countrified current children – again we got a group of people in very modern clothes, presumably because period costumes cost too much.
I must say though, Isaac has a genuinely good performance here. If you were ever to try and build a single villain into this franchise, he would have been the one. I think by the time we hit the sixth entry though, that ship has sailed. It’s a delight to see Nancy Allen show up here as well – she is as beautiful as ever, it’s like she never ages. Still, there is not enough her for me to recommend seeing this movie, and even the attempt at a twist (I say attempt because I think everybody saw this coming with in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film) around the 50 minute mark falls extremely flat.
That’s the problem with children of the corn 666 – it’s not a bad movie, it commits a far greater sin; It’s just boring. I’m disappointed too, because there is actually potential here… There is a grain of a good story embedded in this – I can see the potential. Sadly, children of the corn 666 simply fails to achieve that potential. This one is a definite skip.
Turn of the Screw
I must say, the BBC logo doesn’t inspire the confidence that it used to… Especially after last year‘s a Christmas Carol. And since I’m looking for horror not drama, I’m not sure when I’m going to find here. Especially with that trailer for a miss Marple mystery before hand… I’m hanging onto a vain hope that the Turn of the Screw will be a creepy film, and not just another period drama. I’m happy it’s only 89 minutes though.
The theme from Phantasm pervades as a young woman In an asylum tells her story through flashbacks to her time as a governess at an English country estate. Creepy little blonde girls and vast Gothic mansions to make for a good ghost story.
Heavy breathing outside the mansion however, it’s just creepy.
Shortly after the arrival of us and, young master Miles has been expelled from school, and returns to the mansion… And doesn’t seem too happy about it either. Our sister however, is overjoyed to see him and they share their secrets on the way home. It perplexes governess and, but she has bigger things to worry about.
Anna has visions, and in particular she starts to see the ghost of an old houseguest, Peter Quint, who lies buried in a graveyard, in a looming church behind the mansion. It was a Scrooge on the household, and the maids believe he’s come back… For the children. Indeed, it’s doors of the ghosts of the old governess, imploring Miss Anna to protect the children, well some other force throws the more chatty maid from the window. A mans laughter echos through the house.
The great problem in trying to protect the children, is that the kids know about the ghosts, but they want them to come back. They want Quint, they want the old governess… And the ghosts… They want the children. They desire them as vessels to possess, and see them as a new life for themselves.
As we head into the third act, the possession is taken hold, with the children speaking in their voices and fighting back in earnest. The battle itself seems almost hopeless… governess will fight… On her own.
Ron Marz and Daryl Banks
The two guys who relaunched Green Lantern!
Return to Sleepaway Camp
Sleepaway Camp franchise
I’m not sure what to think of Return to Sleepaway Camp. They’re not trying to be subtle here, with camp air whack in big bold letters at the beginning. We get shots of newspaper articles concerning the murder over some rather loud metal music, end it seems A little too . Still, it’s reassuring to know that Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten will be back for this installment. They are even joined by Paul D’Angelo, who played Ronnie, the hunky camp counselor in the original movie. 25 years later, he’s still massive, with biceps bigger than my head and pecs you could bounce a quarter off of! He’s ditched the belly shirts, but still wears plenty of tank tops to let you know that he’s still ripped.
Joining them is Vincent Pastore who, while probably best known for his role in the Sopranos, actually has some horror credentials, previously appearing in John Fasano’s Black Roses. Where things start to get inexplicable though, is bringing in Isaac Hayes as the camp chef. He’s basically playing exactly the same character as his Chef on South Park… and seriously, this is probably not what he wanted as his last on screen credit. Moreover we have a cop wandering around all throughout this movie using a voice box… Again, almost a carbon copy of the character Ned Gerblanski (especially with the sunglasses and patchy beard) from South Park. This stuff is extremely off putting, appropriate for a parody, but this movie is supposed to be equal parts sequel and homage and this stuff seems just a little bit too hokey for me to really take seriously.
The film opens with camp kids lighting farts, until the bully Alan grabs the lighter and takes it too far with a aerosol can. We have established him as sweaty and smelly and the bad seed in the group, One of those types of a compensates for being socially inept. We’ve also traded hunky camp counselors for angry aggressive ones As Brye Cooper gets in Alan ’s face. He’ll be one of the evil counselors throughout the movie, although he never gets developed as much as he really needs to be. With that taken care of, it’s time to move on to breakfast. It’s a rowdier or group of kids than what we remember from the other films, and Pastore is not shy about yelling at them and telling them how they’re ungrateful, good for nothing and disrespectful. It’s a younger group, not the thirteen year olds of the original, but not the eighteen year olds of the sequels. These kids fall somewhere in between, probably averaging sixteen years old. That, and generational differences create a very different dynamic for this film.
Back in the kitchen, Isaac Hayes has a loud and obnoxious assistant chef, Mickey, who’s not having any of Alan’s nonsense. When Alan tries to swipe an ice cream sandwich from the freezer, Mickey drives him out of the kitchen by throwing eggs at him, and Alan response by throwing a huge butcher knife at him and flees.
In the woods, Alan’s brother Michael chases after him and tries to bring him back, but he’s in the woods throwing a tantrum and complaining that everybody’s picking on him and nobody likes him. He’s right. Even I don’t like him. Alan insists he’s not going back, and goes as far as to pull a knife on his brother. Michael gives up, declaring “I don’t care WHAT you do anymore!”
Back in the kitchen, Mickey’s cooking up hamburgers and fries. Suddenly, somebody sneaks up behind him and grabs his legs, treating him to a close encounter with the deep fryer. The bubbling hot grease makes for a horrific kill, reminiscent of (but not a copy of) the first murder from the original Sleepaway Camp. It also telegraphs something important… That this film is trying very hard to get back to its roots, and we’re going to be left guessing who the killer is until the end. It’s not gonna be just another slasher like the previous two installments.
It’s over to the canteen for some antics where Alan is alternately bullied and bullying others enough to establish who’s probably going to get it next. In the back, the stoners are getting baked. Even these guys are picking on Alan, feeding him a bad joint full of cow dung. One of the counselors comes to his rescue, spiriting him away, even as he flips the guys the bird when she’s not looking.
One of those stoners is the next victim, Tied up and burnt alive while half passed out. It’s a kill that reminds me just a tiny bit of one from the second film, but it’s cleverly done, using one of his own joints to light the gasoline.
The next morning, he’s found, and the camp owner chats with the head counselor as well as one of the cops, complaining that every time something like this happens people always think back to the events at Camp Arawak. He warns the head counselor Ronnie, he doesn’t wanna hear another word about this Angela crap. He wants this hushed up.
The next morning, it’s time for games and outdoor activities. Softball and croquet and other sports are going on, and Alan is running around, interfering, getting in the way, annoying folks and generally making a nuisance of himself. He comes across the girl he’s sweet on and begs her to come out and see his secret hideout. Standing in the middle of her and her friends croquet game, He insists he’s not going anywhere unless she goes to see it with him, and finally she relents, for the good of the group. She’s only going though, if she can bring somebody with her! Alan agrees to her terms and runs off.
All of these shenanigans make him late for paintball, which means he doesn’t adequately get himself geared up… Too bad for him, because pretty much everybody has it out for him at this point. They lure him into the woods and everybody blasts him, lining up like a firing squad and then advancing, both groups going after him. The two teams chase him down until they finally circle round him and cover him in paint ball on the ground.
Elsewhere, the cop tracks down Ricky from the original film to question him about his cousin Angela. He’s still belligerent, and doesn’t have time for this, shutting the cop down cold. Ricky tells the cop that Angela’s been locked in a rubber room for 20 years, he should know because he’s the only one who goes to see her. The cop asks if he’s sure, and Ricky storms off and a huff.
Back at Alan’s secret hideout the girls are appalled because it’s filled with dead frogs… and Alan has a meltdown. Turns out a couple of the other campers snuck over to kill his pet frogs, and freak out the girls. It works, as they run off screaming.
Alan’s evening at the canteen doesn’t go any better. After just about getting into a fight with one of girls, The camper boss accuses him of messing with his pet bird, and the popular kids then trick him into a humiliating trap behind the stage, stealing his clothes and sending him out in his underwear. Again, Alan is rescued by one of the counselors, and Head counselor Ronnie is livid, demanding the others find out what happened, and find out now!
In the back, Ronnie finds Alan with the counselor who rescued him. He can’t help but notice that every time Alan gets in trouble, she seems to be there to take care of him…and her dark hair is bringing up old memories.
“Every time he gets in trouble, you’re always there! Who are you? Where do you come from?”
Ronnie flips out, accusing her of being a fugitive Angela. He advances on her and only stops when the cop and the camp owner show up to try and calm him down. Outside the cabin, the kids taunt Alan and he freaks out, running out of the cabin and into the night, screaming and distraught.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a murder, and the camp owner is next. Trapped with his head stuck in his birdcage, the killer releases rats into it to create a bloody mess. Not satisfied with that though, the killer makes their way Through the dorms and into the woods behind where the angry counselor is trying to make time with his girlfriend. It’s rope and castration for him, and barbed wire for her.
The hits come fast and furious now. A stake for one camper, A bunkbed iron maiden for another, and hanging for yet another, with the suspicion firmly on Alan. Or maybe Angela’s back. No one is sure. All they know is that it’s happening again, it’s time for the final showdown.
Here’s the thing, I want to like this. It’s directed by Robert Hiltzik, The creator of the first film and it’s supposedly taking the whole thing seriously as opposed to the campy slashers we previously got. The biggest problem is that he never makes anybody in this entire cast all that sympathetic. There’s an attempt to re-create the fraternal bond that Ricky and Angela had with Michael and Alan, but Alan is such a jerk that even though he gets picked on… You kind of feel like he deserves it. We’re definitely not on his side (actor Michael Gibney would quit acting after this role. Can you blame him?). Even Ronnie, who should be the protector in this series just feels over the top in his panic in outrage. All the kids are jerks, and even if Alan’s got it coming to him, none of them are any better. There’s genuinely no one here to root for or invest in. There’s an attempt at something like a twist ending, but again, you can’t top that twist from the original Sleepaway Camp. Indeed, it seems futile to even try. That combined with the goofy characters throughout this film, it makes it very hard to like.
Probably the best thing to say about it is that there’s a few good and creative kills towards the end, though you have to wait an awful long time to get to them (as well as waiting a long time between most of the murders). It’s also a joy to watch Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten and Paul D’Angelo back together on screen. The film makes sure that we get some scenes with the three of them together, and if you’re a fan of the original, then this is what you’re watching this movie for.
Hiltzik delayed the release of this film several times, first insisting he needed to get the effects right, and then tinkering further and further with it. Ultimately, the delay really failed to generate any additional buzz or excitement, and the movie was released to great indifference. It may have been better off left on the cutting room floor.