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Ghoulies 4

midnighthorrorindex.jpgI didn’t even realize there WAS a fourth Ghoulies movie – I thought the series died after Ghoulies go to college!

The film begins with a very comic book like Female thief dressed in revealing leather who is able to easily overpower and murder the guards. The killing makes her less than sympathetic but progresses the story quickly. She opens a box from Cairo and extracts a jewel – obviously the prize she was here for. Spray-painting a pentagram on the floor she begins a ritual, and the bodies of the slain guards disappear while in the center a hooded figure materilizes, demanding the jewel. She tried to give it to him but steps over the line, breaking the circle – both men vanish in smoke as the cops arrive. The thief leaves and in doing so misses the arrival of two small Ghoulies.

index1.jpgThese are not the Ghoulies that you may remember from Charles Band’s films, this is really a pair of two little people in suits – more goblin than Ghoulies. They immediately launch into three stooges style violence upon each other before scampering off into the darkness.

I have a bad feeling about this. At least it’s directed by Jim Wynorski.

On the other side of the credits we meet a pair of wacky cops on a stakeout.They foil a robbery at the local liquor store, getting drawn into a bloody gun fight.

In the sewers, our burglar, Alexandria summons the man in the cloak again. He informs her that there is a second stone and that she must find it for him (and it just so happens to be hanging around the cops neck). This means more human sacrifices, fortunately Art index2.jpgCarney’s character from the honeymooners is down there and ready to get killed.

Our two Ghoulies themselves flash back to the first film to try and connect everything… It’s debatable whether or not this was a wise move, it highlights the very different look of the actors in costume from the puppets used in the previous movies. According to IMDb, the puppetry was a cost the film could not afford.

The Ghoulies sneak into the cops trunk to hitch a ride. They accidentally blast a hole in the roof of his car while he is in the quickie-mart getting milk, then run off into the darkness. And this does nothing to inspire confidence from his superior detective Kate. He heads home, too tired to even boff his girlfriend or a hooker or whenever she is… The images.jpgGhoulies follow as he dreams of scenes from the first film.

Elsewhere, the Ghoulies and stop a mugging.

Alexandria luers the cop out by kidnapping his partner, but what she doesn’t know his hooker girlfriend is already absconded with the ruby necklace. It turns out, the cop knows Alexandria – they used to date. When she discovers he doesn’t have the jewel, she commands the brainwashed partner to murder him. We get a fist fight in the warehouse, destroying tons of antiques, conveniently laid out on the table.

Alexandria heads to the cops apartment, but the Ghoulies are already there searching… They pepper spray her and make good there escape.

images1.jpgDetective Kate puts cop to bed and I and meets the hook a girlfriend in a amusingly Catty exchange. Sadly, it’s the last time she’ll see her because Alexandria scoops her up outside the apartment and sacrifices her to hooded guy. Detective Kate notices this happening through the window and it sets the cop off to go look for her. Turns out they used to be Satan worshippers together but she got too into it and he dumped her at the mental asylum.Well now, the inmates are in control of the asylum – and Alexandria is using it as a hideout (And a place to complete her ritual).

Who taught the mental patients Kung fu?

The cop and detective Kate show up just in the nick of time to disrupt the ritual and attempt to save hooker girlfriend.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_In some ways, I really like this.The heavily occult themes of this film really harking back more towards the original movie.I can’t complain that the Ghoulies have minimal screen time, once again that also harkins back to the original film. My main objection is that the Ghoulies are little people in costumes that look nothing like the originals rather than puppets. They are constantly cracking wise – it gets grating .Still, overall it’s a stronger entry into the Ghoulies series then part three and one of the better films in this midnight horror collection


Green Arrow Badge

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A friend asked me to create a Green Arrow badge/buckle for his Arrow quiver. Could also be worked into a belt buckle. I’ve uploaded two versions. There’s the big model I was working with, and the smaller one scaled down to the two inches he requested.

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Model can be found here     https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2862615

 


House 3

franchisebannerindexThere’s some conflicting stories about whether this was originally meant to be a part of the franchise or not. I’ve read that the studio wanted a potential new franchise so they marketed it as simply the horror Show in the US, while I’ve als heard that they actually WANTED another House sequel so they changed it to House 3 for the European markets, (much the way they billed Fulchi’s Zombie as a sequel to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead). Sequel or not, you can’t really go wrong with Lance Henriksen and Byron James. T look at it, I’d exect an interesting movie that doesn’t quite fit with the vibe of the rest of the series. Problem is, I watched this once already… and I don’t remember a thing. It didn’t really make an impact, so I’m hoping this second viewing will stick. Sean S. Cunningham’s name is still on it, and Henry Manfredini did the music, but it does have an Alan Smithee writing credit which always raises red flags.

The exterior of the house is beautiful, as Lance Henriksen nervously paces inside, checking on his daughter and son. It’s still the tail end of the 80’s and he still ripped. He stops by his shoulder holster and grabs his gun as he descends the stairs in the gloomy house. Everything is foggy with a tinge of blue and his flashlight ultimately leads him down into the dark basement. The furnace flies open with a blaze a flame and he approaches it, almost mesmerized. This plunges us into a flashback – a police operation index3.jpgto rescue a little girl. Inside the building there is blood everywhere. Hands and heads float in the deep fryer and Henrickson’s partner swings from a chain, his arms gone… it’s an impressive amount of gore this early on. Behind him, James sneaks up, the girl in one arm and a meat cleaver in the other. Her head comes off and Henderson wakes up from the nightmare.

It’s execution day for James, and Hendrickson is going to be there to watch. He’s seeking some sort of closure, but James is defiant to the end. It takes two tries, and they have to increase the voltage until his skin bubbles and boils. James catches on fire and breaks free from the chair to deliver a final dire threat to Henrickson.

index2.jpgWait a minute, is this house three or is it shocker? It’s a valid comparison, ask James rises from the dead in an electrical form then emerges from his cadaver and travels into Henrickson’s house… right down into the furnace. It doesn’t pass by unnoticed though, a professor-type played by Thom Brey, curiously enough, the actor who voiced hero Wilbur Finletter in  the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes cartoons) investigates the body and rushes off to warn Henrickson that James is indeed coming back for him. Henrickson’s not impressed, and he still has his own nightmares and flashbacks from the case to deal with
New line, back at home in the basement, things start to happen. Rattling walls and dire tools moving. the daughter’s boyfriend sneaks in to give us a jump scare, but gets lured buy a disembodied voice among the clutter and ends up the first victim of James. Even as a disembodied ghost, he’s still living up to his nickname “Meat Cleaver Max”.

James continues to threaten Henderson, but he assumes it’s just the reemergence of his PSTD. It’s obviously a power surge and the circuit breakers messing with the furnace. That doesn’t explain the demonic turkey though or the visions of Henrickson’s family dead though. it doesn’t explain him seeing James take the place of the stand-up comedian. It’s all enough for him to go running to the shrink. He sends him off to explore James’s old apartment.

While he’s there, Hendricks and discovers that James had been stalking him and his family, and he’s not the only one. The professor is there as well looking for answers, and as it turns out, now is a good time to explain the plot. James has turned into energy and only more electricity will bring him back into the physical plane where he can be properly killed. In the meantime, They discover the dead boyfriend in Henrickson’s basement and that’s when everything goes sideways. Henrickson is arrested and while images5.jpghe’s stuck at the police station, James goes after the family back at the house in earnest.

Henrickson gets out of the jail and races back home, but the house has been transformed into a horror show nightmare and he must fight through it to save his family.

House 3 really is a different kind of film, and it really stands alone. It’s not just that it has more gore, it has a more brutal kind of violence to it. While the other films lean towards spooky fantasy, House 3 goes for the visceral. It’s a good movie, but a very different one. All of the actors give impressive performances, and Brian James actually cited it as being his favorite role ever. It’s fun to see Aron Eisenberg out of the Star Trek Nog makeup and even more of a treat to see Thom Bray playing more of a straight role. The film suffers from comparison though. To many other films such as Prison and Shocker came out around the same time with too similar a plot, which makes it hard for this one to stand out. I really do enjoy the horror show, but it feels extremely out of place as part of the House series.


Autumn

midnighthorrorautumn_xlgAutumn has some good ideas. I genuinely like the concept where we see the evolution of the Zombie.

It starts off in urban England which gives it an initial 28 days later feel, but soon moves out to the country and we gt far more of a Night of the Living dead vibe. Forget the cover art by the way, it’s not the sci-fi epic about a plague that the cover would suggest. We don’t really see alot of it, we see more of that first shelter that the survivors are huddled in. We see the first zombies, wandering aimlessly…not eve noticing other people…..not hungry. Not yet.

As the film goes on, we se the zombies start to develop senses, becoming  triggered by sound and light. as time passes, the hunger kicks in and they become the real threat we’re used too. The progression is original and fascinating.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_If this movie has a real problem, it that it’s too long, and WAY too talky. It’s a melodrama in the extreme and would really benefit from some judicious cutting of some of those dialogue scenes. I understand how we got here, the film is based on a book and there’s a LOT of ground to cover. From everything I’ve heard, it’s really true to the source material. Still I think it could have been streamlined into something a bit better paced. This is definitely one to watch, but you need to be prepared for a long somewhat PBS style zombie film and be in the mood for more philosophy than horror.


Freddy Kruger

Costume

I redo my Freddy from time to time – Latex doesn’t last that long. one of my favorite elements to this version was the chest of souls exposed!

 

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House 2

franchisebannerindex.jpgI think that Indiana Jones ruined crystal skulls for everybody. The film opens on a crystal skull, and then dissolves into this gorgeous house. If the outsides art deco wasn’t impressive enough, the cavernous interior with stone balconies and Mayan glyphs lining the walls will definitely catch you.

House two was heavily advertised, way more than the original and I remember seeing it on the back of every comic book, on the wall of every theater, and in every other commercial on television. It’s one  of those films I was very aware of but I always assumed that it was a sequel to the original. I even wondered if perhaps the Second Story referred to most of the action taking place upstairs. Of course I was wrong. You have to understand this is an anthology series and this story stands alone, completely unrelated to the rest of the films.

After spiriting away their baby, a couple hears a strange noise from upstairs. They’ve obviously been living with this horror for a while, and they head up to investigate. All we see is a shadowy figure that demands “I want the skull!” before gunning them down.

25 years later

A car pulls up and Jessie, the baby that was sent away, has arrived to take ownership of the house with his girlfriend Kate. He certainly joined by his best friend Charlie and girlfriend Lana in toe. You may recognize Lana as Amy Yasbeck from the Problem Child series.

Downstairs, Jesse finds an article about his great great grandfather discovering a crystal index3skull, then having a falling out with his archaeological partner Slim. The Crystal Skull however, is nowhere to be found and Jessie comes up with the idea I’m digging up his great great grandfather and checking the coffin. The skull indeed has been hidden there, but what he discovers is that his grandfather is also there, and alive. A zombified corpse reaches out and grabs Jessie, defending the skull.  Jesse pleads with him and wins his trust. It turns out, Gramps has been waiting for 170 years for somebody to come and dig him up. He accompanies Jesse and Charlie back to the house, and places the skull back in it’s cradle over the mantle. It starts to glow and Gramps warns them that this house actually a temple, and forces will steal through to try and acquired the skull.

Chris takes Gramps out on the town for some fish out of water comedy and they end up on the side of the road getting drunk and staring at the stars. They set him up in the basement with the TV and they listen to his story of life in the old west. But soon, doors start to open between this world and others and a variety of bizarre forces start to come through to claim the Crystal Skull. A barbarian from the Stone Age storms in and swipes it during a Halloween party, but when he leaves, the portal used remains open. Upstairs in one of the bedrooms they discover a jungle. It’s actually very reminiscent of the devices used in the first House movie. The idea of walking through a familiar door, but instead of finding yourself in the expected room, you find yourself in a very different place. it’s one of those things that makes this feel like a sequel to the original, even while it’s completely disconnected.

They plunged into prehistoric times with an Uzi got that makes the prehistoric man a pushover. The stop-motion dinosaurs are a bit more of a threat. Nevertheless they escape the matte painting prehistoric world, along with a weird dog caterpillar and a baby index2.jpgpterodactyl, all while managing to retrieve the skull and return it to it’s cradle.

In the meantime, Bill Maher is trying to make time with Jesse’s girlfriend.
It’s weird to see him act, over the years we’ve gotten very used to him more as a panel moderator and commentator than a performer. He plays a completely superfluous and ridiculously slimy character in this film, all of which is pretty much the perfect metaphor for Bill Maher’s existence in the first place.

No sooner is the Crystal Skull back in it’s cradle Then the Aztecs come to take it. It’s around this time that John Ratzenberger shows up as Bill. He’s there to fix the wiring but he also has a sideline as an adventurer and finds an alternate universe inside one of the walls of the house. Bill, Jesse, and Charlie head through the portal to the alternate universe to retrieve the skull. A virgin sacrifice tags along with t hem on thier way home – she’s got a thing for Jessie.

index4.jpgIt’s time for Gramp’s old partner Slim to arrive, emerging out of the evening’s dinner as a terrifying visage. Frank Welker provides his best Doctor Claw voice for the dead cowboy and gramps arms Jesse with his six-shooter for the next encounter. Outside, the windows show a Wild West Town and Jessie crashes through to save his friends In a climactic showdown.

House 2 is not so much a horror film as it is a bit of a Dark Fantasy Adventure. There’s a lot of elements here that feel like The Goonies, which make sense. We’ve got a slightly watered down PG-13 rating on this film as opposed to the R rating of it’s predecessor. House two may be a lot of things, it’s spooky and dangerous, But it isn’t scary. Still, you can’t deny the tenor and general feel of the film that links it to the first House film. The addition of John Ratzenberger to the cast is a brilliant bit of backhanded connection as well. It feel like it’s part of something bigger, though it still could probably stand on it’s ow, and even with the very strange (and slightly unsatisfying) ending, it’s still worth the watch, especially in the context of the franchise.


Mother’s Day Massacre

midnighthorrorMV5BMjMzMTc0Njg4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTYzMTA2MDE@._V1_We begin Mother’s Day Massacre in the most awkward position possible – From the perspective of a woman in the stirrups at the gynecologist office and diagnosis her STD . Upon receiving the news of her venereal disease, she is off to confront the mistress and her cheating partner… We get a baby scarred by hot bacon grease and a frying pan bludgeon…. and we’re not even five minutes in.

Whiplash forward to present day where were introduced to our Ingenue Doreen and her hapless boyfriend Jim – also his abusive father who ruins their quick nookie session.

We get a bizarre first scene with the pervy dad and we are gynaecologist that seems to be completely unrelated to the rest of the film, other them to disturb and pad the runtime to feature length… And they still only managed to stretch this thing out to 77 minutes

Doreen located Jim’s mother (who abandoned him) on the Internet as his dad’s crudeness escalates.Jim and Doreen head into an abandoned ghost town to locate his mom. A bunch of friends decide to tag along since they’ve heard the town is spooky and there’s good weed growing wild.  We manage to get a doomsayer (slasher trope) – a kid this time – when they stop for gas at a rundown joint that remind me of the general store from pumpkinhead.

Once they get there, they drink beer and then split up to explore the town – always a good idea when you’re in a horror film! They search the unfortunately brightly lit houses looking for places to bang, and find creepy things inside them, like the worst Gloryhole 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_ever. That’s when the axe wielding rednecks show up.

The movie isn’t shy about spraying blood everywhere which is a good thing because a redneck father and son team of villains aren’t very visually interesting. This isn’t Wrong Turn with grotesque mutants hunting our city slickers, but rather just a guy in  shades with his retarded inbred song teaming up for murder.

All the kids escaped with some of the weed which causes the rednecks to follow them, so the killing can continue.

This is a sloppy movie. (almost as sloppy as this review) There’s no three act structure, no story arc, just a general idea that’s been laid over the bones of a film. It’s one of those situations where I wonder if the filmmakers had access to a cool location and just decided to try and build a movie around it. Whatever the case, this one fails to satisfy.


House

franchisebannerindexI always forget just how spooky the opening of House is. They use extreme angles and weird lighting and negative images to heighten the spook factor and really give the house itself character, all before we even open the movie. It’s a great bit of misdirection and sets the tone well. In this house bad things can happen even in the daylight and you get that impression moving through the courtyard and inside the structure to discover the dead woman hanging there.

We are introduced to Roger Cobb, a divorced writer and Vietnam vet whose son vanished at his aunt’s house – the same aunt that we saw hanging at the beginning of the film. He’s having terrible writer’s block and nightmares of the war, and decides a change of scenery is in order. He heads over to the house to move in for a while.

The film takes its time, carefully setting up characters both living and dead, inside and outside of the house, even bringing the Aunt back as a ghostly doomsayer. The haunting starts slowly, with disembodied sounds in the house. It’s soft quietness is a stark contrast to the thunderously loud Vietnam flashback scenes that we get as Roger dreams and writes his book. In the house there’s a vision of his son, and the ghost of his aunt. It’s creepy but benign – that is, until finally he checks the closet… and the monsters begin to index2.jpgshow up at midnight.

The closet monster by the way, is actually really worth taking a close look at. It’s the claws that really grabd your attention but pause the movie and check out the formless shanks of the creature. There’s multiple faces emerging out of the ultraslime on it’s misshapen body, possibly representative of people the house is taken. It was certainly enough to stir up Rogers curiosity and lead him to further explore the curse of the house, while simultaneously exploring his dark past in Vietnam. The flashbacks to the ‘Nam are amazing by the way. Richard Moll as Cobb’s partner Big Ben is perfectly cast and executed. Moll has always been good at a sort of over the top malevolence, a bad guy images3.jpgwho is practically a cartoon but that you still love. It’s a far cry from his character on Night Court and this is one of his better performances. He’s not comic relief, but he is incredibly amusing. Comedy relief of course is coming from George Wendt, veteran of Cheers and Rodger Cobb’s next door neighbor. Wendt isn’t really trying to stretch here, he’s playing Norm, just as always. It’s sort of a give the people what they want appearance and it’s a role he understands well. Both men nicely balanced out William Katt’s Rodger Cobb, who has to balance an almost static rational character even as he begins to come unglued.

Indeed, the house wants him unglued, and it begins taunting him here and there. A remote control car making its way into the room by itself, a prized fish on the wall that stares and watches him as he goes, throwing a tantrum until Cobb dispatches it. Restless index4.jpgtools in the shed that come after him. The house is getting more aggressive by the moment.

All the commotion is enough to get the cops called on him, and some of the creepiest monsters start coming out as well. Interesting to note that the lead police man was Alan Autry, who would also go on to play one of the lead cops in the TV version of In the Heat of the Night.

Of course new complications arise when, after taking care of the monsters, another neighbor shows up. This time it’s a beautiful blonde who flirts with Rodger to score some free babysitting. It’s a surprisingly scary prospect. We’ve already lost one child in this house and the idea of bringing another one in fills me with dread. It’s a justified fear, the house goes after the new little boy, with monsters leading him away to try and take him as well. Cobb fights them off and rescues the little boy from the most precarious position in the fireplace chimney. Still, as perilous as the entire index5.jpgencounter is, the whole episode strikes me as an excuse to pad run times.

The haunting over all has brought about a change in Roger, and it seems now, he’s ready to fight. He discovers a clue in his aunt’s paintings and finds the way into the dark dimension that holds his son. It’s time for his final confrontation with the forces that plague this house.

House is one of the earliest horror movies that I remember watching, very likely because William Katt was in it and my parents knew I was a fan of him in the Greatest American Hero. I probably saw it on television so it was deemed safe, a judgment that couldn’t be more wrong. I found a terrifying but it’s the sort of horror film that made me love the genre and kept me coming back for more. Today it’s comfort food, an old favorites with a well-rounded story and and the brilliance of 1980s practical effects. I still find the monsters terrifying and the concept itself feels even more dire now that I’m a father. Of all the house films, this is the only one that’s truly scary and has earned its place as a horror classic


Star Lord

Costume

Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy has become one of my go-to costumes for comfortable cosplay. Simple stuff, muscle pants, t-shirt and the jacket with baby Groot on my shoulder. (Rocket Racoon puppet optional)

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In the Dead of Winter

midnighthorrorindex.jpgIn the Dead of Winter begins at a bleak prison for somebody out in the mountains… We’ve got a con being released and meeting up with his Friends in their pickup truck. He checks his gun and heads out to cause mayhem…

I can’t help but notice that this film is produced by Tanya York, Donald G Jackson’s old financial partner. That explains the shot on video look to the film and makes me feel just a bit wary.

Sam, the contact that just got out start off by visiting the local sheriff – presumably the man put him in prison. He guns him down front of his family and races off  in the truck. accompanied by a combination of new-age jazz and bad Casio soundtrack.

After that, it’s a joy ride in the mountains on snowmobiles, because why not? They’re looking for an abandoned cabin to hide out in, but when they arrive they find it’s not as abandoned as expected! And amorous young couple have already taken up residence for the weekend and Sam and his crew have found their next victims.

When the boyfriend attempts to fight back, they take him outside and bury him up to his neck in the snow – it’s actually a clever gag.

Inside, girlfriend get Sam scan and turns the table on her attackers – it’s a stand-off, with them threatening the boyfriend and her threatening them. It all goes wrong and the couple both end up dead. Time for Sam and his crew to run off.

After some internal squabbling when they get lost, they discover a cave to hole up in. The cave brings bad dreams but in the morning they take off on the snowmobiles until they run out of gas. That’s when they get shot at.

They flee the unseen gunman and desperately searched the woods for  cover. Their unseen assailant pursues them in a Snowcat. The guys split up, one group and start all the other starts to succumb to frostbite.

All four of the crew are separated – one finding himself and literate than ice, one getting killed accidentally, and one inexplicably encountering Daniel Boone in the middle of the 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_snowy wilderness. We discover it’s the local sheriff that’s been chasing Sam- apparently he didn’t die from his gunshot wound. I was hoping for a twist, like it was the sheriff’s widow or something.Sam stumbles into a bunch of bear traps and the sheriff leaves him to die. The ending is so straightforward it feels anticlimactic. This one is a definite skip.


Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong

franchisebannerindex.jpgI don’t usually get into stoner movies, but this time around we’re actually doing a Gingerdead Man sequel that has some direct connections to the original film and that in particular interests to me.

The Gingerdead Man had been making cameos in the Evil Bong series for a while now, and the lead actress from Gingerdead Man, Robin Sydney actually appears in every Evil Bong movie, so I suppose it made sense to finally bring them together in a versus movie, much like Alien versus Predator. It opens with the Gingerdead Man on a beach, being flirted with by three topless girls. I can’t help but notice that his lips are not really animated, but rather somebody else’s lips have been composited in so that he can talk. This doesn’t give me a great deal of hope for the effects in this one, especially when I notice that I don’t recognize the name of the person behind the special effects here. I also note that William images5.jpgButler (or his pseudonym Sylvia St. Croix) is nowhere to be found.

Oh well, let’s get into this.

The credits deposit us at a head shop where the employees are squabbling. As the owner’s girlfriend sets up a leech woman doll (a nice little easter egg), he recounts how he got into the business – It’s a good excuse for giving flash back to the first and second Evil Bong films  (Good thing too, I’ve never seen any of them. I’ll get there eventually, it’s on one of my upcoming box sets). It’s a reasonable way to pad the run time, and gets us to well  into the film before actually beginning anytime of story.

images4.jpgSome stoners wander in and Larnell , the manager, tries to sell them on a gas mask bong. (This is a missed opportunity by the way, I was sure I was seeing Chekhov’s gun here. Sadly, no), but even as I’m trying to comprehend this, that’s when the clown walks in. He’s selling freaky little Indian statues. Argumentative employee is distracted by some tourists that he up cells and doesn’t notice the clown taking a photos of them, for apparently no reason. (I kept waiting for this to pay off in the plot later, but it never comes up agian, it’s just schtick to introduce Larnell and his dimunitive employee Sting.
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In the back, we discover that Larnell has the Evil Bong gagged and bound in the closet. He wants to unravel her secrets and possibly use her for good. Me for my part,I’m waiting for the Gingerdead Man to show up again.

Down the street from the head shop, there’s a new bakery called “Dough, Ray, Me”. Weirdly enough, they’re selling Gingerdead Man shaped cookies. Of course it’s run by Sarah, the heroine from the first Gingerdead Man film. Judging from the palm trees, she’s moved from Texas to L.A. There was a recent article on her in the paper and they use this to briefly images.jpgrecap the original Gingerdead Man film.

We finally finish up with all of the flashbacks to previous movies about halfway through the film. Larnell shows up at the bakery to grab one of the cookies and behind him you can see the Gingerdead Man peering through the window. He’s there to take his revenge on Sarah. Larnell is trying to pitch some cross-promotion between the bakery and the head shop while back at his store, his old partner has unleashed the Evil Bong.

When Sarah heads over to Larnell’s shop to check it out, a couple of heremployees head to the back to get busy. The Gingerdead Man sees his opportunity to ply his trade. he’s back to using the switchblade that we’re familiar with from the DVD covers, though an axe will still work in a pinch.

images2.jpgOver at the head shop, Larnell discovers the evil bong has been freed. The Gingerdead Man dispatches his employee, and we get the first epic confrontation between the Gingerdead Man and the Evil Bong. She offers to make him a man again if he’ll smoke from her. The Gingerdead Man is tempted, but he has unfinished business first and takes an axe to the office door to try and get to Larnell and Sarah.

“Heeere’s Gingy!”

To even the odds, Larnell and Sarah both take a hit from the evil bong, forcing the Gingerdead Man to follow them into the bong world. as soon as they arrive, the evil pastries from Gingerdead Man 3 start to taunt them, even as the Gingerdead Man stalks them. Things only gets stranger from there as the Gingerdead Man encounters King Bong images.jpgand the other homicidal pastries who put him on trial in a scene designed to homage the Phantom Zone sequence from the original Superman.

Ultimately it becomes fight to escape the Evil Bong and hopefully leave the Gingerdead Man trapped forever.

Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong really is more of an Evil Bong film then it is a Gingerdead Man film. The character of Larnell overwhelms Sarah who is reduced to little more than a sidekick in this movie, and while the Gingerdead Man is certainly is the more murderous of the two villains, it’s the Evil Bong that really drives the story. Outside of a few clever set pieces, the Gingerdead Man is largely irrelevant and that’s a shame because I was really hoping for more of his influence.

On the other hand, half the film is taken up by recaps and flashbacks – making this more of a Gateway film, trying more to interest you into either of the other franchises rather than creating its own entry. We’d see Puppet Master go through this phase as well, particularly with the Puppet Master : The Legacy installment. Charles Band isn’t pulling out any new tricks here, versus movies and clip shows have kind of become his stock and trade at this point. This one is really only for fans of the franchise and it’s kind of unsatisfying as a final chapter.


NEO Comiccon 2021

So, it would be accurate to say that there were no quarter bins of comics this year at Neo comicon. It would be accurate to say that. It would NOT however, be accurate to say if there were no quarter bins at all…

We hit Neo comicon lite just as soon as the doors opened this weekend. We had another appointment on the east side of Cleveland so we were going to be very limited in our time here and knew we’d have to be judicious in our browsing. Still, in the two hours we were there, I can’t see me or Maddie having lasted much longer than that.  It’s a small show this year. No programming, no costume contest, no out of town guests. We’re easing back into conventions. Still, it was nice to see old faces and the new acquaintances. One of my buddies from Heroes United ran up to me shook my hand while another just flat out embraced me. He mentioned that he forgot to bring my Flash box set that Chris has… I was confused.

“Wait, I loaned that to Rocky!”
“Yes,” he replied and “Rocky loaded to Chris. And then Chris passed it on to me since I do more Heroes United events than he does these days! But I totally forgot today…”

I love this stuff, it’s nice to be back on the convention circuit.

I caught up with Josh and Steph and Jennifer as well, who I just seen the previous night at our birthday parties… (We did all the July birthdays together at a new restaurant in Cleveland). I haven’t seen Jen in costume in a long time, and that’s kind of cool. Josh on the other hand has pushed Deadpool to a new ridiculous level. He’s got a Deadpool version of the Mandalorian, complete with a baby carrier for the child… Except the child is Detective Pikachu. Also for no reason, there’s an alligator Loki involved in this costume. It’s glorious.
Despite the lack of a costume contest, Cosplays were in full force here. Maddie decided to pull out her Clementine outfit from The Walking Dead again. Both of us were looking for quick and easy costumes that we could get around with no problems in, stuff that wouldn’t get us stopped for photos frequently, although to be fair, Maddie got recognized repeatedly as her character. In fact she was recognized just as often as my Shadow was. Always gratifying. It makes her day, especially considering we’re both showing Up in outfits that (as one of her favorite tik-toker‘s says )
“there is absolutely no demand for this character!”

Maddie bought a sketch from one artist booth that she instantly fell in love with, and immediately dropped her entire convention allowance (and then some of her own money) on it. I love that my kids buy art. I know I’ve said that before, but they still do it and it’s consistent. The fact that they support local artists is one of the things that just makes me proud as a dad. She also grabbed some hero clix with me and then stared longingly at a lot of the Pokémon stuff!

Remember when I said there were no Quarter comic bins? I’m not lying. There were only dollar bins.  Sure, I dug through some of the dollar bins and found a few interesting bits and pieces, but what I really hit hard, were the toys. We found about half a dozen long boxes filled with hero clix, a quarter each or five for a dollar. I dropped five dollars. That doesn’t sound like much, but it sure does look like a whole ton when you have an arm load. Some were OP prizes or FCBD specials that nobody actually carries, as well as dozens of characters that we really like and wanted to play with. I got a new penguin and I got a rocket raccoon, I even got a gladiator hulk! Superman and wonder woman and Batman, or the one I thought was a USAgent that was actually the captain… Steve Rogers while he was in exile. Great figures, and it almost makes me wanna play again!

But the single purchase that I was the most excited for…..

I actually just bought a couple of comics from this vendor, then went around the corner and spied a small box of twenty five cent toys. When I looked in, there were tons of old Star Trek micromachines. I love the Star Trek micromachine series. I grew up reading ads for the FASA wargame miniatures, and these things one for $10 for each ship in the 80s. When this series of Micro Machine starships came out, these were five dollars for three of them. I bought most of them when they ere first on sale about twenty five years ago. In the bin I saw a deep space nine that I immediately grabbed, because The one that I bought years ago, had actually lost a pylon. Snapped right off. Replacing it for a quarter was a treat. a new borg ship, a Klingon D7, and then I looked down and I saw it. It was a saucer. I almost thought it was Miranda class… Maybe the reliant itself but it was completely round, and the lines were sharper… And I saw the registry. NCC-1701-A. My jaw dropped and I frantically dug through the rest of the bin. The saucer section, the primary hull, had broken off of this figure… I dug desprately. Finally, in the corner of the box I found the secondary hall, the body of the ship with the engines…

I see the look on your face. I realize you don’t understand.

I came into Star Trek during the movie era. Not necessarily the wilderness period, but definitely before Star Trek the next generation. For me, Star Trek is the DC comics written by Peter David and Mike W Barr. It’s the maroon wrap around tunics, and the white starship with the blue dish on the front. It’s my single favorite ship in all of Star Trek. But micro machines, in their infinite wisdom, only ever released this ship as part of a large set that I could not afford at the time. Besides, that set had every ship that I’ve already bought in it…

I have always wanted this starship and I don’t care if this one’s broken, I have superglue at home. And at $.25 been this was the single most exciting discovery I had all day. Serious biz, I can’t even tell you how happy this find made me.

So amused that I still hit 25 cent  bins as hard as ever, but today it was all about toys, rather than comics. Nevertheless. I came home with some new reading material, a lot of toys to play hero clicks with my kids, and some really fun memories of what is generally the best comic convention in the area. I’m hoping they’re back to full speed next year.
 
 
 
 

 


Haunting of Winchester house

midnighthorror41maVWogqWL._SY445_.jpgIf the asylum logo showing up wasn’t bad enough, the film is made by Mark Atkins which feels a little bit too close to Peter Atkins – as if the author himself is perpetuating the Mockbuster feel. In this frame of mind then, it’s no wonder that I find the opening scene of the UPS driver delivering a parcel to feel very much homage to Spider Baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CW Film appreciation society July 2021

Wait, what do you mean that last week was the season finale of The Flash?? Also, Cisco, how can we miss you if you won’t leave? I swear, this dude has been talking about quitting for years, actually left the show three times, and keeps coming back. Still, a satisfying conclusion to the Godspeed war… And actually, it feels a little bit like the comics again. That moment where Jay and Barry and Bart all line up with Iris and XS as a speedster ensemble… This is a trend we started seeing in the comics midway through Wally’s run, and it’s always a fun feeling to get.

I could do another paragraph gushing about Superman and Lois, but I’ve already done enough of that. And really, TV wasn’t the big event this weekend, it was the One day show that Cinema Wasteland was putting on. It’s an event that grew out of those film appreciation society screenings Ken was putting on at the local Eagles Hall, he’s expanded it moved it to the hotel that usually posts wasteland. For some reason I missed the last one before the plague, so this was my first time hitting one of these events.

The vendors room is small, smaller than some of those Harper shows I’ve been going to, using approximately a third of the space Wasteland takes up… With only 30 vendors instead of 100. There’s an hour and a half between the time the vendor room closes and they transform it into a screening room, so I decided to swing by around lunchtime, while I was doing other errands, with the plans on heading back that night for the films (My real interest). The shopping was lightly attended, and you could do that dealers room in 20 minutes, 30 if you really dug in. With hours going from 10 to 5, the room would never fill up too much. Thankfully they were a great deal more people showing up for the movie later that night. It was a double feature of the Human Duplicators and Mutiny in Space, both on 16mm film. The human duplicators was particularly fun, as you can see Richard Kiel and Hugh Beaumont in the same film. That’s like the greatest Jeopardy question ever.

Wastelanders were happy to be out of the house and back talking with like-minded folks. Guys were even chatting me up in the bathroom about the movie we just seen, how the one actress could’ve been a Bond girl and what do you think their reaction was one they needed life cast of everybody even though they weren’t doing make up? It’s different in a women’s restroom, and a guys bathroom it’s generally considered gauche and uncomfortable to talk between The stalls, but Wastelanders family. Even family that you don’t know.

Most of the out of towners skipped this event, understandably. There are a few among the vendors, like Dirk Manning or happy club picture is and it was nice to catch up with Mike and Amy and Dirk. I ran into my buddy Jim and his new wife Amy, and they introduced me to their friends, and with patches of people just standing around and hanging out in black T-shirts, talking about monsters and tattoos and hobbies, it felt like Wasteland again. Like were easing back into the scene, and I for one cannot wait for October.

 


Gingerdead Man 3 : Saturday Night Cleaver

franchisebannerindex.jpgWe begin the movie at the scientific Institute for research on homicidal baked goods. So right off the bat, you know exactly what kind of film we’re going into. It’s a parody of Silence of the Lambs, with a sort of Clarice Starling character getting ready to go see the Gingerdead Man

Down in the basement we see a evil baguette, a small cherry pie, a brownie and a cream puff that spits Cream Cheese at her. The puppets are beyond over-the-top. Finally she arrives at the Gingerdead Man cell in the interview begins. They’re doing it almost word-for-word from Silence of the Lambs, and the Gingerdead Man even has a Hannibal Lecter mask on. It’s shocking in its audacity, and ridiculous beyond parody. We are in full cartoon mode now and it’s glorious. This sequence has to be seen to be believed.

3.jpgThe interview is interrupted by a invasion of pastry activists who free all of the evil baked goods. Gingerdead Man Isn’t impressed and bites the nose off of one of the activists (homage to the story of Lecter swallowing the nurses tongue?) before running away. Still, he can’t figure out where to go and is still trapped in the Institute… That is until he finds the time-travel study room and jumps into a machine that transports him into 1976, in the middle of a Roller Boogie session.

It’s the most stereotypical portrayal of the seventies imaginable, and the Gingerdead Man is rightly appalled. The look is of though -Too many of the guys are still sporting close-cropped do’s and while thier sideburns might be long, they are also groomed and trimmed and distinctly not 1970s (ah, low budgets….)!

The problem is, this roller rink is about to be foreclosed on by the IRS. Also the DJ is completely coked up and the owner’s daughter Cherry (“And I’d like her to stay that images5way!”) has a sort of Carrie vibe going on.

The first to go are a group of empty-headed bimbos who staged a bikini car wash in an attempt to save the roller rink. Gingerdead Man ogles them until he remembers what he is here to do and discover is a vat of hydrochloric acid to do it with. The results are predictable, and largely CG. In fact I’m noticing a significant CGI component in this film all around. Somebody is really good at After Effects. The Gingerdead Man is frequently rendered as an animation rather than composited or puppeted as a real element, particularly when he’s walking or running. At least the corpses are practical.
images2.jpgBack at the Roller Rink, Cherry, the daughter is learning to skate, falling in love with the skate rental guy, and getting a makeover to try and become the new roller queen. Also, among the skaters and Junkies, keep an eye out for a large lady in a white shirt with a red sweater. That’s Muffy Bolding, co-writer of both this film and Gingerdead Man 2!

Back upstairs, the owner of the rink, and Cherries mother Trixie, (a drag queen played by Kent Fuher – director William Butler has a long Association with RuPaul’s Drag Race and the drag community) is not pleased. She had tried all her life to keep Cherry from the images.jpgroller skating scene. She tells the tale of a tragic roller skating incident the day that she performed for FDR and distracted everybody from Pearl Harbor. The entire incident is told in stock footage flashbacks stop this is why she never wanted Cherry to skate, But Cherry wants to live her own life and when the roller Boogie Queen contest! Lights explode as she gets angry.

Cherry is indeed nominated as one of the finalists for roller Boogie Queen, but that’s the least of her worries. She finds gingerbread man-shaped footprints and follows them to some bloody boxes in the kitchen. She expresses her concerns to her crush who kind of dismisses it even as the Gingerdead Man sneaks past behind him with a cleaver. In the meantime, the girl who’s won the Roller Boogie Queen the last four years, schemes to win the title this one last time. Her plan involves pig blood – so we can pretty much tell exactly where this is going.

Before she goes completely Carrie on them we get a break from all this silliness when the Gingerdead Man sneaks up behind a guy in the bathroom and slashes his Achilles tendon again, and again, and again. It’s the fresh infusion of blood that this film really needed, it’s been a little lighter on gore this time around. Unfortunately, the Gingerdead Man then finds the DJ stash of coke and replaces it with Drano. It’s okay, the Gingerdead Man is still there to spin records in her absence.

Cherry is, of course, crowned the roller Boogie Queen, and as soon as she takes her crown , down comes the pig’s blood. Only it hits the wrong girl, and the Gingerdead Man is quick to follow, killing everyone in sight. Now it’s Cherry’s telekinetic gifts versus the homicidal Gingerdead Man in a hail of computer-generated blood.

I can’t help but notice how much lower the production values have gotten on this entry. There’s an overuse of CG, with as many After Effects generated as possible. We get very few shots of the Gingerdead Man in context. Only a handful of long shots, with most of his coverage being done as extreme close-ups of his face talking. It’s not just once, it’s constant. While the film is still quite self aware, the parody and satire aspects have kind of been toned down and the entire thing feels just a little bit less satisfying than before. This franchise may actually have peaked at part two, but there’s still one more to go.


Gingerdead Man 2

franchisebannerinde4xGingerdead Man 2 begins with a fairytale style recap of the previous film. We get the best moments and an adequate explanation for the sort of insanity that were about to witness.

By the way, I don’t put this out there all the time, but I’m a born-again, conservative, evangelical Christian, so if this title was meant to offend someone it’s me. I find it hilarious – and yes, this scene does appear in the film (at the very end).

The run run run theme song is amazing – it’s like somebody mashed together “run as fast as you can I’m the gingerbread man” with “cherry bomb” and it’s the perfect theme as we movie into a movie studio set where they’re making a horror film. This is Full Moon image8sPictures kind of making fun of itself – this horror movie appears to be a mixture of Ghoulies and Puppet Master. I’m amused that I have the dagger the dark wizard uses.

Wonder what is better accidentally hits the wizard, he screams cat – and we get a glimpse of John Carl Bulchler who is the director of this unfortunate picture.

Craft service arrives with a box of goodies – cookies, doughnuts, and the Gingerdead Man!

images9.jpgA Make-A-Wish kid arrives at Cheatum studios because his last wish was to see the horror movie studio empire. Things aren’t going well – the studio has too many things in production, they’re running out of money, and horror blogs are constantly trashing them. On the set, people are quitting, fighting and there’s just general chaos.

Meanwhile, the ginger dead man is getting edgy – he’s got to kill somebody before he gets too stale! Normally I’d complain about the fact that the first kill happens off screen, but it’s such a hilarious spectacle – we cut back to the Gingerbread Man standing over at the decapitated corpse with several knives sticking it in another one in his hand that it just works so well.

“1 down, 4 to go!”

In the meantime we get back inside the studio where David DeCatoeu is directing a sci-fi picture on another set, while a porn crew is filming a gonzo movie in the directors office, and the Gingerdead Man is off to find his next victim! This ends up being an extremely offensive kill involving an electrified curling iron. The outrageous and offensive really become the pattern – even when it’s a traditional kill like a stabbing it’s punctuated by the Gingerdead Man delivering the most offensive and ridiculous dialogue the filmmakers can think of. This is how we get scenes like the Gingerdead Man hitting on one of the the puppets from the film, before humpin81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_g it and then destroying it with a chainsaw (which is bad news for the puppeteer, whose hand is still in there).

They begin to realize something is wrong when the Make-A-Wish boy is abducted by the chainsaw wielding cookie man. They discover the Gingerdead Man has rewired the robot on the sci-fi set and comes after them using it as a Mecha. And that’s about the time when we hit the third act twist.

The brilliance of Gingerdead Man Two isn’t just the fact that you can get away with the cookie saying whatever he wants, no matter how outrageous or offensive, but it’s the self depreciating satire that this film is. It’s a satire that completely deconstructs the Full Moon legacy – much the way Terror Firmer did with Troma. Gingerdead Man is just good, lunatic fun – filled with Easter eggs and inside jokes for horror fans.midnighthorror


Gingerdead Man

franchisebanner

indexIn 2001, Charles Band asked writer William Butler what the craziest idea he ever had was. With no hesitation he replied “Gingerdead Man!”. Band said “Great. Write it up. You shoot next month.”

Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out quite that easily.Butler’s script came in on time, but WAY over budget. Full Moon pictures was in the middle of a rebuilding phase and couldn’t afford to shoot the script as written.

“I wrote what was like a three million dollar budget picture. Charlie looked at this and said ‘We couldn’t film this in a million years!’.”

Butler struck a deal with Band. Full Moon would still buy the script and concept, but they would have it rewritten in-house. That way, it would still make it on screen. The rewrite chores fell to Full Moon regular and Critters scribe Brian Muir.This might confuse casual viewers since the opening credits cite August White and Sylvia St. Coix (Who would also be credited as the director of the second film) as the writers. Both are psydonyms. White is Muir and Coix is Butler. Throw in John Carl Buechler doing special effects in a Charles Band movie and I think this is definitely a recipe I can get behind.

vlcsnap-2019-09-29-22h36m41s213Gingerdead Man starts off with Gary Busey on a rampage in a diner. I’d say that’s off to a good start. It’s pretty much all you are going to see of Busey though, just enough to establish him as the soul that gets trapped in the Gingerdead man. Band has been pretty open over the years about this being stunt casting. “We cast Busey for the bragging rights” he mentioned one year at Cinema Wasteland. If you ever see him at a convention, he’ll always be ready with a Busey story from set.

Busey for his part was confused He’d been booked for a mere two days, but was under the impression that he was in the entire film and shot off an infuriated letter to his agent telling hi they were crazy if they though they could shoot enough coverage for an entire film in just two days. Band sent word back to the agent that Busey would only be on set for one scene and that the rest of his contribution to the movie would be ADR. When Busey  arrived to lay down his vocal tracks, he arrived with a girlfriend and a guitar. Band tried to get him into the booth. Busey pulled up the guitar.
“Yes. but first….a song!”
He proceeded to serenade Band before finally heading into the ADR booth to record the voice of the Gingerdead Man.

images7.jpgThe film moves to a bakery, and Baker Sarah. She’s played by Robin Sydney, a Full Moon regular who would go on to star in every one of their Evil Bong movies (This’ll be pertinent later). It was her father and brother that were killed in the opening segment. A knock on the door and a mysterious “Grandma’s gingerbread seasoning” is left for her. What she doesn’t actually know is, these are the ashes of Gary Busey. When accidentally mixed with blood, it becomes the perfect ingredients to create the Gingerdead Man!

Across the street from the bakery, there’s a new competitor moving in. It’s a slimy chain store and it’s equally slimy owner comes by to intimidate and try and buy the bakery out. They’ll have no part of it and simply go back to work, making baked goods, gingerbread men oh, and one special Gingerdead Man!

Lorna, the daughter of the developer, sneaks in to try and plant rats in the bakery. Her boyfriend Amos joins her and it’s then that they all discover the Gingerdead Man.  He images8runs off and finds Sarah’s drunken mom and takes revenge for every time the Pillsbury Doughboy has been poked in the belly…

Boyfriend Amos goes to the car to grab his gun while the Gingerdead Man kills the power to the bakery. Outside he scampers off to the developer’s car and runs him down. At least the baker’s competition is gone! In the meantime he heads back in to get the developer’s daughter – with a brief side argument with the rat.

In the back, Amos tries to fix the power, and Sarah deals with her crush on him. I supposed a subplot love story is inevitable though it seems like poor judgment to fall in love with a guy who thinks you can kill a demonic cookie with a pistol. a BIG pistol.

imagesStill, with Mom in the oven and Sis in the freezer, it’s up to them to stop the evil Gingerdead Man!

What is perhaps most surprising about Gingerdead Man is how straight they play it. Oh, the Gingerdead Man still says tons of outrageous things and we get the occasional ridiculous quips “got milk?”, but by and large they play it as a straight horror film, infused with the general fun that we expect from a full moon feature. The ultimate hero at the end he is actually somewhat unexpected (and straight out of Butler’s orignial concept), although we get a bit of a Twist in the last few minutes that would be mirrored in later installments as well.

it’s not obvious the sort of franchise that this film will become from just watching the first movie, but on its own, this stands as a massively fun full moon feature.


Children of the Corn : Fields of Terror

midnighthorrormovieposterRight off the bat I’m pretty sure in trouble when I see the title of this Children of the Corn sequel is“fields of terror”. Also, I see that Alexis Arquette is starring.  Seeing Fred Williamson and David Carridine billed towards the end gives me a little bit more hope though, and I actually do usually enjoy Eva Mendez, but I’m not getting my hopes up considering how uninspired the opening is. Ethan Wiley has his work cut out for him here if he want’s to creep me out, and I don’t think this little Elliot-from-ET looking kid walking towards the green screen is gonna pull it off. I want blood to kick this thing off, not lasers and lightning and adobe after effects. The kids look too non-descript, and I’m only 10 minutes out. Our corn children in this film dress and very contemporary clothing – and that detracts from the creepiness. It’s not just enough to have a shadowy kid pick up a scythe to make it scary. Thankfully we do seem to be at the tail end of the 90s, so the embargo on blood and gore from that era seems to be lifting. The kills aren’t particularly original, but they are visceral.

Children-of-the-corn-5-fields-of-terror-kidsThe clothes are only part of it – our protagonists talk about how bad the town smells, they try and make a point of describing how boring the place is. That’s funny, considering it’s a farming community, and everything looks so clean and crisp. The clothing is too nice and trendy – it just doesn’t fit the narrative. Equally out of place is David Carridine’s cameo as the leader of a cult – it’s the first time in a Children of the Corn movie that we have seen an adult that seems to be the head of our corn children and it feels very out of place.

I have to admit though, it passes the watch test. It moves right along at a good steady 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_pace and never really drops my interest. There is a clumsy attempt to expand on the mythology of he who walks behind the rows from the original Children of the Corn,  But it seems more thrown in for styles sake rather than story and is gone too quickly, failing to impact the mythology at all.

I got to admit, I wonder if I’m being too hard on this but at the end of the day, this is a very by the numbers sequel. A group of strangers blunder into the town – discover corn children, and murder ensues. It might be alright if you’re just looking fora midless horror flick, and I probably won’t change the channel if they were running this on the Syfy channel.


The Graveyard : Bloody Murder 3

index.jpgThe Graveyard is not necessarily a direct sequel to the Bloody Murder films, although it was planned as one. As it is, the film is more of a sidequel, taking place in the same town and at the same camp but not necessarily with the same character as a killer. Nevertheless, you can tell even within the opening minutes that it shares a great deal of the DNA from the previous two films and it very much belongs as a part of the series.

The film opens with a group of stupid teenagers sneaking into the Placid Pines cemetery through a broken gate. I say stupid teens, by the way, not because they’re teenagers but because they are really acting dumb and half drunk announcing their entry and competing for the most interesting entrance to the cemetery. The whole party is overdubbed by a miscellaneous rockabilly song as they run in between the tombstones. While they don’t specifically state that the game they’re playing in the cemetery is “bloody murder” it is set up the same… One person is it and has to go find the others. However the person counting down doesn’t notice the masked killer behind him – and when he opens his eyes a white mask and a knife are coming straight at him. That’s enough for him, game index2or not he takes up running – but the mast killers pursues him, scoring a victim along the way. He wasn’t looking – and impales himself on the broken fence, it’s only then that we discover our masked killer is one of the dumb teenagers – it was all a massive fake out (just like it has been in every previous film) – one that ended up tragic.

Five years later, the masked teen, Robert,  is getting paroled after being charged with manslaughter for this incident. One of the girls from that night is taking him back to town, where they hang out at the campsite from the previous two bloody murder films. We get a melancholy shot of the cemetery as they drive past in Roberts pensive mug staring at the windows. The gangs all coming back to the camp now that Robert is out.

During the getting to know you sequences we get a couple of jump scares with the groundskeeper – someone who is not part of the reunion going on here. Everyone seems to be in fairly high spirits except for Bobby gloomy-McWet-blanket. Perhaps he’s just tired of hearing the couple in the cabin next door have sex. He ominously warned them index3.jpgthat the woods aren’t safe.

The rest of the group has a quick power in the dining room where they discuss whether or not it safe to be around body – turns out his family was murdered while he was in jail, an incident involving arson – the plot thickens. One of the girls freaks out and runs to the cemetery, convinced that karma will follow her and the only way out is to beg forgiveness… In the darkness, a masked killer stalks. He’s not just following her though, he seems to be everywhere – his reflection showing up in the mirror as one of the others heads to the bathroom for an obligatory shower scene.

Back at the graveyard, the dead friend’s grave is empty – dug up.

While they’re investigating the graveyard, shower girl gets it. The group hears screaming but by the time they arrive, the shower is empty. Everyone tries to figure out what happened – her bags are still there and her car is still there. Bobby tells them if she went to the woods, she’s gone. He believes it retribution for what they did five years ago… It doesn’t matter the group decides to head up to the woods to search for her.

In the words we run into an angry ex-girlfriend – this might of actually served as a nice misdirect if they didn’t kill her off as soon as she storms away. We get some squabbling as they wander aimlessly through the effectively lit woods, complete with another fake out– not only a mask but also a retractable blade. They laugh it off, despite the fact that the caretaker warns them once again – these woods aren’t safe, and one of their people are still missing.

index4.jpgBack at camp, the cars have all been tampered with – slashed tires, missing batteries and cut gas lines. That should be ominous, but the pacing feels off and the tone hasn’t built up enough dread. While the boys try and fix the cars, the girls smoke pot and pontificate – that is until the killer shut up again, this time with a severed head in hand (Possibly the best gore in the entire film). The camp is lit beautifully, with that light blue mist we’ve become so used to in the Bloody Murder films and the sight of the killer walking across the field to stalk his victim feels iconic.

Gore signals the beginning of the third act, and now the remaining campers know they’re in danger.

It’s about this time that the cop shows up… He catches Bobby with a bloody knife that the killer used on someone in the woods and he finds himself back in custody. Morning index5.jpgcomes and our survivors gather together in one of the dorms, while the cop throws Bobby in a jail cell. Meanwhile, at the cabins the remaining campers think they have figured out who the killer is.

While it’s clumsier than the two Bloody Murder films, The Graveyard still throws us twists, turns and enough fake outs to keep you wondering through the third act who the killer actually is. Truly the only thing keeping this from being a fully realized Bloody Murder film is the absence of the series slasher, Trevor Moorehouse… And even without him, we still have a masked killer who looks like a natural evolution from that stalker. The white mask this killer wears could just as easily be a weathered and patched up version of the one from Bloody Murder 2. It’s definitely worth watching with the other films and absolutely deserves its place in this trilogy.


Steel City Con and Pulp Fiction

Look, I knew when I was getting into. I’ve been avoiding Steel City Con for a few years now, because it’s just too big. It looks like a cattle call, a meat market… One of those large autograph focused conventions that I’ve been increasingly dropping for my schedule. However, my buddy Mike has been bugging me to ride along to a show with him for a while now, and he and his buddy had an open seat in the back of the car.

And William Shatner was coming.

I’ve been going to Star Trek conventions for a long time, and I even have Shatner‘s autograph through his fan club, but we never actually crossed paths. He made it to Cleveland a couple of times with wizard world, but we all know how I feel about that show. Being able to camp out in someone’s backseat and not have to worry about navigation or parking, it kind of changes the equation. So does the fact that Shatner is 90. This felt like my best chance, now or never. So I ponied up for the photo op… Something I generally consider to be gouging, but again… This is really my best shot, then I gathered up my Shadow costume and met the guys drive down to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

Steel City Con is actually held at Monroeville convention center… A suburb of Pittsburgh, and also right across the street from Monroeville mall. This is a bonus. I was going to check two boxes off my bucket list, meet Shatner, and finally visit mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed.

The fan community in PA is just as starved for conventions as what I’ve been noticing in Ohio. The show was packed, shoulder to shoulder. The prices were high, and other than Shatner, I was really only interested in meeting two people. Comedy legend John Lovitz was signing at his first convention ever here, and I’ve loved him in everything I’ve ever seen him in. He seem to be in a bit of a mood though, he smiled brightly and cheerfully for photos, and that smile would fade as soon as the camera went down. His panel was half hearted, he still delivered some fun lines, but he really didn’t seem into it.

On the other hand Alanna Masterson and Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead we’re both in fine form. They were happy and friendly, and just generally fun to be around. Alana walked out and looked over the attendance… And just breathed “ look at all the people! I haven’t seen this many people in ages!” She is bouncy and happy and steals the show even when people are asking questions specifically of Chandler Riggs. She’s every bit of fun in person as she always was on talking dead, and that’s a nice thing. The panels themselves though were really lackluster. There is no moderation, no one up there asking questions guiding the conversation and bring us something new. They brought the actors onto the stage, and let the audience just ask questions. The problem is, when you do that, you just get the same dozen questions that you’ve heard in every other interview, convention panel, or talk show. I was actually a little disappointed, because I’ve always loved the entertainment and programming portions of these sort of shows.

The other person I was there to meet was Larry Thomas, better known as the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. He was strictly a target of opportunity, I wanted to meet him because he was there, and also The least expensive autograph and photo! Thomas is having a great time. He loves seeing the fans he loves mugging for the camera, he just seemed genuinely happy to be there, even down to a snarky “master of my domain shirt”, he was possibly the most fun guest that I interacted with that day.

Back in the dealers room I was saddened by the lack of comics. I guess they don’t cal themselves a COMIC con, but that’s what it is… Or at least what it started out as. Best you can do for bargain bins were dollar bins… Although I found one that was swimming full of trade paperbacks. I grabbed some Hell blazer and ultimate, some titles that I always meant to get around to like bite club, and even a strange looking ultimate Spiderman trade. I checked the volume number, it wasn’t on my list… I should’ve looked a little closer though. It’s about three or four issues, all translated into what appears to be Norwegian. I’ve got those issues in English elsewhere, so it’s just kind of a trip to see this thing. Not what I was looking for, but not a complete waste of a dollar bill.

I grab some blind bags of Doctor Who figures to open up with the kids when I got home, as well as digging through a huge box full of Disney park pins. Each, I grabbed a handful for the kids, as well as a bunch of superheroes to pin to the back of my comicon bag.

All in all, I still managed to have a fun day, the guys introduced me to Indian Food, and I got to meet Captain Kirk – really the one that started it all. Still, it was hot and crowded, and in a lot of ways exactly the sort of imagine that I don’t enjoy going to. They could probably still get me back with certain guests… For instance, a couple of the Elm Street girls are coming in the fall, and I’m tempted to make the trek back out just to grab them. But it’s definitely not gonna be a stop on my normal rotation.

Of course because I’m just that masochistic, I decided to make it a doubleheader this weekend. There was a small Jeff Harper show going on in my backyard (and God bless Harper for keeping the con scene alive through the pandemic), back at the Westlake double tree where they did the spring comic show, and where they held Retro Invasion convention back in fall of 2019. The hotel has been getting a lot of traffic with these kind of shows, and it’s nice to have some of the stuff showing up within a quickie 15 minute drive. This one was the pulp fiction show, and really I was just going to find out what it would be like. I have no idea what to expect, other than a strange flea market atmosphere. I once again donned the shadow costume and dove in. When they say pulp fiction convention, what they mean is book sale. All books, a lot of trashy pulp novels from before I was born, as well as more than enough pulp magazines, but also newspaper reprints. A smattering of comics, and a lot more paperback novels from the 70s 80s and 90s than I expected. I loaded up on James Blish Star Trek adaptions as well as Roger Zelazney paperbacks as well as a few odd ducks like a Buck Rogers and a strange zombie for dummies style book. It was an interesting show, and it would probably behove me to go with a list of shadow reprints that I don’t have, and maybe a more informed attack on the paperbacks. It was also a pleasant surprise to discover my buddies Rhonda and Criss there. I haven’t seen these two girls in probably over a year, so it was nice to bump into them, despite my full costume!

There’s talk of making Pulp fiction convention a yearly thing. And I think that’s more than enough. A quick, one day niche specialty feel like this. I’m intrigued enough to show up again if they come back!

 


Halloween Resurrection

index.jpgI’ve never completely understood all the hate that Halloween resurrection gets. Admittedly, this is not up to the quality of the original, but that’s not really what I’m expecting from a late series sequel to a slasher franchise.

It could be because Jamie Lee Curtis is so prominently featured on the cover and that fans were expecting her to be a central component to the film– in all fairness that is a bit of bait and switch. Her prologue in this movie is really nothing more then A dire epilogue to H20 and dispatching her at the beginning (A demand she had written into her contract) surely left a bad taste in certain peoples mouths– much like the way the survivors from Aliens were treated in Alien three.

Nevertheless the idea of turning the Myers house into a bizarre reality television competition, it was actually timely and clever – a twist that we haven’t seen before… OMIGOD IS THAT KATEE SACKHOFF??? Seriously. I love Katee Sackoff  – in everything but BSG. indexI’d totally fogotten aboyt Tyra banks here too. She’s cringeworthy here and there, but her real job is to be cute as the producer of the show. Busta Rhymes also seems wierd casting, but again, we forget how huge this dude was at that moment – he literally had 15 minutes of fame and then vanished from the scene. And you know what? He’s better than he gets credit for.

It’s a paper thin plot with the main characters set up with body cams and exploring the Myers house, but as Michael arrives and starts to slash his way through the hapless contestants, I’m actually quite well entertained – it’s a better entry then some of the late series sequels, most notably my first Halloween film, number six with the curse of Michael Myers (I know that’s a little bar to clear, but when you’re this deep into the series it’s really the way you should be measuring it). Myers kind of lacks motivation outside of his territory being invaded (and that’s more a Jason Vorhees trope. Perhaps someone got them confused) but the third act twist of someone watching the webcast being able to communicate with the final girl inside to help her is actually pretty clever. The whole thing might have been better served as a stand alone or in another franchise (this would make a dynamite Scream sequel). Honestly, this greatest sin is being largely generic and out of place (almost like a fan film or a TV episode) and ultimately forgettable.

But forgettable isn’t the same as BAD.

At the end of the day, you’re either a fan of this or you’re not. It ‘s almost more of a sidequel and perhaps should be held to a different standard. It really doesn’t belong in this continuity (specifically the timeline that skips 2-6, and picks up at H20) I don’t think anything I’m gonna say is gonna change your mind, but if you’ve never seen it – I do encourage you to check it out. It’s a fun watch once you turn your brain off, and having it on DVD is a great reason to grab the set.


Bloody Murder 2

index.jpgThere’s pros and cons to Bloody Murder 2… Pro, Tiffany Shepis is in this… Con The mask is different, and is in fact pretty uninspired compared to the hockey mask of the previous installment. It’s just one of those plain white face masks you see at the craft store – and it’s not even the one they feature on the cover of the videotape!

We open to what is pretty obviously a dream sequence, a young blonde woman in a misty woods – I’m pleased to see that they’ve retained that same look from the last film, at least this carries over. It’s the sister of Jason, the final victim from the previous film and she is dreaming of bringing her brother back. It’s a good enough set up and it brings us back to the camp. This time however, they aren’t getting ready to open the camp, but rather they’re closing Camp Placid Pines up for the winter. We don’t get a proper opening kill on this one – the dream doesn’t count – but they do mention a wood chipper… That’s Checkovs gun if I ever saw one!

This time, it’s Tiffany Shepis who suggests the game of bloody murder as the campers set around the bonfire. We get a little bit more of the lore concerning Trevor Moorehouse. It’s a good thing because he was woefully under developed in the previous film. Back in the woods, we get the same fake outs from the previous film – a camper with ketchup and another one in a fake plastic hockey mask.

Still, I can’t complain because it does lead to the first kill – and I gotta give these guys props… It’s a lot more graphic than what we saw before. At its heart, Bloody Murder couldn’t decide if it was a slasher or a mystery, but Bloody Murder 2 goes straight for the gore and does so before we even hit the 18 minute mark. They need to go hard on the scene as well, because it’s the films set piece. They’re still creative kills and blood splattered throughout the film, but none as flesh rippingly intense as this one. Best to go in knowing what to expect.

images4.jpgThe next morning, we are still following the structure set down by the first movie – that first kill isn’t missed because they believe he’s left the camp for the year. In the meantime, the local cook gives us an idea of just how pervasive the Trevor Moorehouse urban legend is around these parts. It gives us a better feel for it and makes it more real than what we had seen previously. They mix it with some of the Meta dialogue that scream had made so popular – a discussion of who gets killed first in horror movies, the black dude or the women, then top it off with a little nookie so we can be reassured about who is going to die next.

After the next kill, the skeptical sheriff shows up to address ingenue Tracy’s concerns that she saw Trevor Moorehouse. It doesn’t matter, with the body count piling up, she is increasingly suspicious and decides to take the remaining campers to go search the campsite. Tiffany by the way, isn’t having it and storms off. It’s early in her career though which means this is just a good excuse to get her naked.

The rest of the campers searching the campus don’t find anything, but Tiffany certainly does – a desiccated corpse with an arrow through its neck lies on her path and her screams bring down the cast. At least it’s enough to convince the sheriff there’s a killer amongst us.

index5.jpgWhile the sheriff searches, it’s time to hit the showers to clean off some of the blood, right? Of course, as we all know, the shower scene is like a dog whistle for a slasher and our killer shows right up, hiding in in a new stall to lure his victim out. There’s a clever twist here, and for all of my complaining about them changing from the hockey mask, the blood splatter really does look good on this plain white face – especially under the high contrast of the overhead fluorescent lights. Needless to say, the cops are not pleased.

The plot thickens when our ingenue discovers a video camera pointed at the dorms, potentially revealing the identity of the killer! This leads to the rest of one of the campers, and yet, surprise! The killer is still out there! (after all, we still have about a half hour left) meanwhile, it’s time for another spooky dream sequence.

The head counselor admits that the camp is over and offered to send the girls home, but they’ve got just a little bit more investigation to do – checking pagers, figuring alibis, and getting murdered in the woods. There is still more twists before the killer is revealed as images3.jpgthe third act ramps up.

It’s curious, the first time I watched this movie years ago, my initial thought was how much it was like an early Friday the 13th film… Now I’m struck by just how much this movie is like the first bloody murder film. They both have very similar structures, very similar beats – they’re not just checking off elements of the slasher film this time, they’re also checking off beats from the first movie, down to the final surprise appearance by Trevor Moorehouse. There is also a sort of backhanded attempt to create continuity – rejiggering the timeline and connecting the ingenue to Bloody Murder’s final victim.  It’s a blatant attempt to wedge this in line with the previous film – I’m not complaining, but it’s obvious that The continuity was invented after the bag rather than being planned out from the first film, and I’ve got to say it would be a lot more convincing if they were using the same mask in both movies. The radical changes a bit jarring. Still its interesting to see how they work it and it practically guarantee is that if you like the first one, you’ll like the second one, but there’s not much going on here that’s new or that pushes the franchise forward any. Bloody Murder 2 is a good, solid slasher that you can enjoy as part of the series or on its own.


Tracy vs Jason!

Costume

Despite being a realitvely simple costume (that is, no armor), my reinterpretation of the original and filmation Ghostbusters Ape as a modern Columbia Ghostbuster quickly became one of my favorite suits and ended up showing up a LOT.

Sadly, there’s no way this ends well…

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Roman

indexRoman starts with a guy welding at steel mill then coming home, lighting up a cigarette and watching for the girl next door at his window. It’s awkward and creepy with a very indie feel to it, setting the tone for what’s to come.

Roman doesn’t have a television, so his room is set up around that window – his chair and table facing it where he can stay here and watch for the girl next door come out. It’s unnerving and we see how awkward he is, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how they’re going to squeeze 90 minutes out of this.

He dreams of her, dancing nude and backlit against random sets of images – in working, eating, flowers and sparks.

The guys at work make fun of him for not having a television, so he draws one on the wall and pretends to watch it – the girls voice coming from it.

index2Everything changes when he meets a real woman, as he hangs out on the top of his apartment building roof drinking beer – he is surprisingly articulate for such an introvert, but awkward as it is, it’s a charming interaction and now she knows him. A co-worker gives him an old black-and-white TV and he talks the girl over for drinks. This could almost be a romance, at this point… Which is how you know everything is about to go wrong.

Now, he has a secret – and when the next girl comes knocking at his door, it becomes a problem, fueled by his awkwardness and inability to know how to act with other people. (and you know, for being such a social misfit, he sure does attract the cutest women).

indexThere is a lot to love here, from the chilli dogs at the cemetery, to the porn loving superintendent to the beers and holding hands with the severed palm. The movies strangely engrossing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Even being crazy, I really want things to work out for Roman – the closest thing I can compare it to is Adam Green’s Spiral, A similarly awkward head trip with a gawky dude and a cute girl and a dark twist.

Star Lucky McKey would go on to make some of modern horrors more disturbing thrillers such as May and The Woman. This is an interesting project to watch with him, especially seeing him as an actor instead of a director. It’s definitely a high recommend, with an ending I did not see coming, and makes this box set with the purchase price just for this film alone.