TV MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Spook (1988)

When A Spook Isn't Spooky

Director: David Anthony Hall; Stars: Tim Elston, Joanne Samuel, Daniel Hill, Amanda Hill; Rating: NR; Run Time: 87 min; Genre: Horror, Made for TV; Country: Australia; Language: English; Year: 1988
Spook is one of those films that just doesn't work, but part of the problem lies with the fact that it was made in 1988 as a made-for-TV movie. Thus, right out of the gate, we know that there will be very little gore or monster shown, taking this movie from horror into family drama with a hint of thriller. Another problem is realism. In Spook, a well-to-do architect (Tim Elston), his wife (Joanne Samuel), and their two kids (Daniel Hill, Amanda Hill) rent a dilapidated shack for a vacation retreat.
The cabin - just like home
It seems unlikely that a wealthy family would be satisfied with a location more at home in Mother's Day, but Dad convinces them it'll be fine with some wood and nails. Here is another problem. Although Dad is a prestigious architect, he acts as if he is thoroughly used to the manual labor aspect.
A hammer and a few nails will fix up this place.
Okay, we will give him the benefit of the doubt, but we wonder why he insists on wearing khaki pants and button downs. Why is Mom in a skirt in the wilderness? Why are the kids in their jumpers? They're roughing it!
Who doesn't play golf in the Australian bush?
Back to the story. Apparently there is an Australian version of Sasquatch known as Yowie (in itself a hilariously funny name), that haunts the area of the Blue Mountains where they're staying. Naturally this means they will come in contact with said monster – though viewers are tossed a red herring in the form of a degenerate local who likes to watch.
The red herring - pervert in overalls
Though both Elston (Neighbors) and Samuel (Mad Max) are accomplished actors, their talents seem misplaced and strangely out of sync with the story of the family terrorized by a Yowie. (Honestly, it's hard taking the monster name seriously.) With a clunky story, subpar production, silly monster, corny music, and illogical choices, Spook makes for less of horror film and more of an irritant.
4/10 claws – Yowie!

OBITUARY: William Peter Blatty

Born: January 7, 1928
New York City, New York, USA
Died: January 12, 2017
Bethesda, MD, USA (age 89)

House of Tortured Souls was saddened to learn that William Peter Blatty, 89, died Thursday from a form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. Blatty had celebrated his 89th birthday a mere five days earlier.
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Mary (née Mouakad) and Peter Blatty, William Peter Blatty was born in New York City and raised by his mother after his father left when Blatty was only six. He was a scholarship student at the Jesuit high school Brooklyn Preparatory and graduated as class valedictorian in spite of growing up impoverished. He received another scholarship to attend Georgetown University and then earned a master's in English literature from George Washington University.
Blatty wandered from job to job after university before enlisting in the United States Air Force and eventually heading the Policy Branch of the Psychological Warfare Division. After leaving the Air Force, he worked in Beirut, Lebanon, as an editor for the United States Information agency. Blatty ultimately decided to pursue his dream of a career in the entertainment industry.
Cover, The Exorcist (1971)
Succeeding as a writer, actor, director, and producer, Blatty was, by far, most well known for The Exorcist, his 1971 novel of demonic possession. In 1973, Blatty worked with William Friedkin, to bring The Exorcist to the big screen. Although it was nominated for ten Oscars - Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium; Best Sound; Best Picture; Best Actress in a Leading Role; Best Actor in a Supporting Role; Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; and Best Film Editing, it won only two: Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium and Best Sound.
William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty on the set of The Exorcist
The Exorcist often tops scariest horror films lists and, if you've seen it, then you understand why. If you haven't, now's the perfect time to do so. Before undertaking to view the film, however, read the book that charted and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for over a year (57 straight weeks), spending 17 in the top spot. In 1983, Legion, Blatty's sequel to The Exorcist, was published, and by 1990 he had adapted it for film as The Exorcist III.
Cover, Legion (1983)
Blatty's other works include Twinkle, Twinkle Killer Kane (1966), which was adapted for the screen as The Ninth Configuration in 1978, The Redemption (2011), and Demons Five, Exorcist Nothing (2015).
Covers, Twinkle Twinkle Killer Kane (1966) and The Ninth Configuration (1978)
Blatty's widow, Julie Alicia Blatty, confirmed his death, and House of Tortured Souls would like to extend our sympathies to her.
Rest in Peace, Mr. William Peter Blatty.

MOVIE REVIEW: Carnage Park (2016)

CARNAGE PARK (2016)
Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck
So it's getting to be a late Saturday night and being the party animal that I am I flop on the couch, grab the remote, turn on Netflix, and start to waste time looking hopefully for a good movie. As always, I go straight to our beloved horror section, and I actually happen to stumble across Carnage Park. I knew was a relatively new release and figured why not, I don't have much else to do.
The story is of young Vivian (Bell, The Day, The Last Exorcism) who is kidnapped by two bank robbers in a small town outside the California desert. The two outrun the cops by driving off into the desert hills on an old dirt road that they come across. Thinking that they have made the easy escape, the two criminals are shot and killed by a skilled marksman who's watching them out in the hills. It is from this point on that Vivian is forced into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
So, hearing that, Carnage Park doesn't sound that bad... well, it's not great either.
Mickey Keating, director of Carnage Park, is trying for a late sixties feel. The beginning of the film was almost obnoxious the way it was done, then tried slipping into a near Tarantino hip feel, finally ending up trying to mock Rob Zombie in so many different ways.
And it must be pointed out that just because you're able to find an old model Nova to use as a cop car, an old Chevy Impala for the getaway car, and put a tinted lens over your camera, it really doesn't give a retro feel. The point that it was supposed to be dated is there, but, honestly, anyone could have picked up on it. It really had nothing to do with how it was shot.
Carnage Park is a borderline disappointment as the film had decent potential, and the star acting was pretty good and actually the one thing that held it together. Pat Healy (Compliance, Cheap Thrills) as the shooter was really good,...just wish there was actually more of him, and Alan Ruck as the sheriff looks the same as he did in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Now I'm not saying that the movie is Godawful because it's not although I did catch myself watching the clock and kind of wondering when is this ever going to be over.
It did have the potential to be a much grittier and bloodier film, and I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. As many of you know, my love for Netflix is not a strong one anymore. Still, if you're a crazy, wild, Saturday night party person like I am and you can't find anything else worth watching either, sure go ahead and give Carnage Park a view... Hopefully you'll like it more than I did.
Keep It Evil...

COMING SOON: We Happy Few

Well, this certainly looks like a game for me. I am a gamer indeed, but I am a selective gamer (as are many), and my favorite games are dreary. We Happy Few caught my attention because it favored BioShock A LOT! And a touch of Fallout which is my favorite!!! Ya know, Retro-Apocalyptic. Like the end of the world happened in the late 50s. The characters also remind me of Fallout quite a bit!
Shelter, We Happy Few
Here's the twist... It is a dystopia game; however, the characters take a pill called “Joy” that tricks them all into seeing a nice, gleeful village (rainbows, butterflies, and all that shit) and have the same big smile mask plastered to their face. They’re called “Wellers”. If you do not take your pill, then you are called a “Downer”, the Wellers can catch on, and they will kill you. So you have to convince them that you are a Weller (big grins and giggles). As you go through the game, you will learn the history of the town and the destruction of it in World War II in 1933.
You play a Downer, and there are 3 Downers total. All of the Downers stories cross, and you unlock the other Downers when you play. All the Downers, like all the Wellers, have done something horrible in the past. The Downers are reminded of their horrible deed all the time because they do not take Joy (which the Wellers created to forget it all).
Wellette, We Happy Few
We Happy Few does have a KickStarter program, most of their goals have been met, with two remaining (English weather (YAY!) and Wellie-mode (where you get to play as a Weller)).
The graphics are phenomenal. The art and detailing are on point. The story line is certainly fresh! This will soon be my new obsession. 😉
Patty-Cake - We Happy Few
This lovely game, of course, will be available for all gaming systems and computer operating systems.
Just check out these trailers for the game. I'm so in love!!!

Haley Jay Madison: Scream Queen Spotlight

If you are a fan of the independent horror scene, you have probably already heard of Haley Jay Madison. The up and coming actress has been paying her dues in Indy horror over the last several years, and in 2015 she was named After Dark Films' Screen Queen to Die for. She's a busy actress, but she took the time to do an interview by email with us here at House of Tortured Souls. We are honored to get the chance to chat with Haley Jay Madison, and hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better. Thanks, Haley!
House of Tortured Souls: How old were you when you decided to be an actress?
Haley Jay Madison: I had not really planned on being an actress until it actually fell in my lap. I was 19 at the time, so I guess that would be the age at which I decided to be an actress. I was told a lot growing up that I could model and that I had a spark, but I never saw it until I started making movies. I found my spark by happenstance, and I'm really glad I was given all the opportunities that allowed me to get where I am!
Haley Jay loves it bloody
HoTS: How did you first get involved with acting?
HJM: Like I previously mentioned, I stumbled across acting by coincidence when I was 19. I decided to get a tattoo from a mutual friend of mine and he asked me if I wanted to be in his movie. I ended up starring in and producing a feature film with him. I came to find out I had a natural talent for acting and filmmaking. After that I started going to horror conventions and my career ballooned from there!
HoTS: What drew you to the horror genre versus other types of film?
HJM: I've always had an affinity for scary movies, and after making one I discovered all the fun involved with the process. Once I started going to conventions, meeting people and making friends, I knew the community was unlike any other. I fell in love with the genre because I fell in love with the filmmakers, actors, and fans of horror films. I couldn't be more lucky to have met and worked with the people I have in recent years and on movie sets.
HoTS: Do you have a favorite monster or subgenre, aka zombie, vampire, slasher, etc?
HJM: I don't discriminate against any subgenre, so I love zombie movies as much as vampire movies, I've played a werewolf character before so I have a soft spot for those kind of movies. I love a good slasher, too, an iconic evil character and gory kills make for the best kind. I will say a good horror comedy can really make my day. I have yet to play a vampire or zombie, so I hope someday I can add those to my resume and grow more appreciation for the characters.
HoTS: You mentioned conventions. Any favorites or memorable convention experiences?
HJM: I love horror conventions! They are some of my biggest highlights of the year. I go to Horrorhound, Days of the Dead, and Cinema Wasteland all throughout the year. My favorite memories fom conventions are when movies I am involved in are screened. It's always an amazing experience to see my projects revealed to the world and to watch an audience react to something I worked so hard on. Eat It Up, Headless, CarousHELL, and Hunters have all been screened at conventions. Other than the screenings, I love all the people I get to meet, and the fans are the best people. Seeing how others support me and stay interested in my work is a very memorable experience.
HoTS: Where can we see your work? Are your films available on DVD? VoD?
HJM: I have movies available all over the place, for VoD and DVD. I personally have copies of Haunted House on Sorority Row, Scarewaves, Headless, and Babysitter Massacre and am selling them via Paypal. I take orders through social media and email. There is also Hunters through Massacre Video, CarousHell from its own website, Kill That Bitch from Dustin Mills Productions, Chopping Block through Amazon.com. Eat It Up and Onlooker are available to stream on Vimeo.com.
HoTS: Do you have a fan page, Twitter, or Instagram where your fans can connect with you?
HJM: I mainly use my Facebook and Instagram for both personal and professional use. I prefer to use Instagam for posting and updates and Facebook for personal communication. You can look for me as@haleyjayhorror or just my name Haley Jay Madison. I prefer to deal with bookings and work through my email address: haleyjayhorror@gmail.com
HoTS: Are you working on anything right now?
HJM: I don't have any projects in motion right now, but my gears are always winding and I'm always on the lookout for more work. I'm currently waiting on a ton of projects to finish with post-production and be released. I am so excited for what the future brings and when I get to see all the films I have helped make in the past couple years. Since I have nothing major booked, I've been trying to concentrate more on modeling and photography.
Haley Jay Madison
HoTS: What're your pastimes outside of acting/filmmaking?
HJM: I do have a few hobbies outside of filmmaking like getting crafty, cooking, and watching movies of course! In the past few weeks, I've done my fair share of sewing after receiving a piece of clothing that was awesome but way too big! I sewed the image onto a sweatshirt that fit and added a few patches and pins. I also have been playing around with baking and cooking, with Thanksgiving coming and going. I try and watch as many movies as I can, and Hulu has been a new outlet for me to find some new flicks. My most recent viewing was The Voices with Ryan Reynolds and let me tell you, it was a good watch!
HoTS: Besides acting, you're also a producer. Do you want to direct someday or do you prefer being in front of the camera?
HJM: Ever since I got into this business, I have had my eye on directing. I would love to make a film with a powerful female lead and plenty of effects make up. I still think I have a lot to learn before I go behind the camera and acting gives me a lot of knowledge on how to make the movies the right and wrong way. I do wish to make my own feature someday, but for now I'm happy just being involved in the independent horror industry!
I want to thank Haley Jay Madison for taking the time to chat with us. Make sure you check her out on Instagram, and watch some of her movies whether on Amazon, Hulu or DVD. We will be following her career and wishing her all the best! Expect to hear more from this rising star of the Indy scene.

HAUNTED LOCATIONS: The Shanley Hotel

The Shanley Hotel should be on every horror fan's 'Haunted Locations Bucket List'! You will certainly experience something - from rocking chairs to children's laughter to distinctively piano music.
The Shanley Hotel, located up in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York, has an unusual history. It burned completely down March 18, 1895, from a fire that started at a neighboring house, but by November they were up and running again. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, train travelers would rest here. Many workers working on the D&H canal lived here, and locals would come here for a drink and to socialize. It was the popular spot to be seen. There have been several owners, but the most prominent owner, James Louis Shanley, was born in Ireland on Halloween. 😉
James married Beatrice Rowley in 1910, and the town held a big celebration. The whole city admired Mr. Shanley, so his marriage was a big deal. Mrs. Shanley fixed the place up elaborately. She was a socialite and would have tea parties and card games.
The Shanley Hotel - The Rose Room
The Shanley Hotel - The Blue Room
The couple had three children, but all passed away before their first birthday. There were other deaths and odd occasions that I will get to later.
Mr. Shanley added a bowling alley, billiard's room, and a barber shop. The Shanleys held fancy parties, card and domino tournaments. It was the happening place! Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt visited often and were close friends of the Shanleys. Eleanor made sure The Shanleys were there at the Inaugural Ball when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. On the other hand, Shanley also put in a gentlemen’s club, which was raided once and resulting in Shanley being arrested for fighting with one of the investigators. He was also charged with having a lot of liquor (wine, whiskey).
The residing barber had a daughter who, while playing, fell in and drowned in the hotel's well, and Beatrice's sister also died on the property of influenza.
In 1937, James passed away from a massive heart attack. Beatrice did not sell the property until 1944. Interestingly, the man who bought it was born on Halloween a few years after James. Even more interesting is this new owner, Allen Hazen, would die on the same day as Shanley did.
The hotel is still a popular spot, only now it is popular among ghost hunters. As a matter of fact, Ghost Hunters investigated here in their 7th season (episode 17).
They will even reserve a spot for you to have a very special birthday. 😉
56 Main Street
Napanoch, NY 12458
845-210-4267
The Shanley Hotel

MOVIE REVIEW: Abattoir (2016)

The title of the new Darren Lynn Bousman film Abattoir literally translates as "slaughterhouse" and is based on the 2010 Radical Publishings six issue comic miniseries by the same name, also written, in part, by Bousman. So, of course, I was pumped to hear about this new haunted house film, helmed by the director of Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV, which was released Friday December 9th 2016.
If the director and title of the film aren't intriguing enough, Abattoir was written by Christopher Monfette whose writing on the 12 Monkey's TV series is outstanding, in my opinion, and the cast of the movie totally speaks for itself. Leading the cast are Jessica Lowndes (The Devil's Carnival, 90210 (2008 TV series)), Joe Anderson (The Crazies, Hannibal (2013 TV series), Outsiders (2016 TV series)), Lin Shaye (Insidious (1-3)), and Dayton Callie (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy).
Dayton Callie as Jebediah Crone in Abattoir
Callie plays creepy, mysterious, crime scene and real-estate enthusiast Jebediah Crone whose intentions are solely to purchase the spaces in which grotesque deaths have occurred. He is not interested in the entire house or building per se, only the rooms where the bloody incidents happened. He literally only has the four walls, ceiling and flooring moved to another location. Julia Talben is an investigative reporter hell-bent on uncovering why Jedediah Crone has purchased the home her sister was murdered in. Not only does he seek out brutal places such as her sister’s murder location, but he also longs to make them his property. What, exactly, is he doing with these rooms? She digs deep into this Jebediah Crone and his, many years long, patterns of purchases, and possibly digs too deep. Without giving away too many spoilers, Julia finds herself in the very place she seeks to find, the place where Jedediah moves these rooms to, a haunted house of his own making built by the blood stained rooms of victims seemingly unknown, and she is shocked to find out that she is more involved in his sick carpentry than she could have ever imagined.

Abattoir is certainly worth a watch and, as a prequel to the comics, it’s a great start to the tour into the twisted world of Jebediah Crone! The film focuses a lot on the character of Jebediah and takes a look into his background leading into the comics. Thus, I highly recommend it to any horror comic fan, and if you enjoy the movie, definitely check out the comic series!
Abattoir comic, issue 1 cover

History of Horror in January

Join House of Tortured Souls as we celebrate significant dates in the history of horror in January. Click on thumbnails for full images.

January 1 - 7

1/1/1940 – Frank Langella (actor in Dracula (1979) and The Ninth Gate) born
19400101_Frank_Langella_Deauville_2012 / Image: Georges Biard
Cuba Gooding Jr. / Image: WireImage.com
1/2/1968 – Cuba Gooding Jr (actor in American Horror Story) born
1/2/2004 – Tremors 4: The Legend Begins released on DVD
20040102_tremors-4-the-legend-begins / Fair use doctrine.
19590105_Clancy Brown / Image: Frazer Harrison - © 2011 Getty Images
1/5/1959 – Clancy Brown (actor in many horror films) born
1/6/2006 – Hostel released theatrically
20060106_Hostel / Fair use doctrine.
20060106_BloodRayne / Fair use doctrine.
1/6/2006 – BloodRayne released theatrically
1/7/2005 – White Noise released theatrically
20050107_White Noise / Fair use doctrine.

January 8 - 14

19470108_David Bowie / Fair use doctrine.
1/8/1947 – David Bowie (actor in Labyrinth, The Hunger, and other horror movies) born
1/8/1988 – Return of the Living Dead Part II released on VHS
19880108_Return of the Living Dead Part II / Fair use doctrine.
20050111_Resident Evil 4 / Fair use doctrine.
1/11/2005 – Resident Evil 4 released for the Nintendo GameCube in North America
1/12/1940 – The Invisible Man Returns released theatrically
19400112_The Invisible Man Returns / Fair use doctrine.
19650112_Rob_Zombie_Comiccon / Image: Lindsey8417
1/12/1965 – Rob Zombie (musician, singer, artist, director of House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, and Halloween (2007)) born
1/12/1990 – Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III released theatrically
19900112_leatherface_texas_chainsaw_massacre_3 / Fair use doctrine.
19390113_Son of Frankenstein / Fair use doctrine.
1/13/1939 – Son of Frankenstein released theatrically
1/13/1974 – The Satanic Rites of Dracula released theatrically
19740113_ Satanic Rites of Dracula / Fair use doctrine.
19950113_demon-knight-title / Fair use doctrine.
1/13/1995 – Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight released theatrically
1/14/1981 – Scanners released theatrically
19810114_Scanners / Fair use doctrine.

January 15 - 21

19150115_Der Golem / Fair use doctrine.
1/15/1915 – Der Golem released theatrically
1/16/1948 – John Carpenter (director, screenwriter, producer, and composer of scores for many horror films) born
19480116_John Carpenter 2010-Nathan Hartley Maas / Image: Nathan Hartley Maas
19650116_the-outer-limits / Fair use doctrine.
1/16/1965 – The Outer Limits ends its run on television
1/17/1962 – Denis O'Hare (actor in American Horror Story) born
19620117_Denis O'Hare / Image: Alexander Berg - © 2006
20020118_Long-Time-Dead-Poster / Fair use doctrine.
1/18/2002 – Long Time Dead released theatrically in the United Kingdom
1/19/1809 – Edgar Allan Poe born (d. 1849)
18090119_Edgar_Allan_Poe;_a_centenary_tribute / Fair use doctrine.
19900119_tremors / Fair use doctrine.
1/19/1990 – Tremors released theatrically
1/19/1996 – From Dusk Till Dawn released theatrically
19960119_From Dusk Till Dawn / Fair use doctrine.
20020119_Dark Water (Japan) / Fair use doctrine.
1/19/2002 – Dark Water (2002) released theatrically in Japan
1/20/1970 – Skeet Ulrich (actor in Scream) born
19700120_Skeet_Ulrich_2010 / Image: Thomas Attila Lewis
19870120_Evan Peters / Image: Allen Berezovsky - © 2012 Getty Images
1/20/1987 – Evan Peters (actor in American Horror Story) born
1/20/2006 – Underworld: Evolution released theatrically
20060120_Underworld-Evolution-2006 / Fair use doctrine.
19560121_Geena Davis / Image: Steven D Starr - © gettyimages.com
1/21/1956 – Geena Davis (actor in Beetlejuice, The Fly) born
1/21/1998 – Resident Evil 2 released on the PlayStation in the United States
19980121_Resident_Evil_2 / Fair use doctrine.

January 22 - 28

19320122_Piper Laurie / Image: Theo Wargo - © WireImage.com
1/22/1932 – Piper Laurie (actor in Carrie) born
1/22/1959 – Linda Blair (actor in The Exorcist) born
19590122_Linda Blair. / Image: Rebecca Sapp - © WireImage.com
20000122_ring-0-birthday / Fair use doctrine.
1/22/2000 – Ring 0: Birthday released theatrically in Japan
1/23/1981 – Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror released theatrically
19810123_Burial Ground / Fair use doctrine.
20040123_the-butterfly-effect-original / Fair use doctrine.
1/23/2004 – The Butterfly Effect released theatrically
1/25/1926 – Ted White (Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) born
19260125_Ted White / Fair use doctrine.
19430125_Tobe Hooper_Cannes_2014 / Image: Dark Attsios
1/25/1943 – Tobe Hooper (director of numerous horror films) born
1/25/2000 – The Dead Hate the Living! released on DVD
20000125_Deadhatetheliving / Fair use doctrine.
20050125_All Souls Day / Fair use doctrine.
1/25/2005 – All Souls Day released on DVD
1/26/1999 – Castlevania 64 released on the Nintendo 64 in the United States
19990126_Castlevania_N64 / Fair use doctrine.
19400127_James Cromwell / Image: Ryan Rogers http://ryan-rogers.com/ - © Copyright 2011, Ryan Rogers Photography
1/27/1940 – James Cromwell (actor in many horror productions) born
1/27/2005 – Resident Evil 4 released for the Nintendo GameCube in Japan
20050127_Resident Evil 4 (Japan) / Fair use doctrine.
20050128_Creep-2004 / Fair use doctrine.
1/28/2005 – Creep released theatrically
1/28/2005 – Hide and Seek released theatrically
20050128_Hide and Seek / Fair use doctrine.

January 29 - 31

19980129__Resident_Evil_2 / Fair use doctrine.
1/29/1998 – Resident Evil 2 released on the PlayStation in Japan
1/30/1976 – Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma released theatrically
19760130_Salo / Fair use doctrine.
19980131_ringu / Fair use doctrine.
1/31/1998 – Ringu released theatrically in Japan
1/31/1999 – Silent Hill released on the PlayStation in North America
19990131_Selent Hill PS1[ntsc][front] / Fair use doctrine.
20030131_final-destination / Fair use doctrine.
1/31/2003 – Final Destination released theatrically

COMING SOON: 10/31/16 (2017)

By John Roisland
Red Letter Entertainment, Inc. brings you the directorial debut from Rocky Gray (composer of The Barn, Killing Floor 2),two time Grammy winning musician and former drummer for Evanescence.
A new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S/ and Creepshow
brings an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is Executive Produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood franchise.

Story line:
A video tape given to a group of teens by a sinister trick or treater turns Halloween night into a living nightmare.
The film stars Jordan Phipps, Greg Fallon, Samantha Anderson, Taylor Aulbach, Darius White, Micah Patterson, Kirby Gocke, Star McCann, and Alivea Lafavor.
So when can we expect too see the finished project? Good question! 10/31/16 is set to be released around August 2017.
When Rocky and I first met, i knew he was the drummer for Evanescence, I also knew he was a huge horror fan, it was because that, that i pursued Rocky to join the staff of House of Tortured Souls. And what an addition he has been, graphics for the website, logo images, and last but by no means least - the opening and closing music for our podcast House of Tortured Souls Live. All of which we have had many compliments over, and we thank you, Rocky!!
I was in awe of the work Rocky had been doing with scores and soundtracks, but when he first mentioned to me about him making his own film, the upcoming 10/31/16, I’m pretty sure my reply text to him was, “FUUUCK YEA!!!!! Keep me posted. I’d be honored to support and help you out any way I can!”
When Rocky told me he had sent me the trailer and press release for 10/31/16, I was thrilled and couldn't wait to get home and check it out ! As most of you know, I am a huge fan of horror anthologies, so when Rocky mentioned that's what his film was, I was super stoked!
Be sure to check out 10/31/16 online:
Keep your eyes on 10/31/16 and on Houseoftorturedsouls.com for updates on the film and keep your ears open to House of Tortured Souls Live for the podcast with Rocky Gray.
A horror fan living the dream, give 'em hell, Rocky!
Keep It Evil...

Peter Kurten: The Vampire of Dusseldorf

By Laura James
A 20 year-old girl named Maria takes a train from Cologne, Germany, to Dusseldorf in the Spring of 1930. She leaves the train station with her guard up; a fiend had been menacing the city for the past year, assaulting and murdering men, women, and children. He's even sent letters to the local paper with a map showing the location of the body of his latest victim, a five year-old girl. Maria tries not to think about the horrors of his crimes, as she has come to the city seeking work and needs to find a place to stay.
As she walks, she is brashly approached by a man asking her for directions somewhere and trying to lead her into a park. Panicked that this could be the maniac, she deflects his attention but he becomes argumentative. Just as quickly, another man intervenes. He is dressed respectably with neatly-combed hair. He sends the quarrelsome man off and asks Maria if she would like to come to his apartment for a drink and, charmed, she accepts.
He leads her down a street called Mettemannerstrasse, but pulls her into the woods and begins strangling her. The good Samaritan who came to her aid is "The Vampire of Dusseldorf."
The vampire's lust for violence came from a background as brutal as his crimes. Peter Kurten was born on May 26, 1883, in Cologne-Mulheim, Germany. He was the oldest of 13 children. His family was impoverished from his father spending his wages on booze, that they lived in a small apartment, with no escape from their father's physical or sexual abuse. He forced himself on his wife, beat her and their children, and was arrested in 1897 for attempting (or committing) incest with one of his daughters.
Peter's dark impulses manifested early. He is rumored to have caused (or at least aided in) the drowning of two playmates at the age of five. He lost his virginity at the age of 13 when he forced himself on a girl in the woods and almost strangled her to death. Sickeningly, women weren't the only recipients of his lust. He became apprentice to a dog-catcher when his family moved to Dusseldorf and engaged in bestiality with different kinds of animals, sometimes stabbing them and drinking their blood during the act. These were his first instances of vampirism and the start of his criminal history.
He was in and out of jail for burglary, assault, and arson. Watching the fires and imagining the harm and death they might cause was a form of sexual gratification for the pyromaniac. He hated the conditions of the prisons and the treatment he endured from the guards but that was never enough of a deterrent for his criminal activity. In 1913, he crept through the an open window at an inn owned by a man named Peter Klein. Kurten found Klein's 13 year-old daughter Christine and slit her throat. In his hurry to get away, Kurten dropped a handkerchief embroidered with his initials. The police who investigated the crime scene found it but, following the most obvious lead, focused on Peter Klein.
Even after eluding capture due to a stunning coincidence, Kurten was only linked to one other murder during that time. His impulses may have been calmed by marriage. He married in 1923, and neighbors and coworkers described him as quiet, timid, and responsible.
He didn't kill again until 1929, beginning his "year of terror."
In February of that year, he attacked a woman, but her distressed cries summoned people and Kurten fled. A few weeks later, he stabbed eight year-old Rosa Ohlinger to death with a pair of scissors and left her body around a construction site. He returned later that evening, soaked her body in kerosene, and set it ablaze, masturbating while he watched the fire.
Several weeks after that, a man named Rudolf Scheer drunkenly bumped into Kurten while on the way home from a beer hall. This so enraged Kurten that he stabbed Scheer with scissors and drank the blood that flowed from his wounds.
That August, he had sex with a domestic servant named Maria Hahn, stabbed her to death, and further satisfied himself by drinking her blood. Towards the end of the month, he encountered two young girls, 13 year-old Luise and five year-old Gertrude, on their way home from a fair. He lured them into a meadow, strangling and stabbing the older girl and slitting the younger one's throat.
In September, he attempted to murder another servant and succeeded in murdering other women, one that month and one in October, by beating them to death.
He committed what would be his final murder in November when he stabbed five year-old Gertrud Albermann to death with a pair of scissors.
Kurten greatly admired London's Jack the Ripper, researching the case and even sending a taunting letter to the German newspaper, Freedom. In his letter, he revealed the location of the bodies of Gertrud Albermann and Maria Hahn.
In May of the following year, he found a girl named Maria Budlies fighting with a man who approached her after she got off a train from Cologne. Kurten diffused the situation and offered to take her to his apartment. Instead, he tried to strangle her in the woods around his apartment but, inexplicably, stopped. Perhaps he was worried about the other man being able to identify him after seeing him walk away with Maria. He asked her if she would remember how to get to his place and she said she would not.
Maria didn't go to the police about the incident but did write about it to a friend a few days later. There was a mistake in the address so a clerk at the post office opened the envelope to see if she could figure out where it was supposed to be sent. The clerk read the contents of the letter and turned it over to police. The police went to Maria, and she led them to Peter Kurten's home.
He saw the police and was able to avoid them at the time but knew they were closing in on him. Kurten confessed everything to his wife, and the next day she turned him in to the police.
Peter Kurten plead insanity. He revealed fantasies of poisoning, injuring, or killing large crowds of people at once. He even claimed that his victims, mostly children or those subservient to him, were his revenge on society for the treatment he endured in prison. He did, however, express concern for one person: his wife. He said he hoped she would be taken care of with him gone and, at one point, claimed he was innocent of all charges and said he only admitted to the murders so his wife could collect the reward money.
His plea was rejected, and Peter Kurten was found guilty of nine counts of murder. His morbid lust followed him to the very end; he expressed excitement at the prospect of beheading and inquired if he would be conscious long enough to hear the blood gushing from his body.
Peter Kurten was executed on July 2, 1931.

Creeped Out By Dolls, Part 2!

By Tammie Parker
This is the second installment on dolls. Which there has more than likely been an extraordinary freakishly scary one since their creation! As far back as 8000-200 BC the Japanese created dolls called Dogu, they look like bigger versions of that tiny figurine at the beginning of The Exorcist!
Japanese Dogu / Image courtesy of Anomalies-Unlimited.com
They were made of clay and were used for the ill. It was believed you could draw the illness out and put into the dogu then destroy the doll to be rid of the sickness.
African dolls have been used for centuries. And effigies have been used in rituals, burned, stabbed and ripped apart to harm someone or request revenge on their enemies in Africa, America by the Native Americans, and many European cultures (poppets). Most of our enemy countries still use them today. They will make giant ones with the face of our current president and set on fire.
An Effigy on fire (how lovely)
Some even make life-sized ones and hang off them of building, archways, bridges, etc. All the more reason to perform an exorcism on any and all dolls you come across. Those freakish bastards!
European Poppets
Speaking of freakish, let's start the list with Robert the Doll.
Robert's permanent home at Fort East Martello Museum
Robert the Doll, as legend goes, was given to Robert Eugene Otto by his Haitian nanny who was fired because his mother discovered her in the backyard practicing black magic. The truth is that Robert was a gift from his grandfather and was made by the Stein Company (same company that makes those famous teddy bears) and was probably designed to put in a display window alongside clowns and jesters. The Sailor outfit he now wears likely belonged to Robert as a small boy.
Robert demanded to be called Gene shortly after receiving the doll and told everyone, “Robert is the doll's name”. Gene's parents claimed that they could often hear two different voices coming from his room while he was alone playing with his doll. Every time Gene got in trouble for mischief happening around the house, he would proclaim Robert was the culprit.
Robert's and Gene's relationship became too much for his parents to bear, so they put Robert into a trunk in the attic. Gene grew up and became an artist. After Gene’s parents passed away, he and his wife moved into his childhood home. When Gene rediscovered his childhood best friend locked away in the dusty old attic, he rescued him and their bonding picked up where it was left so many years ago. Gene even took Robert to parties with him! Robert quickly became cause for arguments between Gene and his wife. Eventually his wife had enough of this peculiar relationship and placed Robert upstairs in a room all of his own. The Artist House soon thereafter became that creepy house school children avoided and walked cautiously by on their way back and forth to school. Because the doll would appear and disappear from the windows.
After Gene passed away, Myrtle Reuter became the new owner of Artist House and of Robert. The doll was entertainment for Reuter for 20 years with spooked guests talking about hearing footsteps and giggles when no one was around. In 1994, Robert was donated to Fort East Martello Museum, Key West, FL, where fans now flock to lay eyes on the little fellow, hoping for the slightest movement. They even leave him little gifts, mostly peppermint candies. And write to him!
Check out Robert the Doll online:
Robert the Doll’s Twitter
Robert the Doll’s Facebook
Robert the Doll's online giftshop
Not to get too long-winded, I will end this one with Robert, with the promise of more freaky dolls at a later date. 😉

MUSIC REVIEW: The Music of Horror-punks.net Vol. IIII

By Shock
Horror Punk is a genre that many in the punk rock world will overlook and say, “Oh, they’re just trying to sound like the Misfits.” Coming from the heart of my being, I can say that this is not true. Yes, there are many who try. Much like any genre of music, you will have such seminal acts come around and these bands will mimic their influences heavily. However, this compilation and the compilations previous to it have proven to give the Horror Punk world a new face and a new life.
If you’re just getting into the genre, this and the previous Music of Horror-Punks.net compilations are where to start. You’ll find some acts that are well known as well as some that some of us have not heard of yet. The Horror Punk world is vast with many styles, due to the many influences from punk and metal. So now let’s break down a few of my favorite songs off of this particular album and then you’re free to download from the link that will be provided at the end of this. It’s a name-your-price type deal which is awesome for those of us on the comp, but if you wanna help out the horror-punks.net site throw a few bucks towards it. Trust me this compilation is worth every penny you put into it. Without further ado..I give to you 21 songs from the 62 track record.
Guitar iconBishop Lake – “Make You Mine”: A heavy rock and roll sound with the classic love song for stalker type quality. This song tells a story, with melodies and harmonizing that is true to the horror rock sound. This is a powerful piece that depending how you feel about someone could really work as a love song toward someone you’re stalking.
Guitar iconBloodthirsters – “Psycho City”: Campy, fun psychobilly sounding song. If you want to crawl yourself out of your grave and dance sock hop style, this one is the song for it.
Guitar iconCyclotrode X – “Killing Time”: Where Horror Punk bands pull influence from is all over the spectrum. Here’s a band with a song that really mixes it. You can hear some heavy Stooges influence as well as hints of The Exploited and some other street punk style. With a real classic sound that any one into punk rock can get down with.
Guitar iconDead End Lane – “Cat Fight”: Holy Hell! When I turned this song on, I knew it was time to get down and slam dance old school style. That’s right, this monster of a song really gritty and true to the head-climbing, stage-diving old school circle pit punk rock. This particular song is most definitely one of my favorites on the comp. A lot of what Horror Punk is about also is being all inclusive. Female vocals and female musicians are always welcomed and common here. This song really shows that off with gusto.
Guitar iconDeathwood – “Number 85”: Sing-A-Long hardcore is what I’m going to call this, an anthemesque tone with a vocalist that sounds an awful lot like Bruce Dickinson, just a splash grittier but still very impactful. Another song and band I believe everyone should be listening to. The harmonizing gang vocals really pack a punch here, as well as the music being flawlessly beautiful. You will listen and get chills, I promise you that.
Guitar iconDr. Hell – “Poison Cabinet”: I’ve been listening to this band for a while - true Horror Punks right here. Keeping to the classic punk rock sound, adding the horror flavor lyrically and visually, this is another band keeping the female musicianship in the game. Once these backups hit you’ll be like, “Oh Hell yes!” Every song they have is a hit to me. I’m glad to see them on this compilation.
Guitar iconFear Incorporated – “The Boogey Man”: This is a song, something you could really play during a Halloween mixer or in a haunted attraction and creep the hell out of people. It’s very synth-sounding and has a lot of spooky overtones and reverb that definitely is worthy of a creepy good time. On a regular basis it’s not my cup of tea, but it’s perfect for a party situation for sure.
Guitar iconGenki Genki Panic – “Two Girls One Casket”: SURF ROCK! There is nothing better than surf rock that adds horror elements. This song really had me going the whole time with no vocals, just guitar, bass, and drums. It’s a solid, reverbed surf rock number.
Guitar iconGhoultown – “I Spit on Your Grave”: Ghoultown has always been a staple in my personal collection. I forget exactly what they call their blend of cowboy horror, but I can say this old west meets slasher movie mix is amazing. This particular song is a great introduction to this band if you’ve never heard them. To add to it if you ever get a chance to see this band live, then I highly recommend you do so.
Guitar iconHaiduk – “Azyr”: This one threw me off a lot. It’s the music of Horror-Punks.net yes so there’s a lot of variety. However, thrashy death metal I was not expecting. Fast, precise, technical, brutal this is definitely an artist worth checking out if you’re really into the metal world.
Guitar iconJasonxVoorhees – “WYFSM”: Horror, Straight Edge, Hardcore. These dudes are the coolest; I’ve been friends with these guys for a while. We have done a few compilations together musically for charities, and these cats are solid good-hearted fellas for sure. This song really showcases their hard-hitting sound mixing Hardcore, Metal, and Horror to make music that is definitely worthy of listening to. You’ll really feel this band, claiming their own subcategory of all of this calling it Horror Edge!
Guitar iconJess-O-Lantern – “Corpse Revival”: More of this female flavored Horror Rock! I love this for sure. It’s upbeat, bob your head, dance around type horror rock. If you’re a fan of music at all, this is what you need to hear. I went through the Internet and found more of Jess O Lantern, and I can say it’s a solid experience.
Guitar iconMarquis DeBlood – “Death Knocks Three Times”: Woooo! This is dude has been on the scene forever with some different projects, and this, by far, is my favorite. I could listen to this song over and over and never get tired of it. There is not a single word in the whole thing, just symphonic, creepy, horrifying greatness!
Guitar iconMutant Reavers – “Blood Magic”: This band has more of that classic horror sound. With a voice that resembles early Danzig (or Samhain, if you will). Musically, if played in a live performance, I can see a crowd erupting with some old school pogo dancing and then throw down circle pit. They have a good mix in this one song, a very enjoyable band to listen to.
Guitar iconOthers – “Heart of Darkness (Tales of Dracula)”: If you’re into symphonic music with BEAUTIFUL female vocals, this is that song! Listen to this band as a whole. It’s another one I’ve been listening to for many years and even did art for them years ago. To be introduced to this band with this song is ideal. I’ve probably listened to it 9 times in a row just to soak it all in.
Guitar iconPoison Anthem – “Choke and Die”: Okay, I’ll say it again and you’ve probably figured out that I love female vocals in this particular subgenre especially. This song is amazing and another top favorite on this record. This band is front to back just solid. If you want punk rock, this is it right here. If any song gets listened to first, make it this one.
Guitar iconScanner – “Just Like Bela”: This song is a little hard to describe really. Reverby vocals and a great rock n’ roll sound coming from it. With a catchy hook, I can’t really stop listening to it. So just listen and like it.
Guitar iconScarecrow – “Horror of the Beach Party”: Another catchy tune with a super catchy sing along vibe. Imagine, if you will, Dropkick Murphys but as a Horror Punk band. This would be that band, and I checked their other songs out and they should easily be right up there on the best of the best list.
Guitar iconxSchockx – “Bloodbath Orgy”: Okay, I can’t review myself, but I have to give an honorable mention to my music. I don’t say band because it’s all just me creating what I call “HardGore” music. About the song: It is based on a couple that get pleasure from murdering people then having relations over their bodies. Sorry for the PG rating of the description.
Guitar iconSlavething – “Queen of the Dead”: HORROR PUNK 100%. Melodic, Upbeat, Great to grab a girl/guy and just start dancing to. The sound these cats put off is exactly what Horror Punk is about.
Guitar iconThe Casket Creatures – “Spirit of Vengeance”: Punk rock at its finest - harmonizing vocals that really stand out, and guitar work that is so solid you can just feel it. This one is in my top 3 for sure on the whole record, clean and crisp and Horror Punk gold.
Guitar iconVoice of Doom – “Dead Things”: Some of that Samhain flavor of Horror Punk rock goodness. An enjoyable sound that gets your head banging, then the infamous Danzig style: slow down, then speed up. It’s some good stuff for sure. Zombies, blood, and guts. Can’t beat it!
So there you have it kids. The Music of Horror-Punks.net Vol. IIII is a great record all the way through, and these are just some of my favorites from the over 62 track compilation. Each artist brings something different to the table, giving an idea that not all Horror Punk is “whoa” and horror movie references; it’s actually filled with diversity and talent. So, please check it out at The Music of Horror-Punks.net Vol. IIII.
Keep it Creepy,
-Schock

MOVIE REVIEW: A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

By Mike Donlon
This just in, Christmas Horror is officially the newest sub-genre of horror film. There are now enough horror films which either take place around the Christmas holiday (Black Christmas (1974), Gremlins (1984)) or take common Christmas characters and mutate them into something more sinister (Jack Frost (1994), Sint (2010)) that make this genre legitimate and viable. And why the hell not? It all makes perfect sense. The Christmas holiday has been so far removed from its original meaning and intentions by commercialism that a backlash from the horror community was not only warranted, but necessary.
A recent film that really solidified "Christmas horror" as a legit genre is aptly tilted A Christmas Horror Story. Released on October 2, 2015, this film is gaining – and will continue to gain – more and more recognition as the Christmas holiday rolls around year after year.
The movie starts with William Shatner introducing our tale as a radio DJ. He is our Crypt Keeper or Elvira who guides us through the film which contains multiple story lines that are interwoven. It could be considered an anthology, but whatever. Who gives a shit? The story lines start slow and quite frankly pretty boring. I almost wrote this movie off around the half way mark, but just when you think the movie is starting to drag and over develop some basic-bitch characters, things start to escalate. Things get tense and the blood starts splattering.
All I really want to do right now is tell you all about my favorite scenes and talk about how badass and jacked-up Krampus is. That, however, would not only spoil the fun, but would make for some real boring reading. If you are looking for a full rehash, there are plenty of those from pretentious reviewers on the other run-of-the-mill film review websites.
What you need to know about this film is that it is worth your while but will take a little patience in the beginning. The final conclusion to the film will leave your jaw gaping open, and will have you like "OH SHIT!" If the capitalists have not ruined Christmas for you yet, this movie should do the the trick. Happy viewing.

The History of Krampus

By Tammie Parker
Fans of horror like to think of another guy in a fur coat this time of the year: Krampus. He has been around for centuries now, and is growing more popular in these times. Krampus originated in the Alpines region. He is said to be part goat, part man, and all demon. krampus-red He walks upright on goat hind legs, is covered in fur, has goat horns, and sports a long curling pointed tongue. Krampus is Deutsch (German) and derives from the word krampen, meaning claw. Now doesn't he sound like a rootie pacutie!
In some regions of Europe ,Krampus is one of the Companions of Saint Nick. Knecht Ruprecht, Belsnickel, and Zwarte Piet are the others. Krampus and St. Nicholas are often seen together in books, and on Christmas cards. Krampus has been featured on cards since the 1800s in Europe.
krampusstnick krampussaintnicholas
Krampus comes the night before The Feast of Saint Nicholas. This night is called Krampusnacht. He carries a sack full of switches and goes into every house to find the misbehaving children. With eyes rolling all directions, tongue lashing in and out, krampus-sledtotheunderworldstumping with one goat hoof and one man foot (I imagine that is from versions blending together), he would sniff out the bad ones. Krampus would whip them, throw the naughty child into his sack and take them back to the Underworld, where they would be lost forever.
Then, with all the rotten children gone, St. Nicholas could come. Saint Nick only deals with good children.
In other versions, Krampus would just leave lumps of coal instead of presents. But who wants to hear about that when we have claws, fur, and an underworld?
Nothing like the good ole days and demons to scar a child for life huh! Maybe if this snot-nosed heathens now had some demons to fear they wouldn't be so disrespectful. Hell, maybe we could get some shirts tucked in!
In Germany, it used to be popular to pass around holiday cards with Krampus decorating the front. Just look how lovely these are.
krampus-childreninbasket2 krampus-childreninbasket
Until Krampus was outlawed in 1923. OUTLAWED! Craziness! Luckily, in the 60s, he started to appear again. Many cities in the Alpines have parades today, where they dress up as Krampus.
krampus-parade2 krampus-parade4
It's called Krampuslauf (Krampus run) Where drunk men dressed as krampus run around the streets. It's pretty much *St.Patty's day meets Mardi Gras meets Christmas*, and it is certainly time for America to embrace Krampuslauf!!!!
Merry Krampuslauf!

MOVIE REVIEW: Afflicted (2013)

By John Roisland
2013 brought Afflicted to us, a vampire film like I promise you've never seen before. The story is of two life long friends who embark on a journey of a lifetime when they fly to Europe and travel across the world, Afflicted follows the friends as they videotape and upload all experiences to the online world.
After what appears to be a night of would be romance gone wrong, with one of the friends bringing a young lady he meets in a European bar to his hotel room, he is found unconscious bloodied, and beaten. Soon our young friend finds himself starting to feel ill while simultaneously realizing that he has acquired almost superhuman powers. He is now incredibly strong and has the ability to run 40-50 miles per hour, scale the outside of buildings, and jump from rooftop to rooftop. The downside to this, as I mentioned, is that our friend is also becoming extremely ill and learning of certain things that he is now craving and desiring. Blood. The taste of blood. It is here where our character goes into his downward spiral both physically and mentally.
His journey to find the answers of what he has become, a vampire, which he can only trace back to his one night of pleasure with the woman he brought home from the bar, is compelling.
While Afflicted does bear more than a passing resemblance to American Werewolf in London (two Americans traveling across country while attacked by a monster of some sort), it is a darker and more serious film. Filmed on location in Europe, at moments Afflicted seems to drag a little bit, but it more than makes up for it with details and story line.
The two main actors, Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, are not only the leads in the movie but are also both writers and directors of the film. And Derek's acting is spot on, sorry Clif. I'm not going to give away any spoilers or the ending, but I will just leave you with... a person has to do what a person has to do to survive, right? SEE THIS MOVIE!
Keep it Evil...

MOVIE REVIEW: The Neighbor (2016)

By Dixielord
The Neighbor is the new home invasion horror movie from director Marcus Dunstan. Dunstan is best know for The Collector and its sequel The Collection. The Neighbor stars Josh Stewart (The Collector), Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes) and Bill Engvall (Blue Collar Comedy Tour). Yes that's right. Bill Engvall, Mr “Here's your sign” is starring in a horror film. Now even if you aren't particularly a fan of The Collector series, that should be enough to pique your interest in The Neighbor.
Bill Engvall is The Neighbor / Fair use doctrine.
Josh Stewart plays John who along with his girlfriend Rosie (Alex Essoe) works for his shady crime lord uncle, switching license plates on (apparently) drug running cars. It's never explained exactly what they do, but it's illegal and beyond that, unimportant to the story. Their separative neighbor Troy (Bill Engvall) also appears to have a secret he's of which he is very protective. When Rosie goes missing, John sneaks into Troy’s house and discovers what he is trying to hide.
Set in rural Mississippi, The Neighbor puts everyone under suspicion early on, showing just how sketchy and shady each is. Being born and raised in rural Mississippi, I can pretty much confirm this. No one in the film is particularly innocent, but John is probably the most sympathetic. He's a military vet come home and given a job in his uncle’s illegal enterprise. You get the feeling he isn't happy, and he and Rosie are making plans to escape to Mexico.
The first part of the film moves along a little slow, and is uneventful other than setting up the last half of the film. The last half is where The Neighbor shines. It borrows from other home invasion style horrors with hidden tunnels and cages (but without the traps that were the signature portion of the killer’s work in The Collector series). But it varies from most home invasion films, and most horror films in general, in that the protagonists and antagonists are fairly evenly matched. The conflict between Engvall and Stewart is less cat-and-mouse than two wily foxes battling.
The final fifteen minutes or so is a symphony of glorious violence. It gets brutal when it needs to get brutal. No gimmicky walking away from a fallen victim, it's combat to the death. Guns, knives, camera tripods, and even a telescope become weapons in the fight. When the final battle condenses down to villains and victims, there are no wilting flowers, just fighters. It's not as gory as The Collector, The Collection, or the Sawseries of films but it is brutal. Have I said that already? It's brutal. Watching Alex Essoe go apeshit was wonderful fun. It all ends with an ambiguous ending that a lot of viewers might not catch, but it left me with chills. Also be on the lookout for what I can only assume is a homage to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Alex Essoe spies on The Neighbor / Fair use doctrine.
All and all I really enjoyed The Neighbor. It's another solid and bloody success for director Dunstan. I enjoyed it enough to give it a 8 out of 10. Check it out on DVD now.

Merry Winter Solstice

By Woofer McWooferson
House of Tortured Souls would like to wish everyone a wonderful Winter Solstice.
Image: WolfskullJack
Today is the winter solstice. Over all the north, tonight will be the darkest evening of the year. The darkness of winter brings cold, an absence of light sensed not with the eyes or even with skin alone, but in our very bones.
What it is about darkness of winter that makes light compelling? The stars themselves seem closer now. Is it clearer air, or the reflecting snow that magnifies their light? Is their wintry brightness all in the human imagination?
You can purchase the image above as a greeting card through Redbutton, and you can view more of WolfSkullJack's art at his website.
Looking for something to do? May we suggest a tour of Stonehenge if you're in the area? Or maybe you'd rather just enjoy these solstice celebration pictures from around the world. Either way, we wish you a merry, scary solstice.

VORTEXX COUNTDOWN-TO-CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE FOR DECEMBER 18 – 25, 2016

By The Crimson Executioner
&
Woofer McWooferson
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR FRIENDS IN THE VORTEXX!!!
Welcome to THE VORTEXX, where it's ALL HOSTS ALL THE TIME! We wish all our friends in The Vortexx family Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We have an eclectic assortment of holiday-themed entertainment coming your way this week with a mix of traditional Vortexx favorites and two new movies making their Vortexx debut. Beginning on Monday there will be Christmas shows from Deadgar Winter, Freakshow & the Bordello gang, Remo D. & friends, Lord Blood-Rah, and Scarlett Kaiju & CJ the Werewolf. Our very own bearer of Yuletide gifts, Christmas Daddy, will be reading your e-mails on Saturday, and we'll conclude our celebration on Christmas Day with a Misty Brew Christmas Show. And be sure to come by this Sunday for a great show by Arachna of the Spider People and a movie review by Movie House Ron. Enjoy our shows and thanks for hanging out!
BEWARE THEATER presents Roger Corman's A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959)
Sunday (12/18). 9:00 P.M. (ET) BEWARE THEATER with Arachna of the Spider People and her friend Deadly presents another monochromatic marvel from the Golden Age of Black & White -- Roger Corman's A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959). In his only starring role, veteran character actor Dick Miller plays Walter Paisley, a coffeehouse busboy who gains recognition and respect as an artistic genius after he accidentally kills his cat and covers it with plaster. And now everyone's dying (literally!) to see his next creation. Corman regulars Bruno (Fat Dave) VeSota, Antony Carbone, and Barboura Morris add great support in this delightfully campy movie, while Julian Burton hams it up as the ultimate beat poet Maxwell H. Brock. Look for Bert Convey as the undercover narc who finds himself on the wrong end of Walter's frying pan.
MOVIE HOUSE HOT TAKE reviews BLACKOUT (1985)
Sunday (12/18). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) Please note: Arachna's show will be preceded by a MOVIE HOUSE HOT TAKE with Ron Purtee. Tonight Ron's new director has decided that he should talk about the 1985 HBO "classic" BLACKOUT starring Richard Widmark, Keith Carradine, Michael Beck, and Kathleen Quinlan. You might think with a cast like that, the director could have done a better job keeping the boom mic out of camera range!
DEADGAR'S DARK COFFIN CLASSICS presents SILENT NIGHT BLOODY NIGHT (1974)
Monday (12/19). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) DEADGAR'S DARK COFFIN CLASSICS with Deadgar Winter and co-hosts Sorceress Celeste & Maleva Ravic presents that perennial Christmas horror classic SILENT NIGHT BLOODY NIGHT (1974) starring Patrick O'Neal, John Carradine, and Andy Warhol favorites Mary Woronov, Candy Darling, Ondine, Kristen Steen, Tally Brown, and Lewis Love. A man returns to a house owned by his late grandfather that had once been an institution for the criminally insane. The grandfather died a horrible death in the house on Christmas Eve. Could the same fate be in store for the grandson? Join us tonight and find out. [Movie poster by Sean Hartter courtesy of Saturday Fright Special.]
BORDELLO OF HORROR presents DISMEMBERING CHRISTMAS (2015)
Tuesday (12/20). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) BORDELLO OF HORROR with Freakshow, Mistress Malicious Sgt. Drizzlepuss, Ali Katt, and Beelzabroad presents a heart-warming, gut-churning holiday treat from our friends at Slasher Studios -- DISMEMBERING CHRISTMAS (2015). It's a holiday of horrors for a group of teens at an isolated winter vacation house with a bloody past in this holiday-themed slasher film from the team who gave us Don't Go to the Reunion. If you think wreaths, candy canes, and Christmas trees can't kill anyone, better think again! Executive producer and co-writer Kevin Summerfield makes an uncredited appearance as the stepdad. During the host breaks Freaky will be entertaining us with special musical guests Droids Attack, a movie review by Mark Krawczyk from The Final Cut, and more!
REMO D.'S MANOR OF MAYHEM presents The Vortexx premiere of Rod Serling's A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS (1964)
Wednesday (12/21). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) REMO D.'S MANOR OF MAYHEM with Remo D. and co-hosts Dr. Montag, Kato the Black Hornet, and Firewater presents The Vortexx premiere of A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS (1964). Rod (Twilight Zone) Serling wrote the script for this update of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and Academy Award winning writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz produced and directed this made-for-TV movie which first aired on ABC on December 28, 1964 and was not aired again until Turner Classic Movies broadcast it in 2012. The all-star cast includes Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden (his co-star in Dr. Strangelove), Britt Ekland, Ben Gazarra, Steve Lawrence, Robert Shaw, and Eva Marie Saint. Meanwhile back in the Manor, Remo and the gang enact their own version of the Dickens classic.
LORD BLOOD-RAH'S NERVE WRACKIN' THEATRE presents SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)
Thursday (12/22). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) LORD BLOOD-RAH'S NERVE WRACKIN' THEATRE presents SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964). No week of Christmas shows would be compete without this perennial holiday classic! We air it every year in The Vortexx, but tonight will be your first time to see Lord Blood-Rah's take on this unique Christmas stinker. John Call, who enjoyed a 30-year career on Broadway, stars as Santa; Tony Award winner (and Jamie Farr lookalike) Bill McCutcheon is the buffoonish Martian Dropo; and a prepubescent Pia Zadora is the little Martian girl Girmar. We expect that Lord Blood-Rah will liven up the proceedings with his usual assortment of movie trailers and other cool extras.
MANSION of MYSTERY presents The Vortexx premiere of IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE...IT'S SUPERMAN (1975)
Friday (12/23). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) Join us tonight as MANSION of MYSTERY ends its Second Season with a fun episode entitled Musical Crisis. As we learned last month, Scarlett Kaiju has contacted Tripp Punter and the new Legends of Fifteen Minutes Ago for help as people have suddenly begun breaking out in song for no reason. And what is the goal of the mysterious figure known as The Phantom of the Mansion? Fittingly enough, tonight's movie is a musical -- The Vortexx premiere of IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE...IT'S SUPERMAN (1975). It's a cringe-worthy made-for-TV adaptation of the 1966 stage musical that will make you nostalgic for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. According to Scarlett, who appeared in a local production some years back, the original wasn't too bad. However, this version was apparently mounted by the only people in the free world unfamiliar with the characters and situations. Miscasting abounds with Kenneth (Young Frankenstein) Mars as a suave gossip columnist, Allen (Password) Ludden as Perry White, and Loretta (M*A*S*H) Swit as a spunky ingénue. Other actors -- Leslie (Cinderella) Warren as Lois Lane and David (Ellery Queen) Wayne as a grandfatherly mad scientist - just seem confused. And, sadly, our Man of Steel, David (Eddie and the Cruisers) Wilson, is both miscast and confused. The script suffers from having an entire plot line and major character removed, and the music - a large portion of which is scuttled - is presented in tinny 70s variety show style. This is gonna be the new movie you love to hate! [Superman artwork by Joshua Werner.]
CHRISTMAS DADDY SPECIAL!
Saturday (12/24). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) Tonight is The Night Before Christmas and that means our very own bearer of Yuletide gifts will be coming to The Vortexx for a CHRISTMAS DADDY SPECIAL! A new slack module . . . a membership in the Puppy of the Month Club . . . a Dr Lady action figure . . . a singing Sluggo plushie that also does lap dances. . . . Those are just a few of the wonderful gifts that Christmas Daddy has given to our viewers in years past. Whatever it is you asked for this year, Christmas Daddy will be here tonight to read your e-mails, show your videos, and make your Christmas wishes come true. As always, there will be plenty of cartoons and other extra cool stuff to keep you entertained throughout the night. Please note: For those of you who couldn't tune in earlier, or who just want to see it again, Christmas Daddy's show will be repeated at approximately 11:00 P.M. (E.T.)
LORD BLOOD-RAH'S TREMULOUS TRAILERS and A CLASSIC CHRISTMAS WITH MISTY BREW!
Sunday (12/25). 9:00 P.M. (E.T.) Merry Christmas to all our friends in The Vortexx! After you've finished opening the presents and enjoyed your Christmas dinner, come on over to The Vortexx for a special holiday treat! No Vortexx Christmas would be complete without Night of the Living Dead so we're going to air the very first episode of LORD BLOOD-RAH'S TREMULOUS TRAILERS and get LBR's take on George Romero's Zombie classic. Then stick around for A CLASSIC CHRISTMAS WITH MISTY BREW! Misty will be presenting a generous assortment of Christmas-themed cartoons, commercials, movie trailers, short features, and oddball items such as Alice Cooper's twisted rendition of The Night Before Christmas. And since it's Christmas, Santa will, of course, be making an appearance!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR FRIENDS IN THE VORTEXX FROM SLUGGO AND CE!
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM DR. ZOID, DOK SICK, AND THE ENTIRE STAFF OF THE VORTEXX!

The Christmastime Yule Cat of Iceland

By Tracie Hill Prichard
December is a time of holiday festivities around the world. We see things such as decorated evergreen trees, Yule logs, nativity scenes, Santa with his bag of toys, Krampus with his bag of sticks, and the monstrous Yule Cat of Iceland.
Jólakötturinn, the Yule Cat, is the Icelandic legend of a gigantic black cat with razor sharp teeth that eats people who did not receive new clothes before Christmas Eve. The Yule cat is said to be the pet of a half ogre/ half troll named Grýla, who comes from her mountain cave to cook and devour naughty children. She also has trickster sons, called Yule Lads who come down the mountain one at a time, during the 13 days of Christmas. Her folklore became part of Icelandic Christmas tradition in the 17th century. The Yule Cat seems to have come in more recently around the 19th century. Friendlier versions of the legend of the Yule Cat say that the demon cat will eat all your food rather than having you for a snack.
Grýla
Yule Lads
According to the National Museum of Iceland, in the old days it was customary for an employer to give employees a new garment and sheepskin shoes for Christmas, as a reward for getting a strenuous workload completed by Christmas Eve. Those who did not finish their work on time and did not receive a garment and shoes would be devoured by the Yule Cat. In other words, it may have started as a scare tactic to get workers to complete tasks on time and keep from being lazy and unproductive. In modern times, people buy new outfits to wear for Christmas Eve. It is also encouraged to buy something new for the less fortunate.
Beware the Yule Cat!
There is a poem written by Johannes ur Kotlum and translated into English about the demon cat.
The Icelandic singer Björk has a YouTube video of the song.

Make sure to go buy your new clothes this Christmas season and, as they say in Iceland, don't get "claimed by the Christmas Cat".

THIS JUST IN: Insidious: Chapter 4 Is On Its Way

By Jonathan Patrick Hughes
In 2010, writer Leigh Whannell and Director James Wan made an independent film entitled, Insidious which, to me, felt more like a modern day Poltergeist with pulse-pounding moments and a clever way to take a audience on a trip into the further. Since then, the franchise has exploded giving the audience a true scarathon. James Wan directed the first two films as well as The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 and left the writer, Leigh Whannell in charge of directing the 3rd film in the franchise.
With 2017 just around the corner, a new chapter is gonna take us even further into the further. Once again, Leigh Whannell wrote the screenplay and the director of The Taking of Deborah Logan, Adam Robitel is sitting in the director's chair ready to give us a continuation that is going to take on levels that we have yet to experience.
“It takes place right after the end of Insidious: Chapter 3, when she walks off with Specs and Tucker and they’re starting their company, Spectral Sightings, and they are now living at her home. They’re like her two sons, her two bad sons.
“So it starts out in a very jovial, happy place and then goes downhill from there,” she adds. “And downhill meaning uphill, though. It’s a fantastic story and it took me back into what made Elise who she is. You meet my family, my mother, my father—we go back to my hometown, which is in New Mexico. And so that’s where this takes place and her quest to find the bad guy that’s been haunting her. It’s a really wonderful story. I think the fans will really, really enjoy it. And it’s scary on levels they’re not going to expect.”
As a fan of the franchise, I, for one, am excited to see where this will take us. I have yet to be disappointed with any of the films and I welcome a fourth chapter of Insidious. 2017 is shaping up to be a solid year for horror films.

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